Friday, December 7, 2018


“To die through submersion...“
Submerge. Inundate. Engulf. Deluge.

“We’re drowning...” those words would come so swiftly and painfully, but they would change the trajectory of everything for us. 

The past 4 weeks have been a whirlwind. I honestly can’t say I have fully felt or processed it all, and am likely doing most of my decompressing through this writing. 

This year has been very difficult. We went from a first year business and feeling optimistic in 2017, to basic financial ruin and barely scraping by for 2018. It was a mostly silent struggle, where many didn’t know how bad things were. PJ was given a position with a landscape company that kept our heads above water this spring when overtime was available, but we were starting to sink quickly over the summer. Grass doesn’t always grow and leaves don’t always fall when you need them to.

My anxiety also reached a level that I could no longer handle on my own. From being sexually assaulted at 16, having some emotional traumas around that same time, to an abusive relationship in my early adulthood, I had been set up for failure there. I began going to counseling and started medication. I was holding it together with those and PJ’s never ending support.

Jump in to July... At this point, most pay periods we were paying bills and leaving about $20 in the account. I got very frugal with our groceries, we eliminated everything “extra”, PJ found side jobs and I did what I could to contribute with diaper studies and Jamberry. But even with all of that, it was getting to the point that I’d have to pay a bill and ignore another until next month, then swap the next round.

We had birthdays for the boys, managed to pull off volunteering for Couples Camp with our church and PJ Man Camp with church as well. All 4 events on about $30 each. That alone was truly an act of God and our parents helping to make each thing happen in their own way.

Fast forward to mid-October and I realized I no longer could “rob Peter, to pay Paul”. We were going to be two months behind on the house and I had no way to make it up. We were drowning.

Drowning under stress. Drowning with no money pay for things we needed. Drowning under the fear of one of the boys getting hurt, one of the dogs getting sick, a car breaking down. Drowning from suffering without anyone knowing the extent of it to ask if we were ok, but too ashamed to say anything, because who the heck likes talking about money?

I also came off my meds at this point, and realized I was masking the symptoms and falsely feeling better. It took a lot of extra effort, deeper conversations and re-wiring of my brain (all of which is still ongoing). I had many full meltdowns that added a whole new level of “what the f***” to the mix.

I can honestly say however, no matter the level of stress and fear that was creeping in, our marriage was rock solid. If we didn’t have God at the center, open conversations about where we were mentally/emotionally/spiritually, and constantly leaning on the other when we needed to, I don’t know how we would’ve survived. But not once did we argue, blame, resent or struggle with our relationship. 

Anyways, so fast forward a few weeks into October. I see my for-real-for-life best friend, since high school, for the first time in a few weeks. (All of this mind you at my sister-in-laws bridal shower. Sorry Laur... thanks for low key handling my stress too lol) 

I had gotten good at the normal “Doing alright, how about you?” response when people asked... but I just couldn’t fake it any more. When Steph asked, I said “we’re drowning”. Tears in my eyes, my heart cracking. “We. Aren’t. Going. To. Make. It. Unless a miracle happens in November, we are going to lose everything.” I couldn’t believe I was saying it out loud, but I just couldn’t lie anymore.

I had no idea what was going on in her world. But soon found out they were starting into slum lord business (kidding... but seriously they wanted to own rental property). After talking to her husband Kooper, unbeknownst to me, they had a proposal they came over for dinner that night to discuss. Move in to their current home, pay an agreed upon amount, and recoup. For one year, and then we will reevaluate/negotiate. We were blown away. Humbled. Some what ashamed. It would give us the chance to breathe, in a home more than twice the size, and get our selves on a good path again. They would have to live with us for a few weeks while they transitioned. But that was seen as somewhat of a plus, though stressful at times, for support and laughter during this hot mess express we’re all on. PJ and I prayed about it, talked about it, crunched numbers... and agreed we didn’t really have a choice, but we also wanted to move forward. So plans were set, and within two weeks from that dinner discussion, we were moving in.

So where are we currently? We still have a home on the verge of foreclosure. I have barely seen my husband except for 10ish minutes each day, for two weeks as he bust his butt to fix up our home so it will sell (thank you Scott and Mike for your help. I don’t know what we would’ve done without you). We moved almost everything for our family of 5 in two days on November 10th and 11th, and almost 100% on our own (thank you Jake and Scott for helping PJ, and then my mom for helping watch the boys). We have two toddlers and a teenager, handling this all on their ends with no understanding of what the heck is happening. Then three dogs that give 0 F***s to be honest. They’re just happy they have food, water and a tree to pee on.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a HUGE blessing and we can’t even begin to wrap our heads around the generosity of our friends. But it’s hard... we’ve moved 30 minutes away from a large chunk of our family that literally lived within a block or so. We’ve lost the only place we called home together, and that I’ve called home other than the house I grew up in. We lost the house PJ asked me to marry him in (for real, in the living room). We lost the house Christian has called home from the time that he can remember, and the house that we brought his two brothers into the world in. There are moments I’ve felt so alone and unseen while dealing with all of this, that I’ve damn near ended up on a psych hold. Money still sucks as we try to hang on to the other house until it sells. Christmas is going to be so tight I’m not even looking forward to it. I’d give a lot to have our teeny cozy house back... but it’s just not practical or possible. 

So instead, I’ve hung out with my bestie/roommate and her man way more than I have been able to in a while. We’ve shared great meals, and laughs. Held each other when things have sucked. We had one family get together with PJs ENTIRE side, and mine to come in a couple weeks, which was NEVER possible in our tiny house for lack of room. Our boys have room to run through the house, laugh, scream and just be kids. It truly has been great in so many ways, it just has been harder in others.

My heart doesn’t know if it wants to swell and burst, or shrivel and break. But we’re here. We’re safe. No more utilities shut off notices. Together when we can. Better than just surviving. And to be honest, I’ve never loved and respected my husband more, than I do for leading us through this valley. I look forward to what God has planned, as I’m already blown away by what He’s done. 

So I ask these two things if you’ve read this.
one, is for my family. That you pray for us. For Gods presence, comfort and strength. That our house sells for the number we need to break free from it. And for my husband to not carry the weight of this any more. 

Then one is for those around you... That you check on those around you. FOR REAL check on them, especially the strong ones. That you never assume you know what’s going on in someone’s world. That person/friend/family member that is absent, a jerkface, depressed, etc. may be weathering a storm no one else can see. Give people grace and understanding, even when you’re not sure they deserve it.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

One day, if you’re as lucky as we are, you’ll understand...

Teen boy, there is so much you don’t know. You see rules, you see restrictions, you see missing out on something fun. You get frustrated, you get annoyed, you get flat out angry sometimes. You think we don’t understand. That we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. That we just want to control you. 

What you don’t see is how much you’re loved. How it physically hurts your parents they love you so much. You don’t see the things we have seen, that we just want to do everything in our power to protect you from. You don’t see the future we see for you, and how we struggle to find the way to keep you moving towards it. You don’t see your own potential, your value, your worth. Your ambition, your drive, your desire to make people feel good. 

You don’t see us processing each time we fail you. Each time we get it wrong and have to figure out if it’s able to be fixed. You don’t see us beat ourselves up for the things we can’t give you. You don’t see the pieces of us we shatter, just to keep you from even getting a scrape emotionally. You don’t see the sleepless nights, the hours our minds wander. Where we realize our time with you is almost gone and we have no idea if we’ve given you the tools you’re going to need when your life is no longer in our hands. 

How we are soon going to have to let go and pray you don’t forget. That you don’t forget the things we taught. That you don’t forget the love and support that will still be waiting for you at any moment, of any day. That we didn’t do too much wrong, to where you feel like you can’t come to us. That you never feel like there is something you have to keep from us, because it might make us love you less. 

And that you see this is what a heart of someone who got to choose you feels, and probably doesn’t even touch what the hearts of those that were actually given you as their own feel. 

So please, don’t ever think it’s you we don’t trust, or that you’re not enough. Because believe me... those thoughts are with our selves when we look at you. You exceed our expectations all of the time. 

We know you’re human and make mistakes. That you’ll mess up, fall short and beat yourself up too. We aren’t blind to your imperfections, but our own is what we are afraid of. We will always wonder, “did we do enough?” 

So just know. You are loved beyond anything you can imagine. And like I’ve told you before...

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you feel and smarter than you think.

One day,  if you’re as lucky as we are, you’ll understand... because you’ll be on our side, looking at a boy that is just like you were.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Water, Wine and..Crabs

          A few things you need to understand, if you don't know me that well. First, I love animals and all living things, EXCEPT spiders. I tend to have a special place in my heart for the odd and strange, like in this instance, Hermit Crabs. Second, I love my children. Beyond measure. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them, except lick their dripping and drooly ice cream cones in an attempt to keep them clean. Figure it out kiddo, mama don’t do that….

          A few months ago we acquired hermit crabs. I have always wanted them and now can excuse this oddness on the fact that we have small children. We purchased one on vacation and then a friend for him when we got home. Tabs McCrabs (my pick) and Crabby. Because a 3yo can pick a crab, but not pick a name. They are great, super friendly and I made sure they had the best of the best in care. They have a large terrarium, fresh and salt water bowls (photo below is not their actual water bowls, Amazon was running late), high quality sand, the best food, a heater and daily misting to maintain humidity. Seriously, it sounds crazy but they have their own personalities and Jace loves them. Therefore, they have to live as long as possible.
 Image may contain: food
          Fast forward to the past couple of days… The crab Jace picked out has exhibited odd behaviors. Typically a very shy and calm crab, it was running around in the nude (no shell) one day, eating a ton, swimming in its bowls more than usual, and then changed shells to a much smaller one than it has been in since we bought him. I thought perhaps it was coming into its personality, growing more confident that the small creature that constantly wants to hold him and watch him run around the house, in fact was not going to eat him.  Today, the crab was hanging out in his water bowl and exploring as it has been. I made sure everything was as it should be and we went about our day.

          After naps, Jace went to the tank and pointed out that his crab was “Awake” and he wanted to hold him. I went to pull him out and realized he was lying on his back (upside-down in his shell). Typically, this crab would pull into his shell when I reached for him, but he didn’t move. He didn’t move when I pulled him out of the tank. Jace is asking why crabby isn’t moving, “Tell him to wake up, mommy.” Well… sh*t… I spend a moment trying to figure out how to explain this one. Jace has had to deal with death recently, his great-grandma and great uncle have both gone to be with Jesus, So I told him that his crab had died like GiGi and Uncle Joe, and that he wasn’t going to wake up. He got upset and kept asking me to wake him up, and I was trying to explain that I couldn’t. He was gone, this was just shell that looked like him. Queue my husband who say “ awl, the crabs dead? Just throw him in the garbage” and queue instant hysteria “DON”T THROW HIM IN THE GARBAGE MOMMY!!!!” OOOOOOOK buddy, lets go bury your crab, so he can go to be with Jesus (seriously, this is real life). We say our good-byes, Jace picks a spot and we bury his little friend. He asks a few times about seeing crabby tomorrow, and I explain again that he isn’t coming back.

          So, tonight after the boys are tucked in bed, I am sitting around running through our day in my head like moms do and something isn’t adding up. How does a crab that is super active, eating/drinking, enjoying life… suddenly dead? So, I google it.

          Did you know that crabs molt their exoskeleton? I did. Did you know the week leading up to molting, hermit crabs will eat and store up water? I didn’t. Did you know that they will change shells to a smaller one? I didn’t. Did you know that in the wild, crabs will bury themselves under sand, but sometimes “domestic” crabs miss that memo, and will just go limp in their shell? I didn’t either.  

            At 9p.m. at night, I was outside digging up that stupid crab almost in tears. (remember, animal lover). He’s not stiff, he’s limp. OH.EMM.GEE. I rush him inside, rinse him off and then spent over an hour researching molting, what could he need and verbally expressing my distress to my husband. He is now in the tank, with a dunkin’ donuts iced coffee cup bottom, positioned over him to protect him from Tabs. And I am now going to wait the next 2 days to see if I actually caused my sons crab to die, by burying it on the side of the house, during the most fragile state a crab can be in, for 3 hours. 

           In 20 years, Jace will talk about the time I helped him bury his crab and how great of a mom I was. I will burst into tears, running away and PJ will laugh hysterically...

            I am now on my second glass of wine… *facepalm*

Sunday, April 29, 2018

How do you say goodbye...

Growing up, I adored my grandma. She was funny, sweet and you never left her home feeling unloved. You also never crossed her. She didn’t expect much out of us, but we were expected to love each other and be kind. Lord help you if you disrespected her or your parents in front of her.

As I was nearing adulthood, I wanted to soak up as much of her as I could. She had already battled breast cancer multiple times and won, and I always worried she would leave us before I had gotten enough time. I would leave work on Friday evenings and have coffee (or a Coke) with her in her living room and talk about life for a while. She’d give me advice, or tell me a story of when she was going through something similar to whatever late-teen battle I was in. We also had regular dinners together with my aunts, uncles and cousins. I couldn’t have asked for a better woman to call my grandma.

As I was an adult, and poor choices I made would come to light, she was quick to tell me it may not have been my best moment. But she would assure me that a year from now, everything would be different. And she was always right. Nothing that I was worried about, mattered that time the next year.
I was ecstatic that she was around for my wedding, as she had battled cancer from her appendix twice by then. Fast forward to the birth of my first born, but second son. She was in the middle of another battle at that point and I was so impatient to get him out of the NICU and get him home so she could see him, just in case. But she pushed through the battle again, though that time it took a good bit of her with it as it left.

By the end of that round, she was tired. She told us when it came back, she would not try to win, but face it boldly as the beginning of the end. She had been so fearless through it all to that point, but oh how she would surpass that over the next two years. She would prepare us... US for her leaving. Every single detail, document, decision, etc. would be made, signed and sealed.

The cancer was back, she wasn’t fighting but was standing firm during that time. We would pass mark after mark that her doctors would give, proving to them that God was in control and would have the final say.

Almost a year ago (end of June 2017), I was almost 8 months pregnant and she hit a wall. We were told, this is it. She’s made the doctors liars before, but there was no way around it this time. In two weeks, three max, she would leave us. I remember getting that call and dropping in a teary ball. How was it finally here? Where did the time go? We didn’t have enough... God couldn’t take her before my baby got here (selfish I know). I walked into her room at Good Sam that night, she looked at my protruding belly and it hit her too. And for the first time in EVERYTHING she had been through, I saw fear in her eyes and she cried saying “Oh, Liesl... I am not going to be here to see him.” We held each other that night for a bit, cried and came to terms with it as best we could.

I struggled the next week and the family planned final get togethers/celebrations. If God was going to take her, fine. But I was going to see that she met Elijah as best as possible before she left. I had 3D ultrasound images done and a recording of his heartbeat. At our “Christmas in July” I gave them to her. We cried again. And then I braced for the worst.

Then... weeks past. Then a month. Then Elijah made his appearance. I got to tell her on the phone that night that he was here. A few days later she would sit on my couch and hold him with tears in her eyes and she told him how she wasn’t supposed to meet him, but she was so glad she did.

More weeks would pass, we would see another birthday for her. More months would come and we would have a real Christmas together. Each big day we would give thanks for her being here, nervously waiting the one she wouldn’t be. Her spirits were great, but she was getting tired. Oh so tired. But still, she was worried about making sure all of her ducks were in a row, for our sake, before she left. As she could feel the end coming, she decided it was time for the girls (my mother, aunt, cousin and she) to sell their home they had lived in together and to get apartments to make the end easier. Those were set into motion and I told my mom “I just have this feeling she isn’t going to make it to when you move”.

Two weeks ago on Thursday, my mom called me and told me she had collapsed but was doing ok. Very weak, low blood pressure but it probably meant we were getting close. Tuesday, I would get a tattoo I had been planning and go see her to show her. She read the words Love, Grace and Fearless, in her hand writing and cried asking “is that what you think of me?” She couldn’t begin to understand how I, or anyone else would think so highly of her.
Yet, anyone that knew her did. Over the next few days she would start to feel better again. And to prove me wrong, moving day came this past Friday. The girls got most things moved, got her situated. I stopped to see her with the boys and drop a plant to my mom. She would hug Jace, get kisses from both. I would hug her, tell her I loved her and walk out the door...

Saturday would go as any other lazy day around the house. I couldn’t shake the feeling that afternoon that something in the universe was off, but figured I was just overwhelmed at home with a sick baby. At 4:24pm my phone rang... I heard my mothers voice say “Liesl...” and I knew. My mind started racing as she told me she was gone, my cousin had found her, she was gone. I lost it... crying on my couch “No... God no no... I just saw her... she was fine... no God No!!!” My biggest fear? Because of how they found her I feared that she had been alone, scared/in pain, with no one to comfort her. My heart was ripping from my chest at the thought of the woman who had done so much for everyone else, suffering alone.

As the family came together and pieces were put together last night, we found out it had been instant. And she had been alone in the apartment for 10 minutes before she left us. In that 10 minutes, she had made some notes, and taken pictures of a few things on her phone. She had no idea it had happened until she blinked and saw heaven. From what we have pieced together, it was as quick as God spoke her name to call her home.

I am at peace knowing she is not suffering here any more, but I am so heart broken that she is gone. That I didn’t know Friday was the last time I’d hear her say “I love you” to me and the boys. That I can’t send her pictures of them. That Jace will no longer be able to ask “We go see GiGi?”. That I can’t call her, hug her, confide in her, be comforted by, get advice from, and the list goes on and on. I’m not in denial, but I just am not accepting it yet. Today, I was angry. Not at God for taking her, but just that she’s gone and I now have to continue on. She’s been gone for a day and I already miss her so much. How? I just never could have been ready.

She was the glue that held our family together. She has raised such strong women and men to carry on in her memory. No amount of time with a woman like her, would’ve felt like enough.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Power of Prayer…

            This past week has been a little bit of a whirlwind. My husband and brother have been working to get their new business underway, we sold one of our temporary A to B cars, got my husbands “new” truck back, had an E.R. run with our oldest and did our best to squeeze in family time along with our normal day to day responsibilities. These things have led us to having our heads bowed and praying for more than our normal load of request. God answered many of those prayers and it honestly blew me away.

            Recently I have been praying over my husband and brothers business. I have been praying not only for Gods hand to move to bless their efforts, give them stability and success, but also for God to keep them humble, keep their hearts pure and their minds focused on helping others along the way (a big part of their business plan). The guys have invested so much time and effort so far, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. But I was also trying to push feelings of fear and worry out about whether or not things would take off quickly. God answered my prayers however this past week and it gave me a feeling of peace that I was searching for. This past week, the guys got the call they have been waiting on. They landed a contract for snow removal, landscape maintenance and lawn care for multiple of a companies locations. It is not going to make the guys rich, but it gives security and promises at least a return over the next year of what they have financially invested so far. They of course are excited, and I will continue to pray for them as work continues to grow.

            Next prayer that was answered were prayers over our oldest son (yes, he is my stepson, and maternal credit goes to his real mother WAY over me, but he is my kid nonetheless.) On Wednesday evening, during the first defensive play of his schools football game, he injured his hand. From the stands, I had no idea how bad it was, but I knew if he was yelling out in pain and for help it wasn’t great, he’s a tough kid. His teammates yelling “you can see the bone!” didn’t help either. I can only assume my husband was praying on the drive and in the waiting room as well. Thankfully, a very nasty gash did not clip any nerves or tendons, just exposed the bone. After flushing the wound and 10 stitches, he was ready to go home with his mother. An injury that could have been much worse, will only end up with a scar and pretty cool pictures. Again, feeling extremely blessed from this.

            Then there was one other prayer that was visibly answered. My husband has been trying to sell his car for a little while now. Two weeks ago, a young man from Vegas called saying he was in Cleveland visiting family and really needed the car. He asked my husband to hang on to the car for a week to allow him to get the money together. He agreed and on Thursday they met. This alone was an answer to prayers, but it didn’t stop there. This car was far from a clunker, but wasn’t the nicest vehicle either. It was very much was a car that got us where we needed to go and didn’t look too bad. We were very thankful for it when we came across it during our time of need last year. But this man was so excited about it. Who would’ve thought this car I couldn’t wait to be out of our driveway, would make someone so happy? Later while we sat to eat dinner, my husband made a point to pray for the man to make it back to Cleveland safely and that the car would serve him well during the time he needed it to, as it did us. A few moments later his phone rang, it was the man that just purchased the car. He had gotten pulled over because he didn’t have plates on the car (the BMV was closed by the time they were able to meet that night, and he warned him that it was risky) and he had a suspended license (something he hadn’t filled my husband in on). The man was hoping that my husband would be able to tell the officer that he had in fact just sold him the car and hopefully get him out of some serious trouble. The officer refused to speak to my husband and the man hung up. Our hearts sank and my husband prayed again. A few moments later, the man called back. He thanked my husband for praying for him and told him that the officer had let him go with a warning. He was back on his way. There was no reason that the officer shouldn’t have pursued this. I truly believe God stepped in and protected that young man and allowed him to get home.

            As a Christ follower, I know my God is always there. Sometimes though, I fall into the place many Christians do, where you feel like He just doesn’t care about *fill in the blank*. In your mind, the thing you are asking for or the help that you need is so miniscule, that He has far bigger and more important things to worry about. Other times, you feel guilty for asking for something SO big, like you don’t deserve it or it’s just too much and someone better than you needs it more. We forget that God, as a father, wants to give His children good gifts. We forget that He loves us and nothing is “too small” for Him to care about. Now, that doesn’t mean He will always answer with a “Yes”. Sometimes, it is a “wait” or a “this isn’t what is best for you”, just like we do with our own children. (Side note: How God sees His believers is something I don’t think you can truly understand until you have children of your own. If you care/want all of those things for your children, sacrifice for them, how much more perfect is Gods love for us?) But this past week, I saw the hand of God move and it has filled me with a lot of comfort as I am reminded of His unfailing love.

Philippians 4:5-7

               5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:13-15
          13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happiest day of my life…


I thought that’s what it was supposed to be. The day I gave birth to my son did not turn out like I had planned, and it helped to create a silent storm that no one knew I was struggling to get out of.

            Post-partum depression is still a little bit of a taboo topic I think. People who have never experienced it don’t understand it, those that go through it feel the need to hide it because they don’t want to be judged or have people think they are crazy. You know how you’re supposed to feel, completely overfilled with joy and love. But for some of us, we also are slammed with fear, doubt and a feeling of being alone that is impossible to describe. I don’t think I had a terrible case of it and I don’t know that if the circumstances around my son’s birth had been different, if I would have had the same issues. None the less, I feel like the more we talk about PPD, it will lose its stigma and more mothers will feel comfortable opening up and getting the help they need.

            July 7th, 2015 came very early for me, 3:36 a.m. to be exact. I woke up from a very deep sleep to realize I was starting a period from hell… “Wait, I’m pregnant. I can’t be starting my… OH I AM IN LABOR.” I had everything planned out as best as I could knowing that things would not go perfectly. Bags were packed, birthing plan was written and I had an amazing support system in my husband. After a quick shower, some make-up (judge me if you want, I knew pictures were going to be a must that day) and out the door to the hospital we went. About 4 hours in, I tapped out on going natural. I wasn’t that upset about that honestly, I hadn’t planned on clustering contractions and I had no shame in accepting modern medicines help. A few hours later though, my fear of getting an epidural rang true, I started running a fever. I knew this meant my baby would be watched even more closely when he was born.

            At 6:02 p.m. a blonde haired, blue-eyed little boy was born. He was perfect and I was instantly filled with so much happiness and love as he was laid on my chest. They started checking him out while I sobbed. Within a few minutes, my perfect world came crashing down around me. My sweet little chunk was grunting, NICU staff was called, temp was taken and sure enough he was running a fever. It was explained to me that he should stay in the NICU for monitoring, testing and oxygen. I was over come with so much fear, anger and frustration. He was taken out of my arms and I felt my heart being ripped from my chest. My best friend and husband would be there to comfort me and I honestly started to feel like it was going to be ok, just a few hours away from him and all would be right. But long story short it went from a few hours of monitoring, to 48 hours, to 7 days he had to stay. He never ended up on oxygen, but a certain enzyme level in his blood had them concerned and they wanted to keep him on antibiotics as a precaution. I had, and still have, very strong feelings about all of it, but I am not a doctor so I will leave those out.

            After my 48 hours stay (my doctors were amazing and did everything in their power to keep me there as long as possible so I could walk down a hall and not have to drive to see my son) I was discharged. My husband had to practically pry me from his bed and half carry me to the car. I cried, screamed, yelled at God the entire 20 minute drive home, and I became so filled with bitterness. Why did I have to leave without my baby? Why would I have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump, instead of to see his sweet face and feed him directly? I did everything I was supposed to do, why was God punishing me like this? These feelings would grow every single minute I was away from him. They grew when I would walk into the hospital and see other moms being wheeled to their cars with their newborns in there arms, smiles on their faces, as I called my husband sobbing “Why is that not me?”. The only time I felt at peace was when I was in the rocking chair in the NICU holding my sweet boy for as many hours a day and I could physically handle over the next week. I would attend a family get together, church and every day errands without him, which would only leave me feeling more empty and alone. He should’ve been there.

            I honestly knew I was lucky compared to other moms, especially the ones whose babies were surrounding mine. My little boy was in an open bed, a few wires attached with an IV for antibiotics, happy and healthy overall. Their babies were attached to so many pieces of equipment, some couldn’t even hold them. They were surrounded with the fear of not only when they could bring them home, but if. I knew I was forming closeness with his night nurses who were so amazing. They would talk me down on the phone to a calm place, so I would at least try to sleep at 3 a.m. every night. I also knew God was doing something much bigger than anything that had to do with myself and my son, even if I had no idea (and still honestly don’t know) what it was. I clung to stories of women I knew who walked much harder roads with their babies, but never gave up faith in Gods plan. But I was still angry and hurt.

            I thought all of those feelings would go away when he came home, but they didn’t. We would struggle with breastfeeding because my body couldn’t keep up with his demands after getting 4-6 ounces every feeding from the first time he was fed. My body wasn’t designed to make that much that quickly. I didn’t even get to feed him his first meal. More bitterness and anger brewed as I would sob every feeding because he was so hungry and I couldn’t give him what he needed. His own mother wasn’t good enough.

            For about 2 months I dealt with these feelings. Never once did I feel like harming myself, my son or anyone else. I felt so much love for him, but he just didn’t feel like “mine” for a long time. It was like I was caring for a close relative, but not MY baby. All until the one morning, I heard his cries. I had tossed the frustration of breastfeeding at that point, so I made him a bottle and shuffled into his room. As I picked him up I had a feeling like the first time they laid him on my chest. We sat down in his rocker and I lost it. This was my baby, my son, no one else’s. The feeling of joy and overwhelming happiness that I had been waiting for, hit me like a ton of bricks and I completely lost it. I sat there holding him and crying for a while and at some point that day I realized I had been struggling with PPD.

            The hurt and loneliness never came back and I never brought them up to anyone. I didn’t think I needed to, until recently. I’ve been seeing so many stories from people close to me that struggled in silence as well. All in different ways and to different extents, but I realized we all hid it out of fear. I don’t know if I had talked to someone (a doctor, a friend, my husband) if I would’ve felt better, but at least I wouldn’t have struggled alone.  

            I encourage anyone struggling with something similar right now to reach out. You aren’t alone, so many of us felt the same things that you are feeling right now. I encourage mothers that are expecting to have a plan of who your safe person is to talk to before your baby even arrives. I never thought I would struggle in the ways that I did, but I also didn’t know things would go so different from the way I had envisioned. Lean on your partner if you have one, talk to your doctor, open up to a friend, but don’t wait for it to go away on its own. Trying to fight it alone like I did was not smart. Not everyone has it as easy in the long run as I did. Some people never make it out from it, or do damage that cannot be undone.

            For fellow believers, as hard as it can be when we feel like I did, don’t turn your back on God. Seek Him out, seek out His word and if you have a strong faith community, reach out to them as well. Even when it felt like God wasn’t listening or didn’t care, He was working on something. Maybe so I was stronger, maybe so I leaned on Him more for that strength, or maybe so I would be able to help someone else in the future. No matter what your circumstances are, you are never truly alone…

Psalm 46:1-3
            God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging .

Psalm 119:50

            My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Every day a new adventure…

            Fancy wording for “Today sucked”… OK, in the grand scheme of things, today really wasn’t all that bad and I know there are many people out there that have true bad days. But, as other moms know, some days just don’t go as planned and the smallest of things can send you into a full blown ugly cry. That is of course, if your tear ducts were working well in the first place… we’ll get to that.

            The day started off as THOSE days do. Dogs were listening about as well as they would if they had cotton in their ears, baby peed through his diaper during the night, which left no room for the backside to be filled with his morning poo before I got him out of bed. No big deal, just need a little extra creamer in my coffee and baby needs a bath (not much that can be done for the dogs, lets just be honest). After finishing our morning routine, we were half way through our morning walk when the new eye doctor calls. Ahh, confirming my appointment for tomorrow, for which I have a sitter! Wrong. They are confirming my appointment for today at 3 p.m.

I start accepting the fact that the teething 13 month old that does not even slightly resemble his happy-go-lucky personality, is coming with me. You can guess at this point, my brain only notices what is bad today and my mood turns to crap progressively through the morning hours. Trying to turn my attitude around, I focus on the positives.  It’s a beautiful sunny day out, we can drive with the windows down and I can stop for an iced coffee on our way home.

            3 p.m. finally rolls around and there I am. That woman with the screaming child that couldn’t care less that mommy needs to fill out her new patient information as she tries to convince the staff that “he’s just tired, he is never like this!” After getting everything squared away, I end up bouncing/walking while waiting 15 minutes to be called back. At this point, the baby has fallen asleep and I am convincing myself I can make it through the exam with him on my chest, all 25 pounds of him.

            Bless the sweet doctor that I was given today. She did everything she could to do her exam thoroughly without me having to move the sweet angel she thought I was holding. It was going so well, that when she asked if I had the dilation test done recently, I said "No, but we can do it today!" She responds with “You won’t have any issues seeing far away, but everything close up is going to be a little blurry for a few hours until the drops wear off.”  Oh… OK well, how bad can it be? Clearly she was working some voodoo magic that had caused me to forget the beginning of my day that would tell me this was an awful idea, but I would soon be reminded. After putting in the dilation drops, she leaves to go get my contacts. I decide it's best to lay the baby on a mat on the floor at this point so I can get my contacts in and finish up. Instantly he is wide awake screaming like his skin is being ripped off, clawing at my flesh while I struggle to see the small lens in my hand because that whole “a little blurry” thing had started. The doctor, now rushing to get me out of the room, finishes up and escorts me to the front desk so I can get checked out. The only problem is, there is no receptionist anywhere near by.

            I can barely see anything that is within 15 feet of me at this point and I am waiting for someone to come take my money so I can leave. That’s when I hear it. It was the sound of a monsoon hitting the roof of the building and the woman behind me saying “Oh, that’s some heavy rain!” Did I mention the pretty clear sky on the way to eye doctor that had me feeling better and I was driving with my windows open? Yeah, didn’t close those! In about 10 seconds I decide the seats of my car were of more importance than the happiness and dryness of my son. We run out to the car, fumble with the keys trying to get them to unlock the doors, in an attempt that I am sure looked something similar to a drunk person trying to convince his friends that he is OK to drive. We finally get into the car, windows up and we are back in the building looking like we took a dive in a pool. Just in case anyone is wondering, this is not the appropriate time to ask a mother in my shoes a completely obvious question like “Awl, did you leave your car windows open?” No lady, I was just so overcome with joy for the rain that I thought I would go outside and show my appreciation with an interpretive dance in the parking lot while holding my now very wet and angry baby.

            Icing on the cake? My adoring, loving, hard working husband calls me on the way home to ask me to pick up his medication and grab Chipotle for us for dinner. So now, looking like a drowned raccoon, make up smeared down my face, with eyes that make me look higher than a hippie at Woodstock, I drove my soggy butt to Walgreens and to Chipotle… and I called my mom. Because that’s what you do on a day like today.

            “Dear Jesus, forgive me for the words that came out of my mouth that would make a sailor blush, forgive me for wanting to lose my patience with my husband and please help my son to not remember any of this. Bless the workers at Chiptole for their patience and kindness. Also Lord, we are made in your image, so I know you have a sense of humor and I hope you at least got a chuckle out of watching the events that took place in the parking lot at Thoma and Sutton Eye Care… Help me do better tomorrow. Amen”