Tales of Tired

I could start off the New Year on my blog by saying that I’m going to blog more often.  Or perhaps, it might be more appropriate to apologize for disappearing and not blogging for an inordinate amount of time.

I am sorry that I haven’t been around.  I am sorry that I haven’t been reading everyone’s blogs.  I know how it feels sometimes when bloggers “disappear” and you never really know why.

I’d like to think that this year I will get back to blogging more regularly.  The truth is that I do really miss it.  I think often, usually daily, about what I would write on my blog if I just had the time to make it here… If I just wasn’t so tired.  My phone is filled with notes containing one line thoughts and ideas that would make for good blog topics.  I have pictures and interesting nuggets that I imagine sharing.  But I also miss writing – and being a good writer, at that.  I used to be an amazing writer and I used to have profound things to say.  Now I don’t know where that all went.  I want my blog to mean something, even if it only means something to me.

The real truth, though, is that I’ve been so tired.

Since I started back at work, it’s been a inordinate effort to ensure I am giving off the right message of interest, commitment, and hard work.  I can’t afford for even one person to think I could do better, and that is exhausting.

Three kids is a whole lot of tired, too.  It’s been an exciting ride, and little El is already 8 months old.  I’m not sure how that amount of time has flown by, but it has and I am still managing.  I find it a challenge to really give each of my children the time they deserve.  I especially feel bad for E, my middle child, who is at that horrible age of 4-5… he’s straddling the line between toddler and kid and he embodies the worst characteristics of each one.  It is not my favourite age; I did not like it when A was that age and I suspect I will not like it when El is that age either.  And so I feel that I fall short as a loving, attentive mother to E.  Feeling like I need to do better is tiring.

Breastfeeding while working an 80 hour week with call shifts… now that is a whole new level of exhaustion.  I love breastfeeding.  I am already sad thinking about the possibility of it ending.  I still exclusively breastfeed El when I am home and I pump all the milk she drinks while I am away.  Finding time to pump between clinic patients and OR cases is like trying to solve an impossible puzzle.  Amazingly though, I leave each shift with enough milk to fill El’s bottles for the next day.  It is fulfilling, even though I loathe being attached to a breast pump each and every day.

Not having time for myself is also… just tiring.  I haven’t been running.  I haven’t been reliably going to Taekwondo. I haven’t been getting pedicures, or going for massages, or blogging, or doing anything other than working, mothering, and pumping milk.  I want to do better and hopefully (paradoxically) this will lead to less “feeling tired.”

I will set some goals for this year, like I did the past two years.  I’m optimistic that this will help with getting me back where I want to be.  I was extremely successful with this endeavour in 2015 (which was documented on my old blog, before I had to close it down), but looking back at the goals for 2016, I was very far off the mark.  I still need some time for reflection on what these goals will be, but I know they will follow a similar pattern of fitness goals, wellness goals, and personal life goals.

Maybe the first goal will be: “To be less Tired.”

And to achieve that, I should probably get to bed.

MEternity Leave? Really?

Over a week ago, on June 1, I sat down to start writing a blog post.  I wrote one sentence of that post and I have not been back to WordPress since then.  It’s not because I haven’t wanted to blog, and it’s not because I have nothing to blog about… it’s because I’ve quite literally had no time to myself – at all.

This phenomenon of having no time to myself, despite being home from my 80-100hr+ work week, reminded me of the MEternity fiasco from a few months back.  For anyone to think that a maternity leave is a “sabbatical” or “vacation” or anything that resembles an opportunity for “me time” has got something seriously wrong.  If I’m going to be completely honest, I would say that I haven’t really been enjoying my maternity leave that much.  Before I divulge all the reasons I’m not enjoying it, I’ll state the few things that I do enjoy about maternity leave (just so I don’t seem to be complaining all the time):

  1. I love baby El and I love to spend time watching her grow and change.  I want her to stay small forever, but I know she won’t.  I’m cherishing the time I get to spend with her now.
  2. I get to see my other kids more often than I did when I was working.

Yes, I think that’s about it.  Here are all the things I dislike about my maternity leave:

  1. I am always tired – I am lucky to get 6 hours of broken sleep a night, and the sleep I do get is far from quality as I am paranoid about my baby and her ridiculously low risk of SIDS (this is where I say that, contrary to all advice on how to reduce SIDS, I can’t abide by t all.  Baby El refuses to sleep unless she is right next to me, with easy access to her precious boobie – All. The. Time.)
  2. I almost always have a little human being attached to my body.  This is either in the form of breastfeeding or babywearing.  Baby El usually needs to be nursed to sleep.  And, she doesn’t really like to stay asleep unless someone is carrying her.
  3. I am always yelling at the boys: Either they aren’t listening to the Nanny, so I get mad at them for that.  Or, they aren’t listening to me, so I get mad at them for that.  Or they are too loud and running around every part of the house and waking up the delicate baby that I just FINALLY GOT TO SLEEP.  I feel like all the time I spend with my kids involves yelling.
  4. I miss adult human interaction.  You can only text message people so much before you get bored.  Plus, everyone is working while I am home, so there is no one to go out with during the day.
  5. I have fleeting thoughts of finishing that book I started weeks ago, or working on the cross stitch birth announcements (for E first, before I can start El’s), or blogging, or even getting some exercise.  However, those thoughts are vanquished by one of the three kids that are demanding my attention at any given time of the day.  If I’m lucky, I can get outside for a walk with the baby in a carrier (she won’t even stay settled in a stroller)… but not before getting the 10th degree from A, who wants to know where I’m going, when I’ll be back, why he can’t come, am I sure he can’t come, and what kind of punishment I will get if I’m not home when I say I’ll be home.
  6. I miss my job… dearly.  If it wasn’t for my baby, I would go back tomorrow.
  7. I’m sure there is something I’m missing.

So there you have it… My maternity leave is far from relaxing, enjoyable, or a life changing revolution.

And, I’ve gotta go… baby El is awake!

Bumping the Blogging

I am not one for bump selfies, or bumpies (if you will).  However, I feel as though I need an explanation for my blogging absence. 

This right here, my friends, is the reason blogging hasn’t been happening: 

 Welcome to bump version 3.0. It is approximately 2/3 complete (or 27w5d if you like to be that kind of exact).

Because of the bump, I have been moving like a waddling senior citizen – yes, as awkward as that sounds. I have been collapsing into a heap of bump and water retentative discomfort the moment I’ve walked through the door after a long 11 hour day at work. 

For a good comic routine, you could watch me put on my compression stockings and SI support belt while sporting my extra-large scrub pants OVER the bump, on the mornings I am preparing for a long day in the OR. 
I’m sad to admit that this bump had taken over my life and has really bumped everything else to the bottom of the priority list, including blogging. 

The bump hasn’t all been bad, though. Let’s remember that there is a little baby princess growing in that bump (oh, that explains it all!) and there is some greatness in that alone. Kicks are getting stronger, love is growing immensely, and excitement is brewing all around. 

So, if there is any power that my brain has over the bump, I will try to get back into this blogging game with more seriousness than I have. I miss all this stuff!

Reflections for a New Year

 Many of these types of inspirational pictures and messages have been floating around on my Facebook feed over the past few days. Given that I’ve been in a rather introspective mindset and contemplating changes in my life, they have really been hitting a chord for me. I know that I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere lately and I think that has actually been a bad thing. This is a great place for me to come and let out my thoughts, fears, questions, and frustrations. While I’ve been very busy with work and home, I feel like the winter blues have been making me lazy and unmotivated to blog. The truth is,  though, I really miss it and I think my mental health is suffering because of it.  I really need o work harder on making blogging a priority – not because I want to promote my blog or anything, but because I know it contributes to my mental sanity. 

On a similar note, I have been reflecting on some goals for the new year. Last year on the old blog, I set 11 goals for myself over the year. I met most of them by half way through the year, and a few of them fell to the wayside. In July, right before I closed down the old blog and started anew, I revised and reset some goals but with the blogging fiasco, I never kept up with them. I really want to start some new goals for 2016 here on this blog, much like I did last year. I have been reflecting on  some reasonable goals given that I’m struggling with decisions surrounding my career, I am 4.5 months pregnant, and I feel like I am starting from “zero” most days.  I’m hoping that by the end of this weekend I will have delineated some reasonable goals and will have posted them here for accountability. 

In the meanime, in will make a shot-term “pseudo goal” to get back into the blogging world.   
    
 

Ready For Christmas

December has been a whirlwind month. I feel bad for not blogging in almost a whole month. However, it’s been tough keeping my head up over the past few weeks. Today we are on our way out of town in preparation for Christmas. It is going to be another crazy 5 days, but at least I’m off work and spending time with my family. I’m hoping to get a few more blog posts in over the next few days. But here is a quick summary of the last few weeks:
I had a week of vacation where I managed to get a significant amount of baking and reading done. Hopefully in the next few days I will get a chance to post about my reading adventures. I managed to read 3 books in December, thanks to my week of vacation, which means I accomplished my goal of reading 12 books in 2015!
I went back to work and, again, struggled with the challenge of feeling like I’m not quite in the right place in life. Work is so busy, demanding, and tiring, and it makes me really question if I’m doing the right things with my life. 
Pregnancy has continued to be exhausting. I am almost 20 weeks pregnant now, which means that I am getting bigger, gaining more weight, and feeling more uncomfortable. The first few days back after my vacation I was feeling a lot of cramping and that was stressful. Thankfully it was only that – no bleeding, no contractions, no broken water. I think that the worst part of my job these days is seeing all the bad and unfortunate pregnancy outcomes. This week alone I think I dealt with at least 4 or 5 peri-viable (22-23 week) broken waters or deliveries. It’s been hard to see that happening. 
After all those difficult outcomes at work, the worst thing an anxious, pregnant mom of two boys could do is plan an anatomy ultrasound for the morning that her Christmas Vacation starts. After a tense hour of having a stranger smear gel over my swollen belly and take hundreds of pictures of my unborn baby without saying a single word, it turnes out that everything looks okay! Normal anatomy (including heart, spine, and palate), high anterior placenta, long, closed cervix… And, it’s a Girl! 

 

  Something To Treasure

“If you are not happy, you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”
~Robertson Davies

I had a difficult week at work.  I was tired from waking up early every day, putting in long hours at a mentally challenging job.  I had some patient cases that challenged me beyond my limits and made me feel like I’m not smart enough to be doing what I’m doing.  And worse, I felt like I will never be smart enough or capable enough to do this job I’ve picked for myself.  Saturday was no better, when I still had to get out of bed, put on my blue scrubs, and cart myself to work and do it all over again for another day.

The day started out with a difficult case: a woman who was sick and only getting worse.  The baby inside of her also showing signs of not thriving well.  The decision was made to deliver her baby and we wheeled her into the operating room.  A 27 week baby that looked more like a 24 week baby that was difficult to deliver… a lifeless baby that I handed to the nurse… a baby that needed CPR before being intubated and whisked away to the NICU.  And the a tattered uterus to put back together.

IMG_6458I left the OR feeling more tired and deflated.  The feeling of the baby’s brittle bones between my fingers and his heavy doll-like head bobbing in my hands was etched in my mind.  I walked back into the delivery room waiting for the next disaster but instead found a large bouquet of flowers on the desk… and it was for me.  A rare and unbelievable gift from my husband – something to keep me going for the day.  The card simply said, “Have a great day, Beautiful.”

And therein are my treasures: A loving husband, who might not always seem to “get me,” but he loves me nonetheless.  Two healthy children who will never know the difficulties of the baby I had just delivered.  Another growing child inside of me – one that I came by rather easily.  A job that I love, despite how much it exhausts me.  And, all the opportunity and ability that anyone in the world could wish for.

 

My Backstory

“We are all special cases.”
~Albert Camus

From The Old Blog, November 21, 2014

We all have a story that makes us who we are.  I would argue that these stories are not always fun to tell or easy to accept.  It is these stories, however, that make us “special.”  My story is far from great, but I know it could have been worse.  I am the grown up child of a messy divorce, and this simple fact has made the “special case” that I am today:

My parents were newly divorced and were too busy hating each other and making each other miserable to really realize what they were doing to their children.  They provided the necessities and we never wanted for anything physical – we were clothed and fed, we went to school and we did well.  Emotionally, they gave us nothing.  I never felt special or like I mattered to my parents.  My accomplishments always seemed to fall on deaf ears and land in front of blind eyes.  I was a 12 year old girl with nothing to motivate me and no one to encourage me.
~From The Old Blog

Some days I go back to being that 12 year old girl, and I get angry at myself every time I do it.  I am embarrassed that this so heavily defines who I am and how I interact with people.  I fear that I will never be able to escape from that 12 year old me.  And, that right there is the problem: I should not want to escape from her.  Rather, I should want to open up my arms to her and give her that which she never had.  I should be the one to support her, motivate her, cheer her along, giver her advice, and be her best friend.  That is exactly what she has spent the last 20 years trying to find.  Now I can be that for her, I just need to believe it.

We all have stories that make us special cases but many of us are too afraid to go back and read those stories.  Those stories are what make up who we are and we need to understand them to really understand ourselves.  Going back to the beginning can also tell us how far we’ve come and, hopefully, allow us to realize how much we can help ourselves.

I an not a special case because I am the grown up child of divorced parents.  I am a special case because of what I have become as a result:
I am sensitive, kind, and loving.
I work hard, seek perfection, and achieve my goals.
I put others before myself and passionately give everything I can.
I am a loving mom, a sincere wife, and a good friend.

I am all of those things, even if I don’t always believe it… even if other people don’t always believe it.

Looking at the Stars

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
~Oscar Wilde

From The Old Blog, November 18, 2015:

This quotation makes me think of the scene in “Forrest Gump” where Forrest asks Bubba to lean up against him so they could support each other while they slept: “you lean against me and I’ll lean right back up against you and that way we don’t have to sleep with our heads in the mud.” After a few of these nights of sleeping upright against each other, the rain suddenly stopped, the sky cleared, and the stars came out… And Forrest thought of Jenny.
I couldn’t find a great image of that scene, but I found this small collage of pictures from the torrential rain during movie’s rendition of the Vietnam War. One day it just started raining and it never ever stopped. There was sideways rain, and downwards rain, and rain that even seemed to come from below. But no matter how much it rained, it did finally stop and since his head wasn’t stuck in the mud, Forrest was able to see the stars.

Last year I wrote about how I was stuck in the gutter – not necessarily looking into it, but stuck in it.  As a result, I was not seeing, or even looking for, the stars.  This year I am happy to say that I am not in the gutter.  I don’t even feel like my feet are dragging in the gutter.  I may not always be looking at the stars, but at least I am closer to them this year than I was last year.

On additional difference from last year, as well, is that I focussed much of this post on telling my friend that I admired her for always being the one looking at the stars.  Knowing what I know now, I don’t know if I would say that is always true.  I’m not sure exactly what I mean by saying that; perhaps I just don’t necessarily think that this old friend was always doing the right things or making the right choices.  That could just be my hurt conscious talking after she decided to delete me from her life, but I think it’s more than that.  I think I used to admire her and set her on a pedestal that was unrealistic.  After having time to reflect on everything that has happened and what her role was in my life, I realize that I had many ideas about her that were unrealistic.  Anyhow, this is again, a digression from the point.

The most important fact here is that I have spent much more time in the past year out of the gutter and looking at the stars.

Crazy, Crazy, Life!

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”
~Ursula K. LeGuin

In honour of this past week being crazy, I decided to (yet again) re-post last year’s entry.  This past week I worked 4 call shifts in 9 days, which included working through an entire weekend.  In essence, I basically worked 12 days straight!  How exhausting! (At least I’ve managed to keep up with the blogging challenge!)

From The Old Blog, November 17, 2014

Oh My!  Where do I start?  This World is just too much sometimes!  What world?  How about all the worlds???

The “Real” World: Technology, Facebook, Movie stars, Competition, Mommy Wars, Politics, Weather… you name it.  The real world that we all live in and that we all share – it is one crazy, difficult to manage place most of the time.

The “Parent” World: If you have kids, you know what I mean.  I ended a friendship over a blog post I shared on Facebook once.  It was titled (something like) “Ten things I hate about being a parent and one thing I love.” It was basically talking about all the crappy, stressful things that go along with having kids: Food everywhere, no sleep, 24hr/7day job with no break, puke in the middle of the night (complete with doing laundry)… the list goes on.  The one thing the author loved was her actual children and the happiness they brought to her life.  Well, my Facebook friend thought this article was far from comical and basically said that she loves every minute of being a parent (to her 6-wk old only baby at the time) and that any person who jokes about how “terrible” parenting is shouldn’t have kids.  Well, Facebook friend, the truth is that being a parent is crazy challenging… (I wonder if she would have a different opinion 3 years later…)

The “Resident” World: If you’re a resident (or medical student, or doctor), you get it.  Regularly working 11 hr days, then working approximately 2 call shifts a week.  All while having academic commitments, and commitments to your staff, and your patients, and yourself, (and your family)… And all that “learning” you’re trying to do while making sure you don’t screw up someone’s medical care… while all you try not to think about is how much you’d like to sleep…
I went to a productivity seminar for my resident retreat a few days ago.  The presenter was telling us how important it is to get a good amount and quality of sleep.  She encouraged us to think about how we could all improve this in our lives and gave an example of why it’s important.  She said that “if a person gets 4 hours of sleep for 4 nights in a row, they function at the same level as someone who has been awake for 24hours straight!  And, that’s the same level of functioning as someone who is above the legal limit of impairment!” (If you are a resident/medical student/doctor, you know where this is going…)  This poor lady then asked us what we thought of that.  We didn’t know what to say.  Every one of us in the room was thinking the exact same thing, but none of us were going to say it: “Do you know how often I am awake for 24hours straight?  Do you know what kinds of decisions/procedures I am responsible for when I am ‘above the legal limit of impairment?'”  Anyway, all that to say, resident life is beyond crazy sometimes.

I have to say, though, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who’s crazy!

Cynicism is The Opposite of Vulnerability

“I always think that cynics are really romantics who have been crushed sometime in their lives and have put up this cynical mask to protect themselves.”
~Jeff Bridges

Again I’ve decided to post last year’s post in it’s unedited form.  There is nothing more accurate and true that this post about vulnerability, in my opinion.

From The Old Blog, November 15, 2014:

This quotation makes me think of one thing: Vulnerability.
Actually, more appropriately, it makes me think of a lack of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, I believe that this quotation is more accurate than most of us want to believe.  Why, after all, are we cynical in the first place?  For me, cynicism is my coping mechanism: Why be serious and face reality when I can be cynical and detach?  Cynicism is also useful for connecting with other like-minded people.  In fact, I am pretty sure Husband and I bond quite a bit over our cynical nature (who doesn’t love a little late night snuggling while watching The Colbert Report???).

If we are all hiding behind cynicism, what are we not revealing to everyone else?  Are we afraid of reality? Are we afraid of being hurt?  Or have we all been hurt  just enough times to make us not want it to happen again.  I don’t really know the answers to these questions.  Regardless, it all comes back to a fear of being vulnerable.

As much as I love being cynical most of the time, I strongly believe that if everyone (not just me) was 1/2 as cynical and 2x as vulnerable, we would connect with each other in a much more authentic and meaningful way.  Cynicism is easy, it is funny, it is relatable, and it is common.  Vulnerability is the exact opposite:  it is hard, scary, uncomfortable, and very individual.  We are all vulnerable for different reasons, yet we all have one thing in common: Vulnerability itself.

As Brené Brown would say, “lean into the discomfort.”  We shouldn’t be so reliant on cynicism.  On the surface it might feel like we are connecting in a comical way, but every time we are cynical, we run the risk of isolating the people we are with.  There is no easy solution to this.  I wish I could say that I would stop being so cynical all the time.  However, I don’t think I am quite ready for it all at once.
Maybe it needs to start with one person – then hopefully it will spread.