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Author Archives: JoAnne

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Why My Son’s 1st Birthday Is So Important To Me

21 Mar, 2017
JoAnne
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Trigger Warning: For all of my fellow warrior moms battling postpartum depression (PPD) I do talk about my experience with PPD in this post. I am hoping it would not be a trigger for any of you but wanted to put the warning just to be safe.

For those of you who do not know me this is a picture of me and my son, taken this morning! Philip turns one today and this is not only a milestone for him but for me too.

One year ago was one of the happiest days in my life; I had just given birth to our 9th child, Philip Joseph. I was so very happy to have him here with us and OUT of my gigantic belly! I was so relieved that he was ok; he was more than ok…he was perfect.

Everything was going swimmingly until I had an issue with a new mortgage on a house we were going to close on in a week! Yes, a week! Looking back on it all now it was from that moment on that things went downhill. I went from looking at my beautiful new baby to trying to figure out how to get the mortgage since our home (and family) was practically ready to move. If you would have told me that a mere twelve days after his birth I would be having my husband call 911 ON ME and admitting myself into the hospital I would have said you’re crazy.

But that’s exactly what happened. I self-diagnosed myself with postpartum depression with a few sides of sleep deprivation and dehydration. The Doctor agreed and from there is been one hell of a year.

I cannot believe it has been one year and yet I can. There were moments this past year when a moment felt like an eternity; as if time itself stood still and there was never any intention to progress. There were long days, many sleepless nights and basically, there was sheer hell.

I can remember very vividly thinking to myself, “Am I going to make it?” I remember balling my eyes out to my husband, who held me tightly while crying too and saying, “Is this EVER going to end? Will I be OK?” And I most certainly always remember thinking, “Will I ever be normal again?”

Prior to this bout of postpartum depression (PPD) I had a bout of it following the birth of my fourth child. At the time it felt like a severe case but after experiencing this second bout it was ANYTHING BUT severe. It does not discredit it because it was PPD but I was awakened to a whole new beast of PPD the second time around.

I cry when I think of all of the love and support I had (and still have). Without it I can assure you; I would not be here today so a BIG THANK YOU is due to everyone who was there for me and who still is. I thought I loved my husband a lot before this but now my husband has gone beyond being knighted in my mind and he has literally already been canonized to sainthood for he has been performing miracles every single day -multiple times a day- this past year!

So that is why I am here writing to you today. I am here to tell you that while I am so very happy my son is one and even more perfect than the day he was born, I am so very happy that I made it this milestone which, at one point in my mind, was very questionable. The reason a year was always so important to me was because from my original research from my first bout of PPD I read that PPD can last up to a year of the baby’s birth. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that that is the furthest thing from the truth.

With my first bout of PPD I was able to overcome it in less than six months and let me make this clear: with zero side effects after that time. With this bout I am still riding the wave of it. It is nothing compared to the first six months of it but yes, it is still there. Some days are good days and some days are bad days but so far there really haven’t been any completely GREAT days or “normal” days. I have finally accepted the fact that there may never be any and I am finally ok with that.

Last night during dinner my one daughter said something and I totally thought I heard her say something else and I burst out laughing when I said it (as did the rest of the table). I could not stop laughing. It was that hard core belly laugh and it was really really funny (I am not sharing it because some may be scandalized by how my mind works and what I thought she said!). Before I could even stop laughing completely my eldest son Peter (age 10) said, “Wow, I haven’t heard that laugh in like three years!!!” to which my husband agreed. As I slowed down my laughter I thought about what he said and he was spot on. I had not even thought about it myself up until that moment! Now, granted it has not actually been three years since I have laughed like that but it has been like two (one for the pregnancy which doesn’t usually bring forth hard core laughter and another year of my PPD).

Unfortunately for me one major side effect of my PPD right now is that I still do not enjoy things as much as I used to and I definitely don’t laugh as much as I used to (let alone a hard core belly laugh). I have come to terms with it and it is ok for me only in that while I may not enjoy the things as much as I used to I appreciate EVERYTHING and EVERYONE so much MORE than I ever did.

When you think about taking your own life or that of your child(rens) and when you realize that it is irrational thinking but you can’t control it or when it comes and goes you have a total appreciation of EVERYTHING. When the time arrives that you no longer have those intrusive thoughts and when you no longer feel like your anxiety or panic attacks are literally going to kill you, you don’t take one thing for granted (not one!). So, while I may not be the completely joyful person I was before I am a completely changed person and one for the better.

Without this bout of PPD I may just take another day for granted. I may just let time pass my by. But because of it every day is a new day for me. Every day is one that though I may scream to the top of my lungs because the kids did this or that it is a day that I look at each of them in a way I never did before and never would have. It’s an appreciation for life; all life…mine, theirs, ours, and yours. Needless to say, it has brought my relationship with Our Creator to a whole new level.

Because of this past year I have made my dreams come true. I have published my first book which is insane! And even though it is not the first book that I wanted it to be it is a book that has created a whole new mission in my life: that to help other women and men and families who suffer with postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders. Because of this past year (and because my best friend, my cheer leader, my husband is pushing me) I am going to do something I have wanted to do for a long time; I am going to open an LLC to help people. As with the book, this will not be about money (but the money is always nice lol!). This will be about officially doing something that I have always loved to do unofficially and that is to help people.

I started a new hashtag just for me: #justone I realize there are other people who use this hashtag for other things and that is ok. For me #justone represents if I am able to help #justone person then this whole insane year will not have been in vain. I hope with my book, with my blogs, with my continued “unofficial” advocacy for women’s mental health and my new LLC I can help more than #justone but if it’s #justone then I am more than okay with that.

Happy Birthday Philip! Your life has changed me forever…forever for the better.

And Happy One Year Milestone to me! Here’s to many more!

God bless,

JoAnne (Wife, MOM & Warrior Mom)

 

Don’t Let “It” Steal You, Momma

6 Feb, 2017
JoAnne
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I have said this before but I will say it again, when I came up with this site and blog it was supposed to be funny; always funny. However, along the way not-so-funny things have happened and I have to blog about it otherwise there would be no blog at all! So hopefully you will bear with my more serious or less humorous blogs.

When you become a Mother it is the best experience in the world. There is nothing like it. The same goes of course for Fathers but there is nothing like carrying a baby in your womb just as there is nothing like the bond that a Mother and child have their entire lives. It is unique. It is special.

However, one must admit that when you become a Mother everything changes. First, your body changes. FOR-EVER. LOL. I do not care if you eventually become Mrs. Universe and you are as skinny and fit as could be; your body changes inside and out. Something will always be different. Maybe it will be your tatas. Maybe it will be your tummy. Maybe it will be your hormones. Maybe you won’t ever ever be able to laugh or cough again without peeing. Who knows what it will be but your body changes forever.

Obviously the other major thing that changes is that life, your life, is no longer about you. It is about your child or children. Yes, of course you have to take care of you but a true Mother always thinks about and maybe even always worries for her children.

Along the journey of Motherhood you experience ups and downs, good times and bad times. Some days are easier, some days are harder. Your kid may be out of diapers but drawing on your walls. Your kid may not be drawing on your walls but on other’s properties. Your kid may not be ruining other’s properties but may grow a severe ‘tude. Your kid may outgrow his tude but not your home, living with you FOR-EVER. You get the gidst.

And during all of those times you may have something eating away at you or something try to steal you; the you before you were a Mother. What is “it”? Is it an illness? Is it problems in your marriage? Is it a bad habit or an addiction? Is it something as simple as your temper or the way your treat your family? “It” may be one thing one year and something else the next but “it” always has one purpose which is to steal that part or a part of you. What is important to remember is that you would not be a Mother without that part of you for it is the very essence that makes up you.

It is very easy to get side-tracked and let things get to us. We Mothers are always so busy, juggling so much. But we do have to remember to take care of ourselves inside and out. We have to remember that when we nourish ourselves we can nourish others even better than before.

At the end of this month I will be going on my 3rd annual Mother’s Retreat. Yes, it is a religious one because I try to be a devout Catholic. But anyone can go on any retreat they want. The first year I went for one night and went home. The second year I stayed an extra night alone to reflect on all that had occurred. I am doing that this year as well. This retreat has really helped me so much. It gives me the time to stop and reflect on everything from that last year. To think about all of those things, those “its” which have tried to steal a piece of me. It allows me to work on those things which will help me become a better wife and a better Mother. I work through what happened that past year and I get rid of it. I prepare for the next year of Wifehood and Motherhood. I start over. I start over knowing that there will be some “thing” that will come up that will test me. But I start over with the hope and the intention of giving it my best shot; of tackling it head on and coming out on top.

I am sure this retreat I will be doing a long of crying. This past year was the worst year of my life as I battled postpartum depression and anxiety. That was my biggest “it”. Though I am “healed” from it the scars are still there. It’s almost like a wound that never heals right now. It is not painful and the bleeding has stopped but I still feel it and some days it’s numb. It has taken a lot of my regular, daily non-induced joy and laughter that I used to just have. So as I enter into this retreat I will be focusing on how, like in the game of chess, to get my pawns to the other side and retrieve some of my strongest pieces so I can get back in the game and beat the heck out of my opponent.

Whatever “it” is Momma, don’t let it steal YOU.

God bless,

JoAnne

Thank You!

1 Jan, 2017
JoAnne
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I just wanted to send a small thank you note to all of my readers out there. I have to say that I am perpetually humbled by you all. It is so amazing to me to interact with people I have never met before just because of … a blog! It is mind boggling!

Seriously, every day I give thanks for my blog and not because of what I say but because of you! You’re DMs, PMs, comments, tweets, re-tweets, shares, etc. All of them mean so much! To know that my fellow Moms and Dads out there struggling in the trenches take the time to read and comment or whatnot- well, that is golden! So THANK YOU!

I pray that you all had a great Christmas, a great holiday season, a wonderful New Year’s Eve and now a wonderful 2017! I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to change this new year! Watching my children during this season has given me a whole perspective on embracing that which really matters: family. Seasons will come and go, presents will be what they are but the times we have as a family and watching our children grow into who they are called to be; well that, that is just priceless!

Thank you for reading, for being a very special part of this my Camaraderie Mom blog. May God bless you and yours this holiday season and New Year!

-JoAnne

 

How I Am Riding The Wave Of (Postpartum) Depression

3 Nov, 2016
JoAnne
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It is absolutely amazing to me how, now that I am going through this bout of postpartum depression, one small element can put me into a depression or anxiety tizzy.This never ever happened to me before and I hate it. But, it is what it is, as they say.

Two days ago was a great day. It was productive. I had gotten a few projects done outside of my job and keeping our children alive. :) But then the afternoon came and I got sideswapped by some really crappy news. And that is all it took for me see that postpartum depression rabbit hole. Like that -I could feel- in an instant, the wave of postpartum depression setting in.

In moments like that I do thank God that I have a big family because fortunately I cannot fall into that hole, that pit of despair. I have no choice but to continue to take care of my family while trying to process the crappy news and work through the motions. Do I want to crawl into bed and hide? YES. Would I if I didn’t have kids? Probably. I honestly wanted to pull a Kim Kardashian and say: cancel everything! I am done! I am going into hiding…for months! Maybe years! LOL

But instead I got the kids off to school and I arrived home knowing that I needed to work for my job. I did not want to but I did. After I did what I had to do I plopped down on the couch and looked down at my PJs. Lately I have been so good and actually taking showers in the morning but up until that point yesterday was not that day. I thought to myself, I can sit here, in my PJs and do nothing while the babies sleep OR I can get up and shower and forge ahead. And that is what I did though still dealing with my feelings at the same time. I did my laundry that had pilled up for days. I straightened the house. I cleaned a carpet in one room that really needed it. I took a shower and then I went on the air for a scheduled interview. After that I ran errands and got a massage.

For those of you who do not know me massage therapy is for stress relief for me and not for relaxation. I perpetually have knots galore and I always need a tune up. Yesterday is the first day I can say that I ever had a massage and experienced not 1, not 2 but 3 waves of anxiety during it. I have no idea why it happened but it happened. I rode the wave each time and it ended. I left with my knots out and knowing that whatever benefits there are that I am missing from massage therapy I knew they would be applied.

I picked up my kids and went home. I had zero interest in homework. I had zero interest in dinner. In fact I called my husband to warn him. That is like the McDonald’s call. However, he did not answer so I had no choice but to actually cook. I cooked a hot meal. I did the homework. I overcame it: that beast which is called whatever you call it.

My husband came home and we ate dinner as a family as per the norm. At first I thought I wouldn’t eat at all but right now I am experiencing the flip side of depression: I want to eat and eat and eat some more. After we talked I read the news alone and went to bed. For the first time in I do not know how long I actually slept for a straight 10 hours. Yes, 10 hours with no regrets.

The question is did I sleep because I was gifted with sleep for once or did I sleep because I was depressed? I say the latter only because I am awake every night for several hours. If you don’t believe me check my Facebook page.

Yesterday I consider to be a stellar ride of a large wave. I could have stayed in bed. I could have not done a thing. I chose something else. I chose to fight back. This is coming from someone who knows VERY WELL that there are some people every day and there are some days (for people like me now) where you have nothing in you to fight and that you do stay in bed all day. And that is ok. I get it.

As I cleaned my bathrooms yesterday (which I rarely do) I looked in the mirror and in my depressed state I had a moment of happiness; I was happy because I remember a short seven months ago I was not able to clean my own home. I remember vividly being on the couch watching others clean my house. As I looked in the mirror I thought to myself, “This is just a wave and you will ride it and it will be over and you will be afloat. Just keep swimming!”

And that is what happened. Today is a new day. Is it a great day? No. Is it as productive as I wanted it to be? No. But I am here. I am alive. And I survived the wave.

God bless,

JoAnne

When Panic/Anxiety Attacks Come Outta Nowhere Yet From EVERYWHERE…

22 Oct, 2016
JoAnne
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So let me start this blog by saying that I know that this, my Mom blog, was supposed to be funny. Well, if you are a Mom and you are funny or comedian-like you know that sometimes and some days you don’t feel funny or in a mood to joke around. So, today I am just being real which I love to be-funny or not. Today I am not feeling funny…

As a reminder I have never ever had panic/anxiety attacks until I had postpartum depression. Thank God with my first bout I only had a few. With the second bout, currently a WIP, you never know what you are gonna get. Sometimes the attack will come outta no where. I will be grocery shopping and I will feel like I was just hit in the face with a mac truck. And then I remember something; something very very important for my fellow postpartum depression warrior survivor moms: I remember Aunt Flow is due to make a visit. So yeah, ok, when I remember that then the attack makes sense: my hormones and body are outta whack. Ok, you sucky attack, you get a pass. Deal with it and move on.

But then there are times when I personally think and believe that I, my life style and my OCD perfectionist personally causes my own attacks. Why? Very simply put: because I do too much. I say YES too much. I don’t follow the rules in my own book about “taking it easy”, “resting”, and ahem, “letting it all go”. Yeah, NO, I do not do that and so I put myself in a position of compromise. It’s like a floor that has a leak. You can wipe the leak away and hope for the best or, you can pull up the floors, replace them and start fresh. A floor that has a leak on or over it, even semi-dealt with, will eventually crumble and fall apart. And, so these are the days of our (my) lives…

Yes, these annoying panic/anxiety attacks can come from no where, non-intentionally or they can come from a valid reason: Momma, you’re overdoing it. So the only question we are left with is: do you want to deal with that beast when she comes or before she comes? Do you want to experience yet again the overwhelming feeling that comes on out of no where and makes you stop dead in your tracks? Or do you want to CHILAX and though your life may be even more chaotic (because you’re taking a well deserved friggin’ break!) at least you won’t have to face that beast in the face again? Decisions decisions…

For my fellow Moms and even Dads out there going through this please know I am with you. I suffer with you. I hope with you. I pray for you and us. We will overcome this…

God bless,

JoAnne

Author of What’s Wrong With Mommy? Ride The Wave of Postpartum Depression With A Mother of Nine