Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Hopeful Road to Recovery

This blog post is an opportunity to debrief.  I'm one of those people who don't feel settled inside until I've really thought situations frontwards and backwards and so I'm still trying to accept my last two years of womanhood as it relates to motherhood through writing.  People who read my blogpost about Adelaide's birth from almost 2 years ago (Trauma), may remember the difficulties that I had when birthing her. I did a really good job of explaining how terrible her birth was, but what I've not been able to do is explain the recovery.  It's totally understandable why I've had a hard time explaining it, I literally did not have the vocabulary to do so, but I do now.

Since getting pregnant with Lennox, I've gotten connected with really great professionals in the health industry, who have really encouraged me to get on a good path to recovery before I started labor with him.  I have my mid-wife, my doula (who is also a midwife and a psychotherapist, specializing in women with traumatic birthing experiences), another doula, a Craniosacral Therapist, and now that Lenny is born, a homeopathic nurse practitioner, and a great lactation specialist.

Before reading this next paragraph it's important for you to understand that what I'm about to say is really hard to admit and to people I have told this to have not reacted as well as intended.  But truthfully I don't really know what I want people to say.  I don't even know if I'll publish this post.

I have a real condition that's hard to explain, and even harder to get people to understand, because it's a mental illness, and people without mental illness experience do not understand issues of the mind.  It took me a long time to wrap my head around, and in a lot of ways I still am.  I've not been exposed to a lot of conversations regarding mental issues, it's not something that ever crossed my mind that I would have to deal with, but here I am.  I have what is called Post Natal PTSD from Adelaide's birth 2 years ago.  It's not the same as Postpartum Depression, and cannot be drugged into going away.  I literally have to do the work to be better, which is exhausting.  It's exhausting for everybody in our family.  I am also not trained in combat.  I mention that because when people hear PTSD, their first thought is often that I might revert to a war type situation, but I don't.  I have never been a danger to myself or my children, and I'm lucky because although I'm not trained in combat, people who have Post Natal PTSD, sometimes are a threat.  That's not what it's like in my case.  There is no denying it though, I have every symptom of Postnatal PTSD, right down the list.

Reliving the Event.  After Adelaide was born, I would wake up in the middle of the night, finding myself reliving the event, trying to push her out. Which is especially weird because I never reached active labor with Adelaide.  I now think that the brain is brilliant, but at the time, I would be terrified and mortified that I would come to reality with my husband just staring at me and a bassinet with an already birthed and cleaned baby by my side.  What was happening is that my brain was trying to rectify the memory so that I could move past it.  I thank God that he gave me such an amazing brain, that my brain has been totally unsatisfied with my birthing experience too, just like every bit of my being, and is trying to fix it.  The problem is that, when I have a memory, I don't just have a memory, I relive it.  My brain has been in unrest, and that's exhausting.  It actually happened again, a couple months ago or so.  It wasn't during the night though, it was the middle of the day, and I was in my kitchen but I thought I was at U of M, and I was re-living a portion of the event.  And then it happened a couple days ago, while nursing my son.  

Fear of Childbirth.  Women with Postnatal PTSD often feel torn between wanting more children and a fear of having to birth again.  I am one of them.  Until I got pregnant again, I thought that Adelaide would be an only child, and I was just starting to come to terms with it.  Of course, I think Adelaide is perfect in every way, and I would like 10 more of her, if I didn't have to birth again, but once becoming pregnant, I knew that I'd have to do it, and so I went to the support groups and the workshops and I did get through it.  Although, I wouldn't want to do this a third time.

Avoidance of Medical Procedures or Healthcare. That's me.  I've always leaned more holistic anyway, but now, I'd rather see someone with healing crystals then ever sit on a crinkly paper in a doctor's office ever again, let alone be back at U of M in Labor and Delivery.

Problems Bonding with Baby.  I didn't feel a connection to Adelaide right away, and I couldn't breastfeed.  I really wasn't sure if she was mine.  Having had her cesarean, I didn't actually see her birthed or feel her birthed and I was so sick once she was born, I was unable to spend those first couple hours with her.  Somehow I took her home and did a good job taking care of her, I felt a real responsibility to do it, as if I was the world's best babysitter, but I didn't feel maternal to her right away....that's come with time.  And apparently, this is all really normal for people with Postnatal PTSD--mother's cannot breastfeed, the milk just doesn't come in.  Regardless, it was exhausting listening to people say, just keep trying, as if I just wasn't doing it right.  I pumped, and I tried to breastfeed and it was incredibly disappointing as it just wouldn't work.      

Postnatal Isolation.  After getting pregnant this time, I immediately felt a fear to birth again, and a total inability to be able to do so.  I tried explaining it to people right away, but being that people could not relate to the total fear of birthing, their responses sounded like this, "you're focusing on the birth...look at the baby that you have, she's great!"  Responses like this made me feel detached from other mothers, and like I'm not strong enough to be a mother at all. It's led to depression.  I don't feel depressed all the time, just depressed about her birth: it's a situational type of depression.  People have tried saying to me, "you just have to move on," or "pray about it."  As if I've been trying to hold myself back, as if I haven't begged God to make this easier.  For most women, birthing was great because there was a baby at the end.  My brain does not connect how great Ada makes me feel, with how terrible the thought of birthing makes me feel.  They are two totally different aspects of my life.  To expound on that further, it feels as if I had a trauma, and then a couple hours later, someone gave me a baby: like they are not connected activities. So then, weeks leading up to Lenny's birth, people would ask me, "are you excited to have a baby?"  I think I've looked surprised and mortified each time, because, NO, I'm not excited to have a baby.  I felt like I'm gearing up for a trauma that's going to ruin me for the next couple of years...oh, and someone's going to give me a beautiful, wonderful baby which I'm going to learn to love, making it harder to take care of myself.

Additional Fears.  Just after Ada was born I was afraid to drive, afraid to leave the home, afraid to be by myself, afraid to stop the pain killers, afraid, afraid, afraid.  It's obvious that whether or not I was dying, when I was laboring, I thought I was, and I didn't feel ready.  I always thought that I would be able to accept death if ever faced with it, but in the situation I wasn't ready.  Once leaving the hospital I realized to a much deeper level how uncertain life is, making me afraid, really, really afraid.

Then besides the PTSD, there was a year of just poor health.  I had low thyroid function for an entire year.  It left me sluggish and unable to lose the weight I had put on during pregnancy, and feeling yucky about myself.  There was the prescription drugs, the scars, the bruises, and the swelling.  I even had an allergic reaction to antibiotics that left all food tasting rancid for at least a week after Adelaide was born.

Lastly, Adelaide had some problems too.  She had multiple ribs out of place and her jaw wasn't aligned making her unable to get a deep suction for feeding.  We were able to get that all fixed, but it was still tough until we found the right professional to work on her.

I write all this because I need to explain why Lenny's birth appears to be so healing for me, however there have still been bumps in the road.  But these bumps have felt like ant hills opposed to the massive mountains that I had to climb with Ada.

June 28th, 2015, my water broke about 2pm.  I called Triage and they asked if the I could feel Lenny moving at all.  I couldn't, but that wasn't weird because I never felt Lenny move.  They encouraged me to drink something sugary and lay on my left side to get him moving.  It really wasn't working great, so we headed up to U of M about 5pm.  They have me a 12 hour window from when my water broke to get into labor.  At this point, they were able to monitor contractions, but I could not feel them, which means that I was probably not dilated and if I was, it wasn't very much.

So 2am on June 29th would be 12 hours from when my water broke and if I couldn't get into labor before then, they would start talking pitocin...the dreaded pitocin which poisoned me in Adelaide's birth and caused my Kidneys to start shutting down, gave me such extreme edema, and ended in an unexpected cesarean birth.

Because the hospital had already reserved a room for us at 2am, we just checked in immediately rather then going home and as it turns out that it was a good thing because Lenny's birth turned out to be fast and furious.  We rested in front of the TV, had a good dinner, I did some stretches and about 11pm I had a serious contraction.  It really felt like it came out of nowhere too.  I waited till I had another, it was about 4 minutes later.  Wow!  These are close right from the get-go.  I didn't think much of it because we were in the hospital, but once the nurse came in to ask if I had any progression, which was coincidentally a few minutes later, I told her.  She called the midwife in to come talk to me and they suggested I start antibiotics because my water was broken for quite a while at this point and they like to start antibiotics 4+ hours before a birth if you're positive for carrying a virus, which I was.  Lenny was born only 2 hours later so we ended up having to stay 48 hours at the hospital for observation, but that was fine with me because 24 hours just seems like not enough before being discharged.

Anyway, I called my doula just after I told the midwife about my close contractions.  Unfortunatly, she was in another birth, and so was her business partner, which meant that they had to call-in a doula from a backup organization, and coincidentally I ended up knowing her from a trauma workshop, which made me scared to use her, but in the end it couldn't have worked out better, because I had instant repoirt with her.  So my backup doula arrived at midnight and this is the first time that I let them check to see my progression.  Because I had an infection with Adelaide I was really cautious about how often I got checked this time around.  I was 3cm, 100% effaced and the baby was at 0 station.  I was super disappointed to be at 3cm, because I had just labored for an hour and it was so painful.  I really didn't know if I could do that all night.  Did I mention I went all drugs.  I wasn't opposed to drugs completely, in fact I was considering morphine a couple hours before I would actually give birth in order to have the stamina for pushing, but I never got to that either.

Right after they checked me, I decided to labor in a tub.  It was so nice!  It was warm, and it helps suspend gravity so the contractions were just a little bit more livable.  About 1:30am or something like that, I decided it was time for morphine, but the minute I got out of that warm tub it was go-time.  I started pushing, barely making it to the bed.  Although I instinctually knew it was go-time, I didn't put it together that they weren't going to give me drugs.  My doula asked me if I wanted to get off my back, because it's a harder way to deliver on your back, but I declined because I was still in the mindset that I wasn't delivering just yet.  When I finally realized I wasn't getting morphine, I got on my side, 3 pushes and Lenny was out at 1:39pm.  Like I said fast and furious.

It worked out good that the birth was fast and totally different this time around because there was no time for triggers of PTSD to even happen, although I was totally prepared.  I had worked really hard with my doula on a birth plan that made sense in my situation.  We tried to remove all possibilities of triggers to happen, although you cannot predict them all, and so we came up with language and tricks to help bring me back to reality if necessary.  When the backup doula arrived, knowing so well my situation, she read through the birth plan once and was up to speed just as quickly as my original doula was.  She really did great.

Since arriving home, I was breastfeeding Lenny as intended, but this is an area that I didn't do enough preparation in to terms of PTSD.  I didn't expect Lenny to have similar mechanical problems in his mouth as Ada did.  I was able to recognize the signs quickly and get him the help that he needed, but regardless it left me sad and resurfacing experiences with Ada that brought on a bit of depression when I had to take a break from breastfeeding.  I really wasn't willing to pump in the meantime because that was one of the most devestating experiences of my life just 2 years prior, and so I flirted with breastfeeding behaviors that were were likely to bring on mastitis and of course I contracted it.  I knew it was a risk I was taking, but it was the best decision for my health at the moment, although now I'm in a rough spot with a fever and total body weakness.  I was bed-ridden for a couple days but today I'm more mobile after increasing my Motrin intake.  I'm also sore, as I've decided to let my milk dry up and go to formula, which is not an easy decision in our culture, but I believe that it'll leave me healthier and able to be a better momma to my kids then I would be if I was still trying to breastfeed.

After all said and done so far in Lenny's short 12 day life, I feel like I'm on a road to recovery that I didn't know if I'd ever see.  It's still soon though and so I don't have my hopes up too much but I'm trying to remain hopeful because I believe that that's also good medicine.  Perhaps I'll find I haven't traveled very far at all, but I have to believe that at least I've moved a little bit.  So far, this is my road to recovery and the beginning of what will be many hours, days and weeks of debrief.

it is what it is.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


So, recently I went through a trauma.  I'm pretty sure it can be categorized as a trauma because I cry about it every day, and have for 4 weeks.  It was the birth of my daughter, Adelaide.

Adelaide is a beautiful little girl.  She's really healthy and very sweet.  However, her entrance into this world was not.  In fact, I'm haunted by it.

During pregnancy I was super encouraged by the stories that I heard from mothers.  Stories about feeling a really strong connection to their offspring-an indescribable love.  Stories about euphoria after pushing for hours.  These stories told me that labor was going to be hard, but would leave me with the notion that healing would be fast because I'd be so distracted by the beauty of my little one and in awe of her creation and entrance into our world.

None of those things happened to me.  In fact, it was awful.

Now, I don't want to sound overly dramatic.  And my intention is not to scare people who have not had children.  My only purpose in writing this is to help myself heal and to educate women.  I fear, that like me, other women may be confused about the realities of childbearing.

You're probably thinking, "let's hear the story already!" Ok.  Here goes.

I went into the hospital, 13 days overdue.  I felt like I had been pregnant forever, however I was surprisingly not that uncomfortable.  I had heard of women with incredible waddles.  I did not have that.  In fact, just a couple days prior, I went shopping, and a women commented how big I was, but how I was able to walk with such ease.  That should have been a clue to me, that my baby was not in position.  But, being that it is my only child, I really didn't feel confident about anything.

Anyway, I'm at the hospital, with an appointment to be induced.  After 41 weeks of pregnancy, healthcare providers fear that the placenta will start to break down and be unable to nourish the baby.  After 42 weeks, there is a fear that the baby will start to have a growth spurt and a natural delivery will become too problematic.  At 13 days over due, I am 41 weeks and 6 days.

To begin induction, I was administerd Petocin.  Petocin is a hormone that begins contractions.  Real contractions.  Hard contractions.  They hurt.

Now, I had a doula with me, and she is also a massage therapist, and for the first day, her services were brilliant.  But, after 24 hours, I was still having contractions, but hadn't dilated a single centimeter more, and had nothing but back labor.  For those of you who don't know, back labor indicates that the baby is not in a great position.  The other thing about back labor is that it is far more uncomfortable that contractions in the abdominal region.  For years, my period cramps were conditioning me to be able to take the pain of labor.  Nothing prepared me for back labor.

My doula was able to really help with the pain in the beginning hours, but after a while, my back felt bruised.  It hurt to be touched.  In fact, it hurt to sit.  Back labor is both in the lower back and buttocks region.  I tried to labor in a tub, I tried to labor in a bed, I tried to labor on a birthing ball, but I was wearing down.  At this point, my discomfort was so high that I did something I never thought I would...I asked for drugs.

I had planned to have a natural labor, but I was so, so tired.  I took morphine.  I liked it.  I slept.

Then, after waking up, I asked for more.  I took more morphine.  I liked it.

I'm now at 48 hours of labor, and this is where it starts to become somewhat of a blur.  I know that at some point my water was broken for me to get me dialated more.  I know that at some point I got an epidural because the continuance of morphine was not a good idea.  I know that at some point I swelled so bad that blisters started to appear, and talk of pulmonary edema became concerning.  I know that I was on oxygen.  I know that my kidneys shut down and I was holding onto more fluid than what was safe.  I know that I had my membranes stripped again.  I know that my uterus stopped contracting at 9cm.  I know that I felt an urge to push, but that it wasn't time.  I know that my heart rate and blood pressure were unsafe, but I can't remember in what order these things happened.

I do remember the look on the nurses faces when they looked at my monitors.  I do remember how often medical professionals were in my room.  I do remember seeing the look of my mom and sister as they massaged me and wiped the sweat off of me, and attempted to fix my hair.  I remember the look of concern on my dad's face.  I was unable to get up, and unable to see myself in any mirror.  But from the way I felt and the way their faces looked, I know the sight was concerning.

It was after 68 hours of labor, than an OB came to talk to me about a c-section.  At this point, I was so tired and was so ready to move forward that I agreed.

Now, a c-secion was really something that I never truly considered.  I always assumed, I'd have a normal delivery that would end in an indescribable love for my child and a total euphoria, after labor and pushing.  I knew nothing about the procedure nor the recovery.

C-sections are scary.  Being wheeled into the OR is scary.  Having many medical professionals running around, trying to work within a certain amount of time is scary.  Being awake for surgery is scary.  Being an inactive participant in the birth of a child is scary.

No one told me that the anesthesia would make me vomit.  No one told me that the anesthesia would make me shiver uncontrollably.  No one told me that C-sections are an aggressive procedure that would leave my abdomen bruised.  No one told me that I'd feel an uncomfortable amount of pressure, although I could feel no pain.  No one told me that my baby might have to be pushed back up the birth canal in order to get her out through an incision.  No one told me that I wouldn't be able to feel my abdomen for months, maybe even years afterword, as the nerves re-fuse back together.

I lost a lot of blood during surgery.  I know at one point, a blood transfusion was considered.  I also got a uterine infection and had a temperature of 103 degrees.  I was sick.  These details add to the trauma but the real kicker is that when Adelaide was born, I was relieved to hear her cry because she was out, but then I was angry.  So angry.  More angry then I have ever been in my life.

I was angry about my birthing experience.  I was angry that I didn't have that euphoria.  Angry that I labored so long for nothing.  Angry, angry, angry.

I yelled at a doctor.  I yelled at a nurse.  I hated my post op nurse for no apparent reason.  I was just so angry at the world.

I thought my family looked concerned before I entered surgery.  Nothing compares to their faces when they saw me after surgery.  I must have looked horrible.  I distinctly remember, my dad seeing me for the first time.  He was holding Adelaide, but when he looked at me, he put Adelaide down and said, "I'm uncomfortable."  I know that he wasn't uncomfortable with Adelaide, he was totally uncomfortable with the sight of me.  I must have looked really concerning.  My mom stayed at the hospital with me that night.  In fact, she stayed three nights total.  My sister finally told me yesterday, that she'll never forget how I looked.

I couldn't hold Adelaide when she was born because I was too weak.  Thank goodness, for Matt.  He never let her out of his arms.  He comforted her and made her feel loved because I couldn't.

I tried to breastfeed.  Adelaide couldn't latch.  I started to feel less and less like her mother.

For two weeks, I felt less and less like her mother.  Nothing was going well.  Not even when we got home.  I felt like my body fought hers from the moment we started induction.  I was getting sadder and sadder.  Postpartum wellness became a real concern of mine and my healthcare providers.  Not to mention, Adelaide was starting to appear colicky.

My midwives were very concerned.  They called me at home.  They had me come in weekly, and thank God they did.  I got some really good care.

One of the midwives noticed that Adelaide seemed to have an extremely insufficient suckle and recommended a homeopathic cranial specialist.  We found that Adelaide's jaw was not in the correct place, something that is very common amongst babies born cesarean.  We also found out that Adelaide had ribs out of place from having such a rough cesarean birth.  Both of those things got fixed in her third week of life outside of the womb and she began to cry less.  Matt and I no longer thought that we had a colicky baby and started to enjoy her more.

When I got home, I tried breastfeeding, and immediately Adelaide was able to latch.  It was amazing.  Truly amazing.  Our bodies were no longer fighting each other and I was enjoying her more.  I started to feel like her mother and for the first time I cried out of happiness.

I also saw a real professional lactation specialist.  A real professional.  She gave me great advice.  She encouraged me to re-assess my goals.  By this point, I've been so out of the habit of breastfeeding her.  My milk supply is low, and because I'm still healing from major surgery, it may never increase.  The amount of work that I'd have to do to increase it, would be quite disruptive to how Matt and I see as conducive for our lifestyle.  Both the lactation specialist and I know that breast milk is the best thing for my baby, but we also know that lifestyle is important.  She has really encouraged me to continue to formula feed and just have nice experiences with Adelaide at my breast afterword.  She can have breast milk for dessert or just doze off skin to skin.  And with this technique, again, I've started to feel more and more like her mother.  I really enjoy my baby this way, and she enjoys me.

I know that Adelaide knows I'm her mother now, because she follows me with her eyes as I walk and talk about the room.  She calms down with me, like no body else.  She smiles the most with me.  I'm just so happy that we got to this point, however I'm saddened that there was a whole two week period that it wasn't like that.

Still, I often feel incision pain and I'm reminded of her birth.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking that it's time to push my baby out; I so badly wanted to do that.  I don't like to look at my scar, and when I get emotional about her birth, the incision hurts more.  I hate my birthing story.  I wanted it to be beautiful.  I feel like I was robbed of what could be a really beautiful story.  I can't wait till the day that I don't cry when I think about it.

Again, I tell my story to help me move on, but also it's important that women know.  It's important that people understand that when Adelaide was born, I wasn't a good mother because I wasn't a healthy person.  I don't need more stress and pressure to breastfeed.  Moms who fail at breastfeeding feel bad enough.  I don't need to feel judged that my child uses a pacifier, I'm just so thankful that she can suck on it now.  I don't need to feel bad that she falls asleep hearing my heartbeat every time she goes down; we're catching up because there were two whole weeks were she didn't have nice experiences with me and I didn't with her.  I need people to shut up.  I need people to understand that I'm doing the best that I can, and that I had a lot of catching up to do before I was of any use to my little Adelaide.  There were two weeks that were extremely tough, and didn't get easier, fast.

I've learned a lot though.  I've learned that I'm not as strong as I thought, but also I'm a lot stronger than I thought.  I learned, on a much deeper level, that medicine can have extreme trade-offs.  I learned that my husband can really stand up and be the most amazing support person, and make tough calls, and stick to his guns.  I learned that I'm no good to anybody if I'm unhealthy.  And, I learned to lean more on others.  

My birthing experience, I'll have to make peace with it eventually.  For the meantime, keep me in your prayers because for now, I'm still haunted by it.

It is what it is.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My New Life Goal

The older I get, the more it becomes apparent to me, that I have very little control over anything.  I am in charge of me, half of the way my house is run, and a good portion of what I do in my classroom with my students.  I can try to make a difference in the world, but I can't make all of my causes everybody else's.  I feel like this is a real epiphany for me.

So, I have a new life goal.  My job as a purposeful being on this earth is to influence people by how I run myself, my half of my home, and my classroom.  My goal isn't on others, it's on doing it for me and hopefully inspiring others along the way.

My new life goal: it is what it is.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Creative Solutions

This is what I’d like to say to all parents who plan for their children to be doctors and engineers, and want them to excel mathematically, but don’t realize the importance of creativity in their child’s life:

I went into teaching art because I believe that creativity is really important.  I believe it is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same respect. 

Ken Robinson, a leading expert in Creativity, reminds us that children starting kindergarten this year will graduate high school in 2025, and we have no idea what 2025 will look like.  Essentially, we’re educating children for a future that we may never see and cannot predict. 

Think about how much the world has changed since you were a kid.  Well, innovation hasn’t exactly slowed down since then either.  In fact, innovation is as important as ever.  Jonah Lehrer, another leading expert in Creativity, and the author of the bestseller book, Imagine, defines creativity as taking two things that existed before and connecting them in an entirely new way.  That’s what innovation and engineering is.  You may have been told that math and science does not coincide with the arts, but someone lied to you.  It all coincides because creativity is all about the process of imagining what didn’t exist previously and that term is not strictly adhered to the arts.

Ken Robinson also says, “if a person is not prepared to be wrong, they’ll never do anything great”.  That is profound in that a person cannot look at something that doesn’t work and not want to fix it.  We were born to be creative and if we don’t nurture children’s creativity, we’ll educate it right out of them.  The world does not need another Albert Einstein, we already have E-mc^2…we need someone new. 

You may have noticed that more people are getting college degrees than ever before. It’s no secret that jobs that once required a Bachelor’s Degree now require a Master’s.  And jobs that once required a Master’s Degree require a doctorate.  It’s a process of academic inflation.  Pretty soon, it won’t just matter how much academic ability one has, it’ll also equally depend on performance.  Our children will have to show product before he or she enters their desired field.  Employers will want to know, does this person have product to prove their skills?  A degree may get an interview scheduled, but it’ll be the portfolio that lands a job.

All day long, children have to show product at school; I would like to argue, that more of the time, the things that should be most valued in your child’s day is what is product of his or her imagination.  If there were only one thing for certain in education, it would be that when school and home are teaching the same valuable lesson to kids, learning is greatly more visible.  So, here are skills that will help your child be people who can produce product.  It’d be worth trying to get your child’s teachers on board, if they aren’t already.

While you are with your child, assess how much of your child’s activities encompass a playful attitude?  Does your child have adequate time to be silly?  Are you silly with your child?  Do you joke?  Do you laugh at your mistakes?  Do you take risks?  Are you prepared to be wrong?  15 minutes a day to be silly with your kid and model these skills (yes, skills) will make all the difference in your child’s education.  These skills prepare a child to take risks, without the fear of failure before he or she even commences, a necessary component of being a creative person.

Do you value your child’s interests?  A parent once asked me, “How can I make my child enjoy playing the piano?”  Well, it’s pretty hard to make a person like anything.  We can expose kids to the things that we are interested in and/or think is important for their lives, but heart goes a long way.  This is not to say that parents shouldn’t enforce things that children don’t like, just make sure that their voice is heard and that it matters.  This will look different in every house.

How about confidence?  Does your child possess it?  One of the best ways to help your child in this area is to ask your child, “what do you think?”  Being a confident person means having the strength to think for one’s self.  “Mom, should I brush my teeth, now?”  Respond with, “What do you think?”  The answer, may of course be yes, but give your child the chance to think for themselves rather than relying on you to make all judgment calls.  In creativity, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

And now, here is the most important question that I have.  How much down time does your child have?  You see, every creative journey begins with a problem.  Frustration is an important part of the creative process.  But, no one ever talks about that part.  People tend to say things, like “creativity comes easy to others; I’m just not a creative person.”  Have you ever thought like that?  If you have, then I have news for you; it’s not that you aren’t naturally creative, it’s that you gave up when it got too hard, or you didn’t have the time and energy to work it out.  Essentially, for whatever reason, you didn’t wrestle long enough with the problem, in order to find a creative solution.

Problem solving can wear a person down.  That’s when it’s best to take a break.  So after a long day of school or on the weekends, what is it that you still expect of your child?  It could be that after a day or week of utilizing his or her imagination to it’s fullest, rest and play is just what is needed.  Rest and play rejuvenates the creative spirit, often leading to the ah-ha moments.  You know, that moment when the light bulb goes on, and when all the information comes together and you curse yourself for not realizing sooner?

The hardest part about helping your child with this, is giving him or her adequate rest, but also not letting him or her give up, and making sure that your child has appropriate roles and responsibilities around the house at the same time.  The best thing that you can do, is recognize your child’s stress, help your child cope, and then eventually come back to the problem that needs to be solved--whether it deserves a creative solution or not.  It takes balance and it’s no easy feat…so, good luck!

With all of that being said, I wish that all parents could find time to work together with their child’s teacher to be their child’s cheerleader for furthering his or her creative spirit.  It'd be worth it.

It is what it is.


Friday, January 27, 2012


So far, this year has turned out to be pretty great for Matt and I. We are 5 days into the new year, by the lunar calendar that is, and we landed ourselves jobs, starting in the 2012 school year. Kuwait or Bust!!! Just kidding, but really, that is where our offer is. Now, we have not signed contracts yet, and I have another interview lined up, and possibly more, but this signifies to us that there is the promise of employment after Beijing. The thought of not having work lined up was starting to scare us. We'd rather work "almost" anywhere, than not at all.

I have been offered work as a middle school art teacher and department head for grades 7-12. Matt has been offered work as a middle school science teacher. The school is called Al-Bayan Bilingual School. The children are all Kuwaiti and spend 60% of their day in an English classroom. The children study a combination of the American Curriculum, Local Curriculum, and in High School--Advance Placement courses are offered. The school director originally started talking to Matt about a long term sub position, but got turned on by his pre-school teaching experience, coaching, science degree, and enrollment in a masters program in teaching, learning and curriculum.

This school has 2,000 students, Nursery thru grade 12. There are 251 faculty members, many of which are Kuwaiti, British, American, Australian and other various third-country nationals. This school would be a step in the right direction for us. By working Middle School, I am opening the door to high school and leaving it open for elementary. Also, department head is not a bad thing to have on my resume. And then, Matt would be going from an assistant teacher to a lead teacher. I'm very proud of him.

In a few weeks, I'll be flying to San Francisco to attend an International Recruitment Fair, and to make sure that this is the best offer that we're going to get, although I have a feeling it is. I do have an interview lined up already with a school in Saudi Arabia, the draw to that school is the IB curriculum. But, it'd be a smaller school again, which I'm not so sure that we are interested in. Also, I don't know if they have anything available for Matt.

The worst part about this process has been feeling unwanted, and not having anything lined up to save us from that feeling. We were going back and forth, feeling like we made the wrong decision to throw the towel in, in Beijing. But now, it is just such a relief to know that there is an option out there for us. It's a great feeling--very encouraging, and a testament to faith. We're just going, somewhere, Kuwait or maybe somewhere else. Call it an adventurous spirit or whatever you will. We'll call it faith.

Our life abroad: it is what it is.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


My last post was early summer and now it's mid fall...oops. There has been plenty of times that I wanted to write but was feeling self conscious about making it public, like I'm bragging or something. That's stupid; it's my blog. This blog is about facing my demons, and I had a revitalizing weekend and so I'm feeling like I have the ego-strength to do it.

So there are a few things I want to blog about. First of all I read this book called, "Heaven is For Real." It's a child's account of heaven, after he wakes up from surgery. The father writes the book through the child's words and backs it up biblically. I thought it was wonderful. Even if the story isn't completely accurate, or even real at all, the account that the child gave, gave me beautiful images and I know that heaven won't disappoint, so in the meantime, I'm just going to revel in the images in my head that were stimulated by this book.

Ok, another thing. I started taking ballet again about 5 or 6 weeks ago. I love it. I danced all the way through grade school, and even as an adult, I've got to say that dance really does energize my soul. I was really worried about taking dance again because it's been 5-7 years since I did it. In college I did a little bit, but it wasn't enough to keep me looking and feeling like a dancer. In fact, from the moment I stopped dancing, I have never been satisfied with my body, coupled with the fact that I love dance, I knew it was time to find a studio. I am so lucky that I found a great instructor. It's hard to find adult dance classes that are not professional. So, I'm in this class with some high schoolers and it's great. It's about where I left off and I actually feel like with hard work I can get back to where I was when I left off.

So, especially since stopping dance, I've struggled with my weight. But, you know what, besides not being active enough, I drink too much and when I drink I indulge too much. I'm not an alcoholic, but even when I drink red wine, even when I drink straight whisky without all the sugary mixers, I can feel my body hold on to toxins that shouldn't be there...I totally sound Chinese right now. Anyway, I've gotta start thinking more about nutrition. I'm usually good at it, but I've sort of fallen off the band wagon recently.

I had a relaxing weekend. I went to the countryside with some girlfriends and we talked, slept, and relaxed all weekend. The seasons have changed, and I have been left with the energy to make some changes. Couple that with the fact that I signed up to run a 5K. Yes, I know, I hate running, but it's really good for you and a 5K doesn't take much to train for so I don't feel like I signed my life away. Matt signed up for the Marathon and so that'll keep me motivated to run. I think that is sort of crazy, but still, I don't want to be the bum on the couch while Matt is training to run 26 miles...oh geez, it hurts to just write it.

So, if you want to be helpful and encouraging, check up on me every once in a while. Ask how I'm doing with dance and the 5K. I'd definitely appreciate it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

work ethic

It's interesting to me how much atmosphere, mood, climate, etc... can effect you work ethic. All year I've been battling why in the world I don't feel as productive as I did last school year? I was talking with Matt about why I thought it was and he politely pointed out that I am so wrong. He knows me sssoooooo well; it's scary. Anyway, th e real reason that I have a hard time working is because my desk is in a cubical with all the other teachers in the basement. It's the hub of commotion. I've always had a hard time working when other people are talking, and I work with some pretty noisy people. Also, my office is 2 flights down and by the time I walk from my classroom to my office, I've lost my purpose and it's adjoining drive. Lastly, the basement is depressing. It has no natural light and it's all grey. My desk used to be in the library which connected to my classroom and I never lost purpose walking 15 feet. I used to get so much more done. I miss those days. My new mission is to figure out how to combat this. Any suggestions???