I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past

I have had one hell of a week.  One hell of a few weeks actually …or a few months or years… depending on when you want to start counting.

Yesterday I drove past a church and the sign said, “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.”  I thought… wow, that is very true.   I internalized that for a moment and realized that I feel that I am stronger than I’ve ever been before, yet I feel so defeated.  It was an interesting thing to contemplate.

So why have things been increasingly hard this week?  I’ll tell you.  I used to work for a company that does senior care.  Wow!  What a rewarding job that is… seriously.  I got to “meet” some of the sweetest seniors and had some of the greatest conversations.  I had excellent coworkers and felt very rewarded in what I was doing.  However, there were things that also stuck out to me that weren’t quite right. I won’t go into those details here because they’re personal and they will be dealt with but just trust that though I found a wonderful industry, I needed a better company.

I decided to put out applications and was delighted to hear from a seemingly wonderful company that was voted top 100 places to work last year!  I was so excited to advance my career with this company and continue to work out my passion of helping seniors, the disabled, etc.  Of course, before I applied for these positions I checked with the HR at my company to make sure there was nothing preventing me from doing so… and they said I was good to go.  I wasn’t good to go.  In my paperwork was a non-compete.  I have no recollection of signing it and am certain I didn’t know the extent of what it meant but that’s neither here nor there.  Long story short, my previous position stopped me from stepping into my new role.  She smiled as she handed me the document.

I consulted a lawyer and she told me that in NC it would be a very difficult, costly process to fight them.  And for whatever reason, I didn’t have it in me to fight them.  I felt that even though I’d been so wronged by these people trying to make an example of me… that the universe would work it all out in some way.

I’ve heard things here and there about them and I feel that they’re reaping what they’ve sowed I guess.. but more importantly… I’ve seen such generosity from others.  I saw my psychiatrist this week and had a wonderful talk with her.  I told her that everything felt like shit… things were shit and I felt like shit and …those were my exact words really.  She let me get them all out and she reassured me.  I really got connected with my psychiatrist after the birth of my daughter and what a blessing that was.  She genuinely cares about my well-being and is there for me through every stage.  I’ve raved about her this week because when you find a business that is truly wonderful, run by people that are genuine and pure in their intentions… it should be celebrated.

My daughter’s daycare reached out to me as well and told me they were willing to half her tuition for the next several months until I could find a job. WOW!  This is a very wonderful school and I believe it has a waiting list! She did not have to offer something so generous… but she did.  She told me that we were a good family and my daughter was a great kid.  She wanted to help out as MUCH as she could.

I’ve also had so many friends reach out to me during this time. I mean, seriously guys… Phone calls, texts, lunches… I have been so blessed with the connections I’ve made and the people I’ve come to know and love.  When shit sucks… I have friends all over the world sending me those good vibes, praying for me and checking on me.  I love you guys!

With that being said, even with the love and support and the very-necessary-perfectly-timed-generous-gestures… there are hard times.  There are really difficult times.  I cried the other night until I couldn’t cry anymore and then I fell asleep.  I woke up at 3 am and cried some more.  My 22 month old rolled over (co-sleeping for the win!) and in the silence of the middle of the night I heard the SWEETEST sound.  She said, “mommy.”  I looked at her and said, “hey baby… i’m sorry, go to sleep.”  She said, “mommy sick?”  I said… “no baby, just sad.  Mommy is okay. ”  She then sat up and said, “Mommy, let me hold you.”  My little perfect girl.  She held me and I couldn’t help but cry harder.  My baby is such a caretaker with a gentle, sweet, caring spirit and she knew what her mama needed.  So blessed.

This morning, my son didn’t want to go to school.  He told me there would be a fire drill… that school was cancelled, etc.  I took him there and told him I would ask the teacher if there was going to be a fire drill and if there was going to be one I would stay with him for as long as I was able to.  I got to the school and was surprised there was no fire drill.   I told him this and he stood there panicking.  He started pacing, digging at his arms and tearing up.  I sat there and held him and talked with him.  He then told his teacher that “mommy needs to work here.”  My heart fell into my stomach.  I realized that my sweet, perceptive, beautiful little boy was worried about my situation.  He had been worried about it all week and was trying to fix it.  I’d thought I’d been careful about discussing anything in depth with him… and explained everything “kid friendly,” but he is such a sweet soul.  Our souls are so connected I know he feels when things aren’t quite right.  My heart broke into a billion pieces as I had to walk away and let his teacher help him cope/breathe/relax and adapt.  I knew it was the best thing but I sat there in the car crying and staring at the rain beating the windshield for 45 minutes… frozen.  I couldn’t leave… but I knew I probably shouldn’t stay and all I wanted to do was tell these people that they’d ruined everything… and now my kids?!

I called my husband over and over and over and tried to get him to talk me down but then I called my former employer.  I wanted to tell her what this was causing… that the loss in income was the LEAST of my worries at the moment… all I cared about was making my child feel secure.  I wanted to say that what’s “Business” to you… is someone’s life… but I’ve said it all before.  Some people don’t change.  Nothing I say or do will make them feel any remorse for what they’ve put us through… but regardless, it shouldn’t matter anyway.

I am trying to stay calm, focused, and pure.  My heart aches but I’ve utilized many resources.  I’ve called my parents, my friends, my husband, my psychiatrist, the crisis hotline, etc.  I’ve tried to find inspiration in little moments and encouragement in everyday things that maybe I wouldn’t have noticed before.  I do find that so much negative makes you really, really appreciate and see the positive.  It becomes quite clear and in focus.  It was always there and is always there but sometimes you have to go through some things to really see it.

I am blessed beyond measure.  I’ve always been taken care of and I always will be.  My children are pure, beautiful, caring, kind, amazing humans.  My husband and I are doing a FANTASTIC job of raising beautiful, loving people.  I can say that honestly and therefore I have everything.  I have a lot of work to do.  I have to start with what is most important and work my way out.  I need to protect my kids and help heal their hearts and minds… focus on finding a new job and calming myself.   Each day I have to remind myself that it IS worth it… and that I am worth it.  Practicing self compassion is not something I am good at doing.  I am the first to beat myself up when it all goes to shit… but hey… maybe now is the time to work on it even more.

This post is long and I don’t even know where it started… but I had to write it.  I don’t even know if I’ll re-read it.  I just hope that if you read it… you practice kindness.  It makes a huge difference.

 

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When it rains, it pours

Wow, what a week.  What a month… What a year.  What a …2 years.  This is a rough… rough time in our lives.  Is it okay if I put it all out there?

2016 was extremely difficult for us.  I couldn’t wait for the new year.  I hoped and prayed that the new year would bring with it a rebirth of sorts.  I needed everything negative to be behind me… I needed to move on.   My son started 2016 with lots of illnesses he got from preschool (fun!) and I was a stress case the entire time.   Then in March I had my beautiful daughter.   She is absolutely the most beautiful, wonderful thing to come out of 2016.  She was a healthy 8 lb 10 oz.  I was in love.


Then, the postpartum depression and anxiety really escalated and became unmanageable.  I’d never felt so unlike myself.  I had this beautiful angel of a baby and I couldn’t enjoy her because of a million different irrational fears.  I was out of my mind.  The stress hurt.  I found my therapist and went back to my psychiatrist and I got medication to get things under control.

Fast forward to May and my son had a reaction to penicillin and had to go to the emergency room via ambulance with a very high fever.  He developed erythema multiforme.  His rash looked worse than any google images out there.  I was terrified.  I thought I would fall apart.  However, he recovered and things carried on as usual.


In July, my daughter had two bouts of intense vomiting after eating baby cereal.  The second time we were at my parents for the 4th of July holiday and my daughter woke up 2 hours after ingesting the oatmeal screaming.  She screamed and screamed until she got a bottle, which she promptly vomited all over her aunt.  She then became very lethargic and floppy. I called 911 and my 4 month old was carried via ambulance to the emergency room.  After hours of tests, failed IVs and blood draws… we were sent home.  I consulted her pediatrician that reassured me it was probably just a sensitivity and told me to avoid oats.  I knew it my heart it was more.  I took her to a pediatric gastroenterologist and then a pediatric allergist.  We found out our sweet girl had FPIES.


I cried my eyes out in the allergist’s office.  I wondered if it was my fault.  Maybe it was all the cookies I ate when I was pregnant.  Maybe it was not being able to breastfeed.  Why had I been so selfish to have postpartum anxiety and DMER.  ?  I told myself that I should have fought harder to break through the mental anguish.  I should have eaten better.  I should have been better for her.  The doctor assured me over and over again that this was not my fault.  I would tell myself for a long time that it was.

After this experience we went about our lives as normal and made the decision to hold off on solids for my daughter for a few months.  In those few months we were preparing for my son to start his second year of preschool.  I was nervous that he would get so sick again, but I knew I couldn’t keep him in a bubble forever!  So… In September he started his second year of preschool.


By the end of his first week his teacher came to me with concerns.  This part of the story is probably going to be the absolute hardest to write– but I’ll try.  Long story short, she had concerns that Jack was developmentally delayed.  (I had concerns that she was an idiot — but that had nothing to do with Jack.  That is a whole other story. ) So… we were referred to a service provided through the local school system to have an evaluation for our son.  We took my son to an office downtown and he sat with a clinical psychologist for a while… and I thought he did a great job.  Of course, the evaluation showed that he needed an assessment.  The assessment determined that he had a developmental delay.  I am pretty sure that, had I consented, he would have been diagnosed with autism right there.  I did not consent though… for reasons that I will get to in another post.  In fact, for more detailed information about all of this feel free to visit my previous blog, The Glimmer.


The months that followed were incredibly difficult.  My husband and I spent many nights in bed crying… wondering, researching, asking ourselves how this was possible… etc.  I felt like the ultimate failure of a mother.  Was this my fault?  Is it because I ate poorly, allowed him to have junk food every now and then, let him play on the ipad?  I couldn’t stop with the questions.  Every therapy session was devoted to this.  Through the mental turmoil, Jack was acting out at school.  He was being punished, yelled at, ganged up on and treated awfully by his teacher and the other people at the school.  I had panic attacks after dropping him off in the mornings.  Finally, we made the decision to withdraw him from that toxic place.  My beautiful baby had been treated so badly by ignorant, awful people and I didn’t realize it because they were the ones telling me he was a bad child with all of his problems.  Everyone was telling me something was “wrong” with my child.

Nothing is wrong with my child.  Nothing.  He is exactly the way God made him.  He is beautiful, bright, hilarious, brilliant and perfect.  He loves phones… a lot.  He flaps his hands when he is excited.  He jumps up and down … a lot.  His best friend is his sister.  He adores her.  He strikes up random conversations with strangers on the street– shakes their hands and says, “hello, how are you?”  –He cannot talk to a child.  He can’t say hello to them or acknowledge their presence.  I don’t know why…and he can’t tell me.  These are facts… and these are things we’re figuring out as the days go by.  These are the things that go around and around in my head on a loop.  I lost many months of seeing all of the wonderful in my son and instead focused on the things that supported the fact that “something was wrong with him.”   I will never forgive myself for that… or the people that were persistent in telling me that something was “wrong” with him.  Even if there is a delay, or there is autism… or whatever the hell is going on… nothing is wrong with him.  Everything is right.  He is my love.


As my husband and I dealt with this new reality… we started the new year with putting Jack in a new school and all was well.  His new school was amazing!  His teachers were perfect.  God sent them straight to us.  I prayed about it, I asked for an answer and God delivered.  His teachers truly loved him.  They appreciated the beautiful person that he is.  He never got in trouble one day at school.  He started making art again.  He had progress with students in the classroom.  It was a true blessing.  He started working with an itinerant teacher and she was so supportive and helped him immensely.  He started play therapy and he loves it!  I am so grateful for these resources.  We stopped focusing on what was “wrong” with Jack and helped him with anything he struggled with.  He has overcome SO many fears this year and grown so much.  We are so proud of him.

2017 was looking up and then my husband’s father got sick.  He had complications with diabetes and was in the hospital in March.  He recovered but had to have his leg amputated.  Fortunately we got to spend a lot of time with him in the past few months.  Our family went most weekends to help out and visit with him.  We were very grateful and he pulled through everything and got better.  Then, on May 15 we got a devastating call.  He was very sick again and in the ICU.  We rushed to the hospital and seeing him like that was so painful.  I immediately felt regret for every argument we’d ever gotten in (we had a few misunderstandings… we’re both stubborn and hard headed haha).  The next few weeks were a true rollercoaster.  There were moments of hope and then moments of being let down.  It was like this over and over.  Finally, on June 2 he left us and we have missed him every moment since.


One thing you should know about my father-in-law is that he helped me get a transcription job at his company– this was amazing for having kids.  I could keep the kids and work from home.  This saved on daycare.  Though it was extremely stressful and hard to deal with at times… it was essential for us financially.  There were moments during this job that I struggled with working home alone.  I hate being alone.  It is torture for me to be alone.  I can’t focus, I start to fear things… I struggle.  This affected my work several times over the years but I persisted.  I’d recently grown to appreciate the work nights after the kids were in bed.  I could zone out and think of something other than how hard things had been.  Well, the company my father in law and I worked for is full of drama.  No need to get into any of it here…but the people are less than kind and it has been difficult to be employed there.  However, when I was let go via email this past Thursday I was upset.

We have two kids.   Both with “special needs.”  Formula is expensive.  Therapy is expensive.  Appointments are expensive.  Everything… is expensive.  Though, I didn’t make much money the money I made was essential.  So… here we are.  Still grieving the loss of my father in law and then let go by the company he devoted many years of his life to in the same week as his memorial service.  It adds insult to injury is the expression I think.  I’ve been there for 6 years… and now I am here… trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up… and I’m scared.  I’m lost… and I’m scared.

I’m stressed out.  These are the biggest events in the past 2 years and I feel… a little beaten down by them.  To put it mildly.

Now that I’ve gotten it all out there- I do want to share a few things that have helped me get through the madness:

–Having Claire with no epidural.  I felt strong and amazing.  I had a goal and I did it.
–Trusting my mama gut so many times and being right.
–Advocating for my kids.
–Getting over my own fears because I needed to be strong for Jack.  We have gotten over fears together.
–The love shared in difficult situations.  There are no better hugs than the hugs from my husband when he knows I need one.  He holds me like he’ll never let me go.  These hugs keep me going.  They help me breathe.
–Friends.  Oh God, how would I have made it this year without my friends?  They text everyday, they send cards, come to birthday parties, have a drink, make me laugh, come to my rescue, watch my kids, etc etc.
–Family.  My parents have really stepped in and helped me immensely in the past few years.  My in-laws have helped us.  We would NOT be okay without this help.  Our families are true blessings.
–Tickle fights.  I’ve noticed that in the past few months, all four of us have gotten in the floor several times and laughed for so long it hurts.  These moments are so special.  Our phones are away, the TV is off… and we’re just enjoying each other.  It is euphoric.  It is pure joy shared among 4 people that love each other so much.  I thank God every single time for these moments.  They are amazing.


We’re going to get through all of these things… and we’re going to do it together.  I’m going to be okay. I’m going to try… and fight… and grow and change and learn.  I’m going to pray that things start looking up.  Lately, I’ve been focusing on the negative because it seems there has been nothing but negative… but I need to change my outlook.  Prayers are appreciated.

Have any of you gone through a difficult season in life?  How did you cope?

<3.

 

Parenting during stressful life events:  7 things to remember. 


This week has been a whirlwind.  We planned out our dinners on Sunday, made it through school drop off on Monday and I even got a walk in at the lake with my friend Emily!  It seemed that the week was starting off nicely (aside from an extremely hard drop off at school Monday morning– oh Mondays.)  Then we got a text to come to the hospital an hour away to see a family member.  The week has been an emotional rollercoaster.  I’ve found it extremely hard to parent, get my work done, be there for my husband and also have my own worries and sadness on top of everything.  Thankfully my mom helped us out and things seem to be on the upswing.  Well, aside from the ton of work I need to get done that is not currently getting done because my hospital wifi won’t connect to my work desktop! ahhhhhh!! stress.

I guess since I can’t do my actual work I will share a few thoughts I’ve had on making it through a stressful time.

1- Take it as it comes.  There is no need for speculation in hard times, it is going to be how it is.  Simply making it from one moment to the next is all that is expected of you.  Going with the flow is kind of necessary.

2- Vent.  I don’t know how many friends I’ve vented to this week.  I just needed to tell someone how I felt.  My fears, my sadness, being overwhelmed.  I needed a listening ear, and thankfully, I’ve had quite a few.

3- Kids.  I think it is easy to think in situations like this, ahhhh HOW am I going to possibly handle my children right now?  There is so much expected.  We have to travel and stay up late and not have real meals…but they need routines.  It is especially hard to have a little one with food allergies (that means no pick up McDonalds) and another one with serious anxiety and OCD.  BUT…this week I’ve not focused on these things.  I’ve had help from my mom, offers to help from my friends, and family members that helped calm them and keep them entertained.  Kids are go with the flow, especially when you take the time to appreciate them, comfort them and love them.  Its great for them, and really great for you.  Kids can always make you smile and always make you laugh.  They are such blessings.

4- Keeping the kids entertained.  If you have to take the kids to the hospital… it is important to pack an entertainment bag!  My kids are 4 and 1.  I packed blocks, books, kumon writing books, pencils, toy cars, the ipad, chargers (so necessary), snacks, a baby doll for my little girl, etc.  For the most part, they stayed pretty entertained.  Do not, I repeat, do not go to the hospital without these things haha.  You think you’ll be there for an hour or two but you are there for 6.  It happens.  Be prepared.

5- Ask for help.  If you need help with anything, ask.  It takes a village and your village is there to help you when you need them.  Whether it be with work (which I’ve definitely needed help with– and amazing coworkers have stepped up to help with that), childcare, or running errands.  Sometimes you can’t do it all and you need that helping hand.  Reach for it.

6- Prayer.  Spending time to reflect on the events of the day and pray that all will be taken care of and trusting that, is essential.  God has shown us miracles this week and we are so grateful.  Prayer changes things, and us.

7- Sleep.  Don’t be dumb and stay up late catching up on TV.  (guilty.)  Sleep really is essential.  Sitting in waiting rooms isn’t physically exhausting, but stress is very mentally exhausting.  Your body wants you to sleep… when you get the time, do it.  Seriously… do it.  Your body needs to relax and recharge.

Through a very stressful week I’ve found peace in quiet moments, tickle fights with my kids, sweet embraces from my husband, and the love that is so present in serious times.  Family is so very special.  I am grateful for mine.