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My Struggle With PTSD

There has been many articles recently about mental health for parents and family members that have experienced NICU life, and all the bumps, drop, loop de loops that roller coaster has in store for everyone incolved. I would like to share my battle with PTSD post NICU, 3 and half years later.

My son was born 16 weeks early, and I was a worrier before this, but this experience has amplified my paranoia about anything and everything that was not in my control. My little Spud was born at 24 weeks and 2 days gestation, 11 inches 1 pound 12 oz, and loud. He annouced his presence with a meek but powerful squeak, almost like a newborn kitten, I learned later that it was rare for little ones that early to have a powerful entrance, so much so that the nurses held him unsure of what to do for a moment or two. 

Now, this part is mainly to explain where I came from to have you understand where I am now. We were in the NICU for 157 days total and 33 days in a childrens hospital, with 2 attempts at coming home before the third one stuck. We were sent home the first time just before his due date, and his Respiratory therapist came tonthe house the following morning and as she hooked him up to the pulse ox monitor he stopped breathing, turned grey and she preformed CPR on him while i was on the phone with 911 amd rounded up cats. She got him breathing and crying and back to the NICU we went, they kept us for 4 days, ran tests and came up with nothing, so they wrote it off as a one off situation and sent us home. As I drove him home I make sure he was mad and would cry the whole 15 minute drive home. You might see that as cruel, I saw that as a way to keep calm. That was the beginning of my spiral down, we got home. My husband and I gave our son his first bath at home, I swaddled him up, put a bum on him and fed him. I handed him to my husband to burp while I went to clean the bottles. Two minutes later my husband is yelling, I run and spring into action, I start CPR, got my husband to wrangle cats and call 911. I got him to burp, fart and whine but no gasp or full cry. The paramedics, who were the same group that were at our house 4 days prior, lifted me off my child and into the hall to start CPR with machines and oxygen masks. 

We were admitted for 34 days in the NICU and 33 in the children’s Hospital after this incident. I refused social work while in the NICU and hospital with my son. I did not want to focus on me, I wanted my son to come home and stay home and stay alive this time. I spent hours writing everything down, filling my sons medical binder with everything and anything. He was my focus 110%.

The third time he came home on oxygen, on a tank I had to bring around with me, so I became a hermit and only left if I had a helper, or to the doctors office alone. He was home before Christmas, and off oxygen by March, my husbands birthday, and I went to a happy routine with him until June. I had to put my son in daycare for 2 hours a day while I worked nights, and my husband worked days. 

Thats when my husband and family started noticing a slight problem, at work I would be overcome with a sence of panic and call my husband repeatedly until he would answer anc check on Spud, make sure he was breathing, make him put the phone up to his mouth so I could hear it. It wasn’t just once and a while, it was 1 to 3 times a night 5 nights in a row. My family doctor put my ativan while at work, but to use as needed, he also put me in touch with a family councillor who was the first person to tell me I may have NICU PTSD and put me in touch with a psychologist. 

I saw her once a week, we worked on talking and medications therapies that helped calm me down. This was from July till October, I was down to once a month visits. The end of October I found out we were pregnant with baby number 2. And I had to stop my medications, and up my therapy visits to try and remain normal. But in January, I lost my job and my coverage for therapy and my husbands coverage couldn’t cover it anymore. I panicked for most of my pregnancy, I had a full meltdown at 22 weeks and again at 24 weeks. I had it in my brain that something was going to go worng. I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy with my daughter, I didn’t feel the joy of finding out it was a girl, I didn’t feel happy shopping for clothes because it felt like something was going to go wrong. But nothing did, Princess Tally came into the world 6 days overdue at 8 lbs 14oz 22 inches long via c section because she had a big head like her dad. 

I didn’t enjoy my 4 day hospital stay, I refused to put her down, I made nurses watch her while I went to the bathroom if family wasn’t there. They made me meet with a social worker to help me get back on medications, which ment I could not breast feed. I had to do it, I had to make this sacrifice for my daughter, so I would have all my mental faculties for her, Spud and my husband. 

I manage my PTSD with medications to this day, and I still have good days and bad days where I pop an Ativan to get through the day, I struggle daily with it, there are nights I wake up 4 to 6 times a night and check both kids, I do not work. I stay at home and try to find some normalcy for my family, for me, I start back to counseling in 3 weeks. Its a battle, but I am willing to fight this, because I have something worth fighting for. 

– Ashton <3

Reluctant Stay At Home Mom…

I have been a stay at home mom going on 2 years, don’t get me wrong I love it and everything these two have brought to my live.

But I have been working since I was 14, baby sitting and I was a summer nanny to 2 kids one summer. Then at 16/17 I started cleaning wellsite trailer for my uncles leasing and fabrication company, that moved me into customer service at movie rental places, gas stations and a grocery store! I worked all through high school, did bad things and even got myself fired from a job back then. At 21 I started working as my moms assistant doing HR and payroll and rolled out to helping accounts payable, accounts receivable, and the accountant department. I learned I have a knack for certain things, and I took that knack to a 3 day course to become a book keeper. And then at 23 I started at my last job and was there for almost 5 years, and I loved it so so much. But many factors came into play and here I am at home with 2 little toddlers, and a list of things to do that I cant seem to motivate myself to do.

I do dishes, I cook, I tidy and I make sure the kids are bathed with clean clothes always, but my house has gathered clutter and I look at it and say it needs to be delt with but never really get to it.

I am a part time single mom, my husband is home 1 week a month and the routine is just out the window during that one week. I am ok with it, but now as I don’t have a real house cleaning routine, and no real motivation to gut my house it takes me a week after he leaves to get everything back in a functioning order.

I love being the one who gets to bond with my kids and see them grow into little amazing people. I have thought about going back to work on more than one occasion, but it’s not possible to do. Day care averages for my childre , $850 a month for my daughter, and $850 a month for my son, and my son is only part time Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays because he is in school 4 hours a day, and I cannot work Wednesdays because those are important meetings, trips, and many other things that are school related with my son. As you may remember from many many posts about this, Spud is delayed due to his prematurity, so keeping in constant communications with his school is key, and I am a hands on mom when it comes to that, I would rather hear it from the horses mouth than second hand. I have played way to many games of Telephone as a child to know that this would not end well. 

You might be thinking, how are trips useful, well they teach skills, and are fun for the little kids, weren’t field trips fun for you in school? But, with all these dilemmas the one thing that hurts is due to the fact that life costs money and I cannot make any, my husband is working camp jobs and losing time with his kids, seeing them grow up through pictires and videos. If I could I would change places with him, but I can’t, my skills are set to start at $18.00 an hour and cap around $25.00 an hour, where as my husbands start at $22.00 and hour and can cap at $45.00 or better. We are just starting his career here, so we are still on the low end when it comes to supporting a family of 4 and a Bijoux, so I am the reluctant stay at home mom. 
I love it…. But I also hate it….. 
-Ashton <3

Where Have I Been

Well, my husband started a new job, we went on a small family vacation, starting a new hobby in hopes of creating something, and I have been just getting used to the rhythm of having 2 toddlers!

 

Let’s start with the family vacation, we rented a car packed up the kids and went to Drumheller. We made a pit stop in Red Deer to show the kids the awesomeness that is the Donut Mill. Now anyone who lives in Alberta should know about the Donut Mill, you go from Edmonton to Southern Alberta you must make a pit stop at the Donut Mill on Gasoline Alley.

Spud discovered the magical wall of Donuts. He picked an awesome Triple Chocolate Donut.

 First Bite of Magic.

 Princess Tally enjoying a donut and a mommy selfie!

 

We got to Drumheller at about noon so we decided to go right to the Royal Tyrell Museum, since we could not check into the hotel till 3pm!

 

 Waiting for daddy to come and join us! As you can tell Spud is less than impressed to go from a car for 2.5 hours to a stroller.

 The magical Bubble wall! They have a walk through from the beginning of time until now, and it all starts with the Bubble wall.

 The Blue Bubbles are from 2015 when my husband and I took Spud to Drumheller the first time, and the pink Bubbles is Princess Tally at the same age now, the colors were purely coincidental, and my mom pointed it out when I sent her a few pictures.

 

 This isn’t the best picture I  took but this is one my husband wants to take every time we go with the kids. See where our kids measure up against a triceratops. I cant believe how big my little spud is getting.

 

The next day we went to the Hoodoos were we could let Spud walk around and enjoy everything that was to see there. A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney or earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Drumheller is in the badlands of Alberta, and we had a blast, he kept pointing and saying “Look! Look! Whats that? Ooooh!” He was so much fun to watch.

    

Then we drove home, and honestly for the amount of driving we did in 2 days, my kids were amazing! Even though we had to listen to Blippi “Planes Trains and Automobiles” on repeat for about 6.5 hours, it was a great trip.

The day after we got home we went to Fort Edmonton Park for a few hours, I never got to take pictures due to the fact we decided it would be a great idea to give our some some freedom….. 3 years old in a place with lots of places to run and hide, thank goodness my husband walked around with the baby in the stroller.

 We lost her hat somewhere between the house and the car so Daddy bought his little pilgrim a bonnet! Isn’t Princess Tally the cutest little thing? I am surprised that she left it on the whole time we were there.

 We got Spud some hand churned ice cream as we were getting ready to leave.

 And we had a long 3 days, as you can tell. Sweet Little Princess.

 

I have also started a new Hobby! If you follow my Facebook page, you would see my progress in my Crochet Hobby. My mom had been pushing me to learn since I was 13 years old, only took 16 years, but I am hooked!

       

She made me chain 30 feet before she showed me how to do a second stitch, then I had to do 5 feet of that, and so on and so forth. Now I am watching YouTube videos on how to do more stitches and projects, I am currently working on hats for teeny tiny preemies…. Not going well, slip stitches are Evil.

 

Now we are just getting ready for the school year, our little Spud is starting an early education program 4 mornings a weeks and one special field trip day or we met with his Occupational therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, Teacher or his Teachers aide on that 5th day. This is suppose to help him be caught up for when he starts kindergarten, and I want to give him the best start I can.

 

So there, that is where I have been, I am hoping that soon I will be back to weekly blogging.

 

Hope to talk to you all soon!

 

Ashton <3

I Thought We Beat The Odds

I Thought We Beat The Odds

When my water broke at 22 weeks my son was given 0% of survival, when he was born at 24 weeks and 2 days he was given a 55% chance of survial with 65% chance of long term health issued. We beat those odds.

When he was 4 days old they started scanning him for brain bleeds, they are extremely common in micro preemies, we beat those odds too and had not a single brain bleed. At 3.5 months old they told us he had ROP and needed laser eye surgery, he didn’t need glasses till 2 and it was just for near sightedness. 

We started crawling, talking and walking and to everyone around him is a normal happy healthy almost 3 year old boy. We had beaten all the odds stacked against micro preemie, I have had many doctors look at him and how my sweet little Spud acts and then look at his medical history and they have a hard time believing that is the same little boy they see in front of them. We had beaten all the odds!

Or ,so I thought….

On April 20th of this year, we met with the Preemie Follow Up Clinic, these awesome groups of doctors and specialists track the progress of many many different Preemies that have gone through Stollery Hospital doors.  Our appointment was from 9 am till noon, we were to meet with a psychologist, a speech and language specialist, an occupational therapist, as well as a doctor and nurse to address any long term concerns we may have, and to also chart his growth, as well as any nutritional and dietary needs he may need. 

Now, I wont go into to much detail, because it is private medical information. The long short if it is, we have delays, significant delays that now require him to attend a special pre-school, at 3 years old. We fell pray to being a mom and dad, seeing all the awesome things our kid was doing but not asking questions about it. 

So now, we as a family have to make a new plan, a plan to fix the delays, to give my son the best possible chance at a normal school experience when he is older. To show him how hard work and determination beat every obstacle in our paths.

We not have beat all the Preemies odds, but we can beat this. We can do this! 

Thank you for reading, if you like what I do here please Like, Comment, and follow me on my Social Media.

Love, Hearts, and Other Pretty Things.

-Ashton <3

Mommy Groups

I am a part of a few mommy groups but there is one I post in quite a lot in one of them because the admins are great and keep a lot of people in check. There is a lot less negativity there and next to no mommy shamming, I have done a post about mommy shamming in person but the most common kind of mommy shamming is online. The power of the pen and anonymity makes people a lot braver and bolder with what they say to other people.

Mommy groups were made for all of us moms to talk to each other, get advice, vent about kids, husbands and life. We need that outside of our friends sometimes, sometimes we need the advice of people at a different part of life to help with what we are doing right now. You can get 2 to 100 comments on a post depending on the topic.

Even in the best of Mommy Facebook groups there are those moms who will bring you down when you are feeling your worst. There are moms who vent about their kids and how they are acting, how they can’t handle it and ask other moms how they dealt with it. They will get 100 comments that are nice and helpful about the situation at hand, but then that one comes in. That one that either has a snarky undertone, or just comes across as just plain mean. That is the one that is going to stick with you the entire time.

Mommy Facebook groups are not for the faint of heart, whether it be what people reply to your posts, what  people ask, or some of those pictures that get posted! Its a scary place where a lot of drama can take place if you let it. BUT, it is also a place rich with so many wonderful ladies who have either gone through the same thing or a similar situation, and are willing to help you out as much as you need.

You need to take your time and observe the Mommy Facebook groups you have joined for a bit and see the goings on in each group before you commit to the one you are going to post a lot into. All of the above is my opinion only, and I am here to present all that I can to you lovely people! SO, I posted 3 questions to the mamas in two of the Mommy Facebook Groups I am a part of, and one mom stated what keeps her coming back is she has a place to go to vent and not worry about people bashing her. Another mom put:

“I really want to be able to go to a place that is unbiased and non-judgmental. A place where even if I’ve never met them in real life, I know the moms have my back and I can say (just about) anything without being afraid to do so.”  -Mama Ronni

 The 3 Questions I posted were as follows:

  1. What are topics you really want to avoid in a Mommy Facebook group?
  2. What are the things that keep you coming back for more?
  3. What are the things you look for in a Mommy Facebook group?

What topics a lot if not all are saying they want to avoid in these groups are topics along the lines of, Circumcision, breast feeding vs formula feeding; they are OK with as asking for advice if you are doing one or the other but please don’t take poll before your baby is here, that can just get nasty. A few other topics that can get touchy are car seat rules and laws, as the box and instructions state one thing, each county, state, province and country does have its own rules and regulations that you should follow, if you are not sure police stations and pediatricians will be a good source of information for you. Politics and religion are 2 very big topics that also should be avoided in these groups.

What keeps these lovely mamas coming back for more is a mixture of having a place that you can just blow off steam about your kids, your husband, partner or any member of your family or extended family and not be met with judgment and negativity. There are a lot of tips being passed around as they work for certain moms, for potty training, snacks and meal for fussy and picky eaters, things along those lines. Name calling is only allowed towards Mother-In-Law’s (or any inlaw/family member) who deserve it, baby daddy’s who are as useful as tits on a bull, Baby Daddy’s Girl Friends who cant seem to stay on their side of the parenting line, and creepy men/coworkers that cant catch a hint.  Sanctimommies are welcome, but be warned you start any shit they will come after you with a verbal vengeance. There is also a lot of humor and honesty that it put out there to bring some lightness to some serious topics, despite a lot of the ugly that pops up these moms do support and care about one another, even if miles separate them, there is a closeness between a few of them.

“Some moms can really encourage and give you support especially when you are stressed or down.” – Mama Leslie

What is looked for in a successful group is the type of advice that is being given, making sure there is no shaming or making a mom feel worse than she already does. There is a HUGE difference between constructive criticism/advice that takes you in a different direction from a different point of view, and just flat out shaming this poor mama for something that is Nine times out of ten, out of her hands in the hands of the terrible one, I mean the kids….. You don’t always have to agree because lets face it, we never do on a lot of topics, but as long and you are respectful and see in some way what they are saying, that is a big thing they look for in a group. Being a mom is hard, and we all do it the best we can in different ways, so support is a very big thing that is needed in the groups, some people are so far from family and friends and need some sort of support system and these groups can be it, and we need to make sure they stay safe and supportive for that, and many other reasons.

“I am a first time mom..So seeing another mom mess up worst or just like me makes me feel like I am not so bad at this mom thing. We all try are hardest and a group is supposed to be there to raise people up.” – Mama Rebecca

This is the true story of what I think and feel as well as what other moms think and feel about Mommy Facebook Groups.

Thank You for reading, please Like, Comment, and follow me on social media.

Love, Hearts, and Pretty Things

Ashton <3

Welcome

Welcome To Our Preemie Family 2.0!

Here we are, starting over Fresh, what a vast place of possibility!

The grownups have left me unattended with a computer, internet access and a blog! Mwahaha! I cannot wait to see what trouble I can cause here.

Well, we all know, well if you followed my last blog, I am far to lazy and busy to cause to much trouble, but the kids on the other hand, you will be here in the front seat watching what goes on in the troubled and turbulent life of my kids, and how life is unfair because mommy’s favorite word is NO!

I will have a few posts up very soon, some new and some from my old blog that I would like to move over!

Thank you for reading, Please follow me on any and all Social Media I have!

Love, Happiness and Other Pretty Things

Ashton <3

2017

Welcome 2017!!

I welcome you with open arms and a willing mind to help wash away the dust of 2016. If there was anything positive that came out of last year, they are as follows…

  1. I now have the million dollar family! We now have a Mommy, a Daddy, a Spud and as of July a Princess Tally!
  2. I also learned that no matter how shitty the hand you are dealt is, you can come out on top, you just have to be able to swallow your pride and ask for help.
  3. I learned that I have the best parents and brother I could ever ask for, when we hit our lowest point and were ready to give up, they stepped up and helped us in so many ways, I can never say thank you enough.
  4. I learned that I have amazing friends, who are always there to listen and let me cry it all out, and not afraid to slap me back to where I need to be.
  5. I have learned that I was born to rise to every challenge that is presented to me.

I was going to turn this blog into a support spot for families who were in the NICU, but that is not who I am, anymore.. I was a preemie mom, now I am just a mom who has taken to writing about her life, plans and goals online. I am hoping that I can continue getting readers, and make great friends with the people already reading!

My Goals for 2017

  1. De-Clutter my house! Make the most of the small space, and DYI the heck out of my place! And share them with all of you, my lovely readers and friends.
  2. Put my kids into fun activities and let them make as many friends as they can, outside of my friends and their kids. I know they will still see each other and be great friends, but time to learn how to be social!
  3. Use my planner and mommy calendars more! I want to know what I am doing at all times.
  4. Be more active, I need to be around for my kids, and it’s time for me to get into shape to do so.
  5. And finally, stick to a blog schedule! And to use the resources I have found over the last 2 months, and really allow this blog to grow, been seen and possibly ridiculed.

My Hopes for 2017

I hope in 2017, all the negativity of 2016 does not follow any one around and we can try and make the most of this year and, try and smile more. I hope, everyone does at least one Pay it forward during the whole year! Whether it be something as simple as buying the guy behind you in line a coffee, or something big like donating supper gift cards to moms and dads in the NICU, so they can find time to have a night off.

My Dreams for 2017

My dreams are to get accepted into the peer to peer support program at the NICU that helped our son, and hope to try and help other families who have been struggling like we did for so many days in 2014. I dream that I will get into school to become a Social Worker to secure a career and a good life for my children, and husband. But my biggest dream is to just be able to provide much more in some way for my kids. After losing my job last January, I have been feeling useless and over whelmed and when we moved into our own place things started looking up, and I hope to keep that ball going for the whole of 2017!

My Final Thoughts

I have so many plans and ideas for this blog, but by that I mean, I am going to have actual blog posts like a “normal” blog, about couponing, organizing my house with a disastrous two year old following behind you, about just being a mom in general, what drives me crazy and what melts my heart. I know my goal last year was to start vlogging, ya know posting videos of my life and sharing them, but I don’t want to have to worry about where the camera is all the time, how to edit… I barely know how to blog and use these blog sites and I wanted to vlog and edit videos?

I am a crazy, crazy mommy.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and don’t cause too much trouble. Now if you excuse me, I have a little girl who has decided that sleep is beneath her at night.

Thank you for reading, please Like Comment and follow me on Social Media.

Love, Hearts, and Pretty Things

Ashton <3