I Didn't Invite You, Postpartum

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual abuse and Postpartum

I want to start off by saying this blog will not be the beautiful and poetic writing that I normally do. I realized when I wrote this that my writing is much different when I am writing about something I am going through as opposed to something I have conquered. I am still learning about my own self each day. This is not poetic, but it is very honest and that will just have to be okay.

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I didn’t invite postpartum into my life. It felt like an invasion and betrayal of trust. I trusted my mind and my body to protect me from depression and anxiety. I was suddenly watching a young mother cry every time she held her Prince in her arms. I was completely overwhelmed by every little thing. If someone said they wanted to come over, I threw myself into a cleaning frenzy and sobbed in the shower while I would try to pull myself back together. I was a shell of the woman I imagined I would be as a mother.

Before William was born, I would have nightmares that I was going to have postpartum. I suppose my body and brain knew more than my soul wanted to let on. Why, though? Why was this happening to me?

Trauma. Let’s start there. Early childhood trauma. In our community we are now aware of the early trauma that occurs to children exposed prenatally to substance abuse. I am aware of my trauma due to it. I am also aware I’ve suffered more trauma than that. At a young age of about 4 or 5 years old, I was molested. My parents did everything in their power to get me the help I needed to recover. I was in therapy and counseling, I saw psychologists…they went to the ends of Earth to protect me from it.

Here I am a new mother, and I was uncomfortable. The thought of having to change my son’s diaper made me nauseous and sick to my stomach. I went to kiss his Buddha belly after he was born and I felt disgusted after. I had my husband give him his first bath. I began to isolate. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing and the response was always the same, “I’m great, I love being a mother!” I did. I loved being a mother but I wasn’t great. There were highs, but there were a lot more of the lows. I was crumbling everyday. My husband and I began to grow distant. I was out of my mind anxious and could not stop crying no matter what I did. He wanted to help and I couldn’t tell him how. I was convincing myself I was a monster. My son was the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, but why was I uncomfortable? Why was I shell?

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My entire life I have experienced not “normal” sensations to affection. I am a very affectionate person, but I also am aware that affection makes me uncomfortable at times. I haven’t been able to find the trigger or the common denominator of those moments, but when it happens I feel repulsed and anxious. When motherhood came, I didn’t feel worthy of being this perfect prince’s mother. I felt damaged and repulsive again.

My sister sent me an article of trauma and sexual abuse and it clicked. Everything this survivor was feeling as a mother was what I, myself was feeling. I looked at my son and wondered how someone could do something to a child like was done to me. I can’t fathom the thought of my child feeling my kiss or my touch and feeling disgusted by it. I can’t fathom the thought of my prince feeling repulsed by a hug or snuggles of someone he loves. I can’t fathom the thought of my son ever being taken advantage of. I wept. And I wept more. I have forgiven, but I have also had those wounds reopened and it hurts. They are only little for so long. I have to embrace these moments with him and get to a place where I am the care free and the open mother I want to be. I want to show all the affection I have for my son and never second guess it. I deserve to be happy and joyful as he is. William doesn’t know what has happened to his mother. He loves his kisses. He loves his snuggles. He loves his bath time. I am the one who is having the issue.

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So where do you go from here? You get help. I had to admit to myself I need help and that’s okay. I love therapy. It’s amazing and wonderful. There is no shame in needing help. I have preached that my whole life and I have to take my own advice again. I am worthy of making sure my beautiful mind is at peace and the healthiest it can be. I am worthy of loving my child. My child is safe and loved and will always be and I have to learn how to believe it. I have to silence my own trauma and stop deflecting it into my own journey of motherhood. My journey of motherhood does not have trauma. I am not what happened to me.

Time to heal.

Time to heal.

A Generation Protected

It has been three weeks since my miracle joined my husband and I in this world. He was born 7 pounds and 5 ounces, 20 inches long, blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. The days that followed his birth were engulfed in sleepless nights and love. I would stay awake while he slept and I would cry. I thought I may have postpartum depression. I asked myself how could life be so cruel to pass along postpartum when having my own child was my prayer for so many years. I didn’t feel sad, or anxious or depressed. I would just look at the face of the tiny and perfect human we had created and be overwhelmed with love. I sat myself down and aimed at identifying what exactly was triggering me. At the end of the week I realized it had brought up skeletons in my closet, and I also realized that I wanted to protect him more than life and that I was experiencing a love I had never felt before.

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This love I was experiencing was deeper than the core of our Earth that burns at 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. This love dove deeper than the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. This love was taking my soul and entire being and traveling along the Earth’s circumference. I remember knowing that I was sure I would never be the same after this love. It had woke me up to a new world. The bad in the world was no longer at the fore front of my mind. Instead I was immersed in all the glory of the universe and all the graceful, dazzling and delightful things this world has to offer. I was submerged in the ideas and fairy tales that I could see William waking up to; the forests he would walk through and the grounds he would cover with his tiny feet. I could see the laughs he would catapult into the world, and the hopes he would shower this planet with as he makes his way through it. I could see the outline of his soul and the imprint of his compassion. I could see the provenance of his mind, and how he would talk to everyone he meets with stars dancing in his eyes, yearning to learn more every day. I could see the fountains of our soon to be memories. I was suddenly in a foreign territory where no darkness could dim the light, as desperate or unforgiving as it tried. William, my protector, had shown me this world, HIS world, and I could not see past it. Why would you want to leave paradise?

My Momma came to visit and stay with us. She rocked and loved her grandson. Every moment that she was here I was overwhelmingly reminded that this life I have is because of her own grace and magnitude of motherhood. She shared stories of the many babies she fostered. Some who were much more difficult. She had fostered blind and deaf babies, she had fostered “failure to thrive” babies, she had fostered drug and alcohol affected babies, she had fostered abused and neglected…and each child she fostered she spoke with in the same voice with the same love and compassion as all the others. The love and care given was no different from child to child. She shared tips and experiences with me. We laughed the entire time. I was given glimpses of my mother’s motherhood journey. It was surreal and incredible and pushed me even harder. I was basking in the light and glow of a woman who was nothing short of a heart warrior put on this planet to heal and love those around her. When it was time for her to leave and make her own way home, I thanked her and God for sending me to her. My heart knew I needed her when I was born, and my parent’s hearts knew it, too.

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Motherhood is the greatest blessing I have been gifted with. The pregnancy was not easy. I had to work hard on my health, harder than I ever have had before. I had to make sacrifices and remind myself there were two lives my actions now affected, not just one. At the end of the delivery when I saw how perfect and beautiful he was, it was joyous and it made every needle and insulin injection, every work out, every healthy meal, every self love task and every detrimental substance not taken, worth it.

When I was 17, I wondered if this could be me. I wondered if I could break the cycle of my birth family’s history. My birth mother was an addict, her mother was an addict, my birth siblings and I have suffered from addiction, and here I am 12 years later with my Prince in my arms and the knowledge that it has been done. The cycle has been broken. I have started a generation without FASD. I have conquered my family’s demons and I have brought a life into this world that is a force to be reckoned with.

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William means PROTECTOR. I am his protector but in many ways he is also my protector.

“I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words,
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

— Your Song / Elton John

Bird Box - We Still Have a Long Way to Go...

December 26, 2018

I’m sure by now some of you are familiar with the new Sandra Bullock movie that just came out, Bird Box. I like many others, saw the trailer and was instantly hooked. I could not wait to sit down and throw myself into an anxiety attack. I do not handle thrillers or suspense well, but what I can say…I am a glutton for punishment. I just can’t help but indulge and be anxious later.

My older sisters made reference to it within hours of each other that they had finished the movie and LOVED IT! I immediately sent a text out to them, ‘where did you guys watch it?!’. Netflix was the reply. Last weekend my hubby agreed to enable me and watch it. We sat down and curled up with some blankets as I kept all lights on, because I truly am a big baby with suspense.

We were able to get through about an hour of it before I had to take a break. I am pregnant and didn’t want to overwhelm my child with my emotions and a racing heart. Evening came and we sat back down to finish it. This is where my interest took a turn in the opposite direction. Maddy and the group had just came back from their run to the grocery store. Douglas, who stocked up on alcohol, was in the kitchen preparing a drink. Maddy is quite pregnant at this point. Douglas decides to offer her a drink of alcohol and pours her a glass of dark liquor. He insists that she enjoy it, leading into something along the lines of they’re all going to die, so she might as well enjoy it. The second this scene started to play out, my heart stopped. I became well aware my breathing was hallowed from a different kind of nerve. I looked at my husband for a split second out of the corner of my eye. He met my glance with, ‘no, no, no,’ as he murmured the words to our flat screen. Maddy said something along the lines of, “I hope you’re right,” and proceeded to take a swig from the glass.

I felt like I had taken a blow to my stomach. The next 20 minutes of the movie, I could not tell you about. I was too embodied in my own mind and my own thoughts. My husband offered to turn it off. His first reaction after the scene was to express his disdain for how the moment had played out. I on the other hand, felt stuck. My life mission is advocacy. In the past few years of blogging and advocating, I have FELT the shift of the changes we are making in society. I have SEEN the impact our voices have made. I have WITNESSED state governors and celebrities take part in our journeys, I have WATCHED the news coverage of statistics and reports come out of new research…yet suddenly I am wondering how we took a year back from ourselves. Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses. I pride myself in my support of strong women, multi ethnic adoptions, and powerful and community driven women. To see one of my favorite actresses agree to speak those words in a film sent a fury of fluster to my soul.

I want to believe that she knows the impact of this scene. I want to believe her intent was to open doors for a conversation on substance use and pregnancy, but I also am no longer naive. The perception that was taken from those 3 minutes was that if we are indeed facing a crisis or drama, we as women who are carrying a child, can pick up a drink and it will be okay. How wrong this perception is! How DAMAGING THIS mindset is. Would it not have been more powerful for her to take those spare minutes and make a statement against it? Would it have taken anything away from the movie plot or reviews had she just pushed away the glass and said those same words, “I hope you’re right,” or “no”. I mean TRULY would the outcome of people’s reactions overall had been negative? No! I can promise you it would not have deterred a soul.

I understand there are film directors, and she is an actress with perhaps little control over the end results. But I believe that if we continue to voice our frustrations with the normalization of drinking and pregnancy, we can reap real results! Had she taken a stand and demanded they change a few small words, advocates and affected families world wide would have felt a small victory. Our hard work, our struggles, our voices, our pains, and our beings would have been vindicated. We pound the streets and sing our truths until our voices are but whispers, and then we dance our stories until our limbs say we must find other paths. We are constantly fighting for education, awareness, and reform in today’s society. We must NOT ever become content with what awareness we have created. We CLEARLY have more work to do. We have more people to reach. We have MORE alliances to build and MORE paths to tear down to get to our end goal; a world that is aware and a world that recognizes there is NO safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Today I am disappointed in Hollywood. Today I know our jobs are BUT done. Let us push even harder to get our stories across.

FASD Celebration of People Video!

Last week I attended Diane Malbin's Workshop on FASD and the Neurobehavorial Model. I walked away so inspired by their children and the children they work with. I created this video to celebrate individuals with FASD! We are amazing people and we are changing the world as we know it. I am so proud of each and every one of you. You are the light and no one can take that away from you. Celebrate everything you are, everything you are becoming, and everything you will be. Today is your day!

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE! <3

**I do not own the rights to this music or pictures used in this video.**

Rising from the Ashes of my own Hell

We as humans tend to make apologies for who we are. We tend to take our pasts and hold them tight to our chest; as if by letting it go we are giving way to a light which we do not deserve. We let our mistakes define our present. We let our fears and short comings stifle the voice of worth and recognition to the daily efforts of pushing forth through the fire. This is no longer my life. I am ready to put that chapter behind me.

Over 6 years ago I was lost. I had no idea who I was or what I was capable of. My heart was bleeding, my joy was sorrow, my decisions were drastic and careless, and my actions were self-induced torture and addiction. It all came to a head when I nearly lost everything. I was terminated from my job at Fred Meyers, I was arrested and then charged. I now had a huge X on my back that was now my burden to carry. I was judged endlessly by those around me and could not find a place of employment. I went to dozens of interviews and made it through each one just to have them turn me down once the background check was performed. I was a care giver of an infant and a medical guardian for an 8 year old with severe Type 2 diabetes for $20 a day. I had no idea how to force myself to take even the tiniest step forward. This was my lowest point. I realized that I had to start from ground zero and it was a journey I had only myself to blame for.

I found an ad on Craigslist for telemarketing. I went to the interview and was told I could start training the following week. I had no idea what was in store for me. I was desperate to pay my restitution and probation while praying that the rain would not drown the ditch I was in. So I started stumbling forward with the weight of my past on my shoulders. Days turned into weeks. I found solace in my managers. They believed in me and didn’t cast any judgments. Weeks turned into months and my stumbling sometimes led to tripping. The job demanded a lot and was by no means easy. Sales is one tough gig. Being told no call after call gets tiring. Soon the tripping lead to stronger strides. I was in a rhythm and was finding myself. I was realizing my own strength and building work ethic. I continued to be surrounded by supportive people while also being surrounded by temptations. It was a test I failed several times. I by no means took off out of this ditch I was in jumping and leaping with endurance. It took painful struggles and hurdles. It left me out of breath but left me yearning for more from my own life. So I became a fighter. Instead of fighting myself I decided to fight for myself. I pushed myself to the limit to succeed at my tasks and my job. My perseverance was noticed and I received several promotions. I was knocked down several times also. Life has a funny way of sweeping you from under your feet when things seem to be going good. Being humble is one of the most important values I have embraced. You aren’t owed anything. Your excellent attitude and actions don’t determine you will live unscathed by life’s bumps and losses. Your attitude and actions simply define your next moves from those bumps and losses.

Months turned into a year, and that year turned into several. I have completed my probation. I have lived addiction free for over 4 years. I have been through several lay-offs. I have married the love of my life. I have lost loved ones and pets. I have been turned down by amazing job opportunities. I have also been blessed to receive amazing job opportunities. I have my own website and blog and am now a published author. Life will throw you for every turn possible and will keep you guessing. Your resilience and ability to adapt will decide if you survive.

And here I was on this very day, picking up a Western Union at Fred Meyer’s with my husband. I avoid this store as much as possible as to not run into people from that time in my life. Here we are approaching the counter and as I turn to look the cashier in the eye I quickly look down and make half attempted comment about, “it’s been a long time, fancy seeing you here.” I feel my face flush red and my heart began to hammer. All I can think about is if he is wondering if I am still in my addiction. I am wondering if he is going to leave work and tell everyone he knows that he saw me today and they will reminisce about that day I was arrested.

And then I stopped my own bull shit.

I stopped over analyzing the situation. I stopped giving his opinion control into my energy and soul. I am a warrior who hit rock bottom and had to claw her way out of a ditch she cast in quicksand. I rose from the ashes of my own hell to come to other side of a mountain where I lay kissed by the sun, faith, and love. I do not need validation from other’s on the vices I have conquered and slayed. I look myself in the mirror every morning and raise my own head with pride and value. I give my own soul the fulfillment and joy it deserves. I carved my own paths in the forests of thorns and bears that I feared not too many years prior. I stopped letting my own worth be dictated by a past that is only a slither of the story to who I am and where I will go.

I made poor choices. The sentence is simply that long. That is the length I will allow for that chapter. The story that came after and has yet to come is now bound to decades of a typewriter and an open heart. Do not let others hold you prison to your own judgments of you. You decide what you are worth. You decide if you will fly or if you will swim. You decide if you are enough.

My father and I on my wedding day.&nbsp;

My father and I on my wedding day. 

You ARE.