Where Have You Been? /My Anxiety Coming-Out Party

Readers, you might not care where I’ve been, but I do. This post is my coming-back-to-life party. Let me take a deep breath.

I used to post at least weekly, and it wasn’t for you. It was for my mental health. (Oh, and some future version of my kids.) I don’t think straight unless I write. And you poor souls have been the recipients. I haven’t posted much lately, and for the first time in years, I didn’t post anything at all for six months. That probably means I didn’t have a complete thought during that time, either.

So, where have I been? Let’s see. I had a triumvirate* of reasons that led to my writing/thinking demise:

  • My oldest son started school. For reasons I can’t explain publicly (see Sharing vs. Oversharing), this milestone rocked our world for quite a long time. It’s been a difficult time, but I’m proud of my kid, and, yeah, proud of myself for not giving up.
  • Twin Non-Napping Disorder. For real this time. Unlike last time I wrote about my twins’ napping strike (see Fireball of Change: Twins Breach Cribs), this time there was no going back. They were done. As soon as my oldest began school, no amount of mothering finesse, bribes, threats, tricks, separations, or whiskey (just kidding, duh) could put these toddlers to sleep during the day. Nap time was one of my only blogging times. I have always said that their nap was the only thing keeping me sane. Now I have proof. Wow, it feels so sucky to be right.
  • Twin Potty Training Disorder. I haven’t really “unpacked” this one yet. I’m still too close to this train wreck to be able to write about it. You’re welcome.
  • <deep breath> I have an anxiety disorder. There. I said it. I am completely open about my struggles with infertility, IVF, adoption, miscarriage, a transracial family, and multiples. I have years of practice with all those things. I have found that being open about my struggles has brought me peace (through writing therapy) and solace (through sharing with others and opening up communication). I am good at advocating for children who have been adopted and for women who are infertile. I will fight for them. But a mental health problem? That’s new to me. I had to sit on that a while. (Although my most dedicated readers probably read between the lines  – or just read the actual lines – and figured it out a while back. Also, sometimes I write drafts and forget to publish them and then my blog or my life is out of order.)

The kicker is that the very thing that helps me muddle through these three stressors IS writing. And yet the stressors have prevented me from writing. Ugh. What a vicious self-defeating circle. Enough is enough! I have to get back on the writing wagon. (What would a “writing wagon” look like? Maybe some alphabet stickers on a Radio Flyer? A horse-drawn cart carrying authors to a writing convention?)

What are the repercussions of “coming out” as an anxiety sufferer on a public and only semi-anonymous blog? For my future? For my children? I’m not sure. (Mr. Okayest still has veto power over my posts, so he can help me there.) What I am sure of is that keeping it hidden has not worked for me. I can’t seem to work through it without writing about it. Plus, it affects my mothering life greatly (badly?), and thus, writing about being an Okayest Mom without writing about being an Anxious Okayest Mom just seems hollow.

I have learned that my anxiety, and not necessarily my children, is the source of my stress.

That was big news in my addled brain.

One of the things that gave me courage to admit that I have an anxiety disorder was a religious article published recently. It was beautifully written, and it really touched me. Hit me. Smacked me. The article is from an LDS magazine, but I believe it would benefit any religious person struggling with a mental health issue – or anyone (religious or not) who is close to that person. The author writes, “I had thought my spirit was primarily under attack, not my brain.” [You can read more about this at the end of my post if you’d like.]

Anyway, I’m glad to be back. I missed you guys. Hopefully by being more open about my anxiety, I can write more – and write better. Along the way, maybe I’ll even help some other mother who has simultaneous experience with infertility, miscarriages, adoption, IVF, multiples, a transracial family, AND anxiety.

What? Oh, that’s just me, isn’t it?

***

*I initially had three reasons, therefore I used the word “triumvirate”. Then I added a fourth thing and I couldn’t think what the word for four things would be.

***

The longer quote:

“It is essential to understand that such a spiritual crisis is not a result of spiritual weakness or lack of faith. Rather, depressive feelings and the resulting depressed view of one’s spirituality are usually caused by a chemical imbalance. Because our physical bodies and our spirits are necessarily connected (see D&C 88:15), it can be common to feel the effects of a physical disorder in a spiritual way, especially in the case of depression, which alters our very perception of ourselves. Therefore, it is important to seek out the actual source of such feelings, especially when experiencing the often-distorting effects of depression…

I soon discovered that medication and cognitive therapy were effective at bringing relief. But the one thing I didn’t find in any of my research was mention of the spiritual repercussions of mental illness. This surprised me, since so many of the symptoms I’d experienced seemed spiritual in nature. I came to realize that while the medical texts rarely acknowledged the spiritual effects of depression, I had initially gone too far the other way—I had misconstrued my depressed feelings as spiritual unworthiness. Indeed, I had been so sure my feelings were manifestations of spiritual weakness that it had never occurred to me I might have a chemical imbalance…I hadn’t seen myself as depressed because I had thought my spirit was primarily under attack, not my brain.

In the light of such challenges, the message given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 2013 general conference offers perspective and hope:

‘I wish to speak to those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime. … These afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.'”

from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/02/depression?lang=eng

 

 

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Marriage Survival Tips for Parents of Multiples

Basement date night for Mr. & Mrs. Okayest

Basement date night for Mr. & Mrs. Okayest

The divorce rate of parents of multiples is higher than the divorce rate of parents of regular kids. It is easy to imagine why! Parents of multiples are in emergency mode or exhaustion mode all the time. I don’t think my husband and I finished a sentence for a whole year after the birth of the twins. When we had one child, even though he came to us through adoption with only three days’ notice, we still felt like us, only with a baby attached. When our twins came along two years later, we felt like we were getting continuously hammered in the head while getting smacked in the face while drowning. It’s hard to put your marriage first during that.

us 2Anyone who knows us knows that we put each other first. We have known each other since we were maybe 14 years old, and we were together for 12 years (married for eight) before our first son was born. As much as we wanted children, we still aren’t used to the mayhem. Our “normal” mode is still just the two of us, since we were alone together for so long. I used to feel guilty about that, but I don’t anymore. The kids are temporary: they will grow up and move away. Mr. Okayest and I are married for eternity. (Like, for real. We were sealed in an LDS temple, which means we don’t “death do us part”.)

I am no marriage expert, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that ensure my sanity – or at least my marriage sanity. I can’t tell you what is right for your marriage, but I can tell you what has helped us. Here are a few of my own survival tips that might help other parents of multiples- or all parents!

  • Never keep score. We agreed early on that we would never say, “Your turn” or “I did it last time” or anything like that. Sometimes it’s easier to remember that with multiples than with singletons, because all hands are on deck with multiples! Each of us always had a baby. It’s deadly poison to tally up how many poops you have changed or how much trash you have taken out. We each just do our best, all the time, until we can’t do our best – and then we say we need a break. Scorekeeping is a marriage enemy.
  • No sarcasm AT the other spouse. Dr. Phil says this is one of his top predictors of divorce! Of course, we have plenty of snark when we are making fun of something (someone?) else, together. Heehee. We just don’t eye roll or use sarcasm when we are disagreeing, arguing, or even being super sleep-deprived. (The first six months after twins saw a super sharp increase in snippiness, though. Sorry, honey.)
  • Eat after the kids go to bed on the weekends. Sometimes it’s cold cereal and sometimes it’s carryout. Either way, we know it’s our time for each other. At least I can eat one meal a week where my husband doesn’t have to see all my partially-chewed food as I yell to toddlers to eat with their mouths closed. We are all about family dinners, but five or six times per week is good enough.
  • Reserve nap time for each other on the weekends. We do as many of the chores and errands as can during the kids’ waking hours, and then we are off-duty, together, while the kids nap. The whole house shuts down. Consider yourself Italian/Spanish and worthy of a siesta.
  • Keep the bedroom a kid-less sanctuary. This suggestion is not for everyone. It works for us, though. We don’t allow children in our bed, and I don’t even have pictures of the kids in our bedroom. It is just for us. Simple.
  • Organize a “Date Night Co-op” (free babysitting swaps) with other parents. I do the super simple version: I give my friends from 8 PM- midnight. I won’t put your kids to bed, but I will leave my husband at home with our kids, come to your house after your little ones are tucked in, and I will channel-surf on your couch and make sure the house doesn’t burn down. I don’t care if you go to a movie or make out in a parking lot. Just come home happy and give me a turn the next week or the next month. Simple, free, easy. (I’ve also seen more complicated versions, where an entire neighborhood or entire church will work together to earn points or hours with each other. Large groups of older kids can have movie nights at one person’s house while the other sets of parents go out.)
  • Remember that your spouse is doing his/her best and needs breaks. We hear a lot about wives trying to convince their “clueless” husbands that what they do is hard. But you know what? Husbands work hard too. They don’t get enough credit. I don’t envy my husband’s tasks of vehicle maintenance, home repair, and taxes. I can’t do his jobs, but he can sure do mine. Sometimes he needs breaks. He likes to relax in ways that I don’t, and vice versa. He never judges me for how I might need to decompress. (Watching the Kardashians? Eating a whole bag of Doritos?) He never sighs when I ask if I can leave him to do bedtime while I go to a movie with a friend. I’m not sure I can say the same, but I’m working on it. He’s a good example to me.

These sanity tips have kept us best friends while having three kids in diapers. What tips do you have for stressed-out and sleep-deprived parents?

***

This article was originally written for Beyond Infertility, a website about parenting after infertility. I am a regular contributor to their website. You can find the original here.

All My Friends Are Writing Post-Apocalyptic Books!

Two of my friends have just released good novels! Even though these two friends don’t know each other, they both wrote post-apocalyptic fiction. All the cool kids are doing it.

By some miracle, this here lifelong book nerd and overworked momma of “triplets” managed to read both of my friends’ books – and they were excellent! Phew. (If they had sucked, I would have quietly avoided my friends and not written this blog post, obviously.)

Who wants to check out some new authors?

outage voyage CrumbleBook3D_200

Ellisa Barr, a dear friend from church (we Mormons make great “preppers”), has written two young adult books in a series. Not gonna lie: I cried at the end of each – because I was mad that they were over.

The first book in the series is “Outage (Powerless Nation) (Volume 1)”. The dust jacket says: “When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa’s farm in rural Washington, she thinks life is over. She may be right. A high-tech Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack destroys the country’s power and communication grids, and sends the U.S. hurtling back to the Dark Ages. Can Dee learn to survive without the basics: electricity, clean water… even her cell phone? Written for all fans who love apocalypse stories, Outage is a Young Adult survival novel that mixes useful prepping tips with an action-packed story.”

The second book in the series is considered “a companion novel” to the first. It is called “Voyage (Powerless Nation) (Volume 2)”. It’s just as good as the first. I’m just going to say that both books now have my heart forever.

On a personal note, Ellisa is the kind of friend who doesn’t say, “Let me know if I can do anything” when you have a new baby. She’s the type of friend who comes to your house with a swaddler when you have a sickly newborn who doesn’t sleep. She didn’t just say, “You should swaddle him.” She didn’t just name the brand of swaddler she liked best. She brought the swaddler to my house, showed me how to wrap him so little arms couldn’t break free, and made me practice in front of her. Then she told me to keep the swaddler. From then on, I swaddled that sickly baby for every single nap and every single bedtime for six months. She is the reason I got my first couple hours of sleep as a new mom. Now, don’t you want to read the book of a person like that?!

Devon Porter, a friend from high school, has written about his own personal passion: the end of the (modern) world. He wrote “After the Crumble”, which is most definitely labeled regular adult, not young adult. (Just warning you that the post-apocalyptic future looks a little more brutal than the young adult novels can say…)  The back of the book sums it up: “Our future has crumbled. In the late 2020s, the grid finally flickered out for the last time, succumbing to attacks from a newly formed Resistance, fuel scarcity, and general entropy. It is now the year 2037 and many have died, with the few that managed to escape death solely concerned with their daily survival. Gavin Collier is one of those lucky few, but survival alone isn’t enough for him anymore.”

This book is a beautiful and fast-paced story. My favorite review of “After the Crumble” expresses it best: “It’s refreshing to read a novel that finds in the collapse of modern life an opportunity for the resurrection of the best parts of us.” Plus, this book made me think about a few angles of my personal prepping that could use work.

Just FYI, the first time I met Devon was in Latin class for juvenile delinquents older boys. Devon went to the same tiny private school where I met Mr. Okayest (and also several of my best good friends featured throughout this blog). The private school pushed a classical education, so students began studying Latin at a young age. Since I entered the school in eighth grade, I was not in Latin 3 or 4 or 200 with my peers. Instead, 13-year-old skinny me was learning “veni vidi vici” with five senior men. Let’s just say they made me like Latin forever.

Now Devon raises pigs and blueberries and is definitely not a juvenile delinquent, although I’m pretty sure he is still older than me.

You can find Ellisa’s website at ellisabarr.com

You can find Devon’s website at afterthecrumble.com

(Ellisa and Devon, I’m so proud of you guys! You have inspired me!)

***

jack5.500x8.500.inddNeed more books? It turns out one of my long-lost but recently found cousins, Michelle D. Argyle, is also a published author! While she hasn’t written any post-apocalyptic fiction (yet?), she has written some great books. (She’s a little more experienced than my  ^ newbie friends, ha!) I’d like to give her a shout-out here as well. Her most recent novel is “If I Forget You”. You can see her other work at michelledargyle.com. Enjoy!

 

 

“It’s Not Your Season,” Says My Mom

“Mom, I just wish I could have some energy to do an exercise DVD after they go to bed.”

“Honey, it’s just not your season. There will be plenty of time for that.”

 

“Mom, I just miss reading so much.”

“It’s just not your season, honey. Do you think your aunt ever read a book when she was raising her five boys? Now look at her!”

 

“Mom, sometimes I feel like I’m going to scream if I have to eat PBJ for lunch one more time! I just want to go out to lunch ONCE! Just once!”

“It’s not your season.”

 

My mother is referring to The Book of Ecclesiastes: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1)

Before I was a mother, I heard a quote from one of our church leaders that stuck with me: “[A woman] need not try to sing all of the verses of her song at the same time.” [i]

Sometimes I try to sing too many verses simultaneously. Then I remember to back it up and focus on one thing at a time. But, on a larger scale, that line explains perfectly why I am a stay-at-home mother. I had a long career as a student. I had a five-year career as a kindergarten teacher. I had an eight-year career as a wife, but not a mother. I am currently having a career as a wife AND mother. And, someday, I will be able to read/exercise/go out to lunch again. It’s okay with me to do things sequentially.

I love being a woman. I love being a stay-at-home mom. My husband checks in with me frequently to make sure that I don’t feel “marginalized”. I ask him what that means, exactly. Does he want to know if I felt like the margin on a page, when he is the main print? If so, the answer is no. I am not a margin. This here, this work that I do every day, IS the main text. Everything else – work, friends, distractions, hobbies, reading books/exercising/going out to lunch – is the margin. Everything else is FOR THIS.

all three at sink

He works for THIS.

r cuddles

I quit my career for THIS.

storytime

He comes home for THIS.

tied down

I wake up for THIS.

e cuddle

“Your children are not distractions – they are the very purpose.” [ii]

He wants to be sure I don’t have regrets. I assure him that even though this is hard, this was the plan. This is what I was meant to do. I am a nurturer. My decisions are supported by wonderful friends and family.

Nevertheless, there are times when I feel like I am going to cry. And I do. There are times when I feel like I am going to scream. And I do (in the bathroom, silently). There are time when I feel like I am going crazy. And I do – but it passes. Today, I was changing one baby’s terrible terrible diaper mess, and the other baby was getting into the prescription diaper cream, while they were both crying, and the dog was barking, and the oldest was whining, all together. And I told myself, “Breathe. Just wait for this to pass. (And don’t let any poop go flying while you wait.)” Experience has taught me that those moments do pass.

There are times when I feel like nobody ever recognizes the good that we stay-at-home moms do. My husband might get an award or a bonus or a good grade, but I don’t. I just get more poop and more diaper rash and more barking and more whining and more crying. Bless his heart, though, because he says, “WE got an A-plus today. WE got a bonus. WE got a time-off award.” And often, my husband recognizes what I do around the house and with the children. But, as Dr. Phil says, there is a lot of “invisible work” that spouses don’t see – like the way I mop under the table three times a day. Or the way I miraculously read twelve books to wiggly one-year-olds today. He assumes, but he doesn’t really know. It’s the same as how I don’t see all the invisible work that he does to diagnose, repair, and maintain our dryer/ lawn mower/ beige minivan.

I remind myself that heaven sees what I do. God, Jesus, maybe my grandmother who died – I believe they see me and my hard work and my love for my children every day. There are countless witnesses above who may be watching me.

On earth, I have only three witnesses of what I do every day: my children. Most of the time, they don’t care, but every once in a while I will catch them showing empathy to each other in a way that mimics me, and I am so grateful. I will catch them pretending to read a book in the same sing-song-y fashion as me, and I am so proud. Every movement of their bodies can be attributed to something I have taught them- words from their mouths, spoons to their lips, hugs from their arms – it all attests to my hard work.

All that is the point. The main text. Not the margin. And that’s why I quit my career. That’s why I have no regrets. That’s why I don’t feel marginalized. And that’s why I have to remind myself that “it’s just not my season” for the things in the margin. Or, more accurately, I can call my mom and she can remind me.

My work is the main text, not the margin.

 

***

 

[i] James E. Faust (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/a-message-to-my-granddaughters-becoming-great-women?lang=eng)

[ii] Richard and Linda Eyre, from a fireside address, as quoted by Dwight Egan, Church News contributor (https://www.lds.org/church/news/father-of-8-missionary-sons-shares-advice-that-helped-him?lang=eng)

 

This post was originally written for Beyond Infertility, a website about parenting after infertility. I am a regular contributor to their website.

Christmas Fail? But Charity Never Faileth

Christmas is four days away. I feel like a failure in each and every way, and yet I am so grateful for all the acts of love and service that others have given to us.

The Okayest Family has been quite ill for quite some time, and my to-do lists have been ashamed of themselves.

My Christmas tree has looked like this for over a week now:

image

My Christmas decorations are still in their boxes in the basement:

image

My presents are still not wrapped:

image

And my dresser looks like this:

image

(Okay, let’s be honest: my dresser always looks like that. It has nothing to do with sickness or Christmas, but we can just pretend, mmkay?)

I feel frustrated. I feel sad. I feel like I’m failing. I promised my oldest that he would sit on Santa’s lap at the church Christmas party, but we couldn’t go when my husband was still too ill to assist me in child-wrangling. My kids didn’t perform in the church Christmas program this Sunday for the same reason.

Things aren’t going smoothly, and I’m so tired, and I want to cry all the time. However, most every mother probably feels this way around this time of year. Besides, I’m just okayest; I know how to take things down a notch, right? (I’m no Pinterest mom, but I do want my kids to have a Christmas.)

I force myself to pick myself up and remind myself to count my blessings. It slowly is starting to work. I am so thankful that my husband has a secure job with paid sick leave. I am so grateful that we got to cut down the Christmas tree together (even if it is still outside), that we can afford presents (even if they aren’t wrapped), that we have a warm home with room for storage of luxuries like Christmas decorations (even if they aren’t hung up).

christmas cookies (2)So many people have shown me love and service lately, and it humbles me. Every time I feel like I am drowning in illness and exhaustion and undone to-do lists, someone else shows me love and service. My in-laws come to care for the children when we can’t, even if they subject themselves to heinous viruses. My mother comes to have a “Christmas craft day” with my kids, and brings her cookies to decorate and makes sure we at least get out the only decoration that matters: my great-grandma’s nativity.

imageFriends check up on me via text. Church sisters offer to put up my tree, substitute teach my Sunday School class of six-year-olds, bring dinner, and even haul my twins into the beige minivan when I can’t physically maneuver them. One friend even makes my kids some “shake it” sensory bottles when I go to her for advice about some specific behavioral problems.

My church sisters’ love makes my heart full. My Mormon friends each have more children than I do, and yet they always help. Mormon women seem extra good at serving in specific ways. They never say, “Let me know if you need anything.” Instead, they say, “I’m bringing dinner,” and, “I’m teaching your class.” Sometimes they don’t say anything, but just pick up that runaway twin. They will do things like this for people they hardly know. They have always done it for other sisters; they will continue to do it in the next town they move to. It’s not just for me. They are a great example to me. I will pay it forward someday … when the kids are in school? I know heaven smiles on these women.

A friend reminds me to think of the one thing I can do each time I get overwhelmed. Maybe today I can play some Christmas music to bring peace, and maybe tomorrow I can read to the children about the birth of Jesus. They won’t care if the door has no wreath and the presents are “wrapped” in a brown cardboard Amazon box.

Most of all, I can remember to be ever grateful for my miraculous little family that was created against all odds. We are together, and of course, that is all that really matters.

***

Dear readers: I wish you and your family peace at this time of year. I hope you find it quicker than I have! I know Christmas can be hard for many of us for so many different reasons, but I hope that you have love in your life and peace in your homes. Much love to you all!

My Lunapads Interview was Posted!

The Lunapads company interviewed me and posted it on their website! As a “successful ambassador”, they interviewed me first. Not that I’m bragging or anything… Okay, yes I am bragging. But the real praise goes to all my readers! Thank you!! Without you, I wouldn’t have anything to brag about.  Here’s the interview:

“Meet the Lunapads Ambassadors: Melissa

We started our Lunapads Brand Ambassador Program over a year ago and are so grateful for the fabulous ambassadors we have all over Canada and the US spreading our mission and sharing our products with their communities. We started the program to nurture the special relationship we have with our customers and to support them in creating a community around them to hold space for body positivity, self-love, personal growth, and social change.

Here is an interview with one of our inspiring Ambassadors: Melissa!

1) How did you find Lunapads?

I found Lunapads just through a search engine. About five years ago, my fertility doctor had suggested that I quit using tampons, due to my endometriosis, and I was very unhappy about switching to pads. They felt disgusting and I was having a terrible time adjusting to them. Somehow, I came across the Lunapads website and I was in awe. I had never heard about anything like that, ever (and I’m a fairly “crunchy” person)! I immediately ordered a few to try them out.

2) What is your first experience with cloth pads?

I convinced a friend to try them with me, so we both ordered our first reusable pads together and compared notes for those first few periods where we were learning to use them. I found them to be “bunchy” at first, because I was used to relying on the adhesive of the disposable pads to hold them down. My friend reminded me that this wouldn’t be the same, but that it would still work. Having that person to talk to really helped. We gave each other ideas about how to handle and launder the pads.

3) Why did you want to become a Lunapads Ambassador?

I was so excited when Lunapads launched this program! I have always wanted to share the idea of reusable pads with others, because I personally believe that they have helped my health. However, I had no idea how to share that kind of information! I didn’t know how to broach the subject with my circle of mom-friends, and I certainly didn’t want to post things about my period on my Facebook wall for my dad, grandpa and uncles to see!

Besides helping me to share something that I feel passionately about, I felt that this Ambassador program was perfect for me because it wasn’t a sales job, but there was the potential to earn money. There was only the smallest initial payment on the kit I had to buy – but if things didn’t work out, then I figured I would simply add the kit to my personal collection of pads.

As a stay-at-home mom of three toddlers (adoption + IVF twins), my funds and my time are precious resources. I have very little spare time or money, so this program was perfect for me.

4) How do you share Lunapads with your network/community?

I have three ways I have shared so far:

a) I have a mommy blog (www.okayestmomblog.com) with over 2500 followers so far, so I made a page there specifically for my Lunapads thoughts. The page is titled, “Girls Only”, and I post blog articles to it every once in a while. I always add my personal Lunapads code to the bottom of each article so people remember to buy under my code!

b) I started a Facebook group where I link my blog posts, share Lunapads news (like free shipping!), and invite and encourage questions and complaints.

c) I threw a party! The key for me was to *not* throw a Lunapads party, because I didn’t think people would actually come. What I did was throw a “Ladies’ Night Out/ 80s Movie Party” one night after the kids went to bed. I invited all of my momma friends to come over after they put their kids to bed and watch an 80s movie on my projector in the basement and eat junk food. I wanted to make it something that I would actually want to attend. I warned them that I would talk about my Lunapads for five minutes beforehand. “Five minutes, I promise!” I had my kit ready, as well as some handouts I made, with my blog address on it and my Lunapads code. I had a great turnout. The women who came had completely different questions when they were handling the pads in person than they typically do when they ask questions online. It was really fun to do a face-to-face! I plan to do another one in the near future, because who doesn’t like 80s movies and junk food?

5) What would you say to a new Lunapads Ambassador to encourage or support them?

First, congrats! You are a smart person to do this program, because you can’t lose! I would say, be sure to use both the internet and personal interaction to the best of your ability. Both avenues are excellent for different reasons. And please share with the rest of us if you find something that works!

I would also add a word of caution: we need to be very sensitive when talking to others about periods. There are many reasons the people you talk to may not be experiencing periods: hormonal problems, previous illnesses or cancers, hysterectomies, infertility, pregnancy, nursing, menopause, and so on. Some of these reasons could be a source of sadness. I try to promote Lunapads with all that in mind. I tackle the angle of using Lunapads pantyliners for discharge, since most women of all ages and situations can experience that! Also, I try to encourage women to share this information with their teenage daughters and granddaughters.

Also, as an LDS (Mormon), I promote the “preparedness” angle. I have a year’s supply of food storage in the house, as well as a 72-hour kit for each member of my family. I think Lunapads should be a part of every preparedness kit and home storage. In a zombie apocalypse, would you seriously be able to get to the store for disposable pads?! (Just kidding. Kind of. Mormons don’t believe in a zombie apocalypse.)

6) Is there a particular story or experience you’ve had as a Lunapads Ambassador that is special to you, or has impacted you in some way?

I have heard many happy exclamations from first-timers, most of which are some variation of, “Wow, it feels like I’m wearing pajamas instead of a trash bag!” However, my all-time favorite story was quite touching. A friend of mine, who does not get her period due to medical issues, works as a hospice nurse. She shared my Lunapads information with one of her patients’ families, and they purchased some for the elderly woman. This poor woman was on hospice and was allergic to the disposable incontinence products they had been putting on her. Now she is resting comfortably on cozy flannel Lunapads. It really choked me up. This product can help many people in many phases of life.”

 

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You can find the original article here. Reposted with permission from Lunapads Blog: Periods, Politics & Personalities.

The views expressed here are my own and are not necessarily those of the Lunapads company. I am not a doctor and do not offer medical advice.

You can read more about my partnership with Lunapads and my personal love of cloth menstrual pads.

I do not sell Lunapads, but I promote them and receive a straight percentage of any sales I refer. If you would like to purchase Lunapads yourself, please use MY code 515013 for 5% off your total purchase (and, let’s be honest, to give me my kickback!).

 

 

When Do You Find Time to Write? I Wake Up at 4:30AM – Yes, On Purpose

I wake up at 4:30 AM with my husband. Why? I have to physically and mentally prepare for my three little ones. And I like to write.

I didn’t sleep for seven months. (Well, if you want to count the nine months of hellish twin pregnancy, I didn’t sleep for almost a year and a half.) I was completely delirious. I was about to crack. Even though the babies slept well for newborns, as any mother of multiples can tell you, their night feedings didn’t match up…and I slept about two (non-consecutive) hours a night. After my twins finished nursing and then we cried-it-out at seven months, they started sleeping through the night. They have slept from 7PM to 7AM very reliably ever since.

It took me about a year after that to catch up enough on sleep that I didn’t feel fearful every night when I lay down my sweet head.

During that whole year, my husband said, “You really just need to wake up with me.” He was right. I knew he was right. I was waking up to one, two, or three kids crying. I was waking up to poop and urine-soaked jammies and sheets that needed changing. I was leaping into the shower, only to have my oldest spend the whole time whining on the bathroom floor beside me. I was finding no time to read my scriptures, think, or have quiet time. (Naptime and bedtime don’t count, because by that time of day, I was too wrung out to do anything but stare at E!News.)

My husband, like all commuters in our area, leaves for work before dawn to beat the traffic. (Not sure how that works, exactly, since they all do it…) He reasoned that my whole day would go more smoothly if I woke up with him and had some alone time before the kids woke up.

We have always made it a priority in our marriage to go to bed at the same time – even when he woke up at 2:45 AM to drive 72 miles to work and, thus, had to go to bed while children were playing tag next door and lawnmowers were going. These days, he goes to bed at 9:30 PM (technically), and I do too. Waking up at 4:30 AM should be no big deal, right? I was (technically) getting enough sleep. Plus, as my husband reasoned, I would be far more likely to help us actually get to bed at 9:30 PM if I were waking up with him. (“Just one more show, honey?!”)

Even though my husband was right, my job as a stay-at-home mom of three kids in diapers was incredibly physically demanding/ exhausting. And even though I was sleeping through the night, I was still completely brain-dead from the damage caused by the newborn phase. It took me a good year until I was ready to try to wake up early with my commuter husband.

I know I am not reinventing the wheel here. Many of my mom friends have paved this road before me. One of my best friends, who happens to have five children, sets her alarm for 6:30 every morning because she doesn’t want her many little girls to see her putting on makeup. They were starting to primp and preen and she wanted to cut back on being that kind of example. Another friend of mine, who has four children, sets her alarm for 4:30 AM, but, instead of playing on Facebook like I do, she does all her house chores and even starts dinner in the crock pot. She says that is the only choice she has if she wants to get things done. Wow.

One day, I was ready. (Ready to try to take a shower and blog – not mop the floor.) I surprised my husband when I said, “Honey, wake me up when you leave.” And, thus, you see, the title of this blog post is a semi-fib, because he actually wakes me up at 5:15 AM, when he leaves. But I figured it was kind of true that I woke up at 4:30 since I usually hear his alarm.

It sucked. But only for about five minutes. I didn’t expect the benefits to be immediate!

I felt more relaxed. Waking up to my husband kissing me awake, instead of little kids’ crying/whining/pooping/urinating was blissful. I got in the shower in silence. I didn’t rush. I took time to shave. Condition. Put the shampoo on my head instead of my face. (Yep, I’ve done that.)

After my lovely shower, I took time to blow-dry my hair. Well, that was a mistake. That woke up the children. And THAT was a long day.

Ok, I started over on Day 2. Relaxed wake-up, thorough and pleasant shower, and, yep, wet hair in a ponytail just like every other day. No blow-dryer.

My favorite chair in the house does not allow children, unless we read scriptures together in it (which we do sometimes before the twins wake up).

My favorite chair in the house does not allow children, unless we read scriptures together in it (which we do sometimes before the twins wake up).

I settled in to my big papasan chair in my bedroom. This chair was a birthday gift from my husband, who knew I always wanted one. And I never sat in it, because, well, I never sat down. Now it was time to put it to work.

My first rule for myself is that I have to read at least one chapter from my scriptures before I check any emails or social media. (That was the rule I gave myself during nighttime breastfeeding, and it worked so well for me… until I quit nursing!) As a Latter-day Saint (LDS/Mormon), we are encouraged to read our scriptures daily. We are well-versed in scriptures in our church, but we are to read and study daily to gain spiritual strength for the day. I can tell you that it works. My life feels like a careening train, or sometimes a raw exposed nerve, on the days that I don’t read my scriptures, and that has been true for me ever since I was in high school.

I feel immediate peace as I settle in to read my familiar books of scripture. I gain strength for my day. I gain the ability to be a more patient mother for their day.

After my study, it is time to play. I check email, I actually respond to email, read through my Facebook Newsfeed, read the real news, check my blog stats, and giggle and/or feel horrified at the search engine terms that lead people to my blog. I check the weather, and cry if it’s going to be too rainy/cold/hot/pollen-y to play outside that day.

After all the social media, if the children are still quiet, I start to write. I love to write. My handwritten journals that I kept for years are a thing of the past. They are precious to me, but I can’t bring myself to read them. I have so many of them… and they are mostly all way too much teenage maudlin heart or too much grown-up infertility pain. I keep them closed. Now I write for my children on this blog. And it’s mostly done before they wake up, here in my favorite non-child-friendly papasan chair.

When the children start to cry, or stir, or treat their crib as a trampoline, or do their pterodactyl shriek of joy (“WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE A TWIN AND HE IS STILL HERE BESIDE ME IN THAT CRIB?!!”), I am ready. Instead of feeling a sense of urgency and dread, I am ready. I’m ready for them. I’m ready for the poop and the pee-soaked jammies. I’m ready for the whining. I’m ready for the day. I’m ready to focus on them. I’m ready to be less anxious. I’m ready to be more patient.

I go into their pee-smelling rooms with a smile on my face. I’m ready.

 

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Dang it. It’s 6:05 AM and I just finished editing this article and a baby cried. Of course! The moment I pat myself on the back a little bit, they decide to wake up an hour early to make us all miserable. I shouldn’t have said anything.