Monday, July 19, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Water

I have decided that one of the reasons I am not blogging as much lately is that I am too tired to string more that a few words together at a time.  How tired?  Sufficiently tired that yesterday morning - after 9 hours in bed - I was able to fall back asleep 4 of the 5 times I was woken up between 6 am and 7 am. 

I'm not complaining. Well, I am, but it is still worth it.

I want to follow up on that article in the previous post.  I'm not getting around to it so to put it simply and bluntly:
  • I appreciated the comments.  Thank you.
  • I agree with the comments - parenthood is rewarding, I don't regret having kids and I don't take enough time to myself (RJ - I mentally went on that solo bike ride with you)
  • Parenthood does well in studies that measure rewarding vs pleasurable activities.  That's great and all, but why shouldn't it be happier moment to moment too?
  • I wonder how infertile parents would compare to fertile ones.  I suspect we would would score better on all counts.
  • I think more time to myself is key.
  • I think lack of sleep is a big contributor to my feelings of sadness.
  • I think I am grieving the loss again of my easy-to-conceive-genetic-child-born-gently-at-home.  Or I'm just tired and this is something to pin "the blues" on.
  • After trying to notice the times I am happily parenting and not-so-happily parenting I have decided that the good times beat out the not-so-good times by around 10 to 1.
  • Which brings me to this weeks Perfect Moment Monday.
I was watering the plants around the patio when LB asked to take over.  I gave her the hose and for the next 30 minutes sat on the step while she flooded my herb garden, watered the patio, herself, the cat (well, tried), the firepit and a bench.  As she dragged the house around she would occasionally drag it right over a plant or two.

Sitting on that step in the warm summer air and watching my two year old get soaked from head to toe while potentially doing damage to the plants I worked so hard to plant and cultivate . . . well, it was wonderful.  I thought, "This is what I imagined and longed for for all of those years - moments like this."  I makes you remember how something so simple as water coming out of a hose can be so much fun.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Food For Thought

The article All Joy and No Fun is, I suspect, going to be making the rounds and talked about a lot in the IF world.  It explores the reasons why parents tend to be less happy than non-parents.

It is something I was aware of before LB was conceived.  I read the book Stumbling On Happiness (mentioned in the article), and at that time I came away with the theory that studies may be measuring happiness in a way that misses the happiness gained from parenting.  If I recall correctly, an example was:  Ask a non-parent, on a scale of 1-5, how happy she is at random points of the day and she might score a bunch of 3's and 4's.  Then ask a parent who is washing diapers, helping kids to school, etc and she might score a bunch of 1's but more 5's.  That is, parents may spend more time being less happy, but have moments of greater happiness and since we tend to remember the happy times more than the sad that would also explain why people's perception is that they are more happy with kids than without them.

I vowed to enjoy the 'chores' as much as possible and thought that I would have greater appreciation for those time given the time and longing I spent trying to become a parent.  I think I have done a pretty good job of that. 

And yet, as much as I hate to admit this to the infertility community, I believe I am less happy now than I was prior to trying to conceive.  I am, hands down, happier than I was while unsuccessfully trying to have a baby, especially after the birth / death of our son.

I have sometimes even thought that I would, if possible, go back in time to the Kami before TTC and tell her to forget the whole thing.  The 4 years between Ernest's death and LB's birth were horrible in so many ways.  I have changed for the worse as well as for the better, but I don't know that the net effect was positive on me or my marriage.  I wouldn't want to un-know LB or LBII and I would need a solution to the innate desire to have kids as well, so even if time travel were possible, it is more complicated than just choosing a different path; but I hope it illustrates my meaning.

The article makes some good points and also highlights a couple of things I am guilty of - not leaving enough time to myself and feeling guilty that I am not giving more time to the kids.  I think infertility adds to the guilt.  The article talks about parents feeling the need to sculpt their children - which can feel like work, but I also feel guilty because it took so long to get here and I need to make the most of every moment.

While I am typing this blog I am feeling the guilt.  I ought to be playing with LB and smiling at LBII.  They are growing up so fast and I am missing out on that at this moment.  It's sort of like waiting years to go the concert of your dreams.  You have front row seats and you are taking it all in knowing you may never do this again.  Then you have to go to the bathroom.  How can you leave the concert to waste time on that?!  But you have to, so you go, but you think about all you are missing out in the meantime.  Having kids, for me, is like being in that state 24 x 7.

In my on going effort to increase the happiness in my life, I am taking the points raised in the article to heart.  I know there needs to be a re-balancing of my time, but I don't know what that means yet.  Do I have a sitter come more often?  Do I let go of some of the guilt / responsibility I feel?  Other options I haven't thought of?  More importantly, perhaps, can I let go of the guilt and re-balance my time?

One more comment about how children has impacted our marriage.  Shortly before our son was conceived, a friend commented, "Geeze, you guys are like newlyweds!"  I smiled inwardly and thought how lucky we were to love each other so much.  By this point, we had been married for 4 years and together for 9.  Now I believe we acted like newlyweds because we had yet to have children.  I think we will recapture those feelings and habits, but I'm just not sure how or when. I don't want until the kids go off to college. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you find you are less happy if you have kids?  Are you less happy than you imagined you would be? Do you think these stats apply to you?  Do you think you will / are the exception to the rule?  What would you change if you could?  How do you think you are / will be different than the people in these studies?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


In my on going effort to be happier I have decided I need to do 3 things:  Exercise at least 30 minutes each day (shown in one study to be as effective as prozac ), eat less junk food and get more sleep.  I am not sure more sleep is attainable at this point so I have focused on the first two.

I started the exercise program about a week and a half ago and so far that is going pretty well.  It isn't too lofty a goal - I am not focusing on losing the baby fat (although that would be nice) or getting in great shape (also nice) - just looking for a mood boost.  Some days it is only a 30 minute walk, but on other days I am getting in a 45 minute bike ride.

I think it was helping, but it clearly wasn't doing enough. I decided to take the next step and cut back on the junk food.  I decided to get through just one day.  I couldn't face longer than that without ingesting some of the good stuff.

Brad joined me and yesterday was the day.  One day sans coffee, chocolate, ice cream, cookies, etc.  I would have told you I don't have a large quantity of these things, but there is some every day.  I might have a 12 oz double iced mocha (mmmm . . . mocha . . . ) in the morning and a 1/2 slice of chocolate mousse cake (from a local bakery - heaven!) in the evening. Perhaps a handful of chocolate chips to get me through the afternoon.  Chronic sleep deprivation has left me going for the next best thing: sugar.

When Brad and I compared notes last night, it turns out we were both feeling very anxious all day.  I went for a 20 minute bike ride to see my sister's soccer game and was so worried about falling and not being able to get my feet disconnected from the clipless pedals or that a car would not see us (I was towing the girls*) that I almost felt that I didn't have it in me to ride home.  I was ready to call my OB to see if maybe my hormones were really messed up. I was imagining the rest of my life being changed by panic attacks.

Nope.  Just withdrawal. It certainly confirms that I may be consuming a few too many empty calories.  With that realization, I am going junk food free today too.  I make no promises about tomorrow.  My long term goal is to reduce the need / consumption of the best stuff on earth junk food but I have no illusions that I would eliminate it all together.

Brad, on the other hand, decided to join his coworkers as they celebrate Mocha Thursday.  His text message to me this morning: "I am but a bag of chemicals.  With the right additives - I run as smooth as a top."

* "the girls"  Wow.  I still can't believe I get to say that.