Wednesday, September 30

My Postpartum Realization

I debated back and forth about posting my experience with postpartum depression, but in hopes of helping another mama out there, I decided to put aside my own insecurities and go for it.  It all started about twelve months ago in the delivery room, I'm pretty sure that was the beginning of it all.  After Lucy's traumatic birth, I was never the same.  To this day it is still a hazy blur.  I remember being so completely exhausted after Lucy's birth, I couldn't even muster up the strength to hold and enjoy my own baby.  I so deeply yurned to hold her and never let her go.  I so badly wanted the same incredible experience that I had with Penelope.  Those first few minutes, I believe are so crucial, especially if you have had a positive experience in the past.  I kept my eyes closed for what felt like days, it took too much energy to even open them.  I wanted anyone who came to visit to hold sweet Lucy so that she could have that bonding time.  The pain of the c-section and the recovery were extremely rough on me.  Most people I talked with would tell me that theirs wasn't too bad and some would even say they would prefer a c-section over a vaginal birth.  I felt so unvalidated in my recovery.

I remember getting home from the hospital and feeling so overwhelmed.  I had no idea how I was going to manage having a newborn and a toddler.  I wasn't allowed to pick up P or even drive.  I just couldn't wrap my head around it all.  The thought and process of nursing was almost too much to bear.  The pressure I felt with nursing was at times unbearable.  It was painful and a lot of work.  If I could go back in time, that might be one of the first things I would have changed.  It's not the end of the world if your baby has to take a bottle.  I realized now you have to do what is best for you and your baby. 

The day after we got home from the hospital we had Lucy's newborn photo shoot.  I don't even remember why, but I broke down afterwards to my sister-in-law.  I figured it was the baby blues that I had heard so much about and assumed it would pass as I adjusted to being a new mama to two little ones.

I had a lot of help the first couple of weeks and I could never thank all of those that helped me and my family out.  I about died when the time came for my mom to go home.  I was such a mess inside that I think Tyson could sense something was up and he flew my sister out to be with me.  It was again a HUGE help.  After the help went away I felt so alone.  More alone than I had ever felt before.  I had so many different battles going on in my head.  I wanted to just take Lucy away with me and snuggle with her, but knew that was not possible with a near two year old at home.  I wanted to steal P away and just spend some quality time with her.  Trying to find the balance between the two was so hard.  Getting out of the house wasn't even an option, it hurt so badly to even walk up my stairs.  Physical and emotionally I was hurting.  I didn't know how to even begin processing all the emotions that I was feeling.

Life seemed to be moving forward but I somehow still felt like I was strapped to that operating table shaking and praying I would survive.  It seems dramatic, but it's honestly how I felt.  The busy season of photo sessions rolled around and I thought taking some "me" time would be great.  I figured I would channel my emotions and get lost in my photography.  I was still recovering from my c-section and can remember how badly it hurt to get low to take those pictures.  I smiled through each photo shoot and went home exhausted.  I stayed up way too many nights editing and felt like the room was slowly closing in on me.  I had the hardest time saying no to people when they asked me to take their family photos.  So I kept saying yes, even though I was screaming no inside.  The sessions seemed to keep piling up.  The only thing that got me through those months was telling myself I would have a break come January.

Tyson was away for business for what felt like months.  I was homes struggling and couldn't quite find the words to express to him quite how I felt.  Anytime I would try I'm sure I came across as the worst mom ever and oh how the guilt would set in.  It wasn't the typical mom guilt it was the heart crushing, gut wrenching kind.  I couldn't grasp why I felt so horrible.  I knew I had a great life and had so much to be grateful for, so why did I feel so terrible?  Why couldn't I connect with my new baby and husband?  I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around it all.  

I remember calling my mom multiple times a day in tears.  I honestly didn't know how I was going to make it through the day.  I felt like the worst mother possible and wanted so much more for my girls.  I knew what they deserved and felt like I wasn't giving them what they needed.  I felt like I fell short each and every day.  My anxiety was through the roof and I couldn't seem to hold still for too long.  Anytime someone would ask me to bring something to a party or do something that was out of my normal routine, it about threw me over the edge.  I would just smile and say yes.  It all added to my guilt.  Why couldn't I pull it together?  How was everyone else doing this mom thing and with way more kids than I had?  I just felt like I would never match up.  The weight was not coming off physically or emotionally.  My self esteem was at an all time low and I honestly just felt worthless.  I knew I had to keep pedaling, but wasn't sure how much longer I could do it.  

Anyone who knew me just thought I was stressed, because to this day, people still say, "I don't want to stress you out."  I was stressed, but it was so much more than that.  I didn't want to tell anyone how badly I was struggling other than my mom and sister for fear they would judge my mothering and knew it would only add to my downward spiral of emotions.  I hated asking anyone for help and it killed me anytime I had to ask someone to watch my kids.  It seriously ate at me.  Tyson ended up getting me a nanny for the girls two days a week so I could have some alone time and catch up on my editing.  Sam was a life savor and helped me out so much, but for some reason that still wasn't relieving all the feelings I was having.  I decided to put my photography on hold, until I could figure out what was going on.  I kept eliminating things, but it seemed the more I eliminated the heavier the weight I was carrying around got.

It got pretty bad towards the end.  I had feelings that were not so good.  I felt my family would be better off without me and figured there was someone out there that was much more suitable to raise my family.  There had to be someone that could make my husband and kids happy.  I felt like I wasn't doing a good job and just wanted to run away.  I knew this wasn't an option, but it crossed my mind more times than I would like to admit.  
Enough was enough!  The weight become too heavy to bear and I had to get some answers.  Why it took so long I have no idea.  There was a night awhile back were I was sitting in my favorite chair the words postpartum depression came to mind.  The words were clear as day.  I immediately looked up the symptoms online and instantly knew that's what I had been suffering with.  I never had trouble when P was born, so I had no idea I was susceptible to this kind of depression.  I called my mom and told her I finally realized what was going on.  She had mentioned previously that she thought I might be struggling with depression, but would always blow it off and would sometimes be defensive.  I guess it took realizing it on my own.  

I called my doctors office and they got me in that day.  I talked with the nurse practitioner and told her all of the things I had been feeling or not feeling for the past nine months.  She immediately prescibed me Zoloft.  I was desperate and was willing to give the meds a shot.  I swallowed my pride and knew this was a battle I just wasn't ever going to over come on my own.  We talked a bit about the triggers of postpartum depression and for once felt validated in everything I had been feeling.  She said how terrible she felt that I was battling this for so long.  If only I had known.......  She referred me to a social worker who specialized in postpartum depression and anxiety.  I couldn't wait to meet with her.

I took my first pill that night and after a couple of days it was like the clouds parted and the sun's rays were bursting through all of the darkness.  For the first time in almost a year I felt like my old self.  I felt joy!  I didn't feel like I was near drowning and the daily nuances didn't make me feel like I was jumping over a hurdle.  Life slowed back down to a pace I could keep up with and I started to appreciate each and every moment.  The downward spiral of guilt was finally broken.  I could be the mom that was so badly wanting to escape my broken heart.   
The social worker I was referred to had me fill out a questioner that rated my emotions from 1 to 10.  I knew in that moment the meds were working.  I told her that if she would have had me fill it out a couple weeks ago, what I now rated as a 9 or 10 would have then been a 1 or 2.  It was seriously like night and day in comparison to how I had previously felt.  I met with her a couple of times, but didn't feel I needed to meet with her any longer. 

Tyson purchased me a bike that was therapy enough!  It felt soooo good to be back on my bike.  I had never felt so free and alive.  My bike has saved me more times than I can count.  I am able to sort through my feelings out on the road and always come back in a great mood.

I am still currently on the meds and don't plan on going off of them any time soon.  I have a whole new understanding and perspective on depression.  I was able to understand the chemical imbalances that my body was going through and the importance of getting those happy receptors back on track.  I know meds aren't for everyone, but they worked miracles for me.
This motherhood thing is rough, definitely the hardest thing I have ever done, but by far the most rewarding.  Please don't think for one second I ever stopped loving my kids or husband.  I love them so deeply and I think that's why it only added to the hurt and guilt I was feeling.  

I still have a hard time looking back on the first three fourths of Lucy's first year.  It was a bit of a haze and so badly wish I could go back.  I know that's not possible, so I have been trying my hardest to be the best mama I can to my girls.  I don't spend time beating myself up at the end of the day and can see light at the end of the tunnel on those hard days.  I can laugh now at situations that at the time seemed unbearable. 

I'm hoping that by opening up about my experience, someone out there might not feel alone any longer.  I felt alone for too long and don't want anyone to suffer the way I did.  I have more compassion now towards others and has really had my eyes opened to the fact that we truly don't understand what others might be going through.  To not judge anyones mothering because for the most part, we are all just trying to do the best that we know how.  

I love my family more than I could ever possibly express.  They rock my world in the best way possible.  Each day I strive to be a little better, but also make sure to give myself a break every once in awhile.  The mom guilt stuff can get the best of us.  I feel like satan wants us to get down on ourselves and make us feel inadequate.  We are so much more than we ever give ourselves credit for.  If we could only see our true potential and the way God see's us, I think this world would be a better place.
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Annual Shaver Camping Trip

I just realized I never posted about our annual Shaver Lake camping trip!  The weekend before school starts, we get together with all of our friend and family and make the trek up to Shaver.  It's a lot of work packing up the car for a one night of camping trip, but the memories and fresh air seem to make all that work disappear.  

We came across this during one of our Costco trips, a few months back and couldn't help but pass up the deal.  We knew we would use it for years to come and who can beat a pop up tent.  Brilliant!  It really did pop right up.  We can all assume I would have no idea how to assemble a tent and it fit our little family perfectly, with some room to spare.
I was a bit unsure how the Lucy would handle her first camping trip, but she rather enjoyed herself.  The night was a little rough due to some cold weather, but all in all it was the perfect weekend getaway. 
We stuffed our faces full of pizza, peach cobbler, s'mores, melted Starbursts and the best homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Even our breakfast that we all threw together was tasty!  Why does everything taste soooo much better while in the mountains?!?!
P had a blast being able to explore and discover new things.  She was surrounded by so many girls and was in complete heaven with her cousins.  She nestled up in the tent with me and slept like a log, me on the other hand, well you can only imagine.  
We all loved being out on the boat.  It felt incredible to finally be able to get behind the boat.  It felt likes years since I was prego for the past few summers.  Boating is right up there with one of my all time favorite things to do.  Lucy however begged to differ.  She did not like the boat and hated her lifejacket.  I was finally able to get her to fall asleep and it was just the sweetest thing in the world.  I swear my babies never fall asleep on me.
Uncle Buzz took P out for her first ride behind the boat.  I couldn't believe how brave she was.  I was beyond proud of her.  The water was cold and she didn't even make a peep.  I couldn't stop smiling and cheering for her as I watched her try something new.  She couldn't stop talking about her experience. 
 ^^^ That face and those cheeks. ^^^
I lost track of how many kiddos there were this year!  I love that my girls are growing up making memories of camping.  Camping was the one vacation my family could count on evert year.  I have so many fond memories and look forward to building many more with my own kiddos!
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Tuesday, September 29

Halloween At The Parker's

I cannot express how much I love having my house all decorated for Halloween!  It truly is one of my all time favorite holidays.  Tyson walked through the door last Saturday, just as I was about done decorating and asked if Halloween is celebrated more than Christmas around here.  I had to laugh.  My collection of decorations is starting to build up.  If you ask me, I really don't think one can ever have too many Halloween decorations.  What can I say, my mom instilled it in me, at a young age.  I feel like my house, doesn't have a lot of flat surfaces to decorate on, so until I get my built in's it's a whole lot of randomness everywhere.  

Here's a peek into our home!  Enter if you DARE!!!!
 ^^^ I've started a small collection of witches and cannot wait to add more as the years come.  P is beyond ecstatic to be a witch this Halloween.  I had other idea's in mind, but the girl knew what she wanted and knew exactly how to make it happen.  She batted her eyes at her Mimi and now my mom has been sewing non-stop to ensure that miss P has the most darling witch costume.  P proclaims her excitement on an hourly basis. ^^^
^^^ I have to thank Target for helping me out with the most adorable black, gold and white pumpkins.  Their dollar section is killing it right now. ^^^
^^^ I have been burning THIS candle like crazy.  It's just about time for me to go get another one.  And give me all the candy corn and pumpkins galore. ^^^
^^^ P had a blast watching me hang the spider webs throughout our house.  The spiders were especially exciting.  I couldn't help myself from teasing her as I pulled them out of the box.  She thought they were real for a split second and screamed for her life. ^^^
 ^^^ My favorite purchase from Swiss Days.  I hope to add more to my collection each year.  If you are in Utah, you need to be sure to stop by the Jeni Bee Fall Show to pick up one or two or three of your own.  You can find out more details HERE.  ^^^
 ^^^ The cutest pom garland that my sister girl helped me make last year while taking care of me with a newborn. ^^^
 ^^^ My mom has made me a table runner for almost every holiday (still working on getting her to make me a Fourth of July one).  It's one of the things I look forward to putting out most when it comes to decorating my house. ^^^
^^^ P hasn't put down her binoculars down ever since speech. ^^^
 ^^^ While cleaning up the house I spotted P playing with her stuffed animals.  It seriously melted my heart and I was so happy I had my camera handy.  Ever since going to her friend Clara's house for a tea  party, it's the only thing she can think about.  Over the past few months I have loved the way P has started to play on her own and has started using her imagination.  I try and spy on her every chance I can get. ^^^
^^^ I spy tiny finger prints all over my fireplace.  As much as I love a clean house, I can't bring myself to wipe those fingerprints off. ^^^
^^^ Once she noticed I was taking her picture, she begged for more.  Every photographers dream. ^^^
 ^^^ Posing with her favorite book.  Daddy found her a mini B of M and she's been hooked ever since.  P and Lucy fight over it constantly. ^^^ 
And pretty much the cutest dresses I have ever come across HERE.  P begs to wear hers because she thinks it's a tutu.

It's been a crazy busy week and it's only Tuesday.  Here's to fall being in the air, cooler weather and everything and anything pumpkin!
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Thursday, September 24

A B C D E F G.....

I have mentioned briefly a couple of times that P is currently in speech, so I thought I would go into a little more detail for journaling sake.  I always knew P was a little delayed in speech but was told by my pediatrician to not worry about it.  My mom kept urging me to have her checked.  As time kept ticking on and I didn't see much progression in P's speech, I decided to take my mama's word and have P evaluated, but not before switching pediatricians.  As soon as we got her into her new/old pediatrician, she immediately had her sent out for testing.  P excelled on the developmental aspect of the testing, but only had a 21 month old vocabulary, which led to her qualifying for speech.  I was so relieved.  I know they were pretty strict on who they accept.  It didn't take her long to get enrolled and it's been history ever since.  

She has been begging to go to school and this was her chance.  It's like her very own mini preschool that is paid for through the state.  The teachers and speech therapists are so wonderful.  P goes for a couple of hours two times and week.  I love it because I get to be with her the entire time.  During her class time there is always an art activity, singing time, snack time and play time.  She has so much fun and I love being able to witness her grasp new and exciting things.

Her speech is once a week for thirty minutes and then we are sent home with some home work.  I have started to notice a huge difference and she's only been going for a couple of weeks.  I knew as soon as she had the correct tools, she would excel immediately.  She still has a ways to go, but knowing she doesn't mind going, makes all the difference.
She was sooooo thrilled to finally be able to use her JJ Cole Backpack.  She has been stuffing it with anything that will fit.  I've found snacks, stuffed animals, crayons, blankets and swim suits inside on various occasions.  Seeing her with a backpack on just makes her appear so much older.  Where is my baby girl going?!?!  Thankfully she doesn't really start preschool till next year.  I'm going to hang onto her as long as I can. 

^^^ Oh and don't worry, that little top knot that you are seeing, is missing half of it's thickness now.  P decided to take scissors to it last night!!!!!!  And let's be honest, she hardly had any hair as it was.  ^^^
 ^^^ Can you tell she's slightly excited about going to school. ^^^
 I have loved having some art projects to hang on our fridge.  It's been a slight dream of mine since I was a little girl, to display all my kiddos artwork.  I'm going to be one of those moms that have the hardest time getting rid of any of their kids school projects.  I need to figure out a good way to store them all. 
 She couldn't wait to get home to show her daddy.
^^^ She's slightly obsessed with her binoculars she made to take to the zoo. ^^^
And some more pics if you have made it thus far of P with her speech therapist.  We LOVE her and can't say enough good things about her.  
^^^ We've got a mini photographer on our hands.  You should see the selfie section on my phone. ^^^
I can't wait to see the progression with P's speech.  We are so proud of her and love her ever growing vocabulary, even if it involves the "s" word.  Yikes!  You've gotta love the things little ones pick up on in public.  Thanks lady at the Apple store.  I couldn't help but laugh the first time she said it or five times after!  I'm a terrible discipliner.  I may have even laughed when she cut her hair off!  I'm a real winner. 
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