Wednesday, November 19, 2014


You guys... they just grow up so dang fast!!! It is Ash's second birthday... aka... 730 Days SINCE I'VE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! I don't say that lightly, in a cliche' kind of way. I very literally mean Ash wakes up three to six times a night like a newborn baby! It has been hard and I'm pretty sure the ongoing exhaustion has permanently affected my intelligence, capabilities and appearance, but Ash is my ray of sunshine. 2014 has been a pretty crappy year for me. Sorry for the negativity, but it is true. Don't worry, nothing to start a Fund Me account over, it's just been one of those years you have to just get through. That being said, I wish everyone that was having a hard time had an angel like Ash to help them get through it. From the way his upper body and lower body swing to opposite sides in his awkward toddler run, to his declarations of "That So Fun!" when we do anything from crunch leaves, to blow out birthday candles for the sixth time in a row, he constantly reminds me of the source of real joy. Failures, struggles, disappointments... they all end, but Family is Forever. I am so, so, so very blessed to be his mother. Happy Birthday Ash Phoenix! You have my heart.

Photos by Melissa Sue Photography

Friday, October 31, 2014

Blue October/October Blues

I am hear to tell you-There IS crying in baseball.  I should know.  I was sobbing buckets last night.  Today I woke up feeling like I had been through a really bad break up.  My eyes were red and puffy.  My throat was hoarse and I had a heaviness in my chest that could not be lifted, in spite of my rubbing essential oils on it and adding flower essences to my water.  (I know... I'm such a hippy.)  

I had a horrible night of sleep, in part because of Ashy waking up 6 times to be nursed.  Does that even leave me any time to sleep?  And in part because of my reoccurring nightmare of Gordon rounding third base and not stopping.  He runs for home instead, but as soon as he passes third he switches into the slow-mo dream run, like he's stuck in goo and all of the giants are still going full speed and he can't go fast enough!!!!   It was the worst!

By the way, I am not capitalizing giants on purpose.  It's the little things that get me through... umm kaaay.

Much like a bad break up, you end up focusing on the end result and forgetting all the good times and there were good times... lot's of them  In fact, this post season was pretty much perfection.  I can't figure out if that makes it better, or worse.  The Royals playoff run was historic.  We were so far down in the Wild Card game that I know people were turning off their tvs and boom, magic happened.  It didn't matter, they said, because no one was getting past the angels... best team in baseball, they said and boom, magic happened.  The orioles are going to out slug us, they said.  We didn't stand a chance against their heavy hitters and boom, magic happened.

The Royals are the team of destiny.  We are the better story.  Three World Series wins in five years... yawn... is The Voice on?  First post season appearance since your World Series win 29 years ago and you sweep your way into the World Series.  You battle it out with a fierce opponent, going round after round of high highs and low lows.  Then at the bottom of the 9th inning of game seven, you are down by one run, with two outs  and facing a pitcher that no one can score off of,when boom, magic happens.  Yeah-I'd see that movie.  I'm Miss Frugal and I'd even buy that movie.  Can Hosmer play himself, because he ain't too bad to look at.  Amirite?

Anyway, it didn't happen.  Gordon got to third, not home and as much as I would have loved to see Perez hit a home run and limp around the bases for the win, after he had been nailed in the leg by a fastball earlier, he got out and that's that.  I'm supposed to say, good game giants, because it was and you guys were worthy opponents, because they were, but I'm not to that point in the break up yet, so it will have to wait.

I do have to thank my little boys for not allowing me to wallow too long.  They are such empathetic little fellows that my tears were rubbing off on them. River promised to cheer for the Chiefs, to make me feel better and said he was just pretending to cheer for the giants.  Ashy just kept saying, "I sad."   How could I teach them the more important lessons of perspective and picking yourself back up after a loss, if I caved into the disappointment I was feeling.  At the same time, I think it is okay to be honest about your feelings and passionate about your choices.  Games might just be games, but that doesn't mean they can't be important to you, so we agreed to be sad till tomorrow morning and then we would need to think about the games we won, instead of the one we lost.  Time may not heal this wound, but the memories of Blue October will stop the bleeding.

Thanks to my husband for always wearing the rally cap.  It worked wonders against the A's and I thought you had them in the 9th too babe.  Thanks to River for finally cheering for the Royals in game 6.  We won 10-0 honey.  I told you, you are the lucky charm.  Thanks to Ashy for sometimes cheering for the Royals, but mostly saying, "Go Dolphins."  You can always make smile.  Thanks to all my friends that could care less about baseball, but were cheering for the Royals because they knew it was important to me.  Thanks to all my friends that LOVE baseball and have other teams, but were cheering for the Royals, because they hate the giants and they love an underdog story.  Thanks to my family for being loyal, true blue Royals fans.  It was so fun randomly getting to meet in Wyoming to watch the Wild Card game.  I'll never forget it.  Thanks to my one friend that is a giants fan, for being a gracious winner and not rubbing it in.  It's okay Rob, because you're a Raiders fan too, so the universe has a way of balancing things out.  And finally, thanks to the 2014 Kansas City Royals.  You could not have been more fun, or inspiring to watch.  Life can be hard and a lot of good people needed a boost and you were that boost.  Lets go Royals... Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap!

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I braved the free food day at Chick fil a... yes we dressed like cows...  It was pure chaos inside and River was having a blast sword fighting with his balloon sword with any random child that had one too.  There was one pretty aggressive little fighter in the mix that I almost asked to calm down a few times, but held off, because if River didn't mind... maybe I shouldn't mind either.  Anyway, as luck would have it, River's balloon sword popped and the balloon guy had already left.  He was heartbroken... head instantly hung low and huge crocodile tears pouring out.  The little ruffian walked right up to River and said, "Here you go... have mine." (He was five people.)  River was in shock.  He bawled tears of gratitude and said, "Mom, I can't take it.  It's too nice."  I told him nice people look for the chance to be kind and this was this boy's chance today, so say thank you and you'll have to look for your chance too.  We get in the car and Ash is throwing a fit, because he has no balloon and hates being buckled in his car seat and it is a million degrees and my boys hate the heat as much as I do.  As I am struggling with the buckle, River gets in the other side of the van and says these exact words, "Ashy, I believe this belongs to you." He then hands Ash the balloon and bursts into tears.  I start crying too and we both just hug and I tell him how proud I am of him and that he melts my heart.  Ash was happy as can be with his coveted balloon sword and my faith in humanity was restored by two little boys... a five year old stranger who was loving and giving and set a good example and my sweet, sensitive four year old that understood the gravity of the sacrifice and then wanted to pay it forward.  Okay, gushing mom moment over... you can continue about your day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Father's Love

Happy Father's Day Robert Bear!  Here's a little something the boys and I have been working on.  It's been keeping us up late, which might explain the messy house.... at least that is my excuse this weak.  We sure do love you!!!

P.S. You guys sure are photogenic.  It made my job of selecting photos very difficult.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Right around the time I was due with my second son, I felt like every single person I knew was waiting with bated breath to see if I would be as big of a mess this time around.  This post is a long overdue answer to that question, but I never wanted to write it and jinx myself.  I was fully aware that postpartum depression could creep in anytime within the first year of having my baby, so I was never willing to declare myself PPD-free until I had fully made it out of the danger zone.  Now that Ashy Boy is 17 months old, we can all release the whopping big breath of air we have been collectively holding since the second I found out I was pregnant again.  Thank God.

I know that sounds dramatic, but I promise you, I have never experienced anything so crippling as the paralyzing anxiety that followed the birth of my first son and I never, ever want to feel it again.  The fact that I risked a repeat of that horrible time in my life by working super hard to have a second baby, just proves how badly I want more kids, because I promise you, nothing short of a sweet smelling, fresh from heaven newborn would be worth the risk.  Thankfully, my countless prayers  and pleadings were heard and answered.  I did not have postpartum depression and anxiety this time around.

Don't get me wrong... it has not been easy.  Anyone following the Ash Sleep Saga on this blog knows I am a sleep deprived shell of my former self, but that's okay, because I GET TO FEEL LIKE ME!!!  I don't know if that will make sense to anyone that has not experienced the completely physical, emotional and spiritual effects of a mental disorder, but there is a difference between being tired, sad, sick, emotional, frustrated, worried and anything else under the sun, but still feeling like yourself, a child of God who is strong and can overcome hard things, who is rational and knows that this time will pass, who is connected to her baby and family and understands not everything is in her control, but that is okay and God is ever mindful of her.... rather than being in a black void that takes many shapes, but none of them are recognizable as you, the person you have always been and all you feel is fear.

Yes, I was tired the first time around, but tired was never what I prayed to be released from.  I couldn't find myself.  I thought I had been replaced by a girl who could only feel fear and pain and my biggest fear of all was not knowing if that feeling would ever go away.  I was never suicidal.  I didn't want to hurt anyone, myself included, but I also didn't want to live very long if I had to feel that way for the rest of my life.  Attempts of thinking positively and counting my blessings only hurt me worse, as they served as reminders that I had no earthly reason to feel so terrible.  I had just had a baby.  One I had fought for for over two years.  This was my dream come true.  He was perfect and healthy and quite possibly the most beautiful creature to ever grace the planet and I had been in misery almost everyday since his birth.  What was wrong with me?  How could I not find happiness?

I still can't answer that question.  I still don't know why it hurt so bad, where the fear came from, why it was such a physical feeling, or how I got to the point where I was on my couch literally trying to live minute to minute.  I couldn't even take it day by day, I had to look at the clock, remind myself to breathe and tell myself I could make it to the next minute.  Weird, I know.  I sometimes think back and wonder was I just being a wimp?  Could it have really been that bad?  But after a second of reflection, I can tune in with that unexplained anxiety and I rush as fast as I can to get out of those memories.  Yes, it was that bad and the only solitude I find in the experience is a greater connection to the human experience.  Before my personal brush with PPD, in true Tom Cruise fashion, I thought that everything could be fixed with diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and a connection to a higher power, but here I was, an actively religious girl, who worked at a vitamin and herb shop, that lived a healthy lifestyle and had no history of depression and I got knocked to my knees.

Now I know, when it comes to mental health, there are no quick one size fits all fixes.  I will try not to judge again.  I will try not to assume I could have handled things better, or differently.  I will  give the benefit of the doubt to people.  I will offer compassion instead of criticism and for these reasons and these reasons only, I have found a little something to be thankful for in my experience.  The joy I felt parenting Ash as a newborn was such a revelation to me.  I didn't even know how bad off I was, until I had Ash and realized this is how it should feel.  I was overjoyed and angry at the same time.  I wanted a do-over.  River deserved a mom this happy and this present.  Every new baby does and every mom deserves those love and attachment pheremone highs.  It is our birth/birthing right.

I don't know why I was spared this time around and even though PPD is unexplained, I do think I learned a few things that helped me avoid it again.

First and foremost, protect your sleep like it is the most important thing in the whole world, because at this point in time, it is.  If you are a night owl like me and your friends are used to coming over and staying late, don't think, like I did, that you'll just push through and sleep when the visits are over.  Ahhh Helll Noooo! If you get in a sleep deficit, you often can't recover from it and once that triggers the anxiety, the sleeplessness cycle will continue to perpetuate.  Love yourself enough to set boundaries and stick with them.  Do not waste the initial sleepy first days of your baby.  Suck every sleepy second you can out of them.

Don't worry about your body.  That picture of me at the top is the picture of my belly AFTER I had the baby.  I liked my body before my baby and I felt beautiful during my pregnancy, but after my first baby, I couldn't wrap my head around the big pile of mushy bread dough I had become.  I was leaking from every orifice; milk, blood, tears... you name it... it was pouring out of me.  How did I never realize I was still going to look pregnant after I had my baby?  Did all my friends hide until they had shrunk back down?  Well this time I embraced the changes and it helped.  I wasn't surprised to still look pregnant.  I took a final belly shot and it might not be my best look, but it is all part journey.

Let people help.  Don't try to entertain your visitors.  If there is ever a time in your life where you don't need to pretend your dishes are always clean.... this is it!  No really, sit down and let someone else do them.  Everyone wants to help, but they don't know what to do.  Ask for meals.  Ask for someone to listen to you cry and vent and while they listen, ask them if they can vacuum your floors, because the floors are grossing you out, but you just can't get to them, because your vahjayjay is sore and you are so, so tired.  They will get it and then they won't feel weird asking you to do the same, when they need help.

Don't think it is all on you.  Remember you have a husband who wants to help.  Let me reiterate... he WANTS to help.  Let him.  I would feel so guilty leaving the house for an hour and when I came home, if my husband vented to me about the baby crying, or a really bad diaper, I took it as him being mad I left, as him saying I was a bad mom that I couldn't stay and do it all by myself, that I wasn't keeping up my end of the deal.  Irrational I know, but it took a long time before I stopped apologizing for everything the baby did, like it was somehow my fault and I promise you.. My husband is really nice and yours probably is too, they might be dramatic about how long the baby cried, but it is because they are male and not because they think it is your fault, or that you should never leave the house.  (Husbands... if you are reading, just say everything was great.  It went smooth and that you are glad she got a break, even if it is a big fat lie.)

Plan a trip.  One of the most overwhelming feelings attached with my PPD was claustrophobia.  I had my baby in winter.  It was cold, gray and the inversion was thick with pollution.  I felt trapped.  I wanted to crawl out of my skin.  My freedom was gone.  My life was ruled by someone else's needs and I couldn't even take a walk.  My husband realized I needed a change of scenery and it helped so much, so this time we just planned for it.  I knew week three seemed to get extra bad the first time around, so this time we planned a trip to Grandma's house during that time.  It was still too cold to get outside, but her house is bigger, I had company, my older kid was entertained and most importantly... it was a CHANGE!

I know not everyone can and this might be a source of pain for some, but if you can breastfeed... do it.  It isn't always easy, but every time I wanted to run away, because I thought my family would be better off without me, the tiny bit of rationality I still had would say, "But who would feed the baby?  He needs you.  Hold on for a little longer."

Service... Many church related things caused me more anxiety, because I couldn't understand why I didn't feel the connection to God that I normally felt, but serving someone else got me outside of my problems, even for a minute and that helped.  This time around I really wanted to not look at the papercut, if you will.  When I started feeling blue, I tried to figure out how I could help someone else.  This is not easy, when you are in the full swing of PPD, so try to do this before you fall in the depths and maybe it will help keep you afloat.  If you are already underwater, it might seem impossible to focus on anything else but solving the problem of how bad you feel, but anything you can do to not dwell on how you feel, will help you more at this time.  It seems counter-intuitive, but helping someone else, really helps you more than trying to fix yourself.

Finally.... and this is where I might lose some of you... I encapsulated my placenta and then took it like a supplement.  It rocked!  I was hesitant at first, but like I said before, desperate not to revisit PPD.  Most mammals consume their placenta after giving birth and it made sense to me that we could benefit from the nutrient rich organ that had been keeping our baby alive for nine months too.  I am not hard core enough to freeze it and mix it in a smoothie, but a capsule... no problem.  I called them my happy pills.  My placenta made 153 capsules (the midwife said that was a lot) and I initially started off taking three capsules, three times a day and decreased the amount gradually, so when I ran out, I would pretty much be weaned off them anyway.  I totally recommend it.  It cost about $100 and you just bring a cooler to the hospital with you.  The nurses didn't even think I was crazy.  You call your midwife to pick it up and she delivers a bottle of pills to your house.  If you are the untrusting sort, you can have the person prepare them at your house, but I met with her and got references and referrals and I was fine with her just bringing the capsules to me.  They helped so much.  I am a believer and now you know someone that has tried it, so if you feel like you need to do it too, it won't seem so crazy.  Or you might just think I'm a freak now and that is okay too.

It's my post-party and I can eat my placenta if I want to.  Ha ha...  Do you have any postpartum tips that helped you?  I would love to hear them.  It is a much bigger problem than anyone talks about and I am passionate about helping the world become a friendlier, more understanding place to new moms.  Thanks for reading and feel free to share, if you think any of this advice could help someone you know.