Work from Home

I’m not going to lie: trying to build a business is HARD. But no one said it would be easy. If it was easy then everyone would do it!

Moms Making Six Figures has really helped. I have a great mentor/director who has been encouraging and patient.

Marketing for a wellness company isn’t for everyone. I took some time to think about it and made sure I had Michael’s support before saying YES.

I want to be at home with my children. I want to supplement my day job’s income. I want to eventually quit said day job and work from home. I want to be my own boss.

I want to help you.

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National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. If you have previously come out, then bravo. You are brave and I support you.

I debated whether or not to write anything about today. Sometimes I don’t feel as though I have any right. I’m not “officially” out, only out on Twitter. Bi or queer, however you want to label it, that’s me. So I guess this is me coming out.

One thing I’ve noticed is that bi people are often seen as unfaithful and/or gay/straight pretenders. I’ve been faithful to my husband since we started dating almost 17 years ago. And yes, I have a strong preference for men. But I also find women very attractive, especially when they have the brains and humor that I love. Does that mean I’m going to jump my best friend’s bones? Absolutely not. I love her as a sister.

I’m not an expert on the matter, I only know how I feel. How I perceive it all. And sometimes that makes me think that my feelings aren’t valid. That I have no right to feel or think the way I do.

So I honestly don’t know how to label myself: bi, queer, pan. I don’t even know if I deserve a label.

I tried telling my husband once how I felt. He said there’s no way I could be bi. So I left it alone. I felt alone. The only solace I found was those like me on Twitter. I know we’re taught not to talk to strangers, especially on the internet, but I’ve found some of the greatest people there. People like me.

You are loved. You are here. You matter.

Mental Health Day

It’s Mental Health Day, so obviously this post will be about mental health (duh). Fyi, your experiences may differ.

The last time I wrote about my mental health was for Talk Nerdy With Us and it was for characters that suffered from depression. But this time I want to talk about my personal experience.

Growing up I always thought I just had a horrible temper. It wasn’t until I read Anne Wheaton’s post about living with a depressed partner that I realized something might be wrong with me. I would go grocery shopping and end up sobbing in the car because I couldn’t handle being around people. I once abandoned a cart in the middle of the store because there were too many people around me. I’d scream before and after my shopping trip because I was so angry. Why was I mad? No clue.

In May 2014 I was diagnosed with PCOS and infertility. About a month later I hit rock bottom when I contemplated ending my life. I mean, what could I possibly offer my partner since I couldn’t have children? I had a plan: I’d wait until everyone I loved, including the dog, had passed then I would join them in the afterlife. When I’d realized what I had just planned, I became sick and scared. How could I do that to everyone I loved? How could I waste the life that God had given me? The very next day I searched for a therapist because I knew I needed help.

After searching through my insurance’s website for therapists who accept BCBS, I found one who specialized in infertility. I called her to set up an informal appointment to see if we would mesh. We talked on the phone about what I needed and decided that she was the one.

Two weeks later I met with my therapist for the first time. I ended up crying so much, letting out all of the emotions that I had been keeping in. At the end of the session she asked how I wished to proceed, if I wanted to try medication. Now, I grew up thinking anti-depressants were for the weak and I certainly wasn’t weak. I said I wanted to try talk therapy first.

Fast forward to November 2014. I’d been having monthly sessions with my therapist and they were really helping. Until the week before Thanksgiving. I was attempting to play Mass Effect for the first time and was having a really hard time navigating the Mako on a planet (for those of you who have played the game, you know exactly the difficulty I’m talking about). Michael kept trying to give me advice on how to use the controller but all he did was succeed in making me angrier. After a few minutes I threw the controller and started screaming. I knew from the look on his face that something was seriously wrong with me. I apologized and we spent hours talking about my depression. I agreed to talk to my therapist about trying medication.

At my next therapy session I told my therapist about the video game incident and my hesitation to try medication. She understood my concerns and talked to me about how depression is a physical and mental illness and can be treated with meds just like any other condition (and yes, she used the example of diabetics and insulin). She named off a few types and gave me two suggestions, based on the fact that I was undergoing fertility treatments and needed something safe to use during possible pregnancy. Zoloft (sertraline) ended up the winner.

It wasn’t until about two months after being on medication that I began to notice small changes. I wasn’t angry all the time. Things like grocery shopping no longer sent me into a huge rage spiral. Sure I’d still get annoyed when people stood in the middle of the aisle, but it no longer made me Hulk out. Michael noticed the changes as well.

Six months after being medication I began to feel like “me.” I was worried that Zoloft would change me at the core but honestly it brought me back to Jenni Prime. I would often refer to my pre-antidepressant self as “Old Jenni” and would reference her whenever I began to feel angry. My therapist was supportive of this line of thinking.

After giving birth last year I was so afraid of developing postpartum depression, especially since the twins were 6 weeks premature. My therapist assured me that I would be ok, but to call her immediately if I felt otherwise. Thankfully I was fine, just the normal post-baby blues. But still.

So here I am, 3 and a half years post-diagnosis and 3 years medicated. I honestly can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to feel “normal” and not feel like I’m buried under a lead cloud. I still feel the darkness from time to time, usually at night when I’m trying to sleep. I just tell myself to reevaluate in the morning and usually end up feeling better when the day breaks.

At my last therapy session in August, my therapist was so happy with my progress that she thinks I don’t need to see her on a scheduled basis anymore. Now she’s my “at-will” therapist; I can make an appointment whenever I need. Which is great because my depression no longer feels like a burden. It’s a part of me, an illness that needs to be kept in check, just like my thyroid issues.

My life isn’t perfect. I’ll probably be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life. But I’m managing. I’m still here. And so are you.

There are many resources for mental health. Please check out the below links if you need help.

https://www.nami.org/

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

 

 

The Neverending Battle

You’ve heard it time and time again: the battle between breast versus bottle. “Breast is best” is one of those sayings that never goes away. Heck, Call the Midwife had an entire episode dedicated to it. But here’s the thing: we’re at the point where Millenials are the mom majority and they don’t do the whole Mom-Shame bit. So why is it still such a big deal?

I’ve known since 6th grade bio class that if I ever had children I would breastfeed. So naturally when I became pregnant I started researching. I’d known a few friends who had attempted it but said their bodies just weren’t made for it. I thought there was no way I could be like that.

You already know where this is going, don’t you? Less than four hours after giving birth I had the lactation team teaching me how to pump. It was depressing not being able to try and nurse my girls right away, but they were in the NICU. The first attempt at breastfeeding didn’t come until almost 48 hours into their lives. 

The lactation consultant told me not to breastfeed for more than 15 minutes before switching to the preemie  formula. And then only attempt to feed a baby for no more than 30 minutes total or they end up burning more calories than they take it. And guess what, I had to do this twice in a row! And I was only supposed to nurse them every 6 hours (they’d get formula in between).

Here’s why this was hurtful: my girls were getting exposed to the bottle nipples more than my own. And you know what? They liked the bottle more. Even after we were all discharged and I could nurse in the comfort of my own home, they still refused the breast. Now, they still got breastmilk. I was pumping every three hours and would give them that. It just hurt that they refused to nurse. 

I bring this up because I’ve recently spent time with a family member who is nursing her newborn and it was a bit painful to watch how easily she could feed her child. Maybe it’s because I had two at once so it was impossible to tandem feed. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough.

But you know what? Forget the guilt. Fed is best. Yes, I wish I could’ve nursed my girls with no formula supplement. I had plans to nurse for a year. Didn’t happen. Instead, my girls got to have both breast milk and formula. And then it was all formula because I was barely pumping anything.

Today my girls are thriving. I’ve expressed my concerns of guilt to my therapist, ob-gyn, and the pediatrician. You know what all said? “Fed is best.”

So this is me, trying to reassure myself that I’ve done the best I can. And you can too.

Mom’s unite.

Happy birthday!

A year ago I became a mom to two precious girls. Here’s our story:

September 28, 2016, 6:30am. My ob-gyn visits my room before beginning her rounds. She says based on my overnight blood pressure readings and the high-risk specialist’s notes, she wants my permission to perform a cesarean at noon. I give my consent and my husband starts calling our parents.

9:00am: A nurse enters my room to put in an IV port. The last time I had an IV I was 8 and it was for a tonsillectomy. I’m scared it will hurt (since it hurt a lot when I was 8) but thankfully it was just a normal needle prick.

11:00am: My nurse wraps my IV’d arm so that I can take a shower. I make sure I do every single possible shower chore possible because who knows when I’d get to shave again??

11:30am: Michael is given his scrubs and I’m wheeled off to the OR. He’ll join me once the spinal has been administered.

11:45am: The anesthesiologist misses my spinal cord and hits my spine proper. I’m screaming already and no one’s even taken a scalpel to me. Thankfully my nurse is holding me and comforting me.

12:00pm: My body is completely numb. You know that feeling of your leg being asleep and then blood starts circulating again? It’s like that, only in reverse. I began to panic as I could no longer wiggle my toes. I started feeling hot and nauseated. My vision began to go dark. I cried out to whoever was listening that I was going to faint and needed my husband. Next thing I know, Michael’s holding my hand and stroking my hair. I can’t feel anything, but I can tell my doctors were working on me.

12:27pm: Arlie Marie Bradley made her entrance into the world weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces. I heard her first cry and my eyes began to water.

12:28pm: Zoey Grace Bradley followed her sister into this realm weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces.

12:30pm: Michael was able to present both girls to me so that I could see them for a brief moment before they were carted off to the NICU (previously written about).

The journey that I had been on for 34 weeks was finally over. I was a mom.

Happy birthday to my sweet squishies!