Friday, October 29, 2010

The lupus catch-all nap - I'm out of practice!


Can you believe baby Bernadette is three weeks (and 2 days) old?! The last few weeks have absolutely flown by - with the help of my parents and Johnny, taking care of two little ones has been a fairly easy undertaking. (Should I jinx myself by saying that?) I've been able to get in almost two naps a day (three when I need it), and Deirdre has been thoroughly entertained while Mom has been otherwise detained.
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Bernadette, thus far, has been a little dream - sleeping well, eating well, tooting well (as her sister will tell you), and she's getting into her own little schedule already. Thankfully, that schedule includes about 5 hours or more between feedings at night...which has been an added bonus over the past week. I think I'm beginning to function semi-normally now that I'm only waking up once during the night to feed her (is this another jinxing opportunity?), so things are going well.
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On the health front - I'm feeling fabulous. I've had absolutely, positively no joint pain or swelling, which was not the case with Deirdre two years earlier. With her, at about the two week mark, I woke up one night to feed her and wasn't able to pick her up or hold her because of the joint pain in my hands and wrists. I didn't waste any time contacting my doctor back then, and we were able to nip in the bud any flare that was afoot, but what a treat that I haven't even had to contend with any symptoms thus far. Even my hair is staying put at this point (last time, I'd started losing it even a month or two before giving birth), so growing my long locks over the summer may not have been necessary. Nonetheless, it's still early, and as I continue to resume my normal activity level, I'm sure I'll be testing the limits of what this lupus-ridden body can handle. So far, so good, though!

And of course, none of this would be possible if I didn't have the greatest support system in the world right now. Johnny's been taking off most mornings to help get Deirdre up and fed, and my mom and dad have been filling in for the past three weeks while we wait for our full-time help to arrive (more on our permanent, full-time, babysitting solution in a future post). To the say the least, I've been spoiled with four extra hands around the house during the day. My dad's been on Deirdre-patrol, and my mom has been doing a phenomenal job of helping with Bernadette - all the while making sure I get my rest when and if I need it. The dishes haven't sat in the sink or the dishwasher for more than five minutes, our laundry's been washed and folded with promptness, and Johnny, the girls and I are getting along wonderfully - I guess their mission has been accomplished. I'm going to be sorry to see them go (today's their last day on the job), but I'm looking forward to seeing how this "mother of two" thing really works. Of course, they leave today, and our full-time help starts Monday - so the transition should be relatively smooth. We shall see!

The only thing that I struggled with during those first two weeks or so was perfecting the art of the cat nap. I've always been a good afternoon napper...and when or if I was in a lupus flare, I could barely do anything besides nap. But now that I'm feeling good, it's taken some talent to close my eyes and fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Of course, when I was feeding little sweet B every three hours around the clock, my body had no intention of waiting for my afternoon siesta. I needed a morning nap, and an afternoon nap, and sometimes an after-dinner rest, too. But lying down to let your body rest and shutting your mind down in order to allow that nap to happen are two separate things - and I found the latter to require a bit of effort on my part. I went back to a small section of my book in order to refine my napping skills. Here's a short excerpt from Despite Lupus that helped me get back on the napping track. It must have worked...I'm three weeks in and napping like a champ. (Now to work on that two-year old of mine and her naps!)
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FOCUS YOUR ENERGY ON THE PRESENT TASK
You may have heard that multi-tasking can actually be less productive than focusing on a single task. Have you ever considered the drawbacks of “multithinking”, the tendency to think about the other things you’re going to do once you finish that which you are currently doing? How many times have you tried to take a quick nap, but couldn’t fall asleep because of the thoughts roaming around in your head? You toss and turn, frustrated because after 30 minutes, you still haven’t fallen asleep. Your mind is a constant swirl of ideas and plans about what’s to come, so you have to train yourself to focus on the task at hand.

Learn to maximize the time and energy you have, especially since both of these are now limited.
The next time you nap, practice the act of relaxing rather than just lying down and closing your eyes. Remind yourself that the only objective at that very moment is to rest, and nothing else. See, hear and feel yourself resting. Imagine your mind relaxed; considering it to be on break. If you’re hyper-focused on resting, your mind won’t be able to wander. This goes for any activity that you find is not as productive as you’d like it to be. Whether it’s a workout, a trip to the grocery, or a visit to the doctor, envision a spotlight in your mind, singling out the thing that you’re doing, and focus on the task at hand. Take full advantage of the resources in front of you, and I’d be willing to bet that, soon enough, you’ll be able to accomplish what you want in even less time than before!
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