Return of the Blogger

It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged… A. Real. Long. Time. Well over a year in fact. A few months ago, I decided to make a change in my life - one that has created new motivation to get back to blogging. I’ve still been busy baking, party planning, crafting, making and creating in between the time I’ve been focusing on my family - and therefore have plenty to share. The only thing is that “writing” can sometimes suck hours from my daily life - as I do tend to go off on tangents and always need refocusing. So, I think going forward after this post, I’ll be doing a little less “writing” and concentrate more on just sharing what I’ve done.

I need to back track here for just a moment and explain a little bit about why I’ve been slacking heavily in the blogging department - so please bear with me. As much as I hope writing all this can help someone else, it is also a form of therapy for me. I’m not trying to win some “my life is harder than your life” contest, nor am I trying to seek attention. I know several other strong mommas fighting much bigger battles… longer battles, more serious battles - ones I could not contemplate fighting myself. All I am trying to say is that sometimes being a mother, or parent for that matter, can be so down right exhausting - no matter how much you try to tell yourself that “this too shall pass.” When you’re in the moment, it can be hard to believe that things will change (it’s sort of like those first few sleepless days/weeks/months after having your first baby - you almost forget that little baby is going to grow up… and essentially move on to a whole new set of challenges). It’s those days when all your energy is gone and the only things you can think about are the issues your kids are dealing with. Waking up in the middle of the night, googling any information you can find, because after all, you’re the parent, the one who is supposed to figure it all out and no matter what you do, you still feel lost. It’s thoughts like this that most parents feel, but very few ever talk about. On social media we see all these glimpses into everyone’s lives of happy, joyous moments, but hardly do we see the moments where we, as parents, are at our worst. We may be feeling depressed, worn out, or are truly not acting in a way with our children that we can be proud of. So here I am, saying… I’ve felt it and have done it. And it’s been refreshing to see a few of my friends come out on social media and admit to it too. I am human, they are human, and it’s what humans do. The one thing I remind myself of daily: Simply thinking that we are never doing ‘good enough’, means we ARE doing good enough - it means we care and want to be better parents. And sometimes we need to forgive ourselves just a little.

Going back a year… Maddox was born, pissing right out of the womb. He’s still such a little stinker. Anyways, that whole “two kid thing” - it definitely threw me for a loop - not in the beginning, the beginning was easy. I just didn’t expect to hit so many hurdles during his first year of life. These hurdles were all lined up back to back, if not overlapping. I kept telling myself that once things seemed to settle into place, I’d get back to my blog. I had already given myself a break from blogging after losing our baby and again when I became pregnant with Maddox. But even now… things still aren’t as quite “settled” as I’d hope they would be - but they’re better. I guess they are now at the “norm” that I would expect for being a parent. Most importantly, since finding my new motivation, I can focus better on dealing with those rough days and not let them bring me so far down.

Our crazy year began a few weeks after Maddox was born. Silent reflux reared it’s ugly head. We had trouble feeding him from birth so this added to our frustrations (looking back, it was certainly foreshadowing things to come). After trying a few different formulas and getting him on the right medicine, he began to seem more comfortable and life became more enjoyable. Except that his silent reflux eventually turned into full on reflux and nothing in his way was safe from puddles and puddles of spit up. Despite the disgustingness of it all… we managed and life went on. 

Then at 6 weeks old, Maddox was diagnosed with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips just like his older sister. No big deal right? I’ve been through the whole pavlik harness ordeal and biweekly appointments, ultrasounds and xrays. This time around, I skipped on making him special bloomers like I did for Myla and bought some 2T sweatpants which fit over the harness and I rolled up the bottoms. BAM, problem solved! My only issue was working his appointments around Myla's preschool schedule and his nap/feeding schedule.

Hip Baby 2.0 - Maddox Edition /// His first day (L) and last day (R) in the Pavlik Harness.

Less than a month into the harness, Myla brought home a lovely little cold from preschool… which turned into a monster. Myla was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and the doctors warned me to keep an eye on Maddox. When I said he began coughing that morning, they had me bring him in. They did a nasal swab to confirm what virus he had so we knew how the following few weeks would play out. My heart sank when they confirmed it was RSV. Our doctor told me not to google “RSV” because of how scary the virus can be which I had already known. The next number of days were an absolute nightmare. Justin and I also came down with what were probably the worst colds and sinus infections of our lives and here we were trying to take care of a sick 3 year old and a VERY sick 2 month old. Each day progressively got worse. Maddox drank less and less until we were trying to force feed him with a syringe every few minutes and giving him breathing treatments at home. We had almost daily doctor visits and multiple daily phone conversations with several doctors trying to get over the “hump” of RSV which occurs on about day 5 or 6. 

We called the breathing treatments "the elephant nose" which Myla thought was funny and she cooperated taking them.

Long story, short… On day 5 we carried a lifeless little body into the doctors office. I had never, ever felt this helpless before. With an elevated heart rate, ear infection, dehydration and so much mucus he was having trouble breathing, they admitted him directly to the hospital. It was anticipated he would be there for about 48 hours to get some fluids and we would be able to continue getting him healthy back at home. Once at the hospital they did some more tests and confirmed he also had a rhinovirus/enterovirus causing severe diarrhea making him even more dehydrated. He needed IV fluids for 4 days “to get over the hump”. We ended being there for 5 days until he began to take an upwards swing in relation to his feedings. From beginning to end… RSV took a good month or so of our lives.

Eventually everyone got back to healthy… the harness came off and things were going good for a short period of time. We were getting him back on a good feeding and sleeping schedule. Then at our next sick visit to the doctor (because Maddox had a cold and a burst ear infection - maybe his third one by now) the doctor suggested getting a consultation for a helmet as the back of his head was looking a little flat - it’s called Plagiocephaly. And according to our insurance company’s standards, he qualified for treatment. He had been born with a slight flat spot on one side and regardless of the repositioning I did, the other side ended up flattening out a bit too causing flattening across the entire back. At least it was symmetrical by now. The harness didn’t help matters - tummy time was limited being in that contraption. And once again, we were back to biweekly appointments - this time, the office was over an hour away. Add this on top of a specialist we were taking Myla to every three weeks for some digestive issues, which was also an hour away. I feel like I spent more time in the car and at doctor appointments last year than actually doing anything else. I won’t go into Myla’s issues as we are still figuring it all out… but it was her issues which weighed on my mind day and night through all of last year and affected almost every minute of our daily lives. Everything that happened with Maddox just postponed working with Myla or even set us back if we had made any progress.

I never did get around to decorating his helmet with the crazy summer we had, but Myla and I did make time for a fun little project... we cut out different shape eyebrows to try on Maddox.

Before we knew Maddox would have a helmet, we had planned three vacations for the summer months (which was a crazy idea to begin with). Maddox’s helmet went on a few days before our first trip… to a beach. Warm weather and water DO NOT MIX with the helmet. The helmet couldn’t get wet and also caused mass amounts of sweating. Our second trip was to sesame place on probably the hottest days of the summer, which is mostly a water park with very little shade. Not that the helmet was a major issue, but as if taking an infant on vacation isn’t tough enough… the helmet proved to be such a nuisance - trying to keep him cool, out of the sun, out of the water, wiping down his head, cleaning the helmet nightly, making sure he was bathed nightly before putting the helmet back on - all I’m saying is that it would have been a lot easier to deal with the helmet during the winter months.

The many doctor appointments continued all summer and we were finally going away on our last trip of the summer. Maddox just had two back to back ear infections (again) and was prescribed Augmentin a few days before leaving - what a nasty little antibiotic that is. It wreaked havoc on his belly so we had to stop. All the while he was coming down with a stomach bug. After days of going through the same ordeal as with the RSV (the refusal to eat)… we ended up back in the hospital in the Outer Banks getting IV fluids. It’s so amazingly frustrating when medical professionals keep telling you to feed your baby binding foods and keep his fluids up when he JUST WON’T EAT… despite holding him down and syringing fluids into his mouth. It was coming out the back end in such mass quantities and faster than we could get anything in. I’m sorry for the graphic description, but I have never seen or heard of anything quite like this - Not a single diaper could hold what came out. After spending a day in the hospital, they sent us home (or back to our vacation home) and we ended back in the hospital two days later needing more IV fluids. They blew two veins trying to get the IV in which was heartbreaking to watch (they had already blown one on our first trip to the hospital). We needed to do something differently.

First visit to the hospital in The Outer Banks (L) and the second visit (R) with the feeding gadget my husband rigged up.

BUT THEN… my brilliant husband Justin came up with a plan. We asked for a feeding tube and syringe and hooked it up to Maddox’s pacifier… very, very slowly, we were able to drip enough liquid into his mouth that Maddox took it. He probably thought it was just saliva and started cooperating. We ended up feeding him this way for several days as he was still refusing bottles and food, and would scream if he saw a syringe. (We ended up having to feed him this way on two other occasions in the coming months when he had gotten sick again - what a lifesaver that gadget turned out to be - it kept us out of the hospital).

All prepped for his ear tube procedure.

Now a few weeks later, we got past that and he finally gained back all the weight he lost (this kid’s weight curve on his chart looks like a roller coaster). School finally began for Myla. We knew she would bringing home some more colds as cold season was fast approaching. It was decided to go ahead and get ear tubes for Maddox since he already had six ear infections in the nine months since he was born. I had been through the whole anesthesia thing three times with Myla for her obstructed tear duct, so again, this wasn’t too big of an issue… more so just an annoyance with several doctor appointments and follow ups. Our insurance company must love us. Two days after he got ear tubes, the helmet came off. Woohoo!!! I felt like I was checking things off a list. DONE!

Things then got easy again… but they got busy. I had to plan for TWO birthday parties right before Thanksgiving. Myla and Maddox’s birthdays are 8 days apart. We wanted a party with family and close friends at home for Maddox. And, Myla wanted a party at Skyzone with her little friends. I took it easy on myself this year and went with a lot of store bought things… except for the cakes!!! Keep an eye out for those posts. 

Anyways, around this time we also switched specialists for Myla as we weren’t feeling very confident in the first one. This new one… was also an hour away - can you hear the joy in my voice? She went through a ton of tests including an endoscopy the day before Christmas Eve. We began to get some answers. Yay!

During the later part of December, our dog Gunther was diagnosed with Anaplasmosis and Cushing’s Disease (which made him have very frequent accidents all over the house for the entire year - fun times) - we are still working on a plan for that, but again, we have a diagnosis and are working towards a solution. And here I thought he was just upset that we brought another human home.

There were several other worries beyond the kids too this past year, which had been taking an emotional toll on me as well. Thankfully all that is pretty much resolved and everyone is pretty healthy. There’s a lot less weighing on my mind now - I feel like I can breathe a bit easier.

So here I am, almost at the end of January… feeling better than I ever have regardless that there is still a lot on my plate. Partly because we have made it through a very trying first year with Maddox and that’s all behind us now, and because we now have some answers and a plan in place for Myla, and a plan for Gunther… and mostly because this momma is taking care of herself. Which is what ties back to the beginning of this blog post. I’ve been motivated to do more again… including keeping up my blog.

Justin and I agree that we never want to experience another summer like we did. It was stressful, chaotic and pretty much sucked. Yes, there were MANY wonderful parts (many that I will cherish for my lifetime), but we were definitely “in the thick of it” then more so than ever before. Since this is my platform for being real and completely honest, I’ll tell you that I pretty much lost it this summer. I had two breakdowns where I really felt I couldn’t take it anymore. It drained me. I was trying so hard to grasp onto anything to keep my spirits up and keep me inspired and fulfilled. And I certainly was not a poster child for being the perfect mom - there’s many moments that I was not proud to be who I was. It all just felt too hard because I was putting all my energy into everyone but myself. I knew I had to do something to take care of me while giving myself a little break from the day to day… and that’s when I found my new love. No, don’t worry, Justin is still my TRUE LOVE. ;) And he’s so extremely supportive - I truly couldn’t do what I do without his support and love.

Ah, but I digress.. I knew I had to find something that was already scheduled. Trying to plan a girls/moms night out can sometimes take days or even weeks of planning - emails and texts flying back and forth working around everyone’s schedules. I knew I wanted something that was already set at certain times that I didn’t have to plan myself, that would get me out of the house and get me meeting new people - especially because I’m kind of quiet and shy and usually pretty awkward, ha. Anyways, that’s when I saw some videos on Facebook of a local bootcamp class. I love moving my body - be it running, biking, snowboarding, or dancing - and this looked like a ton of fun. I showed up for my free trial class and was hooked… just like that. When I met with Max, the owner, to go over some of the sign-up information for the ’30 day challenge’ they offer, he asked me questions about my goals, etc. I told him my goals were to get out of the house, away from the kids and not have to deal with the kids’ morning or evening routines on occasion. I guess those were the wrong answers… the right ones were lose weight, burn fat, strengthen core, etc. To me, all those were just a bonus at that point. 

Well, after the first month, I never felt better. I was already stronger than I’ve ever been. And as for my mental state - it improved big time. It allowed me to be more present in my kids lives and it gave me the strength to get through the rough days. After the 30 day challenge, it was a no brainer… I signed up. And what started as a 3 times a week escape… turned into 4, 5 and even sometimes 6 or 7 days. I simply love it. I love the trainers. I love when they push me and make me realize I’m capable of more than what I thought I was. I love the community and everyone I’ve met and how we all push and encourage each other. I love the funny comments that keep us smiling through the burn. I just love how awesome it all makes me feel… and that good spirit carries throughout my day. They say the most OVERused form of anti-depressants is food… the most UNDERused - EXERCISE!!! Although, I’m not sure where my wine and chocolate fit in there.

Overall, I’m feeling awesome… better than awesome. Which is certainly the most important thing. I have the energy to deal with the kids, their doctor appointments, the dog and all his appointments and tests, and I even have time left (even after working out) to think about the next creative project I want to work on and share. I really hope that if you are a stressed out, tired, overworked momma, that you can find something to keep your spirit alive. I can’t stress enough how important it is - and how life changing it can be. It will not only benefit you but your entire family as well. And hey, if you live near me and want to try a bootcamp class, I’d love for you to join me.