An Army Wife's Life

Once upon a time I was a college student, then I was a teacher, and now I'm a mother. Technically, I'm currently a freelance writer... but really I am an ARMY WIFE. Expect to find... funny (at least to me) anecdotes, thoughts about la vida military, hopes, anxieties, dreams, commentaries on current events.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Famous Last Words?

Sorry blogging has been light...I have been focusing on blogging on SpouseBuzz the last few days since it is just starting up.

I also have deadlines left and right.

And of course, Lilah...she's getting so big! She's been getting really upset after feeding and now something is upsetting her even when she sleeps. So, she has gone from pretty much "sleeping through the night" (one shift of 3-4 hours, followed by a 4-5 hour shift) to waking every 2-3 hours even at night.

Which brings me to the subject of this post.

One day last December, while I was waiting for DH to call me, I told you why we had decided to try for a baby despite his upcoming deployment.

Then, in my last post, I asked if anyone else had deployment babies.

I'm happy to report, I have no regrets.

DH unfortunately missed the birth.

I got more than I bargained for, with Lilah's heart problem.

I had been hoping my temperament would skip a generation, and she'd be more like her Granny than me in that respect...and of course it didn't.

It was heart wrenching to hear the simultaneous notes of joy and sadness in DH's voice when I mentioned that Lilah had started smiling at me.

Still, for all of the exhaustion and absolutely overwhelming ups and downs and the medical issues, we still made the right decision. Being pregnant during the deployment gave me such joy in the middle of a trying time. Lilah keeps me focused on living life in the here and now.

Some commented that their DH's deployed while the babies were young...I would think that would be even harder! I think you are so strong to have gone through that!

I wish DH could be here to help and to see Lilah smile...but I think I would cry all the time if he were missing her sitting up, her first solids, her crawling, her first steps.

A good friend here has a son who is almost three and just gave birth last month. Both times she got pregnant by accident right before her husband left. He missed the first birth but was home on leave for the second.

For those like her who went through it twice, and had a toddler at home while pregnant (and possibly even giving birth and having an infant) while your DH was deployed...all I can say is God Bless You!!!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yes, I Know...I'm Supposed to Be Sleeping

Lilah's asleep so I thought I would make a quick post to let you all know that I haven't been committed to an asylum or jailed for throttling a patient appointments line operator.

DH finally caught me on IM and, after five tries, he was able to see me and Lilah on webcam!

Anyway, I'm many others out there have had deployment babies? How many people out there think they would never intentionally have a baby during their husband's deployment? Just curious!

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Give us a Buzz!

I'm blogging on a new site for MilSpouses, courtesy of

So come on by, give us a buzz!

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Friday, September 15, 2006


Although I have been using this site to vent a lot...there is a lot that has gone as well or better than expected.

It is the East European in me that makes me hesitate to count blessings out loud.

First of all, Lilah is gaining weight from some very successful breastfeeding. Apparently this is unusual for a heart baby. This is especially wonderful since the breastmilk will help protect her from illness.

Lilah generally sleeps for decently long stretches at night despite the fussiness during the day and the occasional resistance to falling asleep.

The cats don't seem to mind her at all, in fact they seem to like her a lot. I was afraid they would mistake her for another cat, or worse, prey. So far though my skittish Russian Blue princess seems mildly interested and my big random breed seems to think she is another lady to protect. So far neither have showed any signs of aggression and the big one's affections have been gentle. Of course, I still lock them out at night...but just because I am afraid they might decide to cuddle with her, not because I think they would intentionally hurt her.

DH is positively in love with her and is so supportive of me. When I tell him what is going on, he always asks my opinion/instincts and then compliments me on what he thinks I am doing right. He doesn't try to problem solve from afar (which I think could be frustrating for both of us) but is always willing to listen.

Most importantly, Lilah is just a gorgeous, sweet little bundle of joy if I do say so myself. She loves to cuddle and her stretches of playtime are trending longer and longer. She smiles so sweetly in her sleep; I can't wait to see her first real smile (which of course will be photographed and posted)!!!

I really do love being a mother, even if the surrounding circumstances are a little overwhelming at the moment!

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Baby Steps

Yesterday I did two hours of work and did a load of laundry.

Today I emptied the dishwasher and did an hour of work and it is only 10:15 AM.

Baby steps.

I appreciate everyone's good wishes...and I don't mean to convey the impression that I am anywhere nearing a breaking point.

I know the dust bunnies can wait--but there is a certain minimum that must be done! As DH can attest (although he probably would not because he is so gallant), housekeeping has never been my strong suit. Cooking, yes. Decorating, maybe. Tidying up the place? Well, let's just say I have been compared to a hurricane on multiple occasions.

Lilah is very obliging in that she (so far! knock on wood!) calms quickly when I am actively calming her.

Because of her condition, though, I have to keep her calm.

Throughout the day she fusses whenever she either is not asleep or in my arms and the sling. Furthermore, I have to be moving while holding her.

She is a clever baby and will accept no substitutes for mommy! Lilah will not be fooled by swings or recordings (though they do sometimes help her if she is already drifiting off to sleep).

The sling (baby carrier) is a Godsend, but there is a limit as to what I can do since bending down is difficult with her in it.

So, I can tidy anything at waist-level or higher, but I can't pick things up off the floor.

I can load/empty the top of the dishwasher, but I can't get to the bottom.

I can throw clothes in the wash, but not load and empty the dryer.

I can make a sandwich for myself (as long as the ingredients are on the top shelves), but I can't sit down to eat it!

She really likes it when I ironically, dust bunnies are actually not a concern.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This is what it sounds like...when the baby cries...

Just because it wouldn't be fun if it were easy...

Lilah had her first "Tet" spell minutes after I dropped my mom off at the airport. She started screaming and so I pulled over as fast as I could. When I got to the back seat, she was purple and clammy. I settled her down and she returned to her pink color.

Finally, she settled down enough to allow me to drive the rest of the way home. Right now Lilah is nestled happily in her sling. The house seems so empty with just us two gals and the kitties.

Normally I can calm her pretty quickly, but it took me a couple of minutes to find a place to pull over and get into the back seat with her. I wonder if I can survive off of what I have in my pantry for the next three months so I don't have to take any trips to Walmart with her?

I have been reading all these books about colic and every doctor has a different theory as to why some babies fuss or cry more than others--it is an allergy, it is reflux, it is because they miss the womb, it is temperment, it is because they are overtired.

I have my own theory. Babies are born with the secrets of the universe. They cry out of frustration because they know they will forget them before they are able to communicate them to us. I imagine Lilah is crying out:

There is a small but common and completely non-toxic plant in the Amazon that cures most types of cancer.

I can prove the existence of God.

Following this five step plan will bring peace to the Middle East.

Grey is versatile and flattering--it is the new Black.

And so on...

Speaking of those books, ever notice that the experts seem to have longer days than the rest of us? I am supposed to wear Lilah three hours a day; nurse every 2-3 hours or more on cue; take her for walks between naps (in this heat?); bathe, massage, and soothe her before bed; etc.

While she is daytime napping, I am supposed to:

1. Nap
2. Get work done
3. Enjoy some "me time"
4. Maintain connections with friends and family (although Lilah's condition precludes a lot of group gatherings for me right now)
5. Do housework
6. Make "couple time" (if DH were home)

That's a lot to pack into a few 2 hour shifts.

I've been trying to convince Lilah she needs to cry less. I've tried explaining that the appointment line has no available appointments for crying with mommy today. I've told her TRICARE won't cover more than three total hours of crying a week.

Somehow she's not buying it.

Yup, never dull around here...well, I'm off to catch some shuteye. Maybe if I am lucky I'll start cleaning in my sleep. That would definitely help.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

No Muss, No Fuss

I wish!

No Muss?

This is the hole in my wall:

Centex will fix it but when is anyone's guess.

No Fuss?

This is my adorable, fussy baby daughter:

Yeah, I know...she looks happy there. Don't let the drama queen fool you.

The doctor's appointment was useless. What a sour, humorless pediatrician! She basically offered me no tips, no strategies, no information. She even suggested that maybe I was tense (uh, no...I'm very relaxed with my baby...if I'm tense, it is due to you) and implied that it was because DH is deployed.

I've been reading up a lot and the connection between a tense mom and a crying baby has been disproven. Sometimes moms get tense BECAUSE the baby is crying, but the mother's parenting does not cause the colic.

Despite the inept doctor, I am starting to feel a little better about handling this. Partly this is because supposedly her crying is now peaking and should start to reduce soon. Also, after reading stories of TRUE colic, I am relieved. If Lilah actually cried three hours straight (or even more than ten minutes straight), I would develop colic.

Perhaps this is because Lilah has trained me so well as to how to soothe her. Between the white noise CD, the swaddling, the swing, and the "babywearing," I am able to keep Lilah calm (which is necessary with her heart condition).

At any rate, I am grateful that although she requires LOTS of soothing to get to sleep, she actually sleeps 3-5 hours at a time at night.

Unfortunately, she punctuates her first and second night sleep shift with a marathon two hours of extremely alert wakefulness.

Following the advice in the books, I do not talk to her and try to avoid meeting her gaze at this time to signal it is sleep time.

This is impossible as everytime I glance over, she stares back at me like the twins on The Shining. "Come play with me, Mommy."

I swaddle her. She looks like a little mental patient. If she accepts a pacifier (which she rarely does), she looks like a pink, mini Hannibal Lechter. Perhaps she is getting ready early for Halloween?

I pretend to go to sleep; Lilah is not fooled by this ruse and begins to fuss.

I remember reading about a fanatically religious woman who thought her baby was possessed. At 2:30 am, as Lilah watches me with big, intense eyes, I could almost understand where she was coming from.

At the last cardiologist appointment, I had asked if open-eyed REM is normal (it is). The doctor jokingly asked, "Well have you see her head spin around 360 degrees? No? Then it is normal."

As Lilah continues to stare, I imagine calling the doctor, "Uh, you know when you joked about the head spinning thing...?"

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Everyday is Monday

I need today to go away. The deployment gremlins are out in full force.

First, I have a plumbing leak somewhere. It leaked and the varnish soaked off the entertainment center and onto the rug. Last night they came to move the entertainment center and turn on a huge fan to blowdry under the rug. This of course had to stay on all night. This of course sounded like a freight train moving through the living room.

Now the plumber is coming tonight, possibly to cut a hole in my wall.

The house is still under warranty, so it will probably all be taken care of...but I still have to deal with it. Not to mention I can't take care of other errands while I am waiting for all these other people to show up.

After a GREAT day and decent night last night, Lilah is having an AWFUL day. She wakes herself up screaming. Not fussing--screaming. With Tetralogy of Fallot, I am supposed to keep her calm.

She cries unless we are holding her, sometimes while we are holding her, until I feed her and then cries until she passes out for a nap again.

I already tried eliminating cow's milk from my diet but that doesn't seem to have done much of anything except make me feel hungry all the time (I am a vegetarian and get much of my protein and fats from cheese). On the bright side I already weight what I weighed at my 8 week pregnancy appointment.

I suspect she has reflux, so I wanted to make an appointment for her so they can try to track down what is going on.

I am trying to have Lilah see a doctor that her cardiologist recommended and trying to have her see this doctor consistently. So, I went to the TRICARE (health insurance) office to fill out the PCM change paperwork. The representative told me that I should be able to make an appointment right away with the recommended doctor because the appointment line should not have ANY PCM info in their system yet...even though they claimed they are showing her for a different clinic.

WELL...TRICARE doesn't have this PCM change on the file yet, and no one can tell me WHEN the PCM change will be effective. I just spent an hour trying to make appointments for her. The Appointment Line transfered me to the Patient Rep, who obviously knows about Tetralogy of Fallot but was not listening to me. He kept thinking that (A) Lilah was having a Tet Spell (in which Tet babies turn blue) and (B) I was trying to make an appointment with a Cardiologist. Finally, he calls the apointment line to report exactly what I already knew--that they can't make an appointment until the change is in their system.

Honestly, I understand that the changes need time to take effect; what I don't get is how come no one can tell me HOW LONG those changes will need to take effect.

I am also P*SSED that this guy who is supposed to be my advocate is so obviously not listening to a word I am saying.

In the middle of juggling phone calls with the patient rep and the plumber, Lilah wakes up screaming again.

I'm just going in circles with bureaucracy; my entertainment system is dismantled and sitting in the study; my rug is stained; and, most frustratingly, my poor little baby seems to be in pain and I can't take her to the pediatrician her cardiologist recommended. Instead, I have to involve yet another pediatrician in her care.

I know Lilah will be fine. We'll either track down what is bothering her or she will just grow out of it by around 3 months. I can survive three sleepless months alone if I need to. I'm sure this pediatrician is perfectly competent. I'm just frustrated.

Right now Lilah is passed out so I should do some work before she gets hungry or wakes herself up screaming again...but I just had to vent a little first.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

A New Way To Stand and Wait

Technology has made this a new war both for our soldiers and for those of us who "also serve."

I don't often agree with my fellow alumnus's political opinions, but I think this Trudeau cartoon is pretty on target:

DH never tells me when he is going out or when he is going to be back. First of all, it is a violation of OPSEC (Operational Security). Second of all, it just produces unnecessary worry.

However, I know there are plenty of couples who are constantly online together and DH and I communicate pretty regularly thanks to the internet.

As Trudeau highlights, the communications technology can be a mixed blessing. When you hear from your loved one every day and then suddenly not for 48 hours, you begin to picture all sorts of horrors. Of course, you remind yourself that your information is up to date--that you would have heard already if tragedy had struck--but still you worry, tensing at every noise. Was that a knock at the door?

On the flip side, the technology can play into the soldiers' paranoia as well: It is 10pm there, why didn't my wife answer my IM...where is she? Much of our force is young (as is usually the case for warriors) and the young tend to be less secure in their relationships.

On the balance, though, I like the webcams and IMing--especially now so DH can see Lilah's growth.

I can't even imagine what life was like for our grandmothers during earlier wars when they were lucky if a letter made it through once a month or so and the soldier were often away for years at a time.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

She's Growing So Fast!

I thought you might enjoy some pictures of Miss Lilah while I catch up on some work, correspondence, and posting.

Here are some photos at just about three weeks:


Bath Time Fun and A Room of Her Own

Here's Lilah enjoying Bath Time in her alligator towel:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And now that DH has seen Lilah's room, here are a couple of photos of the nursery:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Friday, September 01, 2006

By Your Leave

A couple of days ago, DH left on his return journey to the sandbox.

Lilah and I loved having Daddy around. We gave Daddy a New Daddy present--an Iron 4ID emblem that reads "Home of the Free, Because of the Brave." Now I just need to find a place for it in DH's study.

In many ways, it felt lik DH had never left. He is still the same calm and loving man. DH said it felt like a long, lazy weekend (minus the sleeping late, of course). If we hadn't just had a baby, DH probably would have had us jetting out to some exotic destination...but in many ways this is infinitely more exciting, if more sedentary.

Still, I can't help but worry that his R&R was not particularly restful. Lilah and I were still recovering from the 24 hour labor. I was not able to do much housework or, probably more importantly to DH, much cooking. The Texas heat coupled with Lilah's heart condition made it inadvisable to take Lilah much of anywhere, although we did take one mini road trip out to Alamosa Winery. The owners love DH (Jim always says that DH left the law for Field Artillery because "it is more efficient to blow bad guys up than to put them in jail") and I knew they would want to see him and Lilah.

In addition, my mom is staying with me to help out and my in-laws (MIL, FIL, and the two Grandmas) came down for five days in the middle of DH's leave, as did my father. My mom (and dad while he was here) is staying with me and the in-laws stayed at a local hotel. We sent them out during the day to Fredericksburg, Salado, and San Antonio...but it was still quite the circus here.

A couple of nights we ate take out and one night my parents and I made a BBQ.

Imagine two Grandmas and two Great Grandmas--all sharing whatever the doctor told them 30 or 50-60 years ago about babies. If I have to explain one more time that while babies may sleep better on their stomach, they sleep safer on their backs...well, I'll just explain it again...but I can't promise I won't think grouchy thoughts. Still, it was wonderful for Lilah to meet all of these loving relatives--DH and I really have a caring family and I feel blessed.

Lilah slept through much of the attention lavished on her...only to wake up bright eyed and ready to play at 2:00 am.

My mom has been a huge help, but I felt bad for DH that he did not have his "castle" to himself. I wish my mom was closer by so I could have sent her home at the beginning and end of DH's time here and we could have spent time alone.

Now that leave is over, we are on the short, "downhill" side of the deployment. When DH returns, Lilah will have grown so much and almost be ready for her heart surgery. There is a lot to look forward to this winter.

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