Moments of Gratitude

thankful

Do you ever have those moments of gratefulness overcome you? Moments when you think, is this really happening? Am I really this lucky? I love those moments. I get hit by them randomly, like when I grocery shop. Sometimes, I reach for something stupidly overpriced like organic kale or look at my full cart of food that I chose in the checkout line and am immediately overwhelmed at how fortunate I am. There are so many people in our world who will never get to do something as simple as grocery shop and get everything that they need.

I get lost in these moments. It hits me at all different times, when Luna laughs, when the dog fits perfectly in the nook behind my knees and sleeps with her head on my thighs, when Husband reads to Luna or makes me coffee or when I sit in a hot bath reading my Nook. All of a sudden I realize I have so much to be grateful for and I try to take a mental picture of that moment and file it under the “don’t forget this!” tab in my brain. I need these memories saved and easily accessed for those rainy days when I think life is one big pile of stink.

I had one of these moments of gratitude while riding bikes during our recent trip to Hilton Head. We were almost done with a 16 mile bike ride and I began thinking about a trip we took to Target just two weeks after having Luna. I was so weak and sick from the blood pressure issues and the drugs the doctors had me taking that I had to use one of those motorized wheelchairs to get around the store, and even that was a struggle. I remember getting tears in my eyes because I couldn’t help, but think “will this ever get any better”. Logically, I knew that I would/should, but under the influence of hormones, anxiety and feeling like crap I really wasn’t sure I’d ever be back to myself again.

hhi

Fast forward 6 months and I’m on a beach in Hilton Head with lots of family, doing yoga in the morning, taking a 16 mile bike ride in the afternoon, swimming in between and feeling healthy and extremely happy. I realized how much has changed in 6 months and thought I cannot forget this feeling.

bike ride

Then, I look at my Dad.

He was on bicycle in front of me. He had brain surgery to remove a tumor just 4 months ago. He is not only enjoying the beach with me, but he is also on this long bike ride. The realization of where we are and the strides we have made brought tears to my eyes. We are very very fortunate.

group

I hope to never forget that grateful feeling I felt on the bicycle ride. I hope I’m able to remember it next time I wonder if things will ever get any better because they do. Things get better. They won’t always be the same… the truth is I’ll never be the same I was before I had Luna. No, I’ve definitely changed, but for the better. In fact, since having Luna I have many more moments of gratitude. I’m more aware of what I have to lose and what really matters, which is just making life more pleasant. Today, I am thankful.

Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw
Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw

Cheers.

My Post-Traumatic Postpartum Life

wounds

Luna is about 5 1/2 months old now and it’s already hard to imagine life without her. What did I use to talk about? What does a full night of sleep feel like? Where did all the time go? It’s crazy how life can change so much, yet feel so complete and normal at the same time. I think it’s clear that I am really enjoying my life with Luna and everything she brings to the table. She has been perfect. I, on the other hand, have not fully healed. I’m almost 6 months postpartum, and I still feel like a stranger in my body.

Luna’s birth was not exactly ideal, the long road home was certainly no fun and now, the recovery, is much slower than I imagined. My physical body is good. Sure, I’ve got a few stretch marks and my belly button may be forever misshapen, but that’s nothing. I love my body and I’m proud of its abilities and strengths. It’s kind of amazing. It’s my mind and health that are still on the mend.

it's all about perspective
it’s all about perspective

Thanks to medication, my blood pressure is under control, but hopefully it will even out without meds soon…only time will tell. It sucks to be on medication and have to deal with ongoing doctor appointments, blood pressure monitoring, side effects, etc, but I know it could be worse. I am truly grateful to be where I am today and I can handle this challenge I’ve been given. It’s a lot more challenging than my new body, but I like challenges. They define us, right? Or, I guess the way we respond defines us, and I’m hoping to create a strong definition for myself. The biggest challenge, the one I don’t handle so well is the post-traumatic stress.

The first few weeks after Luna’s arrival were the toughest. Once, I stopped blacking out, gained some strength and realized I’d survive I began living life again. The worst was behind me, but I didn’t realize the tough road that lay ahead. I still have nightmares. I will dream that someone is taking my vitals in the middle of the night, I’m having heart attacks or something is keeping me from being with Luna and I wake up in a hot sweat and tears. Sometimes just getting to sleep is a struggle, which is odd considering it’s what I want most during the day. My mind races, as does my pulse and I get lost in “what if’s” that leave me wide awake and searching for anything to distract me from my negative thoughts.

Little things take me back. A hospital scene on a TV drama, a friend’s Facebook picture, the song that played during Luna’s birth or just passing my doctor’s office can send me right back to that dark hospital room. The flashbacks are as real and scary as the nightmares. They bring tears to my eyes and a lot of anxiety. I hate them. I hate that the memories of Luna’s birth bring so much anxiety and fear. I hate that our birth experience was so traumatic. I hate it for all of us.

It all feels so fresh. I get headaches from the tension I hold all day. I feel alone often, and when I forget how grateful I am I’ll let bitterness sneak in and make me question, “why me?” Why do I have to take so long to heal? Why can’t I pop out kids and hit the ground running like so many other women? Why do I have to deal with the not-fun-at-all side effects of blood pressure medicine at the age of 29? It’s dangerous to think this way.

It get’s a little easier at time goes on and I’m learning to talk about it more, which helps. I’m lucky and it could be worse, a lot worse, but that fact doesn’t take away the very real fears and anxieties I felt in that hospital. It doesn’t stop an anxiety attack when I lie in bed at night and flashback to the hospital bed where I thought I would never leave. It’s very real and if you have ever suffered from anxiety or panic attacks don’t feel guilty for your very real struggles. The more I heal the more I know it’s okay to cry, to let it all out and to break sometimes. It’s then that we see all the different pieces that make us whole. It takes time to put those pieces back together, but when you understand each piece and how it fits into the other, you understand what makes you whole and what makes you strong.

That’s where I am now. 5 1/2 months in and I’m putting myself back together again. Everyday I feel a little more whole and a lot stronger. I don’t know if or when these flashbacks and nightmares will end, but I’m facing them one day at a time. I hope you do the same.

Cheers

Through Sickness and Health

Fiance is always the one behind the camera so it was very challenging to find a picture of just him... seriously I went through hundreds of photos.

*This was written a few weeks ago. Fiance is leaving for 3 weeks tomorrow, so I am dedicating this to him. xoxo*

We may not be married yet, but Fiance and I have definitely been there for each other through many rough situations, and lots and lots of sicknesses! Most often, the sick person is me. I am not just referring to the crazy I-think-I-am-dying-having-a-panic-attack sickness (which happens too often), I mean contagious types of sicknesses.

I catch everything! I must have one of the weeniest immune systems around. If anyone around me has a cold, strep throat, the flu, a stomach virus, whooping cough, pink eye, etc, I WILL catch it. Fiance on the other hand NEVER gets sick. I mean the guy lives with me… an often sick person around germy little children all day, yet he never catches anything!

Until now…

While visiting my family in Texas, my parents and sister both happened to get very sick. I was dreading the morning I would wake up sick, but it never happened. Peter, on the other hand, has been sick from the moment we left Texas. I mean REALLY REALLY sick. To be fair though, he is never sick so he may just have the sniffles and his body just has no idea what’s going on, and is therefore freaking out.

It is so sad to see him this pathetic and yucky feeling. It is also very odd. It’s like Freaky Friday, and now I have to play the role of “nurse” in the relationship…something I have very little experience with. I must say, I do not like it one bit.

I hate seeing Fiancé feel this bad, and he is not a very nice patient. Fiancé is known to get grumpy on two occasions: 1) When he wakes up, and 2) When he has gone too long without food. Because these occasions arise often I have two rules 1) Only communicate by text until after noon, and 2) Always carry emergency snacks.

WELL, if Fiance is grumpy during those two occasions I do not even have the words to describe him now… cranky, grouchy, testy, snappy, irritable…..well maybe I do have the words. I guess he is allowed to feel grumpy though; he is the sick one.

I, surprisingly, am being a very well tempered caregiver. I ran home during every break today to bring him soup, medicine, and Kleenex. I took his temperature even though he growled at me. I made him eat chicken soup, which he then threw up. I made him drink Gatorade as he gave me the look of death. I wiped everything he touched with Clorox wipes the second he wasn’t looking. And, I sat on the kitchen floor and cried where he couldn’t see me, when I felt frustrated that he wouldn’t take his medicine, drink his fluids, or tell me anything he wanted.

Also, this may be the first day I didn’t complain about anything all day to fiancé! He must be milking this for all it’s worth.

I hope he is feeling much better tomorrow. I had a disgusting time at the laundry mat tonight, (plus, I’ve been on an edge with panic about catching his disease) and I am just dying to tell him all about it.

Get Well Soon babe, very soon.