I guess this is growing up…

Wanting what’s best for your child is a parenting no brainer. We all try our hardest to provide for them. To give them more than what we had, whether it be material things, experiences, safety…

Lately, I’ve been wondering what exactly is the best interest for our kids. As PJ gets closer to starting kindergarten, we find ourselves debating moving back to the States to give her (what we think) is a better education. But this move would bring on drastic changes.
For the most part, we love living in Uruguay. We live on a quiet farm. We get to spend more time with our kids as we’re both stay at home parents (thank you grandparents for giving us the opportunity!). Our kids only go to school four hours a day. We have access to incredible healthcare at little cost.
But then there’s the not-so-great parts. There’s little to do with kids. The cost of living is ridiculously high. Carlos and I haven’t been able to find jobs that provide upward mobility. The education system we can afford leaves something to be desired. Our kids go to school four hours a day. Crime rates are going up. Making friends is near impossible as we’ll always be seen as outsiders.
Part of me feels like we spent a huge chunk of our youth wasting away here as we have nothing to show for it on our resumes. But then I look at my daughters and realize that not only have I been able to experience their infancy, but I’ve been able to share every moment with their dad. I’m so appreciative of this time we’ve had together but it’s also time I start looking at the future.
Soon enough I’ll be 30 with no “real” work experience for the past six years. We have no retirement fund. We have no safety net. We have nothing to fall back on. We’ve built nothing of our own. I’ve been playing house for so long that the idea of real life adult-ing petrifies me.
Friends lovingly remind me that NO parent knows what they’re doing or can anticipate the unintended consequences of their decisions on their kids lives. We don’t know what our next step is. We’ve been talking out our options but nothing feels like the “right” decision.
I guess this is growing up…

MIA

I don’t even know where to begin. I haven’t updated this blog in over a year. So much, and yet nothing, has happened in 2018.

We’ve traveled. We’ve made new friends. We’ve lost friends. We’ve grown. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried.

I’ve changed. I’ve become painfully self-aware. I’ve forced myself to talk about my feelings. I’ve hidden and retreated into myself. I’ve cried. A lot.

This year was mentally exhausting. I’ve spent a lot of time reconditioning myself to love myself. I’ve been trying to be more present in conversations without thinking about personal anecdotes to share. I’ve been sharing more of myself with loved ones. I’ve been unapologetic about the space I take.

This has been a year of self reflection and discovery.

2019 will be the year I start making shit happen.

2017.

Oh 2017, you were a rollercoaster of a year.

This was the year we welcomed Catalina to our family. This was the year that my sister and her boyfriend came to visit. This was the year PJ thrived in school and in her language skills. This was the year we started planting vegetables on the farm.This was the year I started working from home. This was the year my best friend and her fiancee came to visit. This was the year we traveled INSIDE of Uruguay.

This was the year my mom had a heart attack and a coronary artery bypass surgery. This was the year I almost lost my mind. This was the year I was reminded of how fragile life truly is.

This was the year I started falling in love with MYSELF. I fell in love with my body; with its movement and its ability to do more than just sit and lay. I got stronger. I got faster.

I’m thankful for my family and amazing support system; those that have proven distance means nothing.

2018 is going to be a big year for us. We’re going to be stateside for the month of October. Paloma will be starting school in March. Carlos has several art shows lined up in Uruguay. There are a few things going on waiting in the wings that I can’t wait to see how they pan out. DSC_0727

 

heartattack.

I’ve been debating writing this post for quiet some time now (aren’t I always?) and I feel like the only way to move forward is to share them than to push past them. Bear with me.

On September 16th, my mother had a minor heart attack. On September 21st, they performed a coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG).

My mom had been feeling off days before we called the ambulance to come check on her. She was tired, lethargic, and on that day had trouble breathing. We finally called the ambulance when she felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest. I thank God for the doctor and nurse that came to our house to check on her. They listened to their guts and transported her as opposed to doing the easy thing.

You see when they came, although my moms BP was through the roof, her EKG came back normal. When they tested my moms sugar levels due to her diabetes, they were also through the roof. The doctor couldn’t, in good conscience, give her something for each and leave. So they took her to the emergency room. The doctors performed more physical tests which came back normal. But what gave it away was her blood test.

My mom wasn’t having a heart attack in that moment. However, the blood tests showed that she had had it several days prior to her arrival. None of us could believe it. The night before she was babysitting the girls while Carlos and I went out for a birthday celebration and now she was being admitted to the hospital and nothing was certain.

After a series of tests, the doctors discovered a blockage in one of her arteries and suggested surgery. At this point I was in Montevideo 14 hours a day while Carlos was at home with the girls. I was scheduling trips for my aunt and sister to come down and help me so I could take care of the girls. I was trying to round up volunteers to donate blood for my moms surgery.* It was exhausting.

Eventually we rented an AirBnb so that we didn’t have to travel the hour to and from every day. It was a great convenience for us seeing as it was 3 blocks from the hospital with parking. I’ll definitely be staying there again in the future.

This month has easily been the longest month of my life. Longer than either of my pregnancies, longer than my first year of marriage, longer than my three years away at university. But now we’re finally back home. My mom is recovering as well as can be expected. Her wound still hasn’t completely closed but it is looking better each passing day.

This experience was a wake up call for all of us. We need to take better care of our health, of our bodies and of our minds. I’ve witnessed the physical traumas my mom has gone through since her cancer diagnosis when I was nine years old. Whether or not I like it, her suffering molded and affected me. My goal now is to do better for them so that they don’t have to witness the same thing…not if I can avoid it anyway.

the winding road to postpartum depression

You never really pay attention to the signs, even when they’re staring you in the face. Carlos kept asking me what was wrong. I could feel my mom tiptoeing around me, always around the corner making sure I was never left alone with the girls for too long. My dad made sure to make himself scarce to avoid my wrath. And my poor baby girls got a shadow of my normal self.

Postpartum depression hit me hard. I didn’t notice it right after Catalina was born, it could be because my sister came from Holland and I was distracted, or maybe it was something that developed later on. All I know is that in the beginning of May I started secluding myself. I hid in the bedroom under the guise that I was breastfeeding the baby but really I just wanted to be alone. I couldn’t handle leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then every outing was full of anxiety and self doubt.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a shower because the water on my skin felt like knives. I wanted to eat any and every thing I could get my hands on. No amount of sleep was enough and so I just wanted to be in bed all day hiding, trying to sleep while Catalina slept. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or clean, let alone keep up with my own personal hygiene.

I kept apologizing to Carlos. I kept telling him I would get better eventually. I kept telling him how much I loved him and our girls but I just wasn’t myself…and I didn’t know how to get back there. And my husband lovingly replied that there was no need to apologize and reminded me that adjusting to a new person in our family was going to take it’s time.

Finally, my mom sat me down and told me I needed help. Not just help around the house but professional medical help. I broke down crying because I knew it was true. I knew that this wasn’t going to go away on it’s own. A few days later I was seeing a psychiatrist who sat down with me and after listening to me cry, rant, and rave for what felt like forever prescribed me an SSRI and told me to come back to her in ten days.

Here I am, about six weeks later and I finally feel back to normal. Taking  a shower isn’t torture, I’m working out and eating right, and most importantly, I’m able to be present when interacting with my family. I feel free.

To all my fellow mothers out there, please do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be ashamed or bound by the stigma society has placed on depression/mental health. Finding help makes you strong and honestly will give your children just another reason to look up to you.

motherhood: defeated.

Today, I feel defeated. Today, I hid in a bathroom and cried. Today, I gave up.

PJ had her monthly check-in with her psychiatrist. We turned in her teachers report to her. Although we didn’t read the report, we know what it said based on the meeting we had with her and school psychologist late last month.

PJ has an exceptionally short attention span. PJ does not sit still. PJ likes to scream. PJ does not answer to her name. PJ doesn’t get tired. PJ is overly affectionate. 

These things we know. These are things we’ve known her whole life. When we started trying to get help for her last year these things were still issues. These were issues we had with her at daycare. And we were working with a speech therapist at the time. But we haven’t seen her since December 2016.

We’ve been having trouble finding therapists who are willing to work with PJ because of the language barrier. Last year she barely said more than 10 words in Spanish, however since she started at her new school her Spanish has flourished. But we still want a therapist that UNDERSTANDS English in case they need it to reach her when she’s stubborn or hyper. (Not charging us USD$300.00 a month and asking us to pay their vacation days whether or not those are days they would normally see PJ would be great too).

After the psychiatrist read the report, she put it down and very frankly said, “Well, after reading this my professional opinion is you should medicate her. Start her off on a very small dose and see where we go from there. Have you thought about that?” And while my response may have taken .04 seconds to come out of my mouth, in my head a whole week passed. Yes, my husband and I had talked about what would we do should anyone suggest medicating her. We always said no but at that very moment PJ was throwing the mother of all tantrums because she wanted to play with some party favor lost at the bottom of the diaper bag, and I hesitated because in that moment I would’ve done ANYTHING to get her to calm down for thirty seconds.

“No, we don’t feel comfortable giving her medication. She’s only three.”

And her very short response was, “You’re here for a reason and this is my professional opinion. It’s up to you whether you take it or leave it.” At that point PJ was sprawled out on the floor kicking and screaming. I could feel my blood start to overheat and I wanted out of there as soon as possible.

While leaving the doctors office I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Are we really at that point? Is she really THAT hyper and uncontrollable? Am I really that weak that I thought, for a moment, that we definitely should medicate her? Could NOT giving her the medication hurt her? WHAT DO I DO?

I couldn’t help but look down at my tiny person and want to cry. I love her so much and want to make the best decision for her but don’t know where to begin. I plan on getting a second opinion soon. I reached out to the occupational therapist who evaluated her back in February to see if she could give me some direction in finding new therapists. I’m meeting with her pediatrician next week to see what she says as well.

We have another check up in six weeks to let her know what we’ve decided on…we’ll see what happens from here to then. I just hope I can make an educated decision for my daughter.

If any of you have had any experience in dealing with Risperidone please feel free to share it with me. 

those who can’t teach.

I would like to preface this post by saying, I was a total a**hole in high school. It was 2006, the height of all things emo. I had short hair, dyed my hair black and listened to ridiculous emo music. Keep that in mind when reading the rest of this post. 

As the school year in the Northern Hemisphere comes to an end, I can’t help but think back of my time in school. I look at my girls and hope that they have better luck than I did when it came to dealing with low self esteem, mean teachers, and bullies.

I was bullied pretty badly in elementary and middle school, so much so that I made it a point to apply to a magnet school where I would know NO ONE and be able to start fresh. Little did I know that I would never really fit in there. People tried to get to know me but I lived an hour away from most of my classmates and couldn’t form any solid relationships outside of regular school hours. Mix that with teenage hormones and repressed anger,  you’ve got yourself a staring down the barrel of depression and anxiety.

Sophomore year was when my parents decided it was time I start seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. I tried Zoloft, Prozac, and Adderall. It was also the year I started hanging out with friends who drank, smoked, and dabbled with illicit drugs.

Junior year I was desperate. I was fat, lonely, and at the time, thought I was going to die a virgin because I didn’t have a boyfriend. I was so starved for attention from boys that I was trying to get it any way I could. And so I started talking to Toby*. Toby and I were friends who had known each other since freshman year. He was one of the popular kids at school. Always involved in extra curricular activities and on the school broadcasting channel.

We used to take the bus and train home from school together. One afternoon, during our commute home, we somehow kissed. I don’t remember the details other than he and I started writing notes to each other afterwards. At a certain point I realized that I didn’t actually have feelings for him  and couldn’t lead him on. Being the teenage idiot that I was, decided that the best way to express that to him was to write it in a note and deposit the note in his locker.

In my note I wrote about my smoking and depression and probably a bunch of other stuff that was way too personal to put on paper but didn’t have the foresight to know better. I walked into my AP Composition class and see the note I wrote to him stapled onto the class bulletin board. Needless to say, I was stunned. And while my teacher, Ms. Ruiz, didn’t say anything directly to me, she made sarcastic offhand remarks alluding to the letter. And that’s when the floodgates opened to my being bullied again in my new school.

My classmates took her lead and started laughing about it openly. I was mortified. I felt betrayed. I felt worthless. I found myself dreading school and longing for the days when all kids teased me about was my weight or purple hair. It got so bad that I had to switch schools midway through the year.

Now I see that event as blessing in my life. I was able to reconnect with my best friend. I was able to pull my grades high enough to go to college and get a scholarship. I was able to have a true high school experience filled with clubs, dances, band, and football games.

But that experience led me to be wary of teachers. I never allowed myself to open up in class again. It makes me wary of those who teach my daughters. I’ll forever be cautious of those in positions of power because this one woman, who is still an educator, decided to belittle me instead of pulling me aside and asking if I was okay. Instead of offering help, sending me to the counselors office, or even calling my parents, because what 16 year old should be smoking or drinking, she used my weaknesses against me to make me feel minute.

If you’re a teacher reading this, especially a high school teacher, know that your indifference to your students emotional wellbeing causes as much harm as the hurtful things their peers say or do to them. It is your job as an educator to uplift and encourage your students. If you can’t do that then at the very least don’t be another stumbling block in the already bumpy road that is adolescence.

*Name changed to protect myself from drama.