that one memory

Does anyone else have that one memory… that one moment that is the epitome of being “carefree?”   I have it.  When I’m stressed, scared, anxious, needing an escape… I go to it.  I long for it.  My mind flashes back to it without warning and without a second thought.

I’m 18.  My friend Rachel comes to pick me up in her burgundy car.  It is messy and smells like incense.  There are half empty water bottles, she has attempted to clean the windshield with vinegar and newspaper.   There are lighters, old papers, handmade sewn creations, etc.  She lights the incense and has a mixed CD playing.  Phish, String cheese incident,  Jimi Hendrix, etc.  We drive out of town with no destination.  The windows are down, the weather is perfect.  My hair is in my face and I don’t care.  Nothing really matters.  We smoke cigarettes and we just drive.  We are driving nowhere and that is okay.

This memory is vivid because it is one of the few times in my life that I’ve felt carefree.  I got lost in the music, the freedom of having no destination, the moment.  I was 18.  Life was very simple.

Sometimes, I long for simplicity in a very chaotic world.

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.

Just a few things…

Hello loves.  It probably seems that I have abandoned this blog in 2017 but I haven’t!  Much like 2016, 2017 has been a whirlwind of crazy.  Life seems to fly by so fast.  The days are long and entirely too short all at the same time.  It is bizarre how that happens.

Currently we are dealing with strep in our house, allergic reactions to medication, etc.  As you all know these are sensitive areas for me.  I am trying hard to remain balanced and calm, but it is difficult.  I have had a few meltdowns that I’m not proud of but sometimes it is impossible to be composed.  I pray that the sickness stays away and the warm weather returns with health and happiness.

In other news, I started a new blog.  I have grown to love blogging so much.  This blog is my baby and I share such personal aspects of my life here.  I feel comforted in the blogging community.  You all comment, pray, share your stories and your support and it is really amazing.  Blogging has been such a healing process for me in the past year, more than I ever thought it could be.

I will still update The Glimmer because it is my release.  I can bring my fears, concerns, love, passion, worries, etc here and know that I have followers that read my stories and can relate or can sympathize.  I can get the feelings out of me and make sense of them.  This blog has helped me figure myself out as much as anything has this year.

My new blog is less personal and more “mommy blog.” Ha!  I figured that I could put my OCD to good use.  I can advise other moms on the best thermometers (as I own ALL of them and compare them constantly), diaper rash creams (yep, have tried all of those too.), or share my postpartum hair loss experience.  I can show you how to make an amazing pineapple costume, take a fun father’s day photo shoot, or throw a pretty epic dino party.  I am excited to have a blog that is a little more light hearted and shows a different side of me.  The side that creates with my kids, has fun ideas, and lives in the present.

My new blog is called “Mommy is Exhausted” –which is quite fitting.  Mommy IS exhausted. 24/7.  Check it out if you get a chance.  Share with your mommy friends.  I have lots of ideas for the blog and very little time so I hope to keep it up as much as possible.  🙂

And again, thanks for reading everyone!  I will be back soon with a real update!  So much has happened the past few weeks.

love.

A rough spell

I’m going through a hard time.  I could feel it coming.  I could feel the nervous energy building in my body.  I notice it especially when I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.  Everything is quiet.  The bathroom light is much brighter than normal. The silence frightens me and the light crushes me.  My foot shakes and my teeth clench.  I stare at something stupid on the counter for a long time.  I read each ingredient in my toothpaste while I think 32897 thoughts at once.  I check my heart rate, the color of my urine, I blink to make sure I can see… It is happening.

I don’t know how long it will last this time… but I’m sinking.  I’m scared.  I’m in my head and I’m all alone.  My husband sees it happening and he’s so frustrated.  He is pleading with me not to fall into this downward spiral but I can barely hear him.

I’m so scared.  WHY DONT MY MEDS HELP THIS part?!  What is this and where does it come from and why is it random and I just don’t understand.

 

A Mother’s Love

One of the hardest things about being a parent with anxiety is concealing that anxiety for the benefit of your anxious son.  The past few months have been difficult.  I’ve become obsessed with the possibility that something is wrong with him.  Does he have autism?  Does he have ADHD?  Does he have selective mutism?  Is he just a developing young boy who needs time to adjust and be a kid?  I don’t know.  The not knowing is making me crazy.

Every day that I pick him up from school I have to deal with his teachers telling me that it was another rough day.  He ran from them.  He didn’t engage with other children.  He didn’t listen.  He acted out.  I don’t know what to say to them anymore.  I have no idea what to do.  As much as I hate that they have to deal with his misbehavior… I hate even more that this could be due to anxiety or some other condition and none of us know how to deal with it.  I never want my son to feel anxious.  I don’t want him to act out because he doesn’t know how to express himself. I have such an ache in my heart for him.

Today I put him in his carseat and I kissed his cheeks.  I stared into his beautiful blue eyes and I tried so hard to read them.  I felt myself pleading with him telepathically almost.  I tried to feel what he was feeling.  I wanted to know so badly.  “how was your day love?”  “fine and good.”  Sigh.   I never get a direct answer. I just love him so much.   I want to fix anything and everything for him.

I know he knows something is up.  I’ve tried so hard to get him to talk to other kids.  I’ve scolded him about listening and not touching other children.  I’ve tried so hard to help him… and maybe I’ve done too much.  I know he’s heard me talking about it.  He’s seen me cry.  I know he knows more than we give him credit for.  I feel so guilty.  Each day I struggle with letting my emotions show too much in front of him.  I am desperately trying to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself.  It is so hard.

Why isn’t a mother’s love enough?  It is the strongest emotion I feel.  I feel like it has the strength to fix any problem.  How can it possess so much power yet still not make everything perfect?  No matter what I hope he knows that I love him yesterday, today and forever and ever and ever.  I would do anything for that child.  I will do anything for him.  I don’t want him to suffer… ever.  I’m always here to help him.  I think I’m telling this blog because I don’t know that he understands when I tell him.  I can only hope he does.

If you pray, pray for me and my family.  My head and my heart need the love and support.

 

 

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.

 

evening thoughts.

I’m not going to worry about sounding poetic… I’m just going to write because I’m sitting here crying and I feel so alone with my feelings.

My son is struggling at preschool. He doesn’t interact well with other children. He has trouble expressing himself. He is hyperactive. Nearly everyday I get a negative report from his teacher. I feel anxiety when going to pick him up from school. I don’t know how to help him. I know that as a child I was painfully shy. I often felt that I couldn’t talk to certain people, go in certain stores, etc. I felt that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t know how to start conversations. I was nervous. I know that some of my issues will inevitably trickle down. He’s also experienced environmental hardships in dealing with my problems. Maybe he has social anxiety issues. I’m thinking out loud. I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless.

Today at the park, two little boys were playing together. One tried to reach out to my son. The other little boy said “don’t bother, he doesn’t play.” I didn’t hear it but my husband did and told me about it this evening. I immediately started crying and haven’t stopped.

My son is bright, brilliant, funny, sweet, tender-hearted, joyful, beautiful, perfect. I never want anyone to see him as anything other than those things. Parenting is hard.

There is hope in the fact that today at the park he saw the other boys in one area.  He watched them.  He walked over to them.  He didn’t speak… but he noticed.  He was interested.  He smiled.  He tried to approach them.  I hovered and when I saw he was going too far away called him back.  Maybe my helicopter parenting has contributed.  Maybe I try so hard to help him that I’m not helping him at all.

He’s 3 and a half years old and that is exactly how long I’ve been a parent.  I’ve never done this before.  I’m trying, but this is hard.