I received a very sweet email from a friend of mine the other day. It was one of the kindest, most heart-felt, vulnerable emails I have ever read. I've had many people share their birth & loss stories, but this one was different.

I had posted a link to another blog on my Facebook page about moms. The jist was that we judge ourselves so harshly against the Barbie moms, the granola moms, and the my-kid-just-stepped-out-of-a-j-crew-catalog moms. Then, we turn on THEM. Because we feel like we aren't measuring up to some arbitrary mom bar, we wind up judging them for being obviously perfect in one area. What, then, would happen if we decided to embrace Barbie instead? Or try some of Mrs. Granola's homemade granola & just enjoy, it & ask for the recipe? I know this resonated with a lot of moms because...hello! I'm a mom. And I judge myself & others when I feel like I'm not measuring up to the standards of Mrs. Plastic Boobies with the perfectly quaffed hair.

A few hours later, I received an email. This was paragraph one:
"Often times I look at your life on IG or FB and get jealous. You have everything put together. You work hard, love your family, lost 90 lbs, and look freaking amazing, and have an incredible photography business, great relationships with family (this is all from what I see). I know your heartache and I get jealous I can't write like you... I love everything about your life. Your encouraging words. Your strength beyond the tears. Your devotion and passion for photography. I love that you shared that article. No matter how much I compare myself to you or anyone else, I can only be me. It was a good reminder that even though I think all of these amazing things about you and other moms, you're going through the same thing as anyone else is."

After I stopped choking on my lunch from the hysterical bouts of laughter, I re read the paragraph. I was so flattered. This dear girl thinks that I have it all together. What I should have done was say, "why, yes, thank you. I DO have it all together." But you know me. I have a very large mouth. I proceeded to explain to her the million reasons why I so don't have it together. How I don't think I'm a very good mom. How I go to bed at night wishing that I had been better, done more with my girl, not gotten mad at her when she dumped her toys out for the 309480284th time that day. How I sometimes snap at my husband when he doesn't deserve it. How I worry everyday that my daughter will get the debilitating anxiety I suffer from. How I swear like a sailor thanks to the teachings of my family. How I lay in my bathtub & sob because my very fertile lady garden won't stay pregnant. How family dynamics are tough. How I weigh 128 pounds, wear a size 4 jeans & small tops, & my fat girl goggles are still on all day, everyday. How I am so passionate about photography, but I have wanted to quit about 89749573 times because I convince myself I suck & it's not worth my time to continuing sucking. And how, ultimately, I'm like every other scared spitless mama who is just trying to keep her head above water, because most of the time, it feels a lot like drowning.

I write this, not to brag. TRUST ME. I KNOW for a fact that I do not have it all together. I blog, text, tweet, Facebook, Instagram the good stuff. There is a lot of really crappy stuff that happens. Everyday. Somedays are great, somedays punch you in the boob. I don't want to be a complainer. I want to talk about the joys in my life, the heartache, the infertility, the anxiety, the snorts & giggles, the clothes, the food, etc. There is a lot of good in my life. A lot. More good than bad, but I want there to be a balance. If I have not shared enough of the bad to show you that my life is, indeed, not lived in the Barbie effing dream house, then I apologize. I haven't balanced my photos & writing enough. I write to release tension & emotion, & because I love big, long, flowery, descriptive sentences.

What I want to communicate in my writing is that we all think we suck. We all struggle everyday. You may not have anxiety, but you may have an addiction to porn. You dirty mom, you. Ok, or maybe it's cookies. Can I get a holla? I want people to realize that Mrs. Granola & Barbie think they suck too. But dude. The babies we have are meant to be ours. We are meant to be their mamas. And as long as you are trying your best, you're doing exactly what you're supposed to do. Like that perfectly quaffed mama at WalMart. She's just as scared & insecure as you are. Doesn't that make you feel better?


The Terrible, Awful, No Good Year

It's a cold, fall-like day here in Northern Colorado. This has been one of the most mild summers I've ever seen here, and it's been lovely. I didn't use the nice weather to my advantage so much this summer, but oh well. We can try again next year. With fall peaking around the corner, I cling to the hope that with the changing of the seasons, this proverbial season will change to.

This year has kicked my butt. One year ago tomorrow, my world fell apart as we sat in a cold, sterile emergency room awaiting results of an ultrasound, to which we already knew the outcome. A year ago. And you know what? I'm pretty pissed that I sit here a year later & not too much has changed. You see, I never wanted my kids to be more than 3 years apart MAX. I don't like that they won't be in high school together. I don't like that Maddie will struggle really hard with adjusting to a new sibling because she'll be almost 4. I don't like that my plan was ripped to shreds. I have a color-coordinated planner, dangit. There is not a color for unplanned detours.

The rumpus-kicking continued in April when I found I was pregnant, which should have been a joyous occasion, but I have learned that my uterus isn't as fond of this event as I'd like it to be. A week later, the pregnancy ended. I, then, watched my father-in-law get gravely ill, and battle a terrible pancreatitis attack. He was in the hospital for a couple weeks, and I did my best to get there everyday to see him and my mother-in-law. While he did recover, it was so upsetting and scary to watch. In the midst of that, we had more tests and doctors appointments to figure out what the hell was wrong with my body.

Along comes June. I start to have some weird issues in my legs, so I go see the doctor. To make this very long story short, about 2 months later of seeing neurologists and having MRIs, it's anxiety. Duh. In between MRIs, trips to Indiana to see family, & family members in the hospital, along comes chemical pregnancy #4...the week I am supposed to start fertility treatments. Can you say Xanax?

So, you can imagine how out of whack, hormonal, emotional, on edge, & generally ANXIOUS I've been feeling. And that's just what hit me: anxiety. In a major, ugly way. You see, I struggled with anxiety attacks (thank you genetic family history) from the time I was 17, and took anti-anxiety medication. I had been off of them for 2 years, & was doing fabulously. Hadn't had an anxiety attack in years. And bam! I am having them everyday. When they started to get bad just after the FOURTH chemical pregnancy, I texted my sister-in-law and told her that I was "just fine. It's been 2 days. I need to move on & get over it." Way to give yourself some grace, sister. 

Shortly after this poop storm of emotion, I get a hysterical call from the same sister-in-law, that my brother-in-law had had a gran mal seizure & drove his car into a building. Aaaaand, downward spiral.

Again, to truncate my long-windedness, no one but my husband, my mom, & my mother-in-law had any idea that I was in a sweaty-palmed, anxiety-ridden nightmare every single day for weeks before I threw in the towel & decided to get help. I was petrified to admit it. I felt weak, stupid, worthless, ashamed, embarrassed, vulnerable, etc. Everything you can think of, I felt it & believed it about myself. It took me a month to admit it to my 2 closest girlfriends in the world. I was so ashamed. They have it altogether, you see. And this proved that I wasn't good enough to be their friend because I was a psychopath, hot mess who had anxiety attacks that I couldn't control. I had shut myself off to the world. I didn't go out much unless I was with my husband or my mother-in-law. I was afraid and ashamed.

Seven weeks later, I'm doing better. Not great, but better. A wise person told me a few weeks ago that it is freeing to share this with people because this is part of my testimony that God will use. Right now, I can't see the forest for the trees. I can't see good in this.

BUT, I had another kind of tookus-kicking the other day:

Now, I obviously don't hate my life. This year has been a doozy, but I don't hate it. A lot of good has happened in this year, but it has wiped me out more than any other year. But slap me upside my head if this image didn't put life into perspective for me. Anxiety is the pits. You feel scared, overwhelmed, SWEATY, anxious, weepy & so ashamed almost all day long. Your only relief is when you're sleeping. But there is help for it. And that's where I can be grateful. I still slept in my cushy bed every night, watching tv with my husband. I still had clean, running water. I still had every luxury I needed at any second of the day.  
Maybe there isn't a pretty resolution to this, but that's because the story isn't over yet. Maybe I'll have resolution; maybe I won't. Or maybe the whole point of this was so that I share who I really am, all my flaws out there like a big, red zit on the end of my nose, so that someone else will know they aren't alone & they are just as crazy normal as the rest of us.

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