4 Ways Not Yelling Helped me Manage my Shoulder Injury (For Real.)

Hi everyone! So I hurt my shoulder pretty bad and haven’t been able to write much for that reason (and a few other big ones. Check out my last post. I had to write that and my shoulder was fairly pissed with me afterwards.) Anyway, I have a lot on my mind and a lot of things I want to share so I decided to get creative, to find a new way. Here it is: my first video blog! It isn’t professional or edited or planned, just me being me. Enjoy!

The Truth Is…I’m Terrified.

I learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge journey to stop yelling that if I ignore feelings, especially the ugly ones, they bottle up which stresses me out which triggers me to yell (or want to yell.) So while you might think this post has nothing to do with yelling, it actually has everything to do with yelling. Here are some ugly feelings I have had that I need to get out before a yell does. 

So…as many of you have noticed, I have been basically radio silent for the last three weeks. The first of those I was on vacation and pushed myself to really detach from everything so that I could really enjoy the last week of summer with my family at my favorite place: the beach. Even though two kids visited the emergency room (horrific rash and popped ear drum) it was still a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful week. Sunrise

We returned the Saturday before Memorial Day. We returned tan, rested, happy and rejuvenated. Then Memorial Day happened and well, Memorial Day kind of sucked in our house.

As many of you know from the first year of my Orange Rhino Challenge, my youngest son (#4) suffered from intense seizures from age 14 months to age 18 months. (read here) Thankfully, a brain MRI showed no brain tumor.

Party at my crib! 9:00, 2+ hours past bedtime!

Party at my crib! 9:00, 2+ hours past bedtime!

And thankfully his in-hospital tests two weeks before Christmas that year showed no signs of epilepsy. On February 6, 2013, the day I celebrated one year yell-free, he had another seizure, the worst one to date. The medicine to stop it didn’t even work. He didn’t come to until he received oxygen at the hospital. Thankfully, a few days later, we discovered what we believed to be the source of the seizures: black mold underneath the cabinets where all his toys were stored. We immediately removed the black mold. Since then, #4 had high fevers but never again had a seizure. A coincidence? We thought not. Oh how we felt certain that there was a correlation between the two and that since the black mold was gone, his seizure history was well, history. In fact, this past February 6, 2014, we celebrated one-year seizure free.

I am sure many of you recall my emotional post about how I just couldn’t stop crying that day (read here.) I felt such, such relief to have the, what were determined to be, febrile seizures behind us. I felt like I could breathe again. That I could go out without my phone attached to my hip for fear a seizure would strike and I would have to rush home. I felt that I didn’t have to watch him as closely on the jungle gym out of fear that he would have a seizure while playing. I felt that I could turn off the video monitor during nights when he had high fevers because I felt positive he wouldn’t have a seizure. I felt that I could finally stop worrying, or well, at least worry less because I am a mom and I will always worry.

And I felt that I could leave my fears behind.

My fears of watching him have another dreadful seizure. My fears of him seizing in his sleep (again!) and choking to, well, you know. My fears that I would somehow miss the signals of an oncoming seizure and therefore not be able to stop it in time (like the last one.)

Oh, oh it felt so great to leave all those fears behind. So much so that on the Sunday before Memorial Day, a few days shy of 19 months seizure free, I turned to my husband as I put medicine away and said, “Hey babe, #4’s emergency seizure medicine is past date and so we can throw it out, don’t you think?” Yes, oh yes was I certain we wouldn’t need it. And yet, the cruelest, ironic, surreal, unbelievable moment occurred not 19 hours later.

#4 had a seizure.
An absolutely awful, horrific, seizure.
The worst to date on so many, many levels.

Per #4’s request, I put him down for a nap at noon. What three year old asks for a nap?! He felt warm so I took his temperature but the thermometer said 99.6. And well since he hadn’t had a seizure with fever in 19 months, I didn’t think twice. I didn’t even think about it over the next two hours for the other boys were out with my husband and I had the house, the peaceful, quiet house, alllll to myself. It was a guilty pleasure and I embraced it whole-heartedly. In fact, so much so that two hour nap window passed rather quickly. I looked at my watch, thought, “Hmmmm…he should be waking up, I’ll go get him.”

And I did go get him.
But he wasn’t waking up.
He was in a full-blown seizure.

Biting his tongue. Staring into the distance. Shaking on one side. Not responding when I said, “Mommy is here.” Not responding when I said his name. He had even peed himself which he has never done in a seizure. I normally respond calmly to such situations but not this one. It scared the crap out of me as it caught me so off guard. I called to my husband who had thankfully just arrived home and then called 911.

The police arrived five to seven minutes later and I immediately asked if they had oxygen as I knew that was what he needed to end the seizure. They did and they hooked him up to a tank right then and there. He continued seizing. Normally after the oxygen he snaps out of it. He didn’t. The paramedics arrived a few minutes later and #4 still wasn’t responding. By now, I estimate that he had been seizing at least fifteen minutes…or longer. The longer the seizure (even if febrile) the worse. It took another five minutes or so for him to come to. But when he did, oh, oh it wasn’t the same as the past seizures.

DSC_0054He still didn’t respond when I said his or my name. He couldn’t grab my hands and when I held his, he couldn’t squeeze. He didn’t turn towards me when I said, “Who loves you soooo much?” He didn’t do anything. His eyes were wide open and it was clear the seizure was over, but oh, oh the effects were strong, stronger than before. In fact, he didn’t talk for two hours after. He didn’t walk normally for at least a day. In the past, he was back to a crazy toddler within twenty minutes of snapping out of it.

Folks, there is no sugar coating it, it sucked. And to be honest, I blamed myself and I still kind of do. Why didn’t I check on him more? Why didn’t I stay with him? Why did I ignore the moan? Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, even though I know that I couldn’t have stopped the seizure, even though I know I did nothing wrong, I still blame myself. I would do anything to have made that seizure not happen, and not just because it was an intensely awful experience for my son, but because in the after effects, in the moments where he wasn’t himself, I felt, no truly, deeply feared, that I had lost a part of my child.

The rest of the week #4 suffered from a 105-degree fever and virus. We were on emergency room watch because not only wasn’t he eating or drinking, he was also quite lethargic and complaining of neck and head pain. It wasn’t a fun week. He has recovered from it all and is happily at pre-school, but I haven’t recovered. Because I know what is next.

This Wednesday I will take him back for more brain testing. There is a growing concern that because #4’s febrile seizures are so long and complex (mirroring that of a temporal lobe seizure) that he is in the small percentage of children for whom the febrile seizures aren’t the cause of, but rather a strong predictor of, epilepsy. As our pediatric neurologist said, “We need to know if he is going to have a seizure while playing by himself or in his sleep.” Yes, 4 out of 5 of his seizures have been in his sleep. How much does that suck?! Talk about scary.

It has taken me two weeks to share this because the seizure experience was so bad that I have been walking around in a state of denial for two weeks. So bad that I just feel numb. So bad that I am not even talking about it which really, is just not like me. I just don’t want to think about that moment, I don’t want to think about the fact that all my old concerns are now real and alive again. But they are. They very much are. I am back to the world of living on seizure alert, of worrying that another seizure will happen and that like #4′s past, the next one will be longer and more intense than the one prior. Even if his tests are clear Wednesday and show no signs of epilepsy, I now have another year ahead of me to be on alert. And that my friends, is immensely overwhelming and scary, for both of us. For all of us. And well, I am not even writing about the immensely overwhelming feelings I have about what if the tests aren’t clear?! What if he does have epilepsy? The truth is folks, I am terrified about it all, about having to live on alert again, about what the future tests hold. I know I “can’t” worry about the future, but gosh is that hard right now.

DSC_1194And yet, for the first time in two weeks, just from writing this post, I feel slightly more confident that I can handle it, I feel slightly less terrified. Yes, my mind just went to The Orange Rhino Challenge. How do you like that ;) A year not yelling seemed so daunting. But I did it. I survived it, I managed. How? I went moment by moment, day by day, and I did it with support. And that is what I will do now, here, in this situation. Moment by moment, day by day, I will celebrate being seizure free and I will seek support from friends, family, and doctors to get through this period. And we will get through it. We will. We will.

5 Back-to-School Supplies (and tips) to Yell Less

We have exactly two weeks before school starts. (Yeah, my town likes to start as close to October as possible so that when it snows all of December, January, and February we can make sure that we are still in school in June when it is gorgeous out and the beach beckons.) Sorry for the sarcasm. Nope, not bitter at all that our summer started really late this year and as a result went way, way too fast! Not bitter at all.

Color HappyAnywho, so with school around the corner my boys and I hit the local Staples to buy school supplies. We are a little color happy in this household and not just because of The Orange Rhino! It all started when my now 5 year old had Mononucleosis (a.k.a. the kissing disease) at the age of 2 ½ ! I had three kids at the time and immediately created a color system so that no child would make the mistake of drinking from the wrong sippy cup. Mono had wreaked havoc on one son, absolute havoc, and I was not about to have my other two sons go through the same misery. So, #1 became “Red”, #2 “Green” and #3 “Blue.” My system worked flawlessly and not only did no one else get Mono, but everyone loved having their “own” color and they naturally started applying the color system to other things too. Jackets. Backpacks. T-shirts. Toys. Oh did a color system make life simple.

So naturally when we went school shopping, #1 and #2 had to find their colors. We dug through dual-pocket folders to find red and green ones. We dug through bins of three ring binders to find red and green ones. We dug through bins of composition And we went up and down the pencil and eraser aisle to find, you guessed it, packs of just green erasers and packs of just red erasers. And yes, that was an absolute fail! But for the most part, we succeeded in finding the right back to school items in the right colors.

As we were shopping and searching for the right colors, I was fighting the urge to snap really nastily while saying wrong things like, “Just hurry up already, it doesn’t matter, it’s just a folder!” and “For the umpteenth time, put your hands in your pockets and stop touching your brother and everything else in site!” I was just not in a calm, relaxed, let’s enjoy this moment together mood. You see, not only were my boys fed up with each other that day and trying so very, very hard to successfully piss the other one off, but also the store was packed with people and the aisles were full of extra bins leaving little wiggle room. Every step I took was, “Excuse me, I just need to squeeze by.” Yeah, it was a really awesome shopping experience, especially for someone like myself who does not like crowds. The whole back to school shopping experience had me irritable, impatient and well clearly, wanting to yell at my boys for no real reason!

Finally (thankfully!) we got to the last item on the list: black marble composition notebook. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. As we approached I noticed something I didn’t notice last year. There weren’t just black and white notebooks, there were colors. Yee haw! As my boys started the dig for red and green (why would they ever be on the top of the huge, gigantic, boxes?) my eye caught something else. An orange composition notebook. Well, you all know how my mind works. As in, it always thinkgs of The Orange Rhino Challenge and it often makes the oddest connections and makes no real logical sense! Here is a perfect example.

Orange composition notebook. Hum. Orange makes me think of The Orange Rhino Challenge. Hum. I could write in an orange notebook when I want to scream. Hum. Wait. What other back to school supplies are here that I could buy to help me keep from screaming over the next few weeks as we transition back to school and everyone is cranky and tired and not wanting to walk out the door? What do I need for my back to school backpack to help me learn? To help me practice not yelling?

Here is the list I came up with as my boys rummaged through the box looking for red and green notebooks. (I say rummage because we were late shopping and what mostly remained was yellow and black!)

 

5 Back to School Tips1. No. 2 Pencils: Scribble out anger with a No 2. pencil instead of screaming out orders. Seriously. Try it. It is such a good release! Added bonus? Then erase the frustration away. Literally!

2. Composition Notebook: Tear out paper from a composition notebookand crumble it up instead of causing your child to crumble to the ground in tears. Or write down your anger on paper and then throw it out. It is all oddly satisfying.

3. Water bottle: Chug water from a water bottle so you swallow the yell and literally cool down. My kids are all instructed to bring a water bottle for their desk. Why shouldn’t I do the same? Instead of open mouth insert foot, open mouth insert water bottle (okay, straw, but you get the point!) When I have to swallow something, I have to slow down so I don’t you know, choke! Drinking slows me down and therefore calms me down. Well, except coffee. That can get me all sorts of revved up. Again, water bottle!

4. Post-It Notes: Yes, I know, this is an old one but honestly, it has worked for me since day one two years ago and it works for me now! Grab an orange Post-It note and write a love note to your child instead of yelling a mean message.  Last year I wrote love notes and put them in the lunch bags. It is amazing how just thinking positive thoughts can transform a mood instantaneously! You can also use those notes to postpone yells by sticking them up in high yelling zones (backpacks, car, door that leads to school) as a warm reminder to Yell Less and Love More. My house may or may not be decorated with orange post-it notes in two weeks when we are trying to get out of the door on time!

5. Orange Double Pocket Folder: Fill an orange double pocket folder with sheets of paper covered with favorite inspirational sayings to stay calm (I can yell less, I love my kids, I will send my kids to school with lunch and love not yells, I just need to stay cool until 8:15, that’s nothing!) as well as top tips to not yell that have worked for you (yelling into freezer, singing, talking to yourself.)

In case you are wondering, yes, I did pick up some back to school supplies for myself that day. They are currently stored in the “I will not think about school today because it is still summer” section of the dining room along with my boys’ supplies. But come 10 days from now, as we start to pack the backpacks, I will be pulling them out and placing them on the kitchen counter, ready for me to grab at any moment if the stress of the first day of school (week really!) gets to me.

A Mom’s Regret About Yelling

As back to school is near and I am preparing to send my second son off to a new school, my stomach is in all sorts of knots. I just went back and re-read two posts from when I took my first son to the first day of Kindergarten because I knew they would somehow bring me comfort. They both did. This one though, well, it really reminded me how important it is to keep on being an Orange Rhino right now during the tough back to school season!!! 

211 days of not yelling, 154 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhino,

Um, I am failing to see the connection between not yelling and your post yesterday (read here) about your first three days of Kindergarten? You talk about feeling left behind and not wanting to let go but how the heck does that tie to the Challenge? Just curious.

Sincerely,
Yourself

*

Every once and a while I have a deep profound thought about how The Orange Rhino Challenge has positively impacted my life in a way I never expected. Tonight’s post about my son’s first day of Kindergarten attempts to express one of those thoughts.

As I watched my son walk away with someone else holding his hand, as I watched him leave me behind at the car to start a new part of his life, a new part where I couldn’t easily be a part of it like I could in pre-school, so many intense and conflicting emotions hit me at once that I truly hurt all over. I didn’t know what to feel, what to think, what to do but, well cry.

I was so overwhelmed with love and pride, oh how I love you sweet boy!

But also so overwhelmed with sadness, oh don’t leave me!

And so overwhelmed with disappointment, oh I didn’t cherish these young years enough!

The love and the sadness faded so quickly as the disappointment rolled in and took over my mind. Disappointment that my summer days filled with freedom to have strawberry daiquiris at our “beach” in the sandbox were over. Disappointment that my time with my son was going to start changing soon, that he was going to want to play with friends more and me less. That he was going to be with teachers more and me less. But the biggest disappointment, the one that hit me like a Mac truck? The disappointment in myself.

The disappointment that I had all summer and the 6 years prior to totally enjoy my son’s presence, to not have to really share him, and yet, I didn’t take advantage of that precious time, at least not to the extent I ever dreamed of or hoped for when I envisioned myself as a mom. Nope, much too much instead of appreciating him and appreciating OUR time together, I so often complained about him, about our time together.

Complaining that he doesn’t sleep well. Complaining that he is a picky eater. Complaining that his tantrums are unbearable. Complaining about this behavior or that behavior.

Complaining and yelling instead of loving.

Yes, in these last 6 years I have loved my son and I have enjoyed his presence but I am going to be honest. I could have enjoyed it more. I try not to regret decisions in my life, but right now there is a huge pang in my heart that I “slightly” regret not taking advantage of these last 6 years more. These early years were free of classes, teachers, homework, team practices and full of desire to be with me. Me. Me. Me. The days were full of opportunity to bond and now the days will be less full of opportunity to be with Me. Me. Me.

So yes, right now I wish that I had done my “to-do list” less, cleaned the house less, said go entertain yourself less, YELLED LESS and instead PLAYED MORE, LAUGHED MORE, SHARED MORE and LOVED my son more.

I know it is hard to enjoy every moment as a mom. Oh how I know!  I have 4 beautiful reminders that take turns showing me how hard motherhood is and inspire me to not want to play with them at numerous moments throughout the day due to their lovely antics. And oh how those antics make it hard to stay in the present and not dwell on the crap that comes with motherhood.

But today, today, oh how I wished I tried harder to complain less and enjoy more. Because then today as I dropped my son off at Kindergarten I wouldn’t be thinking “darnit, there he goes. These precious young, fleeting years are really starting to go behind me and I didn’t enjoy them enough because I was too busy complaining.”

OR Helping Me Enter The Orange Rhino Challenge.

I am so grateful for it.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is forcing me to be more positive about my children because getting caught up in the crap well, makes me feel crappy and makes me yell. And when I am positive about them, get this, I feel more love and enjoy my time with them more.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is forcing me to be more present with my children because when I don’t, when I get caught up in my daily crap instead of caught up with them, I get snippy with them for “interrupting” me and get close to yelling. And when I am more present with them, get this, I have more fun with them and enjoy my time with them more.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is forcing me to be more patient and understanding with my children during massive meltdowns because when I am not, well, then I have to employ just about every of my 100 alternatives to yelling! And when I am more patient with them, get this, not only do I appreciate their struggles more but I also cherish the moment, and them, more.

Not yelling is helping ME take advantage of my time with my babies. It is helping me to enjoy their presence more. It is helping me to feel less regrets about the time I spend with them. Looking back, I might feel I have missed a lot of the last 6 years but at least this Challenge has helped me appreciate the last 211 days more. And I’ll take that. It’s a start. And I really hope it continues.

When I started this challenge in February I posted a question to people about how to be more present stating that I want to be more present with my kids, that I want to enjoy time my time with my kids more. People suggested several books. I haven’t read them yet, I haven’t had time.

Turns out I didn’t need them. I figured out one solution on my own. Not yelling.

Final Cover copyI write all about how I successfully reduced the yelling in my life in my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” A 30-day guide with 100 alternatives to yelling, simple steps to follow and honest stories to inspire you on your own journey, “Yell Less, Love More” hits shelves this October. Pre-order it today though to guarantee the lowest price before launch! Click here to find your favorite online book retailer selling the book! 

Learning to Yell Less Can be Fun

Since Facebook didn’t want you all to see this, hahaha, I am sharing this post here because I think everyone can always use a good laugh, and well some tips to yell less!

“It’s been a tough week trying to not yell due to some personal stress. I was flipping through my book today and I saw these pictures from my photo shoot and I immediately started laughing and felt better. That is the intention of these photos – to make you laugh in the middle of the book when you are working hard and needing a boost. Actually, there is a lot of that in the book, laughter (or my attempts at it!) Learning to yell less doesn’t have to be all serious, it can be fun too! Just wait and see. Anywho, I hope this made you laugh today! These are just some of the photos by the way. I might just post more out takes because there are some GREAT ones. Thanks to Christine DeSavino Photography for rocking the photo shoot. Happy laughing…at me…and then hopefully happy not yelling! Remember, you can pre-order the book to guarantee the lowest price before it officially hits shelves and that you are one of the first with it when it comes out!”

Orange Rhino Photo Shoot

Back to School, Back to Yelling?

I feel it.
I’m not talking about the cooler nights that tell me fall is near.
I am talking about the sadness, anxiety, and stress that come with back to school.

The sadness that the summer went by too fast, again, and that soon my boys and I won’t be playing outside in the gorgeous weather, but rather stuck inside while it snows, and snows, and snows.

The anxiety about whether or not my children will have good teachers, teachers that don’t just get the topics they have to teach, but also really, truly, deeply get my sons and their challenges and what particular needs they have in order to succeed and have a great year.

Back to School Back to YellingThe stress of having a lot to do to get ready for school (the back to school clothes and supplies, the new routines to master, the scheduling of extra-curricular activities, the filling out of forms) and having to do a lot when school starts.

I feel it all.

But I am not the only one in my house who feels the sadness, anxiety and stress. My boys feel it too. I see it in the more frequent tears over small things. I see it in the strong complaints when I go to work. I see it in the increased temper tantrums. I see it in the refusal to go to bed because, “Well soon enough mom I have to go to bed earlier so I am not going to bed now.”

And I see it in our interactions.

I’m a little more on edge. They are a little more on edge. Together, we are a lot more on edge and as a result, oh has my desire to yell been through the roof (and eh hem, oh have they been yelling at me more!) Oh has my commitment to be an Orange Rhino, a parent who does not charge with words, but remains calm and loving when provoked, been tried lately! This of course is all quite sad because right now, I don’t want to be at odds with my boys, I want to be really savoring the last few weeks of our summer vacation!

I don’t want to find myself taking mommy-breaks every five minutes to stay cool; I want to be breaking water balloons in the backyard with my sons.

I don’t want to be shoving a yell down my throat, I want to be shoveling sand peacefully at the beach building an awesome last “structure” of the summer.

I don’t want to be debating bedtime; I want to be debating what was our favorite moment together that day.

I don’t want my “cold” emotions to determine my last few weeks of summer; I just want the cold temperatures in the fridge to make our homemade M&M’s ice cream freeze faster!

And I most certainly do not want to yell at my kids right now. I do not want to end summer on a bad note; I want to end it on a positive one. I do not want to send them off to school with the last summer memory being mommy yelling at them; I want it to be a happy moment.

Luckily, thanks to The Orange Rhino Challenge, which taught me to create plans for triggers so that I can enjoy more happy and peaceful moments with my kids, I have an idea how to end the summer on the note I wish. The key of course, will be keeping my game plan top of mind so my sadness, anxiety and stress don’t trigger me to yell! The first step is to write down my intentions. Here. Now. And then I will print them out and post them around the house to remind me of my goals for the next few weeks!

In order to Yell Less and Love More as we get ready for Back to School, I plan to:

  1. Share my feelings with my kids and encourage them to do the same.
    Bottled up emotions don’t do anyone any good, adults and kids alike! They just fester and then burst out in not so good ways! I need to release them a bit and so do my kids. The challenge is that they probably don’t know how to acknowledge these tough emotions since they are still learning the whole world of emotions. I figure if I share my thoughts in an age appropriate manner, it will help them open up and release some of their feelings. Plus, I can share my positive spin on how I am managing it, i.e., “I am feeling sad the summer is over, but I am grateful for all the fun we had.” Maybe we’ll even draw their feelings or act them out. We love charades and coloring!
  2. Focus on the positive.
    Oh how important this is and oh how I struggle with it. Right now I am seeing all the negative stuff about this time of year. I need to flip that around because negative thoughts create negative feelings, which well, can lead to yelling! Starting now I am going to focus on what an awesome summer it was; no more thinking is allowed about what we didn’t do on our summer “wish-list”, just thinking about what we did do this summer! And I am going to focus on how great a more solid routine will be for all of us, how great it will be for my kids to be back with friends, and how much we all love the fall and pumpkin picking. I will also encourage my kids to do the same.
  1. 4 tips for Back to SchoolGo to bed earlier.
    I too have been fighting bedtime! After the kids go to bed, I sit outside and soak in the peaceful summer night. This is great but then it pushes off what I need to do and, instead of going to bed when I need to, I stay up later. We all pay the price the next morning! A tired mommy equals a cranky mommy. A “more” rested mommy is a more fun and loving mommy.

  2. Have lots and lots of tickle fights.
    When I feel the tension rising, despite my efforts put into the above, I will grab a munchkin and start a tickle fight. I always feel better when I laugh and when I hear my kids laugh. That is the fastest way to melt my heart and push all my worries to the back of my mind. And as Wayne Dyer says, “It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” Yes. I will choose to laugh!

Back to school always opens up the door for back-to-back-to-back yelling in our house. But it doesn’t have to. I am starting this year on a good note because, as a good school friend once told me when I went to school, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

 

 

Final Cover copyThe Orange Rhino’s new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” shares more of my tips on handling different triggers. It is a 30-Day Guide to help others start their own journey to yell less and love more and includes easy steps to follow, 100 alternatives to yelling, and honest stories to inspire. It hits shelves this fall but can be pre-ordered now to guarantee the lowest price! Click here to get your copy and to start your journey to yelling less!

Induction Induced Feelings of Loss

Welcome to the Share Your Story event: Childbirth – Your Stories
This post was written as part of the Share Your Story event hosted by Kids in the House. Our contributors have shared their stories, struggles, and wisdom about the unforgettable yet unpredictable event that is childbirth.

If you have been following me for a while, you know that this is the first time I have participated in an event like this. That said, I have wanted to write about my birth stories of my four boys for ages but never have. When this opportunity came to me it was the nudge I needed and I couldn’t resist. Plus, now you will know about how my four boys came into this world which is a great way to start knowing them before I officially introduce you to them in my book! That and well, unbeknowst to me, each birth story actually reflects one of the core lessons needed to help me stop yelling: Expected the Unexpected.  

* * * * *

During my Orange Rhino Challenge to not yell at my 4 boys for 365 days straight, I discovered that being fully open about my challenges with yelling not only helped me to feel more normal and less alone, but also helped others to feel the same. I share my Childbirth stories below to do the same. I have never been able to share some of these feelings because they were (and are) frowned upon. When I shared them, I was told to be fully grateful and positive for what I did have: healthy babies. And I was. And I am. But I also had other feelings that are okay to feel and necessary to share so that I can be healthy. Bottled up feelings don’t do anyone good!!  

For as long as I can remember, mostly to the fault of cheesy romance movies like Father of the Bride 2, I had high hopes that I would go into labor naturally. I pictured that I would just be going about my life someday, somewhere, and my water would break. I would call my husband all excited, he would come home from work or stop doing whatever it was he was doing and we would start tracking contractions together on the new stopwatch I was instructed to buy. Maybe we would even frantically run around trying to find my overnight bag and every last item we were told to bring to the hospital (warm socks, colorful pillowcase, a special object to focus on during delivery.) And when it was time, we would rush to the hospital together saying, “Oh my gosh! Can you believe this? It’s happening!!!”  Yep, I am totally a hopeless romantic type and nope none of above ever happened.

It didn’t happen with my first pregnancy, or my second, or my third, or my fourth for that matter. And each time my idealized scenario didn’t happen, even though I knew the likelihood was that it wouldn’t and that I was lucky to be pregnant and to have a healthy baby, I still I found myself more disappointed than I would have expected.

My First Childbirth: Well Overdue Baby

Lets get this show on the road!

Lets get this show on the road!

I was induced at 42 weeks because my body was nowhere near delivering. Like nowhere at all. Even though I started having contractions en route to the hospital the night before my scheduled induction, the doctor still insisted on an induction because she was concerned that I wouldn’t progress far enough. I was massively disappointed; a planned birth felt so anti-climatic. There was no anticipation just, “okay, check in at 7 and the meds will start the next morning.” Where is the fun and excitement in that?

Even though I was “supposed” to be all cheerful at the anticipation of my first child, and a majority of the time I was, during the last week of pregnancy, I actually found myself quite jealous of all my friends who experienced the spontaneous joy of a natural delivery, and on the last day I felt quite sad that I would be missing out on a ritual that so many women experience. I knew I was about to gain something incredible and yet I couldn’t deny the immense sense of loss I felt. To this day, eight years later, I still have that pang of loss every once and a while when I hear an exciting birth story closer to what I imagined for myself.

My Second Childbirth: Preeclampsia Precautions

All feelings of sadness aside though, I became a mom again and couldn't stop smiling,

All feelings of sadness aside though, I became a mom again and couldn’t stop smiling,

I was induced at 40 weeks because my blood pressure skyrocketed and my doctor had medical concerns. You see, that morning my new babysitter texted me and quit because of health reasons (read: I don’t want to take care of two kids under two.) My first son was just 19 months old and we had been living in our new town for just a few months and had no real friends. She was to be my on-call childcare 24/7 starting that day since my parents lived six hours away. Needless to say, of course my heart rate went through the roof from stress and panic…and went even higher when I was ordered to the hospital for an emergency induction and instructed to find immediate childcare for my toddler.

I showed up at the hospital in tears, my toddler in tow, and called all my “new” barely acquaintances to see if they could come hang with my older son until my husband could arrive. Not exactly how I anticipated separating from my toddler before he became not my only son, but my one of two sons. Not exactly how I anticipated, or wanted, my second delivery to go either. I am crying now at the loss of that moment; I had expectations of a sweet, prolonged, “I love you so much” goodbye. Instead he was basically whisked away from me as I was rushed to the heart monitors. I cried as I walked away from my son, disappointed, sad and angry that our goodbye blew and that another not naturally induced labor awaited.

My Third Childbirth: Safe Delivery

Here we go again! 3rd belly shot before induction. It was a beautiful, beautiful day to welcome a baby into this world.

Here we go again! 3rd belly shot before induction. It was a beautiful, beautiful day to welcome a baby into this world.

Come my third pregnancy, I hit 41 weeks and did start having painful contractions every three to four minutes – but they did nothing and my doctors began to worry that they would suddenly kick in and my third son would just suddenly come out as fast as my first two. With my first pregnancies, my body didn’t respond at all to the induction and then I would scream, discover that I went from 3 cm to 9 cm in 20 minutes, be instructed by my doctor to not laugh, sneeze, move, squeeze until everything was in place, and then I would push twice and pop! Out came my son. No joke. Even though those pregnancies were induced and this one could be natural, I lived 20 minutes from the hospital and had two children to make childcare arrangements for. None of us wanted to take the risk that my sons would deliver their brother, so an induction was scheduled.

This induction was tough as I knowingly planned something that would disappoint me. But by this time I was accustomed to the feelings of loss and disappointment and focused on the more exciting aspect of a planned induction: I got to pick the his birthday this time and being a math nerd, I picked an “almost” palindrome of 09/22/09. That and well this time, I got to say goodbye to my two older sons on my terms, as I wished, as I expected.

My Fourth Childbirth: Breeched Baby
I still held the secret wish and expectation that my fourth and last labor would be as I imagined. But, despite all my praying and pleading and hoping, at 37 weeks my son still remained breached and unless he moved, a C-section would be necessary. After experiencing and fully enjoying three vaginal deliveries (there is just something so amazing about pushing your child into this world,) the idea of a C-section devastated me beyond words. I told my husband I refused to let that happen. Period.

So I tried all the tricks in the book to get him to move. The ear phones against the belly, the sleeping on one side, the this, the that. None of it worked. What did work though? Driving to the hospital for a scheduled “flip” at 37 weeks. No joke, en route, I felt an immense pain. He had flipped on his own! It was flippin’-fantastic!

That said, at my 40-week appointment it was clear that even though he had flipped, his head wasn’t 100% down and there was a small chance that he could get to a position that would make naturally delivery extremely hard given the size of his gargantuan head. So we chose another induction because at that point, that felt less of a disappointment than a C-section. Way less. And it was. By the fourth go around, the induction felt like a blessing, a gift, the best option in the world to me compared to the alternatives.   Maybe the fourth induction felt much more okay because of the circumstances.

Or maybe I accepted it because after five years of parenting I had finally started to embrace the very important parenting lesson being repeatedly taught to me with every induction: things with kids simply do not go as planned. Expect the unexpected and be pleasantly surprised (or be woefully disappointed and so frustrated that you find yourself yelling more than you like!)

Or maybe it felt okay because the previous childbirths had hammered home a very important point that I got to (get to) live each and every day. A lot of dreams, and hopes, and expectations, and not just about naturally induced labors, didn’t get met during my pregnancy and childbirth journeys. But one did. The most important one.

I became a mom.
I. Became. A. Mom.  

DSC_1510Each time one of my sons was born and I heard his cry, a cry that immediately connected me to him in a way that I just can not begin to explain, and then I held him in my arms and found myself falling in love faster than I knew possible, the sadness, disappointment, loss and jealously I felt intensely for the last few days, melted away. It no longer mattered to me how my son came into my life, because he did. And I was a mom. A mom who had dreamed and imagined how much love she would feel when her child was born; a mom who felt love in a way that she never, ever could have expected.

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Please be sure to read the submissions by the other Share Your Story contributors, and visit Kids in the House to find out how you can participate in our next Share Your Story Blogger Event!

  • Two Peas in a Pod: A Double Miracle – Rachael at Three Boys and Mom shares how the blessing of an unexpected twin pregnancy saved a woman’s life.
  • Childbirth: the Ache of Love – Sasha at MomLife Now describes how one mom discovered a miraculous beauty she knew not existed.
  • Tax Day 2007 – Cheryl at The Pump Station & Nursery looks back on how an easy pregnancy turned out to be a taxing birth experience.
  • Going with the Flow – Bridget at Bridget Bertrand shares how her OB helped to put her on the right course in regards to birth plans, the playlist, and even the recipe to make the day her daughter came into the world.
  • My Not-So Natural Birth Story – Rachel at Mommy Greenest shares a lot of questions with questions with pregnant and new parents through her work, but this time describes what it was like for her, giving birth for the first time – but definitely not the last – time.
  • The (Not So) Natural Birth Story – Britt at My Life and Kids reflects on how a mom’s life-threatening delivery helped mold her into the mother she was meant to be.
  • Giving Birth: When the Unexpected Happens – Elle at This is Mommyhood shares advice for when your baby has an unexpected stay in the NICU.
  • A New Look at the “Perfect” Birth Story – Melissa at Fill My Cup shares how a crazy delivery gave one mom a new perspective on the ‘perfect birth.’
  • Induction Induced Feelings of LossThe Orange Rhino shares how a planned induction brought unplanned feelings of jealousy, sadness, disappointment and loss.
  • Our Beautiful Birth Story – Lindsay at The Fully Caffeinated Mama reflects on how it wasn’t the feeling of intense pain caused by the epidural wearing off that she remembers, but rather the beautiful baby on her chest for the first time.
  • Jack’s Arrival – Samantha at The Peanuts Gang thought she would have a scheduled c-section, but it turned out that having Jack was QUICK and sooner than expected!
  • Remembering to Breathe – Suzy at Kids in the House explains how with little fanfare, the completely wrong music, and a very distracted doctor, her son Leo was born.

 

My Secrets to a Peaceful Bedtime Without Yelling

I had the wonderful opportunity to actually, get this, sit down, drink a cup of hot coffee and hang out with a friend the other night. It was marvelous. Absolutely, marvelous. We covered all the basic gossip stories, you know would Kimye make it as a couple, what about Jen Garner and Ben Affleck, all the basic here’s what our kids are up to stories, mine finally potty trained, mine is still sick, and we covered all the basic how are yous, how are you feeling about work, about life, marriage, motherhood etc. And this is where we ended up talking about bedtime and how brutal it can be.

You see, I was on “vacation” and when I am on “vacation” with my kids, they NEVER ever go to sleep easily. Like never, ever! Did I mention, never, ever? I mean, it’s not like bedtime at home is a peace of cake but whoa is it easier than on “vacation.” Bedtime is simply a disaster on vacation because of all the, “I want to stay up late because you know it’s vacation mom,” and “I don’t want to share a room with all my brothers,” and “I don’t like the sheets at Grandma’s” and the “This room has weird shadows my room doesn’t.” And well, it is also a disaster because of the decrease in routine and increase in, eh hem, sugar and adrenaline.

Anywho, so we got talking about bedtime and my friend said,

“How the heck do you not yell at bedtime? I mean really. Does someone else do it for you?!”

My boys, just chilling, catching some rays. Can you imagine if bedtime was always this relaxed?!!

My boys, just chilling. Can you imagine if bedtime was always this relaxed?!!

Ha!!! Oh how sometimes I wish it were true. But it’s not. What is true though is that years ago, pre-The Orange Rhino Challenge, bedtime didn’t just use to make me yell at my kids, it used to make me scream. It was so stressful and anything but chill. And, it was the worst feeling to send my kids to bed almost every night with their hearts full of my anger, not my love. The absolute worst feeling in the world. Oh the guilt and shame. Blech! Thank goodness The Orange Rhino Challenge helped me identify bedtime as a trigger and pushed me to figure out how to manage it so that it wouldn’t be full of my yells. (My kids’ yells, well, that is almost always expected at bedtime!)

That night I shared with my girlfriend my secrets to not yelling at bedtime. Tonight, I share them with you, albeit in a way more formal manner and with way more detail, but hey, the main message is still there!

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My biggest “secret” to not yelling at bedtime is that I finally, and fully, embraced and reminded myself of three Orange Rhino Revelations about sleeping that I learned on my journey to yell less:

  1. If I rush my boys at bedtime, it goes slower. Rushing is counterproductive.
  2. If I yell at my boys during bedtime, they cry, bedtime takes longer. Yelling is counterproductive.
  3. If I approach bedtime with a positive attitude, as opposed to dreading it, it not only goes faster and smoother, but it also becomes a very calm and special time.

These revelations keep me from yelling every night, as do these additional revelations and tips which are specific to my 5 top bedtime triggers.

Kids Dawdling and Not Doing Task At Hand
Orange Rhino Revelations: If I rush my boys, they will go slower. If I nag them, they will go slower. If I yell at them to hurry up, they will cry and definitely take longer. However, if I gently encourage them to complete their tasks so we can have more time to read books and snuggle, they proceed “faster.”

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Tell myself over and over again that if I rush bedtime, it goes slower.
  • Tell myself that yelling will only make dawdling more intense.
  • Take deep breaths to help me slow down so that I don’t put off a “go, go, go” vibe.
  • Use humor to diffuse the stress and connect with kids so they want to do what I ask. Talk like toothpaste is stuck to my teeth. Brush teeth with finger.
  • Walk away and just start reading a book; invite them to join you when they have finished their tasks.
  • Give in! “Okay, so no one wants to brush teeth. Lets sing instead for a few minutes and then we’ll do it.” Sometimes the power struggle isn’t worth it!

Parental Stress, Exhaustion, and Therefore Huge Desire for Personal Time
Orange Rhino Revelations: My quiet, relaxing downtime doesn’t need to start as soon as all the kids are asleep; I can start it at bedtime.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Change into comfortable clothes to feel more chill.
  • Create a relaxing, quiet environment. Think spa! Turn the lights down. Light a spa candle. Listen to soothing music. Upside? It relaxes boys too, which helps bedtime go smoother!
  • (again) Tell myself that letting my stress and exhaustion push me to yell will just upset the kids which will make them move slower and will upset me more and make me yell more and will greatly delay getting to my personal time.

Bathwater (and Toothpaste!) Going Everywhere
Orange Rhino Revelations: Perspective is a powerful tool. When I can put things into perspective, I realize that yelling isn’t necessary and that again, it will make matters worse.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Use my “at least” technique to find perspective and calm, i.e., “At least it is just water and not sticky orange juice spraying everywhere,” “At least the water is on the tile bathroom floor and not the carpeted bedroom floor.” And the big one I use, “At least I have this special time at the end of the day to connect with my kids before they go off to sleep.” This last one really helps me to re-focus on what matters.
  • Put preventative measures in place: put towels down, wear an apron to keep clothes dry, do push-ups (or any exercise) while kids bathe as exercise creates positive energy and prepares me to handle the annoyance with more calm.

Asking for One More Thing, One Hundred Times!
Orange Rhino Revelation: When my kids ask for one more thing, it isn’t because they need one more cracker, one more book, or one more sip of water, it is because they want one more minute with me. If I give them that minute in a totally focused, calm, loving way, there will not only be less requests after, but also, I will then feel more comfortable being firm with the bedtime rules as I was just extra loving.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Find empathy. I put myself in their “shoes” (mind) and remember that when I was a kid, I did the same thing. This softens my heart and lets me give the connection to my kids they crave.
  • Offer a hug as a substitution; it will make everyone feel better.
  • Take a break. Walk away and yell into a closet. Clothes don’t have feelings, kids do.
  • If possible, tag out and have someone else help with bed.

The Unspoken Trigger: Approaching bedtime with dread and a negative attitude
Orange Rhino Revelations: Negative attitudes attract negative actions; when I approach the bedtime hour with grumpiness, the kids sense it and act grumpy right back which makes me yell. When I embrace bedtime with a positive approach, I am less distracted, more present, and we all enjoy bedtime more – it actually becomes a special time.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Change attitude from, “I just want this hour over,” to “YES! Let’s get this hour started. It’s a great last chance of the day to enjoy my kids and show them my love before I don’t see them for 12 hours.”
  • Embrace the challenge of bedtime. “Yep! Bedtime is going to be hard. I know it. I accept it. I will not be surprised or annoyed when it is. I will just go with it.”
  • Talk positively to self, “I can do this. It is just 45 minutes. I have had successful bedtimes, I can do this one.”
  • Fake it until you make it! Smile lots. Laugh lots. Say “Bedtime rocks,” and “I love bedtime” lots.

So much for sharing one “secret” to a peaceful bedtime, eh? Well since I already shared a zillion, here’s one more. Bedtime in The Orange Rhino house still isn’t perfect as a result of all of the above, but it is a heck of a lot, and I mean heck of lot easier to not yell at bedtime than it was before and it is way more, way, way more quiet and peaceful!

The book!Bedtime isn’t my only yelling trigger ;) That would be too easy! If you would like to learn about my other major triggers, as well as my solutions to them, check out my new book “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can too!” It is a 30-day guide with honest stories to inspire, 100 alternatives to yelling and simple steps to follow. It hits shelves this October but you can pre-order it now to ensure that you get one of the lowest prices and that you have it when I start a guided 30-day Challenge this fall! Click here to pre-order!