Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Life as a mom in nursing school

 I can finally write this post. Now that the end of semester 3 is over (well two more days) I feel like I'm now  a seasoned nursing student. I have experienced enough of being a mom + nursing student + trying to bring in some type of income to say this... IT'S HARD. Like really, really HARD. Like mental strain HARD.
  It has been physically and emotionally difficult, especially since I have been going full time since the beginning of August (besides Christmas break). Don't get me wrong, I knew it was not going to be easy, but the difficulties I predicted and the ones I have actually faced..... boy was I off.
  Don't take this as I'm complaining, more of a vent if you will. And maybe an explanation to those who I have seemed to completely lose contact with due to this crazy routine. And to my close friends who I never see any more (Liz, Alicia, and you know who you are). I know I am blessed, but I have worked extremely hard to get where I am today. And I know I have to work extremely hard to get to where I'm going next. I feel very fortunate to be able to chase my dreams and be provided with quality education so easily. I know many people on this earth could only dream to be in my position.
These are the straight up shit parts of being in nursing school while having a family.
  1. I missed my first-born's first day of kindergarten. That burned. I was able to see him get on the bus, but that was it. That crushed me all last summer, knowing that I had class on that day, and no I could not miss it.
  2. My house is a disaster 90% of the time. The dishes and laundry are always done, but clutter and toys everywhere. There are days that I simply don't have time to clean. I just step over the crap. The things that get cleaned are the things that would start smelling if left unattended. Hence the dishes and laundry getting done.
  3. To bring in any sort of decent income I need to work on top of school. I try to pick up hours at the hospital, but I'm pretty limited to what I can work when most shifts are 12 hours and I'm at school Monday-Thursday. Although Tony picks up most of the slack, I still need to be able to pay for daycare, studio rent, gas and insurance, and help pay utilities and such. I'm so happy we are pretty much debt free or else I would be so much more stressed about finances then I am already. Thank goodness for my photography business and Young Living.
  4. From about 5am to 11pm I am constantly doing something. There are never days where I don't leave the house anymore. School is typically in the morning then I get Dominic from the sitters and Cameron off the bus. At night I *try* to study, clean, and edit. But then I have children. Which always trumps everything. And this, is the hardest part. Trying to juggle the mix of being a mother, a student, and bring in an income is stressful and exhausting. If I'm not doing something/paying enough attention to the kids, I feel "mommy guilt". If I'm spending all my time with the kids and not doing anything else, I'm falling behind on editing, the house is getting more messy, or I get anxious that I didn't study enough for the upcoming test. Being with my kids and fulfilling their needs first is always desired, but sometimes I simply have to put my needs first. Going back and forth between that stuff is draining. Most weeks I can let the mommy guilt part go, but there are sometimes it hits hard. I no longer question myself "am I making the right choice?" because yes I did. Going to school and ensuring a better financial stability for me and my family is what needed to be done. Going to school NOW means not working 40-50 hours a week to make ends meet LATER. But it still is distressing.
  5. Me and Tony maybe actually "see" each other a total of 2-3 hours a night. And during those hours is when I'm juggling all the above mentioned. It was worse during the beginning of the winter semester, when he was also in school 2 nights a week for 5 hours. On those night I didn't see him at all. And neither did the boys. On the weekends I'm usually working. And if I have a weekend off, it usually winds up to where he is working.
  6.  
     Being a mom in nursing school is by far the most challenging thing I have done thus far in my 26 years. Nursing school by itself is a formidable task by itself. I have learned many things about myself during this process. I appreciate free time more, I have learned to multitask to the extreme (bathing the kids, editing pictures, and writing up a nursing care plan, and stuffing my face all at once), I plan special outings with the kids and soak in every minute of it, and certain priorities come first.
     Over the last 18 months I have taken this day by day, minute by minute even. Although my children are small and may not remember me even being in school (Cameron probably will), I hope they take away from this that:
  • You CAN be a parent and a productive member of society. No your life is NOT over when you have children (its actually just beginning!).
  • You don't need to throw away dreams in exchange for parenthood. You can have both.
  • Support systems are very important. Care and love the ones around you, because those people will be there for you when you need it. I have the down right best support system. Child care has never been an issue. I credit all my success to them.
  • If you want something, then GO GET IT. Ignore that tiny voice in the back of your head that tells you that you can't. Or its too hard. Or you wont succeed or you are not "good" enough. And if you have to, ignore others tiny voices. Follow your dreams and the universe will open doors for you.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

10 things I believe in...

  1. I believe in love at first sight, because I'm a mother.
  2. I believe in letting children try...literally anything. Even if I know they are going to fail. Example - Dominic wanted to mix by hand our pumpkin cake batter last week. It was so thick, but I let him have a go at it.
  3. I believe that having less, hand me downs, and old models of anything material-wise is better then going into debt.
  4. I believe that education is worth debt.
  5.  I believe that people are genuinely good, and most of the time have good, heartfelt intentions.
  6. I believe then when life gives you lemons, you make the best kick-ass lemonade you can.
  7. I believe that jealously is evil, the worst kind. I remember my mom talking to me during a heated conversation when I was in my teens..."Sarah, wish the best for them, be happy for them. Its so much easier". She was so right.
  8. I believe in id, ego, superego, and the subconscious mind.
  9. I believe in Mother Earth.
  10. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Good or bad. You learn something new from every little experience you go through.

Friday, April 11, 2014

20 days

20 days until semester 3 of RN program is done DONE. Then onto the last.

What a difference a year makes. A year ago I was just finishing up the portion of the program that is nicknamed "boot camp". I still felt like I had a long way to go, and that I had just been through the ringer. To think that a year from now, I will be off orientation and will be all on my own as a real RN! It still seems so surreal. I sometimes think its too good to be true.
  I was just talking the other day with my friend Melissa, about how in the near future we are going to look back on this time and think "how did we live that way???". And ""that way" means juggling kids, marriage, a house, jobs, studying, clinical, finances. To know that in a mere 7 months, that will end, is so extremely exciting. Of course, I plan on continuing my education, but at my own pace. And after a short break because heaven knows I need it.

But for right now I'm just going to count down my 20 days until summer break.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A niece for us!

It was confirmed today that my sister and her husband are having a girl!!! Due at the end of July. I'm so giddy, just thinking of having a baby girl in the family! I can't wait to meet and snuggle this little GIRL!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Climb Out of The Darkness :: My Story of Falling and Climbing

Climb Out of The Darkness is an annual fundraiser event to help raise awareness for perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. It was created by Kathrine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress. The goal of the event is to raise both funds and awareness about perinatal and pregnancy mood disorders.

I experienced first hand postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD, which eventually lead to postpartum depression.

It was the first time in my life that I was scared of the dark.

  Dominic's birth was so easy and quick. It truly was a blessed birth and everyone was happy and healthy. I was so high on life that day. Once again, I had given birth to a miraculous little baby who was mine. I concentrated on every little detail. I couldn't get enough of his sweet smell. When he nursed we would stare into each others eyes as I caressed his cheeks and fine baby hair. Everything was perfect. Until 3 days after his birth and something changed inside.

  I felt like my adrenaline was still rushing through my veins. I was wide awake even after days of getting nearly no sleep. I started getting very anxious thoughts, thought about someone hurting him, thoughts about not waking up to crying, thoughts about accidentally dropping him. What if? What if? WHAT IF? Those thought were taking over. I loved him so much, that the fear of losing him was taking over.
 I cried out for help when D was 5 days old. It was a Friday. Black Friday to be exact. I hadn't slept in days and couldn't, I had no appetite, I couldn't even talk without a huge lump in my throat.I was obsessive over nursing, not wanting to sleep in case I missed a feeding, wondering if he was getting enough. Truth be told, he was a fine nurser, while I was the one that was not fine.
The office that I called, a male answered. it took me probably a whole minute to even tell him why I was calling. I dont remember the conversation. Most things around that time were a blur. But he could tell I needed help. He said he could set me up with a counselor in a few weeks. I begged him to try to get me somewhere sooner. He told me he would try. He called me back hours later and told me that I can see someone sooner.
 I seen a counselor that next day. On the way there it was raining so hard. Cold November rain.The only thing we talked about really was other stress in my life, the recent passing of my mother, my fathers recent illnesses, and how to cope when I started feeling OCD or feeling like I have about to have a panic attack. We talked about if I had feeling of hurting myself or him, which I did not. I left there feeling like she had all good intentions, but I still felt alone and ashamed. Why me? Why this? Why now? Was I finally having the big mental breakdown of losing my mother...then almost losing my dad soon after that?
 I never went back to her. I just decided I would "toughen" up and deal. And that what I did. It was a nightmare. I decided to stop breastfeeding, hoping that maybe somehow this would make me feel "normal" again. It did the opposite. I truly 100% believe that stopping breastfeeding threw me in to postpartum depression. I had failed. I was not "mom enough". I longed for the relationship that came along with breastfeeding. Going back to work and helping new moms breastfeed was extremely difficult. Of course I would help, but I would then go and wipe tears away in the bathroom. I was teaching a new mom how to breastfeed, when I myself was a complete failure over it, and not because it hurt, or i didn't produce, but because I was so messed up in the head that I couldn't. I had wished and envied women who stopped because of physical reasons. At least it wasn't their fault.
From the outside, I looked completely happy. While on the inside I was just trying to hang on.

I didn't feel like myself again until Dominic was about 18 months old. What I found was that it was in telling the truth about this emotional struggle that I found peace. I started telling people that I had been dealing with ppd. To my surprise, other women were opening up back to me. This is about the time that I felt the strongest bond with him. We were inseparable. Me, Tony, Cameron and Dominic. We were a perfect family and my heart felt so full.
This was taken around the time that I started to feel "normal" again, and when I realized what I had gone thru and I knew that I would not keep my experience with ppd a secrete anymore. I had climbed out. Strong. Stronger then ever.
Around the same time as above. Looking back, I find it ironic that I actually did climb a mountain ( a small one, but still!).
   I look back, and I cant believe what I went through. The bond between me and my children is as strong as steel, and to just know that that survived ppd is very empowering. I may always look back to those early days, weeks, months and feel a deep sadness that I was dealt the ppd card. Luckily, it is fading. I always try to take the good out of a bad situation, and if I had to pick the good from this one it would be things such as:
  • I'm living proof that a normal women can go through and come out of ppd.
  • I'm open and honest about what I went through.
  • I have personally talked to women in my life who are going though what I did, and I'm able to reassure them that they will be OK. And NO, they are not crazy.
  • I now know where to look for help, whether its me in the future, or for a friend who needs resources.
  • I'm willing to stand up, admit, and volunteer to help any women out there feel less alone.
 What I wish...I wish that someone would have recognized what I was going through. I wish that counselor would have had a special person to refer me to that specialized in postpartum mood disorders. It wasn't her fault, she just wasn't the right person for that topic. I wish there would have been more information given to new moms about ppmood disorders, and what to do, who to call if she felt like she needed the help. I wish there were more support groups for moms here in Jackson.

 Postpartum Progress was a light in the dark woods for me. For the first time, I found a community of women who were going through the same situations, feelings, guilt, struggles as I was. Since then, I have been following her blog.

 This year I have decided to take on a Climb Out of The Darkness event right here in Jackson. I'm still working on all the fine details. I'm hoping to raise $2000, but more importantly raise awareness. Here are my pages for the event, which will be held on June 21st.

Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/COTDJACKSON14
Crowdrise donation page - http://www.crowdrise.com/sarahhalsey-COTD2014/fundraiser/sarahhalsey




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring has Sprung

   Finally! It looks like this winter might just be over. Over the last few days it has been in the 50's with the sun out. I actually opened up all the doors and windows for a few hours last week. Nothing is more refreshing then taking that first step outside in the early morning and feeling...comfortable. Comfortable and not freezing.
  We have actually spent a lot of time outside too. Last week was the first time back to Cascades where I like to power walk and climb the hill. Today we took the boys to the park and while Tony played with them I went for a 2 mile walk and climbed the huge hill 4 times. Talk about major heart rate increase. But I love it and I need it. Nothing feels like the feeling of a post-workout. But lets see how I feel tomorrow...if I can walk ;).
    As the snow has pretty much melted away from everywhere, I'm also getting to see just how much work we have to do this spring! The backyard is a hot mess, dog poop and sticks and chewed up crap everywhere. Not to mention that the window sills outside need some serious scraping and repainting, but not sure if thats something I'm going to try to tackle this summer.
   I would like to try to plant another garden this year. I just need to figure out whats best for our soil and what grows best in direct sunlight. Last year I grew beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins. The beans grew super quick, and I didn't realize that they were ready to be picked before it was too late. The sun had already dried them up. The tomatoes never really got ripe. They stayed green for the longest time, then they got moldy/eaten away at. The cucumbers grew a ton, and we actually did eat a few of those. But also a lot of those got rotten before I picked them in time.