Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Parenting Is Hard

I remember the good ol' pre-kids days, or PK as we've been calling it. Days where I'd see kids in Walmart screaming for candy, or running wild down grocery store isles, or wearing the most hideous outfits with dirty faces and ratty hair. I proudly pushed my childless cart through the store taking my sweet ass time looking at all the wonders Walmart had to offer... wait... maybe Target. My freshly showered self, clothed in name brand clothes that were bought from a store, where I actually tried them on, thought "I will NEVER let my kids behave/look like that!" Jesse and I are going to be the best parents in the world. They'll be adorable, well mannered, and wear whatever we tell them to.

Well... one out of 3 ain't too shabby. But seriously I was so clueless! I wish I could go back in time and soften all those evil glances I shot at parents I didn't approve of. (Now don't get me wrong, some parents are literally screwing up their children) But you cannot possibly glean this information from a 60 second snapshot into their lives.

As a mother of three young children I can say that public outings, especially shopping, are one of the most stressful things. Elliott wants to look and touch every single thing. Easton wants to run, chase, hide, and explore. And poor Owen just does NOT want to be strapped down in the cart while his two siblings get to run a muck. And this is all normal behavior for children. Their wild! They want to explore, run, play, learn, and have fun. They don't want to sit quietly in a dressing room while their mom tries on clothes (now you see why I haven't set foot in a dressing room unless I bribed someone to help me in about 2.5 years).

For the majority of the time my kids are pretty well behaved. They might get a little crazy now and then, and then, and then... but I'm usually able to avoid any major meltdowns or catastrophes in public. But SHOCKER, I'm not perfect, neither are my children, and neither is anyone else. Sometimes I have a screaming child in the store who really wanted an Elsa swimsuit. Sometimes I tell then "No" to candy but give in because I'm breaking out in a dead sweat from all the disapproving eyes as they throw a huge tantrum. And sometimes I look away for a second and one child is God knows where. And today at the gym I literally had to spank Easton and carry his screaming little toddler self over my shoulder to the car.

But today I didn't feel ashamed or embarrassed because I was surrounded by people who were supportive. I believe support is the number one thing a parent needs to be successful. Let me say it again in case you are skimming this... support is the most important thing you can offer a parent! We don't need advice, we don't need dirty glances, we don't need sighs and rude comments, we need someone who can say, "Hey, this is a hard job and I can see you care about it. You're doing a good job. What can I do to help?"

Please please please remember this and think about me if you see a mom or child in their 60 worst seconds of the day. Does this one moment measure their success as a "mom"?. Be supportive, try and understand their situation, give them the benefit of the doubt, and don't throw them into the gorillas den.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My decision to gain weight... in my bra

I have waffled with the idea of sharing my journey publicly or doing what the majority does and keep it private. And by journey... I mean breast augmentation.

Starting in early 2011, my body had grown accustomed to hormones which had blessed me with a womanly figure. Since then there were only a few hormone free months between being pregnant and breastfeeding. Now that I'm done with both of these hormone states, I've returned to my original figure... flat. And I mean like, "Is that her front or her back? I can't tell" flat. I don't mind being this way, except I have experienced the alternative, and over the past 5 years I'd started to like the alternative. So I made a decision to artificially return to my hormone induced womanly figure.

I have to admit it's awkward to talk to people about this. Who do you tell, who do you not tell, how do you explain to your work you have to take 3 weeks off? A co-worker recently lead me into a line of questioning and there was a point where I could lie, or just say why I was taking time off. I told her honestly, "I'm having my boobs put back on." It was uncomfortable, I'm not gonna lie. There's obviously something sexual about breasts and I felt so exposed and almost ashamed.

I think I feel this way because I have always been a supporter of loving the skin you're in. I don't know how many times I've told my friends and sisters that they're perfect the way they are... their stretch marks, extra rolls, grey hairs, wrinkles, crooked noses, etc. Now I feel like I'm the hypocrite.

But I want to clarify something. I have always been confident in who I am. I have never hated my body. I even love my flat chest. But could I be more satisfied if I made a change? Sure. And that's why I decided it was okay to share my journey. Because body shaming is a real thing. And I realized I was shaming myself for wanting something artificial.

The reason it felt so awkward for me be open with people about the surgery was because I hadn't completely accepted for myself that it was okay to change my body. And maybe some days I go back and forth with it. But if there's something anyone can do to make them feel better and look better while staying healthy then I don't think there's any shame in that!

Would you tell an overweight woman she shouldn't have lost weight? Of course not... whenever someone loses weight you hear everyone rave about how good they look. (Obviously this isn't a perfect example because I'm not getting healthier by adding on some silicone). But most often people lose weight because of how it makes them feel and look.

So although I think I look good and feel good now, I have the means and the opportunity to feel even better. So I'm gonna take it. And I'm not going to feel ashamed. And if you see me and think "Wow your new rack looks great", please tell me. Because it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Last Baby

Owen is one.

We had a small celebration at our house. I had a less than enjoyable time at his party. I was crabby and emotional. I'd spent the day before baking, the morning of cleaning, the afternoon cooking, and the evening crying. I couldn't quite put my finger on my mood. Was it because Jesse didn't help me clean, because the food was gross, or because my Mom was out of town and couldn't be there? I talked over all my issues with Jesse but I still didn't feel resolution. He said, "Just come snuggle and maybe you'll feel better." I laid on his chest trying to pinpoint what I was feeling. I finally gave in to some tears and said, "My baby isn't a baby anymore." That was the real problem.

I have never been one to hold on to the baby stage. I usually welcome birthdays and love watching my kids grow up. But Owen is our last baby... and we're officially done with the baby stage. I'm surprised how much it hurts. Jesse kindly laughed at my tears and said, "You're crying because he's not a baby, and I'd cry if we had another baby." So yes everyone, we are done. The Bishop Circus will forever remain a 5 person act.

Owen on the other hand had a great time at his party. He was so excited to see his family, especially grandpa. Of course his favorite was the cake. We decided to make him a monkey because he's always climbing on things. We bought him a big stuffed animal, a dog crossed with a caterpillar. He loves to snuggle it but I think the older kids love it more.

Here's a little more about Owen
  • He loves his bed! He's been awake for an hour this morning and he's just in there snuggling his blanket and rolling around. Whenever we have to sleep away from home he wakes up every couple hours missing his own bed.
  • He's a snuggle bug. If you have his blanket he's perfectly content being held and nuzzling in.
  • The boy can eat! And now he loves to use a fork.
  • He loves to climb. He crawls into the toy box, gets up on the couch, sits in the kids' chair, and climbs out of his highchair. He may be the most coordinated out of the three. There's a step down to our living room and I remember it took Elliott and Easton the longest time to figure out how to navigate it. Easton used to do it on his belly head first and Elliott was terrified of it. Owen makes their methods look silly.
  • He loves his Mama. He's getting better but he used to want me to hold him all the time. At the gym he has to be able to see me at ALL times. If I even bring him close to the kids room the wailing begins. 
  • He loves to make messes. We finally broke down and installed cabinet latches in the kitchen. Which is funny we did it so late in the game. But he goes right to the tupperware cabinet and takes them ALL out. I got sick of cleaning up that damn cabinet 10 times a day.
  • He likes Siri. If there's a phone left unattended he goes straight for Siri. Their conversation usually consists of this. Owen: Ahh. Siri: I'm not sure what you said Damaris. Owen: Ahh.
  • He's very oral. One of most common phrases in our house is, "What's in your mouth?"
  • He's learning to communicate. He just learned how to sign "more", he says "Uh" for uh-oh when he drops something, shakes his head "no", imitates our high pitched voice for "please" and makes the sounds ba,ma, and da.
  • He echolocates with Jesse. It's pretty hilarious actually. Jesse says "ah" and Owen replies then comes to find him.
Although I'm sad that we're done with the baby phase, I'm also glad to see it go. As all the kids grow our lives get easier and easier. Thank you Owen for completing our family. Happy Birthday Little O.

Woke up feeling like a stud


Mom took the cake, I'm out of here

Not a huge fan of the hat

His last snuggle as a baby

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Different Perspectives

As a full time mom and part time RN, work for me is more like a vacation. It allows me to contribute to society, support my family financially, and gives me a much needed break from my lovely little ones... who never cry, whine, throw fits, refuse to eat their dinner, or poop. I try to work about 20 hours a week outside the home dividing my time between Albany General Hospital and McKenzie Willamette Hospital.

Since I view "working" as more of a "vacation", I have a very different perspective of hospitals than most people do. I arrive cheerful, caffeinated, ready to interact with adults, and excited to use my skills to impact people's experience of health care when they need cared for the most (or when they run out of pain pills.. but I digress). I greet my fellow employees, catch up on the latest gossip, enjoy my favorite clam chowder Fridays and 2pm pick me ups at the coffee shop, and generally walk around jolly as though hospitals are the best place on Earth. 

I've always known that my experience and perspective of hospitals were the minority. I grew up with very fond memories of accompanying my dad to work at the McKenzie Willamette Hospital. Those are some of my most vivid childhood memories; following him down the seemingly grand halls as he greeted every passerby. If you know Mike Tucker you know the term "every passerby" is not an exaggeration. I remember thinking how important he must be, how important hospitals must be, and how privileged I felt to be allowed in such a place.

I know my perspective is the minority because I see the majority. I see patients in their last days whose spouses or children won't come to see them because "they don't like hospitals." And it's not for lack of trying. When I ask where they are I hear, "they're in the lobby" "they're in the car" or "they went for a walk." If they finally muster up the nerve to enter the room all their able to do is briefly say hello then leave. 

For the majority, hospitals bring back memories. Memories of loved ones dying, painful procedures, costly expenses, rude nurses, accusing doctors, and bad food. Simply walking into a hospital floods them with memories they'd rather leave forgotten. And not only are they forced to face their memories, but now they're facing new trauma. Their mother is dying, their child is sick, they're awaiting results, is it cancer, will she make it?

I have always known I'm in the minority, but I haven't always been sensitive to it. This realization came when I was sitting at the nurses station eating dinner and chatting with my co-workers. I had a pretty light workload on that particular night so there was time to relax. Something was particularly funny and a couple of us were briefly laughing loudly. I looked up through the nurses station glass, down through the hall outside the Critical Care Unit, and saw a large group of family embracing each other in tears. Actually more like sobbing.

Suddenly nothing was funny. I thought back to the "Code Blue" I'd heard paged overhead a couple hours ago in the Emergency Department. Someones heart had stopped. At that time I wasn't sure what the outcome was. Very rarely people who code survive to have a meaningful recovery. Because it had been several hours since I heard the page to when I saw the family, I gathered the patient survived the code. The next step would be a transfer to the Critical Care Unit where every effort would be made to protect vital organs from damage and begin recovery. And based off the tears of the group I gathered this phase wasn't working. 

At that moment I wondered what the family would think if they looked over at us group of nurses; eating dinner, laughing, and having a good time. I can only imagine what I would be thinking. "How can they be laughing when people are sick. How can they be eating when they know someone is dying. How can they come to work and be happy?" And honestly sometimes I don't know how we do.

Later that night when my shift ended I walked past the room of the patient that coded. I gave my coworker a questioning look and she shook her head. The patient had died. For the group of family that lost their loved one, this hospital would forever be associated with this hardest moment in their lives. This hospital was where their dad died. I came there to vacation and they came to say goodbye.

I'd like to think I'll be more sensitive now. However, nurses and other health care workers need to be able to desensitize to survive. If I felt that emotion along with the family every time I wouldn't view work as a vacation anymore and eventually I'd have to change careers. No one could endure that emotional turmoil and feel it deeply on a daily basis. If you have the misfortune of experiencing a trauma in the hospital and happen to see health care workings being callous, jolly, or insensitive, please try and remember that we know your pain... we just can't feel it. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The power of negative thoughts

These past couple weeks have challenged me physically, emotionally, and mentally. They've been small struggles in the grand scheme of things but have effected me nonetheless.

I recently accepted a new position in the Emergency Department at Mckenzie Willamette Hospital. This was a choice I made for my family. It's a much shorter commute, I have the opportunity to work shorter shifts, and there's more available shifts for me to choose from. (I LOVE my job in Albany ICU and I'm planning on keeping my status there but reducing my hours.) As with any new job I was nervous... and for good reason. The ED is almost exact opposite of ICU.

In the ICU I have one or two patients and my whole 12 hour shift is devoted to knowing every detail. I know their lab values off the top of my head, I can tell you how many staples are in their incision, and I can ramble off their medical history and medications. I know their family members names and how they like their coffee. Get the picture? Detail oriented.

In the ED the goal is to get patients seen by a medical provider and moved out as quickly as possible. This is done by identifying life threatening conditions, stabilizing them, and admitting them to the hospital. Or it's done by ruling out conditions that need urgent attention and sending the patient home or to another specialist to follow up with. Things have to be done quickly and efficiently so when the life threatening conditions arise, the department is ready to accept the patient and intervene. I have yet to keep an accurate count of patients I see in a day but it's somewhere between 10-20. I have just enough time to know the really important things. But I don't have time to braid anyone's hair (yes... I really do that in the ICU). Getting the picture again? Not detail oriented.

So as you could imagine, this was a big learning curve for me. I have had to learn, and am still very much trying to learn, how to be fast, but safe. I have to gather almost as much information from my ED patient as I do from my ICU patient but in a fraction of the time, then turn around and be ready to do it all over again. Over, and over, and over. There's no, "I think I'll sit down, eat some chocolate, chat with my co-workers, and chart."

The first couple days were mentally exhausting. All I wanted to do was sit down and THINK. And chart of course. I could always chart more. My head was spinning so fast I lost all ability to think simply. I was thinking so critically that I literally couldn't figure out how to dial the phone. That is not a joke. However, I tried to make it a joke and the nurse orienting me didn't think it was funny. I think she was about ready to go tell the manager this chic was never gonna make it. For a split second I saw that look on her face... and self doubt took over.

I was discouraged. I told myself I was so dumb. I told myself everyone there was smarter than me. I told myself I was never going to be as fast as them. I told myself I was never going to be as thorough as them. I knew everyone there could see it too. I thought I should just quit and run back to my comfort zone in the ICU. I thought I'd make the wrong decision to accept the job. I thought I'd never like working there.

And then for the rest of the day I was stuck in that repetitive thought pattern. Before I even started a task I thought, "This isn't going to go well. I'm going to screw it up." And sure enough things weren't going well. Things I'm usually proficient in looked like I'd never done them before. I felt like a nursing student again fumbling to insert a foley cath. And with each minute lack in my proficiency came more self doubt. I couldn't pull myself out of the slump.

On the way home from work I called my mom almost in tears. It seems so silly. So I had a couple hard days transitioning to a new job... But Damaris Bishop is good at things. I never fail. So feeling like a failure was very hard for me. Luckily my mom is quite possibly the smartest, kindest, most encouraging person that walks the Earth (your welcome Mama). She reminded me that I have control over my thoughts. Even typing it now it seems so simple. "Duh I have control over my own thoughts, It's my brain!" But it's SO easy to get stuck in a negative thought pattern. Once you doubt yourself, and that doubt has a chance to settle in and get cozy, that doubt overtakes your thoughts and completely squanders all self confidence.

Once I bought in to those negative thoughts I was screwed. I was stuck in a hole with a shovel digging my own grave deeper and deeper. But after a break, and some perspective, and some more perspective, and even some more perspective, I went back to work telling myself positive thoughts. I told myself: New jobs are hard, adjustments are hard, it's normal to struggle while learning new things, I am smart, I am skilled, and I can learn new skills when I give myself grace and time. When I approached my day with confidence, and allowed myself grace when I wasn't perfect, I was able to settle in to my new environment and begin to feel comfortable.

I've been working independently for a couple days now and I'm finally feeling like I have a chance to be good at this whole Emergency Department thing. I know I definitely have room for improvement but I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I'm learning how to be fast while remaining safe, I'm learning new skills that I don't get to use in the ICU, and I'm most importantly learning how to go easy on myself. How to keep myself from downward spiraling, and how to remember that simple mistakes are not a reflection of who I really am.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Bishop Circus

I have recently come to realize that our life is hectic. And it's all because we have three kids 3 years old and younger.

Leaving the house is no longer: have the idea to leave, grab your keys, purse, and go. It's: make sure Owen is fed so I don't have to nurse in the car, dress the kids, brush their teeth, sometimes brush their hair (depends on if it's just Walmart), make Elliott pee, change Easton's diaper, pack snacks, throw in the blankets and the binkies, find shoes (harder than it sounds), buckle the kids in, forget my phone, forget the blanket, forget the ergo, then finally pull out and realize I left the front door open. And don't forget about the diaper bag. I'm always so proud when we're only 5 minutes late.

Meal times are no longer at the dining room table, candlelit, perfectly paired with the wine, and spent talking about hopes and dreams. Instead they are most often at the kitchen bar, with everyone eating something different that suits their particular pallet, while at least one child is upset. Our conversations are about airplanes and dinosaurs and "Easton don't stab me with a knife" and "Elliott you're not a kitty cat please sit in your chair." Jesse and I are almost always holding one child on our lap attempting to eat... or be fed by said child on lap. We're lucky if half the food from the children's plates ends up in their mouths instead of on the floor. And we're lucky if we don't have to change someones clothes after the meal is over.

Movie time is no longer our evening snuggle time to sit back and enjoy the show. Instead it's just enough time to keep the older two kids occupied while I can get Owen to bed, rush back and brush the kid's teeth, change their clothes into jammies, and shove some extra food into their mouths because they refused to eat dinner, all while they stare and the magical box of colors like zombies and allow me to complete these tasks.

Bedtime is no longer getting caught up on in good book and not caring about the clock. Instead bedtime consist of the great debate over which toys are allowed in bed. No Easton you can not wear shoes to bed. No Elliott you can not have ALL thirty of your stuffed animals with you. There is plenty of light. There aren't any bears in your room (not even exaggerating). You can drink your water out of glass... it'll taste the same as out of your purple cup. And then there's the three returns to the room over previous said nominal issues to re-tuck both kids in.

Date night is few and far between and always much appreciation is given to the sab-sucker we tricked into taking on our circus. And then (at least for me) it's spent worrying about: did they eat their dinner, did they brush their teeth, did they throw a fit for bedtime, did Owen do down okay? And believe it or not they have all been alive upon return to home... so far.

And parties... oh parties. The whole inspiration for this blog. Parties are no longer playing, "Whoever gets drunk first doesn't have to drive... just kidding lets both get drunk and walk home." Parties are zone defense. One covers the hazards while the other covers the exits. It's the constant "Where's Easton?!" (Just down at the neighbors, no big deal). Parties are bringing your own food because the kids are terribly picky eaters. Packing a change of clothes for everyone because you know you'll need them. Forgetting to eat because you've been so busy chasing the kids around. Forgetting one kid is in the house napping (and could possibly be awake screaming their head off for all you know) while you enjoy your 5 minutes of peace and the only alcoholic beverage that will be consumed the whole night. Parties always end earlier than everyone else followed by, "Why are you leaving?!" Uhhhh... because have you been paying any attention? All three kids are melting like Popsicles left on the sidewalk and I'm about the lose my cookies.

And life... life is no longer about Damaris and Jesse. Life is about our three beautiful children we chose to bring into this world.  Life is watching Easton give baby Owen kisses. And hearing Elliott stop what she's doing and say, "I like you Mom." And seeing Elliott ride a bike for the first time while  yelling "I'm going it!" with such pride. And snuggling in bed. And family group hugs. And farm truck rides with Daddy. And overall watching our creations grow, explore, and love. I can't imagine the overwhelming love God has for us if the love I have for my children is already so great. The hectic craziness that comes along with having three kids three years old and younger is so worth the reward of having three kids three years old and younger.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

My Mother's Day Promise

I was recently inspired by a YouTube video I saw on Facebook. It was a time lapse of a father at home with his young son on "Daddy duty". It showed them tearing the house apart, pulling every toy out of the toy box, climbing on the furniture, and making a huge mess for Mom to clean up after work. I originally thought the point of the video was to show how men aren't as neat and orderly as women. (I must confess my ADD didn't let me finish the video and I missed the part where the Dad cleaned all the toys. The actual point was the Mom didn't think the father played with his son as he left behind no trace of their adventures. But for this blog to make sense let's just assume the video ended where my ADD kicked in). 

As I was saying... The Dad makes a big mess for mom to clean up, proving that Dads can't keep a clean house AND the children alive while Mom is at work. I could completely relate to this video as after my 14 hrs away at work I come home to a war zone. Based off the food trail in the kitchen I can tell exactly what the kids had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just like the video, every toy is scattered throughout the house, the diaper pail is overflowing, there are fresh milk spills on the couches, the kids are sleeping in the same pajamas as the night before, and the bathroom looks like... Well... You can imagine. 

But that judgement about Dads not being able to do it all, quickly faded and I formed a new respect for this video. When I watched it for the second time (still not to the end) I took careful observation of the Dad's activities. Not ONCE did it show the Dad looking at his phone, looking at his iPad, or turning on the TV. Instead the Dad filled his sons day with exciting activities. He transformed the laundry basket into a basketball hoop, chased his son around the house playing tag and tickling him, and the grown man even climbed into the small bounce house to further be closer and enjoy the presence of his son. 

The key word here is "presence". I have thought about this video everyday since watching it with a pit of conviction in my stomach. In this age of electronics and "go go go" I have lost the ability to be truly present with my children. It is nearly impossible for me to do one activity at a time and I must be constantly multitasking. I feel a compulsion to check my phone, look at the weather, look on Facebook, see if there's any new pictures on Instagram, check my Pinterest for new ideas, and so on and so on. And it's not always related to electronics. My "to do" list also involves loading the dishwasher, mopping the floors, folding the laundry, vacuuming, etc.

I find myself far too often telling Elliott, "Just a minute, I'm almost done, I can play with you after I (insert task here)." I feel the unnecessary need to keep a clean-ish house, keep myself busy, and check my meaningless social medias. If the kids are crazy and interfering with my tasks I simply turn on the TV and I have 30 minutes of zombie children leaving me with nothing but free time to complete my tasks.

But what kind of childhood is this for my children? That pit of conviction I spoke of earlier tells me that I can do better. I can be better. And through accomplishing greatness as parents our children will thrive. Jesse and I chose to have these 3 small blessings and God has given us the great responsibility to not screw it up. Yet I can't help but feel that some days I am.

Being a Mother is my primary career in life. These small beings are clay and it's my job to form them. Would I play Candy Crush at work while my patient's blood pressure was plummeting? Would I chose to mop the floor instead of help a patient to the bathroom? Never! So why am I allowing myself to put the needs of myself and the house before my children at home? The floor can be messy, the carpet can be soiled, and I don't need to see who is doing what on Facebook! I should be making a laundry basket into a basketball hoop, chasing the kids around tickling them, and climbing into their bounce house. This time with them is precious and I'm squandering it. I want nothing more than for them to look back in their childhood with fond memories and stories.

So as Mothers Day approaches and I think of the video of the amazing Father creating memories with his son... I am committing to be more like him. I know some days with three young children will be harder than others and I will allow myself to be selfish when I'm overwhelmed. But I am stronger than I give myself credit for and I know I can do better. Please don't misinterpret this blog... I think I am a good mom so don't leave comments trying to cheer me up. There's no doubt in my mind my kids love their lives and would give me "Mom of the year award." But they're about to see me live up to that title.