Selfie Care

The current world situation is so hard, for many reasons! One of which is the prolonged isolation, from everything. From the things that make me feel human like going to the gym or work. From things that help me “let my hair down” like going dancing or going out with a friend. From things that make me feel relaxed like going anywhere without a mask on. From things that warm my soul and refill my empty cup like a big hug from a friend.

To try to keep things “normal” I have continued my “self care” daily routine. I enjoy putting my makeup on, taming my hair and getting dressed… of course my getting dressed hasn’t changed much since I have lived in yoga pants for a while. Even still I’ve been battling low self esteem lately, the combination of this isolation and just having had my second baby has changed my body. Sometimes a simple phrase of “I don’t have the mental capacity to hate my body” can help improve my feelings and stop the downward spiral that is low self esteem. Although that isn’t always enough.

Something else I try is that every time I am in a picture with my babies I try to remind myself that it’s not about me. After all, beauty is fleeting. It’s about the memories and about how when I’m gone the biggest thing I want them to remember is the love and fun they had not if mama looked her best. They don’t care what I looked like, they care that I loved them. But even reminding myself of that I still struggle. Lately many of the pictures I’m in I could tell you more flaws than beauty but today as I was making a video for a friend I realized I wanted to try something new. Today is a good day… no scratch that… today I feel gorgeous. I want to embrace this feeling, bottle it up and save it for a rainy day.

Usually I feel ashamed that I love my great selfies or that I even took one. Instead I’m going to start celebrating those days and reminding myself I am beautiful. The same amount of power I have given to the bad days I want to give to the good days instead. on the days I’m really struggling I’ll look at these selfies and remember that just like life we have ups and downs. I’ll try to remember that just because I’m having a bad day it doesn’t mean all my days are bad and hopefully I can remind myself that ultimately it’s not all about the outward appearance, it’s about what memories you make.

The view from my rocking chair

I haven’t written in a long time. Partially that is because everything with this pregnancy has been changing so rapidly that one minute the fear is overwhelming, the next moment an “all clear” is sounded and quite frankly I don’t know how to share this emotional whiplash. As my C-section date approaches I am beyond ready for it to be over. I am ready to have my body back. I’m ready to have my family completed by this newest addition. I am “ready” for the next phase. (and good Lord am I ready for some damn wine!) I am not, however, ready for the actual C section…I’m quite anxious about this. The biggest thing I have learned, or maybe confirmed, with this pregnancy is that I can grow amazing babies, but my body cannot handle the process of growing them. Hubby and I joke that with my pregnancies only death and destruction follow, after all, my dad died 1.5 months prior to my first and now the coronavirus has literally shutdown the world. So when people ask if we are having more kids I reply “believe me, I am only thinking of the world when I say no.”

While I know my pregnancy could be so much worse, I have had it pretty rough. Usually the actual having of a baby will make you reach your insurance deductible but I have already reached my deductible and baby isn’t coming until Monday, March 30th. A few weeks ago I went to the ER for shortness of breath (long before covid 19 was a thought in anyone’s mind, here anyways). Based on symptoms they wanted to rule out a PE (blood clot in my lungs) so they did a CT-Scan. Thankfully no PE was found but they did find a spot on my liver. Upon leaving they said “it’s probably nothing, you have probably had it on your liver your whole life. Of course we can’t do anything about it until after you have completed this pregnancy so lets wait.” And honestly I was 100% ok with this. Then after several subsequent dr appointments, at which each dr said “you know you have a liver lesion, correct” I started to worry a little. My OB had originally moved my C-section date to Saturday March 28th as this is my mothers birthday and a special day for me. When this liver lesion was found, my dr had no choice but to move my C-section to Monday March 30th so the procedure can be performed in the regular OR with a general surgeon on staff, in case I start to bleed, and with extra units of my blood available in the chance of an emergency. Over and over again they have assured me that these are just precautionary steps, which I am very grateful for but it doesn’t lessen the fear that overwhelms me in general regarding the C-section. The other day I had my last OB appointment as well as a follow up liver ultrasound which indicated the tumor has not grown and we are good to go through with our current plan in place. There is a “hepatobiliary tumor board” that was just formed within the Centura health system, they are the team who saw the scan and determined what was the appropriate plan of care. It’s crazy because they legitimately just started 2 months ago, I was one of the first cases reviewed. Several months after baby girl is born they want me to have an MRI to determine if this is cancerous, benign, if I’ll need treatment or if we ignore it.

(I understand the importance of all the regulations and restrictions with covid but that doesn’t change how incredibly heartbreaking this experience has been) My aunt and uncle have cancelled their trip to come visit me and the babies. One of my besties is unable to come to help me through the birth. In fact, my own daughter cannot come to the hospital to meet her baby sister. The only person who is allowed in labor and delivery is my hubby, which I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m terrified. With each emotional layer of complexity it is harder and harder for me to stay above/ahead of the rising anxiety within me. I have had to significantly limit my time on social media because quite honestly I can’t handle it. I have always “preferred” to handle the tough emotions that make me feel vulnerable by hiding behind my anger….and boy have I been angry lately.

I’m trying incredibly hard to focus on a better mindset to help prepare me for the C-section and life with a newborn. I’m working with a friend who is AWESOME and she is helping coach me through some preparations to keep my cool in the operating room. She’s also helping me remember that the whole process will bring me closer to my newest baby girl and to the completion of our family of 4! As in most things I struggle looking through the trial to the end prize, but believe you me, I’m trying harder than ever to focus on the prize and focus on the ends justifying the means.

3 more days…

Caitlin (Flemino) Felderman PT, DPTcmfelderman@gmail.com763-234-3770

Getting older

Best thing about getting older is learning about myself (and the world). So here are the top 31 things I’ve learned in my 31 years on this planet. There is no specific order to these nor is there a pattern. Also, it’s probably not complete as my mom brain is short circuiting but these are some really good ones!

  1. The right accessory can seriously keep a smile on your face throughout the day!
  2. Listen to your gut. it’s ok to ask for advice and even listen to advice but You know your circumstances the best
  3. My personal feelings do matter
  4. Flexibility can be such a great characteristic but it needs to be balanced with boundaries
  5. Life is way too short but not so short that a great night sleep should be overlooked (ie ill sleep when I’m dead)
  6. Grief sucks but it’s also important to the healing process and its a direct correlation of the love felt for the person lost
  7. Im not sure there is such a thing as a “normal” life
  8. Friends come and go, and that’s ok. I believe there is a purpose for each interaction (however short lived)
  9. I love being a mom, i love being a wife and i love being a friend….but i NEED to be myself
  10. The term family is fluid
  11. This life was NOT meant to be lived alone
  12. All the big events, graduation, marriage and babies didn’t change nearly as much of me as I expected
  13. Friendships naturally change as I get older, and thats not only normal but ok!
  14. Priorities shift, constantly
  15. You can’t live your life based off “what if” You could be missing out on the greatest opportunities. On the flip side you could be holding onto some of the most self destructive thoughts.
  16. It’s ok and encouraged to let your inner child out every once in a while
  17. What works for one does not necessarily work for all
  18. Not everyone cares what you think
  19. Always be willing to try new things
  20. Travel! Cross country. To a new continent. To a new state.
  21. Don’t let fear ruin your life
  22. Don’t judge a book by its cover
  23. It’s ok to go to bed mad, sometimes you just need some sleep and a clear head before tackling the issue at hand
  24. Tell/show the people you love that you love them as often as you can.
  25. The truth may “set you free” but it’s not always openly accepted or without consequences
  26. All emotions are valid. All emotions are important to gain some understanding in yourself and how you react. It’s the Actions we take in response to the emotions that can be inappropriate.
  27. Sometimes you should splurge and buy the name brand item as the quality is incomparable but other times, save the money and buy store brand. Experience and others will help you determine which
  28. Life will knock you down, its up to you (and no one else) if/when/how you will respond
  29. You can’t control anyone but yourself
  30. I need to give it up, I’m addicted to caffeine and that wont change 🤪
  31. Working out helps to keep me sane. Especially challenging myself and improving! Best thing is making it fun, it can be great “self care”

I see you

Anxiety, panic, depression… All of these tend to make you feel extremely unstable. It makes you question things you might not in a normal state of mind, it makes you feel a little crazy, and more importantly it tends to isolate you. A few weeks ago I was at the gym, after work, when I started to have feelings of an oncoming panic attack. I texted one of my friends, who I work with, that I could feel the panic rising in me. She did not respond by text, and at first I thought “how rude”. Instead I look up in the mirror as I’m lifting weights and see Holley walking up behind me. We talked for a little bit, she told me several times that she didn’t know the magic words, but then magically she said them.

“I see you” 

I can’t even say in the moment I realized how wonderful those words were, honestly I thought they sounded silly. These past few weeks I’ve been ruminating on those words and how phenomenal those three words can sound when you’re in a very unstable mindset. Within those three words there is no judgement, no fixing, and no shaming. Within those three words there is compassion, validation and stability. Linguistically, such a simple statement but emotionally, it has such a profound meaning! 

Frozen

Movie flavor of the month for my daughter, frozen. Its got princesses, a snowman and a reindeer so kylie is happy. I don’t mind, I love the movie, great music, amazing cast, wonderful storyline….except one thing I noticed the other day (oddly for the first time). In the beginning when Elsa is dealing with the “problem” of her magic the trolls tell her and her family that she will need to learn to control it. 👏🏼 Yes I agree with this, trying to find that healthy balance of acknowledging, embracing and using the power with responsibility. Then as her power inevitably grows it becomes a bit more unstable. The words in the song change to “conceal, dont feel, don’t let them know, make one wrong move and everyone will know” …. my heart broke hearing these words. Again, not quite sure why this time out of all the times I’ve watched this movie these words hit home but ….wow. (I would like to side note, I’m not judging the parents on their choice to parent… of teaching her to conceal this. I would like to think that they were doing the best they thought they could offer to their daughter, after all The phrase is “hindsight is 2020” not beforesight or duringsight) anyways, as the movie progresses you see that Elsa struggles to control her power even after she sings the beautiful “let it go” song. In fact she struggles the rest of the movie until she experiences an act of true love that allows her to feel safe and therefore increase the stability of her powers.

More importantly I feel like the topic of Elsa’s powers seem to be a huge reflection of mental health and the misunderstanding of those with mental health diagnosis like anxiety, depression, etc.  When Anna meets Elsa at her ice castle it reminds me of what a panic attack can feel like. There’s a sense of losing control (Elsa), a sense of never regaining that control again, and a feeling of isolation/wanting to isolate. There’s the person on the outside trying to help but not knowing what to do (Anna) and they can sometimes get caught in the unintentional “crossfire” of the panic attack. In the end they realize that love can melt the ice, and when Elsa finally embraces her powers the ice is shown as a beautiful thing. 

As many of you have listened to my podcast episode on Adult Conversations and have read my blogs you know I tried/still try to “conceal, don’t feel” all the grief for a long time. But just as it happened to Elsa in the movie I had little outbursts of the pain at “random” or “spontaneous” times. I held it in for so long that my “Diet Coke bottle was ready to explode” (inside joke on the podcast). So by concealing and not feeling the “problem” it didn’t just go away it actually grew and caused further issues down the road. Now, I’m not saying you can’t get away with concealing and not feeling for a time (and occasionally it’s necessary for your life circumstances) but listen to your body, if you are paying attention your body will tell you when it’s had enough. 
I want my message to be clear, wherever you are at in your healing/grieving/hurting phase please don’t conceal and dont feel. Instead reveal, feel and let someone know so that you don’t have to feel isolated or feel like you have to retreat.

Working on my self control re: social media

I have now officially been limiting my social media exposure to 30 minutes combined of Instagram or Facebook per day for about a month. You may be asking why I chose to limit my time with it instead of “total depravation” for a while. 

 

Several factors are at play in this decision 

1. My ex thought the solution to an “overindulgent” problem was to completely take whatever the stimulus was away, as I have learned in many years of therapy, that was a form of manipulation. 

2. Going along with number one I firmly believe in a parenting style of: if you can’t teach self control with whatever the present stimulus happens to be, You could be opening yourself and your child up to a future of hurt, confusion and possibly years of therapy (although, that last one may occur regardless and is not a bad thing (I LOVE therapy) but I try to limit how much my daughter will need therapy because of me) 

3. Maybe it’s my rebel nature, but I don’t like to just follow the trends, if someone tells me not to do something (or I try to tell myself that) I want to do it 1000 times more. 

4. Also at play is the “life is too short” theory. Why take something away from my life that, although it can be negative sometimes positivity can be found on social media and there have been moments that have helped me stay sane especially as a mother using social media.

 

 

It has been an awesome experience and I will continue to do this but here’s what I’ve learned so far. At first, I felt like 30 minutes was not long enough, mind you that’s 30 minutes total of being on Facebook or Instagram each day. Inevitably when I first started, each day I would “time out” before noon. But as the days have gone on I’ve made it all the way till 7 PM before I hit the mark of 30 minutes. Sometimes I almost feel like it’s too much time. (Never thought I would say that) It has helped me to focus on what I’m looking at and try not to multitask. It has decreased my impulse purchases, damn Instagram knowing what would interest me, they are good! But I’ve also found most of the products I have purchased were very poor quality, very often I was disappointed. It’s helped me to stop aimlessly looking at social media when I should be focusing on just being with my child, my hubby, my friends, etc. It has decreased the frequency of the “aimless grabbing my phone” moments, although I still find myself reaching for it, I feel like that’s a harder habit to change and will take a bit more time to change. (I also don’t think that it’s just social medias fault. Just technology and instant gratification at work, minor issues to tackle *can you feel the sarcasm*) You may be wondering why I chose 30 mins… honestly no clue, just a number. To be clear, I am not saying that this will work for everyone. A big life lesson I have learned is that there is LITERALLY nothing that is “one size fits all”. That is hard to swallow sometimes, as it makes it a bit more of a challenge because you can’t [always] just lose weight like another, or change your habits like another did…but there is also freedom and joy in the journey of figuring out what works best for you. Also, in figuring out what doesn’t work. While “depravation” doesn’t work for me it doesn’t mean it can’t work for another. 

 

I’m not quite sure what the next step is so I will continue this current path until I can determine what to do next. 

C sections vs “natural” birth

OK, first of all, I had a c-section with my first and I’m proud. Did I chose this route? No. Did I want to give birth vaginally? Honestly, not really it scared the hell out of me, but I knew Kylie needed to come out one way or another. In my life as a mother I’ve encountered many who hate on c-sections, you can sense their disdain the way they talk about birth. It fires me up inside.

1. I don’t think anyone gets to choose a c-section just because, there is typically a health related reason! (Even if there isn’t a health related reason, just like everything else in motherhood, if you didn’t make it you don’t get a say in how it’s brought into this world. Keep your judgements to yourself) In my case, if I would have been born 100 years prior, there’s a good chance Kylie and I wouldn’t have survived birth. My body was not dilating even with all the drugs to help, therefore it was absolutely necessary to have doctors assist and cut her out.

2. C-section is not by any means “an easy way out” I am pretty sure I still have some PTSD from my C-section. Being awake while they cut a child out of you is panic inducing and terrifying. Not to mention the shaking that can occur while your body essentially goes through shock as you come out of the anesthesia. Then the nurse says “its time to hold your baby and try to nurse” as you think, “ummmm hello have you heard of shaken baby syndrome?!” But actually the nurse is right, it’s soothing to hold your cute little pumpkin.

3. This whole conversation of c-section vs “naturally”…don’t get me wrong I’ve said it too, thank you society norms. ( I also know that “naturally” can regard drug free, but for this point I want to talk about vaginal birth) But guys, saying you gave birth the natural way, can, to some people, induce an embarrassment and shame that their body couldn’t bring life into this world through the way “it was meant to be”…I’m definitely speaking for myself here. When I went into the hospital to be induced, they sent me home the next day because even though id been consistently contracting for 1.5 months, my body wasn’t taking the drug seriously and no dilation was occurring. When the nurse told me I should go home, I cried and immediately shamed myself.

This time around my doc gave me the option for VBAC or scheduled c-section. I really thought about this. My decision, scheduled c-section. Upon first writing this I felt I needed to give a reason, but I don’t owe anyone a reason for what I choose for my body. Again, just like in all things motherhood in my opinion, if you didn’t create it you don’t get a say in how I raise it. As mothers we are constantly trying to fight against the boxes society keeps putting us in. Can we just love on one another regardless of birth stories?! To be clear, I have nothing against those who choose not to use drugs or who give birth vaginally. Seriously, regardless of how your baby came into this world, can we just love each other? Or as my mother taught me, “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

Social media pregnancy and real life pregnancy

No one can prepare you for the exhaustion in pregnancy. No one can prepare you for the crazy hormonal roller coaster you ride in pregnancy. No one and nothing can prepare you for how your body will react during pregnancy even if you have already had kids. The body is an amazing thing but there’s only so much we can be expected to do on top of growing a tiny human. My first pregnancy I was working full time and trying to work out when I could but felt like being on my feet for 10 hours a day was enough. My first pregnancy wasn’t terrible but I didn’t feel great, I never felt 100%, and I ended up on bed rest for the last month and a half due to family emergency. This pregnancy I was working out five times a week for the first few weeks and then I traveled… then hit the sickness. I have yet to fully recover from this constant sickness. Just getting out of bed some days is all I can do. In my first pregnancy I heard about having a “fit “pregnancy and how to have a belly only pregnancy. It is plastered everywhere. Now After having My first child I want to scream every time I see the word “fit” pregnancy. First of all, sans pregnancy, not all work outs work for all body types. Second not all pregnancies allow you to have a Pinterest perfect or Instagram perfect “fit” pregnancy. Third is it not enough that I’m keeping my toddler and myself alive?! Why does society have to put this pressure on women who are just trying to bring a new life into the world? This is the worst time for women to be worried about their weight, about their figure or about how they eat. Don’t get me wrong it’s important to try to stay active and to eat healthy but you’re also pregnant. I feel like there needs to be lots of grace given because a pregnant woman should be focused on supporting themselves and their tiny human. (Im talking to you pregnant women, you need to give yourself grace, you are doing an awesome job!) That will look completely different than the person who’s doing 20 pull-ups on Instagram or the person who has two kids near the age of 5 and has lost tons of weight. Not saying you can’t do 20 pull ups while pregnant but I’m saying there is an unreal expectation out there and I’m so sick of it. I know part of this is my problem, aka I could step back from social media for a while, haha, that’s so much easier said than done. Being a stay at home mama can get lonely. I believe there is always a time and place for all things but I plan to decrease the amount of time I spend on social media and therefore decrease this destructive distraction. I do believe there can be a happy balance achieved with social media but Im struggling to find that right now. I personally don’t do well with my goals unless they are sustainable and for me totally staying away isn’t sustainable. I plan to find that healthy balance.

Train tracks

For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about the candles my mom and I used to make for Christmas presents. They were the kind you would roll up and the wax was in a honeycomb pattern. The only color and smell I remember is purple wax and it smelled of lavender. I remember Christmas smelled of cinnamon mainly in our home. I remember the warmth of my home in the cold MN winter. I remember all the Christmas décor, most of which was hand made by my mom. 

I remember the first Christmas after mom had passed my dad refused to help put the Christmas tree up. Dad was Jehovahs witness and they don’t celebrate holidays like Christmas as its origins are pagan. While mom was alive all the presents were from mom and dad but the décor went up because mom and I put it up. So, as a grieving 16 year old I put the tree up myself for the first time. I set up chairs around the tree so I would have a make shift scaffolding supporting me as I strung the tree with lights and ornaments. My dad sat downstairs watching tv and stubbornly not helping. I know that being Jehovahs Witness was such an integral part of dads life and for that I’m extremely proud of him. (of course it’s only as I have aged that I have become proud of him for continuing to stay so strong in his faith in the face of adversity) But only now, now that he’s gone and now that I have had many years to sit on this do I wonder if Christmas reminded him of the incredibly painful loss of the love of his life. Mom LOVED Christmas and so did I. That Christmas, after losing her only a few months prior, I clung to normalcy as I wasn’t ready to face reality. Maybe dad needed normalcy too, but instead of Christmas he needed to stick to the faith that saved him. 

I know everyone grieves differently, shit I know that a person grieves differently for different people, theres no manual or strict order to the process. This is a great example. This could have also been an example of when emotions and loss tore a family apart. Thankfully it was not. We were grieving like we were on two parallel train tracks that only intersected to cross paths and go different directions. Thankfully my dad and I only grew closer as the years went on, we didn’t talk about mom often but we continued on our parallel tracks and supported each other each step of the way. 

This is infant loss and miscarriage awareness month. Knowing I have no experience in this except through friends. Knowing everyone grieves differently. Knowing that grieving the loss of anyone is awful. Knowing that even though I have a lifetime of experience in grief I don’t know what the “answers” are to any of the grieving questions. I hope we all can be more observant to those hurting today and know when to step in. Know when to shut up and just be there. Know when our own shit will get in the way so it’s best to remain on the parallel track. Know when to ask what the person needs. Grieving sucks. 

14 years

Monday it will be officially 14 years since my mother left this earth. The outward wound may have closed but the evidence of the traumatic injury to my heart is still ever present. Since its been so long since Oct 7, 2005 this day is no longer filled with only sad memories or thoughts of “what if”. Now I can see positive things in the mess of sadness, it’s like being able to see clearly after taking claritin. Now I can look back fondly on characteristics I inherited from her, for instance, my ability to strike up a conversation with most anyone. I distinctly remember being at the dmv with my mother when she started talking to a stranger. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t fathom talking to stranger as if I knew them…then. Now…I’m the one striking up the conversation most days. Thank you mom for this gift.

Now I can look back and focus on my mothers affinity for laughter which I inherited. Her laugh was one of her best qualities. Her laugh was infectious, you had no choice but to join her when she started to laugh. I’ve had a few people at various times in my life comment that my laugh reminds them of my mother’s, honestly, what a huge compliment. Thank you mom for this gift.

Now I can feel at ease that my father is no longer suffering, missing the love of his life on this day. I can rejoice that he is with her and I can only imagine how joyful the reunion must have been when he joined her in heaven. Thank you mom and dad, for everything. Till we meet again ❤️