Monday, November 18, 2013

Dealing with PPD and PPA

Three years ago I gave birth to my second beautiful son. I was so looking forward to his arrival, I day dreamed about having him, giving Brock a brother, and completing our family.
After giving birth to Brock I dealt with the baby blues, but nothing major, life was great. Being a mommy was great, I loved every minute of it.
Having Jude rocked my world in every way. About a week after he was born I started feeling very overwhelmed. Everything was big to me, nothing was small or easy. I started to sink into myself and cut everyone, including my husband out. If you know me, you know Jude was a really, really hard baby. The word hard doesn't even come close to describing his first 18 months-2 years of life. The more he'd cry the darker I became. I saw life in tunnel vision, my whole world was closing in on me. I couldn't sleep because I was so anxious, my muscles twitched every time I would lay down to rest. I dreaded my child waking up in the mornings. The depression and anxiety consumed me. I wanted to pack up Brock and run away. I went as far as to get a bag out a handful of times. I could not handle my new reality, everything was collapsing around me, I couldn't breathe I was so overwhelmed.
Then came the time I thought I had reached the end of my rope. For several months I seriously considered ending it all, I had it all planned out. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of someone having to discover my body. I was sane enough to know that would destroy my husband or boys. Thank God I had that tiny sliver of sanity left, without it I am sure I would no longer be here.
I would lay in bed and cry every night. I heard the saying all the time, "God won't give you anything you can't handle." The saying pissed me off. Surely God was wrong, I was not strong enough, I could not physically crawl out of the dark despair I was in on my own. I was a shell of the person I once knew, I would look in the mirror trying to recognize myself.
I got on medication and I became determined to get better, and I became to determined to make something of this. It could not have all been for nothing. There had to be a reason I went through 18 months of extreme darkness. As the fog began to clear I began talking about my struggles and I found a 50/50 mix of moms astonished I'd say anything negative about motherhood, and moms who were so thankful someone was being honest about the struggles. It became clear to me then to not glorify motherhood, but to tell the nitty gritty details from the struggles to the joys. Motherhood isn't bad for everyone, but for some, it is.
Looking back on that time in my life is still very painful for me. I missed a lot. There are gaps in my boys lives I simply do not remember, I have blocked out so many things. What remains fresh for me though, is how fragile a new mom can be. How one judgmental remark can make a mom feel like she is worthless and failing at being a mom. How being a mom is NOT easy, it is rewarding, but sometimes the reward is on the horizon, not right in front of us. I feel like my life's purpose is to not only be a wife and mom, but to be a voice for the moms too afraid to speak. To be an ear to the moms that are willing to share their struggles, and to be a voice of strength as someone who knows there is light at the end of the tunnel. To tell moms it won't be hard forever, there will come a time that you can laugh again, smile again, and enjoy the simple things in life again. To tell moms it won't always be so overwhelming, you won't always feel swallowed whole by this new life. That it will, without question, get better, and they without question are not alone in what they are going through.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Grief

Grief is such a funny thing. It is powerful, knock you on your butt powerful, but eventually it looses it's power.
Today would have been my moms birthday. Her 52nd birthday, sadly I had to pull out my calculator to figure that out. In the years right after her death the day of her birthday would consume me. I could not stop thinking about how old she'd be, what she would be doing, etc. She only had 43 birthdays. 43. That is only 15 more than I have currently had. I cannot imagine only having 15 more birthdays.
The grief when she first died was so strong I swore it would kill me. I could hardly breathe, I physically hurt from grief, my world was literally spinning out of control without me while I watched on. It has morphed since then into a dull ache that only appears every now and then. Especially when big life events happen, my wedding, when my boys were born, when my oldest son started school. The ache then was stronger, I miss her, I wanted her there to experience those things.
A few months after she died I remember crying to my dad about the physical pain and he said to me, "Amber, there is a day where you won't be consumed by the grief, you won't think about her every single day after awhile it will hit you that you haven't thought about her in days." I looked at him with the look that only a scorned teenager can give (sorry about that, dad) and spouted off, "I will NEVER not think of my mom all day. NEVER!" I was nothing if not dramatic, and I was nothing if not very wrong. He was right. I am no longer consumed with the death of my mom. Losing her suddenly when I was 19 does not, and will not define me.
The fact that I am no longer consumed with her loss does not mean I did not love her. It means I am choosing to live even though she died. Sadly, life goes on, things and people change, and those who have passed on settle nicely into our hearts, but out of our immediate thoughts.
I still think about her all the time, I do wonder what my life would look like if she were in it. There are a lot of "what if's" that I will never be able to answer. The only thing I know for sure is there is currently a pretty awesome party being thrown in heaven for her 52nd birthday.
Happy Birthday, Momma.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sweet Jude, you are 3!


Three years ago you came screaming into our lives. For the past two years I'd say, "And here you are still screaming!" But not this year, my Bug. This year you have grown and changed into an amazing, sweet, slightly cautious, non-screaming (hallelujah!!) little boy.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the wee hours of the morning after you were born. In that moment it was just me and you. I held you and memorized all of your features, you amazed me how much you looked like Brock, but yet were so different.

In true Jude fashion you cried while eating your first birthday cake. We couldn't help but laugh as you kept shoveling in cake while screaming.

As your second birthday rolled around things were beginning to get easier, you were coming into your little personality. It was a lot of fun to watch you grow into your own person.

Now you are 3, my Bug. I am not quite sure how it went from counting down the months until your colic would be over, to suddenly you being 3. I feel like life was fast forwarded this year in a big way. You started school, had language explosions, went from a crib to a big boy bed, potty trained, and went on vacations (with and without mom and dad!) It has been a BIG year for you.
Things you love:
Your brother, he is your #1 most favorite thing. Your 2nd favorite thing is your daddy. You are a daddy's boy through and through. You also love your dogs, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, your "b's", the ocean, bacon, tractors, and horses.

You are a cautious little one who likes to evaluate the entire situation before you dive head first into any thing. You try so hard to keep up with your big brother, and succeed a lot of the time. You are sensitive, and you get your feelings hurt very easily. You love to cuddle and just be still, which is a huge difference for us, Brock was never still! You have a kind heart, you are quick to say please and thank you. You are stubborn, oh so stubborn, you come from a long line of stubborn people. I hope you do great things with your strong will and stubbornness later in life.
Your smile and laugh make my day, I am so, so glad to be your mom. You have taught me so much about life and what true, unconditional love it. You have taught me to love when it wasn't it easy. You have made me grow and stretch in ways I was not expecting but I am so glad for all of our challenges. It was through those challenges that our bond was forged and there is nothing that will ever be able to break that.
I love you to the moon and back, my bug, you are my sunshine!
Happy Birthday sweet boy!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hi, my name is Amber, and I am a yeller

If I had to choose one thing about myself that I hate above all else it is that I am a yeller.
I didn't used to be one. My mom yelled at me a lot and I vowed to break the chains and not do that to my kids.
I had Brock and life was grand, I loved every moment of motherhood, even the hard moments. We found out I was pregnant with Jude and I was ecstatic. We were going to give our sweet Brock a sibling, complete our family, and have everything we ever dreamed of.
Jude was born and we faced so many challenges with him, I had postpartum depression and post postpartum anxiety. My sweet Brock turned 3 and was no longer all that sweet, he became defiant and pushed buttons. As for Jude, well, he cried. A lot. As in all day, everyday. The only time he didn't cry was when he was asleep.
I was in such a dark depressive state yelling became my coping mechanism of sorts. I was scared, hurting, and felt so alone (though, I had a lot of support I didn't see it at the time) yelling became my norm.
Now I yell, well because I have been for the past three years. I yell then feel horrible about it, rinse and repeat. I have told myself several times over the years time and time again I need to quit, but yet I don't.
A few weeks ago a great friend, Mallory, told me about a no yelling challenge. I wasn't ready then, yelling makes my boys snap to attention and listen. I needed yelling to survive, I didn't think I could stop. Until I took note that when I say Jude's name in a loud tone at all, he covers his ears. When I talk to Brock he immediately thinks he's in trouble.
Then yesterday happened. The boys were being boys, loud, rambunctious, and defiant. I was at my wits end by 9:45AM. I lost it, I did the crazy mom scream until I was purple in the face, while my husband watched. About five minutes later he came up to me and said, "No. Never again do I want to hear you yell at our children like that. You told me if you ever acted like your mom I needed to tell you, and well, you are acting like her. You told me how bad she would make you feel about yourself and now, you are doing it to our children."
It was like I was slapped across the face, but it was the truth, he said it with love, and it needed to be said. I have known for a long time that I need to stop, so I am trying. You have to start somewhere so here I am, day one of the challenge.
Why am I putting this out there on the internet for all to see? Accountability. Plain and simple. I have talked with friends about it, and my husband about it. For me to break the habit I am going to have to be held accountable. I will update here when I can about my failures and triumphs I am pretty sure there will be plenty of both.
Here is the blog Mallory introduced me to that I will be following and getting ideas from on other ways I can discipline my kids without yelling at them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sleepless nights

Jude has been going through a phase of refusing to nap. Because of it he has been overly tired and having night terrors. There was one day last week that was exhausting, I was done with being a mom for the day and needed a night of no whining kids. Lo and behold right about the time Clayton I were crawling into bed Jude starts crying.
I got up to get him and if I am being honest I was very annoyed with the whole situation. This was the 2nd or 3rd night that week he had been up and I was over it. I went into his room and scooped him up and he instantly calmed down, which is not normal with his night terrors. I turned to take him into our room to get him settled and of course banged his poor little head into the door. Screaming ensued and my nerves sky rocketed. I laid him down in our bed and curled up next to him. The moment I got close he quieted down and fell asleep in my arms.

I looked down at him and my heart skipped a beat. I was reminded, yet again, sometimes all my kids need, is me. My touch, my words, my love, simply my presence. I laid looking at him for some time, long enough that Clayton looked at me and asked if I was ok. With tears in my eyes I nodded and continued to gaze onto this precious human being that has been placed in my care. I fail as a mom so many times, but moments like that night let me know I am doing ok.
There are of course the nights he wakes up crying right when Clayton and I go to bed and Jude starts crying, I pull him into our bed to sooth him and he lays in bed giggling at us.

Life is not perfect, or a fairy tale. I raise my voice too often the kids fight more than I'd like. But with each little kiss and, "I love you, mama" I am reminded just how lucky I am to have this life, my two little boys and one amazing man that makes it all worthwhile.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dear Brock

Dear Brock,

You are now 5 years old. Where the time went I am not sure. When you were born at looked at you with such awe and wonder. I was curious about what you would look like at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. I could not imagine it. You were my sweet bundle of all boy and so incredibly happy all the time. I say you were born smiling. You were such a curious and alert baby, and you continue to be so as a kid. When you were born the doctor held you up and much to everyone's surprise you turned your head to look around the room. You didn't want to miss a single moment and you haven't stopped exploring, learning, asking questions, and refusing to sleep in fear of missing out on excitement since then.

When they took you to get you all cleaned up you started to whimper and cry like most newborns. That is until your daddy took your hand and told you he was there and it would all be ok. You grasped onto his finger, turned your face towards him and became silent. It's like you knew at that moment that all was well. You were going to be loved, adored, and cared for always.
The first year of your life is somewhat of a blur. You changed so quickly from month to month seemingly day to day at some points. I would write you a letter each month "birthday" you had letting you know what you were up to and what you meant to me. I cherish those. They are a moment frozen time that I can look back on with a smile knowing although it seems like it flew by I soaked in every moment. I rocked you every night until you were 13 months old, got up with you throughout the night for just as long. You made me a mom and I loved learning and growing right along with you. You taught me so much about life and love that first year of your life.

I cried the night I put you to bed as a 11 month old. I somehow knew as soon as you turned one time would speed up and there would be no stopping it. I was more right then I ever knew. You started to demand independence that year, being an early walker, and a very good talker I often forgot just how young you were. You have always seemed older than you are. Around 18 months the "terrible two's" hit you did not throw fits over not getting your way, but over being told to do something different than you had in mind. From very early on you were determined to do what you wanted to do, when you wanted to do it and we better watch out. You are stubborn, set in your ways, and so strong willed. I know when you are a man those qualities are going to make you excel in everything that you put your mind to, but for now man it is hard!

By the time you were 2 you fell in love with sports and everything out doors-y. We had to begin the countdown until you were 4 at that point so that you could play t-ball. You could not wait until you were older, and bigger, all the while I was silently pleading with you to slow down and to be my baby just a little bit longer. You also fell in love with all things music, man you loved to sing and dance, all the time. You were getting a little bit easier at this point as we could negotiate with you about what you wanted to do vs what we wanted you to do. You are quite the negotiator though! You were all about your daddy, peepaw, and papa at this stage in your life girls (including mommmy) were chopped liver. It hurt my heart a little, but made me so proud at the same time to see you grow and flourish. You became a big brother at 2 1/2 and you weren't all that sure about it at first. You loved to be a mischievous little guy when I would sit down to feed Jude, I found you in some interesting situations thankfully they were all funny and not dangerous. You had to grow up a lot this year it killed me a little knowing I "forced" you to grow up by giving you a brother, but I knew it would be so worth it in the long run.

By your 3rd birthday you had being a big brother down pat. You showed a love for Jude that was so raw and pure. You taught me that year what it meant to love unconditionally. You were a light of happiness for me in a year that was otherwise very dark and tumultuous. I mourned the loss of our "best buddy" status that we had before you had a sibling, but I knew I gave you a best friend like nothing else, a brother. You continued to gain independence and at the same time spunk and attitude. You gave us a run for our money almost daily but it was important for you to exert your independence. You started mothers day out that year and it was wonderful for you. You made new friends, loved your teacher Mrs. Dee and learned so much. Being so inquisitive and smart being in "school" was so good for you.

With 4 came sass like I have never known with you! Sadly, you and I butted heads almost the entire year, it made me so sad. I think 4 is just hard for a little guy like you. You weren't quite a toddler anymore and weren't a big kid yet, its a transitional age and it showed. You were finally old enough to play t-ball! Your first team was the Outlaws the whole team was 4 year old's and more than anything you little guys just wanted to play in the dirt. It was hilarious to see you in an over sized uniform on such a big field being such a little guy. This year you are on the White Sox and while there are times you still would rather dig in the dirt, you have gown so much in the sport! You are hitting doubles and triples, getting runners out, and focusing the majority of the game. We could not be more proud of you. You have been in Preschool all year with Mrs. Shannon and you have learned so much. You continue to blow us out of the water with how smart you are. You have made so many friends in school and your teacher cannot stop singing your praises. She said you have such a kind heart and you care deeply for all your classmates. It does this mama's heart good to hear that.

And now, my sweet boy, you are five. Five. I have to take a minute and let that sink in. You are truly a kid now, there is no ounce of baby left in you anymore. We had a bowling party per your request for your 5th birthday. You had to move the big plastic crocodile that is supposed to help you roll your ball. You had to bowl "for real" like a big boy. Looking at you makes my heart skip a beat. I cannot believe you are mine. That I was intrusted with your life. I can only hope and pray that I am a good enough mom for you. I love you more than you'll ever know, until you have your own kids one day long from now. My love for you has no limits and no restrictions. No matter the choices you make or don't make I will be your mom, loving you, and cheering you on from the sidelines.
Thank you for making me a mom and teaching me more about myself every single day.
As always, I love you, no matter what.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Racing towards Kindergarten

"The days are long, but the years are long"

This saying is slapping me in the face lately. I am fairly certain I gave birth to Brock last year. Alas here he is 5 months away from starting Kindergarten. Unbelievable.

I remember sitting and rocking him when he was just a few days old, staring at him in awe, and so curious about who he would become. I would imagine him as 2, 3, 4, and then school age. Now, here we are and I have no idea how we got here so fast.
His 5th birthday is next month, gone are the days of Thomas and Mickey Mouse, here are the days are Mario and Spider Man. I have a KID guys, a real kid he's no longer a toddler. He is sassy, smart mouthed, hyper, sweet, smart as a whip, an awesome negotiator, and he tells me I am beautiful every single day. Man I love that kid. His daddy is teaching him to be a gentleman so he'll open the door open for girls, and tells me, "mom, girls like chocolate and flowers." We went to a birthday party yesterday for a little girl he adores, he had to fix his hair and put on cologne. Good move Daddy, you are teaching him right.

I bought some uniforms the other day, turned in his commitment letter in to the school, and got a note in the mail about joining the PTO. Seriously, my mind is blown about all that is happening. The count down has begun. Ready or not here Kindergarten comes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day in the life of a SAHM

I was asked yesterday to write down all I do in a day, not in a snarky way, but in a curious way. The life of a stay at home mom (or really a mom in general) can be the most mundane, hectic, boring, chaotic, fun, hard, busy, challenging, and rewarding thing...all in the same day!

Our days change a bit, for one the kids are in "school" two days a week, and my husband is not off on weekends like a typical job would allow. In fact, our days are backwards from most, he is home in the morning with us until about 9:30, but then not home until 9:30pm, missing dinner, bath, and bedtime. Not going to lie, it's hard, and I'd love to have it the other way around.

We start out our day around 7am when my oldest (4 years old) comes bounding into our room demanding he wants some milk, he's hungry, and wants a cartoon right this second. My husband and I stare at each other for about 10 seconds before our son repeats the list of demands over again. I'll groggily make my way to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee and get Brock some milk. All the while he is whining that the TV isn't on and breakfast hasn't appeared in front of him like magic. You think I am exaggerating, I'm not.

Most mornings, if I am lucky, I will get to hang out with my oldest on the couch and cuddle with him while he watches his cartoon. I love our one on one time even if he is still demanding the sun while I sleepily sip my coffee. Jude, the "baby" (he's 2) is a fan of sleeping and if we can keep Brock quiet enough he'll often sleep until 8 or even 9. Most mornings though Brock's voice and ever so enthusiastic sound effects have him up by 7:30. Then the fun begins when he starts to freak out that "Mouse Mouse" (mickey mouse clubhouse) is not already on the TV for him, while Brock is simultaneously yelling, "I WAS UP FIRST SO I GET TO CHOOSE THE FIRST CARTOON!!!"

Because we don't get to have family dinners we try to have breakfast together, even if it just cereal, we like to be all together all the table. Clayton will head out for work around the same time the the boys and I will head out for a playdate or the gym.

Either one is a glorious thing for a SAHM. At a playdate your kids get to burn off energy, while you actually get adult interaction. At the gym they also burn off energy while I completely check out and get my butt kicked for an hour or more. This is the main reason I have lost 50 pounds. Jude was a extremely difficult baby that made me want to run for the hills most days, and that is putting it lightly. When it got really, really hard I found the gym. The place I could go for up to 2 hours a day where someone else could keep them and I could not hear screaming for that time period. I was often tempted to sit in the locker room and read a book, but then I would have felt guilty.

When the "activity" of the day is done we will come home for lunch and then my favorite time of day, nap time. Jude still takes amazing naps most days, the kid seriously loves sleep. Brock hates all things having to do with sleep and has since he was a newborn. He was a great baby, horrible sleeper. He still fights "quiet time" to the death but every now and then will pass out for an hour or so. During that time I eat, catch up online, and then clean. I have a calendar for the month of one main thing I can get done each day (dusting, laundry, bathrooms...) It makes it to where I don't ever have to do everything in one day and my house stays relatively clean on a daily basis. The term clean in this situation should be taken very loosely.

After nap/quiet time the demands start again, immediately. Milk is needed, snacks are fetched and cartoons are watched. It's all very exciting. We like to be outside a lot or at Target, so during the afternoons you can find us one of those two places. If I am feeling adventurous, both places. The boys have power wheels and now that is warming up outside we will spend all hours of the afternoon in our backyard. We live in an older home and have an amazing back yard, that is spacious, and covered in shade. We have a covered back porch where we'll spend time coloring or playing with playdoh. Our back yard is one of my favorite places to be.

We still have witching hour at my house. From about 5pm-8pm is hairy, everyday. I need to cook while Jude needs to be held and Brock wants me to read to him right.this.minute. By the time I actually sit down to the table to eat the boys are often done so I sit at an empty table shoveling food as fast as I can because the boys are fighting and trying to destroy things. Dinner time is probably my least favorite time of the day, I have hit a wall, the kids are crazy, and I wish my husband was home. But, we survive it everyday mostly unscathed.

Baths follow dinner and a cartoon follows bath, just one, so it is always a fight on which one it will be. I read to the boys together, put Jude to bed, and then I will stay up with Brock reading to him out of a chapter book. He is in love with reading right now so I am running with it. We bought some flash cards and book on learning to read, so we will see where it goes. He is only 4, and I am not pushing anything on him. I am letting him take the lead on this one.

After the boys are in bed I will do the dinner dishes and plop myself down on the couch completely spent. I will often catch up on laundry or whatever other chore I didn't get done that day until my husband gets home. I have learned that when he gets home I need to focus on him and us so mostly everything goes away while we spend time together. Unless it's Wednesday and then we have to watch Duck Dynasty, of course.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Losing my Mom

March 12, 2005 I was scheduled to work a double shift at Red Lobster. My nephew was born the week before and had become ill, and was in the ICU. I was in town from college and was wanting to go see him. I asked a friend to cover my 2nd shift so I could head up the hospital for a visit.

I left work armed with some food, still 8 years later I remember what it was, a Lobster Pizza, and Shrimp cocktail. I got into my car, put the bag of food in the back seat and dug out my phone from under my seat. There were a few missed calls from my step-dad which I found odd, he'd left a message so I quickly checked it. "Amber, please pick up, please pick up, I think your mom had a stroke", he screamed into my voice mail. In that moment time stood still. The cars passing by me, in my still parked car, were moving in slow motion. Every thing stopped. I called him back screaming and he shouted the name of the hospital they were taking her to and hung up, I could hear the team of paramedics working on my mom in the background.

I was only a few minutes away from where she was headed, I called my brother and let him know what was going on, thankfully he was close too. On the 5 minute trip to the hospital I screamed, and begged God to save her, to not let it be true, to wake up from this horrible nightmare. I screamed so loudly I was hoarse by the time I got to the hospital. When I pulled in I realized I was the first one there. My step dad came running from the parking lot at the same time I could hear the scream of the sirens from the ambulance that carried my mom. My oldest brother showed up and we went to work trying to get a hold of our other brother, who at the time had no cell phone, and was going on a trip to the river for spring break. Thankfully, my dad and step-mom took the lead on that and got to work finding a way to pick him up.

Heading into the ER my family was immediately put into a private waiting room, a Chaplin came in and it became all too real how dire the situation was. My aunts who lived close came and they along with my brothers, my step-dad, and myself sat in complete silence waiting for what felt like an eternity. We were ushered back to see my mom while the nurses looked on with the saddest look in their eyes, they knew something I didn't know. We went into the spacious room that was full of machines working to keep my mom alive. The doctor explained that the paramedics had a heartbeat while they were in the ambulance but it was weak, and as they brought her into the ER she stopped breathing on her own. He went on and on speaking in medical terms that I had no idea what they meant. All I kept hearing through everything was, "At this time there is no brain activity." I didn't believe him. My mom was the most full of life person I'd ever known, there was no way within 1 hour she was gone, void of life completely. I was holding her hand and noticed her wedding ring, I had just watched a special on TV the week before about people who lose important jewelry while in the hospital. I insisted he take it off and give it to me, so I could keep up with it for her, she'd be mad if it got lost. Her fingers were already so swollen the doctor had to use Vaseline to get them off.

My brother and I left the room and headed straight outside. I thought I was going to be sick and started dry heaving on the side of the hospital. I then started frantically making calls to anyone, everyone, I needed the entire world to be praying. I tried without success to get a hold of Clayton, he was in a production at our college and did not have his cell phone on him, and with his truck broken down a way to get to me. I was lost, I needed him, and he had no idea.

We were told there was nothing more they could do at that hospital, but one 30 minutes up the road had much better technology and could possibly help my mom. She was loaded up in to the ambulance as my family followed behind her. I remember making light of the situation with my sister in law. I was telling her we'd get to the next hospital and she'd be sitting up in bed telling us all to chill out and get a beer. I talked back and forth with my dad, he was on his way to get my brother, he was meeting half way and trying as hard as he could to get back to the hospital before the inevitable happened. My dad had a grasp on the reality of the situation and I was doing all I could to avoid it.

Once again we were ushered to a private waiting room, a bigger one this time. Another Chaplin came to sit with us, it was starting to set in how bad this was. We were told we could go back and see her, one at a time. I remember walking, following the dreaded red line taped to the floor that would lead me to the ER, to my mom. I stood at the end of her make shift room, all four curtains were drawn, giving a sense of privacy, while the nurses looked on with nothing but sadness in their eyes again. I worked my way around all the tubing and wires that where keeping her alive. There was a rhythmic beeping from the IV and then a whoosh from the ventilator, seconds later her lungs would rise and fall, as they were being forced to breath for her. I ran my fingers through her hair and worked on memorizing her every detail. I smelled her, kissed her forehead and cheek and whispered in her ear, "Mom, I know you can hear me. Please wake up, mom, please wake up." I needed her I was a baby at 19 years old, I was not ready to say goodbye. I felt small again and wanted nothing more than to crawl up into her bed and have her wrap her arms around me and tell me it was going to be ok. I laid my head on her chest and sobbed.

Walking back outside I was greeted with so many family and friends I was astounded. So many people loved my mom, so many. I was sitting on the side walk making more phone calls, I needed all the prayer warriors I could get. I spotted a group of guys walking towards me, and quickly realized they were my brothers childhood friends. Guys I considered to be my brothers and who considered my mom theirs. I jumped up to greet them and my knees buckled I hit the concrete while the weight of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. They helped me up and cried right along with me, she had been a rock for so many of us.

My dad called and informed me he was around the corner with my brother and we needed to be ready. My brother was a mess, completely devastated. It took him awhile before he was ready to go back and see my mom. My oldest brother and I took him back, breaking the one visitor rule, the nurses never trying to stop us. We stood around her bed and let the sobs rock through our bodies, we were finally all together with her, and yet she wasn't really there anymore. We went back to the waiting room, that was now standing room only, to wait for any new news. We knew there was no brain activity up to this point but there was just one more test to be ran, maybe there was hope after all. The doctor came in, everyone in the room stood, he took off his scrub cap and said, "I am sorry. There was a massive brain bleed in the center of her brain, it is inoperable. She had no brain activity, and there is nothing we can do, I am sorry." He turned and walked out of the room taking all the air with him. I screamed, being held up by my dad, I let all the pain come out screaming over and over again into his chest. He held me crying with me telling me he was so sorry.

We all got to go see her one last time and tell her our goodbyes, my brothers and I took a lock of her hair to save. As we turned to leave we saw a line of people waiting to say their goodbyes that stretched for as far as we could see. Everyone's eyes puffy and red, yet dazed. We could not believe the once vibrant, full of life Fran was gone, in an instant.

My soon to be mother in law met me at the door on my way out, offering to take me home. I had cried so much my vision was blurred and I was thankful to have her love and support. She let me know Clayton was finally able to get home and would be waiting for me when I got there. I felt horrible for him, he loved my mom as much as I did and was 3 hours away during the whole ordeal, feeling completely helpless. When I finally made way into his arms I cried until I was so weak I fell asleep. He stayed with me throughout the night as the nightmare of the day would jolt me awake and I would scream out in agony. She was my best friend and mom, without her I felt completely lost, and shattered into a million pieces.