Mother’s Day: I #CelebrateEveryMom with ProFlowers!

(Full disclosure: In exchange for beautiful bouquets of my choice, I am writing this post for ProFlowers. All thoughts and opinions belong to me and the moms I chose as recipients. #CelebrateEveryMom is their hashtag, but the celebrations are all from the heart.)

I lucked out, this spring, when I received a lovely email from ProFlowers asking if I would like to participate in their #CelebrateEverMom campaign by sending flowers to myself and up to four other moms. I read the email a few times, looking for the catch. I checked the email address to make sure it was really from a company. There was no catch! I really did get to pick out whatever I wanted and have it sent anywhere, and all I had to do was write about it. Choosing only four other moms was the hard part. I’m so impressed with their generosity; five of us got amazing flowers! I honestly just had to narrow it down by asking people I thought would know how to send me a high-quality photo. “High-res images” was a request, not a requirement, but it helped me. I chose each bouquet in part using their names, to symbolize what I wanted to send to women I don’t get to see very often. Every one of us was blown away by the beauty of these arrangements, and even the packaging they came in. Despite the very careful packaging, one bouquet did arrive with a broken vase; my friend and the UPS carrier opened it together and decided that the flowers themselves were far too beautiful to throw away. Instead of sending them back, she kept them, and put them in a different vase, rather than see them thrown out. I hope our photos do the flowers justice.

For myself, I chose roses. Lots of roses! The most beautiful bouquet I’ve ever received was from my mom and my sister, for a high school play, and it had roses that flamed from orange to pink. I sent myself a reminder of that time I felt so loved. Little pink, deep pink, orange, and yellow roses fill the bulk of my own bouquet, which is appropriately named “Sweet Reflections,” punctuated by massive, gorgeous pink-tipped yellow roses, and accented with baby’s breath and eucalyptus stems. They arrived via FedEx in an enormous, heavy box. The packaging was so careful, and it even included a card that read “Happy Mother’s Day!” So much care had been taken to preserve the flowers, which arrived not-quite-open, with detailed instructions for helping them last, and two packets of flower food. I needed help arranging them in the lovely vase that came with them, because there were so many! No broken stems, no bruised petals. They sit next to my computer, brightening my desk and filling my living room with their sweet scent. My son is smitten. I cut a tiny yellow bud for him to have, and he was so proud of his flower! Of course, he then requested “Pink one! Puh-puw [purple] one! Ohnge [orange] one!” I told him that his colors were right on, but these flowers were all mine.

Sweet Reflections! So many roses!

Sweet Reflections! So many roses!

"Wewow Fowuhr!"

“Wewow Fowuhr!”

4 days in!

4 days in!

Kate Sullivan was my HypnoBirthing instructor and doula; she has been a friend and mentor, ever since. She was there when I became a mama! She’s had an incredibly rough time, for an incredibly long time. She also mothers amazing twin boys, and writes (and publishes!) incredible poetry, often about birth and motherhood. I sent Kate “Bright Blooms for Mom” to add another sorely needed bright spot to this strong mama’s days. Our family will never be able to express our gratitude to Kate for her part in our perfect birth for our perfect baby. She has touched so many families in her work as a birth professional. She’s been there at the moment when so many women become mothers! Expect gifts for life, Kate! None of us will ever tire of celebrating you.

Her son did a pretty good job taking this picture, right? I love that he took it!

Her son did a pretty good job taking this picture, right? I love that he took it!

Diana Stone–oh, Diana. Where do I begin? At the beginning, I suppose. Tears come to my eyes, when I think of how our friendship began; I stumbled across her blog and wrote to her about how much I loved her voice, pure and true. She became pregnant about a month before I did, and I was jealous in that month between showing off positive pregnancy tests. Tragedy struck, and the twins Diana carried and nurtured are no longer with us. Her own blog tells her story, the story of her family, including the son she would later lose, after a beautiful birth. I hugged her, in person, and she met my Walt, at a conference for bloggers. We talked baby names and love for Anne of Green Gables (Anne and Diana!) but her own sweet boy didn’t make it. In just a couple years, my precious friend ended up surviving three of her four children. Her gorgeous Bella is in the photo I chose from the collection of gorgeous pictures she sent me–Diana is a very talented photographer–along with the “Mom’s Smiles and Sunshine” I had sent to her. She’s pregnant with a girl, now, and smiles can be hard for a mama who endures the nightmare of hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme nausea, far beyond any “morning sickness”) with each pregnancy. I want to celebrate with her, cry with her, help her in any way I can, but sweet Diana is so far away. This was the best I could do. It’s a small gesture, but I hope that it symbolizes the strength and beauty I see in this mother who carries a burden so heavy, and still delights in the sweetness of her children. Isn’t her girl just stunning, and beautifully captured in this photo?

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Now, Susan. I chose orchids, for Susan, the second I saw them, because she a rare and beautiful friend. Mother to two, Warrior Mom, survivor of postpartum depression, as well as postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. We talk often about the anxiety we face; we joke about being lifetime members of the “GAD Club” (generalized anxiety disorder) because we’d rather laugh about it, when we can! Susan has been working an unpaid more-than-part-time job to make sure that the first ever Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference happens, this summer. Before now, Postpartum Progress has been a blog and a community where we “meet” online. Once a year, we have our local events, the Climb Out of the Darkness, but this conference will be the very first patient-centered conference on perinatal mental health. The first one by and for the moms who fight PMAD, including a celebratory dinner, a wall of art, and amazing talks. As the conference approaches, Susan’s work only becomes more difficult, and she has to face dismissal and rejection from people who don’t take our community seriously. She’s a mother who fights stigma in every way she can find, for all mothers, even when it’s painful and exhausting to keep fighting. The day her flowers arrived, she sent me a series of text messages: “I am honestly speechless. … I’ve ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wanted an orchid. … I had such a hard evening and felt so much self doubt and this? Made me feel appreciated and seen.” I hope you know, Susan, that you are as rare and beautiful as this incredible orchid, and you need nurturing, too. I didn’t know that you always always always wanted one, and I’m so thrilled that my intuition was right on!

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Last but never least: my gorgeous sister. We are sisters; we don’t always get along gracefully, but we never give up on each other. Our lives are so different! My big sister is a professor whose stellar research has placed her among the top minds in her field. She recently won a university-wide award for her excellence as a teacher. She was nominated by students and chosen by peers as this year’s recipient, among all the professors in the whole university! She’s married to an incredible guy who has made our family a much better group since the day we met him, and their two children are such bright lights in our lives. I learned so many early lessons about mothering, just by spending a lot of time with their family, when I was still single. Gifts aren’t really her thing, but we live on opposite coasts. Brunch and conversation would be so nice, but it’s just not likely to happen any time soon. These flowers are called “Monet’s Garden,” and I just had to send them to celebrate her existence in the world. I celebrate you, the sister who taught me about Monet with children’s books and pictures of your own visits to France, who adopted me for long summer months, so that I could experience places like Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, even Melbourne, Australia. I celebrate you, a second mother to me, once upon a time, and now, mother to two “spirited,” amazing, loving, sensitive children. Above all, I celebrate you for just you – as you are, all of you.

holli no flash blog

Mom. My own mama. I love you so much. I celebrate you. For who you are. All of who you are. You also get gorgeous flowers, often, as head of the flower committee at church, and (this is an attempt at humor, in case my tone doesn’t quite come across…) I just couldn’t bring myself to stress you out with the idea of a “high-res” photo, or sending one to me electronically. You are in my heart, always, and you did get flora-inspired jewelry for Mother’s Day! All three women in our family are strong mothers, and we strive to love one another, always, in the best way we know how.

I want to #CelebrateEveryMom by celebrating all the ways that “Mom” means loving, in the best way we can, through all the things life brings us. I almost never partner with big companies, but I grabbed this chance eagerly, because it let me celebrate nurture other moms in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to afford, otherwise. We take one day at a time, when we have to, and we love. While I celebrate what we do, as mothers, I want to use this space to remind us  The moments that always bring me to tears are the moments we love and nurture each other.

Low Cortisol Treatment: it’s working!

I met with my lovely endocrinologist nurse practitioner this week, and my psychiatry appointment was last week–everyone agrees. The low cortisol treatment is working. I slowly moved up to 5mg Cortef (cortisone) in the morning and 5mg in the afternoon, with breakfast and lunch. The first thing that happened was that my sleep cycle regulated. I was tired at night and awake in the morning. Because cortisone is a steroid, it really does work that quickly.

If that sounds like no big deal, understand: I have NO MEMORY of ever feeling this. I have always felt awake at night and exhausted in the morning. Every attempt to reset my sleep cycle failed.

I began to understand how extreme my fatigue had been when I realized that I was bored. I had no idea what to do with myself, with all these extra hours in my day! What an awesome problem to have!

The next thing that I noticed: more energy and better concentration. A few days into this treatment, I found myself sitting on the floor with my amazing son, happily playing: we played all morning. During the morning! I didn’t have to go nap or turn on the TV!

The next thing: less anxiety. This just makes sense. Good sleep and more food (too much, and too little, before) are just going to lower anyone’s anxiety. My psychiatrist says we should go very, very slowly, because withdrawal from clonazepam is so downright nasty, but… I cut one of my doses in half. I take 1 mg morning, noon, and night, but .5 mg in the evening. 3.5 mg total. That’s the first time that number has gone down since I tried to taper, before my pregnancy. I’m near tears just thinking about being free from the four times daily interruption.

What I learned from the endocrinologist: my body will learn to make the right amount of cortisol, eventually! Within a year, maybe! A year is a long time for this treatment, she tells me, but my cortisol is pretty low. There are two kinds of blood tests for cortisol, and on the less commonly used serum test, the range of “normal” is 6-50. Mine came in at 9. This “normal” range comes from a skewed range of data, because we don’t test cortisol levels on people who feel good. I don’t have Addison’s Disease, or something that would prevent cortisol production, physically–the idea is still that the cause is childhood trauma. So 9 is most likely just far too low *for me* and is pretty close to the bottom, anyway. We’re going to keep testing my cortisol levels every so often, and when she’s satisfied that I’ve got a good thing gong, we’ll try tapering the medicine and see what happens. Taking the medicine for a year is the long wait, though! I’m used to a shrug and a “who knows?” when I ask if I will need a medication for LIFE, so I just about danced a jig when told about this idea of a year.

A few months ago, I thought that I would never have enough energy to work the part-time jobs I already have as actively as I’d like (HypnoBirthing, Jamberry, Chloe + Isabel). Not only have I exceeded my own goals and expectations, there–April ROCKED–but I have also applied for FULL-TIME WORK. Because I WANT IT!

I just wrote this before 10:00am. CELEBRATE!

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