Sunday, March 12, 2017


Just realizing now that I haven't posted in over A YEAR!
I tell ya - life is too busy with a 19-month-old!

So, I'm about to get REEEEAL personal, here.
I think most people outside of my friend/family group think that my life is happy-go-lucky all the time.
I have a super cute, super happy kid.
My husband has a career that he LOVES.
I get to take pictures, AND GET PAID FOR IT?! (Still mind-blowing).

And I would be totally fine with you guys thinking it's perfect.
I would have no problem with that - IF I didn't feel so strongly about this one topic.

So bear/bare/bear/bare with me, while I get my feelings together, here.

If you knew me in high school, you know I was a very outgoing, very social, very care-free person - who really didn't give a damn what anyone thought.
I only wore socks to school; no shoes.
I said weird things to un-weird people.
I came to school with a lizard on my shoulder once, for pete's sake.
I really did have nooooo cares in the world.

For SOME REASON, when I turned 20/21 - that changed.
And this super constant companion joined my side - ANXIETY.

People often say they have anxiety lightly.
Like, "OMG, you're giving me anxiety."
Or "I have anxiety thinking about homework."
Basically, people relate it to worrying.

But this, ladies and gents, was - IS - not a word I use lightly.

It consumed me in the form of "health anxiety."

I thought I was dying. Often. Daily, even.

Every weird twitch and ache in my body was suddenly enhanced.
I became suuuuper hyper-sensitive to everything.
Even my eyesight was hyper-sensitive. Like I was in a real life video game.

I stopped being Amanda, and became one giant illness. (SORRY COLE!!!)

When I got pregnant with Seth, I swear God knew I needed a break.
My hormones balanced out, and I was calm Amanda again.
I was sick the whole pregnancy, but it was the sickest blessing I could ever have.

Fast-forward 9 months.
Seth was born.

He can't be real, I'm convinced.

But the health anxiety returned with a vengeance, and this time, I was panicking about TWO.
Every breath he took, every eye movement he made, every sound his throat produced led me into a complete panic.

It went from anxiety, to an absolute panic disorder.
I started having panic attacks during the night - waking to them.
I started being unable to breathe every time we were in the car.
My legs were ALWAYS going numb, making it hard to walk.

I started getting - what I now know as - "brain zaps".

The doctor has explained this to me as my brain trying to pull the hormones out so hard, that it leaves me with a shocking in my head. Constantly.

Which, in turn, left me light-headed. And dizzy. And really, really scared.

I went to doctor, after doctor, after doctor.

I was prescribed an inhaler, in case the shortness of breath was asthma.
I wore a heart monitor so they could track my panic attacks and brain zaps - and make sure my heart was ok.
I was prescribed Vitamin D - thinking maybe it was a seasonal disorder.
I had extensive nerve tests.
I cut out caffeine and sugar and bread.
Nothing was helping.

THE WORST PART - I said so, so, so many prayers. Never with any relief.
I was so angry.
Why would God let me have this trial???
OBVIOUSLY I wasn't handling it, so why was God giving me a trial I can't handle???

As time went on, I started to calm down.
I wasn't panicking - but my body was still having panic attacks.
My brain was calm, yet my body was panicking.

One day, I fasted.
Ok. I YELL-fasted. But still fasted, none-the-less.

It went something like:
"WHERE ARE YOU??? I have done EVERYTHING I CAN, and I can't do it anymore!!! My husband is suffering, my mom is suffering, and I am OBVIOUSLY SUFFERING. I have tried everything in my power, and I have nothing more to try. PLEASE let a doctor find a way to help me. PLEASE!"

Around that same time, my mom's best friend referred me to a Nurse Practitioner.

And it saved me.

She prescribed me with an anti-anxiety medication that was specifically for me.
Hi, I don't like to tell everyone and their dog that I have to take anxiety medication.
But I think it's important.

Though anxiety is seen as an emotional problem - my problem is not emotional.
It is 100% medical.

And God has put doctors on this earth for JUST that reason.
I couldn't help myself - because I AM NOT A DOCTOR.

She explained it a lot like this:
If you broke your leg, wouldn't you go to the hospital to fix it?
My problem is the exact same.
I am not crazy, I am not overly-anxious. I am just a little bit broken. And needed medical help to fix it.

As I started to take the medication, some of the symptoms went away.
I no longer had numb legs.
I started to breathe better.
I was able to sleep through most nights without waking to a panic attack.

But I still had a few problems left.
I still this horrible foggy feeling in my brain (that never went away).
And I was still pretty down in the dumps.

But I decided to accept that.
I could probably learn to fight through these.
Two is easier to handle than 100.

One day, out of the blue, I felt like exercising.
After a few days of this - I FELT BETTER.

Not just my body - BUT MY BRAIN!

The foggy feeling left my head.
And I felt happy - ENERGIZED, for the first time in literal years.

Every morning that I exercise - I feel perfectly FINE.

I feel like the old, spazzy, energetic, happy Amanda.

Moral of the story:
1. Doctors are on this earth to help with the things you can't help, yourself.
2. Fasting is real.
3. Exercise has saved my health, and my sanity.

Here is a free trial to one of the things that saved me:

Monday, November 2, 2015

hallowEEN twenty fiftEEN.

You guys KNOW how Halloween is my favorite day of the entire year.
But instead of spending an hour typing about how magical it was, I will just say this:
Everything is 1000X better with Seth. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Seth Ryan's Birth Story.

About halfway through my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.
So for the next long while, I pricked my finger every day and tested my blood sugar.
To my surprise, it was usually normal. 

But to be on the safe side, my doctor and I decided I'd be induced at 39 weeks. 

Before that, he started stripping my membranes every appointment (starting at 37 weeks) to get things moving before the induction. 

The first two times, it was painful, but nothing really happened afterwards. 
(At that point I was dilated to a 3.5)

But on the third time, a couple days before my induction (August 4th), something happened.
I went shopping and to lunch with my mom and aunts right after, and OHHH the pain I was in! 
I almost went straight into Labor & Delivery from the mall.
But I decided to go home and wait it out.

My cute husband went on at least 5 walks with me, and every time we walked, the contractions got way worse. So we were all sure I would go into labor that night.
The contractions went on, but they never got close enough together. 
And the next day, they got less severe.

But I do believe I would've gone into labor VERY shortly after my induction, had I not been induced.

August 5th came, and luckily, it was my birthday.
I don't say "luckily" in the sense that I got presents and cake and all that.
I say "luckily", because it was a way for me to be distracted and to help time speed up.
Although, it didn't actually feel like my birthday. It just felt like the day before I would meet my sweet baby boy!

That night, we packed our hospital bags, and I slept surprisingly well.
I don't know how I was so calm, but I was!

August 6th came, and we rolled into the hospital at 6:30am. 
The nurses got all my medical history and such, and started the Pitocin to get my contractions going.
I wanted to see what contractions felt like for a minute before I asked for the epidural, so I waited a little before I asked. 

The doctor came in and broke my water for me. 
I thought it would be this big gush like in the movies, and then that would be it.
But really it was like it would re-break every time I had a contraction. 
It was suuuuper weird!

I had a very hard pregnancy. Especially the last two weeks.
So the contractions weren't actually as bad as I thought they would be.
But I asked for the epidural when they started to get more uncomfortable. 
I'm sure if I would've kept waiting, they would've become much harder to deal with. 

The epidural was weeeeird.
It didn't hurt, but spread this weird warmth to my chest.
It kind of made me nervous.

I am NOT good with any kind of pain medication these days.
They all give me anxiety. 

So I tried to stay veryyyy calm as he continued. 

But about an hour later, I started to feel REALLY sick, and REALLY loopy.
Like, I was sweating absolute bullets and I couldn't breathe well, and it felt like I was on a roller coaster, and I HATED it.

I remember telling Cole: "If this is how it's going to be the whole time, I am NOT having this baby!"

So the nurses rushed in, and explained to me that if you lay on your back, the epidural starts to go towards your heart and freaks your heart out (would've been nice to know BEFORE laying on my back for an hour). 

So after that scare, I made sure to roll from side to side.
Which started to become REALLY hard after the epidural kicked in hahahah let me tell you. 

And I was soooo drowsy!
I kept asking them if they were giving me some sort of drowsy medicine, but maaan labor just drains you.

They say the longest part of labor is dilating from a 0 to a 5. 
I came in at a 3.5, and around 7 hours later, I finally became a 4.

At that point, my mom went to lunch with my grandma for her birthday.
During the short while she was gone, I went from a 4 to an 8!
So she hurried back.

At that point, I started feeling some seeeerious pain.
We'll just say baby was reeeeally working to get out of me.
But, apparently when I pushed the epidural button, it didn't actually work.

An hour later, we finally figured that out hahah and fixed it.

At 4:00 I dilated to a 10.

We let baby work his way down a little on his own, and by 5:00 I started pushing.

I was really scared to give birth before I got to the hospital.
Like, terrified.
I thought it was going to be this super intense, unknown, hard thing.

But while I pushed, we laughed and cracked jokes with the nurses.
We had casual conversations about baby boy.

It was really comfortable, really casual, and reeeeally natural.
Like I had been preparing my whole life for this moment.
Like I was super ready, and super lucky to be pushing this tiny human out.

I only pushed for 20 minutes.
(Thank you Call genes!)

We totally were expecting a giant baby.
My Gestational Diabetes + Cole's giant genes = giant baby.
So you can imagine our surprise as 6 pound 15 ounce Seth popped out - chicken legs and all.
He was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. 
And he was all mine!

I had to have an episiotomy, so they gave Seth to Cole while I got all stitched up.
And I wouldn't trade that moment between Cole and his son for anything in this world.

If I could do it over again, I would still have them hand Seth to Cole.

10 minutes later, Cole handed him to me.
And all I could think was: "How lucky am I to have a son who looks so much like his dad?!" 
And: "How is it possible to love someone I've just met THIS much???" 
Followed by 2 weeks of: "I CAN'T BELIEVE HE'S REALLY HERE" and "I CAN'T BELIEVE HE'S MINE!"

I will never, ever, ever be able to explain to you how much I love my son.
It is consuming.
It makes me laugh when he pees in my face, and kiss him a million times - even though he's kept me awake faaaar too long.
It makes me document every single time his facial expression even slightly changes, and move him from his car seat when he's sleeping so I can hold him - even though I know it's going to wake him up, and it would probably be smarter to take a nap.
It makes me miss him when someone has been holding him for longer than 5 minutes, and makes me sleep in the most uncomfortable position ever - so I can hold his hand in his cradle while we sleep.

And - even though I was convinced this wasn't even humanly possible - the love I have for my son has made me love his dad 1,000 times more. 
Cole is SUCH a good dad. 
I really didn't have an expectations for him..because neither of us have really been around babies ever.
But the second they placed Seth in his arms, he was immediately a dad. A GREAT one.
And it was the most I've ever loved him.

Seth looks for his voice every time he talks. 
Sometimes he even wakes up from a deep sleep to find his dad.
His favorite place is in the crease in between his dad's arm and chest.

And I just feel overwhelmingly lucky for every second of all of it.

I don't think I'll be able to have more kids, because it's hard to believe I could ever love ANYTHING as much as I love this tiny 6 pound 15 ounce, chicken-legged baby boy who has his parents wrapped around his little peach-fuzzed fingers.