An Open letter to the First Love of my Own

Dear Erilyn Olivia- Grace,

It’s been awhile since I actually sat down and wrote to you my love. Probably because I see you every single day and I can tell you how much I love you daily. Mommy wanted to write because things are going to be different very soon. I know that since I have been blessed with you that my life has literally changed for the better. You have made me softer, calmer, I relish in every moment instead of rushing around like a maniac.

I look forward to your smile in the morning, and you saying “get some rest mommy” at night. With your baby sister coming, I want you to know that you will NEVER be replaced. Though it may seem that we have “forgotten you” at times please know that is not the case. I want you to know that I love you and your sister Eriane more than I breathe and that everything me and daddy do for you guys is in your best interest; and from the heart. I apologize in advance for the confusion you may feel once Eriane comes home and I have both of you to care for. I apologize in advance for the times were mommy isn’t as attentive as usual because I am up all night. I am sorry baby and I want you to know that me, daddy, and paw paw will ensure you get adequate attention between the three of us.

I know that in the future I will get the chance to explain to you exactly why you were and still are my saving Grace. I was so afraid of the new chapter you brought, but I had faith that it would be ok….if I just held on. I apologize for not being emotionally present in the beginning. The days and nights when I didn’t know how to function and just operated as  a robot…I am so sorry muffy. I still have a hard time forgiving myself for being depressed and missing key moments in those first weeks. I am sorry for crying to you in the darkness as I held onto you for dear life, but being afraid to breathe. I want you to know that You were the driving force for the awakening that I have had. I know for a fact that God has looked out for us since I decided to ensure you got here safely on April 25, 2014. And Wow, hasn’t God blessed us So?!! There is no one who could contest that God has been essential in our journey together from just me and you to our own little family. From living in a tiny humble apartment to the spacious house you terrorize daily. I can truthfully speak on behalf of daddy and say we are so proud of you. You have become such an independent and happy big girl. Even though the tumultuous twos have been interesting …I would not change a thing. You are so special to me and I want you to always know that.

I am dreading the moment just before I have Eriane that I have to hold you and let you go for the last time as my only child. That hug will break me for a second, but the Joy of expanding our family is all the more a blessing.

Mommy won’t take up to much time, but Grace know that  I will always protect you. I will always love you. I pray for you daily. I will give you my last breath.I will always be there…..I will never leave you.

 

Love you Muffin,

Mummie

 

The Pressure *Jhene Aiko Voice*

I have wanted to write, but have been unable to. I just was unable to put my thoughts….my soul to paper. I would find myself daily opening my blog and just staring. Being a writer it gets that way sometimes. Since I last wrote, I am further into my pregnancy and I am exhausted. Exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and I am still trying desperately to find that balance and relieve some of this pressure that I myself, society, and family has put onto me.

Ever since I was younger, I always felt this pressure…this huge weight on my shoulders to be perfect. I would study just a little more in hopes that it would get me that 100. Or, I’d stay after and practice my toe touch because mines did not mirror my teammates. And when I lacked,  I made up for it with heart. I have always ruled my life with my feelings, with being honest with myself and others, and ultimately by working with all my heart and soul so that things would be “perfect.” It seems that into adulthood, I found out the hard way that no one is perfect, and honestly….who wants to be? There is beauty in mistakes and learning. I learned to work smart and not hard. I learned to let others help me because I CANNOT DO THIS ALONE. Furthermore, I learned that with each sunrise and each sunset that I am a work in progress.

Now that I am a wife and mother, it seems to me that I; along with society have created this standard at times that I am not allowed to make mistakes. That it is selfish of me to take a day for myself to recuperate mentally and spiritually. Oh, the mom guilt. I feel the pressure to always BE ON and to be a tad demure so that I don’t spazz out like I used to. Plus, I am medicated and with child, I cannot afford to just spazz.  After all, I have several people depending on me. Being a good mom is a trigger for me because I do not want to repeat what my childhood lacked and looked like. So, I worry. I pray yet hold onto the fear of “Am I doing this right.” I did not grow up in a home where I could model the role of a wife. Honestly, I did not think that anyone would ever truly marry me. Sure several guys asked me, only one ever produced a ring, but those situations were all rooted with selfishness. They could not stand that fact that someone else would capitalize on their “property” while they “got ready” which never truly happened. So with that, I never felt the need to prepare myself for wifedom. And to be truthful, I didn’t know how; But let me tell you, there is a learning curve especially when you are free styling like me.

I don’t usually blog about this topic because it’s a sensitive area for me, but I feel compelled to do so. Maybe there is someone out there losing sleep and driving themselves crazy trying to figure out the balance, the new roles, what’s most important in the long list of things to do. Most importantly, it could possibly help someone finally realize that pressure eventually alleviates. Some may know and most may not, but I am a 30 year old caregiver; thus my husband is as well. My father is unable to live alone and unsupervised due to a history of seizures and strokes. I have been along the journey, and watched him transform from my super hero, to the man that depends on little ole me.  I must admit that it has been hard to watch and to be a part of. Especially with the lack of support from my siblings. Can you imagine being responsible not only for your children and spouse, but for your parent too? It’s a thin line to make it all work, but I must admit; the situation is a culprit for added pressure. And its not because caring for him is such a hard job, but how does one prepare to do so at such a young age? Newlywed, young mother, stable yet fresh into my career. There is no manual. And, don’t let me get started on how to effectively parent a stubbornly beautiful two year old with an agenda and mind of her own. There are times when it can all be too much. Times where I search for coping skills and turn up empty.

The combination of all these different transitions happening at once…..with a direction that feels like I am walking in the dark feeling with my hands…yea…..the pressure. At the end of the day, it’s not all bad. I eventually snap out of my feelings, put my superwoman cape on and get to work. Having my father with me has been a blessing because I am able to see the transformation and appreciate it for what it is….even though it hurts. Most importantly, my two daughters will have the relationship with their grandfather that I yearned for, but never received. It is all cyclic when you think about it. The swelling in your heart seems to cause the anxiety to crush your chest, but eventually it subsides because our bodies are able to battle with stress, anxiety, and the pressure. We just have to be patient and forgiving of ourselves and the ones who love us. None of us are perfect….truth be told…..I don’t wanna be.

So, does anyone else feel the pressure?!?

“Mommy 9-1-1”

The last couple of days have been hellish. I have been sick  for days while working with asthma related bronchitis, the horrible events in Orlando have been draining to watch/hear/read, I have been working like crazy prepping for maternity leave, and well……..my toddler is two. For the life of me, I didn’t know how complex this stage of toodlership would be. Every time I try and speak on it with others, it feels like I am met with this invisible issue with little to no support and/or advice. I know that there must be other moms out there who are going through the same issues, trying to balance marriage, parenting, self preservation, career, and the list goes onnnnnnnnnn,

I know that I am not a neo mom, and thus I am supposed to know EVERYTHING, but this….not so much. Despite all those child development and social work classes at Auburn; I feel clueless, overwhelmed, and frustrated. I know that one of the main things is that my gorgeous child is having a blast testing the waters of our patience to see just how far she can break the rules, refusing to potty train, and that she is constantly developing her spicy personality. That’s all good; however, I was not prepared to parent a Taurus…..oh the stubbornness. Its like she was the uber obedient one year old…..then obedient yet curious 18 month old….and then on her second birthday…..she turned up and never came down. Now my profession tells me that I am to take into consideration the situations that are occurring around me. For one, I can empathize because I have been transitioning too with very little ease. Everything happened SO FAST after the wedding. I got pregnant on my honeymoon, we built a house, moved from the only place she knows, my dad began living with us full time permanently, my husband has been working crazy hours because……this world is just crazy. I have been in graduate school and working. Then to top it all off, she’s noticing new bottles, smaller diapers and clothes around the house, and mummies stomach is getting bigger. I can only imagine what is going on in her little toddler mind.

No matter how many parenting articles I read ( that are so general and cannot be discussing my child). No matter how many times I get frustrated and just go breathe in a different room. The fact remains is that I want to raise a different breed of children from those that I see around. I want my children to understand and reciprocate respect, to be hard working women who respect themselves and others. I want them to grow up to not only know GOD, but to build a relationship with him. Because I had to learn the hard way that a relationship with him is the only true sacred relationship one can count on. Most importantly, I don’t want my children to have a traumatic childhood like me. Don’t want them to know what it feels like to be abused and at times abandoned. While writing all of this I am thinking, “bruh, you got your work cut out for you.” Im willing to sacrifice so that I can finally break the generational cycle. At the moment, the only thing that seems to give me some level of comfort is knowing that I don’t have to parent alone, and that prayer….TRULY does work. I reckon, I am going to have to continue to be realistic, and remind myself that my child is not perfect and is fairly normal. In certain things she is above average developmentally. I guess the scariest part of all this is that a parent has the hardest most sacred job on the planet. From carrying the seed of God in the womb, birthing the blessing into the world, and cultivating a child of God as they grow up. Though the job is hard…..it is so important and takes effort and most importantly time.

So, it seems that once again, I have answered my own question which is take it one day at a time. There is no manual on how to be a great mother and/or parent (trust me I looked for one). And even though there is advice it’s not always the right advice for YOU. Most of parenting is straight freestyle to be honest. One must not be scared to step up to the mic and just let it flow……

*coughs like a maniac and soothes poor baby Eriane because I know she’s exhausted just like mummie*

“Mummie…..are you otay?” * Erilyn voice*

Its yet another early morning of waking up full of anxiousness, and the kicking and twirling in my stomach courtesy of my lovely fetus Eriane. Today I felt very depressive. There I admitted it. I felt this tremendous weight on my shoulders and soul. The mind boggling thing is that I have zero idea why. Granted, I have a lot going on….but when don’t I? I must also admit that I have been avoiding the moment of facing the issues about my depression, because I am unsure how it will be taken….and how to rid myself of it? I mean people are just starting to believe in post partum depression, so for others to understand pre-natal and/or antenatal depression (before birth) is a bit much.

So often, others who don’t normally experience ongoing severe depression cannot understand why there isn’t a reason for the sadness. It often pains me to answer, “I don’t know” when someone picks up that I am feeling blue.  I have said this before, and I will repeat myself; depression HURTS! Like my head hurts, my body feels out of wack, I can barely concentrate despite the normal pregnancy inconvenience.  My smile though genuine takes a lot of energy to use. My appetite and sleep does not exist, and to top it off…I am currently a human punching bag. And chile, let me tell you Eriane Gabrielle Elizabeth has got a jab on her like her daddy.

I rarely like to communicate, and I am fixated with “Mom guilt,” but that’s a blog for another day. I overall feel moody, weary, and lack energy. And yet, like the Sunflower previously discussed, I am able to turn my head to the light for a second or two; before I close all the blinds and hide under the covers. I believe that despite all of these symptoms, I most despise my irritability with my two year old. Now before I go on….Erilyn is a handful. She is very curious, inquisitive, demanding, and stubborn like most Taurus’. So to say she tests my gangsta daily is an understatement. I still get up, feed her, take her to school, and I head to work. On a good day, I can whip up a nutritious and delicious meal, but it is imperative that I get a mental and physical nap. Today, my mother suggested that now would be the time to take maternity leave. I was on the fence because I am still able to function both at home and at work…..its just a struggle. And I have mouths to feed so I only want to utilize my time off for actual delivery and post partum. I wondered to myself…”How did she know I was feeling like I was going to explode?” “How did she know that I felt like I was drowning in depression with no water?” I simply responded….Not yet, let me work just a little while longer.

I can remember during my pregnancy with Erilyn. That was literally the hardest thing I have ever done. I remember that the mood swings would come and go, and that I rarely smiled. I had no one to touch my stomach and feel the baby kick, and I felt totally isolated. I also remember things getting really bad during my third trimester. Now this seems to be a pattern. Maybe its the increase in hormones; coupled by the irregular brain chemistry due to bipolar. Or maybe just maybe, I am scared….afraid because the baby is becoming real. There is very little to no research about mentally ill pregnant women and their constant struggles. Whether its healthy to breastfeed and/or take medication while pregnancy. What to do when your normal coping mechanism don’t work? How do you communicate to your partner how you feel and what you need for them; when you have no idea what that request looks like?

This time around my circumstances are totally different. I have support from my husband and father. I am excited about carrying my husband’s legacy, and I overall feel in control of this pregnancy as it was not a surprise. There is no hate being spewed in my directions to “get rid of it.” Instead, I am greeted with, “you are glowing and are carrying the baby well.” “How are you doing it all?” and my favorite, “This baby is a total blessing for you and your family. So, as you can see; my lingering depression irritability, and anxiety are frustrating. To top it off, I feel as if I have no one to confide in who actually understands what it means to be mentally ill and expecting. I have looked for support groups to no avail, and I am terrified that if this continues to go on not being dealt; with that some horrible things will be repeated. For one, I have not been able to wean myself off of my anti-anxiety medication because the feeling is too much to handle. This this medication is going straight to our baby. This leads me to my next fear which is that Eriane will have to withdraw from my medications when she is born; hence a stay in the NICU. I am unsure if I can handle all of this pressure on top of my daily struggles. Despite the negative things, I feel more in control over my actions. I am not self-medicating. I feel comfortable enough to let somebody….hell anybody know when I cannot take it anymore. Though I am comfortable, its frightening when I think about my three week hospitalization aka “preggo lady suicide watch.”  That time period was miserable, and I’d rather not go down that path; however, I will do whatever it takes for the betterment of my baby girls.

I one day would like to research this issue and document days such as this in my next self-help book. Know that writing this post had made me feel vulnerable and a tad embarrassed; however, I know that discussing sensitive topics such as this is necessary for helping others and thus helping myself. I reckon that I can really meditate and pray on this subject. Continue to utilize and find new coping skills and activities. I am truly unsure. What I do know is that I have ventured into a real dark place before….and this aint it. But I want to be proactive. I have an entire family counting on me and my balance with mental health. When one joins their soul with another….in marriage everything affects the other. Despite the sacrifice I am ever so excited for my little Eriane to get here…healthy and happy. I truly hopes she gets my husbands soft and kind eyes and warm smile……The day she is born will be a lovely day.

In closing, My toddler can sense when something is wrong and asks “Are you otay mummy?” She usually has this strong look of concern, and her voice is so innocent. I hate lying to my daughter, but I secretly wipe my tears and say proudly, “Mummies okay….don’t you worry.” Because that’s what mummies do!

* Tries to sleep again after just one more swig of Lavender tea*

“The Real”

I woke up this morning in a slight fog. I am unsure of the culprit; however, I am 7.5 months pregnant with a very active baby. I am barely sleeping and eating despite being medicated. I am often irritable and anxious all the while I am also chasing a tumultuous two year old. I’m still working and maintaining my new home and you know what…..this is The REAL. The transition periods that I am going through can be characterized as all over the place. For one, I am going through multiple transitions at one time. I am battling inner issues that I’d rather keep close to my soul. I keep waiting for this manual to pop up with instructions on how to ease these transitions, but nothing comes easy that has valuable meaning. I am learning that my patience needs more tweaking, and that I must utilize self-care. One of my main fears, outside of being a overwhelmed mother and wife is somehow losing myself. I look around at the magnificent women around me, on social media, tv, etc. It plagues me HOW DO THEY BALANCE IT ALL  AND MAINTAIN their IDENTITY. I know that there must come evolution when you add another hat to ones repertoire. I am worried that I will not be able to manage all of these duties with a sane mind and still feel like Erie….like Me.

I worry because I often take inventory of who I was and who I am. I have weeded out the negative and self-destructive behavior. What I realized left is that I still love a nice conversation over a martini, listening to music, exploring the city, writing and painting….overall being social. I am unsure if I am unable to unfulfill these desires because I am carrying an entire human in my uterus. Or is it that I have yet to figure out how to enjoy these things, still give my husband the attention he needs and deserves,  be an awesome mother and role model to my daughters, do a superb job at work,  graduate from graduate school. Oh, and let’s not forget volunteering, while managing my bipolar, ensure that I take care of my father, and maintain my home and cook homemade meals…..I mean I just got exhausted writing this all…..How?!? I mean honestly, something has to be secondary and take a backseat. Every thing seems important and a priority. I know that over time, the role of the woman has expanded. Most women return to work 6 weeks post partum for financial reasons, or because they feel bullied back to work to ensure that they still have the position that they worked so hard for. Then there are the uber super women who stay home despite their previous degrees and accomplishments because its just easier on the soul and mind to be home….to ensure that everything gets done despite that not necessarily happening all the time. Being a woman is a tough job, and I am not sure how is to blame….Eve….. that funky snake, the ratchet apple; or maybe Suzy homemaker?

 

So who and what do you choose and how? I know this blog is filled with questions that may not have an answer, but all of this is real to me. So real, that the fear creeps up my throat and at times cripples me with anxiety. I know that the only sane solution at this time is to just take it one day at a time. To pray relentlessly. To some way somehow purge myself of these feelings. Ultimately, trust in God, and have faith that he gave me all of the precious gifts and opportunities….so there must be a way to maintain it all….right?