Summer Rain

Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's dark and I'm sitting outside on the deck.  A soft rain falls; the humidity broke with last night's thunderstorm and it is a beautiful summer night.  My kids are all asleep, safe and comfortable in their beds.  They are clean and fed.  They snuggle with their lovey bears and dream of playdates and cupcakes.

They don't know what it is like to be cold in winter or unbearably hot in summer. They don't know what it is like to have to choose who will eat, for it not to be their turn for the day's rations.  They have no idea what it is like to go hungry.  To be nasty.  To be thirsty.  To feel alone.

Today, as they hung out in the backyard, Michael ended up on the ground. He was dirty and a bit scraped up from the twelve inch fall, but he was fine.  He cried.  He cried because the scratches stung, because he was scared, because it hurt.  He cried, knowing he would be comforted and held and loved.  He cried, knowing that this was an outlying event and that his little, three year old life would go back to normal... which it did.

I see the images of a boy who, although he is five years old, looks like my three year old.  I see him, dirty and bloody from an air raid- an air raid... a scene played out in Syria, day after day, a scene that he has probably known about daily since birth since the war has been going on since 2010.  I see him, silent.  No tears. No screaming.  No asking for his mother (who was still being rescued by volunteers).  He doesn't expect a lollipop for being brave or a trip to the arcade for sitting through his stitches like a big boy.

He probably wanted to go home.  But his home was gone.  The strike destroyed his home.  Maybe he was learning to read and now his books are tattered ashes.  Maybe, like my kids, he had a lovey that is now nothing but scraps.

This is the world we live in.  A world where children are born into war.  A world where children are bloody and damaged and aching, yet do not cry.

I can hold my kids close and hope they never experience what this child has.  But I can't close my eyes and wish his broken image away.  My heart breaks for him and all of the children like him.  I wish beyond measure that I could scoop those children up and give them a childhood.

"People need to know this happens everyday... Every day we rescue children and families. Every day I meet traumatized parents for losing a child or even not being able to find the body under the rubble.   Just this time it was caught on camera."

Before the Sun

Sunday, August 14, 2016

You know it's crazy hot when you trade sleep for cooler running weather.  It's hot. Nasty hot.  Yesterday, instead of doing a long run in 100° temps, I've been up since 4:45, to meet Sarah at a local trail to do ten miles or so.  Fun times.  Remind me again why I run?


Peter's birthday was Friday.  He took a half day from work and we lounged around in spite of our best laid plans.  To beat the heat, he took the older kids to the pool (Lucas feel asleep so I did naptime at home), and that night, he took the twins to the local parish carnival.  We had his family dinner last night.  He does so much for everyone else, it was nice to celebrate him for a change.

Returning From the Dead

Friday, August 5, 2016

It's surreal to think that I haven't written here since a "Merry Christmas" post last year.  To be honest, I can't tell you how I even managed the few posts I've written since Lucas was born.  There's so much to say and I don't know that I even have the voice to say it, the words to tell you that I've been dead inside and am, only now, coming back from the dead.  It's as though I've been in a pit- a deep, dank, dark pit, with dirt on the ground, a hint of light from the top to let me know that there is, indeed, a way out, with walls of stone that have the tiniest sliver of ledge.  For a while, I just lay in the pit, the cool dirt numbing some of the fear and the pain, before it became viscous, thick mud that covered me and weighed me down.  At times, I tried to climb the wall.  Sometimes I went nowhere.  Other times, I made it a few feet off the ground before slipping and stumbling backwards to rock bottom.  Once, I thought I would make it to the top, before my bloody, broken fingers could no longer hold the weight of my grief and, with  a sickening scraping of flesh against rock, I fell.  And I hit the ground, hard.

So hard.

So painfully, achingly hard.

I thought I would die.  I wanted to.  I could no longer breathe.  I could no longer find the will and I thought the sky was black.  That there was no light.  No way out.

But, the night sky is never truly black.  Pinpricks of light, millions upon millions of miles away, peek through the velvet blackness like little rays of hope, telling us that there is light somewhere, that there is a way out.  That we are not alone.  That we are not dead.

After Michael was born, I had the "baby blues".  I never thought much of life post Bobby and Maya, because I was in a haze of NICU PTSD, where I was just happy to have living babies, at home.  When they were babies, I rediscovered my joy in running, and life was good.  Really good.  I got pregnant with Michael, I was shocked, I was running, and things were still good.  And then he was born.

I was tired.  I was overweight.  I couldn't really run as much as I wanted, although I still did.  The blues waxed and waned.  Sometimes, I felt really down, but a lot of the time was just 'okay'.  I was tired.  I was homeschooling.  I was coaching.  I was writing.  I was just really busy.

And then I got pregnant with Lucas.

My response to Michael was "Whoa!!!  There are 2 lines!"  My response to Lucas was shock and, then, I cried.  I loved him, no doubt of that.  I was happy that my body was working.  But I was also, in spite of refusing to acknowledge it, going through the start of prenatal/antenatal depression.  Because I did have some lingering "blues" from Michael's pregnancy, I think that it was easy to just think that I was tired and overwhelmed.  Even as a doula and childbirth educator- even knowing the signs- I made excuse after excuse. 

When Lucas was born, I remember feeling like I had to show that I was strong, that I had overcome.  C-Section on a Monday afternoon, home on Wednesday morning.  Superwoman.  I've got this!  I'm an old hat at this baby business!

And then came the nursing... The nonstop feeding frenzy that left me broken and bleeding and tired.

And then the lack of sleep (that still continues) that left me in a fog.

The teething (At 10 months old, he has 6 teeth and 2 on the way... Sweet Lord, have mercy!) that made it feel I could do nothing to ease his pain (or my own).

Things were rough at Christmas and, in January, after Peter had begged and all but ordered me to have tests run or, at the least to call my doctor, I had blood work that showed rheumatoid factor.  My joints had been swelling and hurting to the point that I could barely move at times; the doctor warned me that RA or lupus could be to blame and, I suppose, I won the lottery in that it was "only" RA.  Because of my age and other factors, I opted to try a gluten and dairy free diet to try and eliminate inflammation over drugs.  I told myself that if, in 6 months, I still felt awful and was still battling what I refused to admit was postpartum depression, I would reevaluate.

But it wasn't just feeling physically like death warmed over.  Emotionally, things were all over the place, and they were usually awful.  Living with a child on the autism spectrum has its struggles.  Living with a child who has some anxiety issues (like her mom) has its struggles.  The terrible 2s that have moved into the terrible 3s have struggles.  Life with a baby is full of struggles.  Add in homeschooling, when you barely have a grasp on dishes and meals, and it feels monumental.

I wasn't running.

I wasn't writing.

I, simply, wasn't.

And one day, on the day before Lucas would turn 8 months old, on May 27th, when I'd felt like I had been climbing out of the pit, I suddenly was flat on my back.  I can't even remember what the final straw was, but I was done.

In my emptiness, I had a plan.  I put Lucas and Michael to nap.  Peter got ready to take the kids to the pool.  And, as soon as he left, I found the bottle of pain medication from my C-section.  I wrote a note.  I decided to take the bottle, and then lay down with Lucas.  He would stay asleep, I reasoned, if I was next to him, and Michael would definitely sleep until Peter came home.  Even if he didn't, his MO was to come into our bed, so he would just come to me until then.  I went to the kitchen and got a glass of water.  My hands shook so badly that water spilled and I had to clean it up.  Then, I couldn't get the child safety off.  When I finally did, the door opened and Peter came in.  He'd forgotten the goggles for the twins.

I threw the bottle in a bag, lest I get caught in the act.  I actually remember telling him goodbye and, in a way, it was almost like he knew... Like he didn't want to leave.

But he did leave.

And I fished the painkillers out of the bag.  Throwing them in had caused the child safety lid to reset, but before I could open it, Lucas cried.

I immediately went to him and tried to soothe him back to sleep, but no amount of singing, kissing, or nursing did the job.  He was awake.  He was happy and smiling and laughing.  He looked at me with his big, blue eyes, and I just broke down into sobs.  I'm surprised I didn't wake Michael. 

I almost missed seeing those eyes again.... Kissing those cheeks again... Hearing his laugh again.  

I almost missed Michael's sweet little voice when he sings

or Maya's sense of wonder when she discovers something new

or Bobby's never failing ability to snuggle you just when you need it most. 

I almost missed all of those things.

My postpartum depression never presented as hurting the children; if anything, it was the opposite.  They were on the pedestal and I just wasn't good enough.  I could never be good enough.  No matter what I did, I always fell too short.  Peter was a better parent.  Hell, anyone was a better parent.  I was just a space filler.  I sucked at motherhood.  I was a terrible teacher.  I was an awful runner (could I even use that word anymore?)  I was unhealthy.  Unworthy.

This battle was ongoing, even though most people on the outside had no idea.  I was still volunteering for this and that, doing this and that, hosting this gathering or that.  No one knew that I was barely hanging on.  No one knew just how low I was.  And I couldn't tell them.  I couldn't tell them just how bad it was.  I was afraid and I don't even know what of.  Of being considered weak?  Of being considered the failure that I thought I was?

When Peter got home, I told him what I'd done.  In typical fashion, there was no guilt; he simply took the pills.  I don't know where they are; I don't even know where the Advil is.  We sat and talked.  I cried.  I confessed how awful of a mother I was, how terrible of a wife I was, how I didn't deserve my family and that the world would be better without me.  I told him that I was still battling my eating disorder and that it had a hold of me in a way that felt worse than before.  I told him that I was broken and scared.  And he held me while I cried.  He didn't try to tell me that I was wrong or tell me all the ways that the world would be different without me.  Instead, he just told me that he loved me and asked me what I needed.

I'd like to tell you that, immediately, things became 1950s sitcom perfect, but they didn't.  Yet, they've gotten better.  One day at a time. 

Three weeks ago, I started running daily again.  After 5 months of being GF/DF, my joints aren't swollen and there isn't the intense pain that I'd had for months before.  Running feels good again.  Tonight, after my 2 mile speed run in anticipation of my 7 mile long run tomorrow, I sit here feeling good.  Feeling brave. 

I'm eating better.  I'm finally in a place where, although all of my decisions aren't the right ones, I can see the choices in food and can weigh out the right answer (even if I don't always take it).  I'm making sure to make time to run every day, whether it is a short "speed" run, an average 3-5 mile run, or my weekly long run.  I'm training for a race again.  I've dropped some things and started some new projects, and they are things dear to my heart.  I'm writing again.  Homeschooling (or Unschooling, as it were) is back on track and I'm able to focus on the kids.  I'm not perfect.  I still make mistakes.  But I'm trying to view them as learning opportunities for all of us. 

I'm talking to people who understand: Peter, my BFF, folks who "get it" or understand what I'm feeling and can offer advice or support.  I'm asking for help.  For the summer, a friend's daughter is "mother helping" twice a week most weeks to give me time to just sit and get some writing done or make sure Lucas gets a nap (he's a crappy sleeper and a horrendous napper) or just mop the floor without little feet showing up while it's wet. 

I'm not out of the pit yet.  But help came from the darkness and a rope was thrown down.  I'm still climbing.  It's a slow journey up, but I know I'll get out, and that's not something I knew before.

I feel like I've been sleepwalking for the last 10 months.  I've missed so much that I was present for.  It's only been the last few weeks that I feel like I'm really and truly awake. 

Every single day, I'm making the choice to continue to open my eyes.  Regardless of what happens, each moment is such a gift and I don't want to lose a second.

If you think that you might be suffering from postpartum depression or if you can't (or won't) put a name to how awful you are feeling, there are resources available.  You can find anonymous help at and  Many hospitals also have lines that you can call to speak with someone.  While my PPD didn't present as wanting to harm my children, if you feel that your children may be at risk, please reach out to a friend, neighbor, family member, or even your local police department, and find a safe place for your children until you are able to get help for yourself.  You are not just a mom; you are the  mom.  You are worth more than you know, and not just because you are an irreplaceable mother.  You are worthy in your own right; please seek out help if you need it.  Don't wait until it's too late.

Lucas Andrew

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lucas Andrew Haytko
September 28, 2015
8 pounds
Photos: Erica Colvin Photography (c)2015

Pregnancy Montage

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What an awesome journey this was!

38 weeks

Monday, October 12, 2015

It seems only fitting that I post this on my EDD!

So, we had our last OB appointment on September 28th at 38 weeks. 
38 weeks
The appointment showed a happy baby and, during our chat, I mentioned that I'd been having a lot of pressure.  Concerned that my cervix was being stressed, Dr. B. did an internal (funny enough, this is the first internal I've had for any of my pregnancies) and said that cervix was definitely fine.  To verify, he did a TVU and my cervix was, indeed, measuring over 4.  But, to be safe, he asked us to go over to L&D for an hour or two on the monitor, to rule out any contractions.  With each pregnancy, my uterus has thinned more and more around my incision scars; moreso that the cervix at this point, Dr. B. is concerned for my uterine durability.  Contractions would be a delivery; no contractions would mean going home and coming back for our scheduled c/s, unless I started contracting beforehand.

We were hooked up to the monitor and met with the resident and nurses, all of whom were lovely.  After an hour, the resident came back in.  "So..." she said.

"I'm good to go home?"

"Not quite..."

And that was how we learned that Lucas would be our third September birthday.  As with Michael, I was silently and painlessly contracting; according to the monitor, my contractions were regular every three minutes.  Peter had realized this before the nurse came in when he asked me what the lines on the paper meant.  I was texting on my phone and just carelessly mentioned that the lines signaled contractions.  Sure enough, I was having them, but in the hour we were monitored, I'd only felt 3.   Since we weren't having a tubal done after the cesarean, Dr. B's big concern was preserving my uterus and not stressing it against contractions.  He came by and saw me later in the morning to confirm that we'd be put on the schedule for 3pm (since they needed to wait six plus hours post my coffee with milk and breakfast).  The anesthesiologist came in with her paperwork, the nurse went over admittance papers, and we were left to just hang out for a few hours. 

By this point, it was lunch time and Peter left for a bit to eat and check in with his parents, where the twins and Michael were visiting.  I called my mom and texted family and friends to let them know that Lucas would be making his appearance in the afternoon.

At around 3, an IV was started and I walked myself to the OR, where I got a spinal/epi combination and prepared for surgery.  Dr. B. came in and Peter was summoned from down the hall.  In a matter of minutes, the cesarean was underway and, at 3:45pm on Monday, September 28th, Lucas Andrew came into the world with a loud cry.  He weighed 8 pounds even and measured 20.75".  His APGAR was 9 and minutes later, he was nuzzling against my face.

In contrast to Michael's birth, Lucas and Peter stayed in the OR until nearly the end of my surgery.  They then went to the nursery for Lucas's assessment but were then taken to my recovery room.  (Previously, moms went to recovery until the anesthesia wore off, then were transported to postpartum to meet up with baby.)  The surgery went well, with one minor issue.  Apparently my old uterus was tired and didn't feel like contracting.  While waiting on the double dose of Cervidil to work, Dr. B. had to manually contract it.  I'm told the floor looked like a murder took place, but altogether, I only lost about 2 pints of blood.  Once I was in my room, they also hooked up a Pitocin bag to continue helping my uterus contract.  A side effect of all of this is that I've had no bleeding... None.  If you've had a baby, you know how weird that is!

Once in recovery, Peter and Lucas were there, and Lucas and I began our breastfeeding journey immediately.  As I began to feel my legs, we were moved to postpartum.  My IV blew (thanks crappy veins!) and they had to start another one on the other arm, which, because of placement flagged the IV machine every time I tried to nurse (because I was bending my arm).  Hence, my third IV of the day!  Peter went home for dinner and to help put the kids to bed, but then came back for the night.

Tuesday, the twins and my mother-in-law visited and, that afternoon, I discussed discharge with Dr. B.  By this point, I was already up and out of bed, had showered alone, and was in my own clothes.  Since there seemed to be zero complications for either Lucas or I, he agreed that I could go home on Wednesday.  Lucas was seen by the on call pediatrician Wednesday morning and his papers were filed around breakfast time; Dr. B. visited me at 9am, and mine were completed.  By 11am, we were squared away and ready to go home, less than 48 hours after delivery.

As we've done after all the discharges, Peter and I had lunch at our favorite burger joint and then came home, where we've spent the last 2 weeks settling in to life with 4 little ones!  Peter stayed home and goes back to work today.  It will be neat to see how life unfolds, especially when it is just me and the kiddos.

But, without further ado, here is another shot of the newest love of my life!

Sneak Peak: Maternity Pictures

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Last Wednesday, I met up with my friend and owner of ECP, Erica, for Lucas's maternity shots.  Since opening her photography business, Erica has done Michael's maternity and newborn shots, as well as our family photographs.  She's really gifted.  It helps that the kids know her, so she's able to truly capture them and keep them comfortable, but she just has a great eye.  I love looking at her work, and looking at her art on our walls, I'm always touched by how perfect she catches our family on film. 

Lucas's maternity shots will be no different if her sneak peak is any indication.  Just because of my schedule and hers (and my laziness, too), I am several weeks off the "target" maternity shoot.  I was 37w2d when I met her in her North Wales studio for the initial shots before we went to a local preserve for some outdoor, sunset pictures.  Yet, she made me feel comfortable and, even waddling around with I-don't-even-want-to-think-about-how-many-extra-pounds I'm carrying, she made me feel pretty and in my own skin. 

Last night, she posted this first of my maternity shots, and I'm super excited to see the rest in the weeks to come. 
Courtesy of Erica Colvin Photography

(Oh, and only 8 more days til 39 weeks!  3 more until October!  Woo Hoo!)

Single Digits!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

9 more days to go!!!!

I'm still super psyched to be pregnant: 37w5d today!  I'm pregnant a week longer than with Michael and 10 weeks longer than with Bobby & Maya. 

That being said, we had some excitement on Monday at 37w.  I've been feeling more contractions and definitely more pressure.  I bent down to pick up something that was on the floor and I felt a pop, followed by some intense pain in my lower belly/side/hip.  By 3:30, I called Peter at work and he came home early because I couldn't really get up after the kids.  As night rolled around, we were debating going in to the hospital.  I called the on-call doctor and he suggested, even though my contractions were irregular, that I go into L&D to get checked on the monitor.  We got there around 9:30 and ended up leaving around midnight.  Lucas responded well to the contractions, which stayed around 4 an hour, and the resident felt that all the pressure was from Lucas dropping so low in my pelvis.

Monday, it went from my belly being up near my breastbone, to me having about a hand in-between my breast and belly.  Now?  I have about 2 and a half "hands" between my breasts and belly!  This kid is settling in low!  Several vendors at this morning's Farmer's Market commented on it, as did the cashier at the local supermarket this afternoon.

I'm having more pain at night (probably in response to being active and doing stuff during the day) and then I tend to be up every hour until 2am or so (to go to the bathroom), then get 2-3 hour stretches of sleep.  Peter's been trying to let me stay in bed until 8am or so (I was in bed until 9am today), to try and catch up on some solid sleep. 

This is his last full week at work until he takes some of his paternity leave.  I have an appointment with Dr. B. on Monday morning at 38 weeks- my LAST OB APPOINTMENT OF THIS PREGNANCY!!!!  Oh my goodness, we are there!  That is another goal completely checked off!  Once we hit October 1st, that is my next to last goal; and then, making it to October 5th.  I really can't believe we are so close to meeting Lucas.  It's amazing to be here. 

Outstanding Goals:
___38 weeks  (33 hours)
___Last OB appointment   (43 hours/2 days)
___Making it until October (4 days)
___Making it until 39 weeks (Oct. 5) (9 days)

37 Weeks

Monday, September 21, 2015


We've done it!!!!!  We've made it to 37 weeks!!!!  As of 12:30ish on Saturday (36w5d), I was more pregnant than I'd ever been before.  We've hit the "Term" mark and, as of today, if Lucas were to be born, he would be considered "Early Full Term".  I can't believe it.  There's a part of me that wants to just cry.

The weekend was tough; I had a lot of contractions and, at one point, we were discussing going to L&D.  Thankfully, that situation passed and, although I'm tired, I feel really good today.  14 days to go.... We've got this!

37 weeks!!!!
The only real change is that I had my platelets checked at my 36w appointment.  They've dropped to 119K.  So, not great, but still high enough for the c/s.  Dr. B. called today.  Based on how long it took them to fall, he's thinking we're still going to be okay.  We'll check at my next appointment (38 weeks... 1 week away!) and go from there if we need to do an IVIG infusion before the cesarean.  Hopefully, we won't.  I'll continue doing my papaya supplementation and hoping that slows the falling or keeps it at bay, and then it really is just a matter of doing what we need to do.  I don't want general anesthesia, which means Peter cant be in the OR and that Lucas would automatically go to the NICU for observation.  I'd much rather have the experience I'm used to and the one that is safer for both of us!

But, we are here.  We are almost to single digits in the waiting-to-meet-Lucas journey.  The kids are super excited and counting it down, and so are we.  Everything is ready; all we are missing is this little guy on the outside!