My Heart, Your Home   

Monday, 19 May 2014

The power of me

When Zalia was born 13 months ago my entire life was thrown in to a spin. There I was with one beautiful two year old and a lovely, bountiful newborn baby girl who was healthy. We were all healthy and alive and well. Except, I wasn't really ever well, not mentally. Once Zalia began to steal my sleep and scream at me for hours, upon days, upon weeks, I soon woke up to realise this fact.

I wasn't coping. I had a child whom I loved so deeply and so strongly, yet I held a sense of resentment toward her. I just needed her to be okay, needed her to sleep, needed her to no longer scream at me. I spent months curled in a ball in hysterical tears, I hid in the dark, I walked the streets for hours upon hours. I avoided people yet when I saw them, I didn't let them see how dark my eyes had become. I wished away the days so that Zalia could be better and I would magically be better too. It would all be better once she was better.

But it wasn't. I soon learnt that everything hadn't been "better" for a very long time. I hadn't felt any true emotions, nothing outside of anger and anxiety. I'd fallen from a happy, excitable and strong person to becoming a closed, shy and timid person. I was scared of crowds, scared of people, terrified of judgement, lonely within myself and I never felt like I could escape this cloud that was slowly strangling me. When I couldn't feel true happiness, or true sadness, irregardless of the sadness and happiness that surrounded my life, I decided that it was time to make a change. 

This past month I have found myself tangled in so many emotions. Absolute happiness. Complete gratitude. Deep sadness. Debilitating guilt. Heart wrenching disappointment. Total amazement. My days have been filled with the most amazing moments I have experienced in a long while, yet tainted with some of the most confusing and saddening. I have been overwhelmed by all these very contradicting emotions. Tonight as I sat in the back yard with my bare feet planted firmly in the grass, trying to ground myself, I thought back over the past 12 months. 

With the patience and support of Anthony, and my girls, I have walked a journey that has turned my life around. I have stepped back from everything that was pulling me down and I spent a lot of time, solo, re-evaluating myself and my life. I made goals. I dreamt. I made decisions. I internalised and I found my reasons for wanting my life to change so I did... I changed.

I released the ties to what was making me feel like I didn't deserve to be happy. I stepped away from the expectations that other's had on me, so that I could live up to my own expectations. I turned my back on the guilt, as much as I could. I limited my exposure to all negative energy and I drew on the well of life that I had found within myself.

I focused all my energy on my family, because they are the ones who love me every day, unconditionally and unrelentingly. So I blocked out the rest of the world and I spent months just being with Anthony and my children. In that time I decided that I wanted to give them someone to be proud of, someone that would fill their chests with butterflies, someone who would inspire them. 

So I enrolled myself in University to study a Bachelor of Social Welfare, an industry that I have always been passionate about. A degree that will give me the ability to support, care and nurture young children and women who don't have any support, care of nurture in their lives. My application was accepted and I dove right into my studies. I read, summarised and researched every week. I submitted three assignments and I have just completed my very first unit. Now I wait for the study materials to arrive for my next unit. I am full to the brim of self pride, confidence and utter amazement. In myself, yes. I could not be any more amazed in myself for actually pulling that off while pregnant with children. I did it, for me and my family, and I am determined to continue until I can call myself a social worker. I am proud.

I packed my girls up and I walked them out the front door and into the world. On my own. Without someone standing by me for support, without someone standing by me to hide behind when it all became too confronting. I took them to playgroups where I knew not a soul and we made friends. It was intimidating and horrifying. The first day I sat on the lounge and I felt terrified. But the next week, I talked... to real people, with real conversations, to women who I now consider my very dear friends. To women who I wouldn't ever want to live without. 

I accepted invites from perfect strangers to meet with them, and their friends. I was stricken with fear, but I placed one foot in front of the other and reached the end of her driveway, where she was with another friend and a flock of children. I stripped down to swimmers and I got in that pool and I began to shred away the layers and the barriers that I had always hidden behind. Sometimes I am still shocked, but mostly I just love that these women chose to like me on that day, really like me. I have an unbreakable friendship with them and they would roll over twice for me.

I committed myself to fortnightly sessions with a psychologist. One who is abrupt, up front and completely honest with me. She calls me on any silly behaviour, but she also praises me for my achievements. She sends me home with homework and she has near cured my social anxiety. She has reminded my that with a past like mine, I am awesome. I have survived. I have succeeded. I have blossomed. She has taught me to see myself in the eyes of others. I may not be succeeding in the way that I used to define success, but I lived out of home at 14, I dropped out of school, I experimented with drugs, I fell pregnant. All before 16. She has shown me that where I am now, coming from where I have been, my life is full of success and beauty and awe inspiring moments. She has taught me to appreciate my strength.

I have spent months, MONTHS, focusing on making life better, happier and fuller for myself so that I can give more to my children and to Anthony. I have a long way to go but, my word, I have travelled so far. I no longer hide in the bathroom behind closed doors, I no longer collapse on the kitchen floor in tears, I no longer disappear from my family when it all gets too much. I don't vomit at the thought of attending a party, or meeting a new person. I am no longer awake until early hours of the morning in tears and unable to breathe. I no longer give my all to the people in my life who just take it all. I no longer allow myself to be punished by guilt placed on me by others, mostly.

I am living my life, I am fulfilling my dreams, I am reaching my goals and I am making myself incredibly proud. I am the kind of woman that I used to always want to be. I inspire myself and I am make myself happy. I don't rely on others to do it for me. I have found that I am often punished for these changes by people who expect me to remain as I was. I have found that people don't support change if it may be seen as being at the cost of them. But I am trying to hold my head high and stride through that punishment. As I am surviving. Hey, I am more than surviving, I am succeeding with a huge smile on my face and I deserve to be rewarded. 

My life is full of so much love, so much support, such great friendships.
It is full of moments that I will never forget. The beginnings of new and ever lasting friendships, smiling and welcoming faces. Hand holding and loving hugs that say you are loved. Moments where I have achieved what was the unachievable and been completely rewarded by the faces looking back at me. I am completely blessed and overwhelmed by all the beauty in my world

At the end of each and every day I get to sit back and look at this life I have created for myself in the past 13 months. At how far I have travelled and the journey ahead and I get to feel happiness. Sometimes I feel sadness. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed I just have to close my eyes. But the point is, I get to FEEL. Real emotions! Not just anger and anxiety, but true, deep and butterflies creating emotions.

All thanks to that very moment that Zalia was born and she turned my life into a spin, that very moment that I decided she, and Evelyn, and Anthony deserve better than the empty shell I was giving them. 

I am succeeding.

Monday, 14 April 2014

A Very Colourful Party

There are actually very few words I can find that would be able to explain to you just how happy this day made me and my family. It was full of women who love my girls as their own, men who have shown my family an incredible amount of support and love, old friends who remind me of who I am, new friends who love us unconditionally, young children who are becoming like family, and family who are always there. 

Each time I think about the smiles on my girls faces across the day, my heart explodes. It was an incredible day that was so full of love, celebration, support and warmth. My family is unbelievably lucky to have these people in our lives. I have come from a background of very minimal support, but today, my families lives are full to the brim of people who would lay down for us if we needed them to.

My girls are blessed to have many, many people in their lives that love them with such intense fire and passion. Not only do they have their parents that will always and forever love them unconditionally, they are lucky enough to have many other adults, who have become adoptive family, who will be there for them in any way that they need (in any way that we may not be able to). They have friends who fill their days with great friendship and laughter. They have love.

I can not be any more grateful or ecstatic.
The party was perfect. I could continue to babble all about my emotions but we would be here all day. So I will leave you with a million photos instead.

The party theme was 'A colourful party' with a warning 'Dress for a paint fight'.
It was simple and yet extremely effective. I did not have to put a great deal of effort into any aspect of the day as I knew the paint fight would be the main attraction.

Friends of mine sat with me and helped make them paper chain backdrop, the only decorations of the day. I think outsourced the catering with a wonderful friend. Anthony and I baked the cake. I was able to source some great art supplies at $2 shops to make an art pack as the lolly bag (they cost about $2.70 a bag). We purchased 30 squirters from Kmart and then a few bottles of poster paint. We premixed the paint with water and filled buckets. We filled water bombs with paint and water and we laid out paint in foils roasting pans with sponges. This gave the kids (and adults) many different ways to be involved in the paint fight, but the squirters were by far the most favourite weapon of choice.

The art packs each included 10 pencils, a small tub of paint, a paint brush, a glitter glue pen, a note pad and some colourful paper with mini pegs. The children that were Evies age each got a pair of scissors.
Oh and a freddo frog for good measure. They were a hit! I received many photos afterwards of the kids at home, covered in paint, painting with their new supplies. 

The girls absolutely loved it, their friends had a great morning and I had the best fun ever organising it and watching it all come together. 

Thank you to all of our wonderful and incredible friends for making it what it was, without your presence, our hearts wouldn't be as full.

We love you

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Boo Boo ~ 28 Weeks

Time has been going by so fast that I have barely had a moment to think about how I feel about carrying my third child. The pregnancy itself has been so easy on me in comparison to the girls pregnancies and up until recent weeks I was not showing all that much, so it has been quite easy to get swept up in the week and push the pregnancy to the back of my mind.

These last few days it has dawned on me that we are only a matter of weeks away from completing our family. Our last ever child to be carried within my tummy, last child to be birthed, to be raised. It occurred to me how terribly empty that makes me feel. I have loved watching my body grow to accommodate the lives of my cherished loved ones. I love the way pregnancy makes me feel beautiful, I love the strength and power that birth gives me. To think that we are making an active decision to not go through another pregnancy is unthinkable for me at the moment.

I have found it fascinating that throughout my pregnancy with Zalia I was so deeply concerned about how I was going to possibly have two children, however, throughout this pregnancy I do not feel concerned or fearful. I have such a strong understanding now that with every child born, you love them just the same. I have a confidence that my two Daughters will adapt and this baby boy will be accepted into this family with a strong and passionate love. I don't find myself feeling guilty with this pregnancy like I did the last. I have learnt with Zalias life that the life of this baby will only bring joy and happiness into our home. There will be no negative impact on my children, my family, my house. 

My emotional state has been so much stronger throughout this pregnancy. With Evelyn's and Zalia's I found myself to be so fragile, everything was an uphill battle and I was constantly on the verge of tears. But this pregnancy has not effected the way I have been able to run my life. I am busy with the lives of my Daughters, I am studying at University, I am babysitting 3 times a week and I am building some of the best friendships Ive ever known. Life seems so positive and up at the moment. Pregnancy seems easy. My family is strong. 

I am so completely blessed to have fallen pregnant the way I did and to be in the situation I am in. I have not taken that for granted, even once. I am over the moon excited for this baby to arrive. To have a boy to join my little family and to fill our house with laughter, family and love. I can only imagine how much love there is going to be in this household and I cannot wait!

Baby Blue, Boo Boo, I do love you

Sunday, 23 March 2014

12 months to a better me

I am a firm believer that we control our own destiny, that happiness is a choice and that we shouldn't rely on any one person to help improve our life, happiness or sense of self. Life throws us curve balls which test our strength and our character and we all dodge them, recover from them or survive them in totally unique ways. No two lives are the same and no two people are the same. 

I have dodged, recovered and survived many of life's curve balls. I am not entirely graceful about it, nor am I always humble nor do am I completely accepting. I will often question the universe, in a totally selfish way, 'why me?'. What makes one life so full to the brim of challenges, set backs, break downs and heart break as opposed to another life. And, what makes the next life even harder? Who decides? 

But at the end of the day the question is not important, it is the journey back to recovery, it is the way in which you take your steps along this journey and it is the arrival at the destination that is important. 

I like to think that I have walked my journey with a gentle and compassionate heart, I have held the hands of comrades along the way, I have given myself to less fortunate even when I just want to hide away. I have not always been selfless, and I often seek the sympathy and encouragement of others and I can become so self involved that I do forget to ask in return how they are. I am human, I have my shortcomings and I have my strong points. 

The last 12 months has been an adventure of self awareness, change and character building. It began by completely breaking my spirit and strength. I was a broken woman, unable to give to anyone. I have so much self doubt and self hate and weakness. But with the help and support of my ever giving partner, Anthony, and the dedication and commitment of my own headstrong character I have survived this particular dodge ball. 

Along the way, regardless of believing that my life is in my control, I have met some incredible people who all threw my a rope and helped pull me back up to a height I have never reached before. Every once in a while we are lucky enough to meet one or two people who change our lives completely. At the time you are truly unaware of the power of their presence, the length of their reach and their warmth of their embrace. Until one day, you are no longer in a panic, you look forward to leaving the house, you cant wait to talk to them. You crave their friendship, their love and them.

This year I have been so blessed to have met several people, strong, powerful and independent woman who have changed my life and my future. They wandered aimlessly into my life and have seeded themselves into the depth of my being and have been growing ever since. These women and their families are no longer just a play date for my children, they are no longer just a friend, they are my family. With them in my life I have been able to swim to shore and live a life that a year ago was unimaginable. With them by my side, I have belief in myself, my abilities as a woman and as Mum. These women are genuine, loving, kind and giving and I feel like I owe them my happiness. 

I take pride in the strength I have mustered this year, in the self confidence I have found. I feel so much achievement towards this past year. There is no self hate, very minimal negativity, less tears and rarely ever a panic attack. I have begun studying, I have made life long friendships, I have found direction and I have uncovered myself. The version of myself that I believe has always been hiding, but is now here and I actually like me. 

This past 12 months has been a powerful journey to self discovery.

I am found and I am me

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Boo Boo ~ 25 weeks

A week of migraines, gastro, Dr checkups, the all clear, the need for daytime napping, a lack of daytime napping, belly popping and weight gain. A week of fails and a week of wins, I am completely and utterly exhausted!

After having a lot of visual disturbances, loss of sight and migraines I began to worry about it implicating the beginning of a blood pressure issue so i took myself to the midwives and Drs to be checked out. I do not have pre-eclampsia and my blood pressure is not even slightly high... in fact, it is extremely low! 86/45... ah huh, I shouldn't be able to walk with that! But lord knows, it is not unusual for me and perhaps explain why I am always so tired. 

While I was being checked over I learnt that a urine test can give the Drs an incredible amount of information, like the fact that my body is eating its own resources. Which obviously explains why I have been losing weight, rather than gaining it. So... I have taken it upon myself to eat as much as I physically can. Which sounds like so much fun, except for the fact that the thought of eating makes me feel ill! So I have set alarms to remind myself to eat every 2-3 hours and I have given in to any craving (yes.. that includes my Mcdonalds junior burger + fries + sweet and sour sauce craving). As a result I have finally put on 1.5kgs! I am not sure I ever would have celebrated such a thing but it felt great to see those numbers rise.

Being pregnant with two young children in your care day in and day out, week after week, is starting to take its toll. I am purely exhausted and I am (embarrassingly) envious of those who have family support. Those who can leave their children with family so that they can sleep, go to Drs checkups, having solo time. But I am making it through each and every day, still awake and in a relatively calm state. My, how I would like to be able to sleep. But I have found myself surrounded by the most incredibly beautiful friends who step in and step up and offer me an outstanding amount of support when it is needed. 

I have been slowly collecting little blue clothes, wraps and blankets. It still feels so surreal to be having another baby, let alone a little blue baby. I am so excited about seeing the way this little blue bundle looks on the outside, the differences between brother and sisters. I am excited to see how his energy may be different, his attitude and zest for life. The love a Son has for his Mum and Dad and two big Sisters. The love they have for their little Brother. In 15 weeks time our lives are all going to collide, an explosion of love. In 15 weeks time we will be a family of five, two Daughters and a Son, a tribe. Busy, messy, unorganised and chaotic. Loving, loud and a little out of control. 

I cannot wait!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Boo Boo ~ 24 weeks

It has been really hard to remember to come here each week to share my journey throughout this pregnancy because the truth is, I barely feel pregnant. Earlier this week I had to actually count back the weeks to try and work out how far along I am. It horrible, the differences between each consecutive pregnancy. But, my body hasn't grown too much yet, I don't feel sick, the headaches has subsided. There really is not much physical reminder that I am growing a baby within me. Except of course, the beautiful baby kicks I have within me each and every day. Obviously the most beautiful physical reminder there could be. 

This pregnancy, so far, has been beautifully kind to me. My emotions are amazingly in check, not a single hormonal meltdown yet! My body is very slowly changing and I have not yet noticed much of a change to how I stand, sleep or walk. I have a touch of insomnia but nothing that a good book hasn't been able to help me with. My dear future Son is being so very kind to his Mumma. 

Every day, however, I do dream about the day this boy is put into my arms. I am beyond excited to see how Anthony and I combine to create a little boy, to see what he looks like, the colour of his eyes, who's smile he will have. I cannot wait to experience the differences between my beautiful girls to my handsome Son. The love of a boy and his Mummy. The relationship between Father and Son. It is all so new and different, its exhilarating, unknown, exciting. 

The last 5 weeks, since my last post, have been busy. Uneventful, in regards to the pregnancy. I have had my check up and he is growing perfectly on track (hopefully not ahead!), his heart beat is strong. My iron is okay, my blood pressure is low but okay. I have been experiencing migraines over the past week, my vision is disrupted, blurred and throbbing. Then the pain kicks in for hours, having to hide away in a dark room and silence. I am still trying to get in to speak with the Drs about them as I am a little concerned about the cause. 

This pregnancy has gained a lot of negative attention from the people in our lives. People who seem to think we are 'stupid' for having another child. That it will make life 'shit' and 'hard' and 'unbearable'. It has been impossibly hard to try and rise above their comments without reaction, without being hurt and feeling betrayed. I find that after each time I see these people I am justifying why this pregnancy is a blessing and a thrill and a great thing. I shouldn't have to justify... but in case there is anyone reading this who thinks we are silly for having another child, we are beyond thrilled. We could not be happier about adding to our family and we feel stronger as a family now that we know we are adding another child. It is a dream come true. We are strong and capable parents who love our children entirely, this third child will be NO exception. 

Baby Booboo is exactly what we want...
We love you

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Life after medication

Ever since I first sat in my Drs office and told him I am suffering depression and would like to go on anti-depressants my life has never been the same. Taking home that first box of pills was terrifying, I felt so weak and deflated, I felt as though I had let myself down and that I was incapable of being able to live my life. When I took the first pill, I cried. I was so disappointed in myself for not getting through, for not being strong enough, for giving up. 

Each morning I would wake up and slowly, without truly being aware of it, I would be feeling mentally stronger, just a touch. Each night as I swallowed one more pill I would feel a little less defeated and a little more faithful. Until one day when it became routine and there was no more thought about swallowing that little white pill.

For the first two weeks that pill slowly gave me wings, until one morning where I began to feel sick. So sick that I could barely get out of bed. I hung on for weeks thinking that the side effects would wear off, they never did. So I made the heart wrenching decision to quit taking the pills and try for another one. I was devastated at the thought of having to go through it all again. I slowly backed off the pills until I was no longer taking any. I spent over a week without a pill and yet I was still sick, I was still suffering. At this point, I realised that it can't of been the medication and I took a pregnancy test, only to find that I was 10 weeks pregnant.

Once I got the all clear from the Drs I went straight back on that pill and waited for its effects to take full swing. From the moment they began to kick back in I started to accept that I hadn't been defeated and I was not weak. In fact, I felt stronger and more capable than I had felt in years. I knew that the decision I made to go on that medication was the best possible decision I could have made for myself. I had been drowning for so very long, hiding from the world. Living the life of a "shy" girl, believing that is who I truly was. Living with the lowest self esteem, distrusting of everyone new I met. Doubting anyone's interest in me as genuine. Living life, worthlessly, as I believed that was who I was.

Since starting my anti-depressants life has changed, in swings and round abouts. Each new day has bought with it a new found confidence, self love and self belief, strength and happiness. Of course I still have terribly hard days like any other person. But my tolerance is so much higher. I no longer find myself sobbing on the driveway before Anthony has even left for work, I am no longer locked in the bathroom in a panic attack, I no longer call Anthony begging for his return home. 

My relationship is stronger that I have ever known it to be. I have more energy to lend to Anthony, more time to give to him and more tolerance to share my affection with him. Prior to starting this medication, by the time he came home the absolute last thing I wanted was for him to touch me after a day of children crawling all over me. We communicate better, we laugh more, we enjoy each other. I love stronger.

My patience with my children has risen to unbelievable heights. The whinging still drives me batty, but I don't end up in a meltdown at the sound of it. I can negotiate, I can tolerate, I can handle. I can remain calm and composed. 

My shyness has been cured. I have learnt that I was never in fact shy, just incredibly and brutally down on myself. My esteem and self worth was unbelievably broken. I truly believed that I had nothing to offer and only ever thought people liked me to use me. I settled for any friendship or relationship, toxic and abusive, because I didnt believe I deserved better. It has been a long, hard fight to change my belief in myself and one that I am continuing to work on. But, I am in a place now where my life is full of genuine friendships, of love, of trust. I can walk into a room and talk to people. I feel strong within myself and no longer describe myself as shy.

I am focused. Something I haven't been in many years. I have a goal and I am sticking to it. I am studying social welfare at university. I study. I read. I write. I learn and my god, do I feel proud of myself for doing it! I believe that I can do it.

I have began babysitting to help contribute to our family finances. I walk into the house of strangers and I have open and honest conversations with them. I play with their children and fall in love with each and every one of them. It has been strangely empowering. Each time that I leave a job I feel strong, likeable and positive. I haven't walked away from meeting a stranger feeling likeable for so many years.

Taking medication has been an unexpected journey filled with so many emotions. I honestly felt nothing but defeat in those early days. I cried and cried about how I had failed living life. But now, I feel nothing but pride. For taking those steps to better myself and in turn, bettering the conditions for my family. Life has never been so good. For the first time in so very long, life feels full, life feels like we are living. I am busy, strong, capable and happy.

Antidepressants are not to be ashamed of, are not to be hidden. Antidepressants are just that shoulder of support that we all need every now and then, sometimes this is the best shoulder to choose. Life has never been better, than life after medication