Coming up for Air

Living the past few years the way I have, I would have to say without a doubt, that the worst the universe could do to you after having a rainbow baby would be to grant you with postpartum depression. You get something that you so desperately want, and then your body turns against you making it so that you do not enjoy life or that little person you so desperately wanted.

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I had PPD with my oldest daughter, but I did not think I would have it with Miss Crankles. She was my rainbow, this joy we waited for so long. A lot happened in a short amount of time after having her, and I felt like all the happiness had been sucked out of my body. On top of that, she had colic, and with a husband that was out in the oil patch, I did not get much relief to sleep. I felt like it was a cruel joke. On top of that, there are still many people that do not understand PPD at all! They think you are faking it or flaking out. They talk about you behind your back in hushed tones thinking it will never get back to you, but inevitably it all does. It makes one feel so much worse and so useless. I struggled so much that first year to keep my shit together and get the big kids to the places they needed to be for their activities. I struggled to keep going on little to no sleep for days on end. When my husband ended up on a stint that lasted two months, I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. It sucked. It was not how it was supposed to be. I felt cheated.

Ending up in the hospital last summer, only to discover it was related to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) I received years ago felt like the grande finale to the shit show that was my life. One of the medications they gave me post-visit was a low dosage of an anti-depressant to help prevent the migraines I kept having. It also should have helped with the depression. Mostly, it just made me feel numb and extremely unproductive. We moved, and it while it was the right thing for my family, I was an emotional wreck. I lost friends. My kids lost friends. My kids were excited about their new surroundings but sad at the same time. My husband lost his job. It felt like the universe was giving my family the finger.

The part they don’t tell you about taking an antidepressant, no matter what the reason or dosage you have, is that they are a pain in the ass to stop taking. Even on a low dosage and gentle, slow weaning, I ended up with ALL the side effects you can have. It was glorious I tell ya. The moment you start to have energy again, you get brain zaps and feel like a bumbling idiot. The effects can last weeks or sometimes months. It is brutal. I have spent the last 6 weeks feeling energetic, then followed by being so tired I could sleep for days. Then just for shits and giggles, I get to feeling like I have PMS on crack. I am not saying that one should never take anti-depressants by the way, just to be clear. Some of us need them. Some of us need talk therapy. Some of us need both. However, I am saying that the side effects when taking them and coming off them should be discussed better.The problem is that people don’t talk about it, and if you experience any of this, some people either think you are nuts or that you must be making it all up so they want to condemn you and tell EVERYONE THEY KNOW how horrible you are or that your kids are going to end up in therapy some day.

Funny thing about my kids, they think I am awesome. They do not think I am a failure.They know I have been run through the mill, and they love me, imperfections and all. So many times in the past year or two, I have thought that my PPD and TBI have gotten the best of me. However, my kids think I am doing just fine. They know Mommy has been really hurt, and they know that I am getting better. I am. It is baby steps, but I am. It is hard though. I have hurt for a long time. I keep trying to find things to give me focus on off days, like play with the kids, sitting out on the patio and watching Sissy swing on the tree swing her dad made her. Sometimes, it is talking to my son about computers. (He is a little obsessed.) Other times, it is sitting in the chair with my toddler at my breast while she holds onto me. She is a happy child, despite being called Miss Crankles. While I feel I failed sometimes because things did not go the way I wanted, she is happy. If I really was THAT much of a failure, she would not be a happy child, and neither would my other kids for that matter.

As mamas, we beat ourselves up so much about the job we do as parents. We let society, family members, and the people around us tell us how we are screwing it all up and let us know that we are all just horrible at what we are doing. That is when we need to find our tribe. We need to find those people that are not only honest with themselves, but honest about themselves with others. Those are the people we should seek. Those are the people that will truly let you know if you are mucking it up or if you are just a human being trying hard to be the best mama you can.

It has been hard this past year, but I have definitely found my tribe here. The funny thing has been that I have been pretty honest in where I am with my life when meeting them. I pretty much have met my tribe by being like, “Hi, I am Lesa. I am a hot mess. Do you still wanna be my friend?” Then I find out even the moms that seem so perfect have a hot mess side too because we are ALL hot messes one way or another. However, we are all bonded in that we want our kids to grow up and become awesome adults.

My youngest turns two in about a month, and I finally feel like I am coming up for air after feeling for so long like I am drowning. It has been a long, hard road. If you are on this road too, know it gets better. Reach out to your tribe. Find help. Don’t go it alone. Know that you are awesome and doing the best that you can!

Do you have anything to add about your experience with PPD or have just come by to say hi? If so, please feel free to comment below.

 

When it’s unfair…

Three years ago, around this time, I mourned the fact that my due date had passed from my first baby I had lost. A month before that, I lost my second pregnancy. Somewhere around that time three years ago, I briefly lost my mind too. I actually got to a point that I no longer wanted to be here because the pain in my heart was too great for me to bear. I eventually got through, and I started to live a bit more after that. However, when my missed due date had come and gone and a friend who had the same due date and a sister-in-law who also had the same due date had their babies, I couldn’t help but feel that it was all a little unfair because the babies I carried for a time in my womb would never be in this world for me to enjoy. It wasn’t like I wished ill of my friend or my sister-in-law, it was more of a twinge of jealousy in seeing them with their bundles of joy. All the dreams I had for my babies would never come to pass. The hardest thing about life sometimes is that it is extremely unfair.

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The theme of unfairness came into my life again after Miss Crankles was born. By the time she was two months old, I had postpartum depression. It, and lack of sleep, robbed me of the joy I should have felt when she was so little. It is one of the big reasons that I have decided to continue with extended breastfeeding. It helped me gain back the bonding time I felt I lacked from being distant when PPD was at its worst. I couldn’t help but feel at the time that someone in the universe was laughing at me because it seemed like a cruel joke. I finally got what I wanted, but my body and hormones were seriously out of whack making me not be able to enjoy the little person that I almost lost my sanity trying to get.

When you are struggling with fertility, whether it is your for your first child or in my case third, life can seem very unfair. It is not like you hate the friend whose husband just has to look at them to get pregnant, but you wonder why that can’t happen to you. I used to think that I must be severely flawed. Maybe I was not a good enough mom, and so God didn’t want me to be in charge of another human being. I know it is rubbish since the news is full of stories of people being completely awful excuses for human beings, and those people have babies. However, sometimes, it is easy to go into that dark place and think the fault must lie within you because you feel you need some sort of an explanation. Not to mention, sometimes people are assholes and tell you things like this because it makes them feel better about themselves. Whatever the reason you think negative like this, know it is not your fault. Life is just shitty sometimes.

In my story, I did get my baby in the end, and now we are a family of five. However, if we try again, I don’t know if we would have a happy ending this time. Some people never do. I wish I could be full of inspiration and say, “Keep going Tiger! You will get there.” I feel like the biggest Debbie Downer to say that you might not. Life is never as easy as they make it sound in the story books. Then of course, there are those who say that God has a plan. I really hate that line, like I loathe it. Saying that God has a plan does not make the pain of loss or trying and not having a baby any better. Also, saying that really does not make God sound like a good being. Please people of Earth stop saying this. Period. Remove it from things that come out of your mouth.

I have a friend who has been trying for a long time to have a baby, and it just is not happening. The more I think about it, the more that I just wish I could punch something for her. She is this beautiful soul, the kind that takes you and holds you and tries to make the world less ugly for you when you need it the most. I know that part for a fact because she has done that for me so much in the past. If there is one person deserving beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a mother, it is she. Thinking of my own experiences, I wish there was something I could say to make it any better, and I can’t. So I am not gonna try, and I am not going to try with any of my readers to sugar coat it for you. It sucks. If you want to be angry about it, you can. If you just want to move on, you can. If you find yourself sitting in a park wishfully thinking you had a munchkin running around the play area with the rest of the kids, you can. The only thing I will say is to take care of yourself and to be gentle with yourself. Don’t blame yourself for it is not your fault. Stay busy. Stay active. If you fall apart, carefully put yourself back together again. Infertility and secondary infertility are hard pills to swallow.

My biggest way of coping the last few years from everything that has happened… secondary infertility, multiple loss, pregnancy, ppd, and moving has been writing. I don’t always share everything I write, but sometimes just getting my thoughts on paper helps me to organize my life better. Walking has also been therapeutic too.

You may be wondering why I have even bothered to write any of this since it seems pretty gloom and doom. I write this for one reason, and one reason only: Three years ago, I almost gave up. Do you know what that means? I not only wanted to give up and end it all for myself, but I wanted to not exist for my other two kids and husband who love me very much. I love them too, but the pain was so great. I felt like I was consumed by it. I share all of this because yes, life is unfair, but I don’t want anyone to be consumed by its unfairness like I did. Talk to someone, vent, punch a punching bag, find a hobby…anything just to get focus back. It won’t give you what you want at the time, but it will help you get through the day.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or you can always send me a message. I do respond! Take care and remember to be gentle to yourself!

 

 

Taking back the stories

I have sat down so many times over the last several months to write, only to come up with nothing. Sure, I have posted here and there. Yes, my health problems, which also created brain fog, had a bit to do with everything. However, my biggest problems was that I came to terms that before I really took a break from the blog, I was starting to feel like a sell out.

I started this blog to promote my business. I don’t really have a business anymore, but I do have a lot of parenting stories to tell. I also have three kids at very different places in their lives which makes for an interesting story as well.

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It is hard to get your story seen sometimes, and there are SO MANY social media outlets now, more than when I first started. It is easy to get caught up in the social media aspect of blogging to the point that the story you want to tell starts to feel like a chore after you schedule everything and post to each and every social media outlet in hopes that someday your blogging efforts will be noticed. For me, it has taken the joy out of writing, and I don’t want that because then I don’t want to write which defeats the purpose of having a blog. It also undoes all the work I have put into this little slice of the blogosphere over the years.

I had a nice talk with a fellow blogger and then another one with my main contributor. While I would love to make money with this blog, my priority here is telling a story and sharing my blog in ways that are manageable to me. While some bloggers can manage hitting up all social media outlets, and I commend them because I know they work really hard. I love them for that. However, I cannot do that right now.

So I ask of you, my dear readers, if something I write, or something my contributors write, speaks to you, please pass it along to your friends. For now, I will be here writing my stories and hoping that some of you can relate to them!

 

Recitals, Activities, and Managing Balance

One of the issues that homeschooling parents face is the dilemma over what extracurriculars to allow our children to participate. Sometimes things sound like fun, but then we get going and burn out halfway through the year because we are over-scheduled. I think the balance issue stems from the stigma that our children do not get enough socialization. For my family and most of my homeschooling friends, this is such a non-issue because we have so many things to choose from in way of co-ops, sports, and clubs that it is hard to figure out which ones our kids really want to choose.

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My big kids are dancers. Sissy started at age 2 in a Mommy and Me class, and Bubby started at age five. Dance has a way of taking over our lives…especially in the late spring with pictures, costume fittings, and dress rehearsals leading up to recital. This year has been especially challenging because my kids are attending different dance studios. Each studio is excellent and provides the kids what they need right now. However, the initial scheduling was a bit tricky, and it sometimes makes for an extra cranky Miss Crankles. Luckily, the recitals took place on different weeks, and the nice thing for the big kids was that they got to sit in the audience and watch each other perform. However, in order to make it all work, we scaled back on a few clubs this year. They attended a homeschool theater class this year and started at a new co-op. Sissy took an extra homeschool combination dance class for the first part of the school year, and I enrolled Miss Crankles in a play class so that she didn’t get lost in the shadows of the big kids. I told the kids that to keep us from burning out, especially since we just moved and have still been exploring the area, I wanted to keep it to one activity per day. This worked rather well because we could fit our school work into the day easily and still have time to have playdates with friends or play at home or the park.

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Getting through the last few weeks of recital rehearsals, pictures, and recital itself has been a challenge. Add the fact that I still have some anxiety issues probably didn’t help matters any. However, we all got through it. Crankles’ schedule was disrupted some, so we are taking this week to get her back on track and rest from everything. While co-op and some of the other activities are over for the summer, I am not eager to start scheduling things for the summer. The big kids will be taking some dance classes later in the summer, but for the rest of this month, we are taking the month off from activities to focus on being a family, catching up on schoolwork, and organizing the house a bit since we still haven’t finished going through everything from the move (yeah I know it has been 9 months).

The balance issue is a huge deal for me because I have been unbalanced in the past. I get caught up in the whole notion that I shouldn’t be idle. I have a hard time saying no, so I end up volunteering for things or letting the kids do this activity or that workshop. Before I know it, I am burned out, and so are the kids. One of the joys about homeschooling should be a focus on play time. Kids really need to be able to play. If I allow my kids or myself to get caught up in involvement in too many activities, then we don’t have time for play or to explore and imagine. This year that I have taken off from blogging, volunteering, party planning, and everything else has really shown me that I have been missing out on enjoying those activities with the kids. The past few years, I have been feeling old, and with good reason. I have been over-scheduled and not enjoying much of anything. I don’t want to be that unbalanced anymore, and I don’t want to push that lifestyle on the kids either. I want the kids to know that while we have responsibilities, we need to have balance to our lives and enjoy them.

So while I resist the urge to put the kids in lots of camps this summer and try not to let them overdo it with their activities during the rest of the year, I know that I am also allowing the kids to have time to be kids. Balance lets us be able to enjoy the activities in which we participate, and it gives us time to be able to focus on being a family and enjoy playtime and our studies too!

 

 

What Melts My Heart!

I captured this photo a few weeks ago while we were visiting a friend. She has a little dog, and Miss Crankles is intrigued by the dog, but at the same time, she is very afraid to get close to him. Bubby noticed that she was afraid, so he excused himself from his friend to help his baby sister. He eased her fears about the dog, and she ended up petting him.

I couldn’t help but feel my heart swell with emotion. Those two have eleven years between them, but they are buddies. Bubby understands her and always wants to be close to her. It is one of the most beautiful treasures for which I am very thankful!

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Bubby, Crankles, and a little doggy!

Breastfeeding Your Own Way

Tomorrow, Miss Crankles will be 3 months away from her second birthday, and we are still going strong with the nursing. However, if you would have asked me when she was a newborn if we would have been doing this, I probably would have laughed.

You see, when she was a few days old, she would not latch. She didn’t want to nurse. She had jaundice, which probably didn’t help. I remember feeling defeated when my husband got formula for her because we didn’t know what else to do. I began to pump and feed her that way, but I was afraid I would not be able to produce enough. I kept putting her to my breast with little success. I even contacted a lactation consultant in hopes of getting some answers. I remember her telling me I needed to pump once an hour, and I cried because I knew there was no way I could do that. I had two other kids and a husband who was in the oilfield. I decided to go every two to three hours with pumping. By the end of the first month, and after a trip to the hospital for exhaustion, I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I made plans to abandon the effort and just feed her formula. Then the funniest thing happened the night after I came out of the hospital.

I was holding her close to my chest, and it was late. She began to root around like she wanted to nurse. She hadn’t done that in weeks. I decided to humor her and see what would happen. She latched! She nursed for an hour! At the time, I shrugged it off because I didn’t want to get my hopes dashed. However, she wanted to do it again the next morning, and then she became my best nurser out of the three.

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My husband captured this picture of me and Miss Crankles one night around Christmas. It is one of my personal favorites!

I never figured I would be nursing past age one. I didn’t have great experiences with my other two and hadn’t nursed past six months. Nursing Crankles was one thing that really helped me with my PPD though. By the time she turned one, I was slowly starting to get better. Nursing her was therapeutic. It helped me gain a bond with her that I felt I missed because of the depression. She is now over a year and a half, and I still nurse her several times a day. It is our cuddle time. I love the closeness. I love being able to breathe in the baby smell on her head. I love holding her. It is healing.

I don’t know how much longer I will nurse her. I figure I will let her decide when it is time to stop. For now, I am enjoying our time nursing. Going through this experience though, I will say that I don’t think there is enough support still for breastfeeding. There is still a stigma against it. Whether someone decides to formula feed or breastfeed, it is a personal choice. As moms, we are all doing what is best for our baby. Some of us can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. Then there are those of us that just can’t find support. That is the biggest reason why I didn’t make it to six months with the other two. With Crankles, I got some advice, but I was made to feel that if you didn’t do things a certain way, you couldn’t nurse. I would like to say that is not true, and my nursing experience is proof of that. My best advice is to talk to your friends and ask experts, but don’t get hung up on things if nursing isn’t going as planned. If you are getting stressed, you might need to re-evaluate your decisions. You have a little person that needs you, and you are probably not getting enough sleep as it is.

Nursing turned out to be a beautiful way of bonding for me and Miss Crankles. However, if it is not for you, there are other ways to bond. The important thing to remember is that as mothers we want the best for our babies, but we also have to be at our own best too. So try not to stress!

Do you have any breastfeeding experiences to share? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

 

Little House in the City

(It’s been difficult to write because of working on the house and migraines, but we are still here, and I am hoping that my migraines will be getting less.)

 

A little over a year ago, our house hunt began for a new house and subsequently a whole new life. The process of coming to the decision to move was a long one that actually started about three years ago, shortly after my husband changed companies and I had lost another baby.

My husband worked in the oilfield as a geologist, which meant he was often gone for long periods of time. When I lost my first baby, he was stuck in Canada for the whole ordeal. He couldn’t come home until a few weeks after it happened. While I had some support, what I really wanted was my partner in life to hold me and tell me it would be okay. When I lost the second one, we were having issues with neighbors that eventually escalated by the end of that summer to a scary experience (that I don’t feel like sharing) before they were removed from the neighborhood, much to the rejoicing of the ENTIRE neighborhood. My husband had a few days off from work when the miscarriage happened. However, I felt lost when he went back to work. There was talk of office positions with his company if we lived closer to the actual office. We did some searching but didn’t know enough about the area to pull the trigger on a house hunt, so we tabled the discussion. I busied myself with my kids, my eventual pregnancy, godchildren, and other things. I started gaining confidence again that I could make the oilfield wife thing work. Then we had Crankles. She didn’t sleep. I ended up having postpartum depression. I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. I couldn’t do it anymore. I bawled every time my husband left. Then he ended up on a rig that lasted about two months. By that point, I was just done. The subject of moving came up again because we wanted to be a family again. While Crankles liked her daddy, she didn’t have a strong bond with him. The kids missed having him home, and I wanted my husband back!

One night, we were talking over Facebook when he said that if we moved closer to his company’s office, he could eventually get in the office. He kept being passed over for the office because we were in another state and about 400 miles away. We decided to just go for it. We didn’t know a lot about the area. What I knew was from visiting one of my best friends from college during breaks. However, I lost contact with her when my oldest daughter was younger. She wasn’t on social media, and I didn’t know how to get in contact with her. As luck would have it, one of our mutual friends, who lived somewhat near to her, WAS in contact with her. I got her number, reconnected, and got information on where to look and a great realtor.

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We spent the latter part of spring loading the kids in the car on weekends that my husband was available, driving five hours, and looking at several houses. By the end of May, we settled on one. Granted, it wasn’t the one I really wanted. THAT house was almost finished and had beautiful bathrooms. (I am vain in wanting pretty bathrooms with spa-like features. I don’t know why. It is not like I get to pee alone anyways.) However, the house we chose was a few minutes from my friend and near an awesome park that had tons of playgrounds and trails for hiking, biking, and walking. It was also pretty cheap because it needed some love. We could move into the house and fix it up as we had time and money. It sounds like happily ever after right? Roll credits. Bring out the rainbows, chirping birds, happy faced suns, and Julie Andrews singing in a field. Well…since this is real life, things didn’t quite go as planned.

About the time we found out that we actually got the house, my husband got a notification from work saying that they were laying people off. Those that still had jobs were forced to take a pay cut. Because he worked 12 hours a day for however many days he was on the job site, his daily rate was figured with what he got for overtime as well. It was supposed to be a 25% pay cut. It ended up being close to 40% instead. Oh, and those office jobs…well some of those in the office were now going back into the field. There would be no more openings there. Basically, we were now going to be moving to a new area where we knew hardly anyone, and we would never see my husband because he would have to work almost constant to put food on the table. It really is no wonder I ended up in the hospital almost a week later. I think my body just kinda said, “I give up.”

We decided to go ahead with the move anyways. As much as I loved my friends where we were, my husband and I had been saying for years that we really didn’t fit in to that area. Moving to the new house would put us in a metro area, and right between our sets of parents, about three hours in either direction. With my mom having breast cancer and other health issues over the last several years, I liked the idea of being closer to her. We would still be within a decent driving distance from my husband’s dad who was having health issues as well.

Financially, it seemed like a good idea as well. Things are just cheaper here. The utilities are cheaper, groceries are cheaper, and even the taxes are cheaper. It would allow us to be able to live on my husband’s pay cut. Because of my stint in the hospital last summer and problems post-hospital stay, we were unable to do what we wanted to get our old house on the market to sell. I also had no idea who to use as a listing agent. Luckily for us, that never became an actual issue. A friend of mine knew a family that was looking to rent, and I had met them already. The house seemed like a perfect fit for them. They may even eventually buy the house. The whole thing just felt right. At the end of August, we said goodbye to our home in Pennsylvania and hello to our new life in Ohio.

We have now been here for a little over eight months. We moved on Crankles’ first birthday. It hasn’t been easy, but we finally feel settled here. It is starting to look and feel like our home. We are now loving our little house in the city!