motherhood

One Step: A Photo That Says It All

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Parenting is quite the ride. There are up’s, down’s, pukes, poops, sobs, and I will be the honest parent here: moments of pure misery.

(Really? 6 AM? I’m not interested in Legos. I’m interested in sleep – I just have to be honest, kids).

Yesterday we celebrated the first birthday of my youngest, and last, son – Jonah. His story of how we almost lost him at birth was posted last week. I have a hysterectomy scheduled on April 3, 2014: he’s it. My last and final. I remember when my first son was born – I photographed, videoed every single moment. It was like – OH MY GOSH A POOP IN THE POTTY GRAB THE SONY!

But when you really come to the final realization – this is it – there are little moments we cherish, there are big ones, there are the ones in between where one of them decided to puke on my new pair of pants.

(My fault, I gave you 6 Oreos)

We decided on a whale theme – nautical. You know, the fun favors – sunglasses, curvy straws, kazoos, stickers – fun stuff any kid (and adult, I admit I was digging in) – we had it all going. We catered it from a special restaurant. We set it up to be all “yay he’s 1” (Okay really, the store didn’t have the whale theme I wanted in birthday – they only had it in baby shower but I was Hell bent on it, so … I bought baby shower decorations. Everything said “baby boy” … still technically true, right?)

Maybe not. It’s been through this past year, and juggling three kids, watch them each hit their milestones, that I’ve wondered why am I trying to rush them to grow up? Because I want to sleep, or a stiff drink while they’re awake, or to watch what I want, and not cartoons?

Yesterday I decorated as normal – a normal party. Cake. Food. Fun.

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I wanted to enjoy this – these moments. Despite the cake going everywhere, a few signs of a slight belly ache, and a hell of a mess afterwards, there were smiles, laughs, and love.

But the biggest moment of all – hit me out of the blue. We were opening gifts. One from my Aunt, a framed poem she wrote for him. I could not read it out loud, I began to cry. Someone else took over.

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Yet through the tissue paper, new toys, new batteries – something else occurred when we least expected it. Jonah, with no even hint of having the ability, took a look at me with curious eyes, smiled, pulled himself up, and stood unassisted for the first time.

My last baby – my special miracle – he was looking at me. My hands on my mouth – my husband’s hands over his. The crowd in the background like the last shot of a basketball game “GO JONAH GO! GO JONAH GO!” (I wish we had pom poms and a tuba)…

For the record, he stood for 15 seconds and stared. He smiled at the waves of encouragement, he giggled. And in his very predictable, yet cute fashion, fell right onto his behind. In mommy language “Go boom!”

Despite that the first step was not taken – that milestone meant the world to me. I don’t want to rush it, but the beauty in it was so compelling. And the best part – my uncle was taking pictures. He caught the exact moment my son stood for the first time – and my husband and I watching in awe as our once, fighting for his life little baby boy, stared for those 15 seconds like a drunk little man.

A picture is worth a thousand words they say. I cannot describe what it means to look at this picture – there’s memories, there’s that feeling in my heart that my little boy really is growing, my real last baby – is soon to be taking on the world.

Here we have a cherished memory. One I will never forget – and am so thankful – someone had their hands on the “push to take” button – while my husband and I covered our mouths and held back tears. We will never forget this – and I’m sure we will use it at a slideshow for Jonah’s graduation someday, or his wedding. But let’s not think about that. I will start to cry again.

He’s still my baby boy to me – who am I kidding? He always will be.

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My Jonah’s Journey: A True Overcoming

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Meet Jonah. He appears to be your average, sweet, curious, hungry, loves to poop his diaper 11 month old, right?

Would you believe that, on the day he was born, March 12, 2013 – this was Jonah:

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Jonah Anthony is my son. This sweet, precious boy came into the lives of my husband and I by surprise.

I thought I had the flu. I struggled for days wondering why I kept getting sick – and then there’s this little clock inside your mind that only women understand that goes “ding” – and the light bulb brightens. You take that walk through the drug store aisles almost hiding your face thinking so many different racing thoughts. You see, I already had two children. I was divorced then re-married. My husband already has 3 children. We weren’t planning it – but after that little walk through the CVS I came home and I waited. Then it happened.

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So of course. It began over again – pregnancy ,the cravings, the weight gain, the constant need to barf while sitting at my work desk because somebody decided to microwave fish for lunch (I curse you! I curse you!)

We finally saw his little heartbeat. My belly grew. We found out he was a boy. We named him almost right away. We saw him in 3-D.  We waited for our due date: April 5, 2013.

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Out of the blue after months of anticipation – growing into the idea of being a mommy again, feeling his kicks, wondering about him – what would he be like, falling in love with the way he would roll around and cause me heartburn – wake me up at midnight before he was even born – something we did not see coming – happened.

On March 12, 2013 I went into labor on my own after long day at work. When I went to the hospital I felt for sure they would send me home. Within an hour – I was told it was time to go. Heading for C-section. It was his time, 4 weeks early.

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Jonah was born on March 12, 2013 at 8:15 PM. He weighed 7 LBS even. I heard his first cry and I began to sob. I could see his red hair from the operating table. His sweet, tiny legs were kicking…

Then I noticed something different than what happened with my other two.

Jonah stopped crying.

I immediately knew something was wrong – I got to see him for about 5 seconds. I gave him a kiss. I cried at how beautiful he was – he looked just like his father but with my mouth. It was happiness – yet anxiety. I waited for word while in recovery.

My husband came in about 2 hours later. Jonah was not breathing well. He had been taken to the NICU. He had Respiratory Distress Syndrome due to being premature. His lungs were not ready to be born yet.

It was not until the next day at noon that I was allowed to see Jonah. I was taken by wheel chair to the NICU where I went to be by his side. I only had one picture of him since he had been born – this one:

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I immediately broke into tears when I got to his side. The picture I had seen was not what I saw when I first came into real contact with my son. This is what I saw:

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My beautiful boy – the one that had been kicking me, that I had wanted so bad to meet, that innocent little being – was covered in tubes, wires, monitors that kept blaring. I sat by his side and I sobbed like I have never sobbed before. The nurse came up to my husband and said “that is a normal reaction from mothers”…

What mother would not sob at the sight of her son in a tiny box – his eyes barely open, his skin pale, his hands penetrated with IV needles.

I started to wonder if it was something that I did wrong. Why did I go into labor so early? Was it because of the pneumonia and flu I had two months prior? Was it the medication I had taken? Was I not healthy enough to hold him inside?

Now this wonderful creation of ours – was suffering. I was not allowed to hold him immediately. I was, however, allowed to stick my hand inside his incubator and touch him. His skin felt so soft to mine. My heart was alive with love – yet petrified. A terror I cannot describe.

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Jonah had to undergo a procedure where a breathing tube was inserted and lung suffactant was entered into his lungs artificially to help him learn to breathe on his own. It was 4 AM – on March 14, 2013. We waited and waited – my husband sleeping on the couch, my mother sleeping on a cot at my feet. The doctor finally knocked on the door – Jonah was doing well. He had taken great to the procedure and was learning to breathe. I could finally hold him.

Our first moments were full of blaring monitors and difficult wires – meandering around his heart leeds in order to get him to my chest. Yet it was beautiful. He raised his head. He recognized my voice. I immediately began to cry.

I was to be released a few days later. We were informed Jonah would not come home with us. He was losing weight, he was still unable to breathe room air without the help of Oxygen. He also became jaundiced.

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Days passed. We would often come by the NICU in the middle of the night. We simply could not sleep wondering about our little boy. If we happened to time it right – we were able to stick our hands in and actually feed him ourselves.

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Slowly, at least it felt to us, better updates were coming in. At first his blood oxygen level was only 40%. He was coming into the 70’s. His oxygen eventually made it into the 90’s. Whenever it would lower, the monitors would go off, and naturally, we would jump and wonder why. Each day meant, if progress was made, another wire would come off. I remember that I could start to see his actual features – he had been so covered, I could not see his mouth, nose, or cheeks.

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Then there was the beautiful moment his father held him for the first time. I cried watching. He cried and smiled and laughed.

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I left the hospital on March 16, 2013. I left on the elevator with no baby carrier – just my luggage, my husband, and a heart drowning in pain and an ill feeling in my stomach. I was leaving him behind. How could I? There was no space at the hospital for me to stay – so we would journey up each day to see him and be with him for hours upon hours until we knew our little boy could come home. I could not wait to introduce him to his siblings.

My hands were cracked and bleeding from washing with hospital grade soap each time I even wanted to merely brush my skin with his.

Then on March 20, 2013, we walked into the NICU and found this:

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He was breathing on his own. He was free of monitors, tubes, leeds. His sweet face was so clear to us now. We could hold him at will, take his temperature, change his diaper, feed him, rock him, sing sweet nothings to him.

Lullaby…and goodnight…go to sleep little Jonah …

Our little trooper never gave up. From the moment he cried when he came out of me – to the moment he stopped crying because he could not breathe – through each moment we reached through a tiny hole just to touch our baby – grasping at a tiny bottle hoping he would eat even 10 little mls – this little boy fought to survive.

Jonah came home with us on March 21, 2013 – 9 days after he was born. In thinking of what we had been through – which we never expected – we were so blessed. Some wait months, some do not come home at all. We prayed and prayed. We said so many thank you’s, took so many crying breaths just wanting our son home in our arms.

And he came.

The Lord blessed us with this sweet surprise. From that moment that I saw the two pink lines (so not the flu)  to today – Jonah is such an inspiration. Our sweet, beautiful boy is thriving. He is high functioning – and registers on a full term scale – not a premature scale of development. He is trying to take steps. He says Mama with his face bright as he reaches for me in the mornings.

He plays peek a boo with dada.

These are the moments that for days we thought – we may never see. Somehow through it all, God blessed our lives with this sweet boy that was able to fight almost the impossible – when he had just been born. Our hearts hurt for other families that never get to take their babies home. After going through this and seeing my boy through glass and wires – I pray nightly for others in the same position. We are so thankful to the amazing doctors whose knowledge, compassion, and care brought our son back to mommy and daddy’s arms.

In just 9 short days, Jonah will be 1. We are celebrating with a whale themed party for Jonah and the Whale. We joked I looked like one when I was pregnant with him. He will have cake. He will have love. He will be hugged, and kissed, and cherished. For this is the boy that came into the world and fought to live. This is the boy that to this day – inspires me to be a better person, mother, friend. This is the boy that has taught me to cherish ALL of life’s moments – big and small.

This is our Jonah. Our miracle. Our overcomer.

Happy Birthday, Baby. We love you.

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The new trend: Complaining about Complaining

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A note to readers:  I have been out sick for a while and am finally getting better, enough at least to be able to post again and update my blog. Not only did I get strep throat, I came down with a terribly painful case of Colitis.

Wait. Maybe I should not have revealed that last detail: Colitis. It seems that each and every time somebody complains about something, reaches out for support, says something happy on social media: all Hell seems to break loose.

Allow me to explain. I’ve noticed while being sick in bed for the past two weeks and observing the news, blogs, articles that there appears to be a trend in social networking and blogging as well as article writing – to target a specific brand of people.

Exhibit A: a recent article from Cosmopolitan about what engaged people do on Facebook that is annoying.

Exhibit B: A recently pressed article about the 8 reasons someone won’t be friends on Facebook with you in 2014 (see #6)

Exhibit C: An article written with regards to looking down on mothers who have husbands and children.

Allow me to retort. I wonder where all the negativity comes from that drives people to write such judgmental posts. I believe it is quite apparent that I am brutally honest. I have no filter. When I feel like talking – I talk. I do not care about the subject, and I certainly do not sift through my words to make sure they do not sound negative. I keep it real.

People constantly complain about complaining are beginning to become the bane of my social media existence. Granted, I am now issuing a complaint myself.  It is officially defined as “Facebitching”:

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Sometimes there are posts that are happy. My feed is full of Facebook announcements of engagement, new babies, wedding dates. I see continuous love for a spouse to another simply posting “I love you” on their partners page. I find these things beautiful and fun to watch. I post my own. It is no secret that my battle with addiction was fought publicly on Facebook. There is not a day goes by where I say something negative because I have the freedom to do so – and because I find so much support in others who suffer the same things and offer their shoulder and ears to me for venting.

These are the people I appreciate. It has become apparent recently that the concept of social media is continuously on a down spiral over those who feel compelled to say “stop posting happy things” “do not make up your own hashtags” “you’re a stay at home mother and you have kids, your life must not be fulfilling…”

I’m joining the group now of people who complain about complaining on social media – but my complaint is for the people taking other people’s exciting moments, difficult times, jobs, choices they’ve made and making rude, bitter, snide judgements just because you do not fit the same mold. You could be single, you may have chosen to not have children, you may have a job and it annoys the bejesus out of you because some mothers do not have jobs and choose to stay home with their kids.

Sidebar: parenting is a job.

Have you ever stopped for a second and just simply given somebody a congratulations? If you can’t bring yourself to do it and it drives you insane when people post on Facebook (for that matter, I could say I just had the best chocolate ice cream – all of a sudden it’s people complaining about the so called Food Porn posts) – try the hide button. On Twitter, there is an unfollow button.

I am a very open minded person. I read others posts and ideas. I read through the complaints about happy people being the disgrace of social media – then their posts and articles change to – oh there’s a negative post -let me proceed to complain about the details they give of their life. A person decides to post on their social media account that they’re sad, please pray. Yet no details are explained. These are the ones where I reach out and say I hope you feel better, or I’m thinking of you. I do not persist to ask the reasons because maybe they are choosing to say it’s not really other’s business.

Unfortunately there’s a stigma on social media where you pretty much cannot do anything right. A person posts they’re happy: someone gets pissed off “shut up, we don’t need you to post to your spouse that you love them on Facebook, go tell them in person.” (I’m rolling my eyes) – or then theres complaints of those who say they’re sad and do not give details. When they finally do give details, people are annoyed that the details were too much information “please do not post every detail of your sickness, no one needs to read that.”

WHY are you on social networking then? I’m still lost trying to figure out where the disconnect is between those who are on the internet for freedom of expression and those who are on social networking to stalk others posts and find a reason to complain about it (usually their posts consist of “i have to work today and it’s snowing”. ) Okay – I find your posts boring, so? I prefer to read when people reach out, talk about their happiness, post photos of pregnant bellies and their children playing in the snow. A few posts down there’s always someone lashing out at somebody else for being so open “geez get a room you make me want to vomit from all of your happiness” “I’m tired of people complaining that their kids are sick, so what, there’s worse problems in the world”.

Of course there are. However, there’s where I fall in: I decided to become the type that is transparent and I am now reaching out to those who complain about EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of complaining. For all of the articles on social media that post the rules, or what not to do’s, here’s MY list of rules. I hate making rules. Here’s a few insights from a transparent poster who does give details (and by the way I’m a stay at home mother).

1. Stop complaining about complaining about complaining. If you do not enjoy social networking and seeing a diversity of personalities who express themselves differently – then stop reading. Press hide.

2. Stop complaining about Bit Strip comics in your Facebook feeds. Do not like them? Turn off the funny creativity then.

3. Stop making engaged, married, or pregnant people seem like the enemy because they are hitting life milestones they are excited about and they want to share it with others. Show some compassion – I mean really complaining about that shows jealousy and bitterness on your part, at least in my opinion.

4. Stop insulting mothers who are on Facebook complaining about their child peeing the bed, or projectile vomiting at the local restaurant. I find the people who hate these posts are not parents so they clearly have no idea what that is like. Stop judging.

5. Stop making rules on Facebook and Twitter. I can use hashtags if I want, talk about what I want, and give the details that I want. It’s social media –  it’s a way of connecting with people.

6. Accept a diversity of personalities that exist beyond yours. Please do not post on how people should act on social media – stop stalking posts and go do something more productive.

7. STOP MAKING RULES. I myself am making rules – but these are MY rules that I hope EVERYONE would at least TRY to understand – but to be honest, there really isn’t a written rule that says somebody cannot express happiness, show a picture of an engagement ring, talk about their day with the kids and the million diapers changed or how the child accidentally pooped in the ball pit at Chick Fil A.

If you cannot take heat – get out of the kitchen. Get off your computer and find another life skill more fulfilling than bashing those who use social media as a way of documenting their lives and finding peace in the support they receive from others. Allow social networking to be just that- social networking.

I am in no way judging you. I am merely ANNOYED with you – just like you’ve complained pretty much every two seconds about being ANNOYED with me for SIMPLY BEING ME!

Always be yourself. Follow your own guidelines. Do not filter because you are afraid of the naysayers who have decided to take it upon themselves to insult every single solitary detail of any given post. If it can’t be happy, or sad, if it can’t be about a medical problem, or a picture of food, or a dirty baby eating his first solid foods meal: then what is it?

Boring and a total defeat of the purpose of self expression. I’m sure you claim your posts are about self expression that you cannot stand people complaining – but you yourself are complaining.

So I admit it – I’m complaining about complaining but I’m also taking a stand for people who choose to be transparent and honest with others. I applaud that. While I applaud the efforts of the complainers to at least put time and effort into their thoughts of why they hate hashtags, engagements, childbirth, marriage, posts about sickness: I feel you could at least give it a rest and find the positive in people who are not afraid to share their live stories to connect with others. Maybe their life story isn’t yours but instead of concentrating on telling them how annoying they are – remember, you are annoying too.

Because you can’t just simply sit back, watch, and possibly learn from the diversity of personalities that exist in social media.

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Stop that Wrecking Train

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It takes a lot to bring me out of my hole of sickness. When get sick – I get sick BAD. It’s been one year since I had my last case of any sort of flu or cold (I was pregnant with pneumonia – fun). January 2014 is no different. I am still on the mend and actually at the height of it – I’m feeling terrible. I’m on a lot of medication for the strep throat and for the ears to get them to drain. I am very tired.

Yet still, I felt compelled to come and write my thoughts with regards to an incident two days ago that touched me a little bit too close.

At the beginning of my blog I wrote an open letter to the Famous.

If you have yet to read this lovely masterpiece of my mind’s rantings – it embraces that famous people make mistakes and that I often thank them for what they do and being in the spotlight. Without a person who has overcome difficulties and pursued their dreams – we would not have our much loved entertainers, leaders, writers…. the list goes on. I mentioned in the article that I understood not all famous people were famous for a positive reason … thus the purpose of me coming out of my sick hiding hole to write today.

Dear Justin Bieber:

Here I see a 19 year kid. You are just that – a kid. You may consider yourself an invincible teenager because you are in the limelight. I know you have a plethora of money that goes as far as the ends of the earth. You can buy yourself whatever you want and prance around with your head in the clouds: nothing can stop you. Justin – something CAN stop you. Your money and fame cannot save you from hurting yourself or others by being swallowed by actions of stupidity. I know you will not read this. Odds are this will become lost in a host of tweets and fan mail that you will overlook all the same. I just have a few thoughts for you – wishes perhaps.

You have 7 years until you are 26. Today’s prompt is about the number 26. I want to see you live until the age of 26. You have such a bright future. You are a talented guy – your music often echoes in my head when I’m playing with my own children. My daughter, in her 4 year old high pitched off key yet cute voice, sings “baby … baby … baby …oh” – and it makes me smile. Yet, in this pattern of deadly activity you are showing – I cannot allow my children to idolize, or even listen to, a voice that perpetuates stupidity.

I myself fell into a pattern of addiction and acknowledged what I was going through. I sought the help of family and professionals to guide me through. The first step for you is not to be taking pictures of yourself and posting to Instagram that you are “The King” like Michael Jackson. It is not to tell your fans on Twitter that you appreciate their support and to never change for anybody. You need to let your fans, and the world, know you are learning a lesson. You must let everyone know you understand the fault of your actions and recent patterns and that you are seeking guidance to correct these inner notions that lead you to such abusive tendencies. Your music touches the lives of younger folks – those who claim you have “saved” them. These young minds embed the way you reflect yourself on society into their own brains – has it ever occurred to you that they are watching and learning from the impressions you make each day?

I am a mother, Justin. I am a wife and a friend. I am a daughter. I could never have gotten my pathway to freedom without reaching out to others and admitting I was going down the wrong road. I could not fulfill those roles knowing I was in too deep with the decisions I had made. Please, for everyone, set an example. Become a leader and a voice for those afraid to speak up that they may be falling into the same problems you are clearly showing you have. Your recent dealings that are spotlighted in the headlines show a person lost in the spotlight of famous freedom – unable to see the negative consequences of their actions. It is not too late, Justin. Do not let others who are in the same position, yet not famous, believe those types of actions are okay.

I can see you at 26 – happy. I can see you meeting your fans after a show and speaking with them about how far you’ve come – and signing their CD’s for the new songs you’ve just released that have given them more hope than they had before. Please step up to the plate. You can do this. You can grow and extend from these recent turbulent days. Instead of acting like you cannot fall into the trap of car accidents, overdoses, and addiction – remind the world and your fans that you are a regular human being too. The world is watching you – as a mother, I am watching you. I am praying you will find your own pathway to freedom out of the spotlight and you will seek the assistance of others that can help you through what appears to me as a difficult time for you.

You can reflect to the world that your career and copious amounts of cash make you happy and you are not the troubled young man I see. But I doubt this is true. I see a tortured soul who is afraid to speak up for fear others will lose respect – or stop buying your music. You are more likely to gain respect by being a voice. You will stop making music eventually if these patterns continue. You will be lost forever with the other souls in the arms of the angels that never sought help. In the face of the eyes of the world you could lose your battle that could have been won – and those who have always followed you and considered you their “savior” – will only find devastation and questions that could never be answered because you could not simply grow up and show yourself as an actual human.

Everybody makes mistakes. No one is immune from the consequences.

I’m praying for you, Justin.

Caution: Guilty Sick Mommy Blogger Ahead!

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I need to start resizing my photos. The above says “I don’t get sick days, I’m a mom!”…

Ah, , the life of a mommy. I posted earlier that I was sick and therefore having a hard time catching up on comments and nominations.

I managed to brave the ice and cold and get to urgent care.

This mommy blogger is down with Strep Throat and a bad case of a sinus infection. There’s fluid build up in both ears that’s causing me a lot of pain – along with the sore throat.

Or shall I quote the urgent care doctor “THE ANNNGGRYYYY THROAT” 

I have been missing out on daily prompts and zero to hero the past few days – I feel so guilty! No, really, I do! I have so many different ideas I could do for this. I plan on playing catch up later. This blog has in fact become such a catharsis for me – I love doing it, I also adore the new faces that come in for a glance and maybe carry some inspiration with them – the new people I’ve met, and swapped stories with. This is fantastic!

Of course, along with that, comes the guilt that I cannot be as active the next few days. Truthfully antibiotics mixed with prescription strength Mucinex is really not my stomach’s friend – so we will have to add that lovely combination into my already horrendous illness.

I wanted to point out, however, that even as a mommy – I do get sick days. My husband is amazing. He has taken over baby duty so I can rest, and I love this man so much. He is my heart and soul and everything in it – what I’ve always dreamed of. Please look for more blogs soon with regards to how he has improved my life with Panic Disorder and Depression. He has also been a huge force in my Social Anxiety. I was Agorophobic before – I am getting so much better with this because of his support an the personal fervor I have to try harder each day to find coping strategies.

While blogging is amazing – I simply cannot keep up being this sick. I wanted to point out the nature of the illness so everyone knows I am going through my Reader, I’m seeing all of your beautiful posts and poetry, and I wish I could press more likes and make more comments – I appreciate you all so much.

I will BE BACK – my musings, rantings, updates, funny quotes, sarcastic humor, and new mechanisms for living in mental and physical pain – will all be back. I just need to break this fever and get back on my feet first. You all are lovely – and I have learned so much already in the just over 2 weeks I’ve been blogging in here. What an amazing world it is – but unfortunately, even bloggers need sick days 🙂

By the way, I’m contagious – if you read this post – wash your hands!

XOXO