Four Years Old

017To my sweet baby girl,

You are four years old today.  I stayed up late last night to write this letter to you, much like I did the night  before your birth.  I needed to get everything ready.  I cleaned the house, and I organized our office, filing paperwork and receipts.  I must have an inkling that you were going to make an early appearance.  You were so ready to be born that you came a day early.  I could not contain my excitement that night and early morning.  I knew that I would be meeting you soon.

I loved rooming in with you at the hospital. I wanted to keep you as close to me as I could.  Sometimes I worry that my anxiety has rubbed off on you.  I feel this need to keep you close so that I can protect you.  Your experience in the hospital with low blood sugar and then your hospitalization at Children’s for your bladder infection made your already anxious mama even more overprotective.  I watch you sleep at night, and I thank God for giving me you.

I love your spunky spirit.  Your default setting is happy and smiling. You would rather dance, skip, run and sing than just walk.  You love to be in constant motion.  You love to sing, and you love to listen to music.  I am so proud of you.  Your kindness toward your family and friends never ceases to amaze me.  I cannot wait to see what this next year brings for you.  Your biggest milestone this year has been writing out your entire name which astounded and thrilled me all at once.  Happy birthday to my sweet girl.



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Virtual hugs

If you have breath then you have hopeOne of the most popular posts on my blog is where I discuss my intrusive thoughts. The majority of search terms that come up for my blog are questions about intrusive thoughts. I wish I could soar through the ethernet and give a real hug to the mama who is desperately searching for answers. I want to take her hand and look in her eyes to let her know that it will be okay. You will get better, I promise.

I remember barely daring to hope that it would get better. Yael, Robin, Lauren, Katherine, and so many other friends promised that it would. They were right. I remember wanting to believe their words. I read blogs that inspired me with their messages of hope and perseverance.  I clung to those words and those stories.  I dared to hope.  I got better.  It took lots of work on myself.  I went to therapy, and I participated in online support groups.  I read as much as I could on postpartum mood disorders.  I took, and I still take medication.  I did not give up on myself, and I kept hoping that I would get better.

Baby steps, small wins and small successes are how we Warrior Moms measure recovery.  Celebrate each one along the way.  Recognize when you begin to recognize and appreciate the beauty and love all around you.  When you notice how beautiful your child is and how lyrical their laugh is, that is a sign of recovery.  Know this.  You are not alone.  You will get well.  There is help.  Never give up hope.

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Transitions: Beginning of School and Beginning of Dance

003September is all about transition around here.  Both girls are now in school together.  Skeeter is adapting well to the new school, and Munch is adoring first grade.  With fall comes the new year of dance classes.  Skeeter is taking both ballet and tap this year.  Munch is taking ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop.  The girls love their new teachers at our studio, and they can barely sit still without dancing around the house during dinner.  The girls have been more tired and cranky as we adjust to our new normal.

I, on the other hand, stink at transitions.  These transitions cause me so much anxiety. This month has not been kind to me and my mental health.  My anxiety was ramping up way too much.  I stopped my weaning efforts entirely, and I upped my dosage of my antidepressant.  I heard a wonderful talk regarding how transitions cause anxiety and that this is normal.  I feel like I do my daughters a disservice when I cannot manage my anxiety.  It has been a year since I got into a car accident that resulted in the return of my intrusive thoughts.  When my husband mentioned that anniversary, it made so much sense how heightened all these transitions and changes were making me.  I struggled with daily panic attacks for  a week.  I could not figure out why everything was affecting more.  My self-care routine had remained the same.  In fact I was exercising with more frequency and more intensity.  This did not seem to diminish the feelings of panic.  I need to realize that I need to give myself grace and kindness as the summer ends and the school year begins. I am giving myself lots of room and space to understand that medication is a necessity for me. I need this medication to regulate my brain chemistry.  That small pill is key to my mental health and my self-care routine.

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Fitness Fridays: My first 10K

Rach and Jen
I cannot believe that it has been a week since I ran my race.  The 7 a.m. start time was a little rough as evidenced by this photo.  I had a bit of coffee, but it was not enough to prevent the spaced out stare.  Meeting up with my friend Rachel who ran the half marathon for this race was fantastic.  She had run this race last year, so she gave me amazing tips to prepare.  Since we raced at Miller Park, the traffic around the stadium became crowded very quickly.  I left at 5:15 a.m., and I arrived at the stadium with plenty of time to spare.  I checked my gear, and then I met our training group.  We stretched and took a few pictures.  My only goal was to run the entire time and have fun.

cue a bit of panic right as the race was starting.  I am so petite that I could not see exactly where I got into the starting corral.  The 10K runners started at 7:00 a.m. in corrals A through D, and the half marathon runners started at 7:15 a.m. in corrals E through Z.  I made it into my corral, and we were off. Technically I did not start really running at my pace until I crossed the start line.  Since it was such an early start, I didn’t have my family come to be my cheerleaders.  My sweet friend Rachel found me right as I got going, and she shouted out my name.  That set the tone for the entire race for me.

I settled into my pace, and I ran all but the last half mile with one of the women from my running class.  I do not run with music because I like to be present and attentive to what is going on around me.  My Runkeeper app on my phone kept me updated with my pace and mile markers.  I experienced my first taste of food during a race.  I used some gummy chews around the fourth mile, and I made sure to sip my water.  I sprinted the last half mile right as we left Miller Park stadium.  It was very cool to get to run around the entire ballpark although the dirt is slick.

I felt so proud that I accomplished my goals.  Contrary to popular opinion and peer pressure from my running friends, I have no plans for a half marathon.  I would love to run another 10K next year.  Running has made me so much mor comfortable in my skin.  I feel powerful and strong when I run.  Running with groups keeps me accountable to friends and to myself.  Running brings me so much joy.  I love races because it gives me a specific goal to achieve.  What I was not prepared for was the exhaustion.  I took a two-hour nap the afternoon after the race, and I lounged on the couch all day long.  Kudos to friends who run longer distances and triathlons because I cannot even imagine the exhaustion.  Now where is an appropriate place to wear my race medal?  At work?  I think maybe a tiara is in order as well with the medal. What do you think?

Jen race start Jen race finish


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Fitness Fridays: A Day Before the Big Race

026I’m staring down a deadline of twenty-four hours until my first 10K ever.  I am feeling nervous and excited!  All my clothes for race day are washed and dried.  My shoes are currently drying out from my final run.  I am trying desperately not to stare at the weather channel all day long to determine exactly what the temperature will be at the start of this race.  Also I am not a morning person by nature.  This race starts at 7:00 a.m.  Eek! I will have all the alarms on to make sure that I arrive early.  I am feeling the nervous buzz of anticipation.  This will also be a big crowd – 6000 racers.  I will need to practice lots of self-care (music and yoga) so that I am not overwhelmed by the crowds.  I know that physically and mentally I am ready for this race.  I cannot say enough about the amazing staff at PRO in Brookfield, with a special shout out to Micaela.  Running has been such an part of my self-care routine.  I have reconnected with friends and family, and I have made new connections through running.  I’ll share all the details next week!  It is so amazing to set a goal that is way outside of my comfort zone and to know that tomorrow I will be accomplishing it.


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Stop the Stigma of Depression and Suicide

Lifeline-English-454x500 Numb, in shock and finally acceptance.  Like many mental health advocates, the news of Robin Williams hit close to home for me.  Suicide touched my life when I was in high school when a dear friend of mine committed suicide.  I tried to blog about this earlier, but my brain could not wrap itself around forming words for the many emotions that a suicide brings up in me.

I remember the feeling of helplessness.  How could someone who was so loved and so kind feel like she was all alone?  I knew in my heart that this struggle ran deeper than just normal teenage stress.  If I could go back in time, I would talk to my friend more.  I would help her pull down that facade of being the strong, smart and in charge one.  I would tell her what I now know to be true.  Asking for help is not weak.  The strongest among us have struggled with some large demons, and those struggles have refined our characters.  Asking for help is the strongest thing that you can do when you are struggling.

Many of my blogging friends in the mental health community have struggled with suicide and suicidal ideations.  These amazing men and women are true survivors.  They have fought those thoughts, and they have come out on the other side.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing your stories.  Suicide carries so much stigma and shame. It is time that we stop whispering about it behind closed doors and talk about it openly.

There is hope.  It gets better.  If you are struggling, please call the national crisis hotline at anytime.

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Farewell to Our Daycare Family

Friday, August 29tchange aheadh marked the end of an era. It was our last day at our beloved daycare.  We had been there since my sweet Munch was just three months old.  The teachers, the directors, and the other families had become our family.  I know that those friendships and those teachers have shaped my daughters’ lives in ways that I am just beginning to understand.  Those amazing women took care of my babies, and we were leaving our nest to spread our wings at elementary school.  The education that the girls received was phenomenal.  Our decision to have both girls at elementary school together was two-fold: time and money.  We saved a bit on daycare costs by having both girls in the same childcare.  We only have one pick up and one drop off now!  That has given my husband, myself, and our girls at least a half hour back to our hectic days.  It was so bittersweet to leave our daycare behind.  I cried when I picked up the girls for the last time.  Like so many moments of their childhood, my sense of loss overwhelmed me.  God bless our amazing teachers!  We will be back to visit!


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