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.

To my first born…

You are the one who made me a mother. I experienced my first pregnancy with you. The first time you kicked inside my tummy, the first time I got punched in the bladder from the inside. You were the first heartbeat I heard through a Doppler. I was so scared to bring you into the world, not knowing if I would be able to give you everything you ever needed. We have learned this life together.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a mother. Thank you for being patient with me as I figured everything out. You are the reason I am the mother I am today. You taught me patience, kindness, and most of all, love. I love you more than words could ever describe. You are growing up to be a beautiful, fun, outgoing little girl.

You love your sister just how I love you. You are patient with her as she learns new things and you are always teaching her what I taught you. Your unending love for her shows me that you will make a good mother too some day. Not anytime soon though.

Thank you for being the Lord’s greatest blessing in my life. Don’t ever forget just how much I love you. I will be behind you every step through this life as your biggest cheerleader.

I love you. You are forever my baby.