My Heart Stopped so I Could LIVE

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 27

There are two posts that I have been dreading. This is one of them. I have been putting it off, can you tell? I have not reflected on myself in a while. If procrastination was a career, I would be very successful. As most of you already know, at the beginning of this year, I vowed to change my life. I set goals for myself, and I started following my dreams. Since then , I have been very high strung and actually quite productive. I have lost weight and I am now the proud owner of not one but two Etsy shops! I know I know, most of you already know all of this, but what you don’t know is there was a huge turning point in my life that led me down this road. There was an incident that changed my life forever. Last year, my heart stopped.

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Before I can tell you about the day that changed it all, I must first take you back to the beginning. I will try to keep this brief and to the point as this is not a subject that is easy for me to discuss. When I was in the 11th grade, I began fainting. At first, it would happen randomly and every so often. Eventually, it got worse and started happening a couple of times a week. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was fainting almost everyday. I had every test done that you can imagine. I was missing so much school that eventually after I would faint, would make a quick visit to the nurse then return to class. I was the talk of the school, and not in a good way. I was not normal. I was literally passing out all of the time. Soon I fell into a deep depression. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t enjoy life anymore. I couldn’t even get my driver’s license. I tried to be strong and remain positive, but this was devastating to me. I felt like everyone knew me as “the girl who faints.” Since I had no prior medical problems and I was for the most part healthy, my heart was the last thing they checked. My senior year, my cardiologist found what he thought to be the problem. There was a piece off skin that had wrapped itself around one of the nodes in my heart. Right away, I was scheduled for a cardiac ablation. I got better. I graduated in 2003. The procedure worked for a while, but unfortunately it was not a permanent fix.

I started fainting again in 2008. I was a single mom working part time as a waitress. The other part of the time I was playing poker for extra income. (a story for another day) Just like before, when the fainting first started it wasn’t happening very much. By 2009, it was happening much more. I had enough of a nest egg saved from poker that I decided to quit waitressing and play cards full time. Then I met my husband. We fell in love fast, we married fast, and we started a family even faster. The first year of our marriage was the hardest. In 2010 we moved out of state and soon I was fainting all of the time. We had a newborn, and my health issues really took a toll on our marriage. I was severely depressed and I missed Josie. I missed her more than anything. There were days I found it hard to function. How much longer could I live like this? My husband was missing an obscene amount of work for ER visits and DR appointments. I started seeing a cardiologist who believed I had SVT. (supraventricular tachycardia) He wanted to be sure so they implanted a Reveal Monitor in my chest. This device recorded everything my heart was doing. They were hoping to catch the SVT, and they did. In fact, it didn’t take long at all. They watched the recordings and saw episodes of my heart rate reaching above 240 beats per minute for minutes at a time. I needed another ablation. They went in and thought they had fixed it. I was still fainting after and I eventually had two more ablations. Keep in mind that while all of this was happening, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy, was pregnant and gave birth two more times. I had a lot on my plate, but after the final surgery I was fixed temporarily.

We arrived in Rhode Island July 2014. I had started fainting again by September. I went to the ER but the battery in my monitor was dead, and without that, no one could give me any real answers. I knew it was SVT because I could feel it, but the DR’s needed proof. Then one day I had an episode unlike any other. I woke up early in the morning with sharp chest pains. (this had never happened before) As the day went on, my chest pain grew. The pain got so unbearable I screamed to my husband, “Call 911.” Thank GOD my husband was home. He is a certified EMT. I do not remember what happened next, I only know what my husband has told me. I fell to the ground. He called 911. He shoved aspirin down my throat then reached for a pulse. There was no pulse. He gave me CPR. He brought me back. He saved my life. My girls saw EVERYTHING. I woke up in the ER in so much pain and with bruises from the chest compressions. I was admitted to the local hospital immediately, but I was shipped to Boston right away where I could be monitored by some of the best cardiologists. I was there for almost a week. They had me hooked up to monitors and caught SVT a couple of times, but they had no answers as to why my heart stopped. They removed my Reveal Monitor and sent me home. I was back at square one. I was confused and scared, and I knew that there was no way I could physically or emotionally handle fainting everyday again. One person can only take so much. My life needed to change. I knew if I allowed it I would fall deep into that hole again. Depression would consume me, it was only a matter of time. I needed to be strong for my girls. My girls….what they saw that day, no child should ever have to witness. They were terrified. The teachers’ at Lily’s school started counseling her and taught her everyday how to dial 911.

My heart stopped that day. What if I had never come back? What if it happens again? What if I faint and don’t wake up? Would my kids know how much I love them? Would my husband? Was I the best mother I could be? Did I live my life the way I wanted? Did I accomplish anything during my life? Was I the happiest person I could be? Did I teach my kids the important things? Did I follow my dreams? Did I even take the time to have a dream? These are some of the questions that I asked myself, and I didn’t like the answers. I spent the rest of last year changing my lifestyle. I began eating better and slowly got back into exercising. I am not exaggerating when I say, I literally fainted everytime I tried to work out. I didn’t give up. I looked inside of myself and found my dreams. I found all of the things that I needed in my life in order for it to be fulfilled. Then I made a plan for myself.

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And that my friends is how and why LIFEBEYONDMOMMY was born. I began my adventure at the beginning of this year. I now have all of you wonderful human beings along side of me. Last year, I weighed over 200 pounds. (not kidding) I had two pregnancies back to back and they really took a toll on my body. Also, I was not exercising because I lived in fear of fainting. I am so happy to say that today I weigh 147 pounds! By changing my outlook, I have opened so many doors for myself. I guess that is why I got so carried away with Etsy. Haha. I just have so many plans and so many dreams. I want to spend the rest of my life doing whatever I can to make them come true. That is what makes me happy, and I want to be a happy person. NONE of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Believe me, I have lost enough friends in my life to feel the full truth behind those words. Don’t you want to know that you have lived this life to the fullest? I know I do and that is why I am on this journey. I don’t want to have any regrets. If you have any dreams for your life, making them come true starts right now, with you. Only you can make a difference in your life.

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This is Why I am Crazy

Last week, I decided to open Etsy shop that was ART based. Somehow between last week and today I have managed to begin opening not one but TWO ETSY shops. I just got carried away! I have so many different passions and apparently I have a lot more free time than I thought… I still have a ways to go before my ART shop is together, but I have managed to set up my VintagelaceBoutique. I only have ten listings right now, but I would love if you guys went and checked it out! I plan on adding some more inventory as soon as I finish getting my art shop up and running. When I started this journey in January, I would have never thought I would be here today with an Etsy shop, let alone TWO Etsy shops! I can’t believe how much I have already grown as a person. I have more confidence in myself now than I have had my whole life. I have you guys to thank for this. So thank you. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize the things I am capable of. My life has changed so much already. I am filling a void by following my dreams and it is an amazing feeling.

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Living My Dreams

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 26

Hello beautiful dreamers! All of you probably think I dropped off of the planet because I have not written in over a week but I assure I am still here and I have been VERY productive lately! I am very proud to announce that my three year old is FINALLY potty trained! It took a little longer to train her than my first two girls but we did it! If anyone needs any tips just ask, I am full of information! Also, I have really taken a step back and reevaluated my life. I have been painting and creating, and I think I finally know what having a life beyond mommy means for me.

When I began this journey almost three months ago, I had no idea where I was going or what to expect. I didn’t even really know how I was going to accomplish my goal or how I was going to get the things I wanted in my life. All I knew was I wanted more LIFE in my life. I wanted to do more than just be a mother and a housewife. There was something missing, and I needed to find what that something was. Well my friends. I think I may have found what I have been looking for.

At the beginning, I intended on using Art as my therapy. I have been painting more than I ever have and it has become so much more than just therapy. By painting the way that I have been , I have pushed myself farther than I have ever gone before. I have realized things about my talent that I have never known. I never even knew I had artistic ability until I was in the 7th grade. I went with a friend to her art class one weekend and as soon as I entered the building I felt at home. It was the strangest thing that has ever happened to me. The paints, the canvases and the brushes all so new to me yet very familiar as well. I picked up my first brush and as soon as I began to paint I knew I was meant to be an artist. Here I am years later and I am wondering why I haven’t applied my talents to my life before now?  I have really tried to stretch my comfort zone over the past week. I have gone new places with these recent paintings and I have reached new heights. I have never shown my work before, and in no way have I ever tried to sell them or make anything of my art. However, I feel I have finally identified what needs to change in my life in order for me to feel fulfilled and satisfied. I know it is not going to be easy, but I would rather try and fail than not try at all and always wonder “what if.” The clock is not going to stop. Time is going to keep passing. If I want to make a change and if I want to make something of the person I am other than mommy, the time is NOW. No more procrastinating, no more excuses. I want to do what I love. I want to create and I want to paint and I want to show the world what I can do. I am not just a mother, I am an artist as well. I want my voice to be heard.

I am considering opening a shop on ETSY. Do any of you guys have Etsy shops? How is it? Do you enjoy what you do? Do you think Etsy is a good fit for me? I would love any feedback you can give me. I am excited to start this new part of my journey, and a little nervous too. Also I wanted to let everyone know I am on Twitter now. I would love if you followed me @lifebeyondmommy.

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almost three months ago, I had no idea where I was going or what to expect. All I knew was I wanted more LIFE in my life. I wanted a purpose other than being a mother and a housewife.

New Hobby!!

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 25

This journey I am on has been a wonderful one so far. I have learned so many things about myself and I have already come so far. Where we live is absolutely beautiful. I have been trying to get out of the house a lot more. I have been trying to be more active in general. Just because I am a stay at home mother doesn’t mean I need to be couped up in the house! My family and I were out exploring the island last week and what did we find? We found a tiny beach (over a small cliff) that has seaglass! You kind of have to search between the rocks to find these treasures but it is well worth it. Seaglass is really beautiful! And looking for seaglass is just like going on a treasure hunt! It is so exciting for me to have a new hobby. Also this is something I can do ON MY OWN. I can go alone and it is absolutely wonderful. It is so relaxing and the scenery as you can see is amazing. It is nice to be able to have a place I can go to. I can go there to think and relax and also treasure hunt. So now I am not only a painter, I am an avid seaglass hunter, and I LOVE IT!! So glad I get to share these wonderful milestones with all of you.

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HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!!! Things have been really great lately! I am really looking forward to the weekend! I have big plans! I fully intend on writing my newest blog about my newest hobby! I have found an amazing thing that I simply LOVE doing. I can’t wait to share it with all of you! Also I plan on painting this weekend! I can’t wait and I can’t wait to share my newest piece of art with everyone. Hopefully it turns out so I can share it LOL. I am a perfectionist when it comes to my artwork so if it is not perfect I will toss it! Why can’t I be a perfectionist about the housework? Or the laundry? Man I seriously hate the laundry. I hate the dishes too…I think I just hate anything housework related. ANYWAY, I am so excited to write this weekend!!

“I AM ON THE HUNT FOR WHO I’VE YET TO BECOME”

 

The Cheesecake Dilemna

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 23

I have been working very hard over the past few weeks at trying to lose weight and get myself back into some kind of  shape worth being proud of. Having been pregnant four times, let me be the first to tell you, my body is certainly not what it used to be. Not at all. Not in any way, shape or form….It’s ok though, I am learning to embrace the sagging. No that’s a complete lie. I am not embracing any of the sagging. Screw the sagging.

I am very happy to announce that I mastered the hula hoop exercise on the Wii Fit. LOL I know I know, my life goals are awesome. Anyway last week I moved on to Zumba on the Wii Fit. Let’s talk about Zumba for a moment. Holy so hard I can’t feel my legs for days. It hurts, so it must be working. Go Zumba.

I have come so far since January. I have lost weight. I eat better. My heart is healthier, and I know this because I can actually do Zumba without fainting. Anyway, because I have accomplished so much, yesterday I wanted to treat myself. What better way to treat yourself for losing weight than a slice of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory? Vanilla Bean to be exact. Seriously the best idea ever, I know. I put my plan in motion. My mistake? Sending my husband.

I sent my husband on one simple mission, to go purchase me one slice of delicious Vanilla Bean cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. What does he do? He purchases me an ENTIRE CHEESECAKE!! WHAT THE WORLD!! Hello!! Doesn’t he know the amount of effort it has taken for me to come this far? UGH. I have has this cheesecake not even 24 hours. I had a slice for dessert last night. I had a slice for a late night snack…last night. AND I had a slice for breakfast this morning. They were huge slices…OK OK they weren’t slices at all. I actually just went to town on it with a fork. The stupid thing is now half-eaten. Yes, I ate half of an entire cheesecake in three sittings. I may be in need of some sort of therapy. The sad part is, the cheesecake is still here. It is in my refrigerator as I am typing this. And it is calling my name. I seriously need to throw the stupid thing away. I can’t bring myself to do it. It cost way more than any cheesecake on this planet should EVER cost, and it is the most delicious thing I have eaten in 3 months. I blame my husband.

I hate you Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. Nope, that’s another lie. I love you Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. I love you so much. Damn youuuuuuu.

Down For The Count

This thought of the day will be short and sweet. Just wanted to share this with all of my friends out there. I have just tried the ZUMBA Wii for the first time. The phrase “I can’t feel my face” now has a whole new meaning. I can’t feel my face…my legs…my arms…my feet…. I will certainly be regretting this decision in the morning. That is all.

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Self Reflection is Hard

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 22

The past week has been a tough one. I have really been missing Josie. I have been thinking about her nonstop since we said goodbye. I realized today how selfish I have been, and I feel so awful about it. I always knew that not having her here with us effected everyone, but I never realized how much until now. My little Lily, who is six, has cried for Josie this week many times. Some things are just impossible for her to understand right now. I have tried my best to comfort her, but my words do not matter. She wants her sister, and I understand.

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That is a picture of Josie and I when she was just a couple of months old. I remember being terrified when I was pregnant with her. I was 19 years old. Now that I am older, I can see just how young 19 is. I remember how scared I was of becoming a mother. I wanted her to have the best, and I wasn’t sure if that was me, but something amazing happened the day she was born. I may have only been 19, but I will never forget how naturally being a mother came to me. Everything came so easily. Breastfeeding, soothing her, even the sleepless nights. I knew how to be her mother immediately because I was meant to be her mother. There is not a doubt in my mind, God granted me the wisdom and the patience I needed. And believe me, at 19 I needed both of those things.

I knew once I had Josie that being a mother was the greatest thing I would ever be. A parent has a very special kind of love for their children. It is unconditional and it is undying. I believe that a parents love is the most genuine, most pure form of true love that there is. For a mother, once she begins to grow life in her belly, her life is changed forever. As parents, once you hold your baby in your arms, you know your life will never be the same again, and that is ok because you don’t want it to be. You have never loved anything or anyone in this world so much, and you never will……until you have more children of course. As your family grows, so does your heart and so does your love. I have four daughters now, and I can honestly say that being their mother is my greatest accomplishment in life so far.

I love my children more than life. When they are hurting, I am hurting. There are certain things I can fix, with a Band-Aid or a kiss. Lily wants Josie, and I can’t fix that. Pretty soon, they will all want Josie. They will all have questions, and they will not understand the answers that I give. Even if they can’t understand why things are the way they are, I hope they all understand how much I love them, and why I made the choices I made.

As you all know, I am on a journey of self-discovery. I am searching for myself, among other things. I have vowed to lose weight. I have vowed to explore my artistic abilities, and to write more. Today I am vowing to be the best mother I can possibly be, so my children never have to question my love for them. Don’t get me wrong, I am a pretty awesome mother already. However, I am human so of course there is always room for improvement. It is amazing the things you learn and how much you can grow if you allow yourself to truly self-reflect. This is so hard, but I know that I will come out a better person, mother and wife when I am finished. Thanks for being there guys!

Saying Goodbye

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SELF REFLECTION

DAY 21

For those of you who don’t know, I have joint custody of my oldest daughter, Josie. She lives in Maryland with her father, step mother, and new little brother. I live in Rhode Island with my husband and three other daughters. Please read the entire story here. We have just returned home after spending eight days with her, and it has been quite an emotional roller coaster for me. Our visit was wonderful yet bittersweet. The time we were able to share with Josie went by entirely too fast, as it always does. I am still recovering from having to say goodbye.

My heart is hurting. There is no other way to put it. Saying goodbye to Josie after the summer and after each holiday is always hard. However, saying goodbye after our 8 days together was even harder. We had an amazing time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the word, but this visit for me was one of the most difficult we have ever shared. I have this sinking feeling that from here on out my visits with her are going to get more difficult for me. I say for “me” because Josie is well adjusted. She is happy, she does great in school, and she has many friends. As she gets older, she seems more and more unphased by our custody arrangement. Joint-custody is all that she has ever known. I have had so many doubts about our situation over the years. So many times I have questioned my decisions, and so many nights I have cried myself to sleep. I feel beyond blessed to be able to say that even though her living situation has not been normal, Josie IS a normal child, and she is happy. I am happy that she is happy, but my heart is still breaking.

My daughter is growing up. She is no longer the four year old little girl that she was when we first had to move. I can not believe she is ten years old. I feel like all I did was blink and six years went by. For those 8 days that we were in Maryland, I was able to be active in a NEW part of Josie’s life, a part that I usually don’t get to experience because I only have her summers and holidays. Our visit was a brutal reminder of all the moments I have missed out on. The little things are the things that hurt the most. Things other parents probably take for granted. Taking her to and from school everyday. Getting up with her in the mornings. Brushing and braiding her hair. Making sure she is completely ready for her school day. Helping her with her homework everyday after school. (except math, “common core” and I are not friends) I was able to meet her friends from school, and let me say, I am so happy with the kind of ladies she has chosen to surround herself with.

On Friday, she was in the talent show. She preformed a dance with two of her friends. I was able to take her shopping to pick out her dance outfit, and I got the pleasure of doing her hair and  getting her ready for the show. You have no idea how much all of this meant to me. Not only being there to support her, but also taking part in preparing her for it. I was an emotional wreck sitting in the audience, but I never let it show. Honestly, I was a wreck before we even left the house. I was so nervous, the talent show was the first school event that I have ever gotten to attend. It was the very first time many parents and teachers got to see “Josies’ mom.” I was so worried of what they would think, and I was scared they would judge me. I spent all day trying to find the perfect thing to wear. Looking back now, getting as worked up as I did seems a little silly. I just wanted to be the best me I could be that night, for her. Does any of this make sense? Please believe me when I say, I was the proudest parent in th crowd that evening. My eyes filled with tears many times, but I did not let them fall. I never wanted that moment to end. I wish I could have stayed there in that moment a little longer, and I wish our week with Josie had gone by a little bit slower. Do you know how much it hurts to have a taste of this wonderful part of her life, then have to walk away? For one week I was finally the mother to her that I have been longing to be. I feel empty now, but I am trying to stay strong because I have to. I don’t have a choice.