Missing you.

Addison…

How many days and nights have passed, I do not know – but the never changing fact is that I’m still looking for you. I search for you in the wildflowers, in the butterflies I see. I look for you in the stars at night, and as the sun rises and sets.  I am always searching, my heart longing to hold you in my arms once more.

Today I missed you.

This is nothing new. I miss you every minute, of every day. But today was hard for no particular reason at all. It just hurt.

Today I cried while going through photos of you. Today I asked the unanswerable question “why”
Today, I wanted to scream, to cry, to break things… I wished to set fire to the world, because it is not home without you. I know none of that would make any difference though. It won’t change the outcome.
It wont bring you back to me.
I long to hold you in my arms once more. To kiss your sweet forehead, and play with your hair. I wish desperately to see you smiling, grinning, sticking your tongue out at me. I long to wrap you small hands in mine and keep you with me longer.
If I had a million dollars, all I’d want to buy is more time.
So today, I missed you.

Spilled Ink…

I have tried to write this post several times now, my heart yearning to express its’ pain, but being unable to find the words.

It’s been months since I’ve written. As time has passed my hand itched to put pen to paper, but the truth is – I don’t want to write about this. I’ve always written exactly how I feel, and right now I imagine whatever I try to write will come out confused, sad, or angry.
It’s been two months since Addison passed. Over 60 days without her. A thousand nights I haven’t held her, and yet I still want to write about her in the present tense. For me, she’s here. She’s always here with me, in my heart and in my mind. There is no pain quite like the loss of a child. It’s unimaginable. It’s agonizing. It’s being unable to breathe, or cry, or scream – it’s a pain that engulfs your entire being:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome… that’s what they call it. The unexplainable reality of our lives. It is silent, with no symptoms or signs,  SIDS snuck into our house like a thief and stole her from me. A regular Wednesday afternoon turned into a nightmare in just moments. The worst scenario I could have ever imagined playing out in our living room. The sirens, the officers, paramedics and doctors. So many people tried to save her, tried to help her. It was no ones fault, just the unfair truth of a SIDS death. There is nothing that can be done.
Every day I miss her. Everyday I love her more. It feels like I woke up into someone else’s life, going through the motions of moving forward, of trying to return to a semi-normal life, but really, life will never be normal for us. Addison brought so much life, and so many lessons. Her absence is always there, a hole in my soul that will never quite be right. She will forever be my sunshine.
I just pray we have to walk this journey so that no one else we know ever has to.
Love your children like you only have today with them, because tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.

Out of the Cage

There’s nothing like the comings of Spring create time for reflection. Or at least, in Ontario – what we hope is the coming of Spring. It’s been a long, hard winter. As the grass begins to appear and the snow melts away, I feel a sense of optimism for the coming season. Winter has never been my favourite season, but I found this one to be particularly difficult. With little option to venture from the house, I found myself slipping back into the cold darkness that winter always brings me. For me, the darkness is a normal, almost comforting reoccurrence, but along with it comes the slow dismantling of the progress I had made in my own mental health and stability. Post-partum is a difficult time on its’ own, but as the winter months drew longer and darker, the chaos that remained in my own mind was shattering. Little sunshine, cooped up inside with Addison, the weather stopped permitting me to feel like I could grow. My home became more like my cage, that I locked from the inside. Within it, I lost myself, and my sobriety.

Addison Update:

It has been three months since the last post I made, and my goodness, things have changed. Addison is the ray of sunshine in what felt like an ever gloomy world. At 6 months old, she keeps me busy, constantly. She is always on the move, rolling around to get to where she wants to be. The introduction of solid foods has allowed me to begin using my baby bullet, and enjoying the new facial expressions that come with new flavours. How grateful I am for her. It is not always easy, but being her mom is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

One step at a time, one day at a time – we will emerge into spring with a fierce determination to enjoy every moment.

On Being a Superhero

You will always be the miracle that makes my life complete.”

Addison Update: 

My beautiful girl turned 3 months old last weekend. 3 months. It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed. Each day with her is a blessing and a test. But I can’t imagine being anything other than her Momma. She’s telling us stories now, constantly learning and wiggling her way in and out of things. It astounds me just how quickly they grow and develop. How magical it is to be a part of the guiding process. This week, she has been discovering her own feet and the fact that she has them. It has been one of the most entertaining developments thus far. Watching her eyes light up, and her brows furrow in astonishment as her feet kick back and forth on the couch. She also enjoys standing up, and jumping – she’ll be on the move before we know it, and then I’ll be getting a great work out trying to keep up with her. Our other recent discovery is Addison’s new found obsession with “Baby Shark” – Momma’s if you haven’t tried showing this to your littles yet, I highly recommend you do. This video for some reason has a magical ability to stop her fussing and crying almost instantaneously.

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“My alarm clock wears cute pj’s and smiles at me when I wake up.”

There is truth in that sentence. My alarm clock does wear pretty adorable pajamas, and her smiles add beautiful joy to my day – however, she’s not always all smiles when she wakes up. Example: It’s 1am and she’s discovered she is hungry, and therefore commences to howl like a banshee to get my attention. This sleepy momma rushes to the crib and begins to comfort the hysterical baby, who will only be silenced by the bottle soon provided to her. There are no smiles in that moment, not until the food has been provided to her – then, and only then does the smile come out.

Being a mom has a magical quality about it. You suddenly find yourself able to juggle a million things at once, while simultaneously becoming forgetful due to “Mom Brain”. You are the nurse, the caretaker, the comforter, the teacher, and so much more. You are Momma, and that role provides so much to such a small human. They need you more than you can even imagine. And sometimes, that means learning to lower your own expectations of yourself. Because the truth is, somedays, all you can do is keep baby safe, warm, and fed – and that is enough. You are enough.

In reality, being a momma is like being a freaking superhero. It is putting the needs of your tiny humans well above your own. It is sleepless nights, anxiety, overwhelming love and care. It is not going to the bathroom when you need to, because you’ve been rocking that little babe for 3 hours and if you stop she’ll wake. It’s trying to do the laundry, the dishes, and clean the house all in the hour that babe is napping. It is putting 110% effort into everything and knowing somedays, you won’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything at all. It is challenging, it can be frustrating, but the rewards are oh, so great. There are many types of jobs in the world that require a variety of skills, but being a momma, that is being a superhero.

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Postpartum Depression & Anxiety: 

Note: I do have a strong support system, including multiple mental health professionals who are aware of these difficulties, and are addressing them. This is just a reflection on my experience – it is not an exclusive look at how postpartum can affect people. Please seek professional help if you are struggling. You are not alone. 

It hit me one day. Hard. Like a rock, or the feeling of running into a wall. The anxiety rose up in waves of uncontrollable worry, and the depression seemed never-ending. Getting up out of bed was a task too heavy to bear, but one of entire necessity. You see, I knew this was coming. As an individual who struggles daily with clinical depression and severe anxiety, we knew I was high risk for postpartum struggles. We’d talked about it, we’d planned for it. But of course, my mind plays tricks on me so I didn’t see it happening, I didn’t feel the shift in focus. Until one day, suddenly tasks were daunting and seemingly impossible. Remembering to take a shower was difficult. The idea of needing to the laundry was overwhelming, and upon completion, it did not feel like enough. Getting the dishes put away was a task I could cry over, and finding the motivation to push through each day became difficult.

In my dreams of becoming a mother, I pictured the beautiful, blissful moments of singing lullabies to a sleepy, happy baby. And when it wasn’t like this, I felt like I had failed. There is nothing more depressing than having it all, and still feeling sad. 

Every day when I woke up, I could feel my body fill with anxiety before my feet even touched the floor. My anxiety rose rapidly, fearing everything from SIDS, to fluke accidents, to not being a good enough mom – that’s the thing about anxiety. It latches onto everything it can. It is the gremlin on my shoulder making me question if I am enough – it makes me feel like I am a bad mom. Anxiety is the invisible and yet crippling weight on my shoulders. Regular everyday tasks became heavy, scary, and some days, impossible to complete. I found myself unable to go to the grocery store – panic setting in at the idea of being in a crowded place. The masterful trick of anxiety is creating scenarios that “could happen”. 

I had to battle the voice in my head that was constantly telling me that things would never get better. That I would never feel “normal” again. That I would never adjust to this new normal. I felt like I was just going through the motions each day. Terrified of doing something wrong, worried about how I would cope in returning to work – which wasn’t for another 9 months, scared that my anxiety would cause her harm.  And I was angry – I was angry with myself, and my own anxiety for stealing the joys of motherhood away from me. Angry with myself for always feeling like I am in a rush, trying to get from one thing to the next – not having the energy or the time to enjoy the small moments. I felt like I was missing out on all the moments I could be sharing with my daughter, because my anxiety was telling me I needed to get everything done, and that if I didn’t then I wasn’t a good mom. But in reality, it is the little moments that are the most important. Learning to give myself permission to enjoy the time I have with her. Learning to give myself permission to not be okay. To take care of my own mental health – the laundry, the dishes, the shopping – it could all wait.

I had to teach myself to take things one step at a time. I needed to start creating a routine in our life, not only for Addison but for myself and my anxiety. I also learned that staying away from Pinterest was a big help.  Pinterest, which is a beautiful, amazing source of ideas and motivation, was also a huge source of unhappiness for me. It kept my mind racing in why is my life not like that; and how do they manage to do everything. It was creating this image of what motherhood should look like and was enabling my anxiety, berating myself for each time I couldn’t achieve this social media based standard of motherhood. Everyone’s journey in motherhood is different, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. It is just different. And this is truly the greatest journey I have ever experienced. Anxiety is just along for the ride.

 

“Of all the versions of me that I’ve been, I think the hot-mess mama who’s head over heels in love with her kid, totally winging it, and not giving AF what others think is by far my favourite.”

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#MomLife and Mental Illness

 

It is here. It is real. And it’s not going away. – The reality of living with mental illness(es) is that it is here to stay, whether I want it or not. It is a part of me and my daily life. Finding balance and self-love can be difficult sometimes, even on the good days there can be bad moments. This is the reality. Being a mom doesn’t change that aspect of my life, as badly as I would like it to sometimes. I will forewarn the disorganization of this post. There are many things I wish to say, but I know I don’t have a lot of time to write before Addison is awake.

Addison Update:

There is no experience in the world that I cherish more than being a mom. Every day, my daughter changes and grows more into herself. People tell me that I am raising a little angel – but I disagree. I am raising a little warrior girl. I will do my best to teach her to be strong, to be fierce, to love without reservation. There are so many lessons I hope I can guide her through, and so much fear I have surrounding the possibility that I may fail. This life is hers to experience, and my only hope is to help her love it. For now, I get to see her wake up to the world a little more each day. Everything is new for her, this morning – she was fascinated with the light changing colours on her swing. How blessed I am to get to share these little moments with her. She is just over 7 weeks old now, and she comes more into her own each day. How beautiful it is to watch the innocence. She only knows the love we give her, and the world as she slowly sees it.

My daughter is asleep on the couch next to me as I write this. Yes – she is asleep on the couch. Why? – Because that is where she FINALLY fell asleep after a long, sleepless night. It is 2:00pm and she is finally resting. Lord knows I’m not risking waking her by trying to move her to her bed. I love her more than life itself – and I will continue to try and find the balance, to find the love for myself that she needs me to have. She is watching the world wake in our home each day. And I will not miss it.

I am hiding under the covers

A working title of my future book

I am here to be your friendly mental health advocate: To share my experiences. Which is all this is really – my experiences. I will not hide my truth, I am not afraid of it anymore, and although it may tell me otherwise – I am not alone in this fight. Mental illness is not an easy feat. It is a battle you size up every day. Even with proper medication and support, it is still like being in a boxing match, and the opponent made sure not to bring a towel to throw in. It is constantly training, working, waiting for me to be tired. And lord knows, I am getting tired. Somedays it feels like I’m getting my ass kicked over here. Somedays, it is difficult and exhausting. It is hard work, to be at war with yourself. Anxiety is a constant challenger. It creeps into every task, making simple things seem impossible. Depression is a lying lover, shrinking the world with weight and darkness when it is least expected. Going to the grocery store is a huge challenge for me. Even more so now as I try to juggle the diaper bag and car seat. My heart stops in the condiment aisle, as my daughter begins to wail. In another instance, my heart races in the produce section as a stranger grants herself permission to touch my baby. I have never been comfortable in crowds, and to me – the grocery store is too crowded. Balancing my anxiety and my life as a mom is a constant challenge. I live on edge right now, trying to figure out how to keep her safe. My mind races with all the situations that could occur between my home and the store. The darkness in my head has always weighed my heart down. It is difficult to enjoy the small moments when the weight of emptiness lies inside your heart. It is an exhausting way to be.

Dear struggling mommas;

I see you. I see you juggling your cart in the store, with your toddler in tow. I see you, 3am and a crying baby. I see your desperation, trying to determine what the beautiful child you brought into the world needs. They are human. You are human. I see you.

It is not easy. Being responsible for another life is not easy. Sometimes, being responsible for my own life is not easy. But we are all they know. We are all they reach for, as they begin to experience the world one piece at a time. They are human beings, learning to be human beings – they are experiencing feelings and situations for the first time(s) and that is okay. It is okay not to be okay. I have been learning this lesson slowly but surely. I have been learning how to be a mom, and how to have mental illness. Mental illness is not easy – and neither is being a mom. The combination is an entirely different challenge to face each day. But let me tell you this: You are not alone. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to hide in the shower for that extra 5 minutes of sanity. You re allowed to be afraid, to be frustrated, to be overjoyed, excited, and happy. You are allowed to be sad – to feel empty, to be lonely. But you cannot give up. You are their favourite warmth – the voice they fell in love with. The comfort they seek. It is hard to know what they need sometimes, but they will always need you. Reach out. Seek help. Love yourself. Because they love you exactly as you exist. I see you. We are not alone in all of this.

“You, who’s voice is someone’s favourite voice. Someone’s favourite face to wake up to. Nothing would be the same if you did not exist” – Sierra Demulder

 

 

 

Fresh snow & 3 weeks old

This morning I awoke to frost covered ground, and a chill in the air that whispered “snow”. And now here we are – slushy, white snow covering the trees as far as my eyes can see.

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How different things feel as the seasons change. Lately time has become irrelevant to me – the last time I considered writing, I was 8months pregnant and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our daughter and now here we are, she’s three weeks old already.

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Time passes in funny increments. 3 hours at a time, sometimes quickly, sometimes dreadfully slow. The “I can’t believe it’s 4am and we haven’t slept yet” moments are exhausting, but the amount of love I have for Addison outweighs it all. Even now, as I’m writing this, she is falling asleep in her rocking chair and I cannot imagine loving another human this much. Even though today I’ve been puked on twice, managed to do 4 loads of laundry and she’s gone through 3 outfits – it’s all so worth it.

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It’s safe to say that being a mom is one of the most rewarding, amazing, tiring, and challenging things I have ever had the privilege of doing in my life. It’s true that these 4 walls we call a house took on a life of their own when we brought her home.

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Now this new mom needs a nap. Here’s to future blogging, and constant gratitude. It’s a beautiful life 💕

 

Winter Blues and Springtime Reflections

So much time has passed since the last time I opened this blog. Part of me forgot – I got wrapped up in the day to day lives, the comings, and goings of things; and the other part of me wasn’t sure if I had anything to say. With no exciting adventures to report on, I questioned whether it even made sense to continue writing. But life is a funny thing, and I’ve learned to find the magic in the smallest moments, and beauty in the unexpected. Unpredictability has never been a comfort of mine, and yet I am learning to “roll with the punches” so to speak.

So much has changed since the last time I posted, I’ve changed jobs, houses, brought new animals into my home and had many new experiences – life continues to be life whether I’m prepared or not. I think that’s the real trick in it all. You can make a million different plans for things, but at the end of the day, life is life. It always finds a way to continue.

I was blessed this winter to have my horses at home with me, in my own backyard. The days were cold, and the nights long – the wind howled some mornings as I trudged through the ice and snow to meet my girls, who had frozen whiskers and bright-eyes. How beautiful these mornings were, frost and all. How amazing the quiet of the mornings is, when the world is still asleep, and everything glittered from freshly fallen snow. Having my horses at home was a dream of mine since I was a young girl – the child inside my heart jumped for joy at the chance to experience these moments. How lucky I am to have a place to bring them, a place to enjoy these gentle moments and quiet air. There is something beautiful and serene about these amazing creatures that I cannot explain. It is something you must feel in your heart. I am beyond grateful to share my life with these gentle giants. My soul longs to spend all my time with them, but somehow life always gets in the way. The beauty of love is that regardless of time and space, it still continues.

As for changes, we opened our hearts and our homes to a little rebel chihuahua named Bella, that we affectionately call “Bug.” The sassy, adoring little one can be quite the troublemaker at times, but it is incredible to see how much her tiny heart can love another. Although she and Asia don’t necessarily enjoy sharing me, it is an overwhelming joy to see the trust in Bugs eyes. The overwhelming joy she experiences running in the back fields – “hopping” through the grass like a rabbit and lounging on the deck in the sun. It is amazing what a small amount of time and patience can do, considering how shy and scared she was when she first arrived.

Things change whether I like it or not, there are still days when I can’t seem to see the sun even when it’s right outside my own window. The wintertime tends to make things more difficult, for my already crowded mind. There is something about the cold and snow that seems to cover my world in darks and greys. But creatures I share my life with are a constant reminder that there is always something to smile about, and the sun, the sun will always rise.

Changing colours, changing seasons…

I found this post saved amongst others, written during a time I didn’t think I had too much to say. Although it’s based in November, I find the feelings still accurate now. The changing of seasons always seem to bring a change of mind for me. Be it mentally or emotionally, there is something about watching the world fall asleep in the fall, preparing for winter; and then watching it wake once more come spring.

Snippets of Autumn:

The air in the morning is crisp, and frost coats the ground as I walk to feed the horses. Fallen leaves crunch beneath my feet, crackling across the silence, and I take another sip of coffee. Echo snorts impatiently, the cold air making her seem like a small dragon, trying to breathe fire… I laugh to myself, thinking “Thank goodness she can’t breathe fire…” What a mess that could be. Her gentle eyes follow me as I get their morning grain and bring it to their stalls. She follows contently, only resting her head against me once her breakfast has been delivered. How long we’ve waited for these mornings…

There’s something about the change in seasons that sets me on edge. As the snow and frost glisten across the trees, I shiver – realizing, this is but the beginning.   This is Canada, and we specialize in winter.  Time to pull out the winter jackets, and start remembering where you left your mittens again. Asia is nestled in front of the fireplace downstairs, her blue eyes glimmering in the sunlight.  She stretches her front paws out before sauntering towards me, eyeing the dresser up. With an effortless jump, she sits on the top of the dresser, and bats at my hands – her reminder to me that she too, would like her breakfast. My mornings are shaped by the creatures wanting/needing to be fed. I, on the other hand, will head off to work on coffee#3 and will have completely forgotten the toast I put in the toaster… You win some, sometimes you lose some. I think that’s a fair summary of my adult life up to this point.

So much has changed in the past 6months. With its’ ups and downs, and sometimes curveballs, it is a wonder that I remember where I am somedays. But I think there is a certain kind of beauty in unpredictability. I’ll admit, I’m not always a fan of it, but there’s a bit of magic in chaos, in the undetermined plans, or unchartered waters.

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“I guess to them, it’s a terrifying thought, a red riding hood who knew exactly what she was doing when she invited the wild in.” – Nikita Gill

 

Airport thoughts & home reflections

Asia has recently begun sleeping with her head on my chest. It is abnormal…. this cat has always slept under my arms, behind my legs, or directly on my chest – but never with just her head on my chest…. she began doing this as we bounced around last week… perhaps it is her coping method to uncertainty. Either way; she’s the most adaptable cat I’ve ever met. In the matter of one week, she was in 5 different places, travelled in 4 different cars, lived in 3 different houses, went through 2 airport terminals, a security checkpoint, was in 2 different provinces – and still, she rolls with it as if she’s seen it all before. Maybe that’s just how she is, or maybe a piece of her knew I needed her to be calm in the times I wasn’t. I’ll never know, but if the only change after all of that is her falling asleep listening to my heartbeat…. what greater love could I ask for?

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What a strange two weeks it has been… full of endings, and beginnings, returning home from the beauty of the mountains.  Although that change didn’t work out the way I planned, I have a sense of peace knowing that I stepped out of my comfort zone. A comfort zone in which I have been safely residing for many years… and you know what? It didn’t kill me. Change is scary, and hard, and uncertain – but I came through it with a new appreciation for myself, and my ability to determine what is best for me. I learned how to stand on my own, how to meet new people, how to travel alone – and my severe anxiety disorder and I, we made it. With trembling knees, and a pounding heart, we did it. We conquered fear gently, one step at a time.

Red-eye flights leave you lots of time for reflection, and as I took a last look at the mountains as the plane reached for the sky, I know that things will work out the way they’re suppose to…the way they always do. This experience has taught me more about myself than I really understood until now.  But my goodness, it’s good to be home. My mind and heart have always been a travelling spirit. I love seeing new places, and experiencing the beauty the world has to offer – just as much as I love the comforts of home. The never changing town, the sweet smell of horses, and the comfort of my own bed. Things feel much more settled here, as do I.

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I don’t think you ever realize how much you miss a place, or the people in it until you’ve been gone for awhile.

Things I accomplished while in BC:

–  bought and sold my first car
– hiked up a mountain,
– saw waterfalls
– put my feet in the Pacific Ocean
– made new friends
– walked into a room full of strangers and left with friends
– Stood up for myself
– Got a little more comfortable being uncomfortable
– Explored places by myself
– Navigated around Whistler without getting lost (eventually)
– Travelled alone and enjoyed it
– Remembered to call my mother
– Stayed sober

And now, I wait as the next chapter of life unfolds. Things happen for a reason, and it’s exciting to see the world of possibilities.

Living in cages, with doors wide open…

Sometimes, things are not as they seem. What goes up, may not come down. What you wish for, and what you receive may be two entirely different things. You cannot learn unless you try, and that’s what this was. My mountains, my beautiful stars, this is not goodbye forever – it’s just for now.

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The past month has been hectic, crazy, and beautiful. My parents came to visit, and despite the smoke they still got to see the beauty this province possess. How there is never an end to the mountain ridge, how the sun dances across the skyline as it sets – this place made a beautiful summer home. So many experiences, so much love.

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As I pack my bags to ship home, and try to unravel the next step in my adventure, I remember not to be sad. You cannot cry because it is over, you must smile because it happened. What a beautiful place to spend a summer. What a beautiful way to learn I too, can step out of the open cage and fly provided I believe in the beauty of my own magic…my own strength.

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Thank you to the friends, who showed me what true friendship is. That distance and time change doesn’t change a thing. There is truth in the expression “you find out who your friends are”. Thank you to Sarah, for every 2 hour phone call, constant snapchats, screw time change – it’s acceptable to talk at 3am – and for every time you reminded me who I am – thank you.  Thank you to my support in recovery, both here and at home – who kept me grounded, who helped me when I stumbled, and who believed in me when I couldn’t. Thank you to my parents, who let me take this chance, but always gave me a safe place to land should I need it.

We’re all just people, living in cages with the doors wide open. Take the chance, spread your wings, and know you can always go back to the place you call home. Home is where your heart is.IMG_1940.JPG