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"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or erased...it can only be accepted."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The good stuff

Just realized it was 1 am and I was up...for a happy reason.

Emma is sleeping in her crib (for the first time) and I am stuffing wedding invites.

I'm tired, I'm a bit stressed...

But I'm happy.

I want to make sure that these days I truly say that things are happy. So unbelievably happy...that sometimes I feel silly for feeling down. I have a hard time accepting "depression" because I'm so content and glad about where my life is now.

20 years ago I had no idea what was about to hit me. I had separate parents that loved me...I thought. I hadn't learned to say "no" yet.

15 years ago I was in a terrible situation. I lived every day with a drug dealer that couldn't care for himself...let alone me. I lived in fear...I lived in anger...I lived in a situation that no child should ever face.

10 years ago I had just gotten away from that man who destroyed me. I didn't know which way was up...because I had spent most of my existence listening to how terrible I was and how I didn't get to have my own voice.

5 years ago I was married to someone that didn't care about me, and someone that didn't value what "marriage" stood for. I still didn't understand what a "healthy" relationship was.

Today... my daughter is asleep upstairs. I am about to marry a man that I want our girls to look up to. A man that treats the mother of his children with not only respect...but love. A man that works his ass of to provide for his kids and family. A man that isn't perfect...but that believes in giving the best of himself to his family.

15 years ago my life was a disaster. I remember not wanting to live on this planet because I truly couldn't imagine a life without anger and pain. At 10-11 years old I had accepted that life was always going to be hard. One person had fought for me my entire life...but even she couldn't protect me from the hell that was in my father's home.

I understood suicide. It seemed safer in a way...he couldn't hurt me if I wasn't here. He couldn't get to me...and he couldn't scare me anymore.

But guys...I'm still standing.

Just over 3 years ago my father died. People wonder why I say that I was happy when it happened. It sounds completely neurotic right? My dad died and I am happy about it. But there's a lot you don't understand.

No longer do I have to question the black Mitsubishi Galant at the stoplight.

No longer do I have to wonder if the man staring at me at the grocery store is someone ready to hurt me or follow me.

No longer do I have to wonder if the local police officer is going to pull me over because of my last name.

No longer do I have to carry a copy of a restraining order in my car visor.

No longer do I have to keep pepper spray on me 24/7.

No longer do I have to ask the local PD to watch my house on certain nights.

The name Paul Bowers doesn't have to send a chill up my spine anymore.

For so many years I was scared that I would never have the life that I longed for. I worried that I was "damaged" and that my father had screwed me up mentally. I jumped at the first chance of "love" that I had. Yet all it did was leave me in even more of a "funk." I thought I would never be worthy of a good man to love me the way I should be. I assumed I would never have children of my own...and would never have a happy household.

And then when I least expected it (and quite frankly didn't want it...) God dropped this amazing man in front of my face. I fought it...and he fought back.

So there's something to be said for heartache. There's something to be said for living in hell. There's something to be said for being completely screwed up...and fighting your way back from it.

Call it abused, call it "damaged," call it whatever the hell you want. Going through shit makes you a better person, a better friend, and a better parent.

It just means you're a badass. And it means one day you will find something that makes you happier than you realized was possible.

Plus you'll appreciate it. More than those who haven't been through all you have.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

You just need to be okay

I think every parent can attest to the fact that there are lies we tell ourselves before we have our first child. We tell ourselves that we will keep the house clean...we tell ourselves that we will always put our little girls in cute outfits with matching bows...or our boys in matching shoes.

Personally I told myself that I would sleep when the baby slept...that I would take off work for at least two months...and that I would still be on time for things.

Yet three months in...I am awake for hours after the baby goes to bed...I was back to work two weeks after I had her...and no matter when I PLAN to leave my house...I end up anywhere from 5-15 minutes late for the majority of the things I do.

But that's all okay...because in the grand scheme of things...who the hell cares? We are doing what works for us. I am learning, we are adjusting as a family to everything changing completely.

There was one more lie I told myself though...and it's been the hardest by far for me to swallow.

I told myself I wouldn't get postpartum depression. 

I mean how could I? I have been through SO MUCH in my life...that having a baby couldn't possibly make me feel horrible. I was told I could never have a baby...so the fact that God gave me this miracle is huge all in itself. 

When Emmalynne was born...I couldn't have been happier. I held her and sobbed because I couldn't believe that I had been trusted to be this tiny little girl's mommy. I had never wanted anything as much as I wanted her. I was on a high then...and I still am. 

I didn't have the "baby blues." I am so bonded with that baby that sometimes I feel like we are the same person. She's with me 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. And on that 7th day she's only away from me for about 8 hours. I love every second with her...(okay maybe not EVERY second...).

I'm not sad. I've never been so happy with my beautiful life.
I couldn't POSSIBLY have depression. I didn't "fit the bill."

So when the anxiety started I figured it was just being a new mom. Of course I worry about everything she does, and everything people do around her. I'm her mom, and it's my job to keep her safe.

When it escalated into always wondering "what if" about everything around us...I blamed it on the new mom hormones. Until it got worse. But then I blamed it on sleeplessness. Until it got worse. When the full blown paranoia hit...I tried to stop it. I used all the tools from past times in my life and would sit alone at night saying "this is an irrational thought, everyone is fine" until it passed. I would find something around the house to do to keep myself from thinking at all.

Nights Nick was gone...I would clean until late in the night. I would go up and down the stairs to double check the locks on the doors. I would repack the diaper bag multiple times, or reorganize something that wasn't that important.

I would make lists at work about the things I needed to do that day, over the next week, over the next month, etc. I would make lists about what needed to be packed in the baby's bag, what I needed in my school bag vs. my work bag. I would recount the ounces of milk stored in the freezer, and then do the math to figure out how long it would last the baby if I wasn't there...just in case. I would meal plan for two to three weeks out...and then truly debate waking the baby in the middle of the night to go to the store and pick up everything I would need.

I had this side to me that couldn't rest. Despite the fact that I was completely sleep deprived...and dragging all day...at night I couldn't stop and let myself sleep. I couldn't let myself think about anything that wasn't work related.

I mentioned calling my doctor. I thought about it.But nothing was really "wrong" that I could pinpoint. I kept stopping myself because it wasn't depression!

I wasn't overly tired, I had seemingly endless energy. 
I wasn't withdrawing, I was overly engaged. 
I wasn't in a fog, I was hyper aware. 

Until one night...Nick was at work...and I realized I had hit a wall. 

I put the baby to bed...and went around the house cleaning like a nutcase. I cleaned out the dining room, reorganized the bar, did two loads of dishes, laundry, painted my toes, made the bed (mind you it was like 2 am), and cleaned the baby's room. I reorganized wedding stuff, worked on the invites, made two new wedding lists about random crap...and finally decided to shower. As I got my stuff ready for the shower...I grabbed the baby monitor off the bed that I had been carrying around with me. I saw Emma sleeping soundly and sat down for a second. The thoughts started again...

"What if someone breaks in while I'm showering? She's sleeping...so maybe they won't notice her in there. If I move her they will hear us because she will stir and might cry. If I hide, I can see her in the baby monitor. But if they got to her, hurt her, and I couldn't do anything about it...I could never forgive myself."

I debated with myself for 15 minutes and by the time I finally showered...I was in tears. I had these horrible thoughts of something happening to the most important person in my life...and I was absolutely paranoid. I wanted to wake her and just hold her to reassure myself that she was fine.

These thoughts happen every day. They spiral all the time. I would be driving down the road and see a river. I would have some horrible thought about what if someone hit my car and I crashed into the river. What if I couldn't get the baby out fast enough?

It was exhausting. It was painful. And that night I had had enough.

I called my doctor first thing the next morning. She very calmly asked what was going on...and immediately referred me to the women's health psychologist she works with. She didn't judge, didn't sound surprised...she said it sounded like PPD and OCD.

I met with the psych the next morning and I kept telling her I didn't think it was depression...I was so happy. But she explained PPD in a way I had never heard before.

The "what if" syndrome.

Not normal what ifs that come with being a mom...but instead completely irrational what ifs that push you to a point of exhaustion. So basically my life the last 3 months. 

She reassured me that it was normal, and that I wasn't a complete basket case for thinking all of these terrible things. She told me that the anxiety was giving me OCD...rituals to help calm the nonstop thoughts I had going on.

I needed medication to slow it down. Short term medication...to help me fight the crazy that seemed to have taken over my brain.

I'll be honest...I didn't like the idea at first. I didn't like that it shattered this perfect mommy superhero cape I've been trying to wear the last few months. I didn't like that the thing I had fought hard against needing in the past was making its way back to me. I hated that something so happy...was making my body react in a similar way to how it did when life was going horribly.

The reality was that I have been killing myself...and for no reason. It's not a big deal if I forget something in the diaper bag. The wedding will happen...and I don't need to have every detail in my brain all the time. No one is going to die if a load of clean dishes sits in the washer for a day.

But most importantly...no one is going to crash my car into a river. No one is going to break in my house and hurt my baby. Those are irrational thoughts.

I am finally allowing myself to admit it...

I have post-partum depression and anxiety. 
I'm taking medication.
And I'm still a damn good mom. 

It should NOT be so hard for moms to be able to admit those things.
It should NOT be something anyone feels ashamed for.
It should NOT be as unheard of as it is. 

The important thing is that you love your kid...and you would do anything to make sure they are safe. Whether that means walking away sometimes...sleeping when you should be cleaning...or taking medication to help you fight to get yourself back...

It's okay. 


You're human. I'm human.

It's okay to need help sometimes.

Monday, April 11, 2016

"You should be here"

This post is completely unrelated to the things that I usually post. Right now I should be sleeping but I can't because there is something on my mind...something that I haven't addressed on this blog.

This is something that gives me a lot of anxiety. Something that makes me question everything around me because it helps me realize how short life is.

New Year's Eve I got a call at 11:59 from our best friend Amy. I almost didn't answer because I was overly pregnant, and figured she was drunk dialing me.

That same day I had been at the hospital worried about the baby...and later that night for Nick's dad. We almost went to Amy and Adam's for a party...but had way too much going on stress wise. We wanted a "quiet" night to get some sleep with everything we had going on.

I thank God every single day that I answered that phone call. 

Amy called because she was falling apart...she had had the worst night of her life. 

Amy's husband was in a motorcycle accident that night that cost him his life. She had to make decisions that night that tore her to pieces...after being married for a very short 13-14 months. Adam meant everything to her...and meant everything to a lot of the people in his life.

Yesterday was his birthday. I didn't think it hurt as badly as it did...until Nick called me out on it. It's almost 1 in the morning, and I'm sure the little one will be up shortly...but I can't sleep.

I was just a friend. Granted...Adam made you feel like family no matter who you were. I felt like I had an extra "big brother" every time I talked to him. But in all reality I was the tiniest piece of the puzzle when it came to all the people he touched.

Adam loved. Adam would do anything for anyone...at any time. When we moved into our new house...Adam was there. He showed up early, and stayed as late as he could. Despite being up all night at work...he worked his ass off to help us move. I was 9 months pregnant and miserable...and he put up with my crab-ass attitude without a second thought. He kept joking and telling me to move more boxes so I would go into labor. He wanted to meet Emmalynne, and quite frankly didn't care what it took to get here to join us here.

12/30- we expected the little one. I thought for sure she would be there by that date.
12/31- we lost our best friend. Adam...I'm still trying to find the reason that you were taken from us.
1/13- Emmalynne was born. And despite a hard pregnancy...I attribute the easy delivery to our best friend sending extra blessings.

Adam- Nick and I miss you a lot. The phone call I got that night is something that will be with me (and I'm sure Nick) forever. You were our best friend. You were my big brother...and Nick's sanity sometimes. We have bad days...and we have good days. I miss the hell out of you...but I'm mad that you left so early. It shouldn't be like this damn it. You should have had the chance to meet the little girl you were so excited to see.

And to your wife...who has showed an entirely new side of herself in the last few months...thank you. Amy you are kicking ass...meanwhile I don't know how you are even standing at the moment. You are such a beautiful person...and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say how proud we are of you for how you have handled all of this. Thank you for not only being a badass through what must be the hardest time in your life...but thank you for loving our little girl so much.

Excuse my french...but this fucking sucks. 

I don't talk like that on this page because I try to promote happiness and learning to love bad situations.

But in this case I'm just mad right now. This shouldn't have happened and we miss our friend more than we realize sometimes. There isn't "happiness" in this right now. It's just a really deep hurt of missing someone that meant a lot to us.

To the couple that shoved Nick and I into reality...

We love you both so much. 
Amy- thanks for tossing the flowers my way
Adam- thanks for forcing the garter on Nick (even if it wasn't "intentional")
Both of you- thanks for giving us something to fight for

Tonight so sucks. I don't have better words. It just sucks.

Adam we miss you jackass. 

I speak for myself and my future husband...you should be here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Being a mom is hard

So anyone that pays any attention to my constant psycho-babble (which by the way it amazes me that anyone does) knows that I just took almost a year off as I was busy having my little rainbow baby. Side note- if you don't know what a rainbow baby is...you should look it up!

Emmalynne was born January 13th, 2016...exactly 5 years (to the day) that her older brothers became angels. In 2011 I was in a bad place. I had lost a pregnancy that meant the world to me. I was in an unhappy marriage. I was quite frankly an absolute mess in many ways.

Today...I am living a beautiful life. I am blessed in ways I never thought would be possible. Superman and I bought a house. I went back to the insurance business so that I can actually be around to watch our daughter grow up. I graduated with a psych degree and then went back for my MBA. He is in nursing school, and working in the ER of a local hospital. In all reality...we are kicking ass at this whole "life" thing. Life is WAY too busy...but it is good. It is happy.

But hey y'all...I have a secret for you. (Well I suppose it isn't a secret to anyone that's "been there done that." But either way...)

Ready for it?

Being a mom is hard. 
Really hard. 
Make you completely insane, wore two different shoes to work, haven't slept a solid night in 3 months kind of hard. 

I have forgotten who I am as a person. Our wedding (that I had essentially finished planning a year ago...) is suddenly this massive blur that is barreling at me in a 2 month countdown.

Confession: sometimes I put the baby in the swing and I walk away. I let it rock her to sleep for the night while I try to make some sense of what I need for the next day. I shower alone. Hell...sometimes I just sit on the couch in the dark for a minute because there's so much running through my brain I can't even being to comprehend any of it.

I have never felt so out of control, or terrified in my life. Our little girl is perfect. She is healthy, happy, and honestly probably the cutest thing I've ever laid my eyes on. But there is a whole new fear in being a mom. The question of "what if" suddenly has 30 thousand new endings that scare the ever living shit out of me. Right after she was born I posted something on Facebook about how my brain worked in the middle of the night. Sleep deprived and all the only thing my brain could think was:
 "She should have mittens on while she sleeps so she doesn't scratch herself, but what if she pulls the mitten off, shoves it in her face, and suffocates??? I should take them off. Oh well if I take them off her hands will be so cold. Ok I will leave them on. Well...if I leave them on and she stuffs one in her mouth, she could swallow it. But if I take them off she will definitely scratch her cornea out."

This is what new moms do. Seriously. All day. All night. 
And people wonder why new moms are so exhausted...

I've heard that it lasts forever, but I'm happy to report that the total insanity slowly starts to calm down around week 3 or 4. The irrational "what if she crawls out of her bassinet and falls to her death on the carpet" thoughts end. No worries though...they are replaced with bedtime "please sleep through the night tonight"...(wakes at 1 am to realize baby is still sleeping) "OH MY GOD IS SHE STILL BREATHING?!" kind of thoughts.

Now there is good news in all this...I promise. Actually I'm not sure women would continue to reproduce if there wasn't. 

Having a baby is the best thing I have ever done.

My daughter is a miracle.

She is proof to me that God exists...and that no medical diagnosis can stifle what He can accomplish.

(No worries now...this blog will never go all "turn to God for all of your problems, He can heal all.")

But for me...I got my rainbow baby. I got a miracle. I got something that I was told would NEVER happen. I got my Emmalynne.

And she is perfect.
Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

My cousin read me that Bible verse almost 10 years ago...and it has stuck with me ever since.
Suddenly...I can see those plans. Things make sense.

I know this post has been long. I won't judge you if you stop reading now. 

But as it is the first official post "back"...you may want to stick around. I have no idea how much I'll be able to post between now and the wedding...but I have some things to say before I disappear again. It's time for some real talk. 

Post partum depression and anxiety. 

My life is essentially perfect right now. And I deeply mean that. My "stress" is all good stress. I don't have to worry about providing for either of our girls. I don't have to worry about a job. We have a beautiful home. I have a kickass partner in life that loves me and the girls. He's my best friend and my superhero.

Life. Is. Perfect.

Guess what doesn't care about that perfection though? PPD and PPA.

I'm lucky, and I think I am avoiding the actual depression for now. I'm still on the high of being a mom and I have been able to bond with her more than I realized was possible.

But some women aren't that lucky.

Those who have depression or anxiety issues prior to birth are much more likely to deal with PPD or PPA. And it shouldn't be embarrassing. It's something that deserves attention and love.

I am getting hit pretty hard right now with the anxiety. Between massive hormone swings, and all of the stress we have in our lives...I am starting to crack a little bit. I still have it under control...and luckily I know when to wave the white flag...but I won't deny that it is there.

I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes when Nick leaves for work...I fall apart. I cry a lot...and for no reason. I make lists about making lists...because it helps calm me down. I clean mindlessly for hours instead of sleeping because somehow it makes me feel more in control.

And sometimes I don't handle it quite so constructively. Sometimes I panic at work because I think of the fact that my garage is unorganized. It goes from something that is essentially irrelevant to life...to something that I need to fix IMMEDIATELY. I hear myself talking and I know it's stupid...but it doesn't change the stress level. It doesn't quell the extreme panic I feel knowing that it isn't done.

It's important to realize your "normal" and to recognize your threshold of "not okay anymore." And it's important to call yourself out when you feel the situation get out of control.

You don't have to be perfect. 
You don't have to be supermom. 

You just need to be okay. 









Thank you to everyone who waited patiently for me to come back.

Introducing Emmalynne



...clearly this world's newest skeptic. Just like her momma.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

“We are, as parents, the biggest drug dealers in the United States of America.”

First post back...

At some point I will talk about the new baby.

At some point I will post about all the things I have been thinking up the last few months.

But for now I will just leave this here:

http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/father-to-parents-about-heroin-addiction-it-s-not-your-kid-until-it-is-1.662860

It's not your kid, your sibling, your parent...

Until it is.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Survivors

So last week I had the pleasure of finding a Facebook post of "cardboard confessions" of domestic violence survivors detailing some of their struggles. They were touching, shocking, and brave.

I was able to contact the wonderful photographer and then all of these amazing people who participated. The post went viral in one day, reaching millions of people. I decided that this is exactly what this blog is meant to highlight. The horrible things that happen to innocent people...and the recovery process.

I asked if I could use their photos and stories and a few agreed. Keep an eye out as I will soon post all of their photos (of those who agreed to participate)...and then I will be doing a weekly showcase on each of them...giving them a chance to further explain their story and recovery.

These are amazing men and women. Strong and badass men and women. It takes a lot to do what they are doing...but it's about time we broke the silence once and for all.

For all those who plan on leaving hateful comments...don't bother as they will be deleted. Don't waste your time...go educate yourselves instead. These things happen...be a part of the solution instead of the problem!

I will also have the photographers information on the following posts. Beautiful photos and talented woman! Looking forward to see her next project which is rumored to focus on PTSD. Which any of my readers knows...I will be on like white on rice.