Archive for the ‘The Serious’ Category
I’m sure it’s no secret that I’m a relatively sensitive person. I wear my heart of my sleeve, I’m easily hurt and easily saddened and have a bleeding heart for a lot of causes. But I don’t think my feelings right now have to do with being sensitive, but instead, with the gravity of the situation.
Over the weekend, a family put their 2 year old to bed like they have every night for the previous 2 years. At some point in the night, the 5 month old baby woke up and was fed and then everyone went back to bed like always. In the morning, when Meredith went to get her 2 year old up, she discovered that he passed away in his sleep. Jack was a completely healthy 2 year old child and yet, he’s no longer here. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this is literally every parent’s greatest nightmare.
Since I heard about Jack’s passing, I can’t get an image out of my head. I’ve never met this family, they are friends of a good friend of mine (and have given permission for me to post their story), but I am devastated for them. I cannot imagine how heart wrenching this has been for Jack’s family and I am left, like most people who knew them or knew of them, feeling entirely helpless for these parents.
I can only speak for myself, but when things like this happen, I want to do something, to try to make some tiny bit of difference to these people who are suffering in a way I cannot even imagine. I can’t comfort this family in any kind of tangible way, but I can pass along Jack’s story and I can, in some small way, help defray the cost of Jack’s funeral.
I’m going to post the link to a fundraising site for the family. I can’t promise this money is going to Jack’s funeral and not to any number of other items. I can’t promise that the overflow will go into a scholarship fund or to a charity as the family has promised. All I can promise is that a family lost their little boy this weekend and that giving a little bit of money to help pay for a funeral they never should’ve had to plan or pay for in their lifetimes, is the very least I can do. Also, any money generated here in ad revenue this month and next will go towards Jack’s fund, because I have no desire or intention of profiting in any way from this situation.
If you’re interested in helping out this family, please check out their fundraising page. And if you can’t or don’t want to donate, please keep them in your thoughts and if you’re the praying type, pray that they may find peace again and be able to honor their beautiful son, even in his absence.
I have long been an impatient driver. I pass people who are driving slowly, I stick to the leftmost lanes virtually at all times. I try to be within 10 mph of the speed limit, but there are plenty of times where I’ve gone above that benchmark. When I was maybe halfway through my pregnancy with Eli, I took a step back and realized that it was time to drive more carefully. It wasn’t just me anymore and I needed to be more responsible.
In the 13 months Eli has been here, I have made an effort to tailgate less, to stay close to the speed limit and most of all, to drive defensively. I still speed unintentionally from time to time. I still throw my hands up and occasionally my finger up at terrible drivers, but I try hard to drive safely and responsibly. And after last week, I will try even harder.
The drive to Vegas is not a terribly arduous one. There are no windy roads, there are no especially steep grades to climb. It is hot and dull and long. From our house to Vegas, without traffic, would be about 3.5 hours. I knew that if I timed Eli’s nap right, he would sleep for a considerable portion of that, so we left around 10.
About 2 hours into our drive, the freeway narrowed to two lanes in each direction. There was a nice consistent shoulder on the right, I assume for the big rigs that would need to pull off in an emergency. On the left there was a wide dirt area between the two sides of the freeway. At some points the dirt was level with the road, at other points there was a big drop off. And at some points there were large bushes/trees scattered throughout.
I noticed that when the road narrowed, there were a few people who were driving less safely than I was comfortable with. They were weaving between cars, speeding faster than the rest of us (who were going a solid 75mph in a 70 speed limit) and so I turned my music down, slowed my speed a little and focused. I felt like I needed to go into that defensive mode, and I’m endlessly glad I did.
A few minutes after I started to get uncomfortable, I was preparing to pass a big rig and was a few car lengths behind the person in front of me, which was probably a little too close, but there were a lot of cars and it was just sort of how things were moving. I noticed a car behind me on my right, coming up toward the back of the big rig. It was a greenish gold compact car and it was going faster than the big rig, but not faster than I was at that point. I assumed that car would fall in behind me since I was very close to passing the rig and there was a fair amount of space behind my car.
I wasn’t paying much attention as the greenish car approached but soon I realized it was driving right along side me and that he was rapidly approaching the back of the big rig. And then something strange happened. The greenish car’s front bumper was maybe a foot in front of mine (the big rig was CLOSE ahead) and suddenly the car made a move to cut in front of me. There was almost no room between the big rig and me and certainly if I didn’t get out of the way, we would’ve collided. And so I swerved into the center divider, going 75 mph, holding onto the wheel for dear life. I fishtailed and skidded for a long way before coming to a stop.
When I finally stopped, I had so much adrenaline coursing through my body, I am amazed I didn’t vomit or pass out. I was flushed, my heart was racing and before I could even catch my breath, I was crying. I stayed in the center for several minutes, trying to calm myself down. I looked in the back and Eli was sound asleep, completely unaware of how close we came to a really severe car accident.
People have died along this stretch of highway, it’s not uncommon due to the speed people drive and the way the road is designed. And as we traveled on, I noticed that if this had happened even a mile down the road, we’d have likely rolled due to the big drop off on the left. I don’t know what would’ve happened to us if we hadn’t gotten as lucky as we did.
I don’t know if that greenish car was trying to pass me or just made an honest mistake. I know that I saw many other cars driving recklessly that day, all in an attempt to get somewhere sooner. Those people rely on everyone else to drive safely, while they speed and weave and put their desire to get somewhere quickly ahead of everyone else’s wellbeing. And the reality is that they’re only going to get to their destination a few minutes ahead of everyone else.
The fact is that we were lucky. This happened at the very perfect place and if it hadn’t, the result could’ve been horrible. A car accident next to a big rig at 75 miles per hour, especially involving a 5 foot drop off the shoulder would’ve been catastrophic. I know this and it shakes me to my core. We could’ve been seriously injured. We could’ve died. I’ve nearly gotten in many accidents in my 14 years of driving, but nothing that even compared to this.
My intention in writing this is simple, I want people to slow down. I want people to drive more safely. I want people to stop taking advantage of safe drivers to pave the way for their reckless driving. I’m not asking you this because I have a child, it’s not about that at all. I’m asking you to do this because I am lucky to not have been serious injured and because as a former reckless driver, I wish someone had told me earlier how stupid I was being. Maybe you’ve driven the same way for 10 years or 20 years or even longer, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t stupid or unsafe.
Getting to your destination 5 minutes earlier is not worth the risk of reckless driving. Put your phone down, pay attention to the cars around you and slow down. Please.
While I plan to write about Las Vegas pretty soon, there are a couple of major changes taking place in my life in the next few days, so they seemed more appropriate to discuss.
First, I’m starting medication for anxiety.
I had really hoped not to do this and I’ve been working hard to avoid it, but everything kind of came crashing down this week. I’m not sure exactly what set it off, but I think the issue is that while Elijah’s accident is now 2 months behind us, the anxiety that came with it hasn’t left. My therapist (and I agree) thinks I have some fairly significant PTSD that’s making pre-existing anxiety even worse. For the past two months everyone has told me that it’s normal to feel scared and anxious about what happened to my child, but it’s been 2 months and these feelings just aren’t normal anymore.
My husband being out of town for a week just took away a critical portion of my support system and with him gone, I fell apart. I wasn’t sleeping and following a near miss on a car accident on Friday (more on that soon, too), I collapsed into a horrible cycle of panic attacks. As much as I wanted to avoid medication, I want to avoid being an absent mother, racked with panic attacks more. I will be talking to my therapist tonight about increasing my therapy to twice a week in the short term. My plan is to hit this hard and fast in hopes that it doesn’t get as severe as previous bouts of anxiety have been for me. The last time I really struggled with anxiety I dropped about 30 pounds in a very short period of time, which was not healthy nor terribly pleasant for the most part.
But is a good segue into the next major change.
The other thing I’m doing today is starting a weight loss regimen. Not a diet, though there will be changes to my caloric intake, but rather, a major lifestyle overhaul. I’m participating in the Blogging Biggest Loser competition, which is the motivation I needed to finally do this (I hope).
I gained 34 pounds while pregnant with Eli and if we’re being honest, I did this by eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted in whatever quantity I wanted. I literally ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast every day for 2 months. And oddly, when my 6lb 15oz baby was born, all that weight didn’t fall right off. And though everyone told me that all the weight was in my belly, the size of my arms, thighs and butt would prove that all those people were liars.
The day I came home from the hospital, I stepped on the scale and it read 158 pounds. That’s 20 pounds more than what I weighed the day we got the positive pregnancy test. And since that day in May 2012 I have lost no weight. I’ve lost a few, gained a few, but on Eli’s first birthday, I still weighed 158 pounds. I wore a 6 or 8 pre-pregnancy and now am lucky to fit into a 12 most days. I can’t wear any of my pre-pregnancy pants and only a handful of my pre-pregnancy shirts.
I really wanted to blame pumping and say that I’m just one of those unlucky women who doesn’t lose weight during breastfeeding. And I hoped that when I weaned the weight would fall off. Instead, I gained 5 pounds the first week after I quit. It was a bit of an eye opener. My eating habits are bad. My exercise habits are worse. And it was probably only because I pumped that whole time that I didn’t actually gain weight.
My husband and I have discussed this at length, particularly as it relates to my history with eating disorders and anxiety and how it’s pretty critical that we do this in a healthy manner. It helps that he wants to do a similar overhaul, so I don’t have to do it alone. And exercising is always way more fun with a partner.
So today is my official first day of taking control of my mind and body. Here’s to hoping that the medication will make a dent in the psychological issues and that the lifestyle changes will help give me some self-confidence and my old wardrobe back.
The past few nights I have had a lot of trouble sleeping. It seems to be a combination of very vivid and intense dreams, a baby who has been whining in his sleep (teething, I think/hope) and anxiety. At first I couldn’t pin down what I was anxious about. Things have been going incredibly well lately. The baby is happy and healthy. My husband and I are happy and healthy. Life is good. Which is probably why I had to do some serious digging, at 2am, to figure out why I was unable to sleep. Why I was so panicked.
My husband is leaving for two trips out of state in the next 10 days and that in and of itself is stressful. But that’s not the problem. The last time I spent a night alone with Eli was just before his injury. And while I know that the two don’t have anything in common, some part of my brain made that connection. And I’m feeling increasingly scared to be alone with the baby. I feel like…I don’t trust myself.
And I know it’s silly. I stay home alone with him all the time. I am a good mother, I love him tremendously. But I also still carry a tremendous amount of guilt with me for what happened. It’s the thing that I’m learning about guilt- I’m not really in control over it. Because even when I wash my hands of it and say I’m done living in that moment and done blaming myself, I wake up at 2am unable to sleep until I piece together why I feel like puking and why my heart is racing and why I can’t sleep anymore.
I am afraid for my husband to leave, not because I can’t care for my child alone, but because I’m afraid something bad will happen again. That my judgment will slip and I won’t have anyone there to act as a voice of reason.
I feel scared. I feel unprepared, like a teenager watching someone else’s baby overnight. And the fact that there are 2 separate trips, filled with 2 separate separations is causing twice the anxiety.
I just want to be past all of this. I want to no longer have such vivid images of my child falling off a bed. Of him pale and sweaty, minimally responsive on a hotel bed while I yell at a 911 operator to tell the ambulance to hurry. I want to forget all the times I apologized to my child while we waited for the ambulance, while we drove to the hospital. I want to forget holding an inconsolable child, one in so much pain, one who couldn’t stop vomiting, even with prescription anti-emitics. I want to erase all the moments, all the tears, all the terror. And no matter how hard I try, how resolute I am to move past this and enjoy all that’s before me, I still can’t.
I think about it less and less each day, but the memories are crisp as ever. The sounds, the images, they’re all there, waiting in the back of my mind for something to trigger them. A trip out of town was all it took for 3 nights of insomnia to swallow me whole.
I think the most difficult part is knowing that I never really get to forget it. The neurosurgeon told us that there’s no way to know if there will be any long term issues related to the injury. Eli is so young now that we really can’t assess it. So now, as we watch Eli try to master standing and walking, we’re all wondering how much of his slowness in this milestone is from the injury (as the neurosurgeon suggested) or just his development/temperament. And if in 5 or 10 years he has trouble in school or trouble with memory, we’re going to wonder if it’s from the injury (also as the neurosurgeon suggested). Or if he has balance or coordination issues, or ADHD or any other thing, we will always wonder. We can’t ever leave it behind because there’s a huge question mark lingering over the future and no way to know what will happen or why.
I remember the scariest part of that day was wondering if I had damaged my child. If I had forever harmed him and changed his future. And the most frustrating and scary part is that I still don’t know the answer. And so even though I want to forgive myself and promise to try, I know that these memories and these fears will always be there. Will always be haunting me. Will follow my son his whole life. And that is, by far, the most terrifying.
My family has a long, proud military history. Both of my grandpas served in the Navy and were deployed for more than one tour of duty overseas. My first cousin, who is about 6 months younger than me, served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And most, if not all of my great-uncles served overseas and like many others, several of them died there.
My great-aunt posted a blurb about one of her brothers today that I wanted to share. Every year on Memorial Day, my grandma and my sister and I would go to put flowers on my great uncle Warren and great uncle Raymond’s grave sites. It was always a long crazy trip because my grandma could never remember where the flower shop was and when she did, then finding the graves themselves was always a bit of a disaster, but we made it each year.
Since my grandma died 11 years ago, I haven’t been back. I’m hoping that someday we’ll be in town and I can take my son and tell him about his great, great uncles (and his great grandma who loved them so much) and the sacrifice they made for our country.
From my great-aunt’s post:
My brother, Pvt. John Warren McClure lost his life on Guadalcanal on Feb. 22, 1942. He was 21 yrs old and unmarried. I am the keeper of his things. I re-read today a telegram, hand written to my parents on March 18th 1941. Yellowed and tattered but still legible it reads, “Leaving today… destination unknown….don’t worry….will write….love Warren.”
Just imagine those days and times and the families left to worry. My brother had not even seen the ocean before he sailed over it. He wrote several poems that were published in military papers.
My grandma used to tell us stories about Warren and the poems he wrote. As with most memories that are several decades old, the details are a little blurred, but I know that my grandma was so proud of her brothers- you could feel it in her words and see it on her face every time she spoke of them.
And so even though I may be painfully politically liberal and about as anti-war as they come, I have a tremendous respect for the sacrifices that our soldiers made and continue to make each day. These men and women put their lives on the line to defend freedom around the world, and for that sacrifice, we remember them today and every day.
When the ship docked in Australia a few short months ago
A grinning native at the dock hollered “Hi ya Joe”
This name spread as all names do and soon all came to know,
The Khaki clad american soldier by the simple name of Joe.
None of the boys mind their name for every one of them knows
That he’s proud to be just one of an army full of Joes.
Now Joe is the name of your best friend, and also of you and me.
He’s the guy you meet on the company street, and every soldier you see.
And if these shores should be approached by any foreign foe,
They’d find they’d have to reckon with a bunch of guys named Joe.
So here’s to Joe and all his friends where ever they may be.
In Australia, or in the states, or far across the sea.
May the folks back home just realize how much they really owe
That their safety lies in a bunch of guys that bear the name of Joe.
-PFC John Warren McClure
There’s a children’s song I used to sing when I worked at a summer camp about a bear hunt. At several points in the hunt you reach an obstacle and when you get to it, you chant, “Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Gotta go through it.” and then you tread through whatever imaginary peril lies ahead. It’s always great fun for the kids to chant along as a little echo and to victoriously traverse the pretend obstacle. The song is in my head lately and the bear I’m hunting is every bit as imaginary as the one my campers hunted all those summers.
Things have gotten easier in the past week. Life has returned to a beautiful version of normal. Eli hasn’t vomited in almost a week. He has been off all pain medicine for several days and is doing really, really well. And much of the time, I have been doing well also. But it’s been fake.
I’ve been trying to squirm away from the anxiety that’s regrowing. I’ve been trying to go over and under it. Finding ways to pretend like it’s not an issue, shoving it aside constantly. Never going through it. Going through means facing it, means saying words out loud that seem to flow easily from my fingers, a story that I can tell here with little trouble, but which can only be told aloud with tears. And a racing heart. And nausea. And I think I’ve assumed that if I can just tuck away this anxiety, if I can just go around it, that eventually it will go away.
Last night, shortly after going to bed, Eli fell backwards off the floor bed (another post coming soon). He was literally 6 inches from the floor, which was a nice padded carpet. But I saw it on the monitor and heard the thunk from downstairs. He cried immediately and I ran, climbing stairs 2 at a time, to get him. He was fine within seconds of me cuddling him, but I was not.
I felt sick. And shaky and horrible. That sound, the one from the hotel room, I heard it all over again. I saw the whole thing happen again. The images I had managed to put out of my head all came rushing back. I thought I would be sick as the fear I had been going over and under suddenly overtook me.
The anxiety is coming out in other ways too. Eli has decided that he would like to exclusively sleep on his stomach, which I know is fine at this age, but the first night in the new bed, I was awake for 2.5 hours, watching him breathe. I went in his room and checked on him 7 times when I thought I couldn’t see his back rise and fall anymore. It’s a miracle that he didn’t wake up. And then this morning when I woke up and it was 7:30 and Eli was still asleep, on his tummy in the same position he was in when I woke up at 4:30, I ran, literally ran, into his room, assuming I’d find my child lifeless. Instead I found him pretty confused and groggy with some fairly excellent bed head.
I feel so frustrated and sad, all at once. I worked through so much of this in therapy. I was happy again. I was relaxed and easygoing and confident. I was enjoying the hell out of motherhood. And now I feel it’s falling apart. Whenever I get too happy or start to feel normal again, I hear this screaming chorus of what ifs crescendo in the background. My blood pressure rises, my pulse quickens, my stomach clenches.
I think that Eli’s accident reminded me that though the risk of something happening to my child is low, it’s not nothing. He got injured in a way that a tiny percentage of kids get injured. We defied odds in the worst way, and I think I’m newly afraid and newly aware that we could do that again, at any moment. Newly aware that bad things don’t just happen to other people.
As much as I’ve tried to shove the fear aside and wait for it to subside, I’m realizing more and more each day that it’s not working. That if anything, it’s growing and accelerating. It’s infiltrating the happy moments like weeds in a garden, and I can’t let that happen again. I have to do something because I don’t want to feel this way again.
All this is to say I have a therapy appointment on Wednesday that I am both looking forward to in a huge way and am also dreading more than almost anything.
Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Gotta go through it.
I had not planned to write anything more about Dawn, who passed away yesterday. I do not want to eulogize someone I met in person only once, but the heaviness in my heart has led me here, and so I’m writing.
I read Dawn’s husband’s words this evening and this particular part stuck out to me:
Dawn lived to soothe everyone around her. If you needed to be picked up, she’d find a way to pick you up. If you needed someone to sit in the dumps with you, she’d climb down by your side until you were ready to come back up. Her joy came in the joy of others, and if she had to manufacture that joy, well, that was just fine by her.
This is exactly how I will remember Dawn. She left over 80 comments on this blog, to me, lifting me up, sitting in the dumps with me. Being what I needed, when I needed it. She was a friend, a lovely human being who seemed to derive joy from being a friend. How many people can you say that about? Not many, not enough.
Dawn leaves behind 2 sons and a husband, and a hole in our hearts where our friend was. So many people have expressed heartache over Dawn’s passing, and I think that is a tremendous testament to who she was, what she meant to all of us. In a way, I think we feel like a little bit of Dawn belonged to us too, because of how she cared for us in our times of need. And now that she’s gone we feel an almost tangible loss, a silence where one of our cheerleaders once was.
I can only speak for myself, but I wish I had realized sooner that her time was winding down. I wish I could’ve written something to her, been a better cheerleader for her, and let her know how very much I appreciated her in my life. How much I appreciated having her in my corner all the time. And how sorry I am that this had to happen to her.
Instead, I’ve made 2 vows to myself:
First, I will check my skin. I will wear sunscreen whenever I’m outdoors, I will reschedule that dermatology follow up I cancelled and I will make an appointment for my fair-skinned husband as well. I will be diligent and outspoken about sun safety because of Dawn, so that her death isn’t for nothing, so that it may save other lives.
Second, I will be a better friend. Dawn was there for everyone, cared about everyone. I don’t know that I’ll ever live up to the example she set, but I can do better, I can love more, care more and tell my friends more often how important they are to me. I can lift up others when they need it. It’s what Dawn would do, and since she’s no longer with us there is a void to be filled, and perhaps we can fill it with love, in memory of Dawn.
(I realize that this is a very aptly named post considering that it’s April Fool’s Day, but none of this is foolish.)
I’m finding the anxiety has been waxing and waning a lot this past week. There will be hours, almost whole days even, where I’m humming along just fine and then I get completely demolished by fear. There isn’t a rhyme or reason most of the time, as far as I can tell. It just hits me sometimes. Feelings, images, sounds, all a mess in my mind.
I remember other mothers saying that their kids fell off the changing table and off the bed and I smugly thought to myself that I would never let that happen to my child. Don’t these mothers know how to be careful? And now here I am, the judger became the judged. I’m in a state of disbelief. I can’t believe I let this happen. I can’t believe that it ended up as seriously as it did. I can’t believe that it took one second for everything to change like this. It’s terrifying.
Disbelief is an feeling filling other parts of my life lately as well.
My friend Dawn, who I’ve followed on twitter for as long as I can recall, who has been one of the greatest cheerleaders to everyone she knows, is nearing the end of her fight with Melanoma. I find myself completely gobsmacked by it. It’s not my tragedy and I do not want to monopolize her family’s grief in any way, I just keep being surprised that it’s happening. It makes my breath catch at the unfairness of it all. I think I had convinced myself that dying from cancer was something that old, sick people do. Not young mothers with young kids. Not healthy people. And I think Dawn did such a good job of putting on the strongest, bravest front that we didn’t even know how bad things were until they were too bad to tell her we loved her and how sorry we were.
I’m in disbelief at the fragility of life.
My uncle, who I wrote about a few weeks ago, lost his mother in early March. And Friday he lost his father. It’s just, it all happens so quickly. We are here and then we’re not.
It just seems like the certainty I had been comforted by is being pulled away. And maybe that’s for the best. Maybe I shouldn’t be as assured and comfortable. Maybe I need to live in a world where I can see that one tiny thread can unravel everything. That nothing is permanent.
I’m in disbelief because it seems that the things I’ve known, that I’ve held onto and been comforted by, are shifting so quickly. They are revealing new truths I didn’t see before, didn’t want to see. And it’s hard to be in this place of change. I’m scared because everything feels different now. Everything feels bigger and faster and less predictable.
I’m just hanging on for dear life.
Mike, Dawn’s incredible husband, has asked that those interested and able make donations to the Melanoma Research Foundation.
The last time I wrote about my postpartum anxiety was several months ago. I was in the process of finding and getting help and was still trudging, knee deep, in fear each and every day. I started weekly counseling in October? November? I don’t really remember, sometime in there, with a doctoral student at our hospital’s behavioral medical center.
It was clear from the first day that a huge part of my anxiety was about control. I could not control what happened to my child, so I was anxious. I couldn’t control his breathing or his airway clearance at night. I couldn’t control what happened at daycare and as such, those were my 2 biggest anxiety sources. I would stay awake at night thinking about what I would say if I had to tell everyone that my child had died. I would imagine car accidents whenever I closed my eyes, imagine finding him not breathing when I walked into a room. My imagination was constantly coming up with new horrors. It was exhausting.
Since starting therapy, some of this is better. I’m getting better at thought stopping- where I literally tell myself to stop once I realize I’m going to one of those ugly scenarios, though admittedly, I often don’t realize it until I’m already deep into it. I’m getting better at identifying the times I’m most anxious (work days, car rides) so I can equip myself and occupy my mind. It’s still a struggle, but a lot of it is better. I worry less about the baby. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m dealing with my feelings or simply because he feels so much more sturdy these days, less helpless, but either way, I spend fewer hours imagining him being hurt or killed. This is a good thing, even if it sounds so cold and crass to write. I hate admitting this stuff out loud because it comes across so matter of fact- I imagine my child dying- but the reality of it is that it is wrought with emotion, not matter of fact at all.
As my worries about Eli have gotten smaller, other ones have taken their place. My new paralyzing fear is that something will happen to me. That I won’t get to see this amazing child grow up, that I will miss out on other kids, on grandkids, on nieces and nephews. It’s terrifying. It’s exhausting. It’s heartbreaking.
Whereas my prior anxiety was more background noise than anything else, these new fears are not subtle, not in the background. They are out and out panic attacks. Last week while running Eli’s bath I broke out in a cold sweat thinking of all the things I should make sure my husband knows in case I die. I thought about how I need to tell him to sometimes call Elijah Eli because I love that nickname and I want him to know that’s an option for what to be called (my husband primarily calls him Elijah). I realize how silly that sounds, how non-urgent it should be, but even writing this makes me feel panicked. Like if something happens you’ll read this and think about how tragic it is that I worried about dying and how much more tragic it is that I was right.
It feels both scary and kind of meta, I won’t lie.
I find it much harder to thought stop these new fears because they come on so fast. I’m drowning in them before I realize that I’ve even begun thinking about them. I get much more worked up, crying even, when these anxieties swell because I find the idea of it so heartbreaking. The idea of missing out on these wonderful things literally takes my breath away sometimes.
I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m not ready for medication yet for a couple of reasons. The fast acting stuff is great, but I’m not wild about using it while pumping for Eli. The maintenance stuff always makes me sicker than a dog for the first few weeks and I just don’t have the time for that. And since I’m still functioning, I don’t want to go that direction just yet. I’m still doing therapy and it is helping, but I’ve come to a point where I’m realizing that I’m probably always going to have anxiety like this. I’ve struggled with other anxieties for years, but somehow I thought this set would be short lived. That once I got over the initial hump, it would sort of disappear. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case.
At this point, I just hope for management. I hope to learn to let go of some of the control issues (ask me how I feel about germs and you’ll quickly understand how poorly that is going) and get out of my own head. I want to spend more time thinking about what I’ll do tomorrow than worrying about if I’ll get one. I want to not have to stop thoughts all day long and instead entertain happy daydreams. But I know this won’t come quickly or easily and though I am tired now, I understand that the hard work will be worth it, even if not immediately. I don’t expect to live anxiety free, but I want to live in spite of it.
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I’m pretty bad at resolutions. To be completely honest, I don’t even want to go back and see if I wrote any last year. My guess is I did and that I didn’t succeed at them, much like the ones for the past several years. So I’m trying something a little different. I guess you could call this a resolution if you’re hard pressed for a descriptor, but I think it’s more a change in the way I think.
When Eli was sick right after Thanksgiving (not to be confused with the time after that or the time after that, this month can die in a fire), I toiled each night with what to do with his sleeping arrangements. We had successfully moved him to his own room and got him sleeping in his crib and while it wasn’t without its problems, it was by and large, a success. Until he got sick. Then he was up 4 and 5 times a night and it took longer to soothe him and sometimes I just couldn’t get him back down. And for hours at night I would fight with myself over what I should do.
On the one hand, he was sick and he was struggling to sleep in his crib because of all the congestion. On the other hand, I didn’t want to set us back on the crib sleeping, because somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that he really should sleeping in a crib. I somehow go to the point where I believed that if he wasn’t sleeping flat in a crib, we were doing it wrong, that he was doing it wrong, that we were destined for long term sleep failure.
We both lost so much sleep that week due to my stubbornness and refusal to listen to my son as he told me over and over that sleeping flat was not what he needed. It wasn’t until the ear infection that caused hysterical screaming while laying flat that I got his message. He needed to go back to his Rock N Play until he was well. And when he got better, he slept in his crib again.
I’ve been fighting a similar battle with his eating. I am pushing vegetables because I’ve been told that he should be eating more of them and if he doesn’t get used to them now he won’t ever. I’ve been pushing him to drink more because his weight gain has slowed to a screeching halt and he should be drinking at least 8 ounces more milk a day than he is right now. But he’s telling me, over and over, that he doesn’t want to eat more. That vegetables are not his thing right now. But I fight anyway, I fight because I think I should.
And I’m just tired. I’m tired of fighting with my child over what a textbook says he should be doing. I’m tired of spending so much time worrying about what is normal. And so this is my resolution of sorts.
I’m done with should.
My child is sleeping in his own room, sometimes in a crib, sometimes in a cozy little bunny bed. He’s eating what he wants, in quantities he wants, and he will gain weight. I’m not going to force him in a crib because that’s what someone said I should do. I’m not going to force feed him when he’s not hungry because he should be gaining more weight.
I’m done fighting battles, both internally and with my child, that don’t need to be fought. There’s no sleeping Olympics. There’s no trophy for the baby who sleeps in a crib the longest, or the easiest. Or who eats the most vegetables without dramatically gagging. And if there are, I don’t care about them. I’d rather spend time enjoying my child, I’d rather spend time nurturing him, providing him the sustenance and support he needs, that he is telling me he craves, instead of forcing some sense of normal, forcing upon him all those shoulds that I read somewhere.
There are many things I want in this new year (pre-pregnancy body! a million dollars! a vacation!), but none of them so much as I want peace. I want to be happy and carefree. I want my child to be happy and content instead of contentious. And the only way to achieve that is to make a change in the way I think and the way I act. To consider what is truly necessary instead of what I think should be happening. To consider what works for us, even if it works for no one else, because right now, we are all that matters.
My hope is that with this shift in thinking, we will all be happier. That with fewer shoulds we will be less stressed and less pressured. That we will enjoy ourselves and the tremendous blessings we have been handed this past year instead of thinking about what happens down the road if we make one “wrong” decision.
So I’m making 2013 the year of picking my battles, the year of no shoulds. I am choosing peace. And I’m pretty excited about it.