I've had a stomach ache since Friday. While I don't know if it has anything to do with the 8th anniversary of a very terrible time in my life, I do know that it has thrown off my entire groove (which isn't hard, I don't have much). The years have passed quickly since 2008. I can't believe that I have survived 8 anniversaries now. Over the years I have noticed that my PTSD is much worse on the days after July 30 than the days prior. So many things happened in terms of my recovery and health during August, September, October and November. Many memories come back to me at the most inopportune times. I'm grateful for my children that intervene before my thoughts become too heavy and burdensome. I could never get too deep in my depression with a daughter like Jane. If I did, that girlie wouldn't make it to the age of two. Jane disappeared into the family room after breakfast this morning. Mack chattered as I cleared the table. After a few minutes, I heard the dryer beeping...weird. The dryer never beeps unless the door is open. I opened the laundry door a few moments later to find my daughter in our dryer trying to shut the door. Sissy had a huge fit when I took her out and spanked her diapered butt. The dryer fit was equivalent to when I stopped her (Jane) from washing her hair in the toilet. An hour later the little stink was walking across all of the cabinets in the kitchen...trying to find the "treats" I had hidden. I always thought Mack was going to be the one to give me an ulcer.
To my 24 year old self-
Hi there. This letter is for you, written 8 years in the future. I know that sounds weird, but just go with it. On July 30 (in two days) we're going to get into an accident that is going to rock our world. It's really bad. We end up with a shattered face, broken arm, and hand. Kim will be there too. She will find our broken body and call 911. She will scream at us to answer the EMT's. She will scream at us to not move. She will scream at us a lot, don't take it personally. We are all terrified. Ready for even more bad news? We will have to endure 3 surgeries in 5 weeks. We get stinky and hairy. The rehabilitation is going to take months. One of our many cat scans is going to reveal a tumor (19 cm) on the left ovary. Yup, we loose the ovary, but gain a wicked 10 inch scar up the abdomen. Here's the thing. It's going to be tough. The depression is going to feel unbearable at times. But really cute boyfriend is going to stick it out. We even marry him and have his adorable babies...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Eventually over a period of several months we will start to feel more like before. Mom is going to make us take walks with her to the mail box. I know your probably laughing, but it's going to kill us. We hold on to her, the entire way for weeks. Once the mailbox is mastered she (mom) makes us walk to the end of the block (stop laughing I'm serious). Gone are the days of 8-10 mile runs, we never get those back. But we will slowly get our health back. It's going to take awhile, even years but it will happen. Our face will even be reconstructed. Those who knew us before will say we look the same, and those who didn't won't know the difference. We will end up with a pretty deep scar in our cheek that everyone will mistake for a dimple. Our arm will heal, but it will always be a little bit crooked. We will endure some pretty grueling therapy. ( therapist is obsessed with U2). Getting off of the prescription pain pills SUCKS, but with the help of the parentals we do it.
Our reproductive system is in pretty bad shape, completely non-related to the accident. We even have an oncologist (lucky us). The doctors are going to be pretty grim about the possibility of having children. We cry a lot. We experience pretty severe depression over this too. But guess what, we have a gorgeous little boy 2 months shy of our 28th birthday. But he is going to be our biggest trial yet. Beautiful baby boy is going to be sick, like really sick...like don't think he will live sick. None of what we have faced even holds a candle to this trial. It's going to be tough. It's still tough but we get through this too. Because 20 months 2 weeks and 1 day after he is born Nicole is going to give him her kidney. And we are able to breathe again. We do spend the 5th anniversary of the accident in the hospital, the PTSD (I don't think I've mentioned that, but it's a beast) is going to be going crazy. It's amazing what we will do for that little boy. Oh how we love him.
And speaking of love, we will even have another child, two hours shy of turning 31. We share a birthday, isn't that fun?! She's nothing like her brother. And our heart will be so full. We stick it out with Brent too. There will be times, when neither of you/us think we will make it. In fact, the first year of marriage is straight up hell...no sugarcoating that one. The PTSD we don't know we have is out of control. Husband even threatens to divorce us if things don't change. But don't worry we change because we want him. And he wants us. Sometimes we (Brent and you) have to work a little harder at wanting each other, but he always sticks it out, always. We did a really good job picking a spouse, kudos to us. The next 8 years are going to be crazy. They are going to be trying. There will be days when we will want to quit. but we will get through it. We will get through it all. And when more things come up that neither of us know about right now, we will get through that too. Our life is turning out pretty amazing. (We even see the grand canyon!)
Your 32 year old self
I can't believe you are a year and half. The last 18 months have been a blur. You came to me during a time when I doubted myself as a mother and wife. You were so wanted, but I was so broken (emotionally and physically). You have brought a new dynamic to our little family. It has been fun watching you figure out where you belong in this world. You are confident, but incredibly shy. You still don't like strangers...which is why I was so surprised when you lasted through nursery on Sunday. The look on your face when I picked you up after class was priceless. You were so smug over the fact that you had your own class. You did your skip/gallop all the way down the hall. You showed/shoved your coloring paper to anyone that was willing to look. I am so in love with you baby girl. You are funny, smart, loving, emotional, shy, naughty, sneaky and mischievous. You love wearing my shoes and makeup. You love nail polish. You love dresses. You love to be frilly. I love how you constantly make out with my face. I love when you ask for a kiss by name. I love that you are fluent in Russian/gibberish. I love how squishy and soft you are. You have made my world so much better. I don't know how I lived 31 years without you, I love you so much baby girl.
Towards the end of last year Mack begged us for a "big kid bike" (two wheeler) like the "normal kids"ride. Mack only had a tricycle which he still couldn't pedal. The hubs and I looked at each other not sure how to break the news to the kiddo that he probably wasn't strong enough for a big kid bike. My hubs ended up making a deal with Mack instead. Brent told Mack that once he had mastered riding his tricycle, he could have a bike. Mack was over the moon excited. He tried for weeks/months to pedal his tricycle. I caught him on that thing every waking moment. Mack could finally pedal his tricycle around the middle of April. He was so smug. Our next goal was teaching him how to maneuver his trike where he wanted it to go. Mack mastered riding his tricycle last month. He picked out his own bike two weeks ago. He has been a mad man on that thing ever since (with training wheels of course). We are so proud of him. He is the definition of resilient.
Today was full of too many emotions, tears, tempers and spanks...on all ends. I feel like a major failure in the mom department. All I did was yell at Mack and Jane to stop yelling and fighting (I get the irony). That being said, the major highlight of my day was earlier this afternoon when Mack asked me to play restaurant. The kiddo dressed up in his little sister's apron complete with oven mitt. He decided to be the chef and the "waitress" (no matter how many times I tried to correct him). He even talked in a mix between a British/Italian accent. The little kiddo loved making dishes to bring to me. He told me about his time in kitchen school. In case your curious Mack's favorite thing to make is "salad with fries and hamburger buns." I love him...mom fail and all.
It was June of 2006 when I first met this guy:
I watched him for over half an hour like a creepy stalker. A few weeks later I worked up the courage to talk to him...oh man did I have butterflies. A few weeks after that he walked me home from a church activity. I still remember the look on his face when I said something cheeky, his deep belly laugh gave me butterflies. It would take a full year before we would start dating. He was so nervous when he asked me out. He kept fidgeting with his hat. Every once in a while he would look at me out of the corner of his eye. His nervous smile gave me the biggest butterflies. Our first date was awesome. He even held my hand. He would finally kiss me a few MONTHS later. The rest as they say is history.
Brent has worked from home the past two days, following my panic attack on Monday. For the past two days I have watched him take care of our children, and work. I love the careful way he cares for Jane, and the attention he gives Mack. I can't help but think of those long days/nights/years when we were first married and the hubs worked and went to school full time, for me. Last night Brent and I hunkered down to watch our latest television show after the children were tucked in bed, and the house was tidied, It didn't take long before Brent reached for my hand, holding it the entire time. I still get butterflies.
My heart hurts. It feels so heavy, and all over someone I don't even know. I have a crazy amount of empathy for people. I'm not saying this to toot my own horn, it can be crippling. I tend to put myself in the other person's shoes to the point I can't even function. I get so anxious and worried, like last December when I chased an older guy down in the Target parking lot who was taking half eaten food out of garbage cans. I tried to give him some money. He very politely declined. When he declined, I almost started begging him to take the money. I told him that I would stew and worry about him to the point that I wouldn't have been able to sleep. I wasn't exaggerating either.
About a week ago I was perusing some social media sites and came upon a story of a young mother in Idaho who recently lost her husband to cancer. Tears started flowing...I can't even imagine. I don't want to imagine. How can someone even bear that kind of pain? I'm already emotionally fragile this time of year. This did not help. I became angry, hurt and confused. Why do such crappy things have to happen to good honest people? Why do these poor children have to grow up not knowing their father? Why does this poor girl have to loose her help meet? Reality bites. It didn't take long for my thoughts to start zooming like a bullet train. I began loathing my situation (not the first time, but it doesn't help) my depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I cried for my son, who just last week asked me if he was "ever going to be normal". I cried for my husband who hasn't ever known a wife without mental illness. I cried for all of the people that die from senseless acts of violence. I cried for the world. I have cried for days, I'm amazed I have any tears left. And then last night a miracle happened.
I prayed and prayed for the dark clouds of my heart to be lifted. I prayed for my dark thoughts to leave, before I turned them into action. It didn't take long for my thoughts to travel back to a time that I have tried to forget, when my baby boy was dying. It was November of 2011 The tears were abundant. It was just baby boy and I in our little corner of the NICU at Primary children's. Mack had been nursing, but was sound asleep. I remember slowly stroking his hairy back and neck with my pointer finger. I tried so hard to remember everything I could about him. I thought about what life would be like without my miracle baby. I thought about what life would be like for him if he lived. Would he be happy? Would he always be in pain? Would we ever find joy again? I cried and cried as I begged Heavenly Father to spare my child. I begged him to take me instead. I still remember the calm feeling that filled my shattered heart as the spirit whispered, "You are sealed to him...no matter what happens you will always have that." And it is true. I am so thankful for my knowledge of the gospel and the peace it brings my soul. I am so thankful that the lord keeps his promises, regardless of what we have to endure in this life. I don't know what I would do without it.
For the first time in 14 years I find myself without a therapist, and it's the devil month (July). To be completely honest I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I have had numerous therapists in the past 14 years, ever since my teenage life exploded. I'm doing a lot better than I thought. When I first lost my therapist (metaphorically of course) my whole world crashed down. It has been 7 weeks, and I am starting to realize that I am okay. I have a husband who raises me up and loves me unconditionally. I have two wonderful children. For the first time in 4 years I have my health. I have a loving family. I have a testimony of the gospel. And although I still find myself hurt and confused over my current situation I realize that it's okay...that I'm okay. Brent talks me through a lot of the hard stuff. He is so amazing. For the time being I have decided to start blogging again, let it be my therapy. I stopped for a while, because my life was getting a little claustrophobic. I don't know how long this stint may be, but for now these pages will have to be enough.
Jane turned 16 months old yesterday. I can't believe it. The end of this month marks two years since I found out I was pregnant with my baby girl. At 16 months Jane loves:
Teasing her brother
Sitting in chairs
Sitting on stairs
Marching and dancing
Hugging her Uncle Paul
Talking to her grandma on her toy cell phone
Kissing her mama on the mouth
Chasing her daddy
Folding her arms/praying
Taking things out of her mommy's purse
Jane decided to say her own prayer over the food at dinner this evening. She waited until everyone's arms her folded before bowing her head and spouting out a bunch of gibberish. I did understand "love my mama, dada, and MACK." It made my heart melt. Once Jane was done, Mack looked up at me and said, "Yeah no one understood that. I don't even think Heavenly Father did." I love my kiddos.
For a long time I was broken. While the struggles I have faced are not uncommon, they are still hard. There were days I couldn't even get out of bed. I didn't know how to handle my life. I cried more than I laughed. I could barely care for myself, and I was going to be a mother? I was going to care for another human? I was going to raise them and love them more than anything? I still remember staring at that test. The positive sign seemed so large and imposing. It was February of 2011. I was terrified and excited. My husband was over the moon.
On October 29 2011, at 4:21 in the morning our little bundle was born. He was small and beautiful. I loved his tiny nose and bright blue eyes. He made me a mother. He made me a special needs mother. I loved him more than anything. He made me long to be a better person/wife/mother. I messed up, a lot. I still do. But I keep trying. I am not a perfect mother, but I keep trying. And then in May of 2014 I found out I was pregnant again, against the advice of the doctors (who made it very clear this was to be my last child). This time I gave birth to a little girl, on my birthday 25 days early, and the size of her full term brother at birth. And I love her. I was worried I wouldn't love her as much as her brother, but love changes and grows. It's pretty amazing. I love her for different reasons and in different ways. These children, my children have given me joy I never knew was possible in this life. They have breathed purpose into me.
There are still days when I struggle those struggles that aren't so uncommon, but are still hard. There are still days I don't want to get out of bed, but I do. I stayed in my bedroom for 5 days after the procedure that stripped my chance of having more children was performed. I cried until there weren't any tears left. My sweet husband came in the night before he had to return to work. He had been giving me space to work things out on my own, but decided to intervene. He gave it to me straight. He told me how sorry he was that more children weren't in the cards for us. He told me that it was unfair that there were so many unwanted babies in the world who wouldn't be unwanted in our home. I cried as he stroked my back. And then he told me it was time to step up and be a mother to the children that we did have. He told me how worried Mack was about me his mama. He told me our daughter often asked for me. He told me it was time to stop thinking about myself and think about our children again. And he was right. After crying over his "harshness" I did what I always do. I picked myself up. I went downstairs where I was mauled by two children who think I am pretty cool despite my many faults.
There are so many days when I mess up. There are times when I have cried and begged for forgiveness from my children and heavenly father. But I love being a mother. I am grateful I am a mother. I don't always do a great job, but I do the best I can, which is the best I can do. Happy mothers day friends! This video is dedicated to my mom.