Tag Archives: mama worries

Finding God Within

1 Apr

I hesitate to use the name “God” because I know so many people who are atheist or agnostic or other religions (and where I land on that scale I don’t quite know), but I think we all at least believe in the magic of the universe. And that’s really what I’m talking about too, because it truly is magical that we’re all here.

I came home from the hospital with my newest little boy, somewhat ready to take on the world as a mom of two. I was feeling much better than I did after W’s birth. But of course, there had to be something that humbled me.

With Walter, he cried and turned a horrible shade of red. This sounds jokingly easy in retrospect. I had thought I was a baby guru. I had babysat and nannied for babies 3mo+ since I was 12 (so for about 16 years). I thought I knew what I was doing. But oh how I cried when he cried, because newborns are way tinier than babies that have had three months of growing under their belts. And let’s give a little credit to raging post-partum hormones too.

With Rex, I was determined not to get so upset when we got home that I wanted back in the horrible place we call a hospital. But my first humbling experience with him was much worse.

He shivered and shook almost constantly starting (of course) as soon as we got home. He had done it a few times in the hospital, and I had asked the pediatrician about it. I didn’t trust that the ped commented on what I was talking about though, because he said, “Oh it’s OK, the baby calms down when you soothe him and the shaking stops.” But this wasn’t shaking related to crying. This was awake, asleep, happy, upset, constant little tremors. And babies that little don’t shiver from cold temperatures.

I was resolved, after wasting so much of my sleep time when Walter was a newborn, not to lose myself in Google researching everything bad that can happen to a baby. But I had to find out what it was! Did we need to go back to the hospital? What was going on? And Google pretty much said it could either be a) pee shakes, b) nothing, or c) horrible, irreversible neurological problems.

I don’t think I cried (yet), but inside I was full of fear. After a few hours of this and talking over our options with Dave, I took my baby into his nursery and sat in the glider in the low sunlight of the winter afternoon. I held him and I rocked him and I spoke to him and for the first time ever, I said, “Dear God, please take care of this boy. Whatever is going on I give it to you. He is your boy that you have given to me to take care of, and I love him. Please keep him safe.”

Turns out he stopped his shivering almost as soon as my milk came in, so we think it was low blood sugar. But sitting there with him was a life changing moment for me, when I fully felt the universe hold us in its arms. The universe decided to take care of us at that moment, and I’m grateful. I have the happiest little baby full of joy and smiles that I could only have ever hoped for.

IMG_20170330_212107_613Springtime outside as well as in the heart. I love how these boys love nature.


Edison didn’t get it right on the first try #infertilityproblems

7 Dec

Dealing with secondary infertility is hard. On one hand, you’ve had a kid, so you don’t fit in with people who have primary infertility. And then, you don’t fit in with those of an abundance of fecundity. My least favorite reaction, that I’ve gotten from many people, is: “At least you have one”… is that supposed to make me feel better? Or stop me from feeling my feelings? Do you think I’ve forgotten how lucky I am to have my son?

But really it’s my own internal thoughts that drive me nuts. I keep wondering… If God is in charge… does he not want me to have another one? If that’s true, is it because of Walter or because of me? Is Walter so special that I need to do even more for him? Or am I not a good enough mother to deserve another one?

Then on my good days I think… maybe the kids I produce are just so very awesome that it takes a long time to get it right. My one stellar kid equals like four regular kids.

Or, maybe not everyone is supposed to get pregnant whenever they want. Maybe it’s normal to space out kids every five years or so.

Maybe I’m supposed to adopt? I feel it calling to me.

But all I really want, at this point, is to stop thinking about it. I want to stop being reminded every day by either myself or external factors that there is even an issue. I need to live in the moment.

Comme ci, comme ça


Right now we’re at a bit of an impasse. My regular midwife says “Oh plan a big trip you can’t get out of, and then you’ll get pregnant.” The fertility specialist I’ve seen once says it’s either endometriosis or unexplained infertility, both of which require IUI or IVF. Neither of which I’m planning on doing.

I’ve had a saline sonogram (which was terrible) and an HSG (which was not). Lots of bloodwork and ultrasounds. Charting: BBT, CM, cervical position. You get really good at understanding the acronyms on TTC conceive boards.

You read about people who have been trying for eight years with no success, and you feel incredibly lucky. You read about people who are frustrated after four months, and you want to say: chin up, you don’t have it so bad.

We’re looking in to supplements and diet changes, as I’ve been reading a lot about naturopathy and fertility. I basically do it all wrong as it stands, which I suppose for my body really matters (even though I think I was much more unhealthy before I got knocked up with Walt). We’re also seriously thinking about adoption. Hopefully in the next year or two we’ll add a bundle of joy to the Johnston clan, no matter what biology throws at us. And if Dave is lucky, it won’t be several new kittens.

Parenting with Love and Logic

27 Feb

Yesterday Dave went to our parenting class by himself because I got in a huge, albeit brief, fight with my mother that morning, who was supposed to babysit for us. It was going to be the last session of a six-week course, but the instructor added on another one next week because we were going too slowly to finish the workbook in time. And I suppose because she liked us too!

The course is pretty much instructing us how to be calm, loving, and funny people in the 21st century. And then how to raise our kids with empathy and responsibility. One of the biggest lessons I’m learning is to not own someone else’s problems, or even their worry. For example, if I am worrying about something my husband needs to do, then he doesn’t have to worry, and then nothing will get accomplished. Except happy moments shed from my advancing years. If I solve all of Walter’s problems, then he will never learn how to do it for himself. Worse yet, I will be telling him with my actions that I don’t think he’s able to!

The idea that I think I will have the hardest time implementing is the basic tenet of the whole premise of Loving and Logic-ing: responding first with empathy. Not anger. Never anger. At least never expressing that anger. Anger is natural, but we must fight against our tendencies to lash out. It is OK to take a moment away from the situation if you are mad. People have memories longer than mice do.

I’d like to say that I’m already a better person because of this class, but so far I just feel called out. I certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is illuminating the dirt and grime in my life. Most of which comes from my own BS.

Parenting with Love and Logic was invented and institutionalized by the Fays, a father and son team. They actually invented the term “helicopter parenting” in the ’70s. Their videos often remind me of stand up comedy routines, interspersed with complete and utter wisdom. Our instructor — or their ambassador, if you will — is a shining example of their ideas. I feel calmer just being around her. And chatting and laughing with the other parents has been wonderful and enlightening. I could meet with this group every week for the rest of the time I’m in Atlanta!

He is such a great kid to be around. I always want to do right by him.

5 ways…

23 Jan

…that being a mother is difficult:

1. The times when I notice how truly selfish I still am

2. Feeling like I have a harder time at this than other moms

3. Wanting to stay up late and almost never getting to sleep in

4. Going in to “brain stem mode” and getting upset with my kid cause he can’t always read my mind

5. The occasional thought that it would be great to purchase a one-way ticket to Europe

…that being a mother is the most awesome, wonderful thing that could have ever happened to me:

1. Being called “mama”

2. When he cries, he’s crying for me

3. When he runs around all happy and independent, I have never been prouder

4. When he falls asleep nursing… or cuddling (now that he’s weaned)

5. Knowing that Walter is the only person alive on this earth who knows (besides me) what it is like to live inside of me

My angel boy!

I wouldn’t trade any moment of this journey for anything.

When are you going to start talking, little boy?

9 Jun

We are still waiting on Walter to start talking. I have dreams at night where he and I have conversations (or at least ones that I can understand what he’s saying). It can be difficult to have a child that doesn’t fall into the “correct” timeline for something, but since we are not worried about developmental delays (except this one), and we are blessed with his good health, this is not that big a deal. I hope. He pretty much understands everything we say but only wants to speak Walter-ese, not English, though I feel like I hear words among all the gibberish sometimes.

Most of the time, however, this is how things go these days in our house:

Walter chatters all kinds of things all day long, then…

Me: say ‘baba’
W: dada
Me: say ‘lala’
W: dada
Me: say ‘mimi’
W: dada
Me: say ‘nana’
W: da-da
Me: say ‘papa’
W: daadaa
Me: say ‘mama’
Me: *sigh*


Me: say ‘mama’
W: dada *laughs*


Walter’s top words/phrases in order of frequency:

1. Dada
2. Quack
3. What is this?
4. What is that?
5. Mama

I don’t even get how he knows how to say (and use) “what is this” but won’t repeat anything I ask him to say… oh well. I’ve heard so many stories about kids talking after they are two (or even close to three). It’s hard to know what’s going on with him when he’d rather screech than say “Mama help!” Maybe we’ll just go see what a speech therapist has to say about it so I can quit worrying.

The Loneliness of Motherhood

21 Nov

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the loneliness of motherhood. I think it took me about a year to stop feeling lonely all the time (even though I had another person constantly attached to me and a great partner!). It was one of those things that took me by surprise as a new mother. I was just so excited to be pregnant and having a baby, and I knew things would change in my life, but I just wasn’t prepared.

It’s hard to stay connected. At first, people are so excited for you and they want to stop by and hang out with the cuddly new baby. This seems to always happen when the baby is sleeping, so your well-meaning visitors keep you awake and then leave when the baby wakes up and needs to eat, needs a diaper change, needs to cry… and then the visitors stop coming. They resume with their busy lives, and you’re left with a very demanding — albeit very cute — very small human who doesn’t sleep very much.

Day in and day out, they need you to hold them, nurse them, burp them, walk them, interest them, sleep them, etc. etc. etc. until you forget to go outside, even to step out on the front porch. At least that was me for a little while. And just when you’re ready to go outside for a nice walk, it’s either raining or too hot or too cold or too whatever (and Walt hated the stroller too, of course).

Most of my friends don’t have children. The ones that do are full-time working mothers. The few moms I know at home live far enough away that going out during the brief time between feedings and naps seemed like more effort than it was worth. Or their kids were on different nap schedules than Walt, once he had a “schedule.” Add to that that Walter cried like he was being tortured when he was in the car for the first couple months — or if he was held by anyone else besides me or Dave — and I was one isolated mama.

The mommy wars don’t add any pleasantness to the choices you make either. Working moms think stay at home moms are always judging them and looking down at them, and stay at home moms think working moms do the same thing to them too. So where does that leave us? One more island of loneliness on which to perch.

Luckily, there was a light at the end of tunnel (at least for your garden variety lonely), just like there’s a full night’s sleep at the end of the newborn tunnel. Walt and I get out and about, do chores, go to play dates and story times, and we can leave the house in record time if we need to. We still have our nursing relationship, but as he gets older that changes too, into something a little more convenient for both of us (though I hate associating that word). I see my friends more often (with and without baby), and I have a full calendar of work and volunteer stuff to do.

Somehow, enough time will pass that I will want to do this all over again. And I have no idea how two kids will make that loneliness feel. Maybe it won’t be as intense. Maybe it’ll be worse. All I know is being a mama has been the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done with my life. And while every mom probably understands at least a little bit of how I’ve felt, it also seems like there are few people I’ve been able to talk to about this.

My sweet little buddy!

Too much hospital lately

7 Oct

In the past month Walt and I have been to the hospital three times. Three! For all different reasons!

The first time was to visit his new cousin. If you have to go to a hospital, that’s not a bad reason for it. Fun, even, especially when everybody is healthy and happy. And the new parents still remember what sleep is!


Two weeks ago we had to get to Scottish Rite before dawn for a little operation for Walt. Nothing major at all, he is perfectly healthy — thanks to the surgery, — and after a couple hours he acted like everything was exactly the way it always was. That made it very easy on us, but I didn’t like watching the nurses take him through the operating doors sobbing and there was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t leave the doorway until I heard him stop screaming. It was over so quickly that the only drawback was that the fire alarm went off for a good 5-10 minutes and I thought the flashing light was going to give me a seizure/make me throw up. The nurses and staff there were fantastic though. When we got home we ate a little lunch and everyone took a good nap. I was glad Walt was ready to go back down again cause I had been falling asleep on his floor while he played. Does anything phase these little kids? Made of energy!

What a trooper this kid is! He looks pretty cute in his gown too!

But I guess you can’t go too many times before your luck runs out, at least in terms of the ease/joy you feel when entering/exiting those hospital doors. One of my very best friends came down with Guillain-Barre syndrome almost a month ago. He is on the mend, thank God, and improving all the time. Almost everyone recovers from this disease, but it is a difficult process. It is a scary disease, as it leaves you temporarily paralyzed and you have to relearn everything while rebuilding your muscles. Many people have to be put on ventilators and other such things as the paralysis affects their organs. Luckily Jason has a “mild” case and was only in the ICU for a week and a half! I was really happy to see him this week (he has already been moved to the Shepherd Center for rehab — where a former, very sweet employer of mine is his case manager! Small world!), and I am determined to bring him lots of goodies to help his weight return to normal. I’m just so happy that he is going to be OK. Walter definitely treated Jason like normal as he flung smoothie and puff crumbs all over his bed when we visited. Sorry, Uncle J!

Playin’ with Uncle Jason

It’s pretty easy to say: “Too much hospital! Time to stay away!” Well, once Jason is out, at least. I hope there aren’t more reasons to go back any time soon!

It’s so easy to worry about every little thing

21 Sep

I was reading other mommy blogs yesterday about developmental milestones and autism spectrum disorders and of course immediately noted all the symptoms Walt was displaying — good thing I will never be a medical student cause I’d just turn into a hypochondriac.

The biggest thing I realized Walt wasn’t doing yet is pointing at things. He reaches for the stuff he wants and goes to get things himself, but he won’t point out mommy, etc. when you ask him to. When I talked to Dave about this, we realized we just aren’t the pointing kind of people. So we decided to make it our job to point out everything we can to Walter.

David, at lunch, pointing: “Are those your peas? Are those your fish sticks? Is that your water? Do you want your water? Point to your water if you want it, or you’ll never get water again.”

On the other hand, Walt knows exactly how we feel about the cat because earlier this morning I distinctly heard him say “bad kitty!” but gave her a few good pats on the back anyway.

Our California trip part 1, or How the Johnstons brought the flu to LA

3 Jun

I have to admit that I am really impressed with my child. I don’t think every nine month old could travel cross country with such elegance and awesomeness. I was worried about the plane flight, the time difference, and sharing a room with the baby. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about any of that. He rarely ever cried, slept like a champ in his random hotel crib, didn’t wake us up in the middle of the night (unless you count 4am the first morning as the middle of the night. Which I would have if we all hadn’t gone to bed at 9pm California time), and never complained about pressure changes or cramped spaces on the flights.

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I had been sick the few days before we were supposed to leave. So sick, in fact, that I didn’t think I was going to be able to go on this long-anticipated trip. In all fairness to the other passengers stuck on board with me and to my body, I probably should have stayed at home in bed. But my brother-in-law only graduates from medical school once! And I really didn’t want David to go to Los Angeles without me and the baby. And if I was at home sick, I wanted him to take care of me, which wasn’t going to happen. I had even talked my mother into coming over and staying with me and Walt until I felt better.

So it took me until ten minutes before David was supposed to leave to decide that I was going too. The baby was still napping and neither of us were packed. Luckily my in-laws arrived – to pick David up – and instead of freaking out they helped us get ready. I sure am glad these people love me! We left 35 minutes later than expected, stuffed 7 people in a car meant for 6 (even though everyone had a seat belt on), put on the automated food machine for the cat, and ran out the door. We made it onto the plane right before they closed the doors!

I tried not to cough or breathe on anyone too much. There were tissues everywhere in my pockets and bags, and descending on the plane with that sinus pressure was the worst thing I have ever experienced on a plane. And I have had some bad plane rides before. My head has never hurt like that before, and I thought it was going to explode. Literally. But it didn’t. Thank goodness.

We had to double back to the car rental shop for a larger car seat, and by the time we got to the hotel my father-in-law needed a beer before we even checked in! I would have joined him except I try not to drink until after I’ve put the baby to bed for the night since he still nurses. Which ended up being a godsend on the plane because nursing calmed him down or let him nap whenever he got fussy.

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We stayed at this wonderful hotel right next to the Santa Monica pier that had delicious king sized beds and a housekeeping staff that was nice enough to drop off a fresh box of tissues every day without us even having to ask.

Dinner the first night was early – California time, at least – and at this place with a wonderful outdoor patio. We don’t get to do that very often in Atlanta due to the heat, bugs, rain, and humidity. I enjoyed myself even though I couldn’t hear anything or breathe through my nose. It’s hard to take cold medicine when you’re nursing. So much to worry about concerning milk supply and what the baby will get when he eats. But I stuffed myself with garlic rolls and red wine anyway! And I even had a bite of tiramisu for dessert!

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Walt was a trooper and lasted until the car ride home. Then we quickly washed the plane ride off him and tucked him into bed before falling asleep ourselves. Hello, California!


Reasons I’m excited about California

25 May

In less than a week we leave for California. What was I thinking signing us up for that? Oh right, I’ve been craving adventure in foreign lands.

1. We have a nine month old who likes to crawl. The flight is 5 hours. That’s some good math right there.

2. He sleeps well but according to his schedule he’ll be going to bed at 4pm and waking up at 3am Pacific time.

3. He loves his food but I have yet to figure out how we’re going to feed him across the country without a freezer full of pureed cubes. The only other time we’ve tried canned food he didn’t like it. David says if he gets hungry enough he’ll eat it.

4. I will miss our cloth diapers as we spend money on disposables, those wonderful things filled with chemicals and diaper rash that never leave landfills.

5. Toys? What toys? You have to pay for checked luggage these days (even though California is far enough away it should be considered an international flight).

6. I haven’t shared a room with my angel since he was 2 months old and neither of us slept through the night. I plan on bringing ear plugs.

However, we’re going to have a blast. Even if I come home penniless with a tired, starving child, it’ll be one for the memory books.