Years Passed: “…it wasn’t supposed to last this long…”

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1Peter 5:10-11 NIV

(***Trigger warning: This post discusses personal details about my experience with postpartum depression***)

Each life is a story. Some chapters dark and some chapters uplifting. Some are short lived while others seem to go on and on and on. Sometimes, the chapter doesn’t even make sense until the very end. Other times, the chapter doesn’t make sense until many chapters later. I feel that I have recently began a new chapter but for it to make sense, I will have to go back to a few previous ones.

Let’s rewind to a time when I had my first child in 2013. I had a different pregnancy where for some reason I didn’t have those feelings of excitement throughout my pregnancy but blamed it on hormones and continued on throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I then went on to struggle with severe postpartum depression (PPD) following the birth of my first child. I ignored warning signs or just passed them off as typical and normal patterns of adjustment until I eventually hit the brink of wanting to harm myself one night and thought about options on the easiest “way out.” (Side note: This was following a specific medication I had began taking to help with milk production. A nurse warned me over the phone that suicide and suicidal thoughts were a side effect. I quickly explained that I understood, didn’t give it a second thought and began taking the medication in desperation to produce more milk.)

Thankfully, I was warned and mentally sound enough to recognize that things had gone too far. I didn’t tell my husband what I had been thinking at that moment, but just remember crying and crying and crying that night. I’m not sure if it was intuition on his part, if he recognized the signs, if he had researched anything related to PPD, or if it was just God’s grace, but all I remember is my husband hugging me saying we are going to the doctor to get help.

I eventually had another child (Aug. 2016). I believe the best way to explain my condition following my second child was a functional depression. I wasn’t aware of it at the time though because it wasn’t “as bad” as the first time. And, in my head, “it (PPD) wasn’t supposed to last this long” after having a baby. I thought maybe it was because of major transitions such as having another baby, my husband going active duty which had us move 1,000 miles away from family, TDYs, etc. Before moving, I enjoyed working and the new transition to stay at home was difficult for me so I would search for that fix. I went back to work as an SLP, I got certified as a mind/body fitness instructor, but there was still a void. I hit a point where I would say to God that I didn’t even care for the relationship with Him anymore because I wasn’t sure if He was really there and I just kept going through the motions. I was bitter.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

Now, to our neighbors and friends during that time, thank you for the invitations. The invitations to girls’ nights, get togethers, bible studies, couple dates, church, the pool, everything. All of the invites and relationships mean the world to me. Even if there was a void, I believe God used each of you with all my heart to help me keep pushing through. And the fun times were truly fun times. It is possible to have good days and fun times when in the midst of a difficult battle.

I kept a lot inside and continued as though this was how life was supposed to be. WHY, do we do that??? This is life, it’s normal to have lows, why is it so hard to be vulnerable and admit those things to the ones we love most?

(Edit to add: NOW, I know why we try to journey alone, and it is bc Satan WANTS us isolated and alone.)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Fast forward to this past summer when we had to PCS. We moved in June and were in transition for awhile. Finally, the day came when we got our house then several weeks later in August our household goods arrived. We got everything that we could unpacked and settled. We celebrated (that no crates were lost and everything was in semi good condition this round) with a glass of wine outside with neighbors, got the girls to bed, then sat down to watch a show on Netflix. Finally, we were settled. Cue: A big, deep sigh of relief.

That is when I got a phone call. I saw my older sister calling and ignored it to finish our show. I checked her voicemail because I thought it was odd that she called instead of texting and left a voicemail. The voicemail said “Katy, mom has had a heart attack.” I sat frozen after hearing those words and looked at my husband and just asked “What do I do?” Just typing that memory brings so many tears to my eyes y’all because I had no idea the road God was about to take us on to reveal Himself and show us just how good He really is. Little did I know, how transforming the next three weeks would be not just for myself but all five of us siblings.

So this is where we come to a new chapter. It’s a transforming chapter for myself and hopefully others. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. Some details my mom and family are not quite ready to share. Some of it is scary, sad, terrifying but some so unbelievably uplifting. It’s a chapter on how God waited on a girl to give her life back to Him for years. It’s about a girl who used to try so hard to use words and scripture to encourage others but needed encouragement so desperately herself. It’s a chapter about a girl that saw dark for so long and now sees light. A chapter about a girl who put on a smile and laughed for so long to only cover the hurt and pain she was feeling inside. A chapter about finding hope and joy in a life that once was hopeless and depressed. A chapter about how God used a storm to change lives. A chapter of how God filled the life of a girl and her four other siblings while their mother was on several forms of life support and “asleep” for three weeks. A chapter about how God used a small Catholic chapel and daily mass in a hospital to speak to a non-Catholic girl. Because, when we seek Him, He will meet us anywhere. A chapter where a girl gave her author back the pen. A chapter of how God revealed Himself and continues to reveal Himself to just one girl in this huge world. Because, to Him, I’m not just a girl. I’m His child. It took years for me to realize that where Satan had me shackled, my God had the key.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV

The storm isn’t over, the waters aren’t calm. The waves continue to rise at times but God, we continue to praise you in this storm and place our hope in you. The days will still be difficult, we are warned over and over of that but we have God who has given us the ultimate example of endurance and a reason for hope. We have God who has overcome the world.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NLT

He is waiting for us to surrender. He is waiting for us to receive the blessing of His grace. And, no perfect time to respond than now because we aren’t promised tomorrow. Thank God He chose me. Thank God He is the author of my story. There’s so much more to discuss but if you take anything away from this, know that you are loved and God is good. Our storms aren’t always for us. Sometimes, He’s working on others in the midst of our storms. Thank you, God, for these storms and may you be glorified through each and every one.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4 NLT

“For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.” Psalm 54:7 ESV

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Because I mentioned my struggle with PPD and anxiety, here is a link for for phone numbers, resources, etc. for information.

https://postpartumstress.com/helpful-links/

Below are some of my Facebook profile pictures throughout my struggle which I believe were triggered by pregnancy and postpartum that carried on for years. There are so many more details and variables to my struggle with PPD regarding breastfeeding, medication, second pregnancy, other events, etc. Feel free to reach out with any questions regarding this experience. Just a friendly reminder that although someone is smiling and functioning, it doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. You never know the battles someone is fighting.

(Photo credit for top two pictures: Sweet Charms Photography, LLC)

Verses to dwell on:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 NIV

But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. Job 36:15 NIV

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 1Peter 4:2 NIV

But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1Peter 4:13 NIV

Thank you for reading and my prayer is that this help someone in need and that it bring all glory and honor to God.

Farewell Fort Belvoir…

 

2015 — Left: Charli and Stella by Washington Monument; Top Right: Mitch, Charli, Stella off GW Parkway looking over Potomac River; Bottom Right: Me, Stella, Charli first day in house before HHG arrived

I haven’t posted anything in seven months so I really appreciate you taking the time to read our update.  A lot has happened since last post — I went back to work part-time as a pediatric SLP for a private clinic, our youngest (MaryClaire) started daycare, our oldest (Charli) started Kindergarten, hubby started new position, I took on a long term sub position for Bodyflow at the gym on my off day(s), and things just kind of took off….much faster than I anticipated….much, MUCH faster than I anticipated.  Honestly, I think maybe I took on too much too soon but here we are…still marching on.  I’d be lyin’ if I said all days were rainbows and butterflies.  One thing I’ve learned is that there will always be ups and downs, its just important to not dwell too long on the downs (overheard that from a conversation between a preschool teacher and a 4-year old).

Anyways…we are at that time of year…PCS season!  And, it is our turn!

Quick recap, we moved to Fort Belvoir, VA four years ago in April 2015.  FOUR.  YEARS.  AGO.  I wasn’t a fan of the area when we first moved here…hated the cost of living, hated the traffic, hated the distance from family, hated the allergies, hated the traffic, struggled adjusting to being a SAHM, and strongly disliked the traffic.  Those were my feelings my first year.  Then… every year grew on me and began enjoying NOVA more with each day we lived here.  The DC area is remarkable with it’s history, museums, monuments, sporting events, beauty, cherry blossoms, vineyards, breweries, proximity to the beach AND city life (NYC, Gettysburg, Virginia Beach), etc, etc.  It is the nation’s capital for goodness sake and that in itself is pretty amazing!!!  The relationships and friendships we made have just been the icing on the cake.

So…after countless church visits, daycare changes, gym changes, hairstylist visitations (which I finally found the perfect one after 3 years), school changes, new friends (some have moved, some still here), new jobs, new baby – Sidenote: I still can’t believe Charli was only 1.5 years old when we first came here in April 2015 – it is here, it is our turn to leave…

We are officially headed to FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS this summer.

Last PCS to VA, we were without household goods for 2 months, and they lost an entire crate of our HHG that we never received.  We were so thankful for understanding neighbors who let us borrow towels and a few other necessities those two months.  We learned very quickly that “things” are just that — “things.”  Gosh, we’ve all made some good friends here and it will definitely be rough as I type this through burning (allergy stricken) tears to say goodbye for all of us.  Please pray and send good vibes that the transition goes as smooth as possible (or at least smoother than last PCS).  This summer will consist of a whole lot of paperwork, re-enrolling in schools/daycares, licensure transfers, changing doctors, finding dentists, enrolling in CYS activities, meeting new friends, finding a church family/etc., all while reminding myself that God is in control of each and every path that crosses.  Many of you military families have been through the PCS crazy train several times so tips and tricks are welcome!  We may never know why this life was chosen for us but one thing I sure do love about this life are the relationships made and paths we cross along the way.  I’ll stop rambling now…

Ready or not, Fort Leavenworth, KS here we come!

Left: Charli our first week here 4/15; vs. present; Right: MaryClaire newborn vs. present

Take. The. Break.

So I’ve lived the semi-civilian life and the military life. I’ve lived the working life and the stay-at-home life. Right now, I’m living the stay-at-home, military life. (More to come on why I dont think I’m quite cut out for the full time SAHM life). Just when I thought life was difficult, God threw us a curve ball and made us an active duty, military family. I quit the job I loved to move 1,000 miles away from established friends and family to become a stay-at-home mom and essentially start a “new life.” I guess you could say I was excited at first but developed some bitterness along the “darling detour.”

I don’t write this for a pity party or for people to “thank us” for our service. I write this for the tired mom, dad, parents, spouses, etc. that live this same life. Before we became active duty, we had the ability to drop everything at any time to take a much needed getaway. We had our family, we had help. Now, it’s not that easy. If you live this same life and are hearing others tell you, it’s not that bad or it’s not that hard and they don’t live this life then quit listening to them. Don’t listen. No one will know the struggle unless they live it. They will never understand the guilt you carry with you when you do finally have a getaway because family you haven’t seen in months or years has arrived to take care of your kids only for you to say goodbye and good luck with YOUR kids. No matter how long it’s been since you had a break, you carry that guilt and feel selfish because others are making sacrifices so you can get that time away.

But, guess what??? YOU DESERVE THE BREAK. Some may disagree with me when I say this but it’s not your kids that should come first. I’m sure I’ll receive comments saying how wrong that statement is but you know what’s most important…. your relationship with the Lord and your relationship with your spouse and/or partner. If the foundation isn’t stable, the house will crumble.

Sure, it was only a few days but a few days alone for the first time in several years is NOT selfish. And, if it is then maybe it takes a little selfishness to take care of the relationships that matter most.

To the military parents: those feelings of guilt and selfishness you feel when you get a break are from Satan. Take the break. Know that you are doing what’s best, healthy, and required to maintain a healthy family and relationships. Take. The. Break. Don’t let Satan or others dictate what’s healthy for you. TAKE. THE. BREAK.

***A special thank you to my in-laws (Giddy & Pop) for loving on our two girls and furbaby while we took our much needed break.***

Bittersweet Beginnings – Old Town, Alexandria

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Alright, so one of the bittersweet aspects of living the military life are the people you meet along the way (the sweet part)….the bitter part comes when you have to tell the people you have grown to know and love “goodbye,” or as we like to say “see you later.”  The thing about military life is that the only people that REALLY get and understand the life are other military families because they are living the same positives/negatives, struggles/excitements, mishaps/celebrations you are…essentially.  With all due respect, there are things that happen in this life that no one else will truly understand unless you are living it…such as an entire crate going missing in a move, a family member going TDY or deploying, etc.  These connections make a friendship so special because you find those people that truly understand the life.  Anyways, more on the struggles and excitements of the military life in a later post.

This post is a little different. It is more informative focusing on places in Old Town, Alexandria to go eat or grab a drink.  The reason for this outing goes back to my original explanation of a bittersweet event.  We went out with another couple that we became best friends with and we were celebrating our friendship as well as them moving on to begin a new chapter of their life.  As much as we did NOT want to say goodbye, we are so excited for what the future holds for them.  We hold on to knowing that we are certain we will see them again.  So…if you’re ever in the area or live here, read on for a short list of places to go in Old Town, Alexandria.

Old Town has A LOT of history.  During the day, you can purchase a “Key to the City,” to visit various museums such as the Carlyle House, Apothecary Museum, The Tavern (where George Washington would dine), etc.  I will do a separate post on some of these places later or PM me if interested.  We went to several of these places when some hometown friends came to visit about a year ago.

Our evening out in Old Town, Alexandria started at Blackwall Hitch .  We did have reservations but arrived early for a couple of drinks on the patio.  It is located near the water next door to Chart House.  Chart House is a beautiful view of the water and has wonderful drinks as well.  There is a ferry from this area that you can hop on and ride to a Nationals baseball game and/or to National Harbor as well.  After leaving Blackwall Hitch, we stopped by one of our favorites Virtue Feed & Grain to grab a couple of drinks.  I got an amazing watermelon flavored cocktail at Virtue Feed & Grain.  We just sat in the bar area but if you want to eat then definitely make reservations.  After leaving here, we stopped by an Irish pub for a quick drink then moved on to Fish Market.  Fish Market was a fun place to land on with live music.  There are SO many places to hit in Old Town that it can be almost overwhelming.  I will post about others as we land upon them.  Off the top of my head, we had fun at another Irish Pub on a different night called Murphy’s Pub.  It is a little more of a loud, party, live music scene.

Overall, it was a fun night to say “Cheers, to a wonderful friendship!”

Small Victories Matter

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, monotonous way of living.  Before even stepping out of bed, I’m already thinking of the diapers to be changed, the kids to get dressed, what to give them for breakfast, and if I can get my coffee made before the whining starts.  That is the basic morning routine here.

I find my days similar…checking each hour off the list, we made it through this, finished that, so on and so forth.  The weeks are the same…. ugh, Monday, only Tuesday?, halfway there Wednesday, one more day Thursday, finally here Friday, nice to see you Saturday, then Sunday is here before you know it to kick off a new week.  Unless I have a special event, date, outing, etc. to look forward to, it is as if I am just going through the motions each. and. every. day.  Here’s the thing, you’re not.  I’ll say it again, you are not just going through the motions each hour/day/week/month/year.  There are small victories throughout that are going unnoticed.  There are accomplishments you are conquering that you don’t even realize.  Some accomplishments may be stepping out of your comfort zone to interview for a new job, starting a business, trying a new class, taking lessons of some sort, moving to a new city/state/country…some may seem like small accomplishments but it is the small victories that lead to big ones.  When you accomplish a goal, whether it be short term or long term there is one common attribute and that is that you overcame.  Whether it be fear or anxiety, celebrate because you overcame that doubt and pushed through.

Celebrate the victories in others as well.  Today, I received a text from a friend saying that she hoped the class I helped team teach today went well, followed by another friend offering to help me practice, as well as an instructor that stayed to help me with technique/coaching.  How good does it feel when others want to celebrate your small victories with you?  I guarantee that once you start celebrating others, you will see the celebration reciprocated.  I’m not saying you have to start patting someone on the back for changing the toilet paper roll or washing a dish.. although, wouldn’t you be more inclined to do those things if someone told you how great you are for doing them (wink face here)?!  Just an example, of how much your encouraging words mean to someone.

So, what inspired me to write this post?  This picture.

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Nope, not some big event.  It was a short moment with my 22-month-old daughter.  She is strong willed and we sometimes have mutual frustrations with each other.  She will sit in my lap throughout the day for short periods but for some reason, this specific moment just felt sweet.  She was calm, I was calm, it was just a pleasant moment.  All of the hard, frustrating moments seemed to fade away.  It was short lived, let’s be real here (and I think she was hot and tired), but the fact that she still loves me and feels safe in my arms after all the frustrating times, was a small victory.  And you know what?  It is okay to celebrate small moments.  So as you read this, think of the small victories throughout the week and celebrate them.  Because once you start recognizing the small victories, it will only lead to bigger ones.  Also, recognize a small victory in someone else, and compliment or give them an encouraging word.  Just a few positive words can make a huge difference.

The small victories matter.

YOU matter.

Fitness – An encompassing and (to some) intimidating word.

Fitness is a very encompassing word…

Some may think of a body builder, a marathon runner, a two mile walk, a toned physique, a flexible yoga instructor, a loss of 30 lbs., a loss of 3 lbs.  The term “fitness” encompasses a wide variety of people.  Don’t let the word “fitness” become intimidating.  I used to and still get nervous when I walk out on a gym floor where the machines and weights are located.  Why?  Good question.  Because I shouldn’t.  We are all on a journey to build a better self.  The person next to you is not you.  Stay focused on your goals and what you need to accomplish for yourself.

This machine at the gym, used to be so intimidating to me.

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I would watch people use it out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure it out and build up the confidence to go try it out myself.  It is a pull-up assist machine.  I finally got the courage to try.  Of course, I get on and panic and have no idea what I’m doing.  I asked a “muscle-y” guy that was near to help.  (Sidenote: I get intimidated by this population for some reason.)  He was more than willing to help and so nice.  I try to remind myself that these “intimidating people” are just people with goals like myself.  But, I couldn’t figure out why this machine was so difficult for me to do a pull up on…IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE GIVING ME ASSISTANCE.  I finally figured out that on this specific machine, the more weight you use, the more assist you have.  So the higher amount of weight you put on there, the easier it would be.  Well, that made complete sense that I had it at zero which meant I was doing a full on pull up with no assist at all.  Well, more like just hanging there.

Anyways, after figuring out how the machine worked, I set a goal for myself.  My goal was to do fourteen pull-ups unassisted in a year.  I know many are laughing, because when I set that goal, I had NO IDEA how long it would take.  Just to give you an idea, I’ve been working on this machine for 8ish months and I can finally do TWO pull ups unassisted.  TWO!  IN 8 MONTHS!  The funny thing is, it is only two but I am SO proud.  The moral here is progress takes time.  Sometimes more time than we realize, but it is consistency that pays off.  Set goals.  I myself started with a goal and will now have many short term goals in between.  Now, I will double my amount to four pull ups unassisted.  Who knows, maybe one day I WILL hit fourteen.  But, don’t let the reality of things get you down.  Use it as a learning moment, modify, then move on from there and progress.

Will write more on a diagnosis that made me realize that fitness is an essential part of my life.  In all honesty, I’m finally transitioning from dreading my workouts to enjoying them (not all days, but many).  I’m realizing the relationships and support systems I have that are centered around fitness. How much of a stress relief it is for me.  It’s really about setting goals (even if that goal is to make it to 1 workout class), realizing there will be rough days but pushing through to meet goals. Don’t let the fears hold you back.  Be brave and push past the fears. Try to look at fitness as less intimidating and moreso motivating.  Yes, there will be challenges, but that’s how we grow.

Thanks for reading!  More to come on this journey!

Memorial Day – The sting that changed my outlook.

Memorial Day – A kickoff to summer, school is out (for some), pools are opening, a lake weekend, a beach weekend, vacation….many look forward to this weekend for so many fun, relaxing reasons.  I myself am one that loves summer and has always thought of Memorial Day as the beginning of warm weather, sprinklers, and cook outs.  Every Memorial Day, I would say a quick “Thank You” to those that gave their life, but then go about my fun filled weekend.

Embarrassingly, it was just last year when there was a specific moment that stung me.  I say “stung” because it felt just like that…a sting, a jab, a blow to the stomach.  I was upset with myself for only recognizing the holiday on the surface.  We live on a base in a military neighborhood and I distinctly remember the moment when Memorial Day took on a much deeper meaning for myself.  Last year on Memorial Day, our street was getting together for a pot luck where we all eat, hang out, and let the kids wear themselves out before bedtime.  I was with my husband and a couple of our friends.  We were gathered in a small circle casually talking and one of our friends said he wanted to take a moment and thank some soldiers that gave their life in war.  We then went around the small circle of about five or six of us and spoke names.  That’s when it hit me.  That’s why we are here.  Because soldiers- moms, dads, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, etc. gave their LIFE for me.  Soldiers that left with a job and did not return.  These soldiers that spoke each name trained with these fallen heroes, laughed with them, shared stories with them, confided in each other, had memories with them and they are gone.  Gone but not forgotten.

Some of these soldiers who died were children whose parents outlived them.  Some left spouses and children who were counting down the days for them to return, and there wasn’t a return.  Some may have had a pregnant wife and never got to meet their child.  Some were aunts and uncles who’s nieces and nephews adored them.  The scenarios are endless and I give you these scenarios because it is real.  These soldiers were real, their lives were real, and they died for us.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice.  They are fallen heroes.  Gone but not forgotten.

I was given a soldier’s name randomly that was killed in action at the Army Ten Miler to run in honor of and I will always speak his name in remembrance.  If you don’t know a soldier personally that was killed in war, I encourage you to maybe look one up and read about that soldier.  Then just whisper a thank you and state their name.  Let’s remember the fallen heroes.  Gone but not forgotten.

Today, please remember…

1LT Chris Goeke & SFC Ricardo Young

Thank you for reading “A Darling Detour!”  Hope your Memorial Day is filled with wonderful memories!  I encourage you to not just recognize Memorial Day on the surface and take time to remember those that gave their lives.

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