Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jane's First Career Move

Yeah. I will take responsibility as far as admitting that I left the scissors sitting within reach after cutting the gauze to cover Jane's eye before she went outside. I got distracted by fighting toddlers and a screaming baby, and Jane saw her chance and took it. She bolted out the door with the scissors without me noticing and hid in the playhouse in the backyard.

Jane stayed with Grandpa for the evening--a measure of personal safety, really--while I took Megan in to repair the damage.

I admit, it didn't seem so horrible, as far as child styling might go.

Megan did have a pretty good time while we were there. She was much more content than Jane had been when we took her to have her hair cut.

And yes, she looks completely adorable now. This cut really does suit her well.

I'm really glad it wasn't any worse.

Side update on Jane's birthmark--post surgery day 5:

and day 7:

I'm a little concerned about the dark black spots that are raised. I'm wondering if she actually got burned by the laser, which I understand can lead to scarring. Hmmm. We'll see how it turns out. Overall, though, it is looking way better!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One of those cryptic posts that makes you wonder what's really going on...

Isn't it interesting how our past can affect us in ways we are completely unaware of. Isn't it interesting how powerful the human mind is in erasing harmful memories. Isn't it interesting how much they hurt when you remember.

Isn't it interesting how you want to scream so loud that everyone can know exactly how you feel. Isn't it interesting how you wish you could shove it all back under the rock of forgottens and honestly believe it never happened.

Isn't it interesting how you're certain that no one will believe you. Isn't it interesting how certain you are that you don't believe it yourself. Isn't it interesting how desperately you wish you didn't believe it.

Isn't it interesting how many feelings suddenly make sense. Isn't it interesting how many actions and decisions suddenly seem justified. Isn't it interesting how ridiculous it all seems.

Isn't it interesting how terrified you are that it will happen again. Isn't it interesting to realize that it already has.

Isn't it interesting how hard it is to breathe.

Isn't it interesting to know that it really will all be better in the end. But until then, I think I'm just going to cry.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The WHY for my How

I have read and reread the posts about my story. I have read and reread the comments that have been left here, the messages sent through email or Facebook, and the notes I made about different conversations I've had in person.

It is amazing how different I feel now than how I felt only a few weeks ago. My attitude and outlook could not be more improved.

As I have mentioned, Chris and I are participating in Power 90, which is the follow-up class to the Power of Choice seminar we attended last month. For my 90-day goal, I am writing my book. It will be done by the end of June. It will.

As soon as I can figure out what I'm writing.

I have written an affirmation that states the what and the why of my goal. I wrote it because it sounded good initially. Now, I feel that it is exactly what I am wanting to accomplish, though it is still quite far from how I feel presently. It is this affirmation that is going to guide my healing and thus my writing.

I am a mother by choice, proclaiming my freedom, peace and joy to the world through writing.

There are four elements.

1. I am a mother by CHOICE.

A huge piece of my trauma comes from the day I found out I was pregnant with Jane. There is so much emotion and heartache wrapped up in my memories of that day--all opposite of what it seems like I "should" feel. I am still having the feelings now that I was "tricked" or "trapped" into becoming a mother. I was not prepared, I was not expecting it, I did not want it.

Now, I still struggle with feelings of not wanting to be a mother. I often feel trapped by my responsibilities to my children, pulled away from the career and education that I had put so much effort into during high school and college. I am stuck at home all day long, surrounded by incomplete and incomprehensible sentences, constant clutter, and boogers. Ugh.

I do know that I want to be a mother, and if I could go back and make a more conscious decision again, I would choose to have that first baby. I may have taken longer than the Lord wanted (as evidenced by my being prompted to 'stop birth control' rather than being prompted to 'have a baby'), but being a mother truly is what I want in life. Part of writing my book is recording the journey through making that decision now, deciding in my mind and in my heart what my body decided five years ago.


Postpartum depression is terribly debilitating, on which I have already elaborated. My book will detail my experiences with my depression and how it affected myself, my marriage, and my children. I will also write about how I came out of it all with therapy, medication, and relearning how to think about myself and my circumstances. (I haven't posted about all that here, have I? Any interest?)

Taking that freedom a step further, we are going to go beyond being free from depression and into finding freedom within motherhood. It can be nearly suffocating to be a parent, especially a stay-at-home mom. It is not the prison that it often seems to be, and I intend to share how to free yourself from that prison while still lovingly and thoroughly caring for your family. It'll be amazing. As soon as I figure out how to do that, of course.


I am still shocked and saddened by the birth experiences I had, though I am learning slowly how valuable they truly are to me. I have learned how strong I am, then and now, and where my priorities and values lie when I am put into immensely difficult situations. I have also learned that I do have a gift in describing and explaining my experiences in ways that are helpful to other women who either have had similar experiences already or those who wish to avoid them where possible. I know how to do that! It seems only right to use the gift God has blessed me with for the benefit of others.

I am writing the peace I do have and will have with my birth experiences. I am writing the peace I have in following the prophets' counsel and the Lord's plan in having a family. I am writing the peace there is to be had in trials, if you will allow it in.

4. JOY

I have had many, many struggles in finding joy in my children amidst all the trauma and negative beliefs I've harbored through the years. I am not an overly sentimental person (negative belief!), nor am I a "small child" person (there's another one!). Finding joy is probably the most difficult of these four areas I have mentioned, but I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that "Men are that they might have joy." I whole-heartedly believe my patriarchal blessing's statement that I will have joy in my posterity. Now I just have to find it so I can write about it.

I am a mother by choice, proclaiming my freedom, peace and joy to the world through writing.

I will be writing my book between now and the end of June. I have roughly eight weeks to get it done. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, comments, or suggestions on what to include in my book. I would also greatly appreciate any babysitting you may feel inspired to offer so I can have some time to write. ;)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick Peak



Read the previous post for details.

Sans Hemangioma...sorta

Yesterday was the fateful day of Jane's first laser treatment to remove her birthmark. All told, it was a little more intense than either she or I anticipated.

We did take some pre-laser shots so we could record the difference and progress.

She was actually fairly excited starting the day off--mostly she was looking forward to a day of attention, and she was also pretty excited that she got a special outing without any other kids.

Some of our best pictures come when we tell Jane not to smile.

In preparation for the procedure, we applied a numbing cream so it wouldn't hurt when they used the laser. We covered it with plastic wrap to keep it from coming off or spreading around. She earned a poptart by sitting still so I could put it on--hence the chocolate face.

Jane did get progressively more nervous the farther we got into the hospital, passing through the stages of registration, checking in, and waiting in the waiting room. She reached the peak of her nervousness when we entered the operating room. But, kudos to her, she still willing participated in everything the doctors and I instructed her to do.

Because the birthmark is so close to her eye, rather than wearing the light-protecting goggles like the rest of us, Jane's eyes were simply covered by a towel.

The laser itself looked something like a large pen attached to a machine. The doctor put it in place, then pressed a button and basically zapped Jane's face. It was kind of weird, and I completely understood why Jane twitched violently every time it happened. You can see her nervousness in her tense chin muscles.

It went ok for the first bit, but then they got to the blood vessels that were basically directly on her eyelid--the part where the cream hadn't really gotten, meaning Jane was not numb there. She completely freaked out, screaming and kicking and fighting to get away. I felt really bad when the doctor and nurses wrapped her really tight inside a sheet, immobilizing her arms. She was NOT excited about that. In the end, the last few shots were done with me pinning her body down to the table and the nurses holding her head. Oh my goodness, she was ticked.

The ice pack didn't really help, it probably just made it all hurt more.

When we first met with the dermatologist about having this procedure done, I fully expected the insurance to deny based on it being cosmetic and not medically necessary. Because of that, I wasn't as concerned at the time with how the procedure would go and what recovery would look like. I fully admit to being surprised that her birthmark looked about a hundred times worse when we went out than when we went in.

In fact, it reminded quite a lot of how it looked around the time we started the steroids when she was a baby.

I did not want this whole experience to be traumatizing for the rest of her life, so we opted for the "Let's all be really excited about how brave you are and how it will be when you're all better!" option. We went to visit Grandma Karrie, who works right next door to the hospital, and then we went out to lunch with Chris. Jane was quite excited about all the attention--and the storybook, candy, colorful pen, and ice cream--and she seemed much happier by the time we got home. Even though her birthmark looked even worse.

Still wanting to track the progress of this whole endeavor, we took a picture right before bed. As you can see, it has started to swell up a bit. The doctor told us that it's likely to swell enough to force her eye closed. That will be interesting.

And again this morning--

She was less interested in having her picture taken at this point. Attention only goes so far, apparently.

Sunlight can be quite damaging to the whole process at this point, so we are going to keep it covered with gauze anytime she leaves the house (or in the house if there is a lot of sunlight coming through the windows). It was lucky that it was very overcast yesterday so we didn't have to cover it directly after the procedure. That probably would have been even more traumatizing. She will have it covered during church and school for the next few weeks, in addition to any other outings. Once the bruise is completely gone, we will only use sunscreen to protect it--though that is going to be applied almost constantly until the end of July. Apparently the UV rays from the sun can cause the area to turn permanently brown. Which would completely defeat the whole purpose of having the birthmark removed. Lame. We'll go with the gauze and sunscreen, thank-you-very-much.

So that's that. Now you all know. Please don't ask Jane about it. She'll either spit at you and run away or she might just punch you in the gut.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hey look, the desert!

Hello Moab!

Adventures in bike riding...

Rock collecting...

Princess saving...

Car riding...

Car writing...

Picture posing...

Little girls' picture taking...

Pizza eating...

Hot chocolate drinking...

And stories that are most amusing to those present, but that are just as funny for me to read again now...

We played the license plate game. It was really annoying for a while because it seemed that every other car we saw was Colorado. We finally opted to stop being annoyed with Colorado and count them instead. Between our hotel and Arches National Park, we counted 74 Colorado license plates. In a space of less than ten miles. Not in Colorado. We found 119 on our drive home. Together, that makes 193. That's a prime number.

As seen here, Jane was having a very spirited conversation with no one visible to me. Knowing that she often talks to her imaginary friends, I asked her which friends were there this time.

"I'm talking to Megan's friends now. My friends all died in the pool."

Sad day.

I was responsible for picking up all the pizzas for the entire group--roughly 30 people. While we waited FOREVER in the Pizza Hut parking lot because they weren't ready even though we had ordered the night before, we were lucky enough to catch this shot.

I have the coolest van ever. It can count in binary.

But that's not even the part I really want to write about. The absolute highlight of this trip, to be remembered for many, many years to come, was our hike up to Delicate Arch.

(I borrowed this picture from the internet because I was too distracted to take any myself while we were there. You'll understand why shortly.)

The hike is about a mile and a half one-way. The first third is fairly level, with a gravel-ish path heading toward the mountain. The second third is really steep, covering a terrain of exposed slickrock (same kind of stuff the arch is made of). The last third is not quite as steep--though certainly not flat--but it is much more rough footing. The trail follows a fairly steep drop-off on one side and navigates around the side of the rock face that hides the arch from view.

We had come prepared with hiking backpacks for each of the three kids. We were hiking around sunset, and thus anticipated both that it would be dark on our way back down and that the girls would be tired. I had hope that the girls would both be able to walk up, but planned that we would carry them both down. Ben, obviously, would be carried the entire time.

I started out with Ben. Amy and Chris were both there, but due to knee injuries and other such health issues, neither of them were able to carry children for very long. Jane walked. Megan walked as long as we thought we could get away with it, then Amy carried her for a bit. Amy had to put her down after a while, though, and Megan was highly opposed to walking at this point. We had reached the super steep part of the trail, we had reached bedtime, and we had most definitely reached the limit of Megan's happiness. She screamed. And cried. And screamed.

Megan was basically inconsolable in that moment--unless I picked her up. If I was carrying her, she only whimpered and whined instead of screamed. I knew we wouldn't be able to make it up to the top with her walking, and I knew Chris and Amy weren't able to carry her. Everyone else had started the hike several minutes before us. That left me.

With Ben on my back and Megan in my arms, I hiked up and over the slickrock trail to Delicate Arch.

I did have some help from a stranger passing by. He was traveling with a group who hailed from all over the world. I never heard what country he was originally from, but they had most recently visited Aberdeen, Scotland before coming to Utah. He carried Megan on his shoulders for a short time while I walked next to him and held her hand, but again, it didn't last terribly long. Megan was completely freaked out by the stranger, even more than she had been before. For probably two-thirds of the hike--almost a mile, completely uphill, literally!--I carried an extra sixty pounds.

In a word, it was amazing.

I cannot remember a time when I have ever felt so powerful and so capable and so happy. I actually imagine that it is similar to the feeling when many women give birth, but I have not had that feeling at that time due to the rough circumstances in which my children were born. To feel that way now, such a short time after being completely entrenched in a huge battle with PPD and PTSD, is nothing short of a miracle.

So much about myself has changed in the last month. I have come to understand myself in ways that I never even imagined were possible, or even real. I feel so much closer to each of my children, and I have great hope for the children yet to come. I have completely fallen in love with Christopher all over again. And most importantly, I feel my Savior's love in a way that I never, ever have before. I understand now how He feels for me and that is the most empowering feeling I've ever had. It is absolutely astonishing what can be accomplished when you get out of your own way and see yourself the way the Lord sees you.

Coming over the crest at the top of the trail, Delicate Arch coming in to full view, was one of the single most triumphant moments of my life. Knowing that I had the physical, mental and emotional fortitude to climb that mountain and knowing that I can and will do absolutely anything necessary to keep my children with me and happy has made all the difference for me. It was a huge breakthrough in my journey toward healing--my journey toward freedom, peace, and joy. This was my experience of pure joy.

I felt powerful enough that when we got back to the hotel, I had Amy take a picture of me to capture my pure joy.

I also thought my shirt was ironically amusing.

This experience has a lot to do with what I learned in Power of Choice, and what I am continuing to do in Power 90. I'll post more about that in a few days, but if you're interested in some of the things I've been thinking and doing so far, you can read more about my Power 90 journey here.

Oh, friends, that hike to Delicate Arch was so amazing. So powerful. So spiritual.

Even with two children screaming right next to my head, a rolled ankle that still hurts, and massive wind gusts that threw sand in our eyes and hair, it is still at the very top of my most favorite experiences ever. Sigh. It was so great.

I'll leave it at all. I could go on and on about how great it was--wait, I've already done that. Suffice it to say, I haven't felt that happy in a very, very long time.

Kind of like how Amy looks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Here There Be Dragons

My children are hilarious. Have I told you that before?

Sometimes it's gymnastics.

Other times, it's showing off how smart they are...or like us to think they are. We were at the library a while back looking for some books for Grandma Janet. While there, I found this book, Jane and the Dragon.

I picked it up and asked Jane if she could read what it said. "J-A-N-E. That says Jane!" She was quite excited that there was a book with her name in it.

I turned back to what I was doing and a moment later heard Jane say, "D-R-A-G-O-N. That says dragon!" I was floored. Really? She can read "dragon"? I handed her this book, Bird's Best Friend, based on the movie Up.

I pointed at the word to test Jane's new-found reading skills. She started off pretty good.


The mother in me started getting excited when she sounded out B, B, B...then she said,

"B- B- B- Snipe!"

Well, not quite. But way to go using your picture clues.