Depression: A Serious Disease

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I had a different idea for today’s blog, but my heart is heavy after learning about the loss of two people to depression and suicide in less than 24 hours.

One is a Hollywood legend that touched the lives of millions around the world with his laughter, insight into character and engaging personality (Robin Williams). The other was a young man, barely in his twenties. A beloved son with his entire life ahead of him.

But depression doesn’t discriminate. It knows no bounds. Age, sex, race, status… It doesn’t matter.
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And depression isn’t something a person can merely “get over.” Or “set aside.” Or even worse, “just suck it up.”

For the person struggling with the disease, life can seem worthless. They feel lost, alone. The lows can be abysmal, with no light to reach for evident.
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For family members, it can be difficult as they struggle to understand the depths of the disease and how it affects their loved one.

Depression is not something to take lightly. To brush off. To dismiss as a weakness. It’s an evil disease. It takes lives. It leaves families shattered.
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If you or a loved one, a neighbor or co-worker…if anyone you come in contact with shows signs of depression, don’t let it slide. Instead, find the name and number of a local crisis center. Learn about the resources available and share that information. All it could take is for that person struggling to know that someone cares, that help is available. That they are worth it. That life can be a beautiful gift. That their life is a beautiful gift.

So please, look up that number and jot it down, add it to your phone contacts, share it with others.

And today, remember to hug your children and let them know they mean the world to you. Tell your spouse you love him or her. Call your mom and dad, sister and brother, grandmother and aunt. Email your favorite teacher. Text your best friend. Smile at the person in line at the bank or grocery store. Share a joke with a co-worker.

You never know when you have the chance to be the ray of sunshine in someone’s day.
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Resources to consider:

http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/help-for-depression#TreatmentFacts1

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depresssion-support

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Writing beach retreat.

So for years now, Emily & I have gone on writing retreats to the beach. Usually 3 or 4 days where we sneak away from our regular daily lives and hole ourselves away to focus on nothing but writing. We’re here now with our 4 kids and we’ll play and chat and write and the kids will have a blast. But it hasn’t always been like this. Once upon a time there were 4 of us that would come, us and 2 other writers and that’s what I want to talk about today.

When we started these retreats, we were fortunate that one of us had a lovely beach house we could use and it made our twice yearly trips (usually February and September) even more of a treat. For the brief stint I lived in Tennessee, it made things more difficult as I would see family when I went to Texas and there simply wasn’t time to carve out for those writing retreats. But one  November we decided it was time for another one so I flew into Austin and together we piled into the minivan (this time with a very pregnant Emily and a rather chatty toddler) and we hit the road for the five plus hour drive down to Bolivar peninsula. We had these traditions with these trips, we’d usually stop at Chili’s in Houston and then make our way to Galveston where we’d load onto the ferry that would take us over to the smaller strip of land that housed the beautiful Crystal Beach.

I suspect that many of you might not have heard of Crystal Beach or Bolivar peninsula unless you remember Hurricane Ike, the one that hit shortly after Katrina. Ike’s damage didn’t get quite the media attention that Katrina did – Bolivar is obviously not as populated as New Orleans, but still many people lost their lives and even more lost their homes.

It wasn’t just writing retreats though that mark my memories of this blue house on stilts, it was a family vacation spot a few times, a place where I went with several friends for just a weekend away at the beach.

Before the storm, you could see rows and rows of houses, these are the pictures of the aftermath of Ike, you can see how nearly everything was leveled. Now I only lost a place where I have memories, I didn’t lose property or land or belongings or loved ones, and I can only imagine how those people will begin to put their lives back together.

I’m one of those beach people. You know, how some people prefer the mountains – The Professor is one of those, but me, I’m all about the beach. The waves, the sand in my toes and the sun warming my face. I can sit there and watch that water for hours. Or walk along the shore and pick up shimmering pieces of sea glass. It is a refuge for me, the one place on earth that fills my soul more than any other.

Changing beach locations is not the only way our retreats are different. As I mentioned before, now we have kids in tow, whereas when we started, we were both kid-free. Not only that but our dear friend, the one who owned the beach house that we lost now has late-stage Alzheimer’s. Our trips are different, but we still write and recharge and laugh and enjoy a few days away from our “normal” lives. But I miss those early retreats, I miss that blue house and I miss our dear friend.

A Love so Pure

I’ve started and stopped writing this blog all day. I have a running list of topics I’d like to write about, from marriage to kids growing up too fast, the meaning of home, and kindness. I’ve learned to jot down thoughts when they strike me, so I can always go back to them later. I no longer trust myself to remember.

But today, my notes weren’t enough…because yesterday my cat died.

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Her name was Sofie and she was 13. She came to us as a one-day old kitten, when we took in her mama and sister as fosters for a local rescue group. She was tiny and white and oh so sweet, and for a long time we laughed at what a sound sleeper she was. When we walked into the room, mama cat and sister would startle and look at us, but sweet Sofie would sleep on…as if she was completely oblivious to us. It wasn’t long before we realized that she was. Like many white cats, Sofie was born deaf.

Time came to put the kitty family up for adoption, but…we just couldn’t do it. We already felt so protective of sweet Sofie. We worried about what life might hold for her. About how vulnerable she was. About what would happen if she ever got outside…

So, yeah. Sofie never went anywhere. She opened her eyes into our world, and in our world she stayed…until yesterday.

But that’s not what I want to talk about…yesterday. The end. How hard it was to say goodbye, and the emptiness we all feel. The second guessing…and the soul-gnawing guilt. Well, actually I probably do need to work through all that, but right now, I’m more focused on the other side of the coin. Not on the loss, but the love.

I have no memory of a life without furry friends. I grew up with cats, adopting my own as quickly as I could once I moved into my first apartment. From there one cat became two, at times three. After I married, we branched out and brought canines into our realm of felines, and we’ve had a mix of both ever since.

And now I find myself sitting here, reflecting on my furry friends, and all that they brought to my life. When you share your life with a furry friend, you’re never alone. We tend to think that we care for them, but in so many ways, they care for us. They’re there. They’re always there, bounding to greet us when we get home, following us from room to room, crawling into our laps when we sit down, nuzzling us when we desperately need contact. They make us smile and they make us laugh, they give us love and make sure that we’re never alone. They love us. Unconditionally. They love us when we’re happy and nice to them. They love us when we’re busy and don’t have time for distractions. They love us when we’re angry or stressed, when we turn away or shut them out, when we don’t want to be bothered. They love us when we’re sad or broken-hearted. They just…love us.

And through them, our furry friends, through that pure, pure love, we learn far more than we could ever teach them. We learn about loyalty and forgiveness, about vulnerability and innocence and trust, about companionship, about silliness and simplicity, about being in the moment and loving the moment, about not worrying what tomorrow may bring, about the importance of hanging out and relaxing, about friendship. And love. They teach us how to love, what it feels like to be loved, and to love in return. Unconditionally.

Four years ago we lost our ancient black lab, Clyde. We went six months without a dog, before my (then) seven-year-old daughter started hounding us for a puppy. Kids today have way more resources at their disposal than we did. We had to look at classified ads. Kids today have the Internet, and my girl knew about Petfinder. She’d hunker down at my laptop, key in her criteria, and presto, she had an endless supply of puppy candidates at her fingertips.

My husband and I, however, were like….a dog. You know, all that work. The poop in the backyard. The vet and boarding bills. The training…. But after our initial reluctance, we realized allowing our daughter to adopt a puppy was about way more than poop and bills and work. It was about…her. Our daughter. Her childhood. It was about allowing her (and our son) to have experiences my husband and I had already had. It was about letting her love and be loved, about letting her learn and grow. And so Roxie, a clumsy white puppy who became a big white dog, came into our family.

And so I sit here now, my heart raw after a rough ten days, but so very, very grateful for the thirteen years we had to love our sweet Sofie. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Because no matter how badly goodbyes hurt, there is no greater gift, than that of unconditional love, them to us, and us to them. That is their legacy, and it’s worth all the dirty litter boxes and piles of backyard poop in the world.

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When The Child Becomes the Parent by Sharon Sala

We’re thrilled today to welcome bestselling author Sharon Sala to the blog.

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As parents, we usually focus on our baby’s accomplishments. First laugh, first tooth, first time they roll over, first time they stand up, and the two biggies; learning to talk and walk.

After that, we usually mark the progress of their childhood by holidays and birthdays, and then when they start to school. But while we’re busy raising babies, something is happening that we rarely plan for, and hardly ever see coming until it’s fallen in our laps.

Our parents are aging, and as they do, the emotional regression to childhood is shocking. From petulance, to wanting things done their way, to having an unrelenting need to be heard. After eight years of caring for my 93 year old mother who lives with me, and who has dementia, I have become something of an expert at redirection. That comes when the person your parent has become is verging on a meltdown, and you find a way to redirect the negative energy that is pulling them under.

The good part of me being able to keep my mother at home is a blessing. The bad part is that she still thinks she’s in charge. I am, after all, her child, but she is no longer Mother to me. She has become MY Little Mama. Over the years, I’ve come to realize the one thing that sparks her biggest issues is nearly always fear. She has no short term memory left, so there’s nothing in her head to anchor her as to why she’s in my house. To save my sanity, I had to learn to give up the fact that she is no longer the mother who raised me. The woman she is now has become my baby. I make sure she gets her meds. I cook her favorite things because I want to make her feel secure. I put everything from her old bedroom into the bedroom she uses now, and I got rid of a lot of my furniture and am using hers, so that she would have familiar things around her to make her feel at home. And sometimes that is still not enough. I put my cranky baby down for naps. I redirect her anger by asking a question about something else. There is one plus about the loss of short term memory. She forgets that she was mad. But sometimes I see her watching me, and I suspect that, beyond being the woman who takes care of her, sometimes she’s forgotten who I am.

She’s a sly one though; my Little Mama. She’s amazing at pretending. She’s nearly deaf, so she fakes hearing what’s going on, and fakes remembering why something is about to happen. And like the child she has become, the lie she tells is not really a lie; not in her world. It is what needs to be said to get by.

My babies were also so very precious to me, and now so is she. I have accepted that my mother is gone, but I also accept and rejoice the Little Mama she left behind.

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It was a job she hated that drove Sharon Sala to put the first page of paper in an old typewriter, but it was the love of the craft that kept her writing. Her first efforts at writing came in 1980 when she began a book that wound up under her bed. A second book followed in 1981 and suffered a similar fate, but she claims the writing bug had bitten hard. However, she let life and the demands of a growing family delay her from continuing until a tragedy struck.

Her father died in May of 1985 after a lingering illness and then only two months later her only sister died unexpectedly, leaving her almost blind with grief. She vowed then and there that she was not going to wind up on her deathbed one day with regrets for not following through on her dreams.

She joined writers groups and attended conferences and slowly learned her way around the written page. By 1989, she decided she had come far enough in her writing to attempt another try at book-length fiction and began a book that would later be entitled SARA’S ANGEL. As fate would have it, the first publisher she sent it to, bought it, and she hasn’t looked back.

As a farmer’s daughter and then for many years a farmer’s wife, Sharon escaped the drudgeries of life through the pages of books, and now as a writer, she finds herself often living out her dreams. Through traveling and speaking and the countless thousands of fan letters she has received, Sharon has touched many lives. One faithful reader has crowned her the “Reba of Romance” while others claim she’s a magician with words.

Her stories are often dark, dealing with the realities of this world, and yet she’s able to weave hope and love within the words for the readers who clamor for her latest works.

Always an optimist in the face of bad times, many of the stories she writes come to her in dreams, but there’s nothing fanciful about her work. She puts her faith in God, still trusts in love and the belief that, no matter what, everything comes full circle.

Her books, written under her name and under her pen name, Dinah McCall, repeatedly make the big lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and Waldenbooks Mass market fiction.

Sharon Sala.

A woman with a vision.

Sharon’s next release will be on shelves in February!

September 11th and Children

First of all, RIP to all the Americans we lost on 9-11. And to all the children born on September 11, I hope your parents have been able to filter out all the noise and keep the sense of personal celebration that you deserve to have on your birthday. I wish that for the grownups born on this day, too.

A lot of you reading this might not have had kids on September 11, 2001. You might even have been a young teen yourself. But for those of us who were parents, it was really tough, as you might expect. How do you explain such a disaster to children without destroying their sense of security?

photo-13 I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say that September 11 changed everything for the kids who lived through it. My son says his generation is dogged by the events of that day. We tend to forget about it on a daily basis, but it’s there, stamped into our collective unconscious. My sister, who teaches college, says that her current students–who ranged in age from 6 to 10 at the time of the attack–have so much more anxiety than their pre-September 11th counterparts. According to her, the anxiety levels have been getting progressively worse since September 11th happened.

No one was left unscarred.  I know personally of two friends who lost loved ones. One of them was a flight attendant on the plane that crashed into a field. The other was a stockbroker in one of the towers–he left behind a wife and two toddlers. And then in my own family, my brother-in-law was inside the Pentagon when the plane hit. And my brother was in the air on a flight out of Boston, heading to D.C. We had NO idea of either of their statuses for a while. Could my brother be in the plane that crashed in the field? Or was he possibly in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon? Was my brother-in-law hurt inside the Pentagon? It was terrible not knowing.

If it was such a trauma for the adults, imagine what it was like for the kids. I do know that where I lived, in Hickory, NC, the elementary schools turned on the TV’s in the classrooms. I can’t remember if they dismissed them early, and that’s because I was homeschooling at the time.

My two older kids were 8 1/2 and a brand-new 10.  We saw the towers fall. I remember falling to my knees, literally. I cried and prayed and said things like, “God help them!” as we witnessed, surely, thousands of deaths at almost the same time. I wonder if not only the world trauma of that day but the household trauma branded itself deeply onto my two older kids’ psyches. What happened to them when they saw Mommy so afraid? All I know is that in general, they have suffered more anxiety growing up than our third child, who was in diapers at the time and had no idea what was happening.

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Of course, we talked about it. We talked about it a lot. The drawings and narration you see here were done by my then 8-year-old daughter the next day. She made a book entitled, SAD, SAD DAY.  I have to marvel at the resilience of children, how they are filled with optimism no matter what. Look at the cute winking heart on that top drawing! And in the bottom narration, my daughter leans heavily on her faith in God to make it all better.

Other generations of children have been scarred by war. I guess at this point all I can do is pray for the children who went through September 11th and hope that the day will always remind them that we can never take our lives for granted or the lives of the people we love. Maybe our children who witnessed that day’s events will also live less on the surface and more in the realm of the substantial. They “get” loss and death. May they use the knowledge and experience thrust upon them on September 11 to make the world a better place.

I’m curious: If your kids are too young to remember September 11th, how do you handle the day? Let me know in the comments! And of course, please share anything you’d like about your own experience. 


Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 24 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job. My oldest guy, Nighthawk, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a senior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college junior; and my youngest, Dragon, is in tenth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy. www.kierankramerbooks.com

It’s Okay to Cry

The other day WonderGirl was up on the changing table shouting in my ear while I was putting her in a new diaper. On the ground in the same room, meanwhile, SuperGirl started her crying/whining. You know that sound, moms. There might be 101 reasons why your child is making that sound, but you can usually identify it as different than the “I’m in pain” sound. This pregnancy, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been impatient a lot. Well, my first instinct when SuperGirl started crying was to tell her to stop. I said her name in that no-nonsense mom voice, and then looked at her–and realized that I had been wrong. She really was making the “I’m in pain” crying sound.

I felt bad, of course. In the moment, all I wanted was for some peace and quiet and for two little girls to stop making noise that annoyed me. All I cared about was how I felt–and I have to say, this is something that bothers me a lot when I get impatient. Because usually when I’m impatient, the situation has already gone so far in that downward spiral that it’s hard to put myself in my children’s shoes.

What if I hadn’t looked at her and seen that she really was in pain? What if I had used my stern mom voice to tell her to stop crying, like I was about to do, instead of immediately changing my tone and going to comfort her?

In all of our posts about grief and loss in one way or another this month on PBK, I think it’s safe to say that we openly acknowledge that we moms have many reasons to cry–and we do let it out as needed. Why, then, do I sometimes try to stifle that emotional reaction in my children?

I want my children to know:

Yes, it’s okay to cry when you’re in physical pain.

It’s okay to cry when someone hurts your feelings.

It’s okay to cry when you’re frustrated and need help.

It’s okay to cry when you’re scared.

It’s okay to cry when you don’t understand.

It’s okay to cry when you’re exhausted.

It’s okay to cry when you’re sad.

And when you grow up and become crazy hormonal at times, it’s okay to cry at those darn manipulative sentimental commercials.

As we’ve seen this month, grief comes through many different avenues. And although we might not all have gone through what someone else has experienced, we KNOW. We’ve shared similar losses, if not the same. We can imagine; we can sympathize.

I have to remember this when it comes to my children. My priorities might not be the same as theirs, and I might have the “bigger picture” when it comes to worries and troubles, but this doesn’t mean that their emotions are any less valid.

And today, when SuperGirl starts her “crying/whining” sound (as she inevitably does multiple times throughout the day), I’m going to try to change my instinctive response. Yes, she might just be overreacting or needing to find a better way to communicate what she wants, but I want her to know it’s okay to cry. Today, my first response will be to hug her.

Who knows? Maybe–just maybe–one day when she’s a teenager and I’m an ignorant mom, HER first response when she’s upset about something will be to come to me to cry. At least, one can hope. =)

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I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too! www.lukasholmes.com), but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 8 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart. www.eliserome.com

More on Mommy Guilt and Grief

Robyn’s post earlier this week really moved me, probably because I was thinking of writing something similar. I was going to write more about miscarriage, but here’s the truth about that topic–once you are a few years past it, the pain and all the feelings that go with it, fade. This is good news for those of you who have recently been through a miscarriage, though I’m sure everyone has told you that and it doesn’t make you feel any better about the loss you have just experienced.

After my miscarriage, there were days I was so resentful of mothers. I was a teacher, and I’d watch the parents of the kids I taught and think, they don’t appreciate their child. They don’t know how lucky they are to have such a wonderful little boy or girl. And I even thought that about the kids that drove me nuts.

So when I got pregnant with Baby Galen, you know I had every intention of cherishing her and every moment of motherhood. I would not take any of it for granted. And then she was born, and it was all wonderful for about 3 days. Then we took her home, and it was the worst 18 months of my life. I say this in all honesty. It was the darkest period in my life, and I have had some very dark times.

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We moved out of the house we lived in when our daughter was born when she was about 18 months old, but we still live nearby. I drove past our old house yesterday, and even driving that street forms a pit of black yuck in my belly. Even if Baby Galen is sitting behind me, chatting happily, making me laugh, I drive that street and I cannot help but feel some of those same emotions of fear, depression, anxiety, despair. It all comes back.

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I could say much of the awfulness of that time was due to the fact that Baby Galen was a very difficult baby. I could tell you stories…This was a baby who really didn’t want to be a baby. She didn’t want to be rocked, didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to sleep, didn’t want to lie on her back or on her tummy or her side, or sit in a stroller or a carseat or a playpen or a swing or…you get the idea. I don’t know what she wanted. I don’t think she knew what she wanted. She cried. A lot. I cried. A lot.

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But the worst part if all of it–worse than being home alone with a baby who cried for seven hours, worse than being up four times a night for four months, worse than having a baby scream and meltdown every time you tried to feed her–was the guilt I felt. I hated my life. I hated it. I used to joke with my husband that I was running away to Mexico. It was sort of a halfhearted joke, because it took a lot of willpower on many occasions for me not to run away. What happened to cherishing motherhood? What happened to not taking a moment for granted? I just wanted this kid to grow up and go to school already (some days I still want that).

Everyone said, enjoy it now because it goes so fast. No, it didn’t. Every hour was like a day to me. I was trapped and unhappy and going slightly insane. Thank God I had help from friends and relatives. Thank God I went to the doctor and got some meds to help with the anxiety and depression. And thank God nothing lasts forever. Babies grow up. They become little kids who can tell you what they need, who sleep, who eat (sometimes independently), who make you laugh and even say, wow, this day has flown by!

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And now I do try to cherish every day, but you know what, maybe that expectation was too lofty. We’re moms, not goddesses. We’re human.

Ever feel like you place unreal expectations on yourself as a mom and then feel guilty that you (a mere mortal) can’t attain them?

The grief no one talks about

It seems we’ve covered just about everything this month, talking about lost dreams with kiddos who have special needs and/or learning disabilities and lost babies through miscarriage. It’s been a tough month, but a great month. How wonderful that we have built a forum here where women can feel comfortable talking about our loss and grief and fears and moments of joy. This is what we wanted when we started this blog, but I can honestly say I never expected the kinds of responses we’ve received so thank you all for that.

But I wanted to talk about something today that it seems us women are seriously reluctant to talk about and in truth, I thought (when I was in the midst of the feelings) that it was just me, but I’ve come to learn that my feelings were all too common and it’s time for us to open up that can of proverbial worms. So I’m gonna be brutally honest with y’all, open up all the ugliness and it makes me nervous, but I have faith that you’ll all get it.

Now some of this I can’t speak to with any kind of authority because I’m an adoptive mom, I’ve never carried a child to term. But I’m going make a bold suggestion and say that those baby blues that people talk about…they’re not exclusively caused from hormones.

Let me explain. If you’ve followed the blog for long, you know that I literally became a mother over night. We had exactly 7 days to prepare our home for our two little girls and then suddenly they were there are my house, an infant and a toddler. We’d been through extensive training, I knew what to expect as far as possible problems with the girls, their adjustment, medical issues they could have, etc. I was as prepared as you can possibly be for all of the parenting issues, even the unique ones specific to our (then) foster-care situation. What I was not prepared for though was me and my own yuck coming to the surface.

I spent my entire adult life (and frankly some of my pre-adult life) wanting to get married and be a mom. Everyone who knew me knew that I wanted three things in life: be a wife, be a mother, be a writer. Two of those happened at nearly the same time, but as I mentioned in my previous blog, motherhood seemed an elusive dream, a butterfly I simply couldn’t catch. So imagine my shock when I didn’t settle into motherhood with grace and patience and well, joy. The fact was I’m not nearly as good at this as I thought I’d be. I’m more impatient, less tolerant, and less gentle than I expected. I love children and I especially love my children, but those early days (months) were dark – primarily for me.

I woke up in the mornings cringing and literally would look at the clock and count how many hours until naptime. I was terrified of being alone with them. And I was just miserable. Of course I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, but what the hell? I wanted these kids, why was I so damn unhappy? And the tears, Good Lord, the tears, my poor husband didn’t know what the hell was going on. My mother was a life-saver because she would come over and let me nap and she helped so much with just the day-to-day care of the girls while I found my footing. I didn’t know what was going on, all I knew was that I was unhappy and the guilt because of that ate at me day and night.

And I was plagued with questions…had I made a huge mistake? I couldn’t give them back, my goodness those precious babies had already been through too much. But I didn’t feel like I was providing a better life for them, I felt like I was fumbling in the dark, trying to find the light switch. I took care of their basic needs and I cuddled them and then I would have to sneak away to the bathroom so I could cry. I felt like I had ruined our lives. My husband and I fought like crazy – something we just don’t do. He was miserable and had no idea what was going on with me.

It wasn’t until I came through all of that darkness that I could sit back and analyze it and call it for what it was. Grief. Nothing sexier than that, it was just plain old grief and I for one, suspect all parents go through it no matter how they make their families. I resented the girls and the fact that my husband and I couldn’t just go to the movies or even run to Target. I resented them because my writing life all but dried up and I felt like my career was over. It wasn’t really resentment though, I know that now, it was merely me going through the stages of grieving my old life, my old marriage, the old me. Life changes, as the saying goes and nothing changes it more than children. But no body talks about the fact that it’s okay to be sad about letting go of what was. It doesn’t make you love your kids any less to be irritated that you have to consider them and you can’t just run an errand on your own. It’s a huge adjustment and it takes a while to settle into the new you.

Now I’m not saying that post-pardum depression isn’t real, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. What I am saying is that we all get those “baby blues” let’s just stop trying to think of cute terms to cover the feelings and talk about what it really is. Why should we have to silently feel guilty and wretched because we’re feeling something normal. Going through all of that didn’t make me a bad mom and it doesn’t make any of you a bad mom either.

So let’s talk about mommy grief. How was it for you? How did you get out of it? And did you recognize what it was when you were in the midst of it? 

“Can you please just stop time for me, just for a little while?”

When Dreams Die. That’s what I was all set to blog about…and I still plan to. But then this week happened. This week that started off so beautifully (for me), with clear skies, warm, abundant sunshine, balmy breezes, and a very special birthday with my husband and kids, only to slam into a wall the next day when news of the Boston Marathon bombing struck. Then, two days later, the horrific explosion in tiny West, Texas. It’s against that backdrop that I was on Facebook as a post floated by from my daughter’s former preschool teacher, Laura. She says she’s not a writer. She says she’s not articulate. She says words aren’t her thing. But I sat there so moved by the beauty of what she had to say,  I knew I had to share it here. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t consider herself a writer. Because Laura is a woman. She’s a daughter, a mother, and a friend. A teacher. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t consider herself a writer. She’s real. She faces challenges head on and digs deep to find strength and solutions.

I’ve always known she was special. Now you will, too.

From Laura…

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Sorry – had to vent. This is my brain and heart spilling out after this week’s tragedies……

When I was just driving home for lunch, I saw NUMEROUS flocks of birds out flying together so freely and happily. They were making the most out of the beautiful day. Up until then, I had spent today, and the last week, at work with cranky, dysfuntional, mislead, and confused people. On any given day, I usually NEVER let them influence my mood or how I treat others. Between that environment and the constant tragedy coverage on 5 different TV’s however, my soul yearned to escape it all.

My heart found the beauty and peace it was needing when I went outside to the beautiful day and the beautiful birds, because I was back in God’s world. That’s why the birds were so happy, because they were only allowing themselves to be a part of God’s world. I DO NOT feel we should not care, shut ourselves off, or be in denial – not at all. I’ve wanted to know every detail of what those people went through  so I could assimilate and assess it all. However, we all must look for and stay in touch with God’s love and peace that is still inside of us and in this world. We must all remember it is His world – we are not and will not be in the clutches of evil!

Evil things are happening – more and more – and are so so scary – if not for us, then for our children. But we must continue to feel the love – the love of the whole universe because we have to. We have to to survive – the love feeds our soul, but the fear kills it. Fear is not real – it is only the absence of the true reality. We also have to, because we have to continue that energy across our world for those, who through their suffering, can’t do it for themselves.

This morning, my daughter said, being sleepy and fatigued, “Can you please just stop time for me, just for a little while?”

I told her I wished for that more than anything. I want to stop the world long enough to go back and fix it. NOT to take away the guns and bombs or the actual genius minds that are able to devise and plot with them – but to take away the pain and dysfunction that WE have created, that creates the people that hold the weapons.

My pain comes from knowing that this pain is in the world and feeling how much pain must be in these people. I want to try to hold true to the love and peace I feel from God’s world and hope that helps give me the comfort to trudge on through all the sadness. I hope all of those who can, will continue to send out the energy of love and hopefulness in the times when it is most unlikely. Maybe this is what will overcome and treat the pain in our world.

Thank you to God for letting me see the birds and for reminding me it’s Your world. Their brains and hearts are so much smaller than ours, but they don’t forget. They have found peace and freedom today. Although evil rips away at us, this is what will always remind us and help us feel we are ONLY bound by and in the clutches of God’s love.

Evil will never win and cannot take us away from that.

 

Whiskers and hair loss and belly fat, oh my!

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(me on my honeymoon – before fertility treatments)

So I’m infertile. Well, no doctor has ever come out and told me that I can’t have kids, but the evidence seems pretty conclusive. To be honest I’ve had symptoms since day 1.

I’ve had issues with my period since it first began. My cycles have always been irregular complete with horrendous cramps. I didn’t really think much of it growing up and then in my 20’s I got a big old cyst and they talked about removing an ovary, but alas it dissolved on its own (painfully, I might add). Still no one diagnosed me with anything.

Then sometime after I’d gotten married I was at the doctor (my regular physician, only I saw one of his partners) for a sinus infection and he took one look at me, looked at my chart and asked me, “so how long have you been polycystic?” I had no idea what he was talking about but by the end of the evening I had read everything I could find on-line about PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome. Yep, I had 90% of all of the symptoms.

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(me post treatments +60 lbs)

Frankly PCOS is a really unfair disease with a slew of really unflattering side-effects. Facial hair, mine is pretty mild compared to some poor women, but still I have to pluck with regularity. Yet while we get too much hair on our face, the hair on our heads has a tendency to thin and fall out. (I mean come on!) Difficulty losing weight, yet gaining weight seems to be a breeze. Complexion problems, chronic miscarriages, irregular periods, and the list goes on…

Needless to say I made an appointment for a fertility specialist immediately. I won’t bore you with all of the details but they confirmed my diagnosis of PCOS as well as an inhospitable environment (yeah!). And we started with IUI’s (artificial insemination) – that’s when your hubby gets to make his special deposit in a cup and then you get to lay in the stirrups while they inject the magic concoction inside. Magic and romantic, I tell ya! But before the actual procedures come the meds. Lovely medications that make you super sweet (translation = scary bitch), make you gain weight and trick your body into thinking you’re pregnant so that when it’s time to take the pee stick, you’re completely convinced it’s positive.

Then come the tea leaves or at least that’s what it feels like. You pee on a stick and maybe there’s a line, so you call your hubby in the bathroom and he takes it apart (because he’s a pro at this by now) and you hold it up to the light. You take a picture of it and then upload it to your computer where you transpose the image (because that’s what all of you crazy TTCers do on-line) and then after several days of this, your period comes. And so do the tears.

(my last pregnancy test)

(my last pregnancy test – no tea-leaf reading needed)

Friends call with pregnancy news and you’re happy for them, but inside you’re dying. You see super fertile women at the store, you know the ones, 3 kids in the buggy and one on the way and you wonder what she’s done so well that she gets to have those blessings. You hear about the drug addicts that have baby after baby while living on the street or in prison and you wonder what the hell you’ve done so wrong that you can’t do this thing. This completely natural thing that you’re supposed to be able to do because you’re a woman. It’s our purpose. It’s why we have uteruses (uteri?) and breasts and the like. Yet for some of us, all that stuff is just a slap in the face.

In the end we did 8 IUI’s, tried 4 different kinds of fertility meds and I’ve had 3 miscarriages. This last miscarriage from the surprise pregnancy (last summer) was such a risk that my doctor told us that it would be best if we never got pregnant again. It’s fine with me, frankly I really don’t want to hurt like that again.

I am a mom by the miracle of adoption and I love my girls as if I’d borne them myself. BUT I still long to be a mother the “natural” way. I still long to feel life within me, to breastfeed, to see my husband’s features (and mine) in a baby we created together. It’s a dream that’s gone now, but it’s still there, still hurts sometimes, still catches me off guard.  I don’t suppose it will ever go away. I was that girl that wanted to be a mom her whole life, it was what I felt was to be my destiny. I thought it would be easy. My mom and sister never had a problem conceiving or carrying to term. But then again the statistic is 1 in 3 women. And I’m the one…