Wednesday, December 18, 2013

While you were "sleeping"

My doll baby, Hannah...

I picked you up from daycare today a bit early because I wanted you to nap at home. It gives me immense comfort when I know exactly how well you are sleeping during your naps, you've been a little under the weather, and there was a confimed case of RSV in your class yesterday. All reasons to have you home with me.

So I am sitting here at the desk in the den, logging back into my work computer. You are down for your nap, and I can hear quite the little commotion coming from the monitor.

You sleep with somewhere around a thousand stuffed animals in your bed. You like to take care of them. Your favorite being, of course, Piggy, who takes up half the bed. I can hear you in there talking to your stuffed animals. I see on the monitor display that you are lining the stuffed animals across your pillow, saying "Nigh-night" to each one. You make my heart sing, baby.

You snuggle into Piggy and make squealing noises. You lay down and start kicking the side of the crib, just for fun. Then I see you sit up, pull your sock off, and put it into your mouth. You put it in and take it out and put it in and take it out. I hear you say, "acky" - your word for "gross." You throw the sock out of the crib and say, "Uh-oh." It wasn't an accident, but that's what you say when you throw something down on purpose.

You stand up, hold onto the side rails, and start jumping on your bed. Your binky falls out of the crib and onto the floor, and I hear, "Ohhhhh nooooo! Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!" Then more jumping. Then you sit down.

You pick up one of your stuffed animals and start to sing to him. "Poo poo poo poo. Doo-pee-doo-pee doo dooo doooooo." I'm sure he appreciates it.

I'm so happy you're such a happy girl. I love you so much.

Friday, December 6, 2013


One morning several weeks ago, Jason & I very innocently thought that we would enjoy a nice family Cracker Barrel breakfast. As any American knows, in order to get to the restaurant section of Cracker Barrel, you have to first take a trip through the store side. Or, as I like to think of it, the black hole for country nostalgia.

It was a Sunday morning so the place was packed. We were already sweating the concept of eating in cramped quarters with our tiny boss-lady. And then, just as we walk in with Hannah securely carried in her father's arms, right in front of the entryway...Hannah meets Piggy.

Instant obsession.

Piggy is not a normal stuffed animal. Piggy is almost twice Hannah's size. Hannah death gripped Piggy, clutching him like he might otherwise get sucked into the center of an EF5 tornado.

Luckily for Hannah, Piggy came with a bargain price tag of only $9.99. A steal for this much stuffed joy, really! So, Piggy not only joined us for breakfast that morning. Piggy Rutherford joined our family for ever.

On his first day with us, he joined us at the grocery store.

Then, the next day, she took him to daycare with her. But, Piggy wound up spending the bulk of the day in the closet because the kids were allegedly scuffling over him.

Piggy joins us for meals and has his own chair next to Hannah.

Piggy rides a horse.

Piggy is a pal.

Piggy helps put farm themed puzzle pieces in place. Naturally, he got to insert the piece of the pig.

Piggy chills on play room window sills.

Piggy sleeps in Hannah's bed and there is barely enough room for her beside him.

Piggy gets books read to him...mostly about animals.

Piggy likes to admire the Christmas tree.

At times, Piggy even goes in to hug the tree.

And, of course, Piggy makes me look extra cool when he is my lone passenger in the car.

Piggy, thanks for all of the joy you have brought my little girl. You're a good pig.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

I have always loved Christmas despite the fact that I loathe cold weather. I love the spirit, the reflection on Jesus, the songs, the décor, the magic of all the weird Santa traditions...all of that. But, I have to say, having a 20 month old who is witnessing all of the Christmas magic for the first time puts an incredible new light on the whole thing.

Every time Hannah enters our house now, she points to the Christmas tree and says "open." We have deduced that she is trying to tell us to turn it "on" - she LOVES the lights. So, we turn the tree lights on first, and then she walks over to a little Snowman statue we have that has a tiny little train that circles a tiny little lit up town in its belly. She says "choo choo" which means she wants us to turn that thing on as well. Of course, we oblige. She gets an enormous kick out of it. Then she walks over to the fire place and says "fire on, fire on" because she wants us to get a fire going. We start it up, and she will sit there and say "hot" repeatedly, then blow on it (because that's what we do with our hot food!).

It's all so incredible, and it makes the season so beautiful to see it through her precious little eyeballs.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holy crap!

OK, I was excited about Hannah peeing on the big girl potty the other day, but today she POOPED on the potty! My gosh! I don't even know what is happening! We weren't even going to start any potty training officially for a bit, but I guess she is getting ready! I need a strategy. I have no idea what I am doing here. She is only 19 months old!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I've never been so excited about pee

However, I have been so excited that I could pee, like right now!

This morning, Hannah came upstairs to take a bath, and she said "potty!" and pointed to her diaper. Then she pointed to the bathroom. Then she walked in the bathroom, and pointed at the toilet, saying "potty" again. So, I pulled out her little seat cover, got her on the toilet, and - YEP! - she went potty! We wiped her and let her flush it. She pointed at the toilet and said "potty!" all proud and whatnot.

I am so proud of her! She is potty training herself! :) Such an incredible baby.

Friday, October 4, 2013

18 months old, little Hannah girl

My baby isn't a baby anymore. She's a toddler. She is a running, squealing, giggly, goofy, energetic little toddler. I can't believe she is 18 months old already! That means I haven't been pregnant for 18 months, which is also weird to think.

For Hannah's 18 month celebration we took her out for macaroni & cheese.

She ate and unraveled so I had to pour my wine into her kiddy cup and smuggle it home. Don't judge.

I can't even express in words how much I love her. Jason and I are so proud of her. She just lights up our lives so much.

She had her 18 month pediatrician appointment today. She's in the ~80% range for weight and the ~90% range for height. Still a big girl!

She likes Bubble Guppies and Elmo on TV. She likes to have books read to her - we do so very night before bed and as often as she likes throughout the day. She loves playing outside, especially if there is water involved. She can be quite the stinker - I am constantly reprimanding her for standing up on chairs or in the bathtub. She likes messing with her dog, Benson. She gives great hugs and kisses if you can get her to sit still long enough. Her best daycare friends are Addy and Anish. She really likes to eat and will consume just about anything. Her favorites are yogurt, cereal or crackers, bananas, green beans, and pretty much whatever her parents or anyone nearby are eating. She will lean in for a bite and say "ummm" to get your attention. She uses a ton of words. She can repeat just about anything - or at least try. It makes our hearts melt when she says "mommy" and "daddy." We just cleared out one if the spare bedrooms and made a play room for her, which she seems to enjoy. Jason and I made some shelves for the room. Yes, it would have been a lot easier and probably less expensive to just buy some, but we wanted to make them for her. She loves to show off for people and do "ring around the Rosie," getting especially into the big finish where we "all fall down." She loves her relatives and talks about them a lot. She loves young babies, especially her cousin Nora. She likes to take her shoes and socks off all the time. She wants to put her shoes on but sometimes she can't and she gets really frustrated and yells and throws the shoes. She is a very good listener, although sometimes she is clearly acting out and we have to try not to laugh. She has only had about 3 timeouts at our house. Each time I am pretty sure she had no idea why I was making her sit on the chair in the dining room facing the wall. She has a bajillion teeth in her mouth and her hair is getting long. Her hair is a really pretty kind of sandy blonde with highlights and curls at the ends. She tells us when she poops, and when we change her she yells "ooooh-weeee!" and "kinky!" (her way of saying "stinky"). She calls her pacifier's "kee-kee's" ("binkies"). She still goes to bed really well and almost always sleeps through the night - from about 7:30 pm to 6:30 am. Like clockwork.

She is the greatest little gift.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tiny Tornado

I am not certain what Hannah's deal is lately. She has been unruly! Everything is "no!" Not just a sweet, "no thanks" kind of no. An angry and defiant no.

Do you want to go outside? No!
Do you want to stay inside? No!
Do you want to stand in the doorway? No!

Nothing seems to make her happy. And she is starting to want to do things on her own but she can't quite do some things so she pitches a fit of frustration. Like putting on her shoes. She absolutely will NOT accept help with this task, but she sucks at it still so she gets super frustrated and yells and back arches and gets all crazy on us. We don't know what we are supposed to do with her. She doesn't really understand discipline, per se. But it is very hard to calm her down when she gets frustrated lately. We are stumped! What to do?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The healthy girl inside of me is starting to fight back.

I went to the doctor a couple weeks ago for a routine checkup. Started the visit by stepping on the scale. OUCH. About 30 pounds heavier than I want to be. Then, since it was a new doctor, they wanted to measure my height. OUCH. I am an inch shorter than I used to be. Apparently gravity hates me.

These two jabs caused pain, but not nearly as much as what happened next.

I watched the nurse calculate my BMI and put it at the top of my clean, new chart. Holy...

I knew I was out of shape, but I had no idea that I was - by undeniable medical standards - unhealthy. I carry a weight that is not even close to healthy for my age and height. It's one thing to feel bad about how you look in a pair of jeans. It's another thing to know that you are just flat out unhealthy because of your weight. I felt ashamed.

And you know what happened next? I felt so ashamed that for the next couple of weeks I did exactly what got me unhealthy in the first place. I felt like a victim of my own poor decision making. I made excuses...I "just" had a baby (16 months ago). I am stressed and when I am stressed I eat and drink because "that's just what I do." I am busy (just like everyone else).

Here's the truth. I'm better than that, and it's time I started believing that. I am the only reason I am unhealthy. Not pregnancy. Not stress. Not time. Me. Me and only me. I put the food in my mouth. I drink the drinks. I skip exercise opportunities to give myself a "break."

And yet, I also complain about my poor physical state as if I didn't know how I got to this point.

Here's the good news: I know exactly what I am doing to be unhealthy, and I know exactly what I need to do to get healthy. I will NOT complain about my weight or health anymore as if I am a victim of some mysterious punishment. I am only enabling myself to be unhealthy when I feel sorry for myself. I am better than that. Some people who are important to me are counting on me to take care of myself. If I don't make time and effort to take care of myself, who will? There is no magic solution. It's really simple. Eat well and exercise. That's all there is to it. And if I am being honest with myself, I know I am not hitting the mark there.

I am making a commitment now. I am mad at how I have been living and I am reclaiming my health.

Here is the first Facebook profile picture I have ever had:

Yes, that's my face on Shania Twain's body. I actually posted it for the Grammy factor since I was really into my band then. But, now I post it for a different reason. Perhaps my waist has never been and may never be that skinny, but when I posted this picture I was healthy. I maintained a weight that made me feel good about myself.

I am having a health intervention with myself. If I were Jeff VanVonderen from the show Intervention, here's what I would be telling me:

"Mutherford, you gotta healthy person inside you who loves you like crazy but feels like she's losing you. She is fighting to get you back and wants to invite you to join the fight."

You know what? Challenge accepted.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Has it really been a month since I've posted?

It's true what they say about moms - we are busy people!
I can't believe I've been absent from posting for a month. Shameful!

Here are some quick things that have gone through my noggin over the past month:
  • Hannah is still freaking incredible. And just when I'm not sure she can get any cuter, she does. She's cuter today than she was yesterday. And more yesterday than the day before. It makes me excited for tomorrow.
  • As I sit here Hannah is sitting in her crib, settling in for the night. She is playing with her purple talking stuffed toy puppy Violet. At this moment, Hannah has no idea that I know exactly what she's doing right now. She is sitting in the dark, whispering gibberish to a stuffed puppy that is playing chimes from its belly. She is content, safe. I am practically crying I'm so in love with her. I think this is how God feels.
  • The Missouri Botanical Gardens is amazing not only because the landscaping is breathtaking but because they also have a child area where people like Hannah can wander around, build, play, explore, eat wood chips, get wet, etc. and people like me and my husband and Neal and Emily can watch.
  • You can't change people. Only how you react to them.
  • I need to start the morning with a 15 minute meditation if I expect to enjoy mornings.
  • Even though I have anxiety, I also have wine. And that helps sometimes.
  • People can really misunderstand me sometimes.
  • I am the only thing that is preventing me from losing weight, and I just haven't made the decision to get out of my own way yet.
  • My husband deserves a lot of happiness and I think that it is great that he agrees. I think more people should live like he does.
  • God always gives me the strength I need when I don't think I can find it for myself.
That is it for now. Hopefully I'll be back again soon.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Silly little HannahPants

Hannah is frickin' silly. She likes to hide these days, and it makes for some awesome photography. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I know what Victoria's secret is.

If at any time this becomes TMI you are welcome to stop reading, but with all due respect, you are on my personal blog.

#end disclaimer#

At some point in a relationship, I'd like to think that most couples come up with an underpants problem. Like - his preference is that cute lacy thing you wore once or twice, and yours is that really comfortable cotton stuff that gets lost against your skin beneath your jeans. I hate reminder underwear. You know, the stuff that hikes up your rear in an attempt to tap your shoulder and remind you it's there.

I think the problem I'm having right now is that I saw myself in that mesh thing you get after having a baby in the hospital that Jason and I referred to as Vicki's Don't Tell Nobody. Ever since I wore that thing in front of my husband, I've felt like we both have a scarred vision of me in underthings. I have been trying to work my way back into the nice stuff, but I am having trouble. I don't feeeeel like I look like those Victoria's Secret girls. You see, that's where they get you...

They've got ads and pictures up of these beyond-human amazing looking women, and somehow when you purchase those lacy bits of dental floss you hang onto a dream that you - yes YOU - kind of sort of look something kind of sort of like them when you wear it. Or that maybe your partner will get drunk enough to see you that way too. That's what they want you to think. Secret exploited.

Here's my secret -
I'm going to open a store called Build-a-Pants. It will be a lot like that one bear store for kids only you take your dream angels butt in there, they remove the fluff, you put wishes into it, and the result is something I will label as CompromiseWear. Somehow it will look to your husband like shiny, lacy layers of awesome, but to your butt it will feel like the fur of a holy kitten.

That's all.

I'm here. I swear.

You guys, I've just been busy. It's not you, it's me. I swear.

I'm dealing with a bit of a baby issue in that my 15-month old daughter thinks she needs to go through the "terrible twos" about 9 months ahead of schedule. She's a mad woman! A tiny little child beast! Don't get me wrong, she's crazy cute. She's just pushing the limits. Running amuck. Running around screaming. Running the house. Just running. I can't keep up. I'm terribly out of shape, so I just stand around and pant all the time. For the amount I sweat, I should be way skinnier. She also kicks and throws things and yells. For NO.GOOD.REASON. Yes, I believe there are good reasons to kick and throw things and yell, like combat, or during an attempted abduction. Or, apparently, when you want to press buttons on mom's phone, or eat yogurt by yourself with a fork. Those things.

How do I tame the child beast? I am probably not doing it right, but I negotiate, pacify, and feed. I don't know what else to do!

Friday, June 14, 2013 far...

This is a picture of me taken less than 1 minute ago, after struggling for 15 minutes in the car in the hot garage to adjust Hannah's car seat because I want to take her to the Loop to shop. After I picked her up out of the water puddle she was sitting in in the front yard. After she ate mud while I was watering plants. After I just got done cleaning up A new pee stain from Benson. After hosing poop off a bath mat in the backyard. After I finally got her bathed after she pooped in the tub and then pooped on the floor and started playing with it while I was cleaning the tub. After she got yogurt in her hair, eyes, ears, and some in her mouth. After I cleaned out her bloody and waxy ears. After she fell off the tiny chair in the living room and smashed her face/nose against the dry bar. So, you know, I have been trying to get out the door all morning but all that happened!

And now I'm getting gas because the light came on and deciding its probably too close to Hannah's nap time so we're just gonna go back home. Oh, the hilarity ensues!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A photo shoot conducted by my friend Heather Hanna Glennon

Heather is a friend of mine from college (which was, like, well over a decade ago...holy crap I'm old) and just got married last year to become Mrs. Heather Glennon. However, since my daughter's name is Hannah, I can't stop calling the person I know as Heather Hanna Hannah. I have also misspelled her maiden name every time I have attempted to type it in this post so far. So there ya go.

Heather is a really swell photographer and has done Hannah's newborn and six/seven month pictures, so it was a no duh to have her do the one-year pics. She does a really great job with Hannah and I recommend her to everyone. That means you, blog reader.

Hannah's almost 14 months old now, but better late than never, I say. Here are some of my favorites from the 1 year shoot:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pomp, circumstance, and a 5:00 bed time

I am a proud wiferford. My dear husband Jason graduated yesterday with honors! He started the undergrad degree efforts in 1999 but after a couple semesters in he was a poor college student, working his tail off for UPS, wondering when it would get better. Then, it did. His uncle told him about a Microsoft training academy his well-regarded technology company was holding. Jason left college, made it into the academy, and off went his IT career. Yet, as he told me yesterday, he felt like he needed to prove to himself that he could do it. So, although his career has gone really well, he committed to finishing his degree, all while being a great husband, father, friend, son, sibling, and employee. He deserves this feeling of accomplishment. I love him so much and am insanely proud of him!

His mom surprised him by coming in town. After the ceremony, we had lunch with our family. And a few beers. And then we came home and went to bed around 5:00 like true adults. Bom, bom, bom-bom-bom, bommm, bommmmmmm.

Friday, May 17, 2013

On being awake, living with fluids, and putting the dog on meds

Jason and I had grand plans to go to bed early and actually get some sleep last night. First rule of parenting: change your expectations, or just don't have any.

Hannah went down to sleep easily, which is pretty normal. We were all settled in, it was probably a little after 10:00 when I finally turned off the TV and tried to sleep. It's hard to sleep over the sound of a dog vomiting next to your bed. Yep, Benson hacked up two piles of leftovers onto the carpet.

It smelled like sunflower seeds. I am going to attribute that to the entire pack of them that he pulled out of Jason's baseball bag and ate on the living room floor the night before. Plastic packaging and all.

Jason cleaned up the puke mounds, cussing.

Back to bed...for about 15 minutes.

Hannah coughs. And coughs. And coughs. She always coughs through the night in sequences of three. It was driving Jason mad. So, in my attempt to resolve the situation I crept into Hannah's room and tried to slip a pacifier into her mouth. It worked, until she heard the floor creak when I tiptoed out (there is only one place in the whole house where the floor creaks and it happens to be right at the base of her crib).

She started wailing.

I tried to console her, rocking her in her glider. She finally settled down, but unsettled when I put her back in bed. Jason gave it a shot. No luck. Finally, we went to the milk bottle solution. That did the trick. Back to bed. On my way back I stepped in the dog vomit wet spot.

Speaking of the dog, we were told by the vet yesterday that Benson is having an allergy problem. (We were also told that we could put him on Prozac if he didn't stop marking our carpet, which blew my mind.) This is the reason he has been scratching himself raw on his belly, licking his feet to a point of swelling, and messing with his ever-infected ears. He chose this moment in the middle of the night to have a scratch attack. Scratching, scratching, scratching, scratching, scratching...and so on. It was driving us nuts. We decided to give him Benadryl (our vet told us we could - apparently he is a big pill guy). Within ten minutes Benson was a limp pile of sleeping dog. Back to bed.

Maybe a couple of hours later, I awake to Benson standing up under the covers of our bed by my feet. I lifted the covers to scope the situation. A waft of sunflower seeds hit my nose. I put my hands down by his feet and felt around. Yep! Wet. But not vomit. Urine. Benson was so blitzed from the drugs he wet our bed.

It was 4:30 at this point. I woke Jason up so he could help me resolve the situation. In the process of taking the sheets off the bed I stepped in the vomit spot, no less than four times.

We got the laundry going and I went into the spare bedroom to sleep. Thirty minutes later, Hannah was up. Don't worry, she had peed her bed a little too. Apparently the midnight milk was too much for Pampers.

We got up and got into the bath tub. Water running, I set her in. She didn't even get all the way sitting before a tiny fountain of pee came out. Drain the tub. Rinse. Refill. We're having fun now. She wants to drink the bath water. We fight about it. I win, but she screams.

After the bath we head downstairs. Mama needs coffee. Hannah pounds on the sliding glass door. She loves to be outside. I grab my coffee and we head out. I get my feet caught in my pajama pants as I try to walk down the two concrete steps onto the patio. Coffee down my leg. I don't even care. I sit down and help Hannah down the stairs. She stubs her bare toe. Blood everywhere. I run inside quickly and get a wet paper towel to press on it. I come out and she's using her tiny toothpick finger to mess with a roly-poly that is crawling along the ground. It was adorable. I go to grab my phone to take a picture. Turn around to see her hand leave her mouth. Uh-huh. She ate it.

As I write this, she is laying in her crib, trying to nap and coughing in threes. Benson is sleeping under the covers in the spare bedroom, hopefully alive but not peeing. I am laying on my mattress, no sheets, in my coffee-stained pajama pants, thinking about what a shower might feel like and how I need to stop wondering why I am a little more anxiety-ridden than normal these days. I don't sleep and I spend most of my time bandaging, cleaning, sleeping in, or stepping on bodily fluids. It's so ridiculous, I laugh.

This is parenting.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A strange anniversary.

Hannah is 13 months old today. But, that's not the strange anniversary. That's the very awesome, incredibly normal and happy anniversary.

One year ago today, I finally began to feel better for a little while. From Hannah's birth on April 2, 2012 until one year ago yesterday, I entered into a traumatic war with postpartum anxiety and depression. And, I entered the hospital in what I was convinced would be my last attempt at recovering the life I used to know.

One year ago today, I started to understand some things I am not sure I want the privilege of knowing sometimes.

I'm not trying to say anything profound here. I'm certainly not trying to convince anyone that they need to "believe" in postpartum anxiety and depression as if it were a fictional creature that required an element of proof. I don't need anyone to believe in it. It's like God. I can't see it, but I felt it, and it was gripping, consuming, in charge, and very, very real.

I keep this blog because it allows me to capture time a bit, and just as I get to go back through my past few years and see how I've evolved, I plan to come back to this blog someday, especially when circumstances feel impossible and I need to remind myself of a few things.

Here's what I know: I got to go to hell for awhile beginning a year ago, and it's ugly there. I don't believe that hell is a place as much as it is an experience. A continuous push down deep underwater while you can't decide if you want to waste your breath screaming or just hang onto your exhale.

It's hard to explain exactly how it felt during that time, but I imagine it's a lot like the way an addict feels during detox. Mentally, it's confusing, complicated, frustrating, devastating, hopeless, and beyond frightening. Your biggest fear is that you are always going to feel afraid, forever. I thought I was stuck with the sensation that my skin was hot and crawling. I believed I might never get to take care of Hannah. I actually yearned to stay up with her through the night, feed her from my body, rock her in the soft, oversized chair I picked out for us, and feel like we were the only ones awake with the moon. Instead, she cried, and I couldn't do a thing.

I felt nothing but fear, all day, every day. At the time I didn't feel failure or desire. There was no room in my body for any other feeling besides fear.

The strangest thing, though, is that I can't recreate that kind of fear now, even if I try as hard as possible. It is eerie to me to think of the person I was less than 12 months ago because I don't recognize that person. That is a gift.

I met my doctor when I was in the hospital a year ago. Throughout my treatment, he thought I was somewhat of a peculiar case because I recovered the week he treated me, and then I relapsed. And then I recovered again. And then I relapsed again. I remained in a tolerable condition for a few weeks after I left the hospital. And then, it all came back. It hit me hard and kept me in that frightening place for days. Again, I couldn't budge. I knew I had recovered temporarily but the fear returned that I would be stuck there again. The last relapse I had was in July, but occasionally I still get haunted by the thought of it.

And yet, in a way, I'm better than I was before. I've identified the liar and know how to stifle the quiet voice with the devious intentions. I have been given some sort of unique posterity. A purpose I don't want, but apparently it wanted me. I have it in my heart to tell people about anxiety, and, more importantly, recovery.

I kept notes in my phone sometimes as I tried to make sense of what happened. Once, a few months ago, I was angry at depression and I began to write a note to it in an effort to yell at something that I only knew - but knew very vividly - with a few of my senses. Instead, I actually wrote somewhat of a thank you note. An excerpt:

You gave me tears, but you also gave me confidence with a purpose. Because now I've seen the darkest of darks and I know how sweet the light is. I can tell a believable story to those who feel won't be this way forever...stay strong...don't stop getting help until you feel like yourself again, and then remain committed to maintaining that help does get better, and it will. I had you, depression. You never had me. I may see you again, but this time I'll fear you less because I've defeated you before. You taught me just how strong I can be. You reminded me that there is nothing on earth my own mother, husband, family and friends won't do to keep me safe from myself when I am lost. You brought me to my knees as I screamed in my kitchen at God, begging for a way out, and you faded as I felt a quiet calm, a sense that this may not feel good but God's plan still is. I own the soul you tried to get me to abandon. You waged a war and tried to use my very own power against me. But I put on God's armour and knocked you behind me, enemy.

I am not happy that I had to experience postpartum anxiety. This was not part of my plan. But I am one of the fortunate ones. I got out. I can see the faces of silently suffering friends and strangers and know that they know something the rest of us don't, and they don't have the ability or energy to explain it. My heart is sensitive to precious, precious human beings who don't understand how they became trapped inside themselves. I ache when I witness people who have not experienced - and probably don't have the ability to experience - the isolation of depression and yet believe they have some authority to judge what it is possible for other people to feel or not feel. We do not know what battles the other is fighting. Each one of us is comprised of special ingredients that blend together to uniquely produce our reality. No two realities are alike.

I have a lot to show for the past year. I approach things a little differently now.

I sit in silence more often. I turn off the noise in the house and listen to my very own breath, and I send praises to God that I have been given the privilege of life - of raising my beloved Hannah, loving my husband, pleasing my family, entertaining my friends (and the occasional stranger), working hard, resting, feeling. I get to celebrate life, progress, change, curiosity, mystery, and many, many more anniversaries.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You're doing it right.

Somewhere around 5:15 a.m., I woke up to yelling. I didn't even get a courtesy cry from Hannah so I could slowly fade into the morning as I usually do. Crying bypassed. Straight to yelling.

Just six hours earlier I had gone into Hannah's room to put a light blanket on her because it had gotten cold upstairs. The damn floor boards beneath the carpet creaked. Note: the only floorboards in our entire house that creak are right at the base of her crib. We didn't know this until after the bead board was up, the walls were painted, the furniture was in place, and we went to set her in bed for the first time.

The floor creaked and Hannah woke up. She didn't courtesy cry this time either. She yelled. We're almost certain she has another molar coming in, so I'm sure when the poor gal wakes up she feels like she's been chewing on Legos all night. I tried to calm her down and handed her the subby (aka pacifier...we call it "subby" long for "sub" which stands for "shut up button") that our pediatrician told us to stop giving her about four months ago. The yelling combined with the subby caused her to cough and choke. She vomited. Sour yogurt vomit all over her jammers and bed. This was not going well. Jason had the baby monitor and heard the commotion. He whipped up a quick bottle and came to the rescue. The bottle that our pediatrician told us to stop giving her about a month ago.

After the wake up yell this morning, I got her dressed at the same time that I tried to fold her basket of laundry that's been sitting on the floor for a good week now. I got halfway through when Jason notified me of the time ticking away and I noticed Hannah dumping milk on the clean laundry and our kind dog Benson chewing on a sock. Finished dressing her as she yelled and Jason got her off to school. My ears were ringing.

I was exhausted so I laid back down for a minute of morning news on TV. One minute turned into 72 and I woke up to the sound of news anchors preparing to switch shifts. This meant it was nearing the top of the hour. This meant I was going to be late to work.

Fortunately, I work two minutes away from my house, so if I'm running behind I can usually still get there on time.

Unfortunately, I work two minutes away from my house, so I am now acutely aware of my problem with procrastination.

Work was busy, but fine. I normally try to go to the Y after work and then pick up Hannah, but since I stayed a little later to get some emails out, I painted the following peaceful plan of the night's events in my mind:

I would jump in the car, stop by the house, pick up the diaper bag, stop by Walgreens, pick up Vaseline and baby Tylenol for the molar-yelling issue, pick up Hannah, grab a bite to eat with her at Qdoba, run into Lowe's with her and buy a new fridge (ours went out the other day after I had purchased a good amount of attempt-to-eat-cleanly food...awesome), and then Hannah and I would come home, feed Benson (who would not jump up and claw my legs as usual), let him out to use the grass, give Hannah a bath (she still kind of smelled vomity), offer up a gulp or so of warm milk, and she would retire without battle to bed so I could have a little treadmill time (because in this dream I like exercise) and then head off to bed.

Here's how reality came in and junk-punched my vision:
I jump in my car after work, which looks like a baby piñata exploded inside. I blanked and found myself on the outer road instead of the street that leads to my house, so the diaper bag was out of the picture because I don't turn around for things. I walk into daycare, which means I forgot to stop by Walgreens. I pick up Hannah - who is yelling in the backseat - and we head into Qdoba. An old friend from college is in line behind us with two of his daughters - one a week older than Hannah, sitting calmly in his arms. Hannah is back-arching in my arms as I'm paying the cashier. I am sweating and trying to figure out how I'm going to get us situated at a table with a highchair while holding a 22-pound gymnast baby, a tray of quesadillas, a purse, and a cup of water. Cashier sees this and delivers a quesadilla and highchair to a table in the back corner of the restaurant where yelling is allowed. We begin eating. Actually, one of us is eating and the other is yelling. I offer her water and she fills the top of my straw with backwash and quesadilla particles. She then begins chucking quesadilla pieces on the floor and snotting uncontrollably and attempting to backbend out of the highchair and yelling...lots of yelling. I sweat more and swallow my quesadilla in whole triangular pieces. College guy is sitting peacefully at his table with his peaceful wife and peaceful children, no yelling. Lowe's is out of the question but we head to Walgreens because, by God, I am getting Vaseline and baby Tylenol. Gas light goes on. We roll into Walgreens on gas breath and I get inside, take a sharp turn down the wine aisle, grab the Pinot Grigio that I added to the shopping list in between baby backflips, and make it to the medicine aisle. There are over 100 varieties of baby acetaminophen and none of them look like the kind she just polished off. Hannah wants down and at this point I'm speed-reading med boxes while she's shaking a bottle of Pepto pills like a rattle. And yelling. People are staring. I grab the meds and Vaseline and get to the checkout counter where a new register opens and a woman who clearly doesn't have yelling babies jumps in front. I could have screamed but Hannah was taking care of that for me. Get out, get gas, get home. Benson claws my legs as I'm holding wicked-tuna-out-of-water baby in one arm and Walgreens goods in the other. Clawing hurts. Goods get dropped. I feed Claws McGee as Hannah sings a song to me that is all in the key of yell. Benson gives me a look that says, Don't worry, no need to let me outside, I just used the carpet behind the couch again. No bath for the baby. I warm up a little milk in an off-limits bottle in the microwave as Hannah performs a dance I call Lay Yourself Out on the Kitchen Floor and Scream. I somehow managed to change a flailing octopus baby into pajamas and get her into bed, where she proceeded to yell at me for two minutes and then fell asleep.

I want to bypass the treadmill and head straight to the wine. But you know what? I won't, because I am fine. You know why? Because I'm not perfect, and my plans are never the same as reality anymore, but I'm doing my best.

Here's how I know. Earlier today I overheard two people having a conversation.
  • Female person: "I remember when I got pregnant your wife told me, 'Hey, as long as you don't drop it and break it, you're doing it right!'"
  • Male person: "Yeah, I only dropped two of my babies!"
They both have multiple children, the youngest being 6 and the oldest being a teenager. They both have children who made it beyond baby stage. They both did it right.

You know why they did it right? Because they did it imperfectly but with the right heart. I don't know the details of their child rearing, but since we are all imperfect beings I can say with confidence that they probably weren't flawless in their parenting. But I know they love their children with everything they have, and they did the best they could, and that is what we are called to do, and that, therefore, is "right."

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, ready to run on a treadmill even though I hate exercise, but my baby deserves a healthy mom and my husband deserves a healthy wife. My ears are done ringing from Yellfest 2013 and I'm listening to my baby's ocean wave sound machine that is keeping her calmly asleep in her crib. Warm in her bed. Not hurting from a molar. Tummy filled with milk no matter how hard it was to get it in there. I love her so much that I know if I go upstairs and I think it's cold I'm going to put a blanket on her and risk doing today all over again tomorrow, because I care about her and want her to be happy. Parents can't be perfect, but love can. When I parent out of love, I'm doing it right.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Little empty container, big full heart.

Yes, I'm about to get sappy about a plastic container. But I think you'll get it.

See, here's the thing: I wanted to breastfeed really bad. I enrolled in a really weird class at the hospital while I was pregnant where we even simulated breastfeeding with plastic babies. I sat in a chair in a room full of strangers, held a plastic baby to my chest and pretended. It was strange and awesome all at once.

I dropped $200 on a big old breast pump kit. It has tubes and bottles and lids and makes freaky pump noises. I thought it was going to be really funny to use.

My heart was in it. I read all about breastfeeding in my What to Expect book. I was expecting it to be the challenging, rewarding, bond-inducing special experience that I had built it up to be in my mind. And for two weeks, it was.

Breastfeeding is incredible. It's so awkward and it's so amazing. You get to feel like a life source to your newest, most favorite person in the world. What an honor.

It gives you a hormonal rush and a big head - like, Oh, you're good at math? Well, my body makes food.  It calms your heart and fills your spirit. Sometimes it annoys you because you're really freaking sleepy and not in the mood to be a snack, but someone else very important needs you to be a snack like right now.

I got to experience that for two weeks and for that I am blessed. But, I also got robbed of it early. My postpartum anxiety halted my ability to produce, and I also had to take some medicine that would get passed through to my baby girl and I wasn't able to come to terms with that.

I think I was upset about it but it's hard to say because at that point in my postpartum period I was just upset about feeling anxious, and feeling anxious about being upset. Actually, I'll admit it - I felt relief. Because at that point I knew I was not my best, and despite my inability to be 100% there physically - although my heart was always 100% there - I knew Hannah was going to be taken care of. And that was all that mattered.

So, here we are...almost exactly a year from when Hannah went to formula full time because I couldn't breastfeed. I remember feeling guilty sometimes because the very container that Hannah's food came in said "breast is best" on it. It was kind of a smack in the face.

You know what I think? I think they need to remove that dang line from the container. Because you know what's best? What's best is what you, as a mom, need to do to keep your baby's sacred tummy full and your precious self healthy. I had to stop breastfeeding, and I felt a little terrible about that. But then I knew I was doing what's right, and I thanked God repeatedly, over and over and over again, that He gave His people the brilliance to make formula. I was facing an adversity, and my baby was still going to thrive.

Yes, there are tons of major benefits of breastfeeding. I believe in it. But I believe even more in being healthy for your baby, and it is so, so, so important that you take care of yourself as a mom. Just because formula isn't breast milk doesn't mean it is bad. Or wrong to use. It is a gift, in my opinion.

I feel like I want to repeat that point.


Not every mom wants to breastfeed. That's perfectly fine. Some moms can't. That sucks if it screws up what you had planned, but it's still OK. Formula makes it possible for moms to have a choice, and that is a wonderful thing. My husband and I got to share the responsibility for feeding Hannah, and he loved it. When I was suffering my worst bouts of postpartum anxiety and needed serious medical attention, my mom was able to take Hannah overnight several times.

I have a very sentimental feeling about formula. Perhaps it's the same thing a mother feels when she weans her baby and packs the pump away. As I stand in my kitchen over the empty formula container, knowing that it is never going to be full again, I feel a bit melancholy. I will miss the feedings where Hannah's tummy was grumbling and I got to hear it stop, and she would fall asleep and wake back up mid-feeding, and the formula would calm her. Such a cozy feeling. I will miss seeing her light up at the sight of a bottle. I will miss Hannah laughing at the weird dance that Jason and I do when we make a bottle ("shake shake shake...shake shake shake...shake your booottle, shake your booooooottle" - to the tune of "shake your booty"). I will miss hearing my mom call it "milk." I will miss packing her little bottles for daycare. I will miss seeing her clench her fingers and open them quickly - the baby sign for milk.

I thank God for formula. I have a very healthy, ridiculously happy little girl sleeping soundly in the other room with a big old robin belly that was formed by formula. I am in a very good postpartum state and my recovery was certainly expedited by the use of formula. I am so blessed. Thanks for being so good to us, formula.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If you're looking for BIG BOOPS, you're in the right spot.

My new job as an online content copywriter requires me to know a bit about SEO and web content, and as part of the deal I am learning more and more about metrics, such as the data that can be found about a particular website via Google Analytics. To help me learn, I've used this very Mutherford blog to familiarize myself with how Analytics works. I think that some of the data I found today is worth sharing.

I was researching the search terms that people are using that help them find my site in search engines, and the list of queries that bring someone to Mutherford is quite...interesting. Take a look:

It's nice to know that people who are looking for "baby nora" get to read about my beautiful niece. However, the majority of the rest of the list is downright disturbing. Something tells me that "big boops" is the result of a typo and the searchers were probably really disappointed to find stories about baby face boops on my blog. I would love to know what people were looking for when they entered "chapped ass" in the Google search field. Muffin top came up twice in the list, so that's neat. I had to look up "francis mango" to see what the deal there was - apparently "madame francis mango" is a type of Haitian mango. I'm sure everyone looking for the actual fruit was thrilled to see pictures of my stomach instead. I guess there's more than one "Hannah Boo Boo" out there (surely not quite the beauty queen my Hannah is), I'm apparently not the only one who has hurt my tailbone, and jt hannah's is a restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that serves up some delicious-looking American cuisine. I'll have to try it out next time I'm in the 'hood.

In conclusion, the best way to find the Mutherford site by way of Google is to search for such terms as "big boops" or "muffin top." I am clearly changing the world one post at a time!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

She is ONE.

My ladybug, Hannah Sophia, is ONE YEAR OLD today! Can you believe it? So much has happened over the past year. It was the best, hardest year ever. Talk about trials. Talk about joy. But no matter what challenges I faced, I was always in a better place when I would look at Hannah's precious, perfectly-crafted-by-God face.

She has grown into a giggly, goofy little fun lover who can put away food like a lumberjack. She says mama, dada, uh-ohdog (preceded by woof woof), duck (followed by quack quack quack), eat, this, that, and she even said balloon yesterday. Sometimes she will just repeat whatever you say.

She loves baths - blows air into the water to make bubbles, splashes and rubs her eyes when the water hits them, tries to stand up even though she knows she isn't supposed to, drinks water as it leaves the spout, and chews on her toys relentlessly.

She loves books - sits as calm as she can in your lap as you read, turns the pages prematurely, points at images with her little toothpick finger, slams your hands in the book, and sometimes giggles at random when she likes what you're reading.

Her laugh is incredible - the perfect little girl giggle. She points and points at things all day, saying this and that as she points. Discovering. It dawned on me the other day when we were on a walk and saw a squirrel that this was the first time she was probably really seeing a squirrel and realizing it was a moving, breathing creature. She's a foreigner uncovering a mystical new land.

She loves to walk, but sometimes frightens herself when she stumbles. She thinks she's pretty funny when she starts crawling swiftly up the stairs and her dad or I sprint to her so we can ensure she doesn't fall. She thinks we're chasing her.

She loves the dog, although he doesn't care much for her except when she's eating. She will try to lay on him, follow him around, pat his face (sometimes a bit rough), and say woof woof at him.

She gets a really proud, beaming look on her face when she wants you to acknowledge what she's doing because she thinks she's pretty neat, like when she is taking a good long series of steps, or when she's riding around in the new wagon her grandparents got her and she thinks she's pretty big stuff. Because she is pretty big stuff.

She sleeps so well and often goes to bed without a struggle. She will let you know when she needs a nap and she really only fusses when she's hungry or constrained and wants to move.

Being her mother is like receiving the most incredible, irreplaceable gift anyone could be given. The thought of her special, smiling face and gorgeous blue eyes makes my spirit full and warm. She is God's child, His perfect creation, and I am humbled to be her mother.

1 month

2 months
3 months

4 months
5 months

6 months
7 months

8 months
9 months

10 months
11 months

12 months = ONE YEAR!