Just Some Random Thoughts

Well, it’s been just over four months since Thaddeus was born and clearly I haven’t been able to figure out how to be parent and a blogger. There have definitely been times when I have struggled with the loss of blogging as an outlet. There is a deep part of me that longs to write about and share my journey into parenthood so far. There is a part of me that wants to share and commiserate about the severe struggles and about the tremendous triumphs. I want someone to really know and understand what being Thaddeus’ mom has been like. But, there is also a part of me that hasn’t wanted to blog or more accurately hasn’t known how to blog about all that I’ve experienced and thought in the past four months. Not only has it felt overwhelming to just find the time to blog amid the exhaustion it has also felt overwhelming to figure out how to put into words what I’m feeling and thinking. But, I guess that’s nothing new – I had similar feelings about blogging when I was pregnant. But, now as we reach the end of our first week back in Prague I find myself again desperate to process in writing all that is going on. I’ve blogged in one form or another for 8 years now and this past year of pregnancy and birth have not been my first dry spell, but I suddenly feel truly parched. I need to write. I need to have space to process and communicate.

But, yet, I find myself still unsure where to start. I think for now I’m going to stick with some bullet points of what my experiences and thoughts have been this past week especially. These will be random and may not be coherent or at all interesting to anyone but me, but for now I really need to just vomit my brain out on paper for a little bit.

-          I love living next to Carrie and Mathias again. Being able to talk with Carrie, or share a meal the four of us, even if it’s just quick, has been such a refreshing breath of fresh air amidst the culture shock this past week. As much as I need my alone time and space sometimes, we truly were not made for isolation. We were made for community and it’s so powerful when we get to experience it with people who we really care about. It’s been amazing to me how natural it has felt living side-by-side with them again after so long apart and such big changes in our lives.

-          I desperately miss Whole Foods. On Thursday I went grocery shopping here in Prague and I stood in the store with Thaddeus in the stroller and the contrast between it and Whole Foods nearly took my breath away. For a second I actually wanted to cry. I know it’s silly. It’s not like I live in some third world country. My grocery store is actually really pretty nice and caries a decent selection, but it can’t compare at all to Whole Foods. And it’s the little things like the feel when you walk in a grocery store or the fact that I can’t read anything in the grocery store that really drive the culture shock home. On the other hand I probably have a little bit of an unhealthy obsession with Whole Foods…

-          Even more than Whole Foods I really miss my sister and her family. I feel like we really bonded during this past trip and it’s sad to me to not be able to share a meal with Brie and Nate, or have a tea party with my little niece Faithlyn or hear my nephew Landen say “You guys!”, or cuddle with my new little niece Adalyn.

-          It’s really hard when your heart is in two places. There are people here that we love and missed so much that we got teary when we saw them again. There are people in the states that we love and have deep histories with. How do you find balance and contentment with where you are when you are always a little divided?

-          My friend used the word “sharp” to describe the culture shock she experienced last time she came back to Prague. I can’t think of a better word to describe what I’ve felt this past week. The culture shock has been severe and sharp.

-          Dealing with culture shock in the middle of winter with a child is… interesting… especially if that child was colicky and is still “difficult”.

-          It’s interesting how sometimes labeling something somehow makes it better. This week I was finally officially able to label Thad as having been colicky. So, I’ve said off and on throughout the first four months of Thaddeus’ life that I think he might have colic. Bryan has always responded with “No, he’s fine. All babies fuss and cry.” When I tried to talk to our pediatrician in the states he basically dismissed it without even asking me why I thought he might have colic or hearing anything about how much or how often he cried. My mom was probably the only person who really listened and believed me, but her response was usually something along the lines of, “well, Thad is just like his mommy. Now you know what I went through.” I guess I’ve never talked with anyone who really fully took my concern and frustration seriously, maybe that’s partly my fault for trying to downplay what I was feeling and put up a good face (I have far too long a history of doing this). This week I started reading the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and the thing that was more helpful for me then even the sleep advice was how he explained the clinical definition of colic. He said that if you spend a total amount of more than 3 hours a day 3 days a week for 3 weeks in a row soothing your baby to prevent crying then your baby is extremely fussy/colicky. He says “There may be no crying because of your soothing effort, just endless fussing. Or, she might sometimes cry anyway despite your soothing efforts.” I read this section and I thought “YES, this is Thaddeus.” I honestly feel like we spend almost all day everyday soothing Thaddeus to keep him from crying. I have spent hours on end bouncing on a birthing ball to calm him, walking endlessly up and down stairs because the up and down motion kept him from crying, holding him tightly while he literally screamed for no apparent reason. But, here’s what’s really frustrating me now – he’s four months old and some days I feel like I still have to spend a good deal of my day soothing him to keep him from crying. Sure it’s not as bad as before, but he’s still difficult. Before this week we were still doing all those things to sooth him most of the time, but it was ok, and manageable because we were staying with family and I didn’t have a house to keep, and Bryan was only working minimum hours, and we had people around to help out all the time. Suddenly since coming back to Prague I feel completely overwhelmed. But, somehow I felt less overwhelmed once I could label it… funny how that is.

-          Getting a colicky/post-colicky difficult baby to sleep well in a new place with jet-lag can be even more challenging than keeping them from crying. What little time I have the last few days has been completely consumed with reading about and researching different sleep methods and trying to figure out what the best thing to do for Thad is. It’s hard to wade through all the information when everyone has their conflicting opinion that they are adamant is the only way to do it.

-          On Thursday our dear friends brought us their old cloth diapers and yesterday I started using them exclusively. Is it weird that using cloth diapers made me really happy yesterday? I really love that we are finally using all cloth diapers. Maybe a few more months and we’ll get up the guts to try ECing… hum, maaaaaybe?

-          Going to church as a mommy is a totally different experience. And it can be incredibly stressful. It takes a lot of work to get out the door with an infant, so you go through all that, and often mess up their natural sleeping/eating schedule so that you can miss the whole service because you are out in the hall or ladies room nursing or trying to sooth/entertain them so that they don’t cry. It feels like the only real benefit of going is socializing before and afterwards, but even that is stressful when you are trying to keep your baby asleep or bouncing them on your hip to keep them calm and happy. You could put them in the nursery or go into the nursery yourself with them, but so far at the big churches we were going to in the states I haven’t really felt comfortable doing that. Really it just got me thinking about how the structure of church is not really designed with the mommy or even the complete family unit in mind. I’ve said for a while that it kind of bothered me that each age group of the family got split up at church and went off to their own “program”, but now as a mom it bothers me even more. Sure I need a brake every now and then, but most of the time I want to be with my son and I especially want to be with him as he’s learning about God and having those views shaped. I don’t know, that’s just some other stuff I’ve been thinking about.

Anyway, those are the random thoughts for now.

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman