Xanax with a side of birthday cake, please?

Oh man, where to even start?  I guess they always say, At the beginning…so here’s how my life seemed to change in the blink of eye on January 24th.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it was dramatic.  So it’s totally called for.

So, January 24th.

It so happens it was my dad’s 70th birthday, but that’s neither here nor there.  January 24th was the day we were scheduled for a 6am departure for a super amazing family vacation to Turks and Caicos.  I’d been neurotically packing for weeks now.  Every possible medicine was neatly packed in our toiletry bag.  Each of W’s mix-and-match outfits were labeled, color-coded and vacuum sealed in plastic bags for easy retrieval.  We’d managed to get everything we could possibly need into three bags…including our carry on.  I was impressed.  This was a packing job to be proud of.  We were just hours away from hot sun..warm sandy beaches that stretched on for turquoise miles after turquoise miles…tropical drinks…and relaxation.

We were all in need of some relaxation, for sure.  It has been the L.O.N.G.E.S.T winter evah and our vitamin D levels were depleting as was our patience for being stuck inside due to frigid temps.  We needed this vacation.

And what we got was anything but a vacation.

It all started the night before we left.  It’s not unusual for me to have trouble sleeping before a trip, or at all for that matter.  But, usually I get a few hours at least and whatever, I make it work.  Well, not this night.  I couldn’t sleep and as the minutes ticked by, my heart started racing a bit more…and the possibility of a few hours of sleep were slipping away.

For anyone who has ever had an anxiety attack, you probably just read that and went, Yup.  Been there before.  Except I didn’t quite know that that was what was happening.

So, when the alarm went off at 4am it just about made my heart leap out of my chest as I shot out of bed and scrambled into the bathroom like a madwoman.  I remember looking in the mirror and my eyes were that of some lunatic…big, dilated, puffy and darting around the room as I muttered about not getting any sleep.  And a million other things.

I barely managed to get dressed.  I couldn’t eat anything because I thought I was going to puke.  My heart was still racing and my hands were shaking.  I couldn’t even get W out of bed and dressed because I was so weak.  I remember climbing up the stairs on my hands and knees and sitting at the top waiting for my husband to come out of the bedroom.

The look on his face was all it took for me to declare that something just wasn’t right.  Something was happening to me.

Thankfully he was able to get W all ready and load our remaining gear into the car while I jus tried to get my shit together.  Much easier said than done.  I barely managed through security.  I struggled as we waited to board…still unable to eat anything due to nausea.  Like a zombie, I put one foot in front of the other and got into my seat.  My husband, again, holding down the fort and schlepping W and all of our gear.

At that point I was starting to realize this was anxiety, but still hadn’t labeled it an anxiety attack.  And I most certainly didn’t have any tools (medicinal or mental) to get me to a better space.  So, I closed my eyes and just tried not to throw up.  Or explode.  Or have a heart attack.  I knew I needed to eat, too, so I tried to choke down a banana I had in my carry on.

But it wasn’t happening.  Two bites in and I turned to Jason and said, I’m really not doing well.  I grabbed the air sickness bag and before I knew it I was waking up surrounded by concerned passengers, my husband and flight attendants.

I had passed out.

To make a long story short(er), my anxiety attack had peaked and I was starting to feel better.  Weak and embarrassed. But better.  An EMT had been sitting behind me and monitored my pulse while I was out and was telling the flight attendant that it was normalizing now and there was no need to make an emergency landing.  But, of course, I had to be greeted by EMT and police upon exiting the plane.  I got checked out and told I should probably go to the hospital.  We pushed our connecting flight back and had a family meeting about what to do next.

Thankfully we’d purchased trip insurance, so we decided that whatever happened was pretty serious and that it could happen again on our next flight or on vacation or on the way home…and that it’d be best to go home and get it figured out.

We were bummed to say the least.  And scared.

I was still feeling week and shaky but functional, and was able to get on our flight back home.  It wasn’t until a few days later when I had another small anxiety attack in the waiting room of my doctor’s that things really went downhill.  For the next two weeks I was pretty much a hot mess.  I mean a non-functioning ball of constant anxiety who couldn’t eat.  Couldn’t talk.  Couldn’t shower.  Couldn’t fucking function.  It was terrible.  I literally thought my life had changed forever and I was going to be someone who couldn’t leave the house.  Who couldn’t care for their child.  Whose marriage would end because of anxiety.  Anxiety that I never knew I had until like forty-eight hours ago.

What. The. Fuck.

Thankfully I’ve got amazing family and friends who literally stayed with me 24 hours a day when my husband went back to work.  Who did everything for W’s birthday party.  Who recommended amazing therapists.  Who told me I was OK when I started to get anxious.  Who sent me inspirational cards.  Who checked in with me when I needed it and gave me space when I needed it.  With a little bit of Xanex to help me sleep for a few nights, weekly therapy sessions, multiple meditation session a day, Melody Beattie’s book A Journey to the Heart and some good ol’ fashioned time…I started to have more “good” minutes than bad ones.  They built on each other…gaining positive momentum…and outweighing the negative momentum and negative spiraling that had consumed me just days – hours – before.  Slowly but surely I could see glimmers of what life had been like a few weeks prior.  Life that, at that point, seemed like years ago.  Life that I honestly didn’t think I’d see again.

And W’s birthday party was another turning point.

I mean, I could barely shower and feed myself let alone host a party for 25 and be cheery, friendly and social.  Gag.  I knew that the show must go on, but I was dreading it.  Family and close friends would be there.  But they all knew.  They were all supporting me.  If I needed to leave I would.  But I worked up the courage and confidence to take one step at a time and move through it, as my therapist says.  The night before his party I took my last Xanax, and as the minutes passed during his party, I started to really feel like myself again.  I could have a conversation.  I could laugh.  I could sing happy birthday and blow out candles with my son.  I was proving to myself that I could do it.

But ohmyfuckinggod.  That was the longest 14 days of my life.

I now see my therapist twice a month and haven’t had any other major events since this one.  But, I’ve realized I’ve got a lot to work through and work out as I start reconciling the person I used to be with who I am now as a mother, a wife, a person.  I’d spent so much time caring for and worrying about others that I’d missed a lot of signs that I was needing to take care of myself and unfortunately…or fortunately…this made that a necessity.  Life is different now, and that’s OK, but I need to reflect and take steps to make it what I want.  What I need.

So, there it is.

I’ve been avoiding writing this because talking about the event used to be a trigger.  And, avoidance is – for anyone that’s been in therapy – the essence of B.A.D.  So, the more I talk about it the less power it has…that’s what my therapist says.  And I love my therapist.  So I do what she says 🙂  Except for when I don’t.  I still don’t like exercising for exercising’s sake.

Did I mention that we’ve booked another vacation and are giving it another go?!  Yeah. Most definitely the subject of my next therapy session…

But, more to come about the ways I’m taking time to weave more “me” back into my life…personally and professionally for this SAHM!

Calmly yours,

MomME

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Easter hands and feet

Some bunny loves you!
Some bunny loves you!
Spring ducks!
Spring ducks!

For some reason, I don’t need much of an excuse to make seasonally themed artwork using my toddler’s hands and feet and various mediums…usually paint and some sort of glitter.

But seriously.  Crafting with a toddler?  I know, call me crazy.

Aside from the utterly adorable outcome that I usually frame and place on our entryway table, doing paint-related arts and crafts is anything but clean and simple with a toddler.  Especially when you’re covering pint-sized hands and feet (that are constantly moving, running, touching, grabbing, climbing, stomping and smearing everything…everywhere) with paint.

So, I always try to be prepared.

I get the kiddo down to his onesie or diaper.  I put him in his old high chair to limit his mobility.  I put an old shower curtain down on the floor as an easy-to-clean drop cloth.  I situate him out of reach of anything.  I make sure I’m not wearing anything that I remotely care about.  I get paper towels or dish towels damp and ready for immediate wipe off.

Oh, and most important, I tell myself to CTFD and relax.  It’s really not a big deal if stuff gets messy.

So, with spring here (err…somewhere under the 2 feet of snow we still have) and Easter just around the corner, we added a few other seasonally themed animal hand and feet prints to our repertoire.  Let’s see.  Reindeer feet?  Check.  Turkey hands?  Check.  Cottonball snowmen?  Check.  But the barn seems to be shy a few characters so…

Why not add a bunny and a few ducks?

Artfully yours,

MomME

And just like that, we were done

It happened so slowly that I barely noticed it.  But in hindsight I guess I also grieved it slowly.  Every day.  Across months.  And said good-bye minute by minute, session by session…until, finally, my little nursling was no more.

A little more than two years and little W is, I’d say, officially weaned.  For the last several months my energetic toddler has nursed less and less, and still less.  Our once three-times-a-day sessions dropped down to just morning and night.  And, when he was just as eager to wake up and eat breakfast we dropped another session and just nursed before bed.  And finally, when he was just as eager to start reading books with Daddy…

We were done.  There were no more nursing sessions left to drop.

And much to my surprise, I was OK.  I am OK.

There were so many times leading up to this day that I’d look down at him while he was nursing and my heart would just about burst in my chest.  Explode.  Threatening to scatter tiny fragments of my soul across his serene nursery.  I know.  That sounds so dramatic.  But two things: (1) if you’ve ever self-sustained a tiny human (from the breast or bottle) you know what I’m talking about and (2) nursing makes you all sorts of hormone-induced-crazy.  So, it was the silent kind of catastrophe that usually just resulted in big, silent tears seeping from my eyes while my little one happily nursed away none the wiser.  I was already heartbroken and dreading something I knew would come…

But I just couldn’t imagine the day we’d no longer nurse.  The day we’d no longer share this indescribable bond.

It was, after all, a bond forged over engorged, bloody nipples…clogged ducts…and mastitis.  A bond forged through what seemed like endless all-nighters, cluster feedings and days where we spent more time nursing than we didn’t (and I have the app to prove it…).  Across a seemingly endless journey from 32As to 32Es..every size in between…and arriving at my new boobs that more closely resemble tiny, shriveled grapes.

But it came and went.  As I knew it would.  As it had for many of my friends, whether it was before it ever started…or sooner than they would have liked.  I’d grieved with them, too, and felt joy for them as they found new ways to connect and keep their special bond alive.  But I was so surprised that I almost didn’t even notice.  It happened so gradually.  So peacefully.  Not at all the dramatic explosion my anticipation foreshadowed.  Thankfully.

I know that, each and every day, he’s growing and changing and developing and evolving – just like our relationship.  But, nursing or not, I know that our bond is just as strong.  We just express it in different ways now.  A running hug from across the room.  A kiss on my imaginary “boo boo.”  A snuggle before bed.

And, you know what?  It kind of feels good to be wanted just for me.

But, honestly, little W will still ask for milk every once and a while…even though these shriveled milk-makers aren’t making anymore milk.  And I happily oblige because I miss having his little head lay on my chest as we snuggle.  So when it happens, I breathe in every second of his warmth and am grateful for just one more moment.

Gratefully yours,

MomME

 

 

Pooparazzi, Part II

Back by customer demand is a sequel to my ever-popular Pooparazzi post.  And while I have high-hopes for the popularity of this post, too, I have to admit, there’s something way cuter about baby poop than there is about toddler poop.  It’s pretty gross, actually.  Because it’s pretty much adult poop…in a fun-colored toilet.  Not so fun.

So here it goes with a (toddler-sized) turd update.

I’ll start at the beginning…It was January 21st at about 6:00pm.  Yup.  Right before tubby time.  That was the first time our dear little W sat on his potty and went pee!  My husband was getting him ready for his bath and, nonchalantly, suggested W go pee on the potty before his bath and then my husband walked into the closet to get his stuff ready for the next day, leaving W with some peace and quite.  Next thing I knew, my husband was at the top of the stairs asking me if I put water in W’s potty because it had started singing.  The answer was a big fat, NOPE!  He must have gone pee on his potty!

But, because he’s two and enjoys the word “no” (accompanied by a furrowed brow and little head shake), it would be another 37 days until we could scream and shout and celebrate over something in our little potty.

But it was worth the wait.  Because you know what he did a whole 37 days later!?

HE POOPED ON THE POTTY!  And two days later he PEED TWICE ON THE POTTY!

Similar to his first pee on the potty, he pooped on the potty very unexpectedly.  We’d just taken a shower and I encouraged him to go pee on his potty.  He tried a few times but then said no and didn’t seem interested.  So, I let it be. While in the closet getting dressed, he peed a tiny drop on the rug and I rushed him in to the potty again and sat him down.  Knowing that we had success last time when he was left alone, I walked back into the closet to finish getting ready.  Before I knew it, literally 30 seconds later, he came running into the closet shouting, “Poo poo!  Poo poo!”

I was thinking he had to go poop so I started towards his room in a hurry, not wanting him to poop on our white closet rug.  But, W pulled me over to his little potty and again said, “Poo poo! “Poo poo!” and pointed this little gem…

Totally gross.
Toddler sized turds are, well, totally gross.

Holy, crap.  Literally.  A poop in the potty means a poop that is not smooshed and smeared all over his diaper and butt.  Amen.  And, he was SO PROUD of his poop.  If he weren’t buck naked in the picture I’d post that, too.  And just two short days later he decided to take TWO – count ’em two – pees on his potty.

So where does this leave us?

I have no freaking idea.  I haven’t read the first thing about potty training.  I can’t even imagine my tiny human going to the bathroom all on his own, given that he can’t really pull up or pull down his pants yet.  So…I guess it’s just a start.  He seems to have fun using the potty, but honestly, he also doesn’t give a crap (pun intended) if he has a poop in his pants.

To be continued…

Yours truly,

MomME