Angel Emberly PART 1

Behind our smiles, there are tears.  Through laughter there is sorrow.  Joy is short lived and clouded by darkness.  We cling to hope but our faith is shaken and weak. We march on because we have to, but we have no idea where we are going.  We are lost souls wandering through darkness.  We pray for the light to come in the dark lonely night….but it doesn’t.  Anxiety and fear follow us in the shadows, we are exhausted and weary but live to see another day and we pray the new day is better than the last.

Early 2015 things were spinning out of control.  Amanda was in a bad place.  Her car broke down, she lost her job,  every day it seemed like she was calling me to fix something that had gone wrong.   I felt like I could not handle one more thing.

One early morning she wasn’t feeling well and her roommate had taken her to the hospital.  A few hours later,  the phone rings,  I see it is Amanda and pick up the call.  “Mom, are you sitting down?”  My heart sank with worry and anxiety.  “I’m pregnant.”  Stunned,  I reacted shamefully.  I hung up on her!  I didn’t know what else to do.  I was filled with shock, rage, fear.

So many thoughts were running through my mind as I paced through the house.  I was thinking  “well this is great! you have no job, no car, your roommate is about to kick you out AND you’re pregnant.  Fantastic!!  You can’t take care of yourself!  A baby…are you kidding me?”  It took time for me to process it all.   I am  not proud of how I handled the news.  She was scared and alone and I had abandoned her.

A few days later I picked up the phone and called her,  “Are you ok?”  “No” she replied.  We had a painful conversation about choices.  We had decisions to make.

After much thought and discussion we decided she would stay at a group home, a  place for unwed mothers.  It was a program to assist them getting back on their feet so they were able to care for the children when they were born.

It was a hard decision, painful to drop your daughter off with a suitcase,  a few dollars and count on the kindness of strangers.  But, we felt it was best for her to be involved in this program.   As I watched her walk away from the car as we said goodbye, tears streaming down my face, I was deeply saddened, yet hopeful.

She had a job at a maternity store and was saving her money for an apartment.  She was going to church every Sunday and growing into motherhood.  She was glowing and the healthiest and happiest I had seen her in years!  Perhaps this unplanned pregnancy wasn’t so bad after all.  I was so proud of her and as her precious bump grew, our love for Emberly grew. What a blessing!

 

Our hearts were full of hope and excitement.  She was working the program at the Hanna Home, she had saved enough money for her first apartment, the place she and Emberly would call home.  What a change I had seen in her.  The day she walked into the rental office to pay her deposit my eyes were filled with tears but this time it was different, they were happy tears.

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We had her baby shower,  and decorated the bedroom and nursery.  The crib was up, the diaper and hospital bags packed and ready.  Nine months of excitement and anticipation. The outpouring from family friends at her baby shower, was something I will never forget.  Everyone knew this pregnancy was unplanned and she was to be a single mom but this little Angel was loved and welcomed by all.

 

The last month of her pregnancy there were several trips to the emergency room, she had pretty bad headaches, her blood pressure was occasionally high, she was increasingly uncomfortable (as expected) and some false labor.  We were always reassured, little Emberly was just fine.

October 30, 2015 we went to her final follow up appointment.  She was uncomfortable and her blood pressure was elevated.  She mentioned to the nurse, Emberly had frequent hiccups,  her back and hip had started to bother her and she had to quit working a few weeks prior.  She asked about being induced, but they didn’t feel it was necessary.  They sent her to labor and delivery due to the elevated blood pressure and kept her for a few hours.  I had to leave for work so I told her to call my husband to pick her up later.

After being monitored for a few hours, some rest and lying on her side, her blood pressure was stable and she was again reassured Emberly was fine and she was sent home. (no songogram)

She came to our home that evening.  We had a fun and relaxing night.  We ordered a pizza and baked peanut butter cookies.  After eating, she mentioned that she hadn’t felt Emberly kicking after dinner and usually after sugary treats Emberly was active.  I reassured her, we were at the doctor and hospital that day,  the doctors said she was fine.  I mentioned she was probably running out of room to move or napping in preparation for the big day.  She stayed the night in the room I had prepared for babysitting my new grandchild.

October 31, 2015 she texted from the basement.  She was having contractions. We called the doctor and she had also mentioned she hadn’t felt the baby move since yesterday.  The doctor instructed her to get to the hospital.

We grabbed her bags and off we went.  Was she in labor for real this time?  Was something wrong?

I pushed her in a wheelchair as she was having a hard time walking,  she was checked in and the nurse came in to place the heart monitor.  Our hearts sank, as the nurse struggled to find Emberlys heart beat. “Where do they normally place the monitor?” she asked. “right there…” Amanda replied as her eyes filled with worry and tears.  I reassured her once again, relax….It’s going to be ok.

The words, you don’t want to hear at this point from the nurse,  “I’m going to get the doctor.”  The doctor arrives, quickly greets us and immediately uses the sonogram monitor,  as he is rolling the wand over her belly,  I watch his face, his body language.  I look at the monitor which is placed right on Emberly’s heart. There is no blood flowing, no beating.  Nothing!! He utters the words, “I’m sorry…there is no heart beat.”

We cry out “no, no!”  What? this has to be a mistake! We just saw you yesterday! Everything was fine! How can this be?  What happened!?”  We are now in complete shock!  We are both screaming and crying out in anguish,  “No, no, no… God why?  WHY?!?”

The next few minutes as we cry and are in a complete panic,  we began making random desperate phone calls.  My husband, my mother, Amanda’s father, my sisters and some close friends.  We are in a complete state of confusion, and those that answered our calls were shocked and confused as well.  It’s so hard for me to even write this, my thoughts are almost as confused now, as they were then.  It’s hard to remember the sequence of events from here.   The nurses and doctor explain what happens next and we are forced to make decisions no parent or grandparent should ever have to make.

Do you want an autopsy? Do you want to be induced or go home until labor progresses?  You will go through natural childbirth, no C section.  We will send some grief support in, we can get a photographer so you can have pictures of your baby.  We will give you some time to decide….

We are in a fog.  Shock, disbelief,  and the most gutwrenching pain any human will ever experience.  Amanda is transported to a different wing of the labor and delivery floor.  We are provided an extra room for family and friends to gather.

Our day of joy is now a day of mourning.  Our visitors will come not to celebrate but to offer condolences.  We now have to decide if we want to have a funeral for our sweet Emberly.  She will never come home with us.

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God Bless, thanks for reading and sharing our journey.  I’m not a professional, just a mom, be gentle.  Please remember to share, like and comment.

Mothering a Daughter with Depression part II

In the previous blog I introduced you to my daughter Amanda, her diagnosis of major depressive disorder and gave you a little background.  I shared mostly about her and how difficult it has been to watch my once happy, funny, athletic, beautiful daughter slip into the dark world of depression.

Originally, this post was going to be about a different topic. However, I have decided to open up about myself and how I have responded, reacted and finally accepted her diagnosis.

The truth is I haven’t always ” held the lantern”.  It hurts me to say that, but it’s true. I realize in confessing some of my secret thoughts, feelings and reactions may subject me to criticism and judgement but that’s ok.  If I don’t speak the truth, then what am I actually doing to help others? It’s the reason I am sharing in the first place.

Initially, when she was 14 and I really started to see things that concerned me, I thought I was being proactive.  I tried to open up the communication between us, be more available to her as a parent. But it wasn’t working. My 14 year old daughter was talking about dying and she was cutting herself.  She wore long sleeve shirts to cover the marks on her arms.

When I first discovered the cuts on her arms, I freaked out!  I grabbed her aggressively, “What the hell are you doing to yourself? What is so bad in your life?!”  I honestly didn’t know what to do. This wasn’t some teenage phase of isolation and hating her parents. This wasn’t hanging out with some kids that were a bad influence.  This was real and I had to take action.

I called the psychiatrist and a psychologist and scheduled the appointment.  I remember sitting in some of those appointments tears streaming down her face and I,  for the life of me couldn’t figure out what was so damn bad? Make no mistake, I believed she felt sad, her feelings were real, but were they worthy of cutting yourself? Enough to make her want to die? WHY? 

The psychologist worked with her on some techniques to stop the cutting. She was to wear a rubber band around her wrist and when she felt like cutting she was to snap the rubber band. That technique was not successful I learned soon enough.

I thought things were improving after she had been on medication for a while. She did spend less time in her room, started hanging with her friends again. I was feeling positive and hopeful. Then one day she was in the bathroom taking a shower, playing her music, but she was in there for a long time.  I became concerned and knocked on the door… ” are you ok?”  She wasn’t ok. She was cutting again. This time her groin and thighs. I was concerned, frustrated and angry. Why wasn’t this medication and counseling working?

We were in a dark place. I had a hard time focusing at work, I resigned from the church choir. I needed to spend more time at home.  Sometimes I did well, I hugged her and reassured her I loved her. Other times I was  frustrated, scared, worried and I lashed out. I was afraid to leave her, afraid to let her go to school. Do I quit my job?

With time the medication did seem to be working so I would let my guard down, begin to trust her and we would slip back into more of a normal routine. Then BAM out of nowhere something else would happen. I struggled to recognize if I was dealing with depression or rebellion. She was a teenager after all.

During counseling sessions we would try to outline some boundaries, establish rules, improve communication and consistency.  We had success and failures. We had screaming matches, physical confrontations and many tears over the years.

I hate depression! It’s unpredictable. I need my life to have some control damnit and I can not control this! I can’t make my daughter feel happy, I can’t calm her fears, I can’t rationalize with her. I’m a communicator, I talk. I talk a lot… and I am usually pretty good at it. I can usually say things that will calm someones fears, reassure them. But depression is a liar, so whatever you say, depression is already telling them something else.  If I say “your beautiful”,  it tells her she is not beautiful. If I say ” I love you”, it says how can anyone love you? If I say “everything will work out”, it says something bad is going to happen. It’s the nature of the beast.  I am also stubborn, so when the depression manifests and she replies with the lies it is telling her, I argue, she argues and things can escalate.

Over the years I have done things I regret. It is very frustrating to feel like you are working so hard at something and make little to no progress.  It’s a cycle, it goes on and on and on. 1 step forward 3 steps back. A glimmer of hope, then darkness looms.  Dealing with depression can bring out the worst in a person. And I am being honest, it has brought out the worst in me.

Depression robs you of normalcy,  it steals your joy and catches you off guard. When it strikes, you want to lash back at it and unfortunately the recipient is usually your loved one.  So, this cycle of things that happen like difficulty dealing with basic tasks, feeling overwhelmed, addiction, unable to sustain employment, chronic pain and other symptoms DEPRESSION causes but I have reacted towards my daughter.  I am angry with depression, not her.  I’m frustrated with depression and the cycle, not her.  But I lash out at her.  Does that make sense?

One day she called me while on her lunch break. She was having a really rough day something had triggered her emotions and she couldn’t stop thinking about her daughter Emberly dying.  I kept telling her she had to pull herself together and get back to work. “Amanda you can’t miss work! You have to get back there, you can’t lose this job!” Meanwhile she is collapsed on the floor of her apartment sobbing.  I wish I had been more compassionate in that moment.  I panicked, I thought I could say something that would snap her out of it.  I knew how much she loved this job and I knew her employers patience had to be running thin since she had missed due to hospitalizations previously. It’s not that I didn’t feel sad too. When she cries about Emberly it is the worst feeling in the world. I feel helpless, because there is nothing I can say to make that pain stop.  I knew she was in a bad place emotionally. I myself have had emotional triggers when at work. But I am able to cry, go wash my face, take a deep breath and regulate those emotions. She is not capable of that, but I expected her to respond the way that I would.

Depression is a very hard disability to accept. To us, the person appears to be healthy so we expect healthy “normal” behaviors and lifestyles. This makes it more difficult for the person affected by depression because our expectation is that they will respond similar to how we would respond in any given situation. When that is not the case and we lack understanding it creates frustration and anxiety because they feel we just don’t understand them.  The truth is we don’t.  We don’t know how their mind works, why they can’t regulate their emotions, why they can’t get out of bed, why they feel hopeless and tired.

I have been tired, disappointed, discouraged, sad, frustrated and angry.  It should be no surprise to me that others in her life feel that way too.  However,  I am her mom so there is that unconditional love that always pulls us through. When other family members and friends react with some of those same feelings, it hurts her and it hurts me too. She has had friends that have removed themselves from her life, because they can’t take it.  She frequently cancels outings, she has a negative outlook on life.  This is also part of our dark,  lonely journey,  ISOLATION.  We walk much of this journey alone because of this darkness, because of the negativity.

In recent years, mostly since Emberly died I have a better understanding of her world.  God knows I am trying with all my might to keep my daughter alive, to bring her hope and have a better understanding of what a challenge life really is for her.  I hope those who know her can reach this understanding too.

Be gentle, be kind… carry the lantern and shed some light into someones dark world.

God Bless, thanks for reading.  Remember, I’m not a professional, just a mom. Please remember to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW my blogs. 💞

 

 

 

 

Mothering a daughter with depression

“Its a Girl!” Instantly my heart was full, a little girl… I was filled with excitement, hopes and dreams.  The names I had scribbled on my notepad 100 times over, I would now choose one.  I felt during my pregnancy she was a girl, but sonograms in 1990 were not what they are today, so my doctor had never confirmed with certainty.  Todays technology and social media makes it difficult for me to think back to a time when we did gender neutral baby showers, we actually picked up a telephone to share our news, and congratulatory cards were sent via snail mail. Somedays, I wish it were still like that, but thats a different blog. So here we are almost 28 years later.  My daughter Amanda.  How much I love you then and now.

She was a big baby 9lbs 14 oz! She had light blonde hair and blue eyes.  Dressing little girls is fun, she wore easter dresses complete with hat and tiny gloves, red velvet Christmas dresses and I remember the cutest tiny pair of tennis shoes.

She was a strong willed child. I’m sad now to think back at all the times I tried so hard to break her spirit.  If I knew then what I know now, but she was stubborn and discipline was a challenge.  I raised her the only way I knew how, similar to the way I was raised. I would change some things if I could go back, but I can’t.

As she grew older she would be involved in sports, very athletic and she had a great sense of humor.  As a teenager she had  many friends, who spent a lot of time in our home. I miss those days.  We were close, but the teen years did present many challenges. We laughed, cried, argued and fought,  I have always supported and encouraged her to go after her dreams, to pursue whatever career she chose and told her she could be anything she wants to be.

She was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder at age 14.  She had routine counseling and medication from then on.  I struggled to understand depression.  At the time, I was still married to her father.  She had a nice home, she was beautiful, smart, funny and had many friends.  How does someone so young become depressed and stressed?

I pushed her, maybe too much?  I wanted her to have what I knew as a “normal” life. When her grades began to slip, I hired a tutor. When she signed up for a sports team and felt like quitting, I made her finish the season. When she misbehaved there were consequences.

As she grew older, the trials and tribulations escalated.  The depression was deeper and she began to experiment with drugs around 17 or 18.  There are many back stories here, maybe in another blog I will share some of those.

Depression is like a snake.  At first, sneaky and slow as it approaches prey.  Stalking ready for ambush it strikes then strangles until the life is sucked out of its victim and it swallows you whole.

I have watched depression robbing my daughter of a full life for almost 14 years now.  There have been circumstances which cause the symptoms to become worse and even unmanageable at times.  What you may not know or understand is how strong my daughter actually is.

As a society we see depression as a sign of weakness. I am telling you right now, my daughter has been through hell and she is stronger than she knows! She has had significant losses, her cousin who was more like her big brother,  close friends, and in 2015 she lost her daughter.  She has health issues including chronic pancreatitis and chronic back pain.  I have sat bedside at the hospital she and I both in tears pleading with doctors and nurses to please help, to make the pain stop.  As a parent it is so difficult to watch your child, no matter their age suffer like this.

She and I have been through much of this alone.  She has lost so many friends because they can’t handle her complaints or cries for help.  She has been negative at times, but wouldn’t you be if you spent much of your life in the hospital and incapacitated?

Every day she faces depression, anxiety, chronic pain and grief.  EVERY DAY!! Depression is a dark and lonely world.  Each day  when she opens her eyes and begins to feel her heart pounding with anxiety, her legs are weak from the nerve pain and she swallows a mouthful of pills to help her digest food if she can take the dogs out and take a shower it is a victory for her.

Somehow, someway over time we have learned to live with depression. Some days are harder than others. She and I have accepted it and we deal with it the best way we can.  Every day I try to encourage her, to show her love and compassion. I have told her many times how much I love her and that I can’t live without her.  She has expressed that she doesn’t want to be here on this earth anymore. Those words hurt my heart and they scare me.  I will continue to love her through this disease and try to shine some light into her dark lonely world. I will carry the lantern for her in hopes that one day she will be able to see the light on her own. My daughter Amanda, how much I love you then and now.

So, why open up our personal lives to strangers? Why do I feel the need to write and share our story.  It is my hope that in doing so we are able to help someone. Maybe someone feels they are alone and have nowhere to turn.  It is my hope the negative stigma associated with mental illness will decrease and readers will educate themselves and reach out to family and friends who are affected by mental illness.

Thank You for reading. I am not an expert, just a mom. I am new to blogging so my apologies if this is too long. I am certain there are errors.  Until next time, be gentle and leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! I have contemplated writing a book for quite some time.  I feel like I have so much to share.  It was hard to decide on one topic. For now, I will share my heart and heartache of what it’s like watching my daughter struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic illness, chronic pain and grief before and after the loss of her baby girl Emberly.  I hope you will benefit from our experiences, share in our journey and that we all find hope and peace. Look for my first blog soon! I’m new to this, be gentle 😉

Continue reading “Welcome to my blog!”