In Defense of Co-Sleeping

In defense of

Before you’re a parent, there are sanctimonious moments that you have when looking at others’ parenting. I’d never let my child (insert anything here)… Here are a couple of things I promised myself I’d never do as a mother:

  1. Let my child go barefoot in public (what are these parents thinking?!) This was before I realized how insanely hard it was to keep my child’s socks and shoes on her little feet.
  2. Let my child be a hot mess in public (my child will never have a dirty face!) Ha. Just, ha.
  3. Co-sleep. (why would I bring my kid into my bed? She’ll sleep in her crib from day one.)

But here we are, I’ve broken every single one of my sanctimommy ideals. And I quickly learned there’s no perfect way to parent, if you Google something you’ll get 15 different ideas of what you could try, but nothing is guaranteed. Much to my frustration, what works for my best friend’s baby doesn’t always work for us.

And for all of these reasons, I’m going to lay out my case for co-sleeping. Because of all the rules I broke, co-sleeping is actually what saved- not destroyed- my sanity, and helps me feel closer to my baby every day.

I was terrified of co-sleeping with my child because I was afraid that I was going to roll over on her in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until the great 4 month sleep regression that Lo moved into our bed, and since then, she’s slept through the night. A solid 9-10 hour stretch, nestled between Mommy and Daddy.

Lo likes to touch our skin while she sleeps. I will often wake up to her chubby little hand on my arm, just being calmed by my presence as I am hers. I fall asleep watching her chest rise and fall and hear her soft breathing. It has been in these moments that my awareness is actually heightened, and I get a more restful nights sleep even though something in my Mom-brain is alert to her needs. You can read more about this here. I am a better mommy, a better employee and a better wife when I get those extra minutes of shut-eye.

I felt embarrassed to admit that we were co-sleeping. Our baby should be in her crib, right? I should let her “cry it out”, right? I could never bring myself to do it, out of anxiety for both of us, but moreso because I wasn’t ready to let my baby go. Then I started talking to other mamas. And a surprising number of them were co-sleeping, but no one is talking about it!

But it was my friend Tara, from the wonderful blog Instinctual Mothering, that explained it in such a wonderful way. She said, “There’s nothing wrong with being close with your baby at night. It is natural for us to clutch our babies close to us.” She’s right! All animals co-sleep with their young- if you’ve ever seen a puppy curl up to its mama’s belly or a kitten nudge his little head into the crook of his mom’s arm, you know this to be true.

Co-sleeping, when done correctly, can be a safe alternative to a baby in a crib. There are several things you must do to prepare your bed for co-sleeping:

  • Eliminate excess pillows and blankets (Lo does not use either and sleeps “bare” between us in our king-size bed.
  • Firmer mattresses are recommended, just as in a crib.
  • Parents who have been smoking, drinking alcohol or taking prescriptions that put them into a deep fog/sleep should not co-sleep.
  • Babies should sleep on their backs. (Back is best!)

I’m on a business trip this week, and I am writing this blog post at nearly midnight. I sleep soundly with my young one next to me, and now that she’s not here, I find it hard to fall asleep. Just as she needs my scent and breath next to her, I need hers as well.

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Baby Lo’s Nursery

We recently bought a house and moved Lo into her very own nursery. Since her last room was barely larger than a walk-in closet, I took my time and had a lot of fun as I designed this room. I knew only one thing when I started: I wanted it to be BRIGHT!

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I chose a regal gray crib and dresser and accented with teal and pink colors. I found beautiful wall decals on Pinterest, and they are the focal point of the room, on the vast wall next to the crib. They were so easy to on and they are incredibly vibrant!

I added a pink shag rug from Target, which she loves to play and crawl on when she’s in her room. I also peppered the walls with wall decor and black out curtains from Target, bought during an impulse shopping trip early in the decorating process. They fit so well with the look I was seeking, it all just kind of came together in the aisles of the big red bullseye (doesn’t that always happen at Target?!)

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I snagged this white Pottery Barn changing table for $15 on an online yard sale. The convenient shelves hold pajamas, diapers, shoes and hairbows in teal and white striped storage boxes. Her toiletries, diapers, wipes and other such items are stored in the IKEA cart, which I assembled without the wheels.

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I hope you gleaned some nursery inspiration from Baby Lo’s nursery! With such a feminine and versatile look, she’ll be able to use this room and the look for years!

Link to the Half Order of Pink, Teal, Coral Graphic Flowers -Wall Decal Home Décor by Urban Walls” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Wall decals here!

Link to the crib: Graco Solano 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Bonus Mattress, Pebble Gray“>Graco Bryson 4-in-1 Convertible Crib, Pebble Gray

Link to Dresser: Storkcraft Crescent 4 Drawer Chest, White“>Storkcraft Crescent 4 Drawer Chest, Grey

Up in the Air with Baby Lo

marloweplaneBefore we had a baby, flying was a way of life for us: we’d been all over the US on lots of planes over the last 7 years. But flying with a baby sparked fear in me! How many times have you been on a flight, when the hum of the aircraft is all you hear as the plane begins to ascend, everyone collectively holding their breath until you’re smoothly in the air? And then, a baby starts crying. And you think, “I hope that baby doesn’t cry the whole time…”

I didn’t want to be THAT mom, with the crying baby. So I Googled it and researched every blog that shared tips and tricks for babies on planes. And here I am to share them with you!

1.) Plan your trip during your child’s happiest time! Lo is great in the mornings so I knew a morning trip would be best for her.

2.) Get on the plane LAST. Do not get on early! Take all of those precious moments to change the diaper, get the bottle ready, and walk onto the plane after everyone else- and if you’re traveling with your spouse, send them on early to put away the bags.

3.) Have a bottle or pacifier ready for take off and landing. The sucking will help avoid the painful ear popping. Or if you’re like Lo, you’ll sleep through landing and not even realize it’s time to get off the plane.

4.) Nonstop flights and layovers both have advantages and disadvantages. I thought nonstop was the way to go, but that can leave you with a cranky baby and three hours left. The layover flights were nice to get out, stretch your legs, tire the baby out and get back on an hour or two later.

5.) Don’t let the fear of your crying baby stop you from traveling! A flight attendant said to me once, “Babies have the right to fly too!”, which solidified my confidence in taking her on the plane. Lo has the right to travel just as much as anyone else, and will be a better traveler at age 5 than many people are at 20! Plus- people understand a crying baby. I’ve even handed Lo over to a seat mate for a change of scenery- at 32,000 feet, they aren’t going anywhere with your kid! A nice break for mama and a smile on a new friend’s face.

6) Pack smart. When traveling with the baby, remember that the car seat can be checked for free- Delta checks it at the gate but American checks it with other luggage- and use a nifty car seat bag (I got mine on Amazon) to keep your car seat clean. Pack enough diapers,and two pairs of clothes, but keep your carry-on limited to your diaper bag only- you don’t want to be heaving carry-on suitcases into the overhead bin while wrestling a baby in the narrow aisle. Save everyone the trouble and just check the bag, and stick the diaper bag under the seat in front of you.

7.) Purchase pre-made formula for your trip! Trust me on this one. Not having to put the scoop into the canister of formula and balance it over the narrow bottle lip will be invaluable up in the air. It’s a tad more expensive than regular formula but it’s worth it. You CAN take formula or breastmilk (and bottles of water) through security- just take it out with your other liquids and allow them to swab the outside of the bottles.

8.) Wear your baby! Skip the stroller and use a baby carrier through security and throughout the airport. The jostling will likely put the baby to sleep while you trek the airport, and you won’t have to break down the stroller. I recommend the LilleBaby baby carrier, which has amazing back support.

BONUS: TSA will likely let you wear the wrap or carrier through the security checkpoint as long as you allow your hands to be swabbed and you don’t set off the alarm when you go through.

9.) Have a sense of humor. While descending once, Lo started crying, after a perfect trip. And Adam started bouncing her on his knee while singing the theme song to “Bonanza”. For whatever reason, she loved it! She giggled and charmed her way back into everyone’s hearts. I just had to laugh at the absurdity of it, but when you’re in such a closed space, you can either laugh or cry… I choose to laugh!

Lo has been on SIX planes by SIX months old and she is an expert traveler! It’s a big, beautiful world out there… travel with your Littles and show them everything you love!

Stock Your Freezer: Meals for Busy Moms!

14-freezer-slow-cooker-meals-2

Let’s talk busy weeknights. Since becoming a mama, I value easy, weeknight meals that are pre-prepped and even semi- homemade! And the best way to get dinner on the table quickly is a freezer, crock-pot meal. For me, the easiest way to do this is to choose a variety of meats and ingredients that can be used in several meals.

Recently, we visited Adam’s cousins who are preparing for their first baby in February! I asked what I could do to help her get ready, and we came up with the freezer meal idea. We went shopping together  and after 2.5 hours in the kitchen, we had more than ten meals prepped in the freezer! And get this- we only spent $85. Please note: we used two very large chicken breasts per recipe, which is more than enough for 2 people in the household. Adjust for your own family size!

I’m going to share links to all of my favorite meals below, and here are 6 tips to help with your freezer meal planning!

  • Freezer Meals should be Comforting: I don’t like to make “healthy” freezer meals. Everything I make is warm your insides kind of meal from the crockpot. The more you look forward to the meal, the more you’ll actually use what’s in the freezer.
  • Outsource anything you can: Whether this is chopped, frozen onions, or having your husband chop the meat while you assemble, use all the help you can get!
  • Semi-homemade is the way to go for me: I used pre-made spaghetti sauce, frozen meatballs and cream of chicken soup. If you don’t like these ingredients, you can make your own versions easily!
  • Leave the veggies on the side: I don’t put veggies in my freezer meals because many of them will get too soggy in the crockpot; I suggest adding them toward the end of the cooking, instead.
  • Shop the sales or use a wholesale club (BJs, Costco or Sams) for your meats! On this shopping trip, we scored reduced chicken breasts for $8.61, and it made four meals!
  • Re-stock as you go! Adam’s cousin Kira had a great idea to replace the freezer meals they used: every time she went to the store, she’d buy ingredients to pop one more freezer meal in the deep freeze, and always have something available for a quick meal!

BONUS TIP: Label all of your bags first with the name of the meal, any directions you’ll need to cook it, and the date. Freezer meals are usually good for up to 6 months!

THE PROCESS: I started by getting my meatball dishes out of the way first, because they only needed to be added in with sauce, labeled and laid flat to freeze. Next was the ribs- toss those bad boys in the bag with your bottle of BBQ sauce and you’re done. Beef stroganoff is next, and you’ve got four freezer meals down already!

If you have someone helping you, get them started on browning the ground beef and sausage for the  burritos while you assemble the other dishes.

Then, I went with the chicken dishes because they also just needed to be put into the freezer bags with their respective sauces. The most time you’re going to spend is on your ground beef, enchiladas and beef dishes.

Here are all of my favorite, (semi-homemade) freezer meals: perfect for a cold, wintry day, or a busy weeknight when you’ve got a million other things to do and don’t have time to fret over dinner!

  1. Meatballs & Pasta Sauce– or you can just use a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce!
  2. Sweet and Sour Meatballs – frozen meatballs + Kikkoman sweet & sour sauce & chopped garlic
  3. Country ribs (ribs purchased for $7 at Aldi) – ribs + BBQ Sauce
  4. Beef stroganoff (stew meat purchased for $6 at Aldi)
  5. Cream cheese ranch chicken
  6. Teriyaki Chicken
  7. Salsa Chicken
  8. Lemon Garlic Chicken
  9. Taco Bake
  10.  Beef enchiladas– I used ground beef instead of shredded! (this made 2 pans)
  11.  Sausage egg and cheese burritos
  12. Baked Ziti

The main takeaway to freezer meals is: HAVE FUN! Cook what you like to eat, and cook smarter, not harder. Don’t get carried away with fancy recipes, which will add time and money to your budget. Just keep them simple and enjoy a warm meal at the end of the day!

The War: Light

dealing-with-1

This is the third blog post in a 5 part series called, The War. I invite you to read, empathize, understand, and share my story with others: new moms, especially. I am not ashamed of what you are about to read, but the stigma of post partum depression is very real and polarizing. Start the discussion with others. Join it if someone shares theirs with you. You are not alone.

Part One: Breaking Point
Part Two: Darkness

I can’t say that the sun shone for me in full force that first day I started feeling better. In fact, I was wary of it because of how dark I felt just twenty four hours before. About two weeks after beginning my medication, I started to get my mojo back. I was being creative and laughing at the nuances of life again. All of these things that I had forgotten were a part of my soul were starting to emerge again. Color returned to my face and people commented that I looked better. Happy, even.

During my time off, I had tried to be gentle with myself. I rested when I felt tired, and I went on walks with Lo around the neighborhood, and I ate what I wanted, and I took every single appointment with a therapist I could book. Because I needed accountability and reassurance. I needed to be told that I was going to be able to handle life again, even when I didn’t believe it to be true.

I asked for help from friends. I indulged in retail therapy. I cuddled my fat dog in bed, for lazy afternoon naps. I gave my mind a much-needed break. And what I found from this time was that I hadn’t been ready to go back to work at 9 weeks postpartum. I relished the time with Baby Lo now, 5 months old, smiling and laughing and cooing “mama”, napping on my chest, smiling at me with her beautiful blue eyes. She was much more therapy to my soul than anything else I encountered. She got me through it.

And for weeks of soulful rest and carb-eating and sunshine and fresh air, I started to feel incrementally better. I had energy! I could take on the day when I woke up in the morning. I looked forward to going back to work.  I could make logical plans without feeling utterly exhausted or overwhelmed; I believed that I could complete everything that I set out to do. I didn’t dread the night anymore. When Lo cried, I felt calm, rational and I could hold her and comfort her and tell her that it would be okay- because for the first time since she was born, I didn’t want to join her in crying hysterics.

And I shared my story. I told everyone who asked- friends, family and people on Facebook. I wasn’t looking for pity- I was looking for camaraderie. I knew I couldn’t have been the only one going through it: and I was right! So many people messaged me and commented and told me that they, too had dealt with perinatal mood disorders- anxiety, depression. Many had stories so close to mine- and they even said that they were afraid to talk about it out loud, just like me! I found a tribe of people, who I didn’t even know, who wrapped their arms around me in my time of need- who, in some ways, know my struggles better than my friends and family. Thank you, MLPC, for being there for me when I shared my story with you. Listening to your stories and hearing your words of encouragement helped me more than you’d ever know- and encouraged me to write this blog entry with such candor.

I still have days where the darkness seeps in, and I have to be kind to myself on those days. I have to know that not every day is going to be like it was before I became a mama; I’m not the person that I was before. And hopefully, someday I’ll be able to be better than I ever was.

The War: Darkness

dealing-with-1

This is the second blog post in a 3 part series called, The War. I invite you to read, empathize, understand, and share my story with others: new moms, especially. I am not ashamed of what you are about to read, but the stigma of post partum depression is very real and polarizing. Start the discussion with others. Join it if someone shares theirs with you. You are not alone.

Part One: Breaking Point

I arrived in Kansas City with Adam and Lo with little fanfare. I didn’t tell people I was coming back because I just wanted a few days to catch up on sleep and adjust to my new medication. I’d be back to new and I’d go home to conquer my life again in just six days.

The first thing I did was give up breastfeeding. While this was such a tough thing for me to do, I knew that I needed to focus on my mental health and it was causing me stress. Pumping and feeding- along with an unpleasant, depression-like milk letdown feeling, had me dreading every session. I cried at the thought of feeding my child formula. However, I knew that my window of opportunity was closing- I was rapidly approaching the point of no return with my mental health and I needed to grab the reins then.

But the new medication was too much; I was given something to bring back my appetite and help me sleep, that left me in a zombie-like state for 20 hours. I went to bed at 8 pm each night, with Adam and the baby following at 10 pm. It wasn’t like me- I’m usually the life of the party! Being with others refuels my spirit, not squashes it.

Lo still wasn’t sleeping, especially in the new environment. She wouldn’t sleep in the crib in our guest room, so most nights we struggled in the dark to make a bottle and squeeze her into the bed with us. Adam and I took turns, but I wasn’t getting any more rest in Missouri than I was Pennsylvania.

We returned home and all of the stressors we left behind came back in full force. I met with a post-partum specialist the first day back. I had chewed my nails down to nubs. I used practically a whole box of tissues on her desk that day.

I remember saying out loud, “I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that scares me, because that’s always been one of my best personality traits- positivity.” She looked at me and said, “You aren’t you right now. Your body and brain are under so much stress, you’re in survival mode.” She was right. But I didn’t feel like I was surviving, I felt like I was drowning.

She rallied the troops. She called my doctor and got me an emergency meeting the next day. She called another contact who checked in on me over the weekend. She encouraged me to call friends and ask for help. She text me throughout the weekend to make sure I was feeling okay, and re-assured me that I wasn’t alone.

This was the lowest I had ever felt in my life. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I had forgotten what it was like to feel good, to feel normal. I stayed in bed or on the couch while the dishes piled up and we ordered pizza. My little girl was the only thing that got me through these dark days.

How could I feel this way? I had a wonderful baby! Smart and sweet and pretty good (even without sleeping much!) It was hard to see Adam, who has always relied on me for strength, to see me like this. I could see the look of worry in his eyes, at one point patting a crying baby and me at the same time- telling us both that it would be okay. He said it to her because he meant it, he said it to me because he hoped it would be true. (More on Adam’s story here).

I became anxious as I got my return to work date. I didn’t want to go back. How would I handle it all again? I couldn’t even handle it while I was off every day, sleeping most of the day and not participating in much life activity. How could I do it all?

And then, one day, the sun started shining for me again. It wasn’t a full on sunshine, but it was enough to break through that cold, hard exterior I’d built around me the last few months. I felt my chest lighten a bit. I could breathe just a little easier.

The War: Breaking Point

dealing-with-1

A month ago, I wrote about my battle with post-partum anxiety in The Battle. When I let those words pour out of me and into the public but safe space, I felt freed. For a couple of weeks, I felt I had conquered this anxiety problem and it would merely be remembered as a footnote in my post partum recovery. But I was wrong. Because just a few weeks later, I would hit rock bottom in way that I never knew I could.

This is the first blog post in a 5 part series called, The War. I invite you to read, empathize, understand, and share my story with others: new moms, especially. I am not ashamed of what you are about to read, but the stigma of post partum depression is very real and polarizing. Start the discussion with others. Join it if someone shares theirs with you. You are not alone.

 

Lo was an easy sleeper: she started sleeping through the night at 3 weeks old, and it scared me so much that I called the pediatrician and said, “There’s something wrong with my baby, she slept all night!” The doctor chuckled and told me to enjoy it: it would be short lived. Well, she was partly right- we enjoyed peaceful sleeping up until week 13, when she started waking every half hour to nurse, or just to be held. Sleep deprivation slowly crept into my body and brain, into my relationship with others, with her.

Working full time and being a mom wore on me, but I suffered silently as it eroded my attitude and mood. I was breastfeeding and pumping four times a day at work. I was exhausted, irritable with people, very blue. I’d rush home to see Lo at the end of the day, just feeling so tired but excited to cuddle and kiss her. She was my only bright spot on those days.

But I dreaded the night. I started becoming more anxious in the evenings, chewing my fingernails, even pulling out my hair, anxious ticks that I couldn’t control or stop. I went in to see my doctor who had been managing my care. She told me that she’d done all she could do and she was concerned that this was deeper than just a surface mood disorder. She hesitated to say Post Partum Depression, but we both knew it had gravitated there.

I took mental health days from work to try to get out of the funk. I took the baby to daycare and came home to sleep- I didn’t want to get out of bed. I When I returned, I felt like a zombie and I couldn’t concentrate on my work. My boss called- and the truth came rushing out of me. I told her about all of it, how I was doing fine, until now. But at that point, I was just sad and anxious- I still had a grip- at least, that’s what I told myself. It’s just the baby blues! But it had been four months. But I was crying in my car on my lunch break. My grip was slipping.

I stopped pumping, I rarely ate. I was spiraling fast. I made all of the calls I could- to post partum specialists and counselors and clinics and psychiatrists- and if they did take my insurance, they were booking over two months out. I lost it- I was crying constantly. My brain was swarming with so much anxiety, I knew I was reaching my breaking point and I needed help fast- but who could I turn to now? Medical appointments book at a glacial pace- and even though it was early November, I took the first appointment- December 12- in between sobs as I learned on the steering wheel of my car.

When your mind is under so much stress, everything seems to be painful- simple brain functions such as memory are impaired- I couldn’t tell you what I ate yesterday or what I worked on. I couldn’t answer Adam’s simple questions about the dishes or the laundry- I couldn’t function. My boss and I discussed options and she urged me to take some time off of work to get better. It wasn’t like me to feel this way, and she recognized the need for self care at that moment.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to be surrounded by family, but I wasn’t ready to splurge $700 on plane tickets back to Missouri. Then my sister called. “I’ve been through this too, you know. Not nearly as bad as you, but I can relate to what you’re feeling,” she said. “Come home, let us take care of you for a week or so. Then you can get your head on straight and go back refreshed.” Those were the words I needed to hear. No one had offered to take care of ME before! I was always taking care of everyone else!

Somehow, someone pulled enough strings to get me an emergency appointment with a new doctor. I bought two tickets to Kansas City, with a new prescription in hand, and I boarded a plane back home. I had high hopes for rest and relaxation surrounded by family.

I wish I would have known things were going to get worse before they were going to get better.

Throwback: Tonic Clonic

This post originally appeared on our previous seizure blog, http://www.weseizetheday.blogspot.com in August 2013. This was the first grand mal seizure that I had witnessed, just weeks before our wedding. 

I haven’t updated this blog in awhile because there wasn’t much to report. Adam was relatively seizure free, with a few episodes here and there, averaging about 2-3 per month. We visited with his neurologist in July and I discussed putting him on an anti-anxiety pill to stay asleep at night, since his seizures are often triggered by dreams. Adam and I enjoyed five days of fun and sun of our “pre honeymoon” in Florida and returned Friday, August 2.

Then, August 5 happened. 

Adam and I had enjoyed a nice evening at home. I made chicken, we spent some time catching up on the DVR shows we’d missed, and I went to bed around 10. Adam followed around 12. About an hour later, he started having a seizure. I woke up and got the cold packs that we use, made sure he was comfortable and noticed the time on the clock. 1:12 AM.

He asked me to talk him through it and I did, picturing a bright blue sky and helping him breathe. I was standing next to him when his body went rigid. He was headfirst into his pillow and then, I could see the movement escape him. “Adam?” I said, shaking him slightly. “ADAM!” I started yelling at him, shaking his shoulders. He was dead weight to me in my arms. I turned his head/body over when, to my horror, I saw that there was a bright path of blood leading out of his mouth. My own blood went cold. This wasn’t right. He wasn’t responsive. I rolled him on his side, and could tell that he was breathing, which I knew was the only good sign.

I grabbed my phone and frantically dialed 911 at 1:29 AM. I was already in hysterics when the dispatcher answered. “I need an ambulance! My fiance had a seizure and now he’s unconscious!”The dispatcher tried in vain to calm me down. She asked if he was diabetic. Had he had a stroke, she asked. Is he breathing? Yes. Address. Name. Spell your name. What’s his name? How old is he? Does he have a brain tumor? No, not that i know of.

It seemed like forever. “What’s taking so long? We’re just down the street! Please, send someone now!” As I waited, watching helplessly as his seizure progressed, his body pale, still not answering my calling his name.

It occurred to me, now, that I could be losing him.  His brain could have short-circuited, he could have more brain damage, and these damn paramedics aren’t even here yet! This all-encompassing panic swept my body. What would I do without him?

The paramedics arrived and I told him that he had seizures, but nothing like this. They acted like I was crazy. One actually said, “It’s rare that he could be conscious during a seizure.” They kept saying this was normal. I said through tears, “This is not normal for him.”

Within about 10-15 minutes, he was coming to, but he could not speak. He looked so very confused- I couldn’t help but think something was seriously wrong. He groaned, couldn’t form answers to the questions they were asking. Soon, they had him on the stretcher and took him by ambulance to the emergency room. I was to follow once I found his ID and insurance card. I was in such a panic- who was awake at 2 in the morning? Who could come sit with me? What was happening to him, and what could be happening to his brain right now? 

I got lost on the way to the hospital in my crazed state. We live one mile away from the hospital. When I arrived, he was in an ER room, hooked up to cords and IVs and breathing tubes. He was coherent, but looked a little confused at me.

The doctor and nurses were sympathetic but seemed to have no cause for alarm. This shocked me. I have been through hundreds of seizures with Adam and this has never happened. Later, I would find out that yes, he has had less than 5 of these seizures, ever- the last one being in 2009. (This would have been nice to know, babe!)

The ER doctor ordered bloodwork and the nurse cleaned the blood from his face as I sat next to him biting back tears. He reached up and wiped them away, saying simply, “It’s okay.” That’s his favorite phrase- whether I am worried about money, the wedding, work, or him. It’s always okay.

Bloodwork returned normal and we were sent home around 4:30 am with the diagnosis of secondary generalized seizure, or a grand mal seizure. He slept until 11 that morning, but I didn’t sleep at all. I kept reaching over and checking his heart, feeling his chest rise and fall. I needed that comfort.

Following up with his neurologist today, he was concerned with this seizure and chose to put Adam on a medication that is better for seizures. He said, “Unfortunately, it doesnt come in a generic.” Well, how much could it be, I wondered. He gave us a prescription card to keep the cost down, but when Adam returned with his pills, he told me that they were FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS A BOTTLE.

Now, usually, I’m the strong one (or atleast I think so). I figure it out- no matter what comes our way. But I have cried so many tears this week. I am so mentally and emotionally exhausted. I cant shake the horrible flashbacks of Adam, limp and pale, nonresponsive. It terrifies me to think this could happen again.

So when he emerged with those pills, I freaking lost it. We can’t afford $500 per bottle monthly, considering this will be Pill #6 & #7 that he takes daily. He’s also, unfortunately, on the only insurance that will accept this pre-existing condition, which costs $600 per month.

But what do I do? I would give anything for Adam to never go through that again. But healthcare shouldn’t be something that you have to bargain for!  I am exploring every option available to us, but right now, those are all limited.

I love Adam unconditionally and always have, but this was the most terrifying experiences of my life. Feeling that you could lose the one person that perfectly “gets” you, the one person that you’ve pledged to spend the rest of your life with, is absolutely the most numbing notion. It freezes me with fear, so I am trying to stay positive.

This situation has reminded me that we don’t know how long we have in this life. It makes me rethink those nights I stay late at work. The Adam dates/appointments I’ve had to cancel or reschedule. No more. Work is work and home is home. Everything can wait til tomorrow. Except for him. He’s the single most important person in my life, and he always will be. The bond was have is so deep, something I dont see in other relationships. It’s a one-of-a-kind love. We lean on each other, support, adore each other. The love we have is not replaceable, so I will do everything in my power to fight, arrange, and keep him healthy, happy, and alive. At any cost. 

Epilepsy: A Love Story

img_0383Before Lo was born, I was very wary of telling anyone that Adam had epilepsy. When I did divulge this information, I often received unsolicited advice, worried looks and surprise. Many voiced concerns that Adam caring for her alone would be dangerous. I’d be lying if I didn’t also have my moments of worry or anxiety with Adam caring for our child- just like any first time parent, you are unsure, your hands a little wobbly around this tiny creature, worried you will drop or break or smush them.

Even Adam voiced concerns, right before she was born, that he wasn’t up for the physical and mental challenge of caring for a newborn all day. His sleep schedule would be disrupted, likely to trigger seizures. But I know my husband better than anyone else in the world, and I know his limitations. I can see it in his eyes before he feels it; I can predict what trajectory his seizures will take and I know how to stop them in their tracks before they progress.

When they laid Lo in Adam’s arms that first day in the hospital, I held my breath. I knew that the excitement, insecurity and fear was bubbling right under his skin. I didn’t want him to overthink it. But I looked at them together, as he gazed into her sweet eyes, and his entire body was calm. He was a natural.

As the days progressed, I continued to watch for signs that Adam was becoming overwhelmed- but his body remained steadfast, holding her delicately, changing diapers, swaying her when she fought sleep. He was more in control of his body than I’ve ever seen him- because his mind knew that this was more important than anything he’d ever done before.

Before I went back to work, Adam and I had a serious conversation about his limitations. I know the stress of caring for a newborn five days a week; it’s slightly maddening. We made the decision to put Lo in daycare a few days a week, so that Adam could focus on other home duties, and rest. On his “days off”, he fills her bottles, packs her bag and he walks her to school in the morning and picks her up in the evening. When I return home, they’re playing, laughing and listening to music together.

Adam isn’t perfect with Lo, as many first time fathers aren’t. His array of seizure medication makes it difficult for him to hear behind his mind’s “white noise” sometimes, and process a little slower than others. He often doesn’t see Lo’s cues when she’s hungry or tired, and that leads to some crying fits- but we’re working on it.

Epilepsy will always be a part of our life, but it isn’t his WHOLE life anymore. His good days far outweigh the bad, and he’s found a purpose in his daily routine- to care for and shape this awesome little human.

And while I have always admired Adam for being a strong, amazing man, with scars and stories and heartbreak in his back pocket, I have grown to love him so much more when I see him with our daughter. Epilepsy doesn’t win here, love does.