Category Archives: Matt

The real Avila

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Oh, where do I start on this? I’d like this post to kind of give the history of Avila, and something to link back to to “catch you up to speed” on the wonderful being that is my precious first-born.
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I was not looking to have kids, to even settle down, when I found out I was pregnant with Avila. I was partying every day and had been having severe problems with excruciatingly painful periods. The doctor I started seeing put me on the birth control Seasonique, which reduced your time of the month to 4 a year. Well, when I went in to get my first refill after taking the first three months’ worth of doses, they said, “You’re not getting a laporoscopy or a refill because you’re pregnant.” My doctor even tracked the nurse down and was like, No, there’s no way. My first reaction was, Well damn I shouldn’t have stopped and got that pint before this appointment after all. So, you can see how my priorities were at the time.

Anyway, I told Adam, whom was the guy I was seeing at the time. He suggested I get an abortion and that pretty much solidified the fact I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Yeah, just tell the adopted girl to have an abortion as a form of birth control. Okay. Not.

Adam, whom was 11 1/2 years my senior, already had three children from two previous marriages already at this point. I tried to be cool and make things work anyway, for everyone, especially the baby’s sake,  but that just wasn’t happening obviously. The breaking point was when he called me selfish, and unfit, because at 6 and 1/2 months pregnant, I was going to absolutely still camp out in line for the Hanson concert that was only 45 minutes from our town. More on my Hanson addiction later, but just note that we basically broke up over a Hanson concert and I’m more than absolutely okay with it.
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Contrary to his belief, neither Avila, nor I died there in the front row or in line. I got pictures with them afterward and they signed my onesie I had bought for the baby.

As I mentioned in another post, I named Avila after a baseball player. He is named Alex Avila, and at the time I was picking her name, he was the Detroit Tigers’ catcher. I wanted something that was feminine, trendy – but not off the wall, and started and ended with an A. I’m a huge name nerd and I wasn’t going to take this lightly. I needed something that went with Adam’s other kids’ names, but could start it’s own “sibling set” later as well if/when I was to have more children. Anyway, my friend Sylvia (more about her later) and I were at Matt’s  (yes, now-my-fiance Matt) apartment, watching the Tigers game. At this point I am just writing down names that start and end with A, even if I knew for certain I’d never ever use them. Anyway, Alex Avila comes up to bat and I kind of perk up a little to the announcers on TV and stop writing. I said, “Hey, Avila starts and ends with A!” Then he hits a home run. That sealed the deal, Avila it would be if the baby ended up being a girl. Which, we never did find out what she was going to be until she was born. The general consensus was that “the baby” was going to be a boy and his name was going to be Benjamin David-Isaac. Which, is hilarious to me now, writing this over four years later of her birth. Nearly 5 years already since these events took place, which was May 12, 2011 when I found out I was pregnant with her in the first place…

Okay, anyway, I was due January 11, 2012. I had an appointment on my due date, and here we were, no baby in sight. I was dilated to a 3 and my on-call doctor was Dr. Deaton. He stripped my membranes at 10:00 am and sent me home to walk. I paced the living room for awhile, while talking on the phone to my friend Kristin in Lansing. I felt like I had a really slow leak and went to the bathroom. I decided to lay down since I wasn’t feeling any sort of contractions, or a big rush of water. I hung up with Kristin, and called my other friend there named Sunny. By this time it was around 1:00 pm and she advised me to instead go to the hospital. I took a shower and got ready, called Sylvia, and called my mom. By 3:30 pm we were at the hospital and the on-call doctor, Dr. Snider, told me I wasn’t leaving without a baby. Finally! We get settled into the room and they put Cervisil in to make me thin and progress further since I was only at a 4 or so at the time. So we watch at Dance Moms marathon on Lifetime while waiting for the 12 hours it needs to do its job. 4 am they start Pitocin to further my contractions but I’m still not feeling them. They screw around forever with that and finally I’m dilated to a 9. Dr. Schlice, my least favorite doctor, was on-call at this point and they had finally broken my water the rest of the way. It’s 12:30-1:00 pm and she moves the baby’s head around the rest of the cervix that hadn’t completely dilated yet, and asks me to attempt a push. Avila’s head damn near came out and I see my baby has a headful of black hair! Doctor tells me I can’t push anymore and at this point I can’t stop. The entire birthing staff come flying in and my slow ass doctors finally let me push again. Avila came out to her knees and the doctor made me stop pushing. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t and gave a half push and she was clear. Sylvia and my mom were there and before I could even ask what the baby was, she yelled, “We were wrong! It’s a girl!”
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I laid back and thought, “Oh Avila, I love you. I have a girl. I have a daughter.” They placed her on my chest and it was the most overwhelming feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. I’m adopted and so my mom’s love for me is this chosen love, and though it’s very emotional and overpowering in it’s own respect, I have this child, my own DNA.
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My own blood relative. The ONLY blood relative I’ll ever know on this Earth ever (at this point). It wasn’t a feeling I could describe. It still isn’t. That instant I became a mother is just, the single most powerful feeling I could possibly feel in my lifetime. Every single time was the most…the three most powerful, emotional, overwhelming, fearful, loving, cheerful, scariest, greatest, unbelievable, vulnerable, most perfect moments I’ll ever be able to experience in my lifetime.
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Avila was a pretty normal baby. Younger baby anyway. Yet, as she got older, and was doing more things, she wasn’t normal at all. And I knew. Matt came into my life romantically at this point and Avila was 7 months old. He met her at 8 months old. At 11 months, the three of us moved into our first home together. And we have lived here ever since. We hope to find some property out in the country more, house we can fix up some and have horses. We’d more towards Matt’s dad so that’s always good. I love his dad, he’s awesome.

Ok, so Avila was somewhat normal, until she hit around 12-18 months and her “quirks” weren’t just quirks anymore. I have a cousin that also has Autism, so it wasn’t an entirely foreign concept to me. I went to my Grandma, whom has done in-home day care her entire life, and I knew would give me her deep-heartedly honest opinion.
“Grandma, I think…I think she’s, special. Like, {my cousin}.”
“You know…yeah. Yeah, I absolutely think it’s worth looking into.”image

And that’s how that went. I went to our doctor and he was extremely skeptical at first, but I had came prepared, and listed every single instance that had gave me suspicion, and part way through he had agreed that I knew her best, and gave us the referral to Community Mental Health (CMH) for a screening. I was thrilled and terrified. I’m a very anxious person anyway, so all those weeks, those days, those hours, those minutes, those seconds were all so agonizingly  depressing for me. I drove myself insane a million times over and I dreaded the day, and yet, I looked forward to it. I was so nervously excited I could puke; I could finally have answers. I could be doing something for her. I could put this depressing anxiety into something good for once.

Then the day came. We went to the CMH building, met with a very eager lady, and she made me feel confident, just by seeing her. I knew this was right, I knew I was doing the right thing as her mother. And so they tested Avila, and she cried, and threw her fits and had her meltdowns. They hit every trigger for her – and of course, thus hitting every one of mine, but we lived. They had me fill out lots of questionnaires, interviewed me many times, and sign so many forms. As we were leaving, I asked the woman what she thought. She informed me she couldn’t say for certain yet, until she scored the tests Avila did, but she felt that she absolutely fell on the Autism Spectrum somewhere. I breathed a sigh of relief and shame at my feelings and fears for Avila going forward and awaited my letter in the mail. A week or so later, and I got the results in the mail. I ran out to the mailbox, and I knew as soon as I saw the thick envelope. I ripped it open and read that Avila was, in fact, on the Autism Spectrum and had been diagnosed with Autism. She was leaning towards a more Asperger Disorder type, but apparently that’s “no longer on the Spectrum.” So I read and researched every single thing I could about the parts Avila scored really low in to learn what I could do to help. I read a lot about removing artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives from her diet and decided to give it a go. It was really rough at first, but within two weeks I already had a completely different kid.

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Why I Need to Start Dating My Fiance Again

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Tonight Matt and I went to Pints & Quarts in Norton Shores for some dinner and discussion. I had asked him the other night to take some time and think about what it is he wants and needs out of our relationship, and the total revamp of our lives we are undertaking. I posed the following questions for him and I both to mull over for awhile:

  • What is it that I wish to achieve to better myself? Do I need something personally? Spiritually? Physically? Mentally? Socially? I knew that besides really struggling with the weight of my world right now, that some of it is from my complete hysterectomy that I had in November. I had everything removed and never started on any sort of hormones, so that was becoming a concern of mine. I had also had some pretty severe bouts of depression as a teen (those good ol’ 15-17 year old range), and plenty of post-partum depression. Avila and Iris are 20 months apart, and Iris and Jensen are 22 months apart. Then, when Jensen was 4 months old I had the hysterectomy. So, yeah, not a lot of time for my body to settle down and adjust to things. 
  • What is it that I wish to achieve as couple in our relationship between just the two of us? My counselor recommended we take the 5 Love Languages quiz and read more about it in the books by Gary Chapman and it’s something we had discovered previously. His concepts make a lot of sense and allow both of us to discover different ways to express our love to each other. My primary Love Language is Quality Time, in which I scored an 11. My lowest Love Language is Physical Touch, in which I scored a 1, whilw he got a 7. Matt’s primary Love Language is also Quality Time, in which he scored a 9. His lowest Love Language is Receiving Gifts, in which he scored a 0.  He scored an 8 in Worder of Affirmation (I a 4). Acts of Service I scored a 9, Matt a 6. Receiving Gifts I scored a 5, Matt a 0. So, it’s pretty obvious we have lots of work to do in order to make sure the other is really getting what they need from each other in this relationship, which was what I wanted to work on for us that we both feel happy and fulfilled.
  • What is it that I wish to achieve as family? As a parent? As a part of a parenting team? Our kids are pretty spoiled. They get basically anything they want or need and we are happy to make it happen for them. There was a time Avila really didn’t express interest in things, so when she started liking trains and super heroes, we made sure we let her know we heard and understood her. It was a really big deal for her to start communicating likes to us, so we all indulged. Not to make Iris feel left out, we made sure she got her fair share of things too. But don’t think that we didn’t also spend the time and money to take our children to different experiences. We love doing activities and going places, and learning new things as a family all the time so this point was really nice to get back onto the same page with, and deciding to focus more on that aspect of “rewards.” We make our kids do chores, just because they live with us and that’s part of being a family and living together, but there’s also things they can do that help us and we will give extra rewards for. Now, this part is going to be a new endeavor on our part, and exactly figuring out the best course of action to complete those desires is going to be something I talk about here. Cross your fingers for us.
  • What is it that I want Matt, or he want me, to know, from the bottom of my heart? Now, this one is sort of tricky for me. Because I always fear he doesn’t actually hear what I’m saying. However, I just wanted him to know that I trust him. That I love him very, very much and I always will. We know this, and it’s something we just get. But I trust him. When I don’t believe in myself, when I’m frustrated with the kids, when I’m just so locked inside my own head that it never seems like it’s going to get better; I trust him with my every being and know he is going to support me in whatever decision I make for myself, and ultimately our children and our family. If I need outpatient therapy and have to drive over an hour away, one way, he will make sure I have enough gas, and that my tires are properly inflated. That I know this, that I trust him fully to not take advantage of that trust, and I hope he trusts me too.

We got some good conversation in, while having an AMAZING meal and drinks, and getting somewhere in our hopes to better ourselves, our relationship, and our family. I’m glad I have Matt by my side, but I have definitely fallen into a rut of trying to be everything for everyone all the time. I forgot what it was to just go out with him, to dress up nice, to go someplace without the kids, eat a good, quality meal (I had the Californian burger, he had the Steakhouse burger, and we split a pretzel basket beforehand. AMAZING!) and have a quality discussion about our relationship, our selves, our kids, and our hopes for our future together. Avila’s behavior therapist suggested we make the time to go out, just the two of us, once a week. That we had to make the time, even if we just sat at park for an hour together; that we make that time to regroup away from the house and kids together.

Now, here’s where I get skeptical because I’m not quite sure how we are going to manage this. I know she didn’t say, go have a lavish meal every time. She isn’t saying take hours and hours to spend lots of money on each other. That we just need to take the time to get away from the chaos, and get to be adults together. I’ll be posting some of our date night ideas (and hopefully links about how they go!) in another post later. I just know, that we are both going to try this dating thing with each other again, and hopefully it starts helping our quality of love and happiness, so that we can raise happier, more loving kids.

The first post is always the deepest…

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OK, first off, if you are reading this, thank you. Well, thank you and I’m kinda sorry, haha. I’m starting this blog at the advice of my counselor to help me deal with, well, life.

I’m 27 years old, but I’ll be turning 28 at the end of March. I live in Muskegon, Michigan and have been here since I was adopted from El Salvador in 1989. I was adopted by a woman whom was single, and remained single my entire life. My mom is one of most selfless, kind, compassionate people I’ve ever met; and I’m proud to be her daughter, and that my children get to call her Grandma.

I am a mother. I have three children – two girls and a boy. My oldest, Avila, turned 4 years old in January and has been diagnosed with Autism. My middle child is a girl named Iris, and she is nearly 2 and half but thinks she’s right up there with Avila. She is neuro-typical and not only wants to do everything her big sister does, she wants to do it better. So that will be an interesting dynamic once Iris surpasses Avila on skills and abilities. Lastly, there is Jensen. He is my 7 month old son and I cannot imagine my life without him. He is seriously the best baby I’ve ever met. He has slept through the night since, literally, the day he was born. But before you start getting too envious, just note that Avila has yet to sleep through the night; she’s always been worse-than-a-newborn in that respect.

Then there is Matt. Matt is the biological father of Iris and Jensen. We have been friends for about 6 or 7 years now, and going on our 4th year in a steady relationship. Technically, we are engaged and though I have every intention on spending the rest of my life with him, right now the official titles and all the pressure from those titles have sent me into a crazy whirlwind.

Which, sort of circles me back to the reason I’m even starting this blog. This blog is going to be about my journey to finding balance between “mother,” “girlfriend/fiancé/wife/significant other,” “daughter,” “friend,” and simply, ME. Working with the various professionals with Avila and her Autism, keeping our household clean and organized, getting better self-help habits so my children don’t go through the hells I did – and still  do – with depression and anxiety. I’ve had a hysterectomy in November 2015 as well, so that’s a whole other can of worms to add into the equation. Plus, in addition to all of that we have the biggest-pain-in-the-ass dog I’ve ever met, a cat that thinks he is a kid, and two horses that we will be working on getting home once we purchase our first home on property.

So, if this seems like something you want to read for ideas, tips, you feel like helping me, or just want to read about someone else’s mess to make you feel better about yourself, then that’s all great by me. I hope I can use this as a way to make connections to all of the people that are dealing with similar issues, and really help each other in remembering we are not in any of our endeavors alone and that someone, somewhere, can help and wants to help. That’s why I’m here. Hope to hear from you all soon.