Archive | December 2018

Death in the Family

How do you explain death to a toddler? The conversations that I have had with my daughter over the past few days have been some of the hardest conversations I have had in my life. On December 12th my aunt passed away after suffering from a debilitating form of Palsy. For over a year we thought that she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease; however, we recently learned that she was in fact she was suffering from a form palsy. Over the past 2 years she declined quickly. It was a hard thing to witness but we handled it. Made sure we visited her as often as we could. Made sure that she came to all the family holiday celebrations. 

We also made sure that my daughter got to see her as much as possible. Family is the most important thing to me. I prefer to spend as much time as I can with my family. My biggest regret is that when my father died I did not have any pictures of him with his granddaughter. He was in and out of an assisted living facility and my daughter was only 3 months old when he died so I did not want to be bringing her into a place that could be contagious with germs at that age. I had never told her about her pop-pop dying since she was so young when it happened that I knew she didn’t remember him. 

When we realized that my aunt would not be getting better I started to prepare myself and her for the worst. I will admit that I use Daniel Tiger  to help me talk to her about different kinds of difficult situations and feelings. He is truly is the best teacher. There was an episode of the show in which Daniel’s fish dies and the entire episode is about things dying and how to handle those feelings of loss, confusion and acceptance. When we watched that episode she asked me if she knew anyone that had died. I used this as an opportunity to tell her about her pop-pop. She asked a lot of questions, which is only natural, but she seemed to take it in well. A few weeks later I had to tell her that Aunt Kathleen died. This hit her so much harder as she remembered her, remembered going to her house and spending time with her. She was very sad and again she asked a lot of questions. I did my best to answer them as honestly as possible in a way that a 4 yo could understand. Trying not to scare her I explained that she was very sick and the doctor’s could not fix her. I did not want to say that she went to sleep and didn’t wake up because I thought that would make her fear sleeping. I was just honest. I explained that we get a chance to say goodbye at the funeral and that she will either be buried or cremated. We are Catholic and so I explained her soul is now with God in Heaven (as we believe.) 

It was also difficult for me since I had just found out my aunt passed earlier that morning. As I was explaining to her I started to cry, which is natural. I didn’t hide my tears from her, I cried right in front of her. I wanted her to know that it is OK the cry and that even grown-ups cry. She told me they didn’t. What blew me away was that she tried to cry because I was crying. She wanted me to feel better and didn’t want me to “cry all by [my]self.’ 

In the days since she has asked questions and made some comments that tell me she is processing what I told her. She is doing her best to understand something that even adults struggle with. 

Living with Anxiety

And so it begins…The sun sets and the knots in my stomach begin to grow larger than they were during the day. Let’s be honest, when you suffer from anxiety the knots are always there. In some way or another, they are there. Always nervous or concerned or anticipating or overwhelmed about what is going to happen that day, the night, that hour or that moment. This is how I live, in a constant state of worry. I worry about how my daughter is doing in school. She is a very active child, I would almost go so far as to say she may have ADHD, though I am no medical professional to diagnose that, but she seems to exhibit the signs and symptoms. It wouldn’t surprise me if she did have it, my whole family seems to have it. I worry about her ability to focus on anything, her ability to listen and I worry about her behavior. I worry about how she will handle the world when she grows up. I worry that I am not doing right by her as her mother. I worry that I am making the wrong decisions, that I am too strict or not strict enough. 

I worry about my marriage. Am I doing enough as a wife? I am doing too much or not enough? Is my husband happy? I worry that I will say or do something that will cause us to fight. I worry that we will fight and he will leave. I worry that I am not enough. I worry that we are not enough. I worry that our family is not enough. That our home is not enough.

I worry about my newborn son. He is only a week old but I worry about him already. Before he was born I would wake up in a cold sweat that something was wrong with him in my belly or that something would go wrong when I went into labor. Now I worry that he is not getting enough sleep. I worry that he is eating too much or not enough. I worry that he will wake up in the middle of the night and wake up everyone else in the house. I worry that when that happens my daughter will wake up and not go back to sleep and that my husband will get angry with us. 

I worry about my career. Am I in a career that I want to be in? Is it providing enough for me and my family? Am I doing my job well? Am I doing the very best that I can be doing everyday? What more can I be doing to excel at my job? What does my team need from me to succeed? 

I even worry about when I will die. It is my greatest fear. I worry about the day that I will no longer be on this earth to be with my family. I worry that it will happen way too early and that my husband and children will be left all alone. I worry that my time will come and my children will not be prepared for the world. I worry that my husband will not be OK without me. I worry that he WILL be OK without me. I worry that the world will forget me. I worry that my children will not have someone to look after them. 

I worry about my extended family. I worry about people that I have never met but have seen in passing or on TV or on a viral video online. I worry about so many things ALL OF THE TIME. And it is truly exhausting.

I use the term worry because it is the easiest way to make you understand the feelings and thoughts that are constantly running through my brain and my heart. All of these thoughts and feelings are not necessarily irrational. Most of them, to some degree, are pretty legitimate. I know that so many have had some of the same thoughts, fears, and worries. What makes it different for me is that fact that I cannot turn these feelings off. They constantly run through me. Run through my brain all day and at times all night. I have stopped sleeping well because my brain doesn’t fully shut off. In fact, the silence of night is when these thoughts are often the loudest. I know deep down that one fight will not cause my husband to leave, or the baby crying in the middle of the night will not make him angry. I know that I am doing the best that I can for my children and they will be grow to be strong, happy and healthy adults. But knowing that does not stop the fear and dread from creeping in just a little. That is just how anxiety works. I cannot control it. It just is. 

Living with anxiety is like living with giant knot in the pit of your stomach in constant fear that it will unravel and strangle you. 


Well I did it again! My beautiful son, Elliot, was born on Sunday, December 2nd and it just amazing already. Thank God he is healthy and happy. All the anxiety that I had throughout my 9 months was terrifying but apparently unnecessary. I delivered him in 44 minutes from when I started pushing, a huge change from my daughter, as I pushed for 2 hours and 45 minutes with her. The staff was absolutely amazing!

After delivery when I was finally taken to my room, a room I would not see the outside of for the next roughly 3 days. I asked my husband to stay in the hospital with me this time. When my daughter was born I told him he could home and I think that was my first mistake. With her I spent 3 days mostly alone in the hospital room. During the day it wasn’t so bad, I had some visitors, hospital staff in and out checking on me and Fiona, but at night when no one came in to check on us it got hard. I think that is part of the reason I had such bad postpartum depression. I pretty much started off as a mom all alone. 

This time I voiced what I needed. I asked for help. I am so lucky to have my mom so close by. She took Fiona the whole time I was in the hospital so that Harrison could stay by my side. Though I was nursing, and he couldn’t actually feed our new bundle of joy, at least I had someone to talk to. Even though I was up at night nursing Elliot, I could look over at the pull out cot and see my loving husband there, though asleep, to support me. 

That first day/night in the hospital with my new son, after the first round of hospital staff was in and out, after the first round of visitors had come and gone, I thought to myself, “I am so blessed. I have a beautiful new son, a beautiful daughter, a loving husband and an incredibly supportive family!” That is when I heard it! The screeching cry from the room next door! The screeching cry of an inconsolable baby. The constant wail from those tiny lungs. And I didn’t hear it just once. It was pretty consistent throughout our stay. All I could think was, “That poor mom! I do not know your story, but I have been there! I have been in your shoes! I know what you are going through and you can do this! I don’t know your precious baby’s story but he will be alright!” At that moment I said a prayer for her. A prayer for that mom with screeching baby and for every mom that is having a tough time of it. Sometimes all a mom or even dad needs to hear is, “You got this!’ One kind word, or even a prayer, goes a long way! If you see a parent struggling, give them a kind word. If you see a child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the mall, don’t stare. Give the parent a little acknowledgement that you understand what they are going through. Every family, every parent, every child has a story different from our own and what us parents need is kinship to make it through the day sometimes.