I love you, I need you.

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(me + my mom in 1987)

Tonight, I called my mom.  I told her that I needed her.  I do need her.  I’m 31 years old and I need my mother so much it hurts.  I call her and tell her that my son needs to see her… that he misses her.  I try to get her to come up here and help me with the kids.  Really,  I just need her to hold me.

I grew up in a house that wasn’t very affectionate.  We didn’t hug very much.  We said I love you but it was a quick “okay, love you, talk to you later.”  My mom kind of has a thing about physical affection.  I don’t know that she grew up in a very affectionate household.  We’re kind of weird about feelings at home.  We don’t really express ourselves well unless we’re angry.  Healthy right?  For me to tell my mother the words tonight… “I need you…I need you… I NEED YOU…” is huge.  I am 31 and I need my mother because I am hurting.

My son was recently given an individual education plan (IEP) because he has “developmental delays.”  We’re fairly certain it is autism but for whatever reason I couldn’t hear those words right now.  It is HARD for me to KNOW that my son has something that they don’t know much about.  They don’t know what causes it.  They don’t know exactly what to do about it… I mean, sure, there are ideas– but the spectrum is so large.  There are so many unknowns.  I am not good at unknowns.  If they can’t find a reason for it– the reason is me.  That is what I tell myself from sun up to sun down.  I should have breastfed longer, I shouldn’t have eaten processed food, I shouldn’t have been so stressed, I shouldn’t have gotten the epidural, I should have staggered vaccinations, etc.   Sometimes I tell myself the worst one of all.  I shouldn’t have been selfish. 

After my husband and I got married I took red lipstick and wrote my bathroom mirror, “Don’t have children.  Don’t be selfish.  They will grow up like you.  You can’t do that to someone else.”  I looked at this every morning and I sobbed.  I wanted children so badly but I couldn’t live with them having the brain that I have.  Within a few months of writing this message, I was pregnant.  It was unplanned and unexpected.

Holding that 8 lb 6 oz baby boy was indescribable.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been more happy in my entire life.  He was beautiful.  He IS beautiful.  He had perfect eyes, so alert.  He nursed perfectly… his toes were big and beautiful.  Perfection.  He was my whole world.  He is my world.

The past year has been hard.  He’s been through so many adjustments.  We have a another little one and he has had to share his attention.  He had to deal with a truly awful preschool that punished him for his anxiety and insecurities.  He stims a lot.  He repeats questions.  He anxiously talks about irrelevant things.  He can’t talk to kids.  Sometimes toilets and vacuums scare him.  There are a lot of things that are hard for him.  BUT… he talks to me.  He loves me.  He kisses me.  He hugs me.  He laughs.  He makes jokes.  He hugs his sister and loves his sister.  He lights up when he sees her.  My children embrace each other the minute one realizes the other is awake.   They squeal with excitement.  How blessed am I to have two LOVING children?

The idea of autism is overwhelming.  I am overwhelmed.  I have obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, generalized anxiety and depression.  I have sensory issues and quirks.  I am TRYING to be an example for my fearful son but I am struggling.  Struggling to me… is failing.  I need my mom.  I need my mom to hold me and tell me that I’m doing an okay job.  I need her to hold my baby and comfort him in a way that only she can.  She may not have always been the greatest at it with me but she has ALWAYS been wonderful with my son.  He trusts her and he loves her.  They have a special bond.  A bond I am grateful for… especially when I feel inadequate.

I don’t know what I’m saying in this blog except for that I am feeling lost at the moment.  I am feeling stressed, scared, overwhelmed and sorry for myself a little bit.  I hope I can find the strength and energy to really help myself so I can continue to help my son.  Sometimes the fight seems to large and I feel too small.  I pray for strength.

A poem about Grace Elaine

Tonight I’ve been talking with my good friend Heather.  I am so stressed out and it is so good to get things off my chest.  Heather is great because you can talk about something silly like the hatchimal craze…. or something serious like our children’s health issues. Tonight, we talked about how much we would love to talk to our grandmothers just one more time.  There is something so wonderful about grandparents.  They have lived full lives and have this wisdom that is so far beyond our own understanding.  I often look to my only living grandfather for advice and wisdom.  When talking with Heather tonight I remembered that in college I wrote several poems about my grandmother.  She was such a strong, beautiful woman.  I am so thankful that I had 13 years to know her and love her.  I would like to share one of the poems here because I feel that it captures who she was accurately.  As I am going through so much as a mother now… I would love to just be able to talk about everything with her.  After she passed in 1998 she visited me in my dreams.  She sat on the edge of my bed and she told me that she was okay.  I found such peace in this– and am thankful that she loved me so much.  I named my daughter after her and know that Claire has inherited some of her salty attitude. ( I say this lovingly, as her salty attitude was my favorite thing about her).  Anyway, here is the poem I wrote for her nearly 10 years ago.

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War Veteran’s Wife

She spent most days behind that old apron
making our meals and providing for us.
Her weathered fingers wrinkled like raisins,
gripping the spoon and praying for solace.
Day after day in a house of discord,
protecting us from our drunken father
with her bones as shields but never a sword.
Her tired body we would never bother.
She grew old inside of that same old house.
Rocking back and forth in her chair thinking
about her life as a war veteran’s spouse,
who wasn’t enough to stop his drinking
before he died inside his “Sunday best.”
Leaving behind for her a day of rest.

 

 

Thinking positive

I’ve been sitting here typing out several opening sentences to this blog… and just don’t feel it.  I think it is because the events of the past few months are just really hard to talk about.  Anything being “wrong” with my kid is extremely difficult to put into words.  Worries fill my head all day long and dread feels my heart.  I can feel the anxiety in my chest and in my stomach.  I just don’t feel like coming here and writing it all out.  Tonight, I feel like listing everything that I am thankful for.  I really need to focus on the positive right now.

My son is healthy.  My son is happy.  My son is starting to respond positively to discipline.  My son is hilarious.  My son asked me to hold him today.  My son said “I need mommy,” today.    He told me that I don’t kiss him too much.  My son loves the Beatles.  He loves music and singing.  He says hilarious things.  He makes me laugh.  He fills me with such joy.  He is tall and handsome and loving.  He has such a sweet heart and a sweet personality.  He loves meditating.  He loves learning.  My son is my perfect little man.

My daughter is healthy.  My daughter is happy.  She is learning to walk.  She babbles “mama,” “dada,” and I think she’s even babbling “Jack.”  She has daily talks with the Christmas tree and the ceiling fan.  She has learned to growl.  She officially has 4 safe foods– squash, bananas, apples and carrots.  She loves splashing in the bath.  She loves me and our bond has gotten stronger throughout the last 9 months.  She is wild and fearless.  She loves her brother.  She loves her daddy.  She is such a perfect blessing.

My husband is healthy, happy and smart.  He loves me with or without makeup.  He thinks I’m beautiful when I haven’t showered in 3 days.  He is encouraging and uplifting.  He deals with so much and handles it all so well.  He defends me when I need defending.  He loves our children so much.  He sees our marriage as a true 50/50 partnership.  He is supportive and wonderful.

I am healthy.  I am happy.  I am blessed with 2 beautiful children and a wonderful husband.  I am learning to love my naked face as I move away from makeup.  I am learning to appreciate my physical imperfections because they all tell a story.  I have rediscovered writing and it is a wonderful “me time” activity.  I will do anything for my children and they will always come first.  I have discovered over the past few months that I can handle much more than I ever thought and I can handle it amazingly well.  I am a good mom–even when dealing with my own issues.  I am learning to trust my gut.  I can recognize my blessings every single day.

I am thankful for the learning experiences that 2016 has brought.  I am thankful for the beautiful little girl I delivered this year!  It has been a long, trying year– but there is always something to be thankful for.

 

 

The day I couldn’t hold my baby

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Night time is here and as I sit here with a soon-to-be 8 month old,  sleeping peacefully in her rocker, I think back on the day’s events.  This is a routine for me.  I get my daughter to sleep, zone out for a bit reading articles/news/social media and before I get started on my work for the night I take a moment to reflect on my day.  Today I got to catch up with an old friend.  We chatted about her work, my work, day to day lives, our husbands and then my kids.  My daughter showed off her new crawling skills and even managed to kick my friend’s coffee cup out of her hand, spilling coffee all over her sweater. (This is why my wardrobe consists of leggings and t-shirts.) I stared at my daughter as I often do, beaming with pride over how fast she’s becoming so mobile, and then thought about how last week she wasn’t crawling at all.  It seemed like yesterday that I was just bringing her home from the hospital.  I shared this with my friend and before I knew it I was telling her all about labor, delivery and the horrible postpartum depression and anxiety I suffered through.  It is not my favorite part of this life I am building with my little one, but it has been an important part.  I’ve learned a lot from my suffering.

I’d been in labor for about 17 hours.  The time was finally here to push and after only two pushes, the doctor was throwing my little girl onto my chest.  I remember feeling the weight of her little body resting on me and being so relieved the pain was finally over.  I kissed my husband, cried, looked at her, cried some more… and then I asked the doctor if I was bleeding too much.  From that moment on, for the next few months — everything would be one giant blur.  The minute my body recognized I was no longer pregnant and the hormones did whatever the hormones do, I was not the same.  I obsessed over my postpartum bleeding.  I convinced myself I was swelling and that my blood pressure would sky rocket.  I called the nurse in every few minutes to examine the swelling in my feet (there was none).  My brain was on a rollercoaster that had no end.  I couldn’t stop obsessing.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t sleep for the next two days at least.

I knew that I shouldn’t have left the hospital without being put on some sort of brain medication but I was so set on breastfeeding.  I had the solly baby wrap, I had the breast pump.  I had everything I needed to be supermom.  I was going to breastfeed her for a year.  I was going to conquer this crippling anxiety because I had to.  I got home and I collapsed.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t do anything but cry, shake, panic, pace.  I couldn’t see my postpartum bleeding without feeling sick and having a panic attack.  I called the hospital nearly every night after I was discharged.  I called to ask if things I was experiencing were normal.  I called because I had a temperature of 99-something even though the handout I was given said to only call if it was above 100.4 .  I took my temperature exactly 200 times that night.  My husband grew concerned and called my parents.  I was losing my mind.  I was trying so hard to control my thoughts and feelings but they were so far gone at this point.  I was unrecognizable.

Only a week after having my daughter I got a minor infection and had to take antibiotics.  I had to stop nursing temporarily so she wouldn’t be exposed to the medication.  I started my daughter on formula.  This was my breaking point.  I hated myself.  I couldn’t do anything right.  The world was cruel in my eyes.  I’d wanted nothing more than to breastfeed and here I was, only 1 week postpartum and I was already “giving up.”  I told my parents that I was a horrible mother.  I lashed out at my husband…I didn’t want to exist.  I was so ashamed of myself.  I was so sorry for my daughter.  She deserved a mother that was so much better.  She deserved a mother that had her life together.  The hatred for myself surpassed everything.  I couldn’t even look at her.  My husband would take care of her and offer her to me.  I kept telling myself to hold her… take her… cuddle her.  I told myself to like it.  The truth was– she reminded me of what a failure I was.  When I recognized that I “didn’t want to hold her,” I knew something was definitely off.  I needed help.

For 6 straight weeks after delivery I was never alone.  I had an AMAZING support system.  My husband, my family, my friends.  They were all here.  Someone stayed with me constantly.  They helped take care of my babies and they helped take care of me.  My OBGYN called to check on me.  She saw me every time I called my doctor’s office with some new irrational fear.  She talked me through my postpartum depression.  She built me up.  My psychiatrist listened to my fears about medication and relayed to me her own postpartum experiences.  A member of her staff even came to my car to talk to me when I was sobbing too hard to go into the building.  My therapist, a Godsend, has helped me every step of the way.

As I sit here nearly 8 months later I can’t help but feel grateful for my experience.  I know that probably sounds completely crazy– but its true.  I learned from my postpartum depression and anxiety that every mother’s story is different.  This idea of the perfect mother I had in my head was just that, an idea.  It wasn’t reality.  Motherhood is messy.  Life is messy.  It never goes to plan.  I was dealt a hand of crappy cards.  My hormones were out of control.  They were bigger than my obsessive need to control them.  Because I couldn’t do it alone, did not make me a failure.  The important thing was connecting with my daughter.  The important thing was being happy and healthy for myself and for her.  I wasn’t currently the mother she deserved but I could get there.  I worked hard the next few months to get on medication that helped me level out.  I made sure to get some sleep.  I meditated.  I went to therapy.  I prayed.  I survived.

My relationship with my baby is better than I ever could have imagined.  She and her brother are the lights of my life.  They are the joy I feel in my heart every single day.  I am so blessed to be their mother.  All of those days I spent worrying about the bond that would be destroyed between my daughter and I were for nothing.  She loves me.  She smiles when I smile.  She laughs when I laugh… she knows my heart.  She knows I always loved her and will always love her, even when my mental health issues overwhelmed me.  Postpartum depression and anxiety are scary, hard and exhausting.  It is so important to see a doctor, build a support system and ask for help.  They say it “takes a village to raise a child.”  My village saved me.  And because I’ve been through such a dark time, the good times are now just a little bit brighter than they would have been.  I can see how fortunate I am and feel that gratitude on a new level.   I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety.  Something I can now say without shame.  I survived postpartum depression and anxiety.  Something I can now say with pride.

 

Claire: a one minute poem 

I knew I was on the road to recovery when I felt inspired to write. I held my almost 3 month old daughter and could feel the words being created in our bond.  Postpartum depression/anxiety can rob you of a lot of things- but eventually you find your way home.  These words aren’t groundbreaking literature, but in that moment they were everything to me.  They were me breaking free from darkness and discovering my new self.  After 3 months of feelings that were hard to manage, I was allowed to feel the joys of a new baby. She was and always had been the biggest blessing- even when I had trouble seeing anything beyond fear.  I am grateful for this moment and will never forget it.

Claire

Breathe you in
Warm skin, loving lips
My hair around your fingers
Pulling me close
Covering you
Protecting you
Your skin so soft
Your will so strong
A simple kiss
A loving gesture to you
Your home and your protection
Keep me this close forever
Forever with you

love in all the madness

I haven’t written in a little while because things have been busy and they have stayed busy.  Such is life for a full time mommy of two with a part time job.  In the madness it is very easy  to lose sight of things that matter.  Over the past few days I’ve made myself pay attention.  I’ve appreciated moments here and there with every sense.  I’ve stopped and smelled my baby’s head.  I kissed my 3 year old’s cheek.  I stared into his beautiful blue eyes.  I appreciated every magical detail of my children.  They are gifts from God and I wanted to stop the madness and appreciate them.

Last night I noticed that when I was getting my daughter to sleep I was distracted by my phone.  There was a notification here, a ding there, I had a message… a new email.  I kept escaping the moment to check my phone.  I felt the burden in my chest.  I’ve become so used to being “connected” that I’ve become really disconnected from what is important.  I looked over at my baby and noticed her eyelashes, her two new teeth.  I felt guilt for having valued a phone over a beautiful moment with my child.  I told myself to be mindful.  Be present.  I held her small hand in mine- I examined her fingernails…I rubbed each one of her fingers.  I kissed her hand and I started crying.  The tears caught me by surprise.  I was so overwhelmed with the love I had for her.  She needed me.  She was completely comfortable and safe in my arms.  I am her world.  The realization was intense and wonderful.  It is so important to take time to appreciate these moments.  This is what life is all about.

Moments like this allow me to forgive myself when I haven’t had the greatest day.  When I lose my temper for a moment… or forget 38297 things in a day.  I remember that my children love me.  I remember that I love them and value them above everything.  I feel proud that I have gotten to the point of being able to stop my brain from losing control.  I feel empowered.  I can have control. I have that ability.  I can fully experience the moments gifted to me.  I can fully feel the gratitude.

Today was a very hectic today.  Doctor’s appointments, snack day, getting the kids ready, changing dirty diapers in the back of the car, getting lost on the way to two different places, oversleeping when getting one kid to sleep and then being late to pick up my other kid.  I had several moments throughout the day that I felt crappy about.  I started the blame game.  I told myself I was a horrible mother.  I felt like a bad mom.  Then I remembered that my son and I started his school day with a meditation and a prayer.  For the first time in weeks he got a great report from school.  He listened and he was rewarded with a visit to see daddy at work!  I felt good about sharing my question for mindfulness with my son.  It felt like it was working for both of us.

Tonight at dinner he told my husband that I forgot to take his snack to school and then I had to go home to get it and take it back.  He laughed… I laughed.  We laughed until I cried and he got hiccups.  My daughter caught the laugh and before long we were all laughing together in the middle of the living room floor.  It was magic.  The stress of the day didn’t matter because in that moment everything was okay.

 

Daily Prompt: Jump

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I wasn’t sure of what I would write about tonight… just that I wanted to write.  I’d forgotten how therapeutic writing is and how it always has been in recent years and even if I feel I have nothing to write about… it is important to just do it.  So here we go.

The prompt of the day is “Jump.”  Funny, when reading the prompt my mind jumped around to a million different things I could write about … including that song “Jumper” from the 90s ha.  Finally it settled on a memory that I don’t think of often but have recently for whatever reason.

My son was a few weeks old.  I was sleep deprived, hormonal, bleeding, recovering, scared… terrified actually.   I was responsible for a little life and this was sinking in.  Every decision was monumental in my mind.  It determined the health and well being of a little person.  My chest was tight… my heart was pounding.  Each day there was another new worry.  A new concern.  A new fear.  My heart hurt.  I hurt.  It was too much..

I walked outside to my back deck.  It overlooks a wooded area that is quite nice in the summer.  Very lush.  Green.  I’ve spent many days with a glass of wine admiring the leaves as they danced on the trees in the wind.  It is very peaceful.  This day I could feel the sun.  It was warm and comforting.  I stretched my arms and rested them on the railing.  I looked down at the ground and I was overcome with a desire to jump.  The thought entered my mind quickly and intensely.  I was caught off guard by it and began to analyze it.  Was I so depressed that I wanted to end it all?  What the hell was happening?  I knew I wouldn’t actually do it, but until that moment I’d never even thought about it.  I stepped back from the railing and ran back inside.

I never wanted to end my life.  Not then, not now.  I care too much.  I love too much.  The thought that entered my mind was a cry for help from myself… to myself.  I needed to relax.  I needed to step back and enjoy the blessings.  I was suffering from my own obsessive thoughts and worries.  They were killing me.  This thought of jumping… was shocking to me.  I had no desire to die so why did I picture it?  That’s the great thing about the brain.  I needed a moment.  I needed a wake up call.  I needed to be shocked into reality.  The reality was that I had a beautiful baby.  I was now a mother and there would be really difficult times… but there would also be amazing times.   Since that day I’ve thought back to that moment several times.  I’ve been thankful for the ability to determine that jumping wasn’t actually what I wanted to do … or what life was telling me to do.  I know that some aren’t so lucky.  I’m beyond grateful that I am on this journey of mental health and wellness.  I pray that I can continue to see life for all of its blessings and wonderful moments and learn from the ones that aren’t so great.

Jump