Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mental health is messed up...

This blog is usually about Bella but today I'm shedding some light on a different situation. Mental health... our current situation in our county alone sucks... I'm about to get on a soapbox... consider yourself warned :)

When I gave birth to Grayson just TWO short days after my dad suddenly passed away, I told my doctor that I was worried about postpartum depression. She said "we'll address it if it arises." I don't fault her for saying that but now looking back here's my thought. I was a mom of an 18 month-old and a newborn. My dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away and I was not able to be there. I was close with my dad, to say my heart was broken is an understatement of the century. I've never in my life cried harder, I've never in my life been so angry with God. I've never in my life had to deal with the circle of life so closely.

Here's the thing, why not give me the skills I needed to prevent PPD? Why not have someone see me that can help me through dealing with two littles AND the death of the first man I ever loved? Why wait? Why wait until I was on the verge of completely losing my shit? Or taking my life? To be clear, I never reached that point... why? Because I pushed the grief far down, I buried it in a part of me that I didn't even know existed. I cried in the middle of the night while nursing my newborn son or in the shower while my husband was tending to the kids. Other than that, I kept my shit together. I appeared happy and never dealt with the loss of my father until years later.

Five years later, I saw a therapist. We rehashed my feelings that surrounded the death of my father. You can only beat a dead horse so many times... so I stopped. I'm thankful to have an incredible support around me, family, friends, my husband, friends who have been through the death of a parents, moms... I couldn't do and STILL couldn't do it without them.

Fast forward to today, I'm seeking some guidance for one of our children. I've exhausted a billion resources. Children's hospital has a ONE year waiting list. One year people! Aurora will only see current Aurora patients. Other people only see kids that are 7 1/2... So me being proactive... I feel like they are telling me to just wait. Wait for what? As if magically at 7 1/2 things will change? Psychologists that come with "bad" reviews have openings, but why would I trust them with my child if others did and they failed them? So, alas we wait.

I thank God that I'm an educated woman that will stop at nothing. They taught me how to advocate in nursing school and I'm a crazy mama advocate when it comes to my own children. A nurse mama... a pediatric nurse mama that's outspoken, won't back down and continues the course, watch out world! I also know how to research. Yay for being a nurse that has a strong background in the ability to research. That's what I'm doing, I'm making phone calls, leaving messages, researching and implementing things at home ON MY OWN. Without the guidance of the people that I want or need because I can't wait. My child does not deserve to wait.

I only get one chance at this mama thing. I only get one Bella, one Grayson and one Luca. It's my job to advocate for them, lift them up, help them rise above. It's my job to fight for what they need and deserve. Watch out world, this mama is on a mission.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I watched her sleeping

Last night, Bella asked to sleep in my bed since her daddy was working. I quickly agreed. Soon a day will come that she won't want to sleep in my bed. Tonight she did.

I got in bed late, as usual and looked over at her. Peacefully asleep on her daddy's pillow. Her long lashes rested on her cheeks, her whispy hair all over, her bunny next to her, all the covers kicked off. I watched her, I soaked her in. There next to me, lay my eight year old daughter. No longer a little peanut but instead a beautiful little girl took her place. Tears begin to softly roll down my cheeks. I couldn't shake the way I felt as I lie there and soak her in.

I remember being pregnant with her, wondering what she would be like, how she would grow, what her life would be like, what kind of person she would grow to be... so many what ifs.

Today,  I watched her as the tears rolled down my face onto my pillow. What a sweet soul she has become, always looking out for those around her. Always protecting her brothers and looking out for them. The other mother in our house. A bit of a worrier, a wonderer, sensitive, yet strong and stubborn, sassy but sweet and kind.

She patiently worked with Luca at the pool this passed weekend until he knew how to swim underwater at the tender age of four. She held her arms out as he jumped to her, his net of safety. She pushed him back to the stairs with the encouragement to try again, and again... and again. She tossed a toy to the bottom of the pool, went under, pulled it then explained the process to her little brother. She coached him on how to do the same thing, she reminded him that she would be right there. I didn't interfere, instead I just watched. I watched as she had the patience of a saint teaching her brother how to be just like her, swimming freely in the pool.

How was I so lucky to be this sweet girl's mama? How was it that 8 years had passed? How was it that now some of "what-ifs" were answered?

My dear girl,
You make me proud. Your kindness shines. Your laughter fills a room. Your warmness welcomes anyone to become your friend. I am proud of the sweet girl you are becoming and the way you treat those that are so lucky to be in your life. You guard my heart and are always thinking of how I'm feeling. You constantly remember that my dad died and how hard it must be for me without him. You are pushing me closer to God and pushing me outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes even grown ups need a push!

So you struggle with math, you get frustrated. My dear, life is not always easy. You pick yourself up again, you try again with all your might. You'll get it, be patient. I will always be her to pick you up and help you fight. You'll get it, we'll get it.

Know that it's okay to cry, for sadness and for joy. It shows that you have emotions and feelings. Life is all about expressing that to others. Showing them that you care, telling them that you love them and reminded them how happy they are. As I've said time and time again, I'm lucky to be your mama. I'm glad you are my daughter. There's no other daughter I would rather have in this planet.

As you grow, I wish you love, love like your daddy and I have. I wish you peace in your life, time for yourself and taking care of you. Peace when you feel overwhelmed or are hurting. I wish you friendships, like the friendship GG and mama have, an unending friendship that's there for life. I wish you happiness, like the happiness that I get when I'm reading with you at night. I wish you strength, strength to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep giving all of you to your life. I wish you adventure, the kind of adventure that makes life really worth living, the ones that make memories that last a lifetime. Money can't buy you happiness or peace, but adventure sure can!

Spread your wings my sweet child. I'll keep watching you soar!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

KonMarie and Sparking Joy

I just finished reading this book... well when I say just, I mean last weekend. I read it on a Friday evening (real exciting Friday nights at our house!) in less than 2 hours. It was a quick easy read.

Last Saturday morning, I pulled ALL of my clothes out of my drawers, my closet, the hall closet, everywhere and started the process. Step one is clothes. Marie Kondo says to empty everything out and I did just that. She says to hold each item and determines if it "sparks joy" or not. If it does, keep it. If it doesn't, it goes. She also says to think about what you are KEEPING and to not think about "giving items away".... It might sound nuts or crazy but it worked. Before I used to purge and think "but I paid X for this" or "But this still has the tags on it" or "maybe someday I'll wear this"... heres the thing, I didn't wear it. It stayed in my closet or my drawers with the tags on. My closet was busting at the seems and my drawers were overflowing.

Let's talk undergarments. I had bras and underwear from pre-kids... my body has changed, boy has it changed! Why was I keeping stuff that wasn't comfortable, that I never wore, that didn't fit at all? I'll tell you why, because I had already paid for it, I felt like why get rid of it. This time, I thought "Do I feel good when I wear this?" "Does it make me happy?" "Does it really spark joy?"... there were so many no's. I filled two target bags with undergarments and tossed them directly in our outside garbage without a second thought. It felt GREAT! It was so freeing!

Next came clothes. Did it fit? If it was no, away it went. Was it comfortable? Again, no, away it went. Did it make me feel good when I wore it? If it was a no, it was a goner. Did it bring me happiness/joy? If no, gone! I took each item and addressed each question. If there was a single no to any of those, it was gone. After that, I hung each item up or folded each item and put it away.

Next up, jewelry. Yes it all fit, don't worry :) Did I like it? Did it bring me joy/happiness? Then I went through and matched my jewelry with the clothes I kept and put it on the hanger with the dress/top so it was all set when I was ready to go. That brought me so much joy, like a ridiculous amount. It's been so nice to pull something out and have the jewelry all ready to go with the dress/outfit. It makes mornings so much easier!

Why am I sharing this? As a women and a mom, there are struggles I face daily. My happiness shouldn't be one of them. I should wake up and feel good when I put my clothes on. I should feel happy when I look in my closet or my drawers, not sadness for what doesn't fit or what doesn't feel good. I don't want to spend my day digging underwear out of my butt because they are uncomfortable. True fact! Now I don't have to!

This may seem silly to you, which is a-okay. You do you! I'll do me! Doing me, means purging for once and for all. It means only living with things that bring me happiness. It means surrounding my world with things I love. I'm working to do that. I want my kids to have a happy mom. I want to have less stress and I think this path will get me there.

Next up, books! (On a side note, I didn't buy that book, I got it from the library. Library= free. It also means not having a book that I'll never read again! Free and less stuff= more happiness)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Would you do it?

Today, Luca and I went to the Barnes and Nobles story time. There were a bunch of littles there with their parents or caregivers, most were much younger than Luca. I noticed a little guy that was born with no legs and shortened arms, no elbows. I glanced their way and smiled several times.

Instead of focusing on story time, my brain was racing a million miles a minute. It's always do you approach and say something or not... if you DO approach WHAT do you say? "so cool, my daughter was born with a missing hand?" Um no... "Hi I'm Sarah and I'm super passionate about limb differences" Um hello creep! "You were born like my daughter Bella" Nope not true, they are different... ugh. I struggled. Do I say something and what do I say? Will I seem like a creep? Or will the person with this little guy find it helpful? I spent almost 45 minutes debating what to do.

Then I reminded myself, I was once in the shoes of this little guys parents. Though different, very similar. There was a time when I had NO resources, when I knew NO other families of children with limb differences, when I didn't know how to teach my daughter to crawl, tie her shoes or even where she would wear her wedding ring... There was once a time I felt alone in my feelings, that I felt that I had something to do with her difference. I'm sure this kiddos parents wondered many things too. If they are like me, there are still things they wonder.

I grabbed my business card and wrote down a few things on the back: Camp No Limits, Lucky Fin Project, Joshua K_____. On the front, I added my cell phone. I held it close and still thought, how?

Then I said, whatever, I'm going for it. So I approached the person with the little guy and said something like "Hi I'm Sarah, my daughter was born without her left hand and I wanted to give you some resources that might help." She smiled and thanked me saying "I'm not his mom so I'll pass it along." She explained that she was a friend helping. She also said "Most people don't even smile at us". I bent down and said "Hi I'm Sarah, my daughter was born without her hand and I was giving your friend some stuff to share with your parents that you might like. How old are you?" I reached out my hand to shake his hand and he reached out one of his arms and I shook his nub. The little boy said he was 4. I said "My son, I'm here with is 4 too! Do you start kindergarten in the fall?" He was quiet and a little shy. I spoke with them a few minutes and I explained to the friend what each resource was and said to please feel free to have his parents call me if they have any questions or I can help in any way. She thanked me...

It wasn't awkward at all after the interaction started. Maybe they'll never call. Maybe they have all of these resources... but what if, what if they don't. What if ONE of those things can be helpful to them? I'll tell you what if... if it is, I've done my job as a mama and an advocate.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Shhh... don't tell my husband

My handsome husband doesn't read the blog or write the blog. I can't tell you the last time he even looked at anything on here! So let's not tell him about this one :) He doesn't need to get a big head!

We just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. Did you know 46% of marriages end in the first 10 years? Sad, but true! Why am I telling you this? I feel like we've passed a small milestone. Our marriage isn't "hard work" but it's not always easy either. It means giving 100% of yourself 100% of the time. It means compromising when you feel like screaming. It means knowing someone's faults and loving them just the same.

In our 10 years here are some things we've done: got married on a beach, moved across the ocean to the midwest (from Hawaii to Wisconsin), gone through my mom having cancer, living with my mother-in-law, house hunting, opening a business, buying a house while 8 months pregnant, the birth of Bella, a super fussy baby (did I mention how she cried for HOURS on end!), a new puppy, a miscarriage, the sudden death of my dad, my emotional struggles surrounding being pregnant and giving birth while trying to grieve, the birth of Grayson, selling a condo, the birth of Luca, we've gone through having 3 toddlers and survived, chickens (four of them from baby chicks to big chicks and now eggs) job changes, grad school, more job changes, vacations, many trips to the cottage, student loans, we've gone through co-sleeping, breastfeeding, hunting, girls trips, closing a business, a work conference out of state, lots of camping, being rained out as a family of 5 in a tent, a mom/daughter trip, more hunting, new career paths for me, bathroom renovation, new career paths for Ryan, multiple cars, buying an RV, my need to constantly purge.. the list goes on. We've seen each other at their best and at their worst.

There's one thing I know for sure, in the past ten years, there is no one on the planet that I would rather share this love with. He's my one and only. He loves me when I'm at my highest, he lifts me up when I'm at my weakest, he encourages me every step of the way. I'm lucky to have this man in my life. I can't wait to see what the next 10 years of our marriage will be like. I'm excited for our challenges, our adventures and the memories we will share together.

What I'm telling you is it's not always easy but it will always be worth it!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Recess woes

Bella came home yesterday a bit sad. Her "friends" weren't being really friendly.

Her boy friends like to play football at recess and she's afraid the ball is going to hit her. Something we'll work on eventually... she's been working on it with her PE teacher but she needs more practice, clearly. Let's just say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I hate (strong but true word) balls flying at my head... football would be my very last choice to play.

Her girl friends were playing with a girl that "doesn't want me to play with them". She always says "Don't play with Bella". To be fair, I've been around this child and she's kind of harsh and very opinionated. It's her way or the highway... While I've tried to coach Bella to find a new set of friends, she very much wants to be friends with everyone.

What does this mean for us as parents? It means instilling a bit more confidence in our girl. Ryan said "you are like the nicest and kindest kid ever!" While we think that's true, it doesn't matter since we aren't eight year olds. What matters is that Bella knows how to advocate for herself and how to chose friends that are worthwhile. It also means teaching her that she doesn't need to be friends with everyone.

What does that look like to an eight-year-old? It means treating everyone with kindness. It means welcoming everyone into your playgroup but being okay with the fact that not everyone wants to play with you. It means being accepting of those who are different and those who are they same. Embracing others individuality and uniqueness. It's okay not to be friends with everyone... it's NOT okay to be rude, disrespectful or hurtful.

This week at recess, Bella said "I played with George *Name changed for privacy*". "No one likes George but he's a really nice kid". I commended her for welcoming him to play and that it's okay to play with him if "no one likes him"... she said "people don't like him because he's different." We talked about how hurtful this must be for him and that even though he's "different", he's the same in many ways. He's a 3rd grader just like the rest of her grade, he's learning the same things, he goes to the same school... there are LOTS of things that are the same. I talked to her about how important it is to make him feel included and how it's important for her to stick up for him. Being a true friend looks like someone who will be there for you when others aren't. She understood that.

Being a third grader is no easy task... kids are starting to figure out who they get along with, who plays and interacts well together, who doesn't, they are really starting to figure out who they are and who they want to be. We talked about how when she grew up, many of her friends in third grade might not be her friends now! She thought that was kind of sad. I agreed, but also explained that we meet lots of people along our journeys in life.

Many of my friends now are people I work with or have worked with, moms of kids in my kids school, parents in the PFC, friends from nursing school... We talked about how friendships change as you grow up and how your friends change too. Each friend you have brings something different to your life and relationships. Each friendship is unique. Life will take go through different twists and turns and there will be friends who help you along the way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday kicks off the season after Thanksgiving. According to the Giving Tuesday website, it kicks off the "charitable season of giving". This giving tuesday, I'm asking you to really think about the organization that you pick to donate... that is if you do. I'm asking you to give mindfully not mindlessly. Many organizations take our money and very little goes to the actual cause. It bothers me to think that money I have given in years passed does not 100% go to the cause I am supporting. 

The organization that means the most to our family today and every day is Camp No Limits. As many of you know, we attend camp every year. If we could attend every location, we would! But alas, work, school, life and finances for travel get in our way. Camp truly makes our year brighter. While we only attend once a year, the friendships that we make through camp last a lifetime. The support and love carry us through to the next time we attend camp. It's like having a family that supports you and lifts you up when you meet struggles. The kids and families that we meet through camp change our lives. 

I'm asking you to consider giving to Camp No Limits or give to our fund for travels to get to camp. Last year, it cost us over $3200 to get to camp, between airfare and rental car amongst other things. That said, it was worth every penny. I will continue to work my tail off every year to make camp a possibility for our family. Without the help of you and others like you, we would not have been able to attend camp. Last year, we received a scholarship to pay for camp and we only had to pay the $3200 to get there! That's a HUGE blessing! 

If Giving Tuesday is not your thing, no worries, I'll simply ask that you spread awareness. Spread awareness about Camp No Limits, spread awareness about limb differences, share our names with others so that I may help another family that is in our shoes, so that I can help them advocate for their child, so that I can be the support that they need, so that camp can be the family that they need, so that they can be aware of the many people that are in their shoes! 

Thank you for considering. Thank you for following our blog, for listening to our stories. 

Mental health is messed up...

This blog is usually about Bella but today I'm shedding some light on a different situation. Mental health... our current situation in o...