My Pink Elephant

“Write about what you have been struggling with.”

Oh, where do I begin?

It all comes down to anxiety.  I can tell you that I’ve had my fair share of issues with it, but none of those compare to what it has been like over these last nine months.  Anxiety, for me, is like… knowing that things are ok at the end of a scary movie and then getting a phone call and only hearing heavy breathing on the other end.  Or, being late for an important interview and getting stuck behind a slow driver and trying not to let the road rage peak it’s ugly head out.  Or, to be specific, knowing that my child is perfectly safe but having an overwhelming fear that I will never see him again.  Anxiety, for me, is the giant pink elephant in the teeny-tiny room that nobody wants to address.

My sweet child is 9 months, going on 10.  Raising him has been such an amazing (and to be honest, slightly tough) experience.  It wasn’t until recently that I considered what I was going through to be postpartum anxiety.  I mean, I had heard of postpartum depression.  I even considered at one point that I had it, I did after my first child.  I took a quiz online that I had found – I was considered “borderline” to  postpartum depression and if I had just one more point they would have suggested talking to a professional.  The thing is, I was talking to professionals but felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously.  A couple of weeks ago I took a psychology assessment and scored highest in generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder, lower in depression but still a little high, and didn’t score anything in bipolar disorder which was surprising to me considering that is what I have been diagnosed with since I was 11 years old.  So I made a list of what has been going on with me:

1. Since the beginning I haven’t liked to ask anyone to watch my baby for me, not even his dad.

2. I am literally afraid to have baby out of my sight because something bad could happen to him. (This was the case for the first 6-7 months after he was born).

3. I am more irritable than usual.

4. I constantly felt like baby’s daddy didn’t love me anymore and was trying to find a way out and take baby from me.

5. I would argue with baby’s daddy about house duties and parenting styles and start to panic when I felt like I wasn’t being heard and validated.

6. I spend a significant amount of time researching ways to interact with my baby and different things I can be doing with my baby to support his development because I worry (A LOT) that I am not a good parent.  In fact, I have convinced myself that I am not a good parent.

7. I get frequent migraines.

8. I have actually vomited on a few different occasions thinking about how badly things could go wrong when he’s been out and about with his daddy.

9. In the first few months I was so worried that something was wrong with my baby.  I thought he had a sunken fontanelle, I thought he was sick every time he cleared his throat, I thought he was dehydrated, I thought he was spitting up too much… I was a hypochondriac in a way I suppose.

I am sure there are other things, but I get upset enough thinking about the things I already listed.

I don’t know if it is the small town vibe, or if there was something wrong in the way I went about getting help, but not being taken seriously has damaged my faith in the mental health system and even a little in humanity.  I have an appointment tomorrow with a different professional and I can only hope for the best.  I am hesitant on taking any medications right now.  I don’t necessarily believe I need medication, but am still open to the suggestion… What I do need is a strong support system.  I need people to listen to me and believe in me.  Mostly, I need guidance in letting go of things from my past so that I can cope with my anxieties of the present and start to make plans for my future without all this f@*$ed up sh*+ getting in my way.

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I love my little pumpkin patch kid ❤

A Great Time to Celebrate

It is fall.  It’s finally cooling off outside!  The leaves have turned and are falling.  Apple’s and caramel are on sale.  Pumpkins are out.  Halloween is in the air.  I am thankful.

I love Autumn!  It definitely has to be one of my favorite times of the year.  Winter is my all time favorite but it is a close second.  There are so many reasons as to why I love this season – with cool air, falling leaves, caramel apples, pumpkin spice, Halloween and Thanksgiving being just a few.  How could anybody not love it?

As I am sitting on the couch, cozied up in my hoodie, there is one thing in particular that I am thinking about that takes place in the fall.  That would be my son’s birthday.  Every October I am beyond thrilled to celebrate Yuri’s birthday.  It is something that only happens once a year, and this year he is turning five!  I want his birthday to be special.

I would like to take a minute to reminisce about the night I went into labor…

It was October 23rd, 2010, and I had just got home from a prenatal with my midwife.  I had twelve days left before my due date.  After an hour and a half of driving (my midwife was in another town due to there being little options when it came to home births) I had to pee like no other when I walked in my door.  I noticed something strange after going to the bathroom though.  I didn’t realize it at the time but I found out later that my mucous plug fell out!  Gross huh?

That night I was meant to celebrate a good friend’s 21st birthday.  The minute I walked into her house an acquaintance took one look at me and announced to the room I was in labor.  My lamaze instructor warned me about the denial stage in labor, but I was in complete and total denial!  I just couldn’t believe it was already time.  I continued on with the get-together.

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Here is a picture of the night I went into labor!

About 4 a.m. the next morning I woke up because my a  water had broke.  It took until about 8 a.m. for my midwives to get there from Missoula.  I pushed and pushed until 12:38 p.m. on October 24th.  I delivered Yuri on my kitchen floor.  He was the most perfect little being I had ever laid my eyes on. 

His tiny hands and feet took my breath away.  I couldn’t believe I had just done that!  It was a huge thing.  The biggest moment of my life was on that day.  To be honest he looked a bit like Frankenstein at first because he had a hematoma the circumference of his head right on top.  I still adored him (and the hematoma popped shortly after and left a little sore on his head).  The only thing given to me for pain during labor was spoonfuls of honey!  When I talk about it now I wonder why I was so brave.  Every ounce of pain was worth it.  I was one proud Mama!

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This little face is the highlight of my life.  He was the highlight of 2010.  He is also the highlight of my fall.  After all the things to look forward to in fall I have this little ones birthday to celebrate. 

Every year for his birthday I also make a Halloween costume.  One year he was Yoda.  This year he wants to be a super hero vampire.  He got the idea from his favorite show, “Mona the Vampire”.  I’ve had fun making his cape and he is so excited for the end product. 

This time of year is just as fun for him as it is for me.  We get to decorate the house.  There will be a pumpkin patch we attend in the near future and pumpkin carving.  We get to go to the Museum of the Rockies for a birthday celebration.  Can’t forget the trick o’ treating.  Then spend a wonderful time with the family celebrating Thanksgiving.  This will be a great fall for us.

~ Ari

Words That Need to be Said

The tears sting as they roll down my face…

……….

If only I never panicked, then you wouldn’t have to go.  The excuse, “my mental illness took over,” is no good reason for this seperation.  I wish there was someway for me to prove that you were never in danger – I was afraid of going away. I didn’t want to say good-bye.

You see, son, I never should have been driving that day.  My license was just suspended (meaning that I violated a traffic law so the judge didn’t want to allow me to drive for a little while) and I didn’t want to be stuck in Helena all summer.  I had already been planning on moving.  I thought it would be good to get away.  So when I noticed the policeman behind us I got scared because I was being naughty.

It’s even harder to explain to you, sweet child, then it was to the officers…  One of my turn-signals wasn’t working, and when the cruiser followed me my heart dropped into my stomach because I knew that I was going to have to go with them for a couple nights.  That’s when I entered another world, and I slowed down but literally, could not stop.  An invisible force wouldn’t allow it.  Now, to anybody else that would sound crazy, however, you are young and innocent and can believe in such phenomena in this nature.  To clear this up I never intended on, “getting away.”

To be completely honest, I think that I just needed a few more minutes to calm down and grasp the situation.  Anyways, I got into trouble because I was doing something I wasn’t suppose to be doing.  The policemen were disappointed in me, and even upset because I worried them a little.  With the police, if you don’t do what they ask right away they get concerned and start to think that something might be wrong.  So I was in even more trouble and that is when they let me call Papa to come get you. 

I only had to go away for just a little while, but during that time your daddy took it upon himself to make the decision for you to move in with him.  It’s been awhile since I got into trouble and I haven’t got use to you living with daddy instead of me.  Sometimes it makes me cry because I miss you so much.  It’s even harder to see you cry when I have to go. 

I don’t like to go.  It’s only for a little while.

……….

I don’t like looking back on things and calling them mistakes. I’d like to say that I live with no regrets. I am where I am because of choices I have made and this & that. I have learned my lessons enough for a lifetime though… I have done some stupid things and now suffer the consequences. My time away from Yuri is painful. Yes, I have some wonderful people over here in my corner who support me and guide me and that is great… But every day that Yuri is gone I suffer. I suffer inside because I did this and it’s pure agony.

There is more to the story, and you are free to make your judgements, but I must ask you to look at yourself first. Everyone is facing their own demons, and everyone can use one less judgement. The world would be a much better place if we instead tried to do a little more listening and understanding and a lot less gossiping and judging. That’s all.

-Ari

Saying Good-Bye to My Heart

As my mom drove away I felt as if a big piece of my heart was leaving me…

Fridays have become my favorite day of the week.  That’s the day I usually get Yuri ❤ and I am always eager to hold him in my arms again.  My [amazing] boyfriend usually gets his youngest daughter, who is Yuri’s age, to come along for the ride and we make the short trip from Anaconda to Helena.  Picking him up from school on Friday’s has become the single most-important thing for me to do.

When I walked in his school last Friday he looked at me with a beaming smile and yelled out my name (mommy).  It melted my heart 😍 to know how exicited little guy was to see me. The teacher said that Yuri had literally just got done telling them about how I was going to be there to pick him up.  He hurried to get his things and rushed out the door.  He said to me, “mommy, I missed you. Mommy, I love you”.

Our weekend was pretty alright.  He played with the girls some.  Saturday I took him to Discovery – I wanted to get him up there before the season ended and he had been asking to go.  He was so excited to ride the “chair-lifter” again and he didn’t want me to ride the magic carpet with him because he could do it all by his self, the big guy.  That night we rented a Scooby-Doo movie and snuggled.  After I got him to sleep I got a little sad; tomorrow he would be going back with his dad.

I am thankful for my mother.  If I didn’t have my mom I would have to say good-bye to my son at noon on Sundays.  According to [somebody I hate] it’s only fair to “collect him back” at noon since I pick him up at noon.  Yeah that’s fair alright, considering he only allows me to have him four days a month.  Luckily I have a mom who is starting to care that makes sure she gets some time with her grandson who agrees to meet up on Sunday’s.

So, last Sunday we met in Butte. The kids got some icecream cones and floats while us adults talked.  Even though I was present, I was in another world.  I was having to say good-bye to my pride and joy again.  As soon as he saw his granny, he looked at her and then he looked at me and he ran up to hold on to my leg and started to cry softly.  If any of you other mother’s out there ever have this happen?  How do you deal with it?  It’s the worst feeling I ever experience.

As we said good-bye he started crying, saying that he didn’t want to go.  The look in his eyes made me feel like I was abandoning him and I wanted to cry… But I felt like I needed to stay strong – for me and him.  He did not want to go and letting him go was the last thing in the world I wanted.  I felt empty as my mother drove off.

There is nothing stopping me from keeping my son… Except the people in my life that say it’s better for me to comply with his father’s wishes until mediation is over and we go to court.  They also tell me that Yuri belongs with me.  If he does then why are they saying that I should go along with a control-freak’s wishes?  I know that their intentions are good but I just want to say, “exactly whose side are you on, anyways,”?

-Ari

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