How PPD made me lose control.

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I know, this title makes you think “the devil made me do it,” but some thing I had to discover when struggling with postpartum depression was that, it wasn’t my fault. This was some thing that happened to me, not a reflection of me. So many women, present company included, think that the symptoms of this condition are a reflection of themselves and their character, when in reality what they’ve experienced is a severe chemical imbalance in their bodies after childbirth that has brought on certain symptoms.

I remember wanting to yell, even scream at my baby. This urge was so strong, I had to run into my bedroom and scream into my pillow while punching the mattress. I knew it was an inappropriate response. I knew that babies cried, that it was normal, and that I shouldn’t scream at a baby for age-appropriate behavior, and yet I literally could not stop myself from releasing this rage.

Flashback to the birth of my first child. Yes, I do say that she is what you could call and “easy,” or “good,” baby… but it was still hard. I was still sore, she still cried, and the exhaustion was still unbearable. There were times that I wanted to scream and cry, but instead chose to care for myself and my child. Postpartum Depression took away my ability to choose, and therefore robbed me of my ability to act like myself. It was identity theft, plain and simple. I could see the options, what I wanted to choose versus what my mental illness was suggesting, and more than half the time, I was unable to make my own choice. The helplessness was overwhelming.

Now, I’m going to give myself a lot of credit. While I was unable to make appropriate choices [i.e. screaming versus not screaming] I had the ability to remove myself from my children and let the mental illness have its way without harming anyone else in the process. Much like Dr. Jekyll would lock himself away before transforming into Mr. Hyde. Obviously the trouble is, there is always the risk of Mr. Hyde taking over completely, or strong arming his counterpart, which is ultimately why I went for help. That, and because I was sick of having to remove myself from my children when all I really wanted was to cuddle them in estrogen filled bliss. I was in the most powerless position I’ve ever been in, and the strongest. I clawed and climbed my way from rock bottom to where I am now. I fought doctor’s and nurses who wanted nothing more than to lock me in the hole I was already in, in the name of “safety”. I fought multiple healthcare systems who told me they couldn’t help, until I finally found women who would.

I wish it didn’t have to be a fight. I wish it had been easier… but the silver lining in all of this is that I got to see how strong I really am. Hind sight has shown me that what I thought was my weakest moment was actually my strongest. I am a badass, and I pray that moms everywhere will find and embrace their own inner strengths, even if they find they are cloaked in weakness and dusted with shame.

Home Decor Update

I’ve been DIYing, and digging through antique stores for more items for the house. We’ve officially been here over a year, and may of the walls are still bare. This is a significantly bigger place than our last house, so what we had previously owned wasn’t enough to full furnish and decorate this house. Little by little we’ve been adding pieces.

Gallery walls are my go-to right now, as the lend themselves to being rearranged and added to. I hope the never go our of style, because I have more than 1 wall with a cluster of different items and images.

We also replaced an old florescent light that used to hum in the kitchen with these gorgeous pendants. Overall I am happy with the look of our home, and I feel like it blends a lot of different styles. We have rustic pieces, industrial, and even modern touches that reflect our interests.

 

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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I’ve been slacking in the recipe department, so I thought I would share a recipe for my father-in-laws favorite cookies, chocolate thumbprints. I’ve attempted to make these for him every Father’s day for the past 3 years, and I could never quite get the flavor right. This recipe is a keeper though, as it is has the closest taste to the cookies he loves from the bakery. Sophie loved helping me roll the dough and dip some of the sides in sprinkles. This is a great project for little bakers to help with.

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup) whole almonds
  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut in large chunks and slightly softened
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) bleached all-purpose flour

Chocolate filling:

  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar, such as turbinado, OR sprinkles (we did a variety)
  • 2-1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 5 tsp. unsalted butter (or you can substitute 3 tsp, karo light corn syrup… like we did when we ran out of butter.)

Preheat oven to 350. In an electric mixer, mix all the dough ingredients EXCEPT the flour, on medium speed. 1 cup at a time, add in the flour until a thick dough begins to form and there are no lumps of flour. Scoop up a generous teaspoonful (2 level teaspoons) of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch ball with your hands. Roll the ball in the sugar and set it on a tray lined with waxed paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough, setting the balls slightly apart. Press a thumb or forefinger, dipped in flour, into each ball to create a depression. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Gently redefine the depressions with your thumb or the tip of a wooden spoon’s handle, if necessary. Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until the tops are lightly colored and the bottoms are golden brown, another 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, prepare the filling: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water, or in the top of a double boiler. (Or microwave on medium power for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after the first minute.) When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Using a spoon, fill the depression of each cookie with the chocolate filling. If the filling hardens while using, reheat it in the pan of hot water. When each cookie is filled, let the chocolate set for at least 15 minutes, then you can store them in an air tight container.

ENJOY!

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Summer Trips: Pittsburgh Zoo

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Before we had gotten married, Justin and I took a trip to the zoo, so it was pleasantly nostalgic to take our kids there. We usually take a big vacation in the spring or summer with my in-laws, but this year we decided to give ourselves a break (vaycays with kids are hard work!) and just do little day trips on the weekends.

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It was completely crowded and a little hectic, but the girls enjoyed themselves so much! I loved seeing the wonder and curiosity in their eyes! I can’t wait for the rest of the adventures we will be taking over the summer.

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Leaps and Bounds

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Some times I feel like I’ve made no progress; like I am still that woman who, when she looked at her children felt nothing. Even when they were pleasant and smiling, every neuron in my brain was telling me to run and I didn’t know why. Was is because I was a “bad mom”? Was it because I just wasn’t cut out for family life? Ever since I hit puberty I had been daydreaming of a husband walking through the door to greet me as I sat on the couch with our children. Where did that desire go?

There are times when I still feel like I’m not good enough, empathetic enough, or strong enough to be a mom. There are days when I just want to sit and cry, and I wonder Have I even made any progress? The answer is yes, and I see it most in my relationship with Cora.

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A newborn baby, fresh from Heaven, with a clean soul filled with innocent wonder. She had done nothing to wrong me, offend me, or cause any other kind of strife where one feels “owed” some restitution. All she demanded was my presence and my love, and I felt like I hated her for it. There was resentment, confusion, anger, and depression. Not always in that order, but those emotions were felt intensely by me on a daily basis. I knew it was wrong. I knew that wasn’t how motherhood should feel, and that’s when I knew I had to fight for myself and my baby.

I fought the good fight for appropriate mental health care, but still get angry and frustrated — what mom doesn’t? — and it is hard not to fall back into the depressing cycle where I tell myself I *can’t* do it. Some times the fear that I will slip back into that numb persona feels consuming. However, when Cora smiles, I smile. When she runs, I chase her and we both laugh. I want to snuggle with her, I want to shower her with kisses and play with her hair. If you can believe it, I am having these desires for the first time. She is 16 months and only now am I bonding with her. Pity me, highlight how depressing it is, call it sad, call it unfortunate… but I call it progress.

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Consolation

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About a year ago, I suffered through a pretty intense trauma that scarred both me and my entire family. Part of me can’t believe that I haven’t composed a post since Easter, and the other part of me sees that I stepped out of the spotlight for awhile to take care of myself during the anniversary of when I received this wound.

The good news is, I successfully made it through the flashbacks, the memories, and every thing else the flooded over me last month. I am also happy to announce that I launched my photography business and put together a portfolio of family portraits.

I wanted to give you guys a sneak peak of what my work will look like from here on out.

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and because my own children hate posing for me, I have enlisted the help of Matt Seal Jr. A professional whom I have had a photography crush on for a couple years. I am excited to have some one else be behind the camera, and to finally update our family portraits to include Cora.

That’s the update I have for you, and you can expect more posts from me this month now that i am feeling well and consoled again.

Holy Week

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As Catholics, Holy Week is a very important, reflective time for us. Of course, Easter preparations are underway, and we even had an early egg hunt. However,  we try not to let the joy of Easter come prematurely. I know, that last sentence totally hammers home the Catholic guilt and our infatuation with suffering, right? Well the truth is, without Good Friday, the day we fast and reverently remember Jesus’ crucifixion, there would be no Easter Sunday; furthermore, there would be no Catholicism.

This is why we aren’t afraid to hang crucifixes in our churches. it is the crux of our faith. Had Easter never came, and Jesus never raised from the dead, then there would be no Catholicism either. After all, His rising is what solidifies his victory over death and evil. But the crucifixion can’t be so easily dismissed.

This week has brought on a lot of struggles. I have had a double ear infection for the past two weeks, been trying to pave the way for a potential photography business, and I’ve had 2 energetic children begging me to go outside. It has been a huge temptation to be irritable, throw pity parties, and give up on taking care of others. I’m not saying I never gave into this temptation, if I did my husband would surely rat me out, but when I DO fall, I try to make an extra effort to re-attune myself to the needs of my family and friends.

So, I will continue to be reflective and some what solemn for the rest of the week, as I navigate my daily chores and prepare for the upcoming holiday. I hope you all have a safe and happy Easter!