“Thirty for 31”

The dreaded journey of turning thirty wasn’t so bad. For me, turning thirty was an accomplishment. It was a reminder that I had successfully been through so much and that God didn’t forget me. I got married a month before turning 30, and never looked back. Little did I know that I would experience most of the months of being “dirty thirty” pregnant, moody, and depressed. Granted I welcomed the change of scenery of my new home, I was ecstatic to give birth to my honeymoon baby, and managing all the hats I had to wear. I learned in this short year that I don’t wanna HAVE to be super woman. I don’t want to be viewed as someone without balance. I literally worked to the day I gave birth. I was worried about work crap when my baby and I both needed an emergency C-section. Throughout the year; I looked around and saw overworked and unhappy women because we feel the need to wear the “Cape.” I looked in the mirror and saw myself….exhausted with bags under my eyes trying to turn in an assignment and maintain the 4.0. I decided that I didn’t want to be only identified by my struggles. Yes, I overcame my struggles, but I am NOT only my struggles. I am a walking testimony. I didn’t WANT to be on #teamnosleep…hell I need my sleep! I learned that I wanted a positive work life balance. I want to be a present mommy/wife and career woman, and with faith I believe this is possible. Which is why I had to make the rough decision to sit out of school for another semester. I cried….and cried when I realized my graduation date would be pushed back. But I knew I needed balance. I had to be mature about where I was in life, and what was more important to me. The positive work life balance I yearn for is closer as a result of my recent decision. I just gotta figure out HOW! How to balance it ALL. I didn’t want to sacrifice peace and wellbeing to be seen as Superwoman even though I married Captain America. I just want to be Erie…..simply Erika Nicole. I am longing for 31 to get here so I can apply the lessons I have learned.

In fact, I am somewhat looking forward to turning 31 next month. It will bring yet another year of growth and blessings. If you have been keeping up with my writings; the past couple months have been rough on little ole me. When I take into account all of the changes that I physically, emotionally, and spiritually went through recently it would obvious to feel where I been coming from. Lately, my daily mantra of “Just breathe Erie” has been coming in handy. Anxiety is such a dreadful emotion, and for some reason there is the thought that one can control the anxiety that seems to creep from the back of your neck to the tips of your toes. For record, the only thing you can do is …breathe. Breathe through the anxiety even you cant remember how to breathe during the moment. Yea, you can pop a Xanax or khlonpin, but you still gotta breathe…slow your heart rate down and remember that God will get you through the moment……and that it will all be over soon.

I for one feel pretty ….ok today. I showered (yall this is like therapy for me), put my hair in my pig tails, put on my day jewelry, and waited for the babies to get to nap time. Ahhhhh Nap time. A part of me wanted to nap right with them, but instead decided to embrace these rare moments of solitude. I dusted off my laptop, sent my husband to the gym, “put them babies” in their respective cribs, made a cup of pumpkin spice tea in my “Im fucking Fabulous” mug and decided to vent-write.

Hitting the 31 next month for me will hopefully be a sense of awakening. Walking into motherhood a little more confident, one year of being a wife under my belt, and embracing being a homeowner without feeling like I am behind on everything. Learning how to truly breathe is one of my short term goals along with creating a schedule for myself. I was talking with my mother in law yesterday over a nice glass of red wine and she told me how proud of me she is. I didn’t know that before that moment I needed “mommy validation.” It seems lately I haven’t been as confident as I usually am. As a result, I have been needing more validation from everyone about EVERYTHING. I hate this phase I have been transitioning from. It’s kind of annoying to feel completely and utterly overwhelmed and feeling that you’re doing everything WRONG. I feel as if I put so much pressure on myself to fulfill these roles that I am driving myself insane. Even when I decide to do something for me (leave the house, get some girl talk in, etc)  the mom guilt creeps in which causes me to cry as soon as I leave the home and second guess EVERYTHING all OVER AGAIN. AHHHHH hormones! Mood swings! PPD!

UGH. it’s been rough, but just as always I will survive….I am surviving…and this too shall pass.

*chugs tea, shakes pig tails, checks baby monitor for gracie, sighs and preps for bottle time with nugget*

 

 

These are the Times

There are times when I just want to scream “HELP ME” but then I am reminded how would one be able to do so? How do you help someone who cannot help themselves? Someone who doesn’t even understand why they feel the way that they do. I always knew that one day I’d be a married mom, but I did not foresee how difficult this phase would be. I didn’t take into account that my mental illness wouldn’t just evaporate. I failed to be prepared to have those tough conversations with my husband about those two hard words to pronounce “Suicidal Ideations” In fact, I definitely didn’t prepare myself to be in this position. I realized there is no right way to tell your spouse you are scared to be alone….you simply just say it. Once I told him, I felt a teensy bit of relief…..before the dread came back.

These are the times where I should have so many pictures and short films in my phone from being a hover mom, but that has yet to manifest itself. In fact, most times I can barely remember where I place my phone since my memory is so flighty. I should be carving pumpkins and decorating my home, but instead no matter how much rest I barely receive; I am exhausted beyond belief and cannot think far enough to see a fully decorated home. As a result, my home looks like a glorified apartment. I have been off work for the past almost nine weeks, and I have yet to truly indulge in food and comfort. I think this reason is because I am too busy trying to figure “HOW” I will be able to maintain it all once I go back to work. Especially since I am not maintaining well without the stress of work.  These are the times where I should be giddy as my one year of marriage is upon me in 2 weeks, but instead I am having these tough conversations with my husband to no relief…..

I just couldn’t fathom another day of ignoring my feelings, and dodging my truth…today while I finally remembered to breathe…I chose to be honest….with me.

 

 

Dear Erika….just keep breathing

Dear Erika,

It’s been awhile. You have been on my mind, and I am sure that you have felt alone from time to time. In the middle of the night, when everyone is asleep, and you lie awake contemplating the next steps; anticipating the babies cries and holding your breath because the anxiety is too great. I wanted you to know dear heart; that you are doing the  best that you can. I have seen you look in the mirror and not be amazed at the beauty that lingers. I have seen you lately pause when you accidentally walk past a mirror as if you don’t recognize yourself. You are in there. You are still the loveable you. The life of the party persona lives in you….still. Just give yourself a little more time….I know that it seems like its difficult just to breathe at times and you long for the moment when smile lines will travel across your smile. That time will be here again before you know it. I wanted you to know that It is okay that you initially didn’t want to go to have a picnic in the park, and it felt more comfortable to lie down in bed all day, but I commend you for going any way….for grinning because you couldn’t smile. The look of bliss on your family’s face was priceless and worth it.

I noticed the other day that you jumped slightly when you chuckled as if it surprised you to hear laughter. It’s gonna be ok…I promise. There are people who truly love you that are praying for you when you are unable to. God hears them….and he hears you. Times may seem bleak and filled with apprehension and fear of what will happen next. Just know that this to shall pass. Anxiety filled nights won’t last always, and one day soon you will be able to truly enjoy the moments of your growing babies and loving husband.

You have done nothing wrong for you to feel guilty… mom guilt is irrational. If no one can validate that it has been rough balancing it all…changing medications, trying to feel better all the while trying to not miss precious moments; then I will validate it essentially validating you. Unfortunately, this is the hand you have been dealt. Its perfectly okay that you feel like the bag lady with your sore neck & shoulders from holding all the weight of depression. After all, Someone has to be the voice of others to let them know…that things will get better….just as I am reminding you. Just rest your body, rest your soul…. remember to pray often,  take slow methodical breaths

and remember to  just keep going… keep breathing…simply

keep

breathing

-Erie

“Mama’s Gun”

I have been on a journey to seek  balance. I never knew how different things would be parenting two healthy baby girls instead of one. I have yet to establish a routine that benefits everyone, but the blessing of being on maternity leave is that I haven’t had to. Prior to having my youngest, my team of doctors put much emphasis on post partum, and me having to prepare for it….how the heck do you do that? After a very difficult third trimester I gave birth….and I found myself waiting on the other shoe to drop….waiting on myself to snap. When in reality its like my body did the exact opposite. Instead of being a hot manic mess I shrunk into myself. My voice had dwindled and for the life of me I had nothing to say. Let me correct that, I had things to say….but I didn’t want to say it. For some reason, my desire to just get it off my chest became a figment of my cynical imagination. The need to write…..diminished as well and most times I feel like a foreigner in my own body. When I look at myself in the mirror I don’t recognize myself. The features look familiar, but its the eyes. They look so blank. It’s now 7 weeks post partum and I keep waiting on the moment where I couldn’t get out of bed and cried every second, but that time didn’t really come. Yes, there were moments of extreme sorrow, the irritability making me severely fidgety, and  more times that I can count where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I figured something must be wrong with me other than the obvious. I kept trying to remember back to when I gave birth to Gracie, but I am met with a entirely blank memory. I can remember emotions. Feeling like I couldn’t do it. I felt helpless, overwhelmed, and isolated. Outside of those remote feelings I cannot seem to remember much else.

This time around I am not alone, I am overwhelmed, but not helpless or hopeless. In fact, I am able to operate. I could get out of bed, I could feed Gabbie in the wee hours of the mornings and I feel like I am bonding with her.  I am a robot at times, but I’m able to feed Gracie and try and play with her. I feel sad from time to time, but nothing like THAT  OMG depression.  I have learned that there is not one facet of post partum depression. The vast irritability, the lack of eating, loss of enjoyment, the dread of overwhelming feelings….all are wrapped up in a ugly bow. I learned that your body goes through trauma as a result of childbirth and pregnancy. Though I was glowing I felt vacant. Because my hormones were all over, but my medicine kept me somewhat level I did not deal with the extremes of the bipolar and post partum….but I still feel….off. The bright side of things is that I eventually snapped out of “it” before so I surely will snap out of this….eventually.  I feel like I set myself up for the okie doke because I compared everything to my first pregnancy and post partum experience. I seemed to “snap back” faster at 28 than at 30. I believe that things are a bit different for me because this past year and a half has been one huge transition after another.

 

I sometimes feel myself wanting to stop expressing myself because NO ONE talks about how hard the transition can be. Its like I am a member of a silent sorority, yet no one is allowed to speak on the truth…..the truth that its rough on a woman emotionally, mentally, and obviously physically. Just because you give birth doesn’t negate the fact that your body and MIND need time to heal. I think that thing that I am learning is that I truly need to not be so hard on me. That its okay to not feel all warm and fuzzy when I don’t feel the familiarity of my 30 year old body. That its totally normal to feel meh when I look at my  new midsection. In fact, I look around and notice that everything is different now. The support system I have looks and feel different. I kind of have an idea of how things “are supposed to be.” I guess I  just have to get used to this transition, but not get comfortable with things being dreary because……”it” will end…..sooner than later.

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