Judge Me Not

“There really is no way we can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might say or do something we find reason to criticize. Thus, judge not” ~ Thomas S. Monson
I came across this quote at a very important time this past week. Lately, I have been struggling with my life not panning out the way that I believed at this point it should be. I have been struggling with coming to terms that I may not finish my education at the time I was originally supposed to. I have been struggling with coming to terms with a new life plan I may need to inact upon my family. I have been struggling with how to cope with all the change around me, both physically and mentally. 

I feel that in this world it is so much easier to pass judgment on people before we even do our research to understand why they make the decisions that they do. We so quickly judge a person on the decisions they might have needed to make for their lives before knowing their circumstances, their struggles, and their own ideals that led them to their decision. It is quicker to label someone’s choices as wrong when they don’t coincide with what we would have done for ourselves. But do we not remember that someone else’s life is not our own? 
When my fiancé and I announced the pregnancy of our son we of course heard a menagerie of things. You’re too young. This is foolish. Your lives will no longer go the way you want it to be. You’ve ruined your future. This is a mistake. The negative far outweighed the positive. 

What we would have loved to hear was: This is a blessing. Congratulations. You will find a way to make this work. You can do this as long as you go through it knowing it may not be easy, but it will be worth it. All things worth it deserve the struggle. 

Most importantly I would have loved to have heard: You will be okay. This baby will be loved. You will find your way. 

The positives, though their, were shadowed by the negative. No one ever questioned why we chose to keep our baby for our reasons, but instead why we would have dared to keep him. No one ever questioned our intentions, our plans, why now. No one thought to inquire why we thought, at our age now, that this was the time to endure this life journey. No one thought to ask our circumstances that could have played a part. It was much easier to judge. 

Truth: The moment that test gave me two lines I felt relief.

Why? Because I was in a state of panic from receiving a diagnosis that I thought would end my life. I was in a state of panic because my life had just been turned around and it felt like my world was crashing. I was in a state of panic because not only did I feel like my life was being ripped away from me, but also that I’d never get to live through the moments I was about to enter. 

But it’s much quicker to judge and give an unwanted opinion rather than try to understand the situation. 

Lately, I’ve truly been struggling. I have chosen to leave the majority of it to myself in fear that I’ll get the same negative views on my families life choices. I’m fearful of the comments that could be made when I speak up of my troubles. I’m fearful of the judgement that will inevitably be passed when we speak of our choices, our plans, our hopes for our future when no one knows the backstory, the thought, the research we’ve done before making these decisions. I fear my own decisions because the negativity has swallowed me whole in a way I did not think possible. It has brought on a sense of doubt that I have never felt before. A sense of doubt that I am now struggling to break. 

I never thought that planning MY life, and the life that MY family would live would come with so much unwanted opinion. Yes, we had a baby young. But did he struggle? No. Do you know the real reason as to why he is such a blessing to me? Maybe, maybe not. The real question is do you ever stop to think and ask why we are living the way we are living? Do you? 

I might not finish my education on time. I feel guilty and ashamed because those who viewed my son as a mistake will simply use that as the excuse to why I am not fulfilling my potential in a timely manner. That could not be far from the truth. This makes me fearful. Fearful that I will get backlash and shamed judgement because people who we look to for reassurance and acceptance will simply place their own views and opinions on a matter they truly know nothing about. 

Why do we think it is okay to judge someone without even knowing their situation? 

And we ask ourselves, why should we care what people think? And yes, why should we? But a basic human need is acceptance. A basic human need is compassion. 

When we judge people on an issue we know nothing about we take those needs away. When we tell people their decisions have made them failures we strip them of their free-will without even discerning their need to fulfill their wants and goals. We take away their confidence without understanding their reasoning. 

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. 

We have been told this saying since kindergarten and yet have fallen short on understanding basic human compassion. 

So, in closing. Someone else’s life decisions are not an area meant for judgement with lack of understanding. Of course, guidance and counseling are essential, but thinking you understand someone else’s life before actually understanding are not okay. Just because someone is not following the same path as someone else does not make it wrong. Stop comparing people. Stop comparing situations. Nothing is identical in this life. Everything holds a slight amount of uniqueness. It’s what keeps life such an adventure. 

Happy & Loved

Lately, life has not been going according to plan.

You’d think by now I’d understand that no matter how much I try, I truly have no control over the twists and turns that life likes to throw, but it is apparent that I am not yet comprehending this fact.

Lately I’ve been feeling so lost and alone. It’s not that I’m actually alone. On the contrary, I have a tremendous amount of support through my family and friends, but this sadly changes nothing of the feelings I have been harboring lately.

I just wish that somehow my mind would let me breathe instead of keeping me chained in thoughts I have no control over.

I’ve been dealing with a form of Postpartum Depression/ Anxiety. Something, again, I have no control over even if some believe I do. I hear things such as “Look at your baby, how could you ever be upset while looking at him?” “You have so much to be happy with why aren’t you?” Ignorance must truly be blissful.

Postpartum depression is not a simple fix that you can make in a split second. If it were so I would not be feeling the way that I do. Another fact, postpartum depression/anxiety is not just being insane and wanting to shake your baby until he stops crying, or worse. Postpartum depression has many forms and there are varying degrees of the way these feelings take hold. Please understand that.

I look at my son on so many occasions and cry from the overflowing amount of love I have for him. I also, maybe even in a span of ten minutes later, look at my life and feel like a gorilla being mocked in a cage at the zoo. I feel trapped and it makes me feel like I’m going insane. It makes me feel crazy, pained, guilty and betrayed. I love being his mommy and I’d change none of this, but I wish that these feelings weren’t there.

I look at this beautiful child that I wanted for so long, fought for for so long, and feel like a heartless person for ever feeling this way.

You see, lately, I just feel so overwhelmed. No one explains to you the flood of emotions you get when becoming a parent. No one truly depicts the amount of worry you will now feel for your new tiny responsibility. Commercials and television shows will show you these births and then the first moment you hold your new blessing. The mom is filled with joy and adoration, and you think wow this must complete her in more ways than one. And you most definitely would be correct. But what you do not see is what happens when the mother comes home with her new blessing with no nurses, no more 24/7 staff, just her, the father, and the baby.

You walked out of the house two and walked back in three.

I began therapy again today after taking a few year hiatus. I spoke about the ways I have been feeling lately and the massive amounts of guilt I have for feeling this way. I think I repeated “I love my son more than anything, but..” As if I had to justify to this stranger that I did in fact love my baby boy despite the feelings I was sharing. Did I need to justify my love for my son? No. Did I feel that I needed to? Most definitely. I needed her to know that even if I have these moments of pain, anxiety, and fear I do in fact love the human that I have brought into this world.

We as mothers are portrayed as these strong people that can never falter, but truly we are all just human beings trying to figure it all out with no manual. There is, and I repeat, THERE IS NO PERFECT WAY TO BE A MOTHER. We are allowed to feel the way that we feel. We are allowed to parent the way that we see fit. We are allowed to falter.

I have to remind myself of this often. On nights when my son won’t sleep. During periods when he won’t stop crying. The times I ask my fiancé to take him so I can manage a 20 minute nap. We are allowed to feel scared, alone, and anxious. We are allowed to ask for help. We are allowed to have the knowledge that we cannot do everything. We are allowed to not be perfect.

My therapist told me today that we’d be working with a bowl full of marbles as an analogy of my mind at the moment. The bowl was me and the marbles were the problems that made up my issues. She said, “I am going to be straightforward with you through this process. There will be days when I tell you that this marble does not belong in your bowl, but your mothers, your fathers, your finance’s. You have enough in your bowl.” Was it wrong for me to doubt this?

I have spent so much of my life taking on other people’s problems that I have never believed my bowl could ever be full. When I became a mother I swore I didn’t want people to help me. I could do this, I could be the mother that some had doubted me to be. I would prove them wrong. That statement right there is the problem. “I would prove them wrong.” Why? Why did I need to prove anyone wrong? Why did I, someone who held so much strength and perseverance, need to prove the negative nannies wrong? Why did I need to justify anyone’s doubts in myself when I knew, deep in the back of my mind, that I could be an excellent mother, student, and anything else I chose to venture on?

I have been conditioned to being doubted. I have been conditioned to fight people’s doubts. I need to stop.

I realized if I had learned to let this go even a month ago I could have spoken to someone earlier. I could have let someone help me weeks ago. I could have caught how bad I had allowed myself to get.

But I needed to be this image of the perfect parent. I needed to be the young mother who could do it all by herself. I needed to be someone who did not exist.

People believed that because I was young I would fail as a parent. That my son would not have everything he needed in life to thrive. He was born with more gear than I myself have and by four months has more than doubled his weight. He has gone through medical issues and we have handled them to the best of our abilities- taking him to the doctors he has needed to go to and making sure he was taken care of. We have persevered, and honestly I believe we have done quite well. He is fed. He is clean. He is happy. And most of all he is loved.

So why did I still need to fight so hard to prove those who doubted us wrong?

I don’t know

But today I stopped. Today I took 45 minutes to speak to someone about my health. Today I gave my son the biggest blessing. Today I made sure his mommy can fully enjoy the rest of his first year.

My son is my biggest blessing. For being only 3.5 months old he has taught me more about self-love and acceptance than I have learned in my almost 22 years of living. My aunt once told me he was so lucky to have me as his mother, but truth is I’m tremendously blessed to have this beautiful boy as my son. Luca you give me the strength to fight through the unknown everyday. I do this all for you.

Momma’s we need to start giving each other a break. We need to understand that just because one mom does something different from you, this makes you no better than she is. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, cosleep, crib sleep, natural diapers, disposable, etc. We are no better than one another. One kid, two kids, three kids, more…we are all still learning something new every single day. We are not experts. Every child and every parent are different. We need to start uplifting one another instead of shaming one another. We are all just trying to produce good human beings and make it to the other side.

We just want them to be happy and loved.

I just want them to be happy and loved.

Today I’ve chosen to focus on making sure he’s happy and loved.

“You have Multiple Sclerosis.”

It scares me to think that one day I won’t be able to walk without assistance. 

It scares me to think that one day I won’t be able to be the mother I envisioned myself to be for my children. 

It scares me to think I might one day have no control over my body. 

But right now I’m just more angry than afraid. 

I’m angry because my body has betrayed me. 

I’m angry because my body isn’t working the way that it should. 

I’m angry that I feel like a part of my life was taken away. 

And I’m angry that I have to be fearful. 

I look at my baby and I’m afraid that one day I will be someone he will have to take care of. I look at my fiancé and think the same thing. I don’t want to be something someone has to take care of. I want to be completely independent. I want to be self sufficient. I want to go back to normal. 

But what is normal? 

Do I even know the answer? 

Maybe not. But I’d like to go back to a time where I wasn’t so afraid of my future. Where I didn’t feel like I was under a time crunch to experience everything and anything before my body begins to expire. Have a baby. Have more babies. Go to vet school. Finish vet school. Become an amazing vet. Set up life for your family. Buy your first home. Travel the world. Just be happy. 

How can I just be happy when I’m so afraid? 

At 20 years old I found out I was having a baby. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t angry. I felt blessed.  Blessed because I was still young, still in very early stages, and still felt fine 98% of the time. I knew that somehow I had been given this baby because it was the right time for me to become a mother. It was the right time for me to experience something I’d been dreaming about since I myself was a child. I knew that I could be the mother he needed now, if god forbid it would be taken away from me later in life. For that I am a little less angry and afraid. 

I am also less afraid to venture out and do what I want in life. I’m doing this no longer for myself, but for him. My body might have betrayed me. My body might be “sick”. But my body grew and delivered a baby that has taught me more about love in the last three months than I have learned in my 21 years on this earth. I will fight to the ends of this earth to be the mother this baby deserves, just as I will for any future children we may have. 

I’m choosing not to live in fear. 

I’m choosing not to live in anger. 

I’m choosing to live in peace and hope for the future I know I deserve. 

I’m choosing to live in the love my son basks me in every day. 

I’m choosing to live. 

Lonely

Is it wrong to feel lonely when you’ve just given birth to a tiny little human? 

Is it wrong to look at your sleeping partner while you’re consoling your upset infant that, if not for your nudge, would not have even known the baby was awake at all? 

Is it wrong to resent those around you that can sleep, even when the baby is asleep, because you sit there and worry about him even when he’s fine? 

Is it wrong to feel alone even when those around you are doing all that they can? 

We don’t talk about postpartum depression or anxiety much in the United States. Sure, there are plenty of celebrities now that are advocating it on websites and news articles, but what about mothers who don’t make millions of dollars making movies? What about mothers who live average every day lives that don’t see the spotlight? The mothers who just try to make it day by day. 

When I first brought Luca home I panicked. He didn’t sleep (like the lie I was told that all newborns do), he couldn’t be consoled, and all he wanted was to be latched on to my pained boobs all day long. No one told me that it would be possible to look at my child and ask myself what had I been thinking? Or to lash out at those around me because I was dealing with anger within myself for even thinking that thought. Or that just because I could cry from pure adoration from my new blessing, I could still also cry from pure fear and momentary regret for my new responsibility. We just don’t talk about it. 

Mothering has become this competition that I was unaware I’d signed up. Natural birth vs C-section. Home vs hospital. Breastfed vs formula fed. Cloth diapers vs disposable. And you know what? EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION. Join one mom group and I assure you there will be a mother that thinks she is doing everything 100% perfect and hers is the best method so everyone should follow suit. But mothering isn’t perfect. Raising a baby isn’t perfect. If it was we would have nothing to learn from , and therefore make better. There is a reason they say the first baby is your guinea pig. 

However, I digress. Postpartum depression and anxiety are real and we need to stop treating them like they are a failure on the mother. It is a literal chemical imbalance taking place within her brain due to a lack in progesterone. (I learned that from a lovely college class called Reproductive Physiology. My favorite class at UCONN- so hello Dr.Milvae who I hope never reads my blog…..again digression). Moms it’s okay to be afraid and it’s okay to wonder if you’re doing the right thing. It’s not okay to ignore how you feel.

We need to stop treating postpartum depression like the plague, and we need to stop treating moms like they’re bad parents because they get it. Raising a newborn is hard. They don’t sleep, they want to constantly eat, and though they will bring the greatest joy in the world they will also turn your life upside down in ways you could never imagine. I love my beautiful boy, and i would go through my tough pregnancy all over again in a heartbeat, but I’d be lying if I said I’m okay every day. Some days I want to crawl into a hole. Some days I want to yell at everyone around me because I’m tired and jealous that they can sleep when I cannot. Some days I want to throw my computer out the window if I see one more article on SIDS that gives more anxiety to someone who already has it. AND THATS OKAY. 

It’s okay because these days are minimal compared to the days I watch my baby smile. They’re minimal compared to the days I’m filled to the brim with love and adoration for my small creation. They’re minimal compared to the days where I gush when someone in the supermarket or the park tells me how gorgeous he is and I feel like the proudest woman in the world. And they’re minimal compared to the days where I thank god that he entrusted me with my son, because he’s saved me in more ways than I can count. 

So, again I say, it is okay to feel like you just need a break. It’s okay to feel like you want to crawl out of your skin. It’s okay to want to go back to your old life sometimes. And it’s okay to feel lonely even when you’re not. What’s not okay is ignoring these feelings. 

You’re not a failure. 

You’re not a bad mom. 

You’re human. 

We love these babies so much that sometimes we forget that to be the best moms we must also love ourselves. 

Love yourself today, and every day there after. 

I always wanted to be called Mommy. 

I cannot remember a period in my life where I didn’t want to be a mom. I remember being a child and always wanting to play house. I remember wanting to babysit constantly. I always wanted to be around children, and I swore for a very long time I’d end up in a career that would allow me to work with them. When I realized that my true passion was working with animals I began to timeline how long becoming a vet would be. I began thinking about how I could start a family and have enough energy and time to be the mother they would need me to be while still attaining the goals I set forth for myself. I wanted to be a young mother, much like my own mother was, so that I’d have a long life to be the mother I had had in my life.

My relationship with my mother was so unlike those of my friends in childhood. I could talk to my mother, confide in my mother, and feel a sense of kinship that made me feel like she would keep me safe forever. Many of my friends lacked a relationship with their mother, or if one was present it was strictly just a regular structured parent type. My mother and I grew together, and though we had many rough patches, I glowed in the envy of my friends for our relationship. She was understanding, kind, and made me the strong mother I know I will be. I vow to be much like my mother in raising my son and his future siblings. 

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in June of 2016 I felt that my envision of being the mother I wanted to be had burned. One day I was feeling tingles in my legs and arms, weakness taking over my fingertips, and the next day I was being told I had a progressive disease that I knew so little about. I sat on the couch of a friends and listened to the message over and over. “Hi this is Dr., I just wanted to review the results of _⁠_⁠_ CSS studies um if you’ll be kind enough to come to the office uh at some point during this week will make room for you um just call my office & inform whoever picks up that I have asked them to make room for you OK so _⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_ see you _⁠_⁠_ follow up whatever my schedule _⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_ certainly when you’re able to come in thank you bye-bye…” An hour later I walked into his office to be told my diagnosis. I cried. I cried because I was being told that my immune system was attacking my nerves, that my own body in all sense was attaching itself. I thought of what MS had be portrayed as: wheelchair bound. I cried even more. The picture of being the a parent, being a vet were all crumbling before me. I didn’t know how I would go on living with the pain I’d already been feeling, knowing that eventually it would get worse. 

About a month later after I’d began my shots I didn’t feel right. I was nauseous all the time, I was exceptionally tired, and I felt very off. I had already decided at this point that I would fight as hard as I could to continue to become not only a vet, but eventually the parent i set forth to be. I had arranged to finish college a year ahead of schedule, and my fiancé and I were set to marry in July of 2017. But when you mix alcohol, a bit of self-pity, and some other fixings you get my little miracle baby. My life changed the moment I got two lines on the at home pregnancy test, and even more when I found out my little peanut would be a little boy. 

My dream of becoming a mommy had come true, and when I held my little boy in my arms for the first time I felt nothing but shock and amazement that something of his size had been living inside me only moments before. I was elated by my little miracle, and I thought that feeling would last forever. But you know what they don’t tell you when you have a baby? Yes, when you’re pregnant you get pamphlet after pamphlet about postpartum depression. They say if the blues lasts for longer than two weeks call. But does anyone talk about how hard it is to be a new parent to a baby that screams for six hours straight, to a baby whose gas makes them screech like they’re being ripped from the inside out at times, to a baby who fights when eating, can’t be consoled, and who looks at you like you’re their entire world but you can’t fix what’s going on. 

I never thought I’d question why I wanted to become a mother. 
I love my son. I cry because I love my son. Because it breaks my heart when he cries in such obvious pain from his reflux, and whatever other issue he seems to have going on currently. I cry because I don’t know how to fix it. I cry because I never thought I’d question why I wanted this, why I wanted to be responsible for someone when I’m such a mess myself. But I cry most of all because I know I’m strong and I’m angry with myself for not believing so. I made it through bullying, self-harming, medical conditions, hospitalizations, extreme weight loss, confidence loss, and giving birth to my gorgeous child. Why can’t I believe in myself? I made it through people doubting my ability to be a parent, staying in school while pregnant and mainting a 4.0 GPA, and yet still I feel like such a failure at times. 

No one talks about this. No one talks about the self-doubt you’ll have as a mother. No one will tell you to believe in yourself. Everyone has an opinion on parenting, and when you’re young you get attacked even more. The baby is cold. The baby is hungry. The baby only cries when he’s hungry. Burp him. Rock him. You’re not producing enough milk. Maybe he’s starving. 

Give a mom a break. 

We are all doing the best we can and we need to acknowledge this. We also need to acknowledge that this isn’t always easy. This isn’t always an easy adventure. It’s beautiful and magical, but it is also painful and heartbreaking at times. I look at my son and cry from how lucky I am to be his mother, but when he’s in pain and I can’t fix it I look at him and cry because i don’t know what to do and I am shamed to be his mother. 

We need to give ourselves a break. 

We need to start talking about how hard this can be. 

We need to be reminded that we are only human. 

And we need to be reminded we are doing the best that we can. 

My son will get better and will hopefully grow out of this painful phase, but I need to grow out of this self doubt phase and remember that I’m doing the best I can. 

I never thought I’d question why I wanted to become a mother. I just wanted someone to call me mommy.