A World of Firsts

There is a first time for everything. Every single thing you do in a day, you did for the first time at some point in your life.
Think about that.
Even the things that are so… Routine. At some point, there was a first. Ever stop and think about it? Celebrate it?
When you cook your husband his breakfast before work… Do you remember the first time you did it? Do you remember what you made him? Did you burn it? Were you nervous about whether he would like it?
Do you remember the first kiss? First hug? First time you knew. Like really knew?
Lately I’ve been struggling. I feel like I’m lost within myself. I’m consumed with the emotions that come with being done having babies. I’m consumed with the past and the memories. I’m obsessed with the stress and struggles I have everyday raising 4 kids and helping Hubs cope with his depression and chronic pain.
But last night… Last night something happened.
I curled up in bed beside Hubs who was snoring. I snuggled against him and in his sleep he wrapped his arms around me and murmured that he loved me.
My heart melted. I was brought back to the first time I heard those words come from him. The excitement I felt. He tells me he loves me dozens of times in a day. But I don’t often think about that first time. I don’t often think about the magic that was there with all our firsts.
Last night I did. And I don’t think I’ve ever loved my husband more.
I remember the first hug. Kiss. I love you. Argument. I remember the struggle I went through when I chose to leave my family and friends and move across the country to be with him. I remember the look in his eyes when he seen me in the airport. The smile. The joy. I remember how I felt. The excitement, nervousness. The love, joy.
In all the turmoil, the stress, the exhaustion I’d forgotten our innocence. The beauty of young love. The feeling of exhilaration I used to have.
But last night I remembered.
Today I remember.
And I’m going to remind myself to remember tomorrow.
Our world is constantly changing. And there are always new things happening. New memories that replace the old.
But those firsts are never going to happen again. And I don’t want to forget them.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

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Spreading a Smile – Challenge Edition

Once a day I send a random message. A text, email, Facebook message. In any form. Usually to someone I haven’t talked to in a while, but sometimes to someone I know is going through a tough time. Its a simple message, usually along the lines of ‘hey! I hope you’re having a great day today!’ Or ‘I was just thinking about you and wanted to say hi! Hope you’re doing well!’
It takes 30 seconds, and (I assume) puts a smile on someones face.
I started doing it because last summer when we were going through a tough time I received a few of those type of random messages and it made me feel less alone, and thought of. It made me feel like someone cared.
We don’t know everyone’s internal struggles. But knowing someone is thinking of you, its often enough to brighten the day a little.
So I am going to offer a challenge. I am going to challenge every one of you amazing people who read this to spread a smile. For every day in February, send a quick message to someone you don’t talk to often, or someone you know is struggling. You don’t need to post about it, or even tell anyone you’re doing it. But, I bet you’ll feel good doing it 🙂

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

When the Past Haunts the Present

I’m going to share a story with you today. A story I never intended to tell. A story that I thought I had put behind me. Coped with. Put into my past and locked it there. A story that is consuming me today with ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’
It happened 6 years ago. Almost to the date. I chose not to tell people then. And that’s my first ‘what if’ What if I had reached out for help back then. Maybe I could’ve saved some hurt. Not just my own. But the hurt of others too.
6 years ago I was in the military. I injured my knee and I chose to release. My biggest reason for choosing to release was that I was pregnant. And I didn’t like the level of care I was receiving. They were refusing to even give me confirmation of pregnancy. I was told the pregnancy test was ‘inconclusive’ whatever that means.
My boyfriend at the time denied it was his. Said I must have been cheating on him. (He was seeing someone else on the side, so I guess he felt I must have been to)
Because of his denial I didn’t want to tell anyone else. I felt that him and I should work through it first.
So I released. I went home to my Dr. My Dr decided to do an ultrasound in office to confirm the pregnancy. I seen my baby moving around, their little heart beating. He couldn’t date the pregnancy so he ordered an ultrasound for me for the next day.
That night I got into a fight with my boyfriend. I was mad that he was accusing me of cheating on him. I knew he was seeing someone else. But I didn’t tell him I knew. I wanted things to work out.
The next day I went into the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. The heartbeat that seemed so strong the day before was gone. I don’t have words for how I felt. It was a Friday, the Dr told me they were going to give me the weekend to miscarry naturally and scheduled a D&C for Monday morning. That evening I told my boyfriend. (He wasn’t in the same city as I was at the time) he told me I was making it up. And that I was doing it for attention… I didn’t tell anyone else. No one knew I was pregnant. Why would they believe me?
Over the weekend my boyfriend and I ended things. Well he did. Through an email. He said he stopped loving me. Months ago. He had found someone else.
My body never expelled the baby. I went in for a D&C Monday morning. I agreed to allow an intern to do the procedure. I didn’t know it took almost 3 times as long as it should have. I was numb. I was alone.
I was lost.
A few weeks later I still hadn’t stopped bleeding. My Dr did an internal ultrasound. He informed me that there was a lot of scaring on my uterus. He wasn’t sure how it would heal. If I would ever carry a child.
I don’t remember much of the next few months. I know there was a lot of alcohol. And things I’m not proud of. A lot of alcohol… A lot of nights… And days… I have no memory of.
Then one morning I was going through my phone and found text messages between a friend and I. (The same friend I just went to visit in Edmonton this past December) I admitted to things in those drunk texts that I hadn’t admitted to myself. Reading them sober… It was scary. I didn’t know what I was doing to myself. I called my dad, I asked him to pick me up. I didn’t tell him or my mom what was going on. Just that I didn’t feel well. I spent a couple days locked in my room ‘sick’. I think my parents knew something was going on, but as close as I had always been to them… I didn’t know how to talk to them.
Around this time I had started talking to hubs. I told him a little about what was happening, but most he found out later. I started seeing a therapist. I slowly got over everything. So I thought.
I went to have four healthy beautiful babies. I healed better then the Dr even predicted I would.
My physical scars healed. And I thought I had healed my emotional scars too. Put it behind me. Overcame it. Dealt with the emotions. Put it all into a tidy little box and locked it up. Gotten past the overwhelming feelings of loss and heartbreak.
And yet…. Here I am. Haunted by the memories of that little heart beating, followed by being told that little being… Wouldn’t be. Haunted by nightmares. Anxieties. Fears.
Holding my babies a little tighter and thanking God a little louder for my blessings. For those four sweet, amazing people he blessed me with.
I don’t know why. Why I’m torturing myself this way. What triggered these what if thoughts. What if… What if… A million what ifs, I don’t even know where to start with them, and I don’t know how to make them end. How do I put these memories back… Back into that little compartment. Still a part of me, but not consuming me.
I’m so blessed, so lucky to have my babies… And I know everything happens for a reason, that baby, wasn’t meant for this world. But… What if I had done something… Anything… Different. Would it be better? What is better? Where would I be?
I wish I could stop torturing myself with these thoughts… I wish so many things.
Maybe this is something that I will never leave locked in that little box of memories. Maybe its something that will walk with me forever. I don’t know. I just. Don’t. Know.

The Impact of One Voice

There is this group on Facebook. It is called Humans of New York (Seriously check it out!) I have been following this page for a while and the stories are very touching. This is the description of the page: (taken straight from the Facebook Page)

Hey there. My name is Brandon and I began Humans of New York in the summer of 2010, shortly after leaving my job in Finance. (OK, I actually got fired.) I started HONY because I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, I’d include quotes and short stories from their lives.

Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. HONY now has over ten million followers on social media, and provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.

So many of the stories are so incredibly touching and give a glimpse of the pain, hurt, happiness, joy etc that are in people’s life stories that we don’t often see. But the other day, there was a story that really touched me. And I want to share it here with you guys.

It started with a photo of a young boy. Brandon asked him who had influenced him the most in his life. This young boy told of his principal. How she tells her students what they are capable of. Instead of suspending them, she explains that each time one of them fails out a new jail cell is built.

A few days later, Brandon was able to meet with this boys principal, Ms. Lopaz. She told him about how the students in her school are expected by society to fail. She calls her students, scholars. Their school color is purple, because it’s the color of royalty. Her scholars know she has high expectations of them. She expects them to succeed.

Brandon, Ms Lopaz and her assistant principal had a brainstorming session. Brandon wanted to know how the HONY (Humans of New York) community could help further the vision of Ms. Lopaz’s school (Mott Hall Bridges Academy) Ms. Lopaz wants every scholar in her school to be able to go anywhere and know they belong. So it led to the creation of a fund. A fund that will allow every incoming grade 6 class to visit somewhere outside of their neighborhood. The place she chose was Harvard University.

This is taken right from the Humans of New York Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork/photos/a.102107073196735.4429.102099916530784/869199409820827/?type=1&permPage=1)

 

We’ve raised enough money in 24 hours to make the Harvard trip a permanent part of the MHBA curriculum. With two weeks left in the fundraiser, I sat down with Ms. Lopez today to learn the best way that we could continue to help her secure a bright future for her students.

“We have a major need for a summer program,” she explained. “Learning stops during the summer for my scholars. We have what is called a ‘summer slide.’ My scholars can’t even go outside. It’s too dangerous. As an exercise, my teachers broke into small groups and took a walk through the community. We wanted to understand how our students live. We went inside the housing projects. The parks and playgrounds were empty because it’s too dangerous. Even the library isn’t a safe zone. Just last Saturday, one of my scholars had two guns pulled on him while he was walking to the community center. In broad daylight. It’s just too dangerous to be outside, so my scholars stay inside all summer. They aren’t learning to ride horses or drive boats, and they certainly aren’t traveling. They miss out on the enrichment available to children from more affluent neighborhoods. They need a safe place where they can do activities and continue to grow their minds. I tried to put together a program last summer, but I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t really put together any activities, and I could only use teachers-in-training. I need the funds to put together a program with my own teachers so my students have a safe place where they can continue to grow outside of school.”

Ms. Lopez estimates that an effective summer program will cost about $40,000 a year. So every $40,000 beyond the $350,000 we’ve already raised will provide another “safe and productive summer “ for the students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

If you hadn’t already donated, please consider helping us continue to empower this visionary educator in her quest to transform her school and community: http://bit.ly/1JmIB8u

This teacher is amazing. I want so much to help her out with her vision. It took one voice, to have her story and her hopes brought out onto the Facebook world, and I want to use my voice to share it with all of you. I am not asking each of you to donate, although I think it would be awesome if you did. I am asking you to please, please, please, share this wonderful woman with the world.

A Step Towards Healing

The last year has been really hard on Hubs. I have seen him slowly spiral downhill into a place I can’t always reach him. I have watched him change from the man I married into someone else. Someone who was a shadow of the person he used to be.

Over the last year, Hubs has seen no shortage of health care professionals. While we were still in NB, and he was still in the military, he was seeing a Nurse Practitioner. He had been seeing the same NP for years. She was also noticing the change in him. She acknowledged she thought he may be depressed about a year before he was released (which was about the time the release process started) She did not send him to see anyone at this time. It wasn’t until about 2 months before his release that she decided to send him to anyone. Well. He needed to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. But those have waiting times. So she sent him to a counselor. The counselor acknowledged he had depression and anxiety ‘tendencies’ and gave him breathing techniques. They didn’t help him.

Through all this, I knew that something was off. He needed more help. But the military isn’t really open to spouses advocating for the health care of their serving members. I tried. But there wasn’t anyone listening to me. I was just the spouse.

Around the time he was being released we started meeting with Veterans Affairs Canada. VAC disappointed me over and over and over when it came to Hubs. Hubs should have all his medications and treatments covered in relation to his ankle injuries. His right ankle was injured as a direct result of the military and we have documented proof of his left ankle being injured due to his right ankle. We have documented proof that he grinds his teeth due to the pain and the stress surrounding everything. We had 2 medical professionals stating that Hubs was, on some level, depressed and needed help. VAC acknowledged that his right ankle was the military’s fault and is covering all his treatments. They acknowledge that his left ankle injury was caused from compensating for his right ankle, but they are refusing to cover treatment for it. We can’t find anyone willing to treat the right ankle and not the left ankle. As soon as the right ankle is treated, the fear is the left will get worse if it’s not receiving some care too.  And if the left gets worse, the right will to, because Hubs will likely compensate for the added pain in his left ankle by over using the right ankle. But I am kind of digressing here.

Every time VAC denies something, I can see  Hubs getting more and more discouraged that he isn’t being listened to. (this problem isn’t unique to us, a lot of people have this issue with VAC) No one was helping him with those emotions. Finally we were assigned a VAC caseworker here in Winnipeg. Finally we had someone we could sit down with and talk to. Someone who’s job was to oversee Hubs file. He can’t make the decisions on our claims, but we had someone who was going to advocate for us. Someone who wanted to see Hubs get the help he needed. Someone who was going to educate us on what our entitlements are. Someone who would tell us how to appeal the decisions we felt were unfair. Someone who could HEAR us.

We met with the caseworker for the first time in late August. He came to our home and observed. Finally I had someone ask me about Hubs mental health and how I felt he was coping. What I felt he might need. Imagine that. Someone asking me, his wife, his spouse, his support, the only one who sees him on a day to day basis. I felt heard. I told our caseworker about our day to day lives. I told him about how some days Hubs isn’t here. He’s here in body. But that’s about it. I told him that I KNOW my husband needs to talk to someone. I can see him going downhill. He told me about a clinic that sees veterans that Hubs qualified for that would enable him to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation and see someone on a regular basis if he needed it. And it wouldn’t cost us anything. I could have hugged him.

That was August. Hubs FINALLY had his evaluation yesterday. He was diagnosed with depression and chronic pain. The psychiatrist is sending in a referral to a psychologist, a referral to a pain management clinic and a referral to our family Dr to have Hubs put on anti depressants. Finally. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. I feel like we are finally, finally moving in a direction towards something positive for him. I feel like maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to struggle a little less and feel a little more like himself. I hope he can finally feel like he is being listened to and heard. That someone out there is taking him seriously and wants to see him heal. I want so desperately to have my husband back. I want so much for him to find a way to cope and not stress and obsess so much about everything going on. I know it might take awhile but I am still holding that hope that there is a better tomorrow out there for us.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

Lessons from my kids

Today has been a rough day. Emma is teething and only happy when Momma is holding her, otherwise she screams. She is fighting her naps and is miserable. Zoey is also teething and having a jolly time irritating her brothers. Alex and Nick needed naps today and wouldn’t take them. They are easily instigated. I didn’t get enough sleep. I am short on patience and Hubs isn’t here.
So I was rocking Emma and finally got her to sleep. I tried to put her down, no sooner did I get her put down and settled, Zoey grabbed a toy from Nick, Nick screeched, knocked over Alex’s toy in his tantrum and Alex screamed in anger and decided to push Zoey. Who started crying. Which woke Emma up. Again.
I sighed. I hung my head almost in tears and muttered to myself ‘that’s it. I quit. I’m not cut out for this. I can’t do it. I’m done. There is a beach somewhere. With alcohol. Ill go there. Ill sleep. Ill embrace the quiet.’
Alex came over and said ‘but mom, we would miss you. Please don’t leave’
Me: I wouldn’t really leave baby. Momma’s just frustrated’
A: cause we woke Emma up again?
M: sort of, don’t worry about bud, Mom’s got this. Okay?’
A: okay Mom, I love you.
M: I love you too baby.

Then almost the exact same scenario played out. Only this time Alex hit Nick (I’m not sure why) and Nick kicked Zoey who bit him back. Again, all 4 were screaming and crying.
Me muttering: I’m so done. I quit.
Nick: mooooooooom oooowwwww
Me: yes I know. Zoey bit you, it hurts.
N: oooooooowwwwww
M: come here I’ll kiss it better
N: no
M: fine
Nick comes over, ‘mom, kiss me?’ I kiss him better, he says thanks and says ‘I love me mom’ (which is his way of saying I love you’ I tell him I love him too and he goes to play.
A few minutes later Emma is asleep again. I’m about to put her down, but Zoey has a doll in her chair. I figure Ill put her in the swing, doll there too. I know that the second I put her in her bed she’ll wake up. So I ask Zoey to move her doll. ‘Be seep’ (baby sleeping)
M: I know but I need to Emma down
Z: Ma seep?
M: yes, Emma is asleep
Z: night night Ma

I put Emma down, and the kids are still quiet. Soon Alex comes over to snuggle. While he’s in my lap he says ‘Mom… Don’t quit. We need you too much. Dad does it wrong’ right after he says this he hops down and goes to play with his brother and sister. Helping Nick build his tower and reminding Zoey ‘shh, Emma’s having a nap’

Oh my sweet boy. I would never quit. These kids teach me more everyday about love. And patience. And how the tough moments never last long.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

Looking Back… and Looking Forward

2014 didn’t go the way we planned. But then… does anything ever go the way we plan? A year ago I wrote this post. I had a few goals that I hoped to meet. I met some of them the way I intended, I met others in ways I never imagined and there are some that I missed the mark on completely. A lot of my goals moving forward are similar or build upon the previous goals.

January seen us with a surprise pregnancy. February seen us forced into bankruptcy (I never posted about this, but the gist of it was that in November I forgot to pay a bill and instead of contacting us they took it straight to court and were approved to garnish Hubs wages and the only way to prevent it from happening was to declare bankruptcy to protect our income. Especially since Hubs was looking at a medical release from the military and apparently if you are going to lose your job they are allowed to garnish 100% of your wages. All over 1 missed $100 payment. Life is grand!) March and April had us getting ready to relocate to Winnipeg. May and June had us scrambling after the military informed us they weren’t going to be paying for our move. July was our big move (with just what fit into our van) and August seen us settling into our new home. September was welcomed with a new baby (4 weeks early) and a short stay in the NICU. October, November and December were, thankfully, a little quieter and we were finally able to feel like we could breath and enjoy some family time.

If you remember, last year I was disgusted with the amount of money we were spending on fast food/eating out and our goal was to cut it out. Well… with the big move and such that happened this year, we didn’t cut it out. But we did cut down the amount we spent on eating out. Instead of spending around 60% of our food bill on eating out we cut it down to just under 40%. The number is still higher then I like and I am aiming to do better. We tried freezer cooking last year and it was working out well for us and really helped with cutting down our eating out so I am going to get back into that this month and hopefully see even better results next year! I am really excited to get started on freezer cooking and I am really excited to share some of what I learn and discover with you!

I am also hoping to establish some better organization techniques into the house. The problem I run into is things not having a home and ending up piled places (papers especially!) so I am going to try and give everything a home. If I can’t provide something with a home then it is obviously not important enough to live here with us! I have some great ideas and I am really excited to try them out. This is one that I recently set up in the bathroom so we had a better way to keep the kids toys clean and dry:

Fabulous Bathtub Storage

2015 is already gearing up to be an exciting year! Our great friend T is coming to visit us in February. Nick turns 3 in March. Hubs and I celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary in April! Zoey turns 2 in May. Hubs goes back to school in May. I am hoping to go out east to visit some friends in August (with Emma, so some of Hubs family can meet her as well) Emma turns 1 in September. Alex starts Kindergarten in September, and turns 5 in December. It is going to be great! I am looking forward to experiencing another amazing year with my amazing family.

Love, Hugs and more to come later!!
Lynn