Oh my. It has been so long, and I am so sorry, for that.
In the past, I’ve lamented the fact that I feel like a fraud of a blogger, as of late.
Yes, I have a blog, and yes, I have been sharing on said blog since June of 2010, but, recently, my long posts and intricate stories have been published, often quickly, on my instagram page, on which I post daily.
I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: I will ALWAYS do my best to be a good blogger and to live up to this moniker.
But, if you want to see my daily goings-on (and by daily I mean a dozen “stories” every day, along with a feed post or two thrown in), that is where I will be.
It has been two months since I have published a proper post on here — on my baby — my “MEA” — and I do not feel particularly proud about this, but I do have
some mediocre to good to great excuses!
What are they, you ask?
All the things.
For all of our sakes, I am going to share this story in chronological order, as we all know that if were to be left to my own storytelling devices we would all be taken on a Labyrinth-like-journey with more details than data points.
Why did I not blog more in February?
Well, my first excuse is more overarching in that I was working, feverishly, on the manuscript for BOOK 2!!!
I got an offer for BOOK 2 in early October, less than nine months after the release of BOOK 1,
in which I shared the story of my own severe prenatal and postpartum depression, actionable advice from a clinician and literature, other women’s stories, and the hard truth that I would no longer be able to have more children.
The latter is something about which I have always felt funny sharing. I know how blessed I am to have conceived, and birthed, and nursed two children; one girl and one boy. I know that I feel like a jerk for complaining about the inability to have more babies, even though it is solely because of something that happened to me that was awful, and scary, and out of my control, and, truly, potentially lethal. I know what I have. I have so much; I also have a hole that is in the shape of a baby, deep in my heart, every single day.
And then, things changed.
New data emerged, the facts shifted, and life undulated in ways that left me with three new, powerful words in regards to our own family expansion:
“Maybe we can.”
Book 2 is the exploration of family expansion after perinatal mood disorders, and though it is anchored in my own story and exploration, I am SO blessed to be sharing the amazing first-person accounts from seven other women, each who have also suffered (from afflictions including postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, postpartum OCD, and more).
The book has data, it has gut-wrenching honesty, and, most of all, it has options.
How can one have a baby biologically after ppd? Is it safe? What about adoption? Surrogacy?
What about the choice to not have another child?
What about that middle place, in which I still live, where indecision reigns?
this book is also for those who have NOT suffered from ppd or other perinatal mood disorders, but who are not sure what to do about family expansion.
this book’s manuscript was submitted, in the form of 80,000 words, on April 1.
So, that is excuse number one.
Excuse number two is more finite:
Though writing the aforementioned book afforded me with tremendous knowledge, late February-all of March resulted in the loss of some of my wisdom…
in the form of two wisdom teeth that I had extracted, as a 33-year-old, in two separate surgeries, both with some crappy complications.
Basically, I was out of commission for a month, as I experienced dry sockets (if you don’t know what they are, Google them, and believe the person on Google who says that the pain is akin to childbirth), I could not eat solid food, and had to take serious medications to manage the excruciating pain.
I had two c-sections; this was not any less painful.
And that brings us to excuse 3, which really began on Friday, March 22, during which time I uttered the famous last words,
“I think I am finally turning the corner!”
It was my first day without severe pain, and I was ready to eat solid food, again.
On Saturday, March 23, I got my son’s stomach bug. It was pretty awful, and so when I texted my parents, and sister, and best friend about it, I wrote the same line to each: “I needed this like a hole in the head.”
And then, on Sunday, March 24, I got a hole in the head.
To make a long story short (ha!), 8 large pans, including a very heavy, cast-iron baking dish, fell six feet from the top of my refrigerator, and onto my head, that, at the time, was close to the floor (as I rummaged through the fridge for frozen ginger for said upset tummy). Thank goodness it was not worse; thank goodness it did not happen to one of my kids. Ugh. But, this was scary, and sucky.
The pain hit me all at once. I’ve never had pain hit me like that before, and, immediately I started to cry, Kenny raced over to me, Belle screamed while running down the stairs to see what happened, and Beau grabbed me a pack of ice.
I clutched my head, holding the most tender spots, sobbing into Kenny’s arms.
My mind was racing, and just as I was calculating whether or not to go to urgent care to be evaluated for a concussion, Kenny asked me a question that still gives me the chills to think about.
“What’s on your hand?”
As I moved my left hand from my head, where I had been clutching a particularly painful spot, I saw blood. Lots of blood.
Through my tears, I had a tremendous amount of resolve.
“I need to go to the hospital, now. Call the ambulance. Then, call my parents. I might need brain surgery.”
Then, I asked if I was going to die, and made Kenny check my scalp to see if any brain matter was peeking through.
(You guys know how many times I have watched the entire series of Grey’s Anatomy, and so I know my neuro.)
The ambulance, a police officer, paramedics, my mom, and my dad all walked through my door within minutes, and as they loaded me into the ambulance on a stretcher, I waved to my kids who were knocking on Beau’s bedroom window. It was awful.
THEN, it got even more emotional.
If you’ve been following my journey for some time, you might remember my post about the beginning of my prenatal anxiety, and if you’ve read my book, you know this story in much greater detail, but I had a scare early-on in my pregnancy with Beau that landed me in the ER.
There is a good summary of this story, here, but, because I love you, I will include a little excerpt, here.
Part of me wishes that I could say, “I don’t know when it happened. It just crept up on me.” in talking about my depression, but that would be untrue. I know exactly when the turning point occurred, exactly where, exactly why and exactly how. It was March 17, 2013. St. Patrick’s Day. I have referenced this day before when I first opened up about my struggle with postpartum depression, but now I can tell you more, perhaps because I now know more. This may be the most vulnerable in my writing that I have ever been or will every be, but right now, at this moment, my heart is completely open, and so I am letting the feelings pour out of me, before my brain starts to compartmentalize things again, burying the painful, shielding me from the hard and forgetting the details.
On March 17, 2013 I was 6 weeks pregnant. I was at my parents’ house for Chinese food and when I went to the bathroom and saw a bit of blood. My entire body became paralyzed. I can’t remember whom I told first, my husband or my mom, but the thought of it now would bring me to my knees if I were not already seated. It is making me double over. I thought that I was losing my baby.
It was a Sunday night, so we had no option but to call the hospital’s emergency line. The doctor on call was brusque, and said to me, “Well, either you’re having a miscarriage or you are spotting so you can come in or you can just wait and see.”
I don’t understand how someone could be so callous in her line of work, but to me there was no choice. My husband and I went to the emergency room and I was more scared than I had ever been in my entire life.
From the moment that I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, I felt a tremendous sense of love and gratitude. I felt whole in a way that I had never felt before. I felt like our lives were about to change in a way so that we, as a family, would be complete.
I didn’t have to wait, that night, as I checked in to the Emergency Room. I was sent into the triage room immediately and then, we were given a bed in the hallway, as there was no room ready for us at that time. I remember some specific things about that time on the hallway hospital bed; I remember having my blood drawn there and then seeing blood on the sheet that covered the gurney; I remember talking to my husband about the thing–the possibility–that something was really wrong. How would we tell our daughter?; I remember when they wheeled me to the ultrasound room and how I had to endure an uncomfortable examination and the technician was not allowed to tell me anything. I had to sit there, as she watched my uterus, and I was not able to find out if, in fact, I had a baby with a beating heart inside.
We were moved into a room after an hour or so and our doctor was a young, tall, dark haired man who was more of a busy ER doctor than a hand-holder, if that makes sense. He told me that my blood levels looked good, that there were two definite structures in my uterus, the yolk sac and the embryo; and the embryo was my baby, with a strong beating heart. I am writing this with tears streaming down my face, for all that was, all that could have been, all that is and all that will never be.
I asked the doctor for an ultrasound photo, but apparently they don’t do that in the ER like at the OBGYN’s office, but he allowed us to look at the images on his computer and pointed out what he referred to as “a little cheerio”. That was our baby.
And then, my life changed.
It was six years later; it was a Sunday, in March, and, once again, I found myself in the Emergency Room of Lankenau Hospital, this time with a bleeding head. When the curtain opened, and the ER doc walked in to our room, pumping some of the hospital-y antibacterial foam onto his hands, the waterworks started, once again.
It was the same doctor.
“You changed my life,” I told him, holding a clump of bloody hair, and sobbing.
“You showed me my baby for the first time. And then I had severe postpartum depression. I wrote a book, and you’re in it. Am I going to die?”
He was kind, and thorough, and several staples in my scalp, a CT scan of the head (YOU ALWAYS GET THE CT SCAN! MCDREAAAMMMMY!!!!!), and one diagnosis of a concussion later, I left the hospital — the place where I had experienced some of my highest highs and some meaningful lows, and went back home to my family, and to rest.
Do you know what you are not supposed to do with a concussion? Use your brain.
Do you know what is very hard to do when you have a book due in one week? Not use your brain.
So, I got my manuscript in on time, cut myself some slack, and have been resting my body and my brain since.
Kenny has been my hero. He did an epic “Insta Takeover” and shared the funniest glimpses into our real life. Dance parties; spa nights; “Becca moments” and also hard truths. He developed quite a following! I’m telling you, it’s all happening over on Instagram!
See? It’s been a lot. A lot of things.
All the things.
Since I last wrote, I turned 34. It was my favorite birthday, yet. It was low-key and lovely. I felt so celebrated by Kenny and my kids; I spent the day eating Popeye’s biscuits and Wendy’s Frosties with my best friends, and getting tons of kisses, and was presented with a cookie cake that read,
“Happy Birthday, You Badass MF!” with gorgeous flowers in different shades of pink all around.
Like the Philadelphia Eagles, all we got is all we need, and that feeling is something I have chased forever, and finding it has been the best gift of all.
Since I last wrote, Belle turned nine. NINE!
It was her favorite birthday. We surprised her from the time she woke up until the time she went to bed (with balloons, and gifts, and cards, and a trip to the hair salon for rose gold highlights, and dinner with my parents at a chocolate restaurant). She felt like a princess, and I felt like the mom I have always wanted to be.
Capable. Loving. Grown up.
Since I last wrote, a lot has gone one, and it is amazing for me to think that in just over a month this blog here will also be having its 9th birthday.
Nine years together, we’ve had.
In nine years we have laughed together (do you remember when I thought my baby had a horrible rash that left even the pediatricians dumbfounded, only to find out that it was cherry water ice?); cried together (do you remember ALL of those times?);
grown together (when I started “Mommy, Ever After” I was newly 25, newly a mom, and new to the concept of a blog — I had no inkling that I would go on to have postpartum depression, the chance to write two books, and more love than I ever thought imaginable, after years of arduous struggles).
So I thank you for your support. For sticking around. For your patience with me. For lifting me up. For crying along, and dancing along, and for just being here. It means everything.
All the things.
With shiny skirts, shiny staples, and shiny McDreamy hair