I Got You

This one goes out to you, Kim.

By the time you read this post, you will probably have read Lauren‘s and Miranda‘s.  And by this time, there might be others too.

You know we are telling you that we love you.

You know we wish we could help.

But here is the thing.

I’m not going to be we for a second.

I’m just going to be Katie.

You are my friend.

No, we have never met “in real life.”

No, I don’t know what your voice sounds like.

No, I have never watched you go from serious to a huge smile.

But….

BUT…

I have read your words.

I have seen pictures of you.

And you are my friend.

I don’t have a ton of close friends.  (Shut up, I don’t).

But those who are my close friends?  Know I can’t sleep or eat or function well when they are hurting.

They know I will do anything in my power to help.  Even if the only help I can bring is an inappropriate giggle.

Last night I tossed and turned thinking about where you were.  How you were.

I would dream of looking for you.

I checked my phone each time I woke up.

No Kim.

I cried silently when I thought of what “could” be.

I asked Cort if I was crazy since I didn’t technically know you.

He said, “of course not.  She is your friend.”

Yes.  You are.

My friend.

Why yes, you ARE on the wall-o-friends

And as my friend you have taught me to laugh at the bad in life.  Not because it’s funny, but because it’s our defense against it.  Bad hates laughter.  And we can bring the laughs.

As my friend you have shown me it’s ok to not be perfect…because that is more fun.

As my friend you have cheered my sorry ass on when I thought PPD and just life would win.  You made me realize there is too much going for me to stay in my hole.

You have showed me what a fighter is.

Right now?  You are finding it hard to fight.

You trained me.  Let me fight for you.

Or?  Let this guy fight for you.

hey pretty lady...let me take care of that for you.

and?  since I love you so much.  I had this made for you.  I will mail it soon, but here is a preview.

to be worn as a protective sheild against the evil world

Kim?  You are my friend.

I love you.

I am here for you, girl.  I got you.

And so does the rest of the bloggy world.

dear me…

Dear Self…

It’s been a year, my friend.

A year since you felt that you were caving in to what you thought was a weakness…an embarrassing flaw.

A year since you read Emily‘s blog post about not feeling right after having a baby and tried to brush away the fact that all the commenters suggesting she seek help?  Were talking to you too.

A year since Cort read the post and thought it rung true for you too.

A year since you sat and had yet another horrible ugly cry meltdown in your brown chair, and since Cortney sat across from you and suggested you call the doctor.

A year since the call.

A year since the visit.

A year since the first little pill.

It would be two more months yet before I could admit this to the world, but at least I had admitted it to myself.  And to Cort.

It would be even longer before you would decide you also needed AND wanted to talk to a therapist, but by then you had discovered that you were not, in fact, blogging in isolation…there was an entire world…blogasphere, if you will…out there.

You made very close friends because of your postpartum depression.  Not only did people in your life come forward in emails and private asides about their struggles, but you met Casey (through Emily) who let you know you aren’t alone.

And from there you met Katherine and Lauren and Miranda and Grace and Kimberly and Amy–women who have become so very important to your daily life.  They are you…us.  They have shown you that they are us and are successful, and have downfalls and bad days, but they bounce back.  And so can we.

In this past year you…

…have learned to communicate better with Cort.

…found patience you didn’t know you had.

…been able to work through Eddie’s meltdowns instead of having one of your own.

…stopped bottling your feelings because you were afraid of them.

…accepted that you have something chemically different in your brain now than you did before.

…realized you can’t “do it all”…at least not alone.

…have tried to become a voice for all those who feel the way you do…who have traveled your path…but are silent.

…have started to accept yourself.

You have come so far.  I am proud of you in so many ways.  And so are others.  Cortney, you families, your friends…they love to see YOU.

It’s not over, though.

You didn’t hit the year mark and get a nice release form to turn in stamped “DONE”.

This is not over.

Your anxiety is back and you may be dealing with depression for the rest of your life.  Right now you are struggling with this.  You need to accept that this is what it is.  Life is different now, but those things don’t define you.

You have the tools to get through the rough parts now.

Cortney has a new job.  The transition is much harder for you than you would like to admit to people.

He has always been home to make your world less chaotic.  Of the 21 months that you have had a child together?  He has been home for 17 of them.

You feel completely thrown into whirlwind of utter confusion.  You feel lonely and abandoned.

This is the anxiety talking.

You can do this.  You just need to adjust.  And it’s TOTALLY OK to need an adjustment period.  DO NOT feel bad about that.

You also need to forgive yourself.

Yes, your undiagnosed PPD made you all crazy and mean and awful to be around.

But you got help.

Everyone has forgiven you.

Even those you were the worst to.  Yes, even Cort and your mom have forgiven you.

You need to let go of how terrible you were.  You need to let it go so you can go forward.

They have let it go.  They never EVER hold it against you.  You need to stop holding it against yourself.

Friend, you are not “fixed”.  Some things can’t be “fixed”.

But you are better.  You have survived.

You are a survivor.

And you will, in the immortal words of Beyonce, keep on survivin’.

Love,  Me

“no” is an answer

Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.

Oh..Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.*

Dear Lord, please heal Cort’s dad.  Take the cancer away and make him whole.

No.

Dear Lord, please let this bleeding be normal and NOT a miscarriage.

No.

Dear Lord, I want to be a mom so badly.  Please help my body know what to do.

Not yet.

Dear Lord, please don’t make me go through another miscarriage.  I am too weak.  I can’t do it.

Yes, you can.  And you will.

Dear Lord, please save me from being on the “cut” list for work.

No.

Dear Lord, please help Cort keep his job in these hard times.

No.

Dear Lord, please make these demons leave my head.  Please make me the mom others think I am.  Please help me fix this crazy.

No.  You can’t fix yourself alone.

Why, Lord?  Why us?  We are good people and hard workers.  We try to be like Jesus and love people and give of ourselves.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?

—silence—

Lord, I want to turn my back!  I want to do this alone.  I think you must have lost your “plan” for us somewhere.  You have left us!

Go ahead and try.

Lord, this is our plan…please oh PLEASE let it work.

No.

Lord, I can’t be in charge.  I can’t make anything work right.  Just please handle it for me.  Please let me find someone who will love me for everything I am RIGHT NOW.

Here is Cortney.

Lord, I can’t make things better with Cort’s dad.  He is going to die.  Please let me know what to do to help Cort.

I will strengthen your shoulders and pad your hugs.

Lord, he lost his dad and his appendix and now he is alone in the hospital.  What do I do?

Stay with him.  I’ll be there too.

Lord, I only have one try left.  I can only try once more.  Please bless us with a child this time.

Here is Edward Steven.

Lord, please help me keep my job.  My family needs me to provide.

You will teach Spanish.  You can also teach at the college.

Lord, I can’t change myself.  I need help.

Here is Cortney.  Here is your family.  Here is an internet full of support.  Here are your friends.  Here is your doctor.  Here is Celexa.  Here is a therapist.

Lord, what will we do?  Unemployment runs out in August.

Here is a job for Cortney.

Sometimes the answer is no.

But sometimes?  The answer is yes.

No matter how many times you falter.  He will save some “yes’s” for you.

This week?  He finally said YES to Cort’s job prayers after many, MANY no’s.

We are blessed.

*lyrics from “I believe in miracles” by Pearl Jam

If you also believe in miracles, please pray for our nephew(s)/niece(s) in Ethiopia.  Our siblings were dealt a GIANT “no” this week in their adoption process.  Please read about it here.

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And don’t forget to shop my Thirty-One party!  Ends this week! (go to “my events” and shop my party–Katie Sluiter).


It’s What is Not Said

“Though he probably says about 50 to 70 words now, your child may understand as many as 200 words, many of which are nouns. Between 18 and 20 months, he’ll learn words at the rate of 10 or more a day.” (Babycenter.com)

He dances and runs and jumps.

He holds a pencil correctly and inquires about letters on everything.

He will bring us book after book after book–especially My Truck is Stuck and Where is the Green Sheep?

He has recently discovered lying on his tummy in the bathtub in order to “swim”.

He runs at me with his full speed to hug me.

He blows sweet kisses and waves to me at bedtime.

He wants me when he has an owie or is super sleepy or has a nightmare.

His first word was “octagon” while playing with a talking puzzle.

Now he says “up” and “moo” and “aw bye” and “bawl”.

Other words are just one syllable or sound of the whole: “bon” for (banana), “juuuu” (juice), and “onnn” (one)

And every single night, he asks, “da ee”?  (daddy)

He is an amazing, loving, sweet, vivacious….20 month old.

My 20 month old.

The boy who turned me into a mother, but has never uttered a word to prove that.

Yes, his actions show his love for me.  I do not doubt his love.

This isn’t about his love.

I know he will say it.  I know.  I know he will say it to the point that I am sick of it.  I have been told that over and over.

But I still long for it. I fixate on it.  I beg him to say it.

Not just because I want to hear, “mommy,” but because he is 20 months old.

I have already heard what you so many people have to say:

“He is a boy; he is naturally slower.”

“My nephew/my friend’s son/all my kids/husband/I/aunt’s cousin’s nephew’s daughter didn’t talk until they were well over two.”

“As longs as he is interactive…”

“just keep talking to him; he’ll come around…”

“DON’T WORRY.”

I know that it’s technically not that out of the ordinary, and it’s not something to be truly concerned about.  I know this.

But as he babbles and “talks” and says words, I can’t help but think about how he doesn’t have close to 50 words, like babycenter.com says he should have…and I am mostly ok with that because his babble says he is on his way.

What I hate?  Is that he says “octagon” and not “momma”.

I have struggled for everything with this little boy.

It was a challenge (and many MANY blood draws and pills taken) to keep him in my tummy.

It was a painful battle to like him when he was my tiny miracle through all the crying–both his and mine.

I had to claw my way out of a deep, ugly hole to enjoy the little things like the way he turns into me when he is sleepy.

We are so similar in temperaments that when there is frustration between us?  It is a challenge to not kill each other.

And yet?

There is no word in his vocabulary for me.

Does he have one in his head?

Does a small voice in his brain shout it into the echoes of his heart when he sees me or scream it desperately in his soul when he is afraid?

What does that word sound like on his lips?  In my ear?

I am a mother.  HIS mother.

But no one in this world calls me that.

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3010

It was always hot.

I was the only one who thought so.  Everyone who walked in was delighted by the coolness compared to the triple digit temperatures outside.

But I was always sweating.

They even gave me a fan, but that just made me shiver from the sweat that dried on my exhausted body.

The room was more spacious than anyone expected.  We quite easily fit five members of my side of the family along with three of Cort’s in addition to the three of us.

And it still felt big.

But maybe that is because I suddenly felt small.

Even with the throngs of people coming in and out?  I felt that we were shielded somehow.

This was a room for miracles.

(Even if my miracle happened downstairs in a different room.)

I had everything I needed contained in this one room:

A Styrofoam cup full of ice water.

Sleeping pills.

My meals delivered.

My laptop and my phone.

A private bathroom with a much used grab bar.

A doting husband.

A happy baby (yes, I said happy).

In this room…

I slept better and harder than I ever have in my life.

I sniffed my baby’s head for the first time.

I sweated, and pushed, and cried, and shed all inhibitions in exchange for feeling better and having a healthy child.

I trusted completely.

I healed.

This room took care of our needs and made it ok for us to be partitioned and sheltered from the rest of the world.

Life was out there…moving and growing…but in here?  In this room?  Time stood still.

We were a small family:  a mom in her adjustable bed, a dad resting on a small couch, and a son swaddled and asleep on his father’s chest.  In the dark room we watched the Detroit Tigers sweep the Cubs.

We witnessed the departure of the King of Pop.

We absorbed the fall of an Angel.

We marked the exit of a treasured Announcer…all while being disconnected from the world…as a family.

We felt safe and untouchable here.

That is why, as I stood at the window in the first real clothes that I could squeeze into in days with my baby in his first real clothes of his life, I cried.

As my husband took our bags to the truck and prepared to usher his family…not just his wife…to their home, I wept.

This room was were our family had begun.

This was all my son knew of the world.  He was safe. I was safe.

Nothing touched us here.

And so much would once we left room 3010.

psst.  I am over at my friend, Natalie’s blog, Mommy of a Monster and Twins, today too sharing about a Monster Mommy Moment of mine.  Please tell me you can relate to this…it will make me feel so much better!

pssst again…I am trying to win a grant to fund my trip to BlogHer.  If you are on facebook, please click here to vote every day!

it’s all about me

Thanks to Crystal Light for sponsoring this post. To learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors, visit http://www.facebook.com/crystallight.

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I am busy.

I am up and out of the house by 6:45am each morning  (earlier if there is a meeting or bad weather threatening my commute).

I teach from 7:30-2:30 with no planning period and only 25 minutes for lunch.

There are usually students in my classroom from 2:30 until around 4:00 working on absent work, getting help, or retaking failed tests.

It’s difficult for me to get out of the door by 4:30pm so that I can be home in time for Cort to leave for his night class.

And once I am home, I am in charge of Eddie until bedtime at 8:00pm

Me time?  Is hard to come by these days. At least not without loads of mom guilt with it.

But if there is one thing I have learned from my ppd support groups, it’s that if I want to continue my healing, I have to cut out some me time every single day.

So every day, after I tuck Eddie into bed but before Cort gets home from class, I take my laptop and cuddle into my big brown chair.

My laptop is my me time when I am at home.  It’s where I read and connect and write.  I can get lost for an hour  in chatting with my friends and writing what’s on my heart.

I have found that my at home me time is not always enough though.  You see, other than when Cort has class?  I am never alone in our house.

Since Cort is unemployed and Eddie is a toddler, when I have days off from school?  They are here with me.

I have to carve out “away” me time too.  For my sanity.

That is why at least once a month I try to carve out a Friday night with friends.

To be honest?  I always dread the night out.

Not when I plan it…then I am excited about it.

But as it approaches I start to dread my time away.  The mom guilt and the wife guilt set in.  I worry about being too tired and not any fun.

I am always, ALWAYS wrong.

Getting out of the house with my girls is always good for me.  It reminds me that I am not just a mom.  I am not just a wife.  I am a friend too.  And I am Kate.

When I am reminded of who I am?  I am a better mom…and wife.

How do you find time for yourself?  Do you get the mom guilt thrown at you too?

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Remember, visit http://www.facebook.com/crystallight to learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors. I was selected and paid for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

promises kept

I could never have imagined the power behind the vows I was uttering.

I could never have fathomed that each line would come to fruition in fewer than six years.

For better…

we were three people who were once two, alone in a hospital room.  a family.

me drowsing–belly sore, limbs bloated, womb empty.

Cort resting–eyes closed, feet up on the little couch, head back, a small bundle on his chest.

Eddie sleeping–warm and dry, breathing in the world.

…or for worse…

All eyes on us–the poor children–as we lead the procession into the sanctuary.

We sat alone in the second row–behind only the widow, the preacher, and the eulogists.

Cort, me, Cody, Liz, Kenzie…and mom squeezed in from back in her row up to be next to her daughter to hold her hand and catch her tears. to be there for her kids.

The rest?  Is a blur.

…for richer…

we have each other.

we have a sweet boy.

we have a house.

we have two vehicles.

we have love.

…or for poorer…

We thought it would be me losing my job.

Every year the cuts got closer.

So close I actually saw MY name on a cut list while Eddie kicked happily and obliviously inside.

But it never happened.

I continued to work.

But he did not.

…in sickness…

Cort has a three scars–none even an inch long.

He doesn’t have an appendix.  It left him the same day his dad left this world.

I have one visible scar–probably around close to seven inches long.

It was the best way to become a mother and still stay in this world.

Cort has scars you can’t see.

Battle wounds from a verbally abusive, mentally sick wife.

I have invisible scars too.

Etched on my heart from mastering the art of losing.

…and in health.

Cort lounges sleepily on the couch only slightly aware that a curly-haired toddler is barreling toward him.

Eddie throws himself at the couch and climbs clumsily and awkwardly grabbing at Cort.

Once on the couch he steamrolls his daddy and monsters his way into position next to him.

Not to be left out, I pounce across the room and join the snuggly, giggly pile.

I do.

When Cort leaned in to kiss me for the first time as his wife?  We didn’t feel what happened…but we would soon find out.

Our whole world shifted.

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

love wins

In an email from my mom not so long ago she praised my writing and mentioned that she didn’t know how I did it.

Besides making me smile all day (I like praise from my parents…it makes me uncomfortable, but I like it), it made me think.

I really don’t think I always had this talent.  Or at least it was just waiting around because my life was way too boring write about.

Until recently.

As in the past six years.

I’ve been blogging for almost four years and until I decided to talk about my depression, all my readers were friends and family whom I begged and harassed to read my blog (I am sure most of them do NOT miss the mass emails of PLEASE READ MY BLOG).

And then I started sharing about our other hardships:  Cort’s job loss, my over-commitment to jobs, Cort’s dad’s death, his grandpa’s death, our miscarriages…

There are my stories to tell now. And I love to tell them because not only have I found some much-needed support, but I have been able to honestly talk about things other people can’t.  I have been a voice for the silent.

But those stories are sad.  And it is draining to put myself out there with them.

And sometimes those sad stories get the best of me.

And they take over my brain and make me feel useless and overwhelmed and hurting.

They open a door for depression to creep out of its locked cage and seep into everything I do, whispering about my inadequacies, poking at my doubts, pouring salt into my already bleeding weaknesses.

When this happens? I fall into a big, dark pit and I can’t get out…

…until something happy happens.

And I don’t mean happy like me winning a Mod Tots giveaway (which I did…and yes, I am happy.  In fact I was sweating and shaking I was so excited).

Or happy like getting paid for my writing…writing that means so much to me.

Or happy like getting asked to contribute to someone’s blog or finding that someone is recognizing you on their blog.

All of those things are awesome.  They are huge.  I am blessed beyond words.

But somehow?  That big deep hole in my heart?  Needs something more.  Something bigger than me.

I have to do something to get out of the hole.  Nobody can pull me out.

Today I did that thing.

I am the senior class adviser at my school which means I am in charge of making sure seniors who wish to participate in the graduation ceremony order their caps and gowns.

Even without all the “extra” stuff, the basic package is still almost $50 with shipping and tax.

Did I mention I teach in a Title 1 school?  Not many of our kids have $50 lying around.

For the most part, the company that we go through works with them to get a payment plan together.

Today, though, another teacher and I were helping a senior get his stuff together.  A senior who has been through more in his 18 years than I can ever think to go through in my whole life.

I don’t want to go into specifics, but he has to work and go to school and support himself–completely.  As in living accommodations, bills, groceries, transportation–everything we as adults do.  Plus he NEEDS to finish high school.

He is a GOOD kid.

He doesn’t need to be saved or bailed out.

He needs to be loved.

Today another teacher and I bought his cap and gown.  He doesn’t know one of the contributors was me.  He doesn’t need to know.

I looked him in the eye and told him it was taken care of by someone who loves him and wants to see him step across that stage.

He asked me to tell the person thank you…and that he wouldn’t let him/her down.

Even if he doesn’t graduate and my money goes to an empty cap and gown?  that is not the point to me.

The point is that he felt love today.  because I know some days he goes without feeling any.

And doing that?  Giving my heart to a boy who just needs the love of a mom?

That pulled me out of my funk.

I’m back.

——

speaking of my writing, I am really excited about this big announcement at the Red Dress Club.

We are starting a memoir writing prompt each Friday (with a link up on Tuesdays).  Since the majority of the writing I do is memoir-style, I hope you will all enjoy my contributions to this.

And for those of you with a blog?  I hope that you would join in.  I would love to read your {true} stories!