Thursday, June 8, 2017

Behind the Smile

Behind the smile I have been falling apart. Behind the smile I have hid my tears. Behind the smile I have suppressed and suppressed until I no longer could. Behind the smile is a woman who really doesn't have it all together. Behind the smile is a mother who is running on empty. Behind the smile is just a broken down woman.

So, this is it. This is where I found myself. I entered treatment for postpartum mental illness on April 21, 2017. I entered treatment thinking I was just going to go in, address the panic attacks that had been occurring and fix the issue. It would be a quick three weeks and I would be myself again, but there was an underlying fear that I would never be the same again. I was wrong. It would not just be a quick three weeks. It would be an emotionally exhausting seven weeks of treatment and my issues were not just "fixed." I was also right; I would never be the same again.

Treatment began and I literally could not recognize myself, this illness had taken over my life. With sleep deprivation, irrational fears, high anxiety, and obsessive thoughts; I was not functioning. I was terrified of being alone, being in busy public places, sleeping, taking care of my children (or failing to do so). My body was running on pure adrenaline from so much anxiety. I no longer recognized myself and the person I had become. It was frightening to wonder if I would be stuck this way forever.

I learned so many coping strategies in treatment and dug up a lot of emotions that I had not been allowing myself to feel. Treatment was so much harder than I ever imagined. I left each day feeling extremely drained, emotionally and mentally. I could not have gotten through it without the support of family, the few friends who stuck with me, my counselor and the therapists. I worked the program, and allowed myself to find a state of vulnerability. This was just the beginning of my healing, my recovery.

After 26 days of Partial Hospitalization and then Intensive outpatient treatment, I was discharged today, June 8, 2017. I will never be the same again, and I mean that in a positive and very empowering way. As I left treatment, I had to write a "good-bye letter" to my issue(s)...


Dear Anxiety and Depression,
We have been "friends" before and I thought I left you in the past. However, here you came again, just like an old friend. We picked up right where we left off. I thought at first we could just continue as we had before, but you had other plans. You came in during one of the most joyful times in my life and intended to wreak havoc. You blindsided me, since we had been apart for so long. You left me feeling confused, hurt and unworthy. You stole my joy, my happiness, my peace. You made an attempt to turn me in to a monster, someone I did not recognize, someone I did not want to be. At times you made me question life and my purpose. You made me an angry person, in cases where anger was not a healthy emotion. You began stealing my faith and replacing it with fear. You did not think I would be strong enough to beat you. Honestly, I did not think I was either. I have now learned that I do not have to beat you. I just have to accept you as you are, because I am strong enough to manage you. I have learned skills to keep you at bay. I will breathe, I will care for myself, I will be present in the moment, and I will not be fearful of you. You will not control my life. You will not steal my joy. You will not make me lose this precious time with my children. You may be in my life, but I am bigger than you. My God is bigger than you. So, though we may be at battle, I have already won this war.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't Rush It

If there is one thing I would say to new first time parents, it would be do not rush it! Seeing your child hit all the milestones early, rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, it's exciting! You feel as if your child is ahead of the game, which is great and a feeling of accomplishment. But, don't rush it! Take these early days, weeks, months of your child's life and enjoy it, slow down, and just enjoy it. Soon enough they'll master these new moves. Your child will likely be standing before you know it; they'll be walking, and soon running!

Last night it hit me as I watched my oldest, my Little Miss at her gymnastics class, that I was that parent who couldn't wait for their child to sit, crawl, stand and walk. I remember propping her up to sit and holding her hands encouraging her to take steps and walk on her own. She wasn't "early" with many of the tasks, Little Miss was barely standing unassisted when she turned a year old, but just shortly after her first birthday she took off and hasn't slowed down since. 

So, last night as I sat and watched her swinging on the rings, climbing rock walls, walking a balance beam it made me realize how quickly this time has gone, how quickly my baby is becoming less and less dependent on me. She will soon be two and a half years old, then her third birthday will be here before I know it. This means next year my baby will be able to play organized recreational sports and I don't know if I'm ready for this. With each passing day and each new milestone reached, she is slowly gaining her independence, she is slowly letting go of my hand and finding her own footing. Am I proud? You better believe it! My baby is growing up! Though I have learned, don't rush it!

So for now I will cherish each time she grabs my hand. I will cherish the moments where she plays as if she is shy and hides behind me, because I know soon these moments, these days will all just be a memory. I won't rush it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Transparency


What if every day you felt like an inadequate parent? What if every day you constantly thought how your kids deserve much better than you, deserve more than you can offer? What if every day you felt bad for your spouse because they have to live with you? What if every day you hated the person you've become? What if every day you woke up just to go through the motions, but rarely found pure joy in your day? What if every day you were scared of some of your actions? What if every day you slowly felt pieces of your true personality slipping away? What if every day you felt alone? What if every day you felt disconnected from people who love you, care for you? What if every day you felt unloved? What if every day you struggled to get out of bed? What if every day you worried about things that could happen? 
What if every night you laid down and thanked God for your family, but hated how you treated them? What if every night you had to tell yourself tomorrow will be different? What if every night you told yourself it was just a bad day? What if every night you laid down to sleep but couldn't turn your brain off? What if every night you dealt with fears, irrational fears? What if every night you wanted to touch your children to make sure they were okay, that they were still breathing? What if every night you were also terrified to touch them, because what if they weren't okay? What if every night you wished it was day light because you don't like being in the dark alone? What if every night you laid your head on the pillow and just thought to yourself that tomorrow will be better, it has to be, because you feel like you're slowly losing control of your life? What if every night you knew deep down you'd wake up to do it all again tomorrow?

I am the face of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. 
I am not alone, you are not alone. Open up, speak out, and don't be afraid to ask for help. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I wrote this last week and time has gotten away from me, so posting now and praying for a smooth and easy week! Ha!

"The days are long, but the years are short." I've often heard mothers mutter these words or heard others gently reminding mothers of this saying. Heck, I've said it myself more times than I can count. No one, I mean no one warned me how long some of these days could feel. Much of motherhood is all praises of those happy moments, those "winning mom" moments. Social media shows the high lights of motherhood and often puts up a false pretense of what motherhood really looks like sometimes. It's HARD, the days are long, sometimes way longer than we'd wish for. Will bedtime ever come? And let's be honest, even when it does, you're likely to have at least one (usually both) kid(s) up at some point during the night. So, perhaps the days and nights are often long, but the time flies by. 
Today I found myself in one of those moments, one of the moments that's rarely talked about. One kid head butting the other, both kids screaming, laundry piled on the floor, snacks spread across the living room, one naked child running around, the other dousing you in spit up, mommy losing her patience (patience lost...long gone)...yeah *that* moment. As moms we've all had at least one of those moments, where  you find yourself unleashing it all to the mom friend you know who won't judge you. --Can I just say thank the good Lord for placing one of those friends in my life!-- 
For every mother envying those who seem to "have it all together", don't. Just don't do it! Behind every social media account is just another mom who's likely losing it at some point, just like you. You are not alone! It's okay to have those days! Because at the end of *THOSE DAYS* your child is still loved and cared for! Deep breath and push on, this doesn't last forever and you won't always be needed in these ways, your kids won't always be running you wild or fighting with one another, your laundry won't always be piled high, and one day you'll miss those snacks covering your living room floor...so for now, breathe, take your moment, hide out in the bathroom for some "me time" if you muse, but BREATHE and remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A month in, how did this happen so quickly? I could've sworn just yesterday we were bringing Little Man home from the hospital. Walking in the house to see my Little Miss, giving her the biggest hug and settling in for our first tandem nursing session. But, no, that wasn't yesterday. This month has flown, it's been a roller coaster of a ride for this postpartum family. I knew the holidays would throw us off a bit. Let's be honest, the holidays throw you for a loop even without a huge life changing event, like adding a new member to your family. Toss in said life changing event and well it's a recipe...it's a recipe for sure. We welcome Little Man and we definitely welcome the chaos! Bring it on! As 2016 was coming to a close, I thought finally we can settle down, slow down and "enjoy" this adjustment period. I use the word "enjoy" loosely, and with many meanings. I was longing for a slow down, and just as I thought it was going to happen life tosses a curve ball! 

Then came the diagnosis of RSV, for not one, but BOTH KIDS! Welcome 2017!! Talk about being thrown in to life with two kids. There was no slow transition , we jumped straight in to having two sick littles. We prayed and really thought Little Man would breeze through RSV and not have a rough time with it. Little Miss had already seen the worst of it and was on the mend, when it ended up going downhill for our sweet little 3 week old man. Thankfully, after three nights in the hospital, he's home and they are both so much better!

So, to say the least, this first month has been a roller coaster, full of ups, downs, and many emotions (I'll open up about those soon)! Here's our first professional family of four photo. We kinda nailed it!

Friday, December 30, 2016

To My Sweet Little Miss

I see you, I promise that mommy still sees you. You are my girl, my baby and the first one to call me mommy. I know these early days and weeks will be rough, we are all adjusting and I see you trying your best to figure out how you fit in with this new normal of having a sibling. I see you struggle baby and my heart breaks for you. I want to reach out and hug you so many times during the day. Most of those times I do, while sometimes I'm busy holding and nursing your brother. You've been such a big girl in helping me and loving on your brother, but I see your needs too. I see how you react when your brother needs a little more care and attention than you do. My heart longs to just hold you in those moments. I'm adjusting too, I'm trying my best to be there for you and your brother both. You both need me, often in different ways and I want to be able to stretch myself for you both. I know I fail, but I'm learning sweet girl, mommy is trying! I'm tearing up as I type this while nursing your brother in the early hours of the morning, because I know you are in the other room wanting me as well. I hear you. I see you. I am here for you my girl. We are in this together. It's an adjustment and we are both doing all we can. So baby girl, when you need to cry, cry. When you need to feel mad, be mad. When you want to laugh and tickle your brother, do it. I pray you don't hold back, I need my sunshine baby to shine her brightest. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

To My Little Boy


You came in to this world and forever changed me. You are everything I never knew I needed. I look at you and realize there's always been a place in my heart for you. There's always been a love there just waiting for you to take. I watch you as you sleep and silently cry to myself. I look at you and realize every pain I felt, every emotional breakdown I had, the loss, they all brought you to me. God indeed always has a plan and His timing is perfect. The hard times I endured over the past year, were all setting up my life to make space for you. I want to hold you as much as I did your sister, cuddle you in my arms as you nurse and drift off into a sleeping slumber. Stare in to your eyes and wonder at what you are thinking and who you will grow to be. I pray for you, my son. I pray you find joy in life and always remember where you came from. You've forever changed my world and I pray I can be the mom you need.