Introducing Myself

You’re probably wondering why I am doing this.

  • Because I know that I am not alone
  • Because other people need to know that they are not alone
  • To create a safe space where mothers, working or not, know that their feelings are valid.

I am starting this blog because I know that I am not alone and I want other people to know that they are not alone in their feelings either. It is a great task to be a mother. As a working mother, not only are we expected to work 40 hours a week (minimum), we are expected to keep our house clean, keep warm food on the table for dinner, and spend plenty of time with our children. As a mother, you have the expectation that you will teach your child everything they need to know about love, happiness, sadness, their colors, letters, animals; you name it, we are responsible for making sure they know it. The reality is that this is HARD.

There simply is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything we are expected to accomplish. It is important to take it one day at a time and not let it overwhelm us. That has been difficult for me in the past. Personally, I have gone through bouts of depression and anxiety. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Are my kids happy? Is my husband happy? Am I being a good sister? friend? Am I setting my kids up for failure? What if they don’t know their ABC’s by the time they get to preschool? What if they can’t write their name in kindergarten?

I know that some of these thoughts have crossed your mind too. Are you doing enough? The answer is YES. You are doing enough! If you even have this question cross your mind, the answer will always be YES.

I am hoping to use this blog as a platform for moms of all varieties to come together and realize that they are not alone and it is okay to be overwhelmed. It is what we do with that feeling that really matters. I plan on writing about mental health, what it is like to be a mom, what it is like to be a working mom, fun things to do with your kids, fun crafts to do on a girls night, and even what it is like being a wife, daughter and sister.

I hope that you are still reading this and are ready to go on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see how this blog evolves as the year goes on. Here’s to new adventures and doing this together!


Awareness for ALSG

Aplasia of the lacrimal and salivary glands (ALSG) is a rare genetic disorder characterized by absence (aplasia) or underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the glands that secrete tears (lacrimal glands) and secrete saliva (salivary glands). Affected individuals may develop dry eyes (xerophthalmia) or dry mouth (xerostomia)(Reference).

It has been almost 2 years since my daughter was first officially diagnosed with ALSG. Look back at my post from July 2020 “Advocate. Advocate. Advocate.” In her diagnosis they tested both mother and father to see who it came from, it came from mom.. me. Nothing more deflating than realizing you gave your daughter a rare genetic disorder that has no treatment, but to also realize that this diagnosis for yourself explains so many problems that doctors have written off over the years.

Because ALSG impacts salivary and lacrimal glands, the doctors that handle your teeth and your eyes are different than your primary care doctor. I truly believe this genetic disorder goes undiagnosed due to the lack of comprehensive medical care. You go to a dentist for your teeth, you go to an optometrist and ophthalologist for your eyes and you see a primary care doctor for all other needs. It is rare that your doctor asks about dry mouth or dry eyes. It is rare that your dentist asks if you have dry eyes too. Not to mention, if someone (you) puts the pieces together, the referral process to actually get answers is LENGTHY. It took us 2 years and 3 months to get a firm genetic diagnosis. Not everyone has the time or patience to go to doctor after doctor to rule things out.

Here is our journey: We saw our primary care doctor which took 9 months to convince something was going on and got a referral. We got referred to ENT who got us in within 2 weeks and after the first visit, ordered our first ultrasound. After those results, we had to have an MRI because they thought she just didn’t sit still for the ultrasound tech to get good enough images. It took 4 months to get in for an MRI because she was so young. MRI results > no salivary glands. We got referred from ENT to Rheumatology. Rheumatology was a 4 month wait. They ruled out any inherited disorders based on lab work. We went back to ENT who then referred us to Genetics. Genetics was a 9 month wait. Once we got in, we had to have insurance approval to run the genetic panel and they wouldn’t run it without insurance approval because the testing is so expensive. 3 months later, insurance approved. We sent off our samples and had our results within the month. Jordyn was 2 years 3 months when we finally got our diagnosis. I started this process the week after she was born. Imagine piecing these symptoms together any older. They blame medications you took 10 years ago, allergies, age.

I have been seeing eye doctors since I was 2. I’ve had glasses since I was 2. I’ve had hundreds (it feels like) of fillings since I’ve had teeth. I have always been told “you have bad eyes,” “your eyes get drier with age,” “You need to brush your teeth,” “are you sure you’re brushing your teeth? this is a lot of cavaties for someone your age.” Not ONCE did anyone put these 2 things together to say “This may be something bigger.” This is why I am convinced that this disorder is far more common than it is actually diagnosed. In my family alone, I can name 9 people who suffer from the same symptoms. My dad, my sister, my nephew, my aunt, my cousin, my cousin’s daughter, my grandma, my daughter and myself. If there are 9 people in just my family – there is someone you know who suffers from this genetic mutation and has been undiagnosed.

In the almost 2 years since Jordyn’s official diagnosis. We have been fighting the battles of getting medical insurance to cover dental and ophthalmology. We have been fighting to find answers, treatments, other people who have the same disorder and we are coming up empty. I don’t want her answer to always be “drink more water”, “put these eye drops in” and “brush your teeth.” We definitely do these things, but there has to be a way to increase the production of the glands she has or the ducts she has, maybe there’s a massage technique for her eyes that can relax the lacrimal glands to produce tears. While having a diagnosis sounds like relief, it has been a lot more work to figure out what to do with the diagnosis. She is a walking expirement with genetics. They’re tracking her problems and documenting them, hoping they will help other kids. We are in a rare genetic disorder clinical trial where they cross compare symptoms of patients with similar diagnoses. But this isn’t being diagnosed enough to actually get any answers. I am writing this blog in hopes of spreading awareness for this disorder in hopes of identifying ways to improve the life of my daughter.

Sometimes balance is an act….

Balance: to keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.

I started this blog in the thick of the pandemic. I wanted to share my experiences with others to let them know that they are not alone. What I didn’t anticipate is having all of these ideas in my head but no time to spend putting fingers to keyboard to put them out here. But, I am committing to setting aside time to do just that.

I saw a post yesterday that said “How do you do it all?” and the person thought to themselves “drowning in laundry, solid door dash dedication, sporadic (half assed) home cleaning sprees, late drop offs, extra after school screen time, minimal sleep, minimal expectation” but responded “It is all about BALANCE.” Can we stop acting like you can do it all if you just maintain “balance”??? Do you know how many times I have thrown a ball, or 10, in the air and only caught 1? You can’t juggle it all no matter how balanced you are. You have to be well thought out, coordinated, always with a plan. But, you never have time to think through everything, coordinate it, come up with a plan, so what we all really do is throw each ball in the air praying that we can catch them all. But, sometimes a ball drops…..

What happens when a ball drops?

For me, when a ball drops, I spiral. I immediately question every other ball that is in the air and say F it and then before I know it they’re all falling…. all around me… like rain… and then its raining failure….. Then I get on social media and question why I couldn’t handle all of the balls in the air but she can? What am I doing wrong? I must not be good enough. I am a failure. This spiral happens every.single.time. But the good news, is that I am not the only one who can’t juggle all of the balls in this thing called “balance.” More than likely, there is someone that she is throwing her balls to rather than trying to juggle them all herself.

I am finally at a point that I can feel a ball starting to fall and before it can, I hit it over to someone else as if it were a volleyball. Can’t get the house clean in the time I am at home, ask the kids to pick up their toys and help me clean what they can and ask my husband to vacuum or do the other items. Running late so I’m unable to cook at home in a timely manner? You can bet I am stopping on my way home to grab dinner from fast food or just a to go order from the local restaurant. Feeling overwhelmed trying to get from one town to the next to pick up the kids from daycare and school? I ask my mom to pick up Jordyn so I can be home for Kamryn and start preparing dinner.

The KEY to life is not “balance” the key to life is being able to recognize when you are starting to fall or drop a ball and being OKAY with asking for help. Trust me, realizing that you CANNOT do it all is HARD. But, when you realize that, you open yourself up to being able to do what you can the BEST you can. Let’s show less of the balancing act and more of the real struggles.

Take care of yourself first

You can’t pour from an empty cup, it is not selfish to take care of yourself first.

Have you ever been on a plane when they tell you to put your mask on before helping others? You can’t help someone get oxygen if you pass out first. The same goes for all areas in our lives. For some of us, it causes us great anxiety to take care of ourselves first because we hold the fear of failing someone else and someone else being negatively impacted by that decision. I fight this battle every single day.

I started this post almost 2 months ago but found myself not doing exactly what I am trying to get others to do, so I never posted it. But, I am finally filling my cup back up and am reminded of the importance of keeping my cup full enough to be able to pour into other people’s cups. It is so easy to get hung up on making other people happy, but what I found is that I was making myself even more unhappy and even more stressed out. I had to step back and a couple therapy sessions later, I am here to remind you how important it is to give ourselves the same grace and energy that we give others. I am always asking “how can I help?” but I am never asking “How can I help myself?”

To start, I was really unhealthy so step 1 was investing into myself and getting healthy. For me, that was starting at a local boot camp gym with a good friend. It does cost $125/month, which was a big pill to swallow at first, but then I broke it down to just not eating out once a week for my family of 4. Or even not getting starbucks but maybe once a week, the investment now seemed tangible. So I pulled the trigger. I signed up for a 6month commitment next to one of my best friends and we are doing this together.

Step 2 of investing in myself was recognizing when I need to take a break and just walk away. This is from work, from a friendship, or even from family. In the past, I have given everything 110%, no matter what. But, the pandemic paired with the worst struggles with depression in my life, brought me to a new reality. That I can’t give 110% to everything all the time but only give 5% to myself. I have to start giving that 110% to myself and then I can start giving what I can to everything else. I was sacrificing my mental health, my physical health, and my happiness for what? For a job that won’t take care of my kids if I’m gone, for a family relationship that will never get better because there was never a positive, for a friendship that was literally draining the life out of me? I took time off work, I left my phone on DND and I asked myself what I needed it. Was it worth it anymore to give my time and energy into things and relationships that weren’t reciprocated? No. I had to cut the things off that were sucking the life out of me and start breathing life back into me.

It has been a long year of mental health improvements and taking baby steps to get where I’m at but I started my physical health journey about 6 weeks ago and I’ve never felt better. I have more energy, don’t crave Starbucks anymore, I have more energy to put into my friendships and spend less time stressed out and more time focusing on what I can change rather than what I can’t. My therapist is always reminding me that you can only control yourself, and it is important to remember that no matter what, you know your truth and what anyone else says doesn’t matter. Some people may think I’m gloating by posting my workouts every day and calories burned, but for me, that is my accountability to keep showing up. The more I fill my own cup up, the more I have to share with others.

BE SELFISH. INVEST IN YOURSELF. DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. You can’t save the world, but you can save yourself and that is just as important!

Pick your battles

The motto I have heard the most throughout motherhood is “Pick your battles.”

I know much of my blog to date has been about Mental Health. The past year has been a lot of therapy trying to work through a lot of dark times. I plan to spend this next year continuing to work on my mental health but I want to include more sides of my balancing act in my blog. So, onto picking your battles.

Being a mom of two, most days are what I call, pure chaos. No matter what you have planned, they have other plans. In the beginning, it wasn’t that hard having two. But now, being 4 and 2 they both have their own opinions about everything. The simple thing of what to eat for dinner is always a debate. Not wanting to sleep alone is another battle. I have learned that the key to sanity in parenthood is picking your battles. Hint: these are 2 battles I have found not worth fighting.

My husband works long hours so it is just the 3 of us in the evenings. I try to let them decide what they want to eat based on a list of what I have to offer. Many times, it ends up with them eating different things and me eating a little bit of each of their picks. Many people would say not to give them an option and just make what I want and offer it and they either eat or they don’t. While I agree with that method, it just isn’t pratical for my sanity. If I cooked mac and cheese with hotdogs, I would hear screaming and crying about how they wanted something else and then at bedtime how they are so hungry. So, for me, to avoid all the crying, I let them choose dinner. That is one battle I have chose to avoid at this point in my life.

More recently, the fact that the girls sleep in bed with us has started to be a battle that we are fighting. In the past, we have co-slept because it allowed all of us to sleep the best. Jordyn didn’t sleep in our bed until she was 1 and daycare moved her from a crib to a toddler cot and I wasn’t able to get her to fall asleep in her crib anymore. Kamryn on the other hand has always slept in our bed. I couldn’t sleep without her next to me after she was born so she hasn’t known anything different. For the last 3 nights, I have laid with them to fall asleep and ended up sleeping on the floor next to them. Last night, Kamryn couldn’t fall asleep because Jordyn was crying, imagine that, so she ended up going to sleep in our bed by herself. However, Jordyn slept all night in her bed. This battle is not for the faint of heart. So many times I wanted to just go lay in my bed with both of them so they would fall right to sleep and we would all sleep all night.

I have realized that them falling asleep in their own room is important not just for me and my husband’s sleep but also for their sleep. Many times we have to move them throughout the night so that we don’t fall off the bed, this leads to them waking up so you can imagine the cycle. And they both are growing so the space they take up in the bed grows with that, and the fact that they both like to sleep horizontally….. Like c’mon kids! Sleep like a normal person!! If you co-sleep, I know that you can relate.

At the end of the day, it is so important to pick your battles because if we don’t choose wisely, or at all, we could be fighting our children all day everyday. Be mindful, remember that they are looking to you for guidance, they don’t always know what is best for them, so pick your battles and make sure that they are worth your energy and frustration. If we fought every battle, we wouldn’t have enough energy to fight the war. Remember, a battle not fought is not a battle lost, it is just a battle not worth fighting.

Truth Be Told

Lie number 1: you’re supposed to have it all together. And when they ask how you’re doing just smile and tell them “never better.” Lie number 2: everybody’s life is perfect except yours. So keep your messes and your wounds and your secrets safe with you behind closed doors. Truth be told, The truth is rarely told.” – Matthew West

So I started writing this post a month ago. And then couldn’t decide if I was actually going to post it. After a month of back and forth, I am realizing that this is more important than ever. In the past month, I redefined what Family is to me. This allowed me to process the holidays much different than I have in the past.

With Thanksgiving come and gone and Christmas coming in fast, it is important to remember that you aren’t the only one with messes. You don’t have to deal with them alone. For me growing up, the holidays were always that time that we got together with my step-mom’s family and we all had to put on our fake face as if we had the most perfect life. When in reality, there were a lot of fights behind closed doors. Throughout my last year of therapy, I have realized the amount of damage that actually caused me. I have worked on that and now only surround myself with people that I know are being as real as I am. This has been a huge pain point for me and still something I have to remind myself daily is worth it.

Some of the people I have had to remove from my life are those I held on to for so long because “they’re family” or “they have always been there.” I realized that these people were fake to my face and real behind my back. I can only control the interactions that I have with them but I cannot control how they interact with me or what they do afterwards. This caused me to end up deeply wounded and lying in the fetal position in order to keep my most vulnerable organs from being destroyed. To be totally honest, I was afraid of getting hurt that I never let anyone else in. But in the last year, I’ve realized that getting hurt only serves as a lesson to not trust that person again, not as a lesson to never trust anybody again.

Everyone used to think that our family was “perfect.” But, as I write this today, I can tell you that is the furthest thing from the truth. My own sisters would gossip about me to everyone in town. My own family would judge me in high school if I ever got above 120lbs. I went to college and healthily gained weight to 150lbs and was told that I “could afford to lose a few pounds” at THANKSGIVING. What did I do as a result? I stopped eating… again. I was all the way back down to 130 when I graduated college. Looking back at pictures, I am sad at how skinny I was and how “normal” people thought it was. I truly believe that there is such thing as a healthy weight. I definitely was not at that then, nor am I at it now. My weight has always caused me to be self-conscious, but what I really should have been learning/paying attention to was how I treated people, how honest was I with people about how they made me feel or ways that we could be better. I never had a safe place to talk about my feelings, so they got pushed under the rug so deep that I became numb to any feeling at all.

You may think “numbness isn’t always a bad thing.” But, I promise, it is when you are married and have zero feelings. My marriage was about to end because I literally did not feel. This meant that I didn’t feel happiness, sadness, anger, ANYTHING. Can you imagine being married to a robot? Because I’m sure that’s what it was like for my husband. This also meant that he probably felt like he could never make me happy or that he was never enough. But in reality, I just had zero feelings on the surface and was feeling every single emotion all the time.

The moral of this story is that as long as you can let the truth be told about how you are feeling or how something/someone makes you feel, you will be set free from the pain of “what if.” Let your truth be told.

Hitting the Reset Button

Living in the NOW generation. Disconnecting from electronics is a foreign concept. But sometimes, we need to hit the reset button.

The world we live in today is very much connected. We have the news at our fingertips and updates on our friends in an app without ever having to reach out to them and communicate other than a “like” or a comment. If we don’t know the answer, we want it NOW. If we go through a drive-thru, we want our food NOW. There is no leisure in our day to day. We are in a rush to get everywhere and do anything. It is important to step away from that lifestyle and just hit reset.

The last 2 weeks I have been disconnected from social media, and for the most part, texting and phone calls. I took the time to hit reset. My family and I took a trip to Panama City Beach and we only used our phones to take pictures. I left my phone in the room most of the time and just used my husband’s phone to snap pictures.

Now that I am home, I can tell you how important that time was with my family. My daughters are going to remember us burying each other in the sand, looking for seashells, building sandcastles and much more without the memory of us being on our phones or worried that our phones were going to get ruined in the sand or in the water. These memories are so important to their childhood. This isn’t to say that your day to day isn’t important too, but it is even more important to get out of the day to day even for a couple of days and disconnect to reset.

Sometimes we get caught up in what I am going to call “virtual reality” and forget what is right in front of us. Virtual reality is what exists on our phones; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Some people spend their evenings “scrolling” to see what is going on in others lives but fail to see those first steps taken right in front of them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my daughters growing old with memories of “mom always on her phone.” For me, it took this vacation to realize how much phone time impacts my girls. Pressing reset allowed me to disconnect, reflect and figure out what I want my life to look like when I do come back. No, this wasn’t an entire day anxiety session. This was over the course of the 2 weeks taking notes of who popped into my mind of “I really wish they were here” or “This would be fun with this person” or even “I wonder how they are doing right now.” I also took note of the people who asked me how vacation was once I did get my phone out.

The most important part of hitting reset, is making sure you close all windows before you push the button. If you push it while things are still running, you are going to get a ton of windows opening back up when you return. Thank you, Windows, for this lesson! For me, I cleaned up my work inbox so when I returned, it would only have what I got while I was out. Next, Closed out any tickets or gave my interim person all the information in case they asked for an update. Then, I cleaned the house – top to bottom. My husband even got out the carpet cleaner! Nothing better than coming home to a clean house. Finally, I told close friends and family that I was going out of town and would be disconnecting but I would check my phone periodically. This is important so you don’t have family or friends texting you 100000 times because you typically respond and you aren’t and they think you may have died. It is no fun to do that to your people!

Now here are the steps that are key to have a successful reset period.

Step 1: Put away the phone.

This is the hardest step for most people. But it is the most important step. If you find this too hard, you can ease into it and just do a couple hours at a time. But, the goal is to go back to a time before phones were glued to our hands and just live in the NOW.

Step 2: Read a book.

If you don’t like to read, you can use this step to draw or write or whatever brings you to a state of relaxation, whatever allows your mind to drift. I read 2 books between my time in the car and free time in the hotel. Escaping the reality and allowing my mind to drift into these books gave it the break it needed without just shutting it down.

Step 3: Relive your favorite memory from your childhood.

My favorite thing growing up was looking for seashells on the beach and finding the biggest ones to take home. We came home with an entire glass star of seashells and sand that we all got as a family. We have been home a few days and my oldest still talks about looking for seashells with me, I hope it is one of her favorite memories.

Step 4: Don’t be afraid to talk to new people.

Since your phone is put away, you have no excuse to not talk to the people around you. Get to know them, where are they from? Do they know any good places to eat where you are at? We made a good friend the first day and they were at the resort we stayed at the entire time we were there. We even ate dinner together the last night.

Step 5: Live.

THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. LIVE. You can’t die if you don’t live, so take this time to soak up the life you were given and live it how you want to live it. I took the opportunity to order a drink at dinner, and let my kids order virgin daquiris. My husband ate the fresh catch of the day. We spoiled ourselves and the kids because vacation was our escape from reality for a little bit.

Take time for yourself today, so you can be there for others tomorrow.

When Time Stands Still…..

Today, I’m writing from a place of debilitating anxiety, just hoping that I can help someone. I have really good days and really bad days. I still go to therapy every 2 weeks. I have been on every medication they can think of to help me get through these times, but sometimes it just doesn’t help and time stands still. It took all I had to move off the couch, get out my computer and write this.

The moment that changed my ability to make it through days like today happened on August 8, 2019. My dad was in a car accident. Car accidents happen all the time. But, when they happen in my family, they are life-changing. In 2003, my step sister was in the car of her twirling director, turning left to go pick up another girl, the car was hit dead on the passenger side of the car and my sister didn’t make it out alive. So when I got the call last year from my dad, saying he had been in a car accident in Macon, GA and was in the hospital, my heart dropped. He could barely talk. I tried calling the hospital, they wouldn’t tell me anything, my step-sister lived 2 hours away and was on her way but still didn’t have any more information than I did. My sister and I were scrambling to figure out how we were going to get to Georgia to be with my dad from Missouri. We couldn’t let him be down there alone. He just lost his wife in May to cancer. He wasn’t okay. He needed us. We got on a plane first thing Saturday morning.

I arrived in Atlanta 3 hours before my sister. I chose to make the hour drive to Macon to see how my dad was, spend an hour there then drive back and get my sister. When I arrived, I went straight to my dads room. He was in BAD shape. He had a broken hip, broken neck, broken ribs, a heart problem and he didn’t have any feeling in his right hand. I went into “survival mode” and just started asking all the questions. When the nurse came in, I introduced myself and immediately asked what surgeries he had, what surgeries he needed, and what the prognosis was. I thought my dad was going to die. This was when he told me that someone else was in the car with him. Who? Who would have gotten in the car with him and drove to Georgia without telling anyone? His girlfriend. No one knew about this person, let alone why she would be going to visit our step sister with him so close to my step mom’s passing. He told me she was in the next room and told me to introduce myself.

This was just the beginning of the questions to come. I went in to meet her, to be “nice” because I didn’t want her to be alone down there either. But she wasn’t alone. Her kids were there. They knew of the accident as soon as it happened and drove straight there. Why didn’t my dad call us until the next day? Why didn’t the hospital call us if he wasn’t able to? I went back to check on him before I left. He asked if she could come to his room while I was gone, so the nurse wheeled her in. Then, I left to go pick my sister up. So confused. So heartbroken. I called my best friend on the hour drive. I cried. How had my dad moved on so fast? Why did he lie? Why did I come all this way when he didn’t even care to tell me about the accident until the next day? Why did I come all this way when all he wanted was her by his side? How was I going to tell my sister who is more protective of him than me? How were we going to get through this?

My sister got in the car, I asked how her flight was. I had to tell her the news. I calmly said “there was someone else in his car.” She asked “Who?” “He says that she is ‘his friend’ but I don’t know why he would bring a ‘friend’ 17 hours away to visit his step daughter and her new son.” She agreed. When we got to the hospital, I took my sister to my dads room, first checking to make sure that his ‘friend’ was no longer in there. She and I met with the nurses, got our dad to sign paperwork saying he could share medical information with us and that we would be his spokesperson for any procedures or new medications. He was very tired so we let him nap while we got checked in to the hotel and got some lunch.

My half sister showed up at this point and joined us on our way back to the hospital. We all knew that we needed each other in this time. It was no longer about my dad. We went back and visited with him for a while, understanding that he needed another surgery for his heart in a couple days and another surgery a couple days later for repair on his neck/spine. We took this time to gather all of the paperwork he needed for work short term disability, insurance and anything else that we could think of. We took detailed notes and updated the family.

My sisters and I spent the next 2 days together, getting our plans aligned and making sure that he was going to be taken care of. I had to get back home to work and my girls. My sister needed to get back to her family. My half sister agreed to be there for his neck surgery since we weren’t able to be. My step sister never went back to the hospital. While we all had opinions on his choice to move on and bring her with him to Georgia, we put those aside to make sure that he was getting the medical care necessary and that he would not be alone.

He ended up being in Georgia for 7 weeks and having a couple other surgeries due to re-breaking his hip while at the rehabilitation center and another complication with his heart. We finally got him back to Southwest Missouri in November, right before Thanksgiving. During those 7 weeks, I spent 5 hours a day on the phone with the Georgia State Highway patrol, his insurance, the girl he hit’s insurance, his employer benefits, every single doctor he had, and way more. I called him daily to make sure that he was feeling okay. It was the longest 7 weeks of my life. Once he got home, I came out of “survival mode” to realize that for the last 7 weeks, I had eaten all of my feelings and gained 30lbs. I no longer could find motivation to get out of bed and had extreme anxiety any time someone called. I went to the doctor for a reaction to my flu shot and failed my depression screening. How did time stand still for 7 weeks? How did I gain 30lbs without even noticing? What is wrong with me? These are all the questions that came to mind.

I started establishing what I know today as my support system. I have an amazing therapist that still reminds me that it is truly amazing that I made it through those 7 weeks doing everything that I did. No normal person would have been able to do it. I have 3 amazing best friends who check on me every day to make sure that I am doing okay. Sometimes time stands still for me, but I have to remind myself that it is okay to feel feelings instead of eating them. So here I am….. crying at my keyboard because this is the first time I have put this all in one place.

I want your takeaway to be that you don’t have to do it all. You just don’t. You can say “I can’t do this” and ask someone else to do it. Survival Mode for me was always just doing what needed me at the time and for those 7 weeks, that was a lot, especially still having 2 kids at home and a husband working overnights. It is okay to feel feelings when they come. Don’t shrug them off. Don’t choose to eat instead of crying because you are overwhelmed. Because I’ve been there and when you wake up on the other side, it is so hard to lose the weight. It is hard to feel the feelings. So you have days like I am having today where all of the emotions are too much and I can’t move off the couch. Feel your feelings as they come and deal with them in the moment. Don’t push them to the side. Time will start moving when you do.

Survival Mode

I have been MIA for a few weeks now. I have been in complete survival mode.

Sometimes in life it is important to disconnect and simply survive. I have been taking time away from my computer, phone and social media to just make it. I have been in a funk and am currently trying to figure out what can get me out of it. I have been baking A LOT.

Some things I have learned during these times:

  1. Social media is my biggest trigger.
  2. Baking releases endorphins in my brain that make me extremely happy and able to cope. (Recipe page coming soon)
  3. Life does not have to evolve around your job. You can make your job evolve around you life.
  4. Finding people who are there for you is important.
  5. I have found my “tribe” and I thank God for them every single day. I literally would not be able to write this post right now if I did not have them.
  6. Your tribe does not have to be made up of all the same type of people. I have very different personalities in my tribe and that works the BEST for me because I have very different personalities based on what I am going through and they all give different advice so I am able to see all sides of a situation and how different I could handle it.
  7. It is okay to not be okay.
  8. It is okay to put yourself first. If you need to take a breather and go for a walk or cry, do it.
  9. The people who are there for you when you are at your worst are going to be there for you forever. They aren’t leaving. They love you.
  10. There will be a brighter day. It may not be today, and that is okay.

I have been using this time to bake, self-reflect and analyze what I am doing in life to determine what is next. I want you to know that you can do it too. If you need to go into survival mode just so you can figure things out, that’s okay. Turn off your notifications, set the phone down, close the laptop, figure out what your soul craves and make it happen. For me, I started baking, working on beautiful handwriting, and just being in the moment with people who are there and it has done wonderful things for me. I am not out of the woods yet though.

Survival mode also means exposing feelings, and for me it has been so hard to realize that I am actually experiencing anxiety and sadness to a level I have no choice but to address. I have been so busy just looking at my phone, on social media, working, or just sleeping that I did not realize I had this sadness and anxiety that I had never addressed. Everybody copes differently, for me, I always thought I needed to just get back to work, get back to being busy in order to “cope” but really, I was in survival mode. I was just continuing to fill my cup and then one day it spilled over and everything was out on the table. In order to prevent that from happening in the future, I have been dealing with emotions as they arise so that my cup stays upright.

Survival Mode is supposed to be a phase that helps save your life. It is not meant to be how you live. – Michele Rosenthal

You are Enough.

No matter how you are feeling today, know that you are enough and you are worth living for. When everything else goes wrong, your life is enough. You are important enough to keep living.

This weekend awakened me to the harsh reality that people I know and love don’t feel like they are doing enough and their life is not worth it. That was a hard pill to swallow. My depression has not ever manifested in a way that I felt I needed to stop living. My depression has always manifested in lack of motivation to do even basic things. When my depression arises, my house turns into a mess, my kids eat ramen or chicken nuggets every night for dinner, I don’t shower. But, NEVER, have I thought about taking my own life.

I know that this is not the case for many who suffer from depression. It kills me to think that anyone thinks that the world will go on without them. Or that not enough people care, so it is best for them to leave. I want you to know that you are ENOUGH. You, yourself, are worth fighting every single day for. When it feels like the whole world is against you, turn to me, I am here to listen and remind you that your life is important to me. You matter to me. I hope that my words are enough to keep you here.

Does a messy house make it worse? Take one day off during the week to clean. Then make an effort daily to keep it clean. You cook dinner? Clean up as soon as you are done. You got out games to play with the kids? Pick them up as soon as you are done.

Do you feel like you have to do the work of 5 people instead of 1 now? Be the teacher, be the mom, be the house keeper, be the cook, be the therapist? Remind yourself that it is okay to ask for help. It is okay to take a day off. You can’t do it all all the time. No one can. So don’t try to.

Do you feel like you have nothing to live for because your girlfriend broke up with you and you don’t have any family or friends to turn to? Take a breath, this is not the end. This is just the beginning of something greater. She wasn’t the one, and that’s okay. But, you are an amazing person and someone better will come along. It is okay to take a few days off and clear your mind. But come back, because we need you.

Do you find yourself thinking that you and the people you know would be better off without you? That couldn’t be further from the truth. So many people would miss you and be heartbroken for years if you left this earth. They would beat themselves up thinking “what if I would have…….” and they will never be at peace knowing that is how you felt. Please, talk to me before you act on any of these thoughts. Talk to someone. There is help out there and more people love you than you even realize.

These feelings are temporary. They won’t be there forever. They will come and go just like anything else in this life. We can make things better, we just have to figure out what helps and do those things. Know that it is okay to take a day off to just lay in bed. It is okay to take a day off to just clean the house. It is okay to feed your kids fast food just so you don’t have to do dishes. It is okay to feel sad. You do not have to do everything all the time. It is okay to have a messy house. It is okay to not make a 5 star dinner. It is okay to take a day off because work is too much right now. It is okay. We can get through this together.

You are enough. You are worth fighting for. Your capable of amazing things. Sometimes we just don’t feel okay, and it is okay to ask for help. But please, please, please, ask for help. Talk to someone, anyone. I am here to listen.

Advocate. Advocate. Advocate.

An advocate is a person who pleads for another’s cause or writes in support of something.

If there is one thing that I have learned in the last 2 years, it is the importance of advocating for yourself and in my case, my children. When I was pregnant with my second child, I knew something was wrong. I was extremely tired, bruising easily and didn’t understand. I asked my OBGYN to have my blood drawn to figure out what was going on. After blood work and being referred to a hematologist, it turns out I had Gestational Thrombocytopenia. This is a condition in which your platelets in your blood drop below a safe number. In my case, they were a safe enough level to not need intervention, however, I was medically unable to receive an epidural (if I had wanted one) and I was considered high risk for hemorrhaging during birth. If I had not advocated for myself during that second trimester when things weren’t getting any better, I could have ended up in the delivery room unaware of the underlying condition I had. It is also worth mentioning that after looking back on my first pregnancy, I had this then as well but my numbers were a touch higher so never a cause for concern.

Continuing on the journey of my second pregnancy, I always felt like she wasn’t growing, or at least was not growing at a normal rate. Appointment after appointment I mentioned to the doctor. I often did measure right on track or a week behind, depending on her position. It was around 33 weeks that I stopped measuring within 2 weeks of her estimated gestational age. This was when I was referred to a high risk pregnancy doctor. That doctor did a series of ultrasounds comparing the measurements between each one. I went every 2 weeks. At 33 weeks, she was measuring 31. At 35 weeks, she was measuring 33. At 38 weeks, she was still measuring 33, which meant she had not grown at all in 2 weeks. The last month of pregnancy is actually when most of the growing happens. So it was extremely alarming that she hadn’t grown in 2 weeks. This was when the doctor told me that I was to go home, get my things in order and make my way to the hospital because I was having a baby that day. I was terrified.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with advocacy. It took me advocating for myself and my daughter for them to realize that there really was a problem. Fast forward 5 hours from that conversation, I had just pushed my beautiful baby girl out. She wasn’t breathing. She couldn’t breath on her own. The respiratory therapists immediately took her from me and began to do what they are trained for; they pumped her lungs, gave her oxygen, massaged her body, anything to get that baby to breath. It wasn’t until 5 minutes later that I could finally breathe; she cried. When she cried I knew that she was going to be okay. Luckily that was all the help that she needed that day so we were able to stay together without a NICU stay. Thank God for respiratory therapists, and especially pediatric respiratory therapists! They were my angels on earth that day.

Baby girl was born with a scare, but healthy otherwise. The days and weeks following her birth we had the normal appointments with her pediatrician to check her growth. She was growing right on track. But, I noticed something odd. Her lips were ALWAYS peeling. No matter what I did, her lips would peel. Lanolin, peel. Chapstick, peel. Breastmilk, peel. At her 1 week appointment, I brought this up to her pediatrician. He responded “Well she went from a very wet environment to a very dry one. This is normal.” Boy was he wrong.

2 month appointment, mouth still dry, lips still cracking. 4 month appointment, mouth still dry, lips still cracking, and she is teething. 6 month appointment, mouth still dry, lips still cracking, she has teeth now, and she is having issues with dry food/puffs getting stuck in the roof of her mouth. 9 month appointment, at this point I am pretty frustrated that we have gotten nowhere and my poor baby still has extremely dry mouth and continues to cut teeth! He finally agrees that it is very odd that she doesn’t drool and that she has issues eating and that she has never cried a tear. We get a referral to the Children’s Hospital ENT. ENT orders an ultrasound for her mouth to see if she has any salivary glands, she also sends a referral to the ophthalmologist for her tear ducts. In case you were wondering, a 9 month old does not sit still for an ultrasound device to be ON THEIR FACE. So that went well. Came back, no salivary glands visible. Okay, maybe she moved too much. ENT orders an MRI to get a solid answer.

This whole process with the Children’s Hospital took 3 months. She was 13 months when we finally got in for the MRI. She had to be sedated, if you’re a parent you know just how terrifying it is for your baby to be put under for any procedure. She was in and out within 45 minutes. We got the MRI Results the next day. She had one small parotid gland under her tongue, but she has no other salivary glands. These are things that form as they grow in utero, they aren’t things that will show up later in her life. Whew we finally have answers. Now, what do we do with those answers?

We got those results 9 months ago. With those results we got a referral to a geneticist because, come to find out, I have an aunt and cousin who have the same problem. They are thinking this could be the tip of the iceberg for determining what gene causes glands to not develop. So after 9 months of being on the waiting list, length partially due to COVID, we have an appointment next week. This will begin our next journey of advocacy for figuring out what causes this and what we can do to help, because there is no treatment for those who don’t have any glands. You can be treated if your glands don’t produce much saliva, but to have no glands at all, or even one, those treatments don’t help you.

It is so important to advocate for yourself and your children. If you don’t advocate, then who will? When we realized that my aunt had the same situation she told me, “well no one ever cared to look into it more.” Well, the reality is that if she or my grandparents had advocated for more answers to WHY this was happening, we could already have research and studies and medications to treat this. But, because they accepted “it is what it is” as an answer, my advocacy for my daughter is now paving the way to finding out answers for my whole family and potentially thousands of other people across the United States and the World.

Never take “I don’t know” as an answer. Press for deeper, more fact based answers. Be your own advocate and advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.

Sometimes you have to be your own hero.