Sadie’s Story- One last update

Exactly one year ago today, October 30 2017, I watched Sadie have her final (and hopefully forever last) seizure. I remember it so clearly too. We had just returned home from her first visit to meet her neurologist at the Infantile Spasms clinic in Atlanta. We hadn’t received the best news. Her EEG was still abnormal and there was some concern that she was continuing to have multiple spasm clusters per day, even after being on medication for over two weeks. Infantile Spasms are seizures that need to be controlled as soon as possible- otherwise neurological impairment is much more likely. I remember that drive home, feeling not defeated, but ready to fight. I didn’t have time to worry about her future or to feel sorry for our situation. All I could think about was getting her better. I could only be in the present, because the future was too scary to think about.

Sadie’s first night in the hospital

That evening we had gotten our oldest to bed and were sitting downstairs on the couch. Sadie was sleeping in the rock ‘n play beside us. She woke up, and I waited for her seizures to start. They always happened upon waking. Sure enough, she had a focal seizure then her spasms started. I looked at the clock, praying this would be a shorter cluster than usual. All I wanted was some good news to tell her nurse the next day. It was ten minutes long. Not good news, but I prayed again, pleading to God that tomorrow would be different.

The next day was Halloween. We made it through 24 hours with no seizures. Then it was a full week. Then a month. Then six months. The miracle we had been waiting for had happened.

 

What’s incredible is that now, watching Sadie, I sometimes forget everything that she’s been through. She’s a completely normal, happy 15 month old. As far as development goes she’s blown her motor skills out of the water! She was crawling at 8 months, taking steps by 10 months and walking at 11 months. She’s completely fearless when it comes to trying new things. By a year old, she was climbing to the top of the playground at every park we would go to and find the most challenging slide to go down. She refuses my help, she wants to do it all on her own. If you had told me she would be doing the things she is now a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. I remember sitting in the hospital, holding her all wrapped up in her tiny hospital gown, gauze all over her head with wires coming out, and the neurologist telling us exactly what we had feared…..

…….the side of the brain the seizures are affecting isn’t good

…….she’s not responding to treatment as quickly as we liked

……..normal development is highly unlikely with these babies

…….most babies with infantile spasms have moderate to severe neurological impairment

……..other seizure disorders can manifest, including Lenox Gataut Syndrome

At one point I stopped listening, I just couldn’t process any more. I spent hours on Facebook support groups, desperately trying to find success stories. There were a few. Most left me feeling discouraged. By our second day in the hospital I had stopped crying and had accepted the fact that I would be raising a special needs child. And I mentally started preparing myself for that. I hated the feeling that I was losing her, but I had to be strong for her. Even thinking about it now makes me emotional. I wouldn’t wish a sick child on any mother.

One of the many EEG’s Sadie had to do last year

My last blog post on Sadie was the end of 2017. A lot has happened since then. Her spasms stopped for good on October 30, 2017. Since then her focal seizures also stopped. There were a few instances around February and March of this year that we think she may have had a couple absence seizures. This was only through clinical observation (myself and my mom and husband), but they were never picked up on an EEG. Her case manager thinks they may have been absence seizures from what I described, but her neurologist dismissed it. So we keep the anniversary of her last seizure being on October 3o.

Sadie took her last dose of Sabril on March 22, 2018. I remember being so happy, yet terrified at the same time. Sadie HATED taking that medication, so much that I had to force it down her throat. Once we stopped, our morning routine became much more pleasant. I was so scared the seizures would come back and be even worse than they were before. Thankfully we were able to fully wean and her EEGs continued to show normal brain activity. Such a praise!!!

 

This summer we moved from our home in Georgia to Indianapolis, IN. We made the decision after Sadie was discharged from the hospital last fall that it would be better to be closer to family. We weren’t sure what Sadie’s future would hold, and wanted all the support we could get. We did our research, and found that Cincinnati Children’s hospital was ranked #3 nationally in neurology. Even though we weren’t displeased with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we wanted her to have access to the best medical care possible. Cincinnati is only two hours from Indianapolis, and Indy was a location that Nick could easily transfer to as an en route air traffic controller.

It was tough leaving such an amazing community in Georgia. People there felt like family, especially with all the support we received while Sadie was in the hospital, and the days after as well. As hard as it was to leave, we know we made the right decision. We couldn’t be happier where we are right now! God has blessed us so much, surrounding us with amazing new friends and community, and reconnecting us with old friendships. I was nervous about the adjustment, but it’s been easier than I expected.

 

Sadie has had one appointment with her new neurologist in Cincinnati, and we were very impressed with her. She gave us insight we never had before. After numerous tests, blood draws, x-rays and an MRI, we have never been able to find the cause of Sadie’s infantile spasms and seizures. This was hard to accept, I wanted to know exactly why my daughter went through all that she did. And if there was something that could have been done to prevent it. I’ve been through some dark moments, blaming myself for possibly doing something wrong during my pregnancy with her. I had to put the blame somewhere, it was easiest to blame myself. Her neurologist mentioned that her seizures could have been caused by focal cortical dyplasia- an abnormality in the brain that can cause seizures and also infantile spasms. She said it’s an easy fix if she were to have it- “just an easy brain surgery.” That’s literally how she worded it. I’m not sure I would call any brain surgery “easy” but it did make me feel at ease that this wouldn’t be a serious issue. She told us it would be picked up on an MRI, just not the one Sadie had done a year ago because she was only 11 weeks old.  At this point, Sadie’s care plan stays the same. No medication. No more EEGs. Live a normal life. Unless she starts having seizures again- then she would consider doing an MRI again to see if cortical dysplasia really is the cause. Right now, we just hope and pray that she stays healthy!

The only concern we have right now with Sadie is her speech. At 15 months, she isn’t saying any words. She says “mama” but it’s more a sound (mamamama) than a word. She knows I’m mama, but also refers to other things as mamamama. Her seizures did affect the side of her brain that controls speech and comprehension, so we are starting to get a little worried that she may have some delay in that area. We are watching it and don’t want to get too upset about it just yet since she’s still so young. She was an early mover, maybe she’ll just be a late talker! It’s something we are watching, and if we have to get her involved in speech therapy to get her the help she needs, then we are more than ready to do that for her.

Other than that, I’m just chasing around an extremely busy toddler whose world is about to be rocked in a few months. We got the surprise of our lives this summer when we found out we were expecting our third little girl! I’ve had a lot of fear this pregnancy, but thankfully Nick and I have had genetic testing done and everything came back normal. This puts my mind at ease a little bit. As a mom it’s hard to not worry about your kids, and I know I’ve developed some additional anxiety after all we went through last year. When I took Sadie to the ER, completely convinced that I was overreacting only for it to be confirmed that I wasn’t- it definitely changed my perspective on a lot. My kids are not immune to everything, and we certainly aren’t invincible. Still, there’s a fine line between worrying too much and being too laid back. For instance, thinking about Sadie possibly developing seizures again terrifies me. Especially now that she’s mobile. What if she has one at the top of a playground, falls, and hits her head? I can’t not let her explore and learn how to be independent, so I can’t let that fear control me. Finding the balance can be tough, but I would drive my kids crazy otherwise!

I’ve shared Sadie’s story with so many moms who were in my position last year. Scared, in the hospital with their tiny baby, and so unsure of what the future will bring. I’m thankful that I can provide them encouragement and support during such a hard time. I still can’t believe the place that we’re at with Sadie- she truly is a miracle. To everyone who prayed so hard for her, who were there for us during that time, and was her cheerleader through it all- thank you so much!

The bottom two videos were taken exactly a year apart. The first is of Sadie having a cluster of spasms, at this point I had no idea it was a seizure activity. The second is of her today- healthy and seizure-free.

Our Christmas Miracle

Two months ago, we were going through a very scary time. We were in the hospital with our youngest daughter, Sadie, who had just been diagnosed with a very rare and catastrophic type of epilepsy called Infantile Spasms. We had a lot of scary unknowns- if and when her development would be affected in any way, how long her seizures would take to respond to  treatment, and what kind of side effects the medications she was taking would have on her little body. It’s hard to describe the wave of emotions you go through as a parent when your child is diagnosed with something that could cause lifelong consequences. I went through periods of denial and sadness, but also periods of acceptance and perseverance. She needed me, and I had to let go of fear and anxiety and hold on tightly to faith and find a strength inside of me I didn’t know I had.

Her expression 99% of the time

A lot of people have come up to me asking if Sadie could just grow out of this. Some have told me that they too had seizures when they were little, and they went away as they got older and now live a perfectly normal life. Infantile Spasms (IS) is a little different. If left uncontrolled, development is largely affected and can be significantly delayed. Some of these babies regress back to a newborn state and have a difficult time catching up. In multiple studies done in babies with IS, overall intellectual and neurodevelopmental outcome is poor. Sadie’s prognosis seemed grim at first. Some babies end up doing 100% okay with absolutely no delay in development. Unfortunately, this happens in only about 10-20% of cases. The spectrum is wide, going from mild mental retardation to severe developmental delay with severe epilepsy. It was very difficult to hold my seemingly normal, healthy baby and think that her little brain could have already been impacted with so much damage.

Now, two months later, we have a little more insight on IS and what Sadie’s prognosis might be. Typically, development is less likely to be severely impacted if there is no found cause for her IS. Fortunately, no cause has been found yet for Sadie. Her MRI was clear along with all the blood work that was done. We are still waiting to hear back from genetics, but her neurologist seems to think that it will come back clear as well.

I’m a science nerd, and have been reading whatever literature I can find to educate myself more on Sadie’s condition. Not many studies have been done on babies with this type of epilepsy, but I was able to find the main factors that can lead to a more favorable developmental outcome. They are:

  • cryptogenic cause (no known cause)
  • Age of onset of spasms greater than 4 months old
  • No partial seizures accompanying the spasms
  • early onset of treatment
  • early and good response to treatment

What I found above didn’t make me feel any worse about how she would do long-term, but it didn’t make me feel any better either. So far she seems to be in the cryptogenic group. We also started treatment very early and aggressively, and she responded fairly early (within 2 weeks) and the spasms have been controlled so far on the medication she is taking. However, she was very young when her spasms started-  only 11 weeks old when we received the diagnosis, and I’m guessing she was having these spasms for at least 3 weeks if not more before I took her to the ER. She was still so little, I thought the seizures she was having were normal, involuntary newborn reflexes! She also had partial seizures with the spasms. It can be easy to focus on the negative, but I’m clinging to the hope that because we got her diagnosed early, before we even started noticing a delay in her development, she will be in the small percentage who develop normally with no return of epileptic spasms.

So far, this baby has been nothing short of a miracle. We left the hospital feeling very discouraged. She was still having multiple, long spasm episodes every day. We would increase her medicine, and she wouldn’t respond. Her follow up EEG was still abnormal after being on medication for two weeks. I felt as if we would get one blow after the other. But Sadie wasn’t discouraged. She wasn’t going to let epilepsy get in her way of crushing milestone after milestone, and she certainly wasn’t going to let it break her spirit.

As soon as we got home from the hospital, she rolled over for the first time. I couldn’t believe it, she was still having multiple spasm episodes per day and yet her development stayed 100% on track. We were told this would not happen. Her personality didn’t change, it got better. She is the happiest baby with the sweetest temperament. She’s taught me so much in her short life, and her strength amazes me every day. I know she doesn’t know any different, but she has every right to be mad with all that she’s been through! She’s faced all of this with a brave smile, and I’m learning through her that no matter what life throws at you, positivity and perseverance will get you through it. Negativity and worry only make things worse.

How is our little miracle baby doing now? Amazing. After two weeks of being on her medication and having long, multiple seizures and spasms every day, they finally stopped. For good. She’s meeting her milestones. She’s fully engaged with us, loves to babble, is fascinated with her big sister (and tries to keep up- so much that she was even attempting to crawl toward her the other day!!), has a strong tone and great head control, and flashes us big gummy grins nonstop. I’m most thankful for the smiles and giggles, some babies regress so much with IS that the smiles stop. With her bubbly personality, I think that would be the hardest for me.

Grabbing those tootsies!! Little milestones like this bring us so much joy.

Last week we had a follow up EEG. For the first time, it’s CLEAR. Those chaotic brain patterns have returned to normal. Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling I had when her neurologist read me the results! Her entire medical team was so happy that day, they were grinning from ear to ear. Sadie rocked her physical exam, gave them full eye contact and acted exactly how a four month baby should. They don’t see this often. It was an early Christmas present for all of us.

Normal EEG!!!

Credit could be given to science and pharmaceuticals. She’s taking medicine, and it’s doing it’s job. Credit could be given to Nick and I- her parents. We caught it early, considered it an emergency and took her in right away to get a video EEG and confirm her diagnosis, which led to early treatment. But I give full credit to God. Specific prayers were given, and specific prayers were answered. Not all babies respond as well to treatment as Sadie has. Most babies (>90%) have obvious developmental delay, most before the spasms even start. Even with her seizures worsening, she was still progressing. She was covered in prayer by so many people, and I’m so grateful. Things should be much worse, and I was fully prepared for that. So this….this is a miracle.

I’m thankful for so much this holiday season. I’m thankful for our sweet and faithful friends and family, and even for people we’ve never even met, who have been so faithful in lifting our baby girl up in prayer daily. I’m thankful for moms who also have children with epilepsy and have reached out to show me support. I’m thankful for the broken relationships that have been mended out of this. I’m thankful for a supportive husband, who agreed to let me stay at home full-time with the girls- just one week before all of this started. I couldn’t imagine balancing this and work right now. I’m thankful for my precious first born daughter, who is so loving and caring toward her little sister. She has proudly taken on the role of her protector and I’m am blown away with how affectionate she is with her. If Sadie has any problems down the road, I know Carli will be right there beside her, helping her in any way she can.

Obsessed with each other

There are still a lot of scary unknowns. Sadie isn’t in the clear yet. In two months, if we get another clear EEG, we will start to wean her off her medication. This is really scary to think about, because she could very well relapse. Then we start this process all over. We still don’t know how these little seizures could affect her brain long term. There’s still a great possibility that she could have a learning disability or other neurodevelopmental delays down the road. That’s not something we can focus on right now though. We are just taking one day at a time, and enjoying our precious baby girl as much as we can.

My last post I shared a video of Sadie having one of her spasm episodes. Here she is now….happy, healthy, and seizure-free!!!

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Blues

I’m officially three weeks postpartum and am adjusting to being a mama of two. I love the newborn stage- the constant snuggles, their smell, their tiny fingers and toes, those little reflexes, their sweet innocence. And of course the best part…they can’t talk back! If kids stayed babies forever I don’t think I would be able to stop having them! Although some days certainly have been tough (as expected), I am loving it. And even though miss those tiny little kicks and hiccups in my belly, it’s nice to be able to snuggle little Sadie on the outside now.

My pregnancy with Sadie was much different than Carli’s, and somewhat difficult. I had the picture-perfect textbook pregnancy with my first. I exercised regularly, ate almost perfectly, gained the appropriate amount of weight, was extremely happy and excited, became emotional only over the expected stuff (Publix commercials and Mother’s Day ads), and nested the entire nine months. I couldn’t wait to be a mom.

I expected things to go about the same with this pregnancy- I loved being pregnant the first time and didn’t expect to feel any differently with my second. My first trimester was about the same, only leaving me slightly more nauseous. Early in my second trimester we found out we were having another girl- exactly what I wanted. I was ecstatic, and my motivation built to get the girls’ rooms ready, wash and sort out Carli’s baby clothes that had been put away, and start organizing the house to make room for another baby. I couldn’t believe that I was getting exactly what I  had always dreamed about since I was a little girl- raising sisters! It all seemed so surreal.

When I was about 20 weeks pregnant things changed. I can’t really pinpoint what happened, or if there was a certain event that caused it, but my mood instantly shifted. I no longer felt like I was in control of my emotions. I was constantly crying for no reason and lost my motivation to do anything. I became increasingly negative, my appetite became poor, and most days it was hard to function. Even something as simple as making a grocery list seemed daunting. I lashed out and distanced myself from my husband, became a lot quieter around friends, and just went through the motions when I was taking care of Carli. A lot of the time I would sit her in front of a movie so she wouldn’t notice when I went upstairs to cry. In some ways I felt helpless- and also very angry. It terrifies me to not be in control. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just snap out of it. I didn’t know what was wrong with me- my usual personality had done a complete 180, and I  had no idea how to feel like myself again.

People started to notice, and I brushed it off,  blaming it on lack of sleep. It’s easy for me to be vulnerable about things that have happened in the past, but it’s extremely hard for me to be transparent about things I’m currently going through. I don’t like being a burden to people, and most of the time I’ll brush things off thinking it’s no big deal. There are people out there dealing with much worse! I felt selfish and angry with myself. Here I was, carrying a perfectly healthy baby girl with another beautiful and healthy toddler at home, and yet I felt completely torn apart inside. What was wrong with me??

At my 28 week prenatal visit my doctor’s office gave me a depression screen to fill out- normal protocol at that stage in the pregnancy. I remember answering the questions honestly and it giving me a pretty big wake up call. My doctor is amazing, and we had a pretty in-depth discussion about how I had been feeling. I remember telling her that I thought I may have postpartum depression- but I wasn’t postpartum! I had no idea that it can be common to have depression symptoms during pregnancy as well- these mothers being more at risk for postpartum depression. Pregnancy hormones can do some crazy things!

I had never understood how a mother could even go through something like postpartum depression. To me, pregnancy and childbirth were so romanticized, something absolutely wonderful. What in the world could cause a mother to be depressed after going through something so incredibly amazing- giving birth to a sweet baby? It never made sense to me, until now. It’s not something they could necessarily control. They weren’t bad moms for feeling that way either.

It’s hard for me to ask for help. But I was fully aware that if I didn’t I wasn’t only hurting myself, I was hurting my kids. And my poor husband! My doctor and I both decided that I wasn’t high enough risk to need any sort of medication, but I did agree to see a therapist who specializes in working with pregnant women. And honestly, it felt so great to be able to talk to a complete stranger about every little thing. I could fully unload everything I had on my mind to someone who didn’t know or judge me. She helped me to change my line of thinking to thoughts that were more realistic and grace-filled. She taught me how to deal with some of the emotions I  didn’t know what to do with.

Beach therapy

Along with getting professional help, I can’t be thankful enough for the support of my friends. They reached out to me, offered to help in any way they could, and most importantly they prayed for me. The minute I  finally opened up about how I was feeling to some of my friends, I felt as if a burden had been lifted. I no longer felt lonely, I felt support.

By the middle of my third trimester, I was already starting to feel more like myself again. And now, three weeks postpartum, I feel better than I have in months. I’m sure my husband would tell you I’m still slightly nuts- but I think it’s much closer to a level of normal for just having a baby a few weeks ago! I’m not sure where my emotional state would be right now if I hadn’t reached out for help. I don’t feel any signs of postpartum depression right now, and I’m keeping myself very aware of how I’m feeling mentally. I think it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed and stressed in this stage of life, but it’s not to the point where it is debilitating. If it gets to that point, I may need to reach out for help again. And I’ve accepted that it’s okay- I need to take care of myself first so I can be the best possible mom for my kids.

To keep myself grounded, I’m trying harder than ever to lower my expectations for myself and my family. More grace, more laughter, more messes, and a greater appreciation of the place I am in my life right now. Understanding that it’s not always going to be easy, and to accept that. To laugh at myself more and be kinder to myself. To ask for help when I need it, and accept that I can’t control everything.

So to anyone who was in my line of fire the past few months- I’m sorry. Thank you to everyone (especially my husband and Carli) who gave me unending grace. If you prayed for me, I felt it. If you fed me, if you offered to help in any way, if you just texted asking me how I was doing- you have no idea the impact that had on me.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

Facebook vs. Real Life

Taking a perfect photo of kids is tough. Rarely do I get a perfect picture that is social media post-worthy unless I try a hundred times. There’s bribing, making silly faces, jumping up and down like a fool trying to get them to laugh- it can be exhausting at times! However, the results can be hilarious. Reality is refreshing, and so much better than those perfect pictures sometimes. I’m very guilty of posting the most precious pictures on social media, but I also love it when someone posts an unfiltered  picture of their kid. I love seeing kids being kids- because they certainly aren’t perfect! And it makes my crazy life seem a little more normal.

Because I never delete pictures, and because I secretly love those imperfect pictures the best, here is a refreshing dose of picture taking reality (or Facebook vs Real Life, as I like to call it).

I am NOT happy you made me do this

 

The split second she stopped crying, I got a picture as soon as I could (because OF COURSE I had to document her first race on social media!

 

Not impressed with this daddy-daughter date that’s about to go down

 

Did you say dessert? Okay, I’ll give you a half-smile

 

We don’t care if you put us in matching shirts, we’re tired and hungry and aren’t posing for you right now

 

Did you say chicken nuggets? Will a fake smile do?

 

Seriously mom?? Can you at least dress me first before we take this sentimental photo of me looking at my newborn clothes?

 

I’ll only pretend like I care that these clothes are being passed down to my sister if you give me a paci first (filter added for the nostalgic effect of course).

 

I’m hot and I just want to eat the candy that’s in my Easter eggs- so get the phone out of my face please

 

Sometimes we can get her to take a sweet-looking picture with me. She was feeling generous this day- and we had Easter eggs to bribe her with #winning

 

Hey girls- hug and show me how much you love each other!

 

…..a thousand takes later

 

Can we please just GO??

 

After several attempts of two women doing everything we can out of desperation to get 3 kids to smile…not too bad!

 

That’s fine mom- you try and get your selfie in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, I’ll sit here and pick my nose

Yup, still not feeling the selfie in front of this castle ya’ll

 

We decided on an angle that wouldn’t make it so obvious that she had NO interest in getting this very important picture

And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, that perfect picture just never comes.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to! Plus I’m sick, so if you think you’re going to get a good picture of me on my birthday, you’re crazy.

 

Nope. Not today.

 

We tried so hard to get a good Thanksgiving photo this year…

…apparently we didn’t try hard enough

 

I tried so hard this Memorial Day to get a good picture of Carli and her friends. This picture, taken by a random guy at the parade, turned out to be my favorite. Not because my child is obviously having a meltdown due to the heat and lack of a nap, but because this is something I know I’ll look back on and be able to laugh about. Parenting for real.

And other times, you get the perfect photo without even having to try…

Completely captivated. Maybe if I dress up as a princess every time I take a picture she’ll cooperate for me?

Goodbye 20’s

I’ve officially reached the last week of my 20’s. For years I thought I would dread this moment- I thought the end of my 20’s would mean the end of having fun and the beginning of getting old. I only saw getting older as going to bed early, getting bad knees and dreading the month of March (my birthday month) for the rest of my life. I’m starting to see it’s so much more than that. I actually can’t wait to turn my back on my 20’s- it was fun, I’ve learned some life lessons, by the grace of God I’m still alive (I made some stupid decisions in my early 20’s), and my experiences have shaped me into the adult I am today. I’m ready for a new chapter, one that I hope will be filled more with grace, rest, and deep connections rather than the hustle, selfishness and surface-level relationships I was drawn to a decade ago.

My 21st birthday- this night did not end well.

I look back, and the experiences I’ve had over the past 10 years feels more like a lifetime. I graduated college, grew to be completely independent from my parents, met my husband- got engaged to my husband- and married my husband, overcame the challenges of struggling with an eating disorder, lived in four different states, became a registered dietitian, worked for two different companies, traveled all over North America, ran 6 marathons, and became a mother. I’ve gained some very meaningful relationships, but I’ve also lost some. I’ve gained a boatload of wisdom, and I’m a much stronger person than I was in my early 20’s. I’ve learned that I can’t let people walk all over me. I’ve found my voice- I’m not at timid as I once was.

I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t think I ever will! That’s the beautiful thing about getting older- you are continuously learning from experiences. Looking back, oh how I would have done things so much differently if I knew then what I  know now! I catch myself saying all the time- “If I only knew.” Even though there are so many things I could change about my past that would have made my life then (and even today) a little bit easier, I wouldn’t do it. Constantly falling and getting back up is what has made me a stronger person. It’s given me confidence and I’ve learned from my mistakes. The best part is, I can take those mistakes and help other young people who are struggling with the same thing. God never wastes a hurt. I believe that firmly now.

There are areas that I’m working on to make my 30’s more grace-filled, restful, and deeply connected than my 20’s. The past 10 years have worn me out, both physically and emotionally. I’m starting to learn- it’s just not worth it.

People-pleasing: NO MORE

If there was an award for pleasing other people and not ever letting others down, I would win it. It doesn’t matter who it is, it could be someone I met 30 minutes ago or someone I’ve known my whole life, I want to make people happy. Most would say this is a good quality. It can be, but not if you’re letting down the people who are closest to you in order to win over the approval from others. It’s good to be dependable and a hard-worker. Those are qualities I’ll always want to possess, but no longer at the expense of my own well-being and certainly not at the expense of my family. I’m tired of constantly letting my husband or daughter down just so others will praise me for being a good and dependable person. I’m learning to find balance here, and it’s been difficult to navigate. Not only because I feel guilty for saying the word “no,” but also because I feel that some of the value I place on myself comes from making other people happy, no matter what the cost. But I’m looking at my own family, and they want me to be present more. Not for other people, but for them. My husband and two girls will always come first, followed by my closest friends and the rest of my family, followed by everyone else.

Not everyone is going to like me

I want everyone to be my best friend. I don’t ever want to offend anyone, I don’t want to make people mad because my opinion is different from theirs, and I certainly want everyone to approve of me. I know this is all normal, especially for women. My husband could care less what other people think of him- I envy him for that! I also get envious of women, usually who are much older than I am (like my mom or some of my older friends), who say that they just don’t care what people think of them anymore. They are going to be their own person and not let people’s opinions get in the way of that. Gosh, what a burden would be lifted off of my shoulders if I felt that way! This is hard for me, but definitely a goal of mine. It’s difficult to form deep relationships with people if you are always at the surface level, just because you are worried about what they are going to think of you. The more I’ve come out of my shell and allowed myself to open up and just be me, the deeper some of my friendships have grown. And some have grown to be more distant. As hard as it is for me to be okay with that, I’m accepting it. I would much rather have close connections that allow me to be comfortable being myself, than just having surface-level relationships.

More rest

I spent my 20’s focused on being exhausted and shrinking. This is where I found most of my value. I think that’s part of the reason why I loved marathon training so much. After a 20 mile run my body would feel drained and small. This tired and thin body was everything to me, and if I didn’t feel as light as a I wanted to or if I didn’t wake up the next morning still feeling tired, I felt worthless. I hate that my mind has become so addicted to that feeling, and it’s been hard to erase. It’s different from getting a high after a good workout at the gym or feeling proud of yourself because you ate healthy that day. I was a slave to it. And now? My almost 30-year old body feels like it’s 60 sometimes. Everything still works well and my knees are still holding up great (thank you Jesus), but sometimes I feel as if the abuse I put my body through for so long has taken its toll. I know I can’t treat my body like this forever, I only have one! Gone are the 2-3 workouts a day, exercising even when I feel exhausted (I’m no longer afraid of lying on the couch if I need it), and 15 mile runs in the heat of the day. I want to take care of my body and give it some grace. I stay active as much as I can and do an actual workout 5 days per week. I rest when I need it, and am no longer finding value in how tired or small I feel.

I miss racing as much as a used to, but am definitely enjoying the quality time I get to spend with friends and family as a result of not training for such long hours!

More play

I want everything to be perfect and look perfect all the time. I am always looking for something to do- sweep the floors, fold laundry, load the dishwasher- it just stresses me out if these things pile up. I about have a panic attack if my kitchen floors are dirty! I promise you, I hate being late to anything, but cleaning up dirty floors always takes priority to getting out the door. This drives my husband (and even more recently Carli) absolutely crazy. I’m not sure what made me to be wired this way, but the past 10 years I have always felt as if I have to earn rest and playtime. Work hard, play hard is my motto. If everything is done, if the house looks perfect, if I got my workout in….then we can have fun. I don’t want my kids to look back and just remember a mom who was there, but not really there. Instead of rushing around making sure everything is in place all the time, I want to be certain that I am fully present in their lives. No, it won’t ever get it the point where I’m okay with living in a filthy house, and I want my kids to know that there is a time for doing chores and cleaning up our messes. But I no longer want to be a slave to a to-do list. Instead, I want to enjoy impromptu play with Carli more often, and fully allow myself to be a part of her little world.

My typical play 6 years ago. My motto for most of my 20’s was YOLO

More grace

I’m hard on myself, and this has gotten much worse after becoming a mom. I am quick to put blame on myself, especially if Carli is acting out. I compare myself to other moms and judge myself for things that are sometimes out of my control. I’ll call myself a pushover mom, fault myself for not being confident enough in my ability to raise her well, and make myself believe that I’m a bad parent because my own parenting and discipline style is different from someone else. I’m always questioning myself- am I doing this right? Maybe that mom is doing it better.   

I’ve had to step back from this and really look at the big picture. All kids are different and there are lots of different parenting styles. I’m doing what I believe is best for my two-year old. She is a lot like me and we both have very strong personalities- and are both very strong-willed! It’s going to be a challenge to raise her with her headstrong personality (now I truly believe in karma- sorry mom), but if I can help her channel all that energy and determination she has toward a positive direction, I have no doubt she’ll grow into a strong young woman. I just have to give both myself (and her- especially when she is a teenager) a lot more grace.

Nights used to always end like this…

 

….And now they end like this