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Not your every day roller coaster ride

Not your every day roller coaster ride

It was a perfect day at the amusement park today. The weather was stunning and we had comp passes to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, that we received due to being rained out on our son’s birthday back in July. We loaded up my SUV and headed to the park. My son made me PROMISE that I would ride the Thunderbird roller coaster with him (I could not do that back in June when we went to the park due to having just had my surgery and I was trying to not overdo it).

My husband and son rode the coaster together already that morning (and 7 times in the row on our visit to the park in June). Each time they went on, I worried and tried to find thing to stay busy such as browsing the gift shop or checking my social media. Anything that would distract my brain from its racing thoughts.

God I used to LOVE roller coasters.  I could ride them all day long and care less about any other ride in the park. I loved the rush of adrenaline they gave me and the faster and twistier the better! But not anymore. Not today. As has happened many times before, the thoughts of what could go wrong took over.

What if the ride attendant did not check his harness? What if he fell out? What if the ride derailed? What if…

As we rode the roller coaster together I closed my eyes and the insane thoughts of death just raced through my head the whole time the ride was taking place and even though the ride is quite short is felt like an eternity until it came to an end. It felt like the longest 1 minute and 18 seconds ever.

I put on a fake smile for my son (who was grinning from ear to ear that mommy rode the coaster with him) when we got off the ride. My husband joked about the horrible face I was making in the coaster photo – which regardless of my panic I’m sorry but those photos never look good – I don’t care who you are!

This my friends is part of my struggle with PTSD and Hypervigilance.  A struggle that so many, even my husband, cannot possibly understand.

I am a wife, mom, blogger, hunting lodge chef and a successful entrepreneur …. and I also struggle with mental illness. I am real. This is real. I know that I have a fabulous life, a life to be very proud of and grateful for but for someone like me who suffers from PTSD, well we have a mental illness brought on by life stress that our bodies are not meant to handle (and usually by a life event that we wish we never had to experience – for me that was the loss of our other son, Austin).

PTSD steals your joy at unexpected moments, it impairs your ability to function, and often takes over your life. I am the face of someone who has PTSD, Hypervigilance, Depression and Anxiety attacks. But, I am also someone who is not willing to go down without a fight. Mental illness like this will lie to you and tell you that no one knows what you are feeling.

Why Do I share this with you?! Am I looking for a pity party?! Absolutely NOT! I share this because if I can help one person out there see hope, and see a fighter, they too will know they are not alone and that someone really does understand their journey. I am looking for the “me too’s” out there.

There are many reasons someone lives a “new normal”. This is mine. Never judge someone or make assumptions about them (even one who is close to you) because you can never truly know the struggles they feel if they have gone through a major life event.

Do you have something that happened in your life that caused you to adjust to a new normal?

I am not a Bigot, but I am a Mom

I am not a Bigot, but I am a Mom

I am upset this morning after seeing post after post last night of memes and things stating that no one cared about the bathroom laws until now who had sons who went to the bathroom alone. I’m sorry but I have had enough and decided to speak up on this because it is truly an issue that has my blood boiling. But please read to the end and hear me out…..  its truly on heart heart.

I am really sick of seeing posts of people (especially ones who have NO children) telling me how I should be okay with the new bathroom laws. I am also VERY upset about the ones who are posting the this garbage about how parents of boys never worried about pedophiles in the bathroom.
I am the Mom of a Boy - I Disagree With the new Bathroom Laws - That Does Not Make Me a Bigot - Slender Suzie
Once upon a time I had a young girl to care for who is now a beautiful young lady. I am now also the parent of a young boy.  So, believe me when I say this – SAFETY has always and will also be a top concerns of mine when it comes to my children. Female AND MALE.
My son does NOT go to the bathrooms alone. His father takes him or when dad is not home we use the family restroom which is private with a door that locks. If one is not available either I make him wait or I take him with me – and I have never had another mother complain that he comes with me so I can ensure his safety!
I don’t even allow him to walk through the locker rooms alone at the Y to take swim – I require them to find a different way in and out of the pool area for us because I will NOT allow him to walk through alone – you do not know who is in there and its a safety concern. Period.
So, for those of you posting the little meme above – HOW DARE YOU say that my son’s safety has not always been a priority until this law came out!!!!!
This bathroom law is NOT specific to those who have undergone transgender surgery and legally changed their gender. This means all a man has to do is say “I feel like a women” or a woman has to say “I feel like a man” and they go wherever they please.
I remember when my son was 4, just a couple years ago, and the local YMCA told me he was NOT allowed to go with me to the locker room to get ready for swim class because of his age. So my little boy was a threat to the ladies room but a man who simply walks in as say “I identify as a woman” can just go ahead in?!?!
It’s funny because all these same people supporting this bathroom law make posts calling for the death penalty or firing squad or chopping off someone’s private parts when they hear news of children who are molested, raped, or even killed yet they support making it EASIER for these things to take place now?!?!? Are you really willing to throw the children of this country under the bus this way for 0.3% of the entire population?!?!? Are you truly willing to risk even ONE child over this??? BECAUSE I AM NOT!
(Now, let me clarify here – in my opinion that 0.3% isn’t really the issue – it is the others who will now POTENTIALLY use this as a new way to seek out these children and make them a victim).
So, with all of that said you all who post memes like the one above – YOU are now the “bigots” for hating on parents who value the safety of their children. I AM NOT A BIGOT – BUT I AM A MOM OF A YOUNG BOY AND I WILL DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO PROTECT MY CHILD. You wanna hate on me for it thats okay, no problem. All I can say is buh-bye. But if you hate me for my views doesn’t that then make you the bigot? 
Now….  unlike the rest – on both side of this argument – who just want everyone to jump on their side and cry how everyone else is wrong, I have a solution….. I am not here just to complain and make you side with me (I am just of course wanting you to understand how I as a mom of a small boy feels about all of this and yes I do highly disagree with gender neutral restrooms)….
MY RESOLUTION – one stall bathrooms with doors that lock in every store, school and other public place. No more stalls. PRIVATE bathrooms with locking doors. Problem solved!!!
But you know why they won’t do that – because then these stores and school and places would have to spend a few bucks to renovate!!!!
No socialization in cyber school?

No socialization in cyber school?

As a cyber school mom I get a lot of flack from some people how our son will miss out on socialization and dealing with the “real world” when he gets older. We just announced our return to cyber school and already the naysayers are starting up. Well, I want to set the record straight right now about this.
First off, I do not understand why people think going to school all day is the only way a kid can socialize. In reality, traditional school takes so much time away from the kids. School isn’t even much of a social place anymore, and quite frankly from what I have experienced in the local school system much of the socialization that is happening is pretty inappropriate. And if it were working, my son would not be in tears feeling rejected by his peers.
Frankly, children go to school and are told to sit in their desks and be quiet. That’s not very social. Also, there are plenty of ways to get socialized…in fact, we have MORE time to do so because we don’t have hours of homework every evening!
As a cyber school family, my son has social interaction on a regular basis (our cyber school has tons of field trips and other activities not to mention our son is involved in sports teams, the YMCA, church… the list goes on) but with this we also get the added benefit of having the privilege to ‘pick and choose’ the situations and even observe many of the interactions they have. This gives us incredible insight into our child that traditional school parents simply do not have.
I’ve learned not to defend my decision. The truth is, I find that women especially become very defensive or pushy about their choices for their children. (think of all the debates on vaccinations, organic diets, video games, television time, etc.) But especially in education, we feel the need to push our opinions on each other and condescendingly question some else’s choice.
My thought on this is that perhaps we are all just looking to be validated for one of the most important decisions we will make in our kids lives. We all want to do the best thing and make the best choice for our child’s education. But honestly, what’s best for one child and one family might not be for the next child. I would rather take the path less taken and know in my heart that I am at peace with my choice for my child.
No education is best for every person. Sorry this got so long – but from now on when someone asks about cyber school in a negative or critical way, I will simply answer “It is the best choice right now for our family” and end the chatter.  Hopefully they can show enough respect to not continue to belittle our decision as well.
I was wishing I was dead

I was wishing I was dead

So, today I want to continue on with my personal story from the week of April 5, 2005, when I lost my son, Austin (which I posted about yesterday – you can click here to read it if you missed my post).
That next day I was still in the hospital. My lungs were needing to be checked for fluids because of the magnesium that had caused them to fill. My chest just ached but I was not sure it was my lungs or my heart breaking into a million pieces.
The day itself is somewhat blurry for me. Part of the day are missing from my memory and no matter how hard I try I cannot seem to get all of the moments back of those few days.  That is part of the PTSD I would end up being diagnosed with.
I remember a few people in the room trying to discuss funeral arrangements – but I really didn’t care. Our families were trying to say and do the right things but I am not sure anything they said or did would have mattered much. At one point, I do know I told them they should have just let me die with Austin instead of taking me off the medication that could have saved his life and kept me from delivering him.
Yes. I actually blamed my family for saving my life because I was in such a bad place I was wishing I was dead too.
Despite my massive loss of time and memory gaps I remember one very specific conversation with my nurse, Vicky. She came in and was checking me and said “now I know that the one thing you really want I can’t give you but if you need anything I can do for you please just tell me so I can help”.
That sentence is one that I will never forget. Why? Because she wasn’t trying to brush off my pain or make me feel better like everyone else. She knew I was crushed, hurting, feeling an intolerable level of heartbreak and no one could just or do anything to take it away.
I wanted that pain. It was all I had left.
See, when you are in a place of such a huge loss, nothing much can help. I firmly believe the only thing that was helping me was that inner strength I would discover much later – and the help of God’s comfort. And that one seemingly small sentence from Nurse Vicky.
That sort of hopelessness exists in so many lives. And through my recovery process and finding this voice I now have I want to make sure that others realize they CAN get through their darkest hours. Is it easy? NO WAY! I would be a liar if I said it was. But those people – and myself – that is why I became a coach! To rescue others the way I have rescued myself.
My world was shattered, my journey began…

My world was shattered, my journey began…

It’s hard to believe that 11 years ago today my son, Austin Joseph Hall, was born and passed away. Today I have a flood of emotions pouring out as they do each year and no way to stop them. My sweet baby boy who I miss so much that no words can express my hurt even to this day.
Today I want to share with you a little more of his story, and mine – a mother who grieves over her child.
I woke up on Sunday, April 3, 2005, feeling not quite right. My daughter had a friend over who had spent the night and I made the girls pancakes for breakfast. I told her I was going to go lay down for a bit to see if I could feel better. About 2 hours later, I used the bathroom and saw just a very faint hint of pink on the toilet paper. I decided to call my doctor’s office. I was told I probably had a kidney or bladder infection and to come to the hospital to get checked.
My husband was in New York at the time (about 2 hours away) so I called my grandparents to come and drive me since I still was not feeling very well. We drove to the local hospital where I was taken to a room on the OB floor and they took a urine sample. I laid in bed to wait for the results, with my grandmother by my side. The doctor came in and said that nothing was coming up on the tests but I had started to feel even worse than when I arrived. So, they hooked me up to a bunch of monitors.
The next words my doctor spoke were ones I never thought I would hear —> “You are in labor”.
I remember my grandmother’s face turning white at hearing this news. I called to try to reach my husband with no luck so I called his mother to find him and get him to me. How could this be – I was only 23 weeks into my pregnancy.
I was immediately started on an IV with magnesium to try to stop the labor. A few hours went by and my husband arrived. The IV was not helping to stop the progression of my labor. We were told that I was going to be life flighted to a high level NICU hospital about 2 hours away and my husband would have to meet me there. He made calls to family and we waited for updates on the transfer. About an hour later we were informed that because of foggy conditions and poor visibility I was going to be transferred by ambulance and the nurse made arrangements for my husband to travel with me.
I only remember sporadic parts of the next few days of my life. There are huge gaps in time that simply are gone (I have since learned that is part of my PTSD – memory gaps of the experience).
I remember being on the ambulance and begging the nurse for more pain medications as the contractions gotten progressively worse. I vaguely remember arriving at the NICU unit and being asked a bunch of question but not really remembering what they were asking me as they wheeled me to my room. The next thing I remember is a team of doctors telling us the survival rates for a child born at 23 weeks and asking us what interventions we wished to have should they not be able to stop the labor. I remember telling them that they were to do anything and everything to make sure my son was going to be ok.
The next thing I remember is waking up in a delivery room. I learned later that the magnesium was causing my lungs to fill with fluids – I was suffocating to death. So my family had to make a call to take me off the only medication that could stop the labor. I was trying not to move in my bed thinking if I stayed very still I could hang on to him just a bit longer. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second counted to saving my son’s life. But no matter how hard I tried to keep still, I felt my water break.
Austin Joseph Hall entered the world at 6:26 am on April 5, 2005.
I heard him cry one very small cry and watched as the doctor whisked him to the other side of the room where they were prepared to take care of him. No one in the room would come and tell me what had happened. But I knew when I saw my husband walk to the corner of the room and sit down and bury his face in his hands.
Austin passed away 26 minutes after his birth at 6:52 am. He was born at 23 1/2 weeks weighing only 1 lb 2 ounces and 12 1/2 inches long – his lungs were just not ready. I could not save my son and neither could the doctors.
After I was taken in for surgery and woke up from the anesthesia our nurse came in and asked if I wanted to hold my son. Although he was already with the Lord he was placed in my arms. I remember looking down at him and seeing how absolutely perfect every detail of him was – all 10 fingers, all 10 toes, his nose had the same features as his older sister… my perfect child – who would stay that way forever. Our nurse, Vicky, took photos of him and got his footprints. We were given a memory box filled with items from his birth – a blanket, a cap, a very tiny teddy bear, the measuring tape they used to measure him….
Two days later I would leave the hospital with no child in my arms. It was the beginning of the most excruciating and heartbreaking times of my life. It was the beginning of my emotional turmoil and my weight issues. It would start off years of comfort eating, or at times not eating at all. This is where my journey of a higher purpose, a bigger faith and my mission to help others while helping myself all began….
PTSD is not just for Veterans

PTSD is not just for Veterans


You always hear about in veterans. But did you know there are LOTS of others that suffer from PTSD???
I have PTSD.
One of my most prominent symptoms is hypervigilance. Do you know what hypervigilance is? If not the medical definition is “Preoccupation with possible unknown threats, constantly watching and scanning surroundings. A persistent sense of insecurity”
What could be more extreme for parents than the death of their child? This is the greatest nightmare of any parent.
I have lived that nightmare.
And yes I was actually diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 after my son’s death when I was seeing a psychologist for my panic attacks, grief and these issues. You do NOT have to be a war vet for this to happen to you (go ahead Google it – you know your going to anyway).
For me, as a mother who lost a child, my hypervigilance is an intense stressor.
This means even though my other son is 8 years old sometimes I still get up and just make sure he is breathing at night. It means the thoughts of being away from him for longer than a school day are horrifying – heck even him being at school I worry if he is safe or not. This means even though my daughter is 23 and in college I worry when I do not hear from her at least once a day that she is okay.
It means I don’t let anyone babysit because all I do when I am away is worry. It means I will literally out of no where have thoughts of bad things that could happen – like a car accident while we are driving down the road.
For me it’s a very real and scary feeling to possibly lose another of my children. It’s not something you can just “get over” by any means and it’s not something you can control to have these intense feelings. It’s something I hope that none of my friends ever have to experience. I would rather they NEVER know this feeling than to be able to relate to what I go through. And yes I recently had a ‘friend” tell me to get over it and go to therapy. Does this woman really thing if it were that easy I would not have already been ‘cured” – this is not something you just get rid of, medicate away or get over. This is ingrained in you after a traumatic event.
For those of you who know me (or someone like me) get used to it. We cannot change this way of thinking. You can help by understanding and supporting our decisions that you don’t agree with – it makes us feel safe. You wont understand it so don’t try, don’t ask us to do things differently. Just let us feel safe even if to you its “irrational” to feel and act this way and be over protective.
THIS is how we function and cope with our new found way of living. Yes there are lots of counselors and things (been there done that) but these feelings are the ones that pop up out of no where for no specific reason. The are further between now than they once were but they still exist.
It’s simply part of my “new normal”.