Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 27, 2007...pooped

What a pumpkin. I love him more every day. He's just the neatest person I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I'm watching the finale of Dancing With the Stars while he's upstairs in my bed singing along with his Underwater Adventures DVD. It's so funny to be down here listening to him. He's having a one-man party. I've learned it's just best to let him wind down on his own. If I'm up there with him, it turns into a two-person party and he'll never fall asleep. It's tough though, he's even more fun than Dancing With the Stars.

He's not the only one needing sleep. My schedule is a little thrown off already this week. Jakob's dad had the flu so he came back to me a day early...cut into my big nap of the week that allows me to catch up. No biggie, I'll catch up when I'm retired. And of course, Jakob's way more fun than a nap.

I wanna talk about all the reasons why I'm grateful for my son, there are so many. I had a couple hours scheduled for yesterday to do just that (immediately following my nap). Tonight, it's late and I'm wiped. So, in order to give the topic the attention it deserves, it will have to wait. I'll definitely get to it, I promise.

The singing has stopped, he must be out. Probably right in the middle of the bed. So, I'll be hanging over the edge right next to the alarm clock that goes off at 4am. Lucky for him he's so darn cute.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

November 25, 2007...back in the habit

Holiday weekend...over. I just took a big fat nap, much longer than I had planned and I'm still a little foggy. Most of the Christmas decorations are up and there's only a little bit of a mess to clean up. I should have it all wrapped up before Jakob comes home on Tuesday. Big task...and as always, I wonder why the heck I put myself through it every year. And then I take a look at how pretty the house looks and I remember why. Taking it all down is another story...one room never got taken down last year so it was ready to go for this year. Perfect!!

Jakob handled the crowd in the house pretty well. Granted, he was on the computer most of the time but he was happy. The only time he got upset was when I'd try to get him off the computer. I'd get the scream, stomping of the feet and a whack in the mouth. Love the looks I get from others when he smacks me...have to explain the no reacting thing. I think some people think I'm nuts...but that's nothing new.

We did have a little trouble at Thanksgiving dinner. He went to his dad's in the morning for a little while and he came home right as we were sitting down for dinner. His routine is...he goes to his dad's and from there, he goes to school. So if they go anywhere other than school, he gets thrown out-of-whack and gets upset. So, he was upset. While everyone else was enjoying some very moist turkey, I was taking a walk around the block...under-dressed and cold. Very cold. Bummer...I really wanted him to sit and eat with us but that wasn't happening. He opted for the computer instead. He went to his dad's Friday morning too...and I picked him up and brought him home. That went smooth as silk. Routines are still a pretty big thing.

With all the commotion around the holiday, I'm a little behind on my "Jenn Time" and I've fallen a little behind on my reading. I've been reading the same book for 2 weeks...that's way off schedule. I'll have some catching up to do this week. I'm going on a trip next week and have some stuff I gotta get read before I go...studying to do. I'll be spending a week immersed in Autism stuff...can't wait...details coming soon. Aunt Sandy is going with me so my Mom is coming to stay with Jakob. He just loves his Grandma and they're gonna have a ball, they always do. I never mind leaving town if Grandma's coming to stay. It's great for the both of them to have the time together.

I'm getting a little ansy waiting for the New Year...New Approach to Autism. I wanna get started NOW! But I'm doing all that I can...keep him happy, get the basement ready, get everybody ready. After next week, I'll be going full speed ahead with the preparations. It's gonna be good and it's gonna be fun.

I'm going to get my wits about me and tomorrow, I'll share some of the things in my life that I'm thankful and grateful for this holiday season. An attitude of gratitude...which will make all the difference in the world...for Jakob, and for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007...wine

Well, the timer wasn't a big hit. But there's hope...he didn't throw it! I'm thrilled.

I've certainly had my challenges with the computer but it's been nice to hear from his therapists that he's been doing great for them. I've always said that if he's gonna give somebody a hard time, I prefer it be me. Even though it doesn't seem fair. I laid in bed for 6 months carrying that child and I birthed him. I'll be sure to remind him of that when he's older. I'm a mom, that's my job.

Jakob is off school for the next 5 days...that's a long break. Not much therapy either with the holiday. I'm gonna have to make sure he gets enough sensory activity...lots of jumping, swinging and crashing. The basement is gonna see a lot of action. I'm in the process of a little basement remodeling...it's gonna be fantastic. The playroom I created using material for walls and a ceiling is getting done right. We'll be spending a lot of time down there in the next few months and it will be the perfect environment for all we'll be doing with him. I'm super looking forward to it.

This weekend will be interesting. When it gets a little chaos-y and there's tons of activity, it's tough to keep up with Jakob and explain why he's doing whatever it is that he's doing to everyone who doesn't understand. Wish me luck and recommend a great chardonnay...

Monday, November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007...30 minutes

Well, 3 trees are up...4 more to go. I'm getting more into it. Jakob watched me work on the big one...the 12-footer. I'm convinced he thinks I'm nuts. He just looks at this huge thing and locates the plug so he can turn off the lights. He thinks that's pretty darn funny. I just shake my head. But of course, not in front of him. Any reaction is re-inforcement and I certainly don't want to re-inforce the lights being turned off.

The timer came today!! What a treat that's gonna be. I'm looking forward to giving it a shot. He's been in the mood for throwing things lately. He threw one of his vibrating toys right at the tv the other day. I wonder if he'll throw the timer...and in what direction. Every day is an adventure.

One thing Autism moms never get enough of is alone, quiet time. I know that I went without it for years. Gotta quiet the mind, pull it together and hear my own thoughts. When things were so crazy, there just weren't enough hours in the day. All there was time for was a shower, work, chase a kid around and try to figure out what made him tick. It's amazing what just a half an hour of peace can do for the soul. I make sure I get at least a half an hour a day. I can see yoga in my future...

My parents get here tomorrow and my dear friend, Stacey arrives Wednesday. It'll be a houseful on Thanksgiving. It can get a little hectic so I'm gonna have to come up with a gameplan of activities for Jakob. I want him to be happy and have fun...preferably without Starfall.com. So much of it depends on how everyone reacts to him. Hopefully, everyone will play nice and Jakob will have a great holiday. When he's happy and having fun, so is everybody else.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

November 18, 2007...now

The timer gets here tomorrow...I can't wait. The little turkey butt was up at 4:30 this morning wanting the computer. I was able to keep him entertained for about an hour but that was all the patience he had in him. I'll be on the lookout for UPS tomorrow and I may even kiss the delivery guy. Luckily, UPS guys are usually pretty cute.

I've begun the Christmas decorating and I have too much stuff. It's rediculous. I'm not as into it as I used to be...too many other things going on that I need and want to do. But I'm torn...I do love it when the house is all decorated. I've found a couple of Jakob's musical decorations...he sure grinned when he saw them. He placed them on either side of the computer and would take short breaks to play with them...but he never stepped away from Starfall...Heaven forbid.

We're in this holding pattern as I get everything ready for the New Year, New Approach to Autism. There's so much I want to try with him but everything's gotta be in place first. I'm getting ansy. Luckily, we're about to have a house-full for Thanksgiving and that will keep us busy. I'm looking forward to it, it's nice being surrounded by people who dig Jakob.

The self-healing is coming along...although I still have my moments. That's when I remind myself of something that is true for all of us...it's not my fault, but it is my responsibilty. And responsibility simply means my ability to respond. So, I check how I'm responding, decide if that's the way I really want to be responding and if it's not, I fix it.

There's nothing I can do about the past and the only way to affect the future is how I respond now. All the power is in now. Now, now, now. And right now, if I want to be productive tonight and make it through Desperate Housewives, I need a nap...NOW.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007...focus

Somebody had a rough day at school. I could see it in his eyes...he was pooped. Computer issues...shocker.

Of course, the first thing he wanted when we got home was the computer and he looked so darn sad, I gave it to him. It was pretty non-stop for 2 hours.

After he got it out of his system, we had a fabulous evening. We watched a nursery rhyme video and he was hysterical. We were singing and dancing and he kept giving me unsolicited hugs and kisses. We had fun. He was giggling a lot and that was nice to see. All things considered, it was a pretty quick recovery time from the squealing and stomping I witnessed when we first got home.

We have a little microphone toy and a mirror that we can record our voices into and we were singing along with all the nursery rhymes. We have some work to do on the pronunciation but the kid's got rhythm...impressive. So frickin' cute.

I've started flipping through the bazillion catalogs I've gotten in the mail looking at potential Christmas gifts. I just don't know what to get him, I really don't. It sure seems like he already has everything from that period of time when I bought everything there was available. All the new stuff I see involves batteries and we're going off those, so...I don't know. In all honesty, I'm probably just out of practice. I haven't been doing a lot of shopping lately. I gave up credit cards in July. I'll just keep looking.

Focus, focus, focus. That's what I'm doing. Be in the moment, live in the now, be present. It's so important not to let any of the silly stuff from other parts of my day seep into my time with Jakob. I catch myself thinking about crap that has nothing to do with where I'm at and what I'm doing. It's easy to let the mind wander. Gotta focus...bring it back. Get in the zone. I'm getting better at it every day.

It really is a no-brainer, there's no part of my day or my life that even comes close to comparing to the time I spend with Jakob. He's the best. So when I'm with the best, I need to enjoy it.

And tonight, I did. Big time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 14, 2007...no problem

Welcome back, computer!!

Shortly after I posted yesterday's journal entry, Jakob came up the stairs and immediately asked for it. Not much I could do, he knows I have it. So, the computer is still an issue.

Somewhere in this house I have a timer. Couldn't find the darn thing so I ordered another one. It was the first time I used a 1-800 number in a long time. I would've loved to have ordered it online but my computer is no longer mine. The timer will be here Monday and I'll be setting time limits on his computer usage. Computer + Autism = Bad Idea. At least he's familiar with time limits and even if he doesn't like it, he'll get used to it. But there is coming a day soon, when there will be no computer use at all...as soon as I have all my ducks in a row...new year, new approach.

For now, it's a minor battle. A battle I've been winning every time and I love that. I mean, I'm fair. I let him play with it for plenty of time before I start to shut him down. Tonight, we shut it down twice...once for a bath and once for bed. Each time, I gave him sufficient warning that the end was near and he let me know that he wasn't pleased...usually with a squeal and a swipe across my mouth. He does this thing where he puts his hand over my mouth and wipes it...usually pretty hard. He'll continue with the swiping then throw in a stomping of the feet with squeals and an occasional drop to the knees. Once in awhile, I'll get a laying down on the back with stomping feet. That one is always cute.

No big deal...as long as I don't react. That's the key, ya know...no reaction. A reaction is exactly what he's looking for and if he gets it, the drama will continue. No reaction=no more drama. And when I say no reaction, I mean no telling him "no", no dirty looks, no trying to stop the swiping, no grabbing his hands to make him stop, no laughter...I give him nothing. I'm a rock. The only thing I'll do is offer him up a new activity...tonight is was bath and upstairs movie. He always comes around, even if it takes a couple of minutes. I really enjoy the look on his face when he realizes that all he's trying ain't working. It's this "oh, crap, she's got my number. I may as well give in and do what she wants. It'll be fun too." I always make sure to sell the new activity...gotta make it sound like nothing compares to a bath and a movie in bed.

What an "a-ha moment" it has been to realize how every little thing I do has a profound effect on what he does. Same goes for everyone he comes into contact with. And it's the little stuff that makes as much of a difference as the big stuff. That's why the healing of myself has to come first. If I don't have my act together, Jakob won't get his together. And it's more than lead by example...it's "feel" by example. My anxiety feeds his, my frustration feeds his, my anger feeds his.........my patience feeds his, my understanding and compassion feeds his, my love feeds his. From now on, and I have to feel it to my core or else he knows, he's getting as much patience, understanding, compassion and love as possible. I used to think I already did that...and I did to an extent, but I had a long way to go. It's awesome to be learning more every day and getting better at it.

Computer, smacking me in the mouth, spraying water all over the bathroom...no problem. I got it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007...the song

Oh brother...the Dynavox apparently took a tumble...good thing it's under warranty. Big fat crack in the top, left corner...would have been nice if someone would've told me about it. Something like this would've set me off...but not anymore. I'm the calm, cool-headed Jennifer now who simply handles it. We'll get a new one and I'll breathe.

Absolutely no computer problems today! He made it beautifully (so far), he hasn't even asked for it! (maybe because his Dynavox doesn't work..)

He's downstairs doing PT right now so I have a few minutes.

I think he's coming down with a little cold. He's dragging a little and has a runny nose. I've heard a few sneezes too so I've given him some Zicam. We're at the time of the year for chapped lips too...except it's never his lips that are chapped. It's the skin right under his lips. He lets me put some Burt's Bees on it, then he licks it and makes a nasty face. I guess it doesn't taste very good but he lets me do it. That alone is a wonderful thing. I remember the days when I'd have to hold him down to do anything to him. He's become much more trusting.

He's pretty great with his supplements and the anti-fungal too. We actually give him his supplements in prune juice (eww) and he takes it like a champ. I'm so proud. We're gonna have to get some blood work done soon...I can only hope that goes well (I'm thinking positively).

As we gear up for a new year and a new approach to Autism, I'm gonna spend a lot of time observing Jakob. To really do that, it takes keen eyes and ears. Like tonight, there's a song he's singing...a definite specific song. It took a couple of times to figure out since the words are uninteligible...and it's a song from freakin' starfall.com. For cryin' out loud. I can totally hear the "starfall bus" part from the chorus. What a trip.

I'm just gonna follow him around, watch what he does and listen to what he says. Every opportunity I get to play with him, I'll take but he's in the lead. Now that's a new concept...Jakob's in charge. Right.

It's a heckuva lotta fun now, getting into his head since his head is a pretty content place these days. It isn't filled with anger, fear and frustration like it used to be. I'll keep ya posted on what I see and hear. For today, it's "starfall bus"...catchy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007...I'm learning

Jakob really loves the computer...a lot. It's a bit of a conundrom. Some of the things he's doing on starfall.com are educational...BUT, what Jakob needs more than anything is to work on language and connecting with other people. He ain't getting much of that if his face is buried in the computer. The compuer is gonna have to go.

Hopefully, that transition won't be too tough. I've been out of town for a few days and he's been without it. I hear he gave Grandma a little bit of grief, dragging her all over the house and checking all of my hiding places for it. But he recovered from the disappointment and played with her instead. We'll see what happens when I pick him up from school tomorrow. The challenge is gonna be...how am I gonna check my e-mail or write journal entries?? I guess I'll just have to be out-of-touch after 3:30pm...oh well, just hanging with him is more fun anyway. I can write in the afternoon.

The healing of myself is coming along beautifully...too bad it's not an overnight thing. But that's ok. I'm enjoying this learning process, I'm an enthusiatic student again. And the more I learn, the more I learn I need to learn. And I'll learn it...and then learn some more.

I just had an AMAZING weekend where I learned a lot. My quest that will lead me to opening the door for Jakob continued. The door that, if he chooses, he can walk through and join us in our world. It's ultimately up to him, I just have to open the door.

And open that door, I will. I know it. It feels good to have that confidence.

It's too tough for me to explain right now. I'm still processing all the information. But there will come a time when I'll be able to share what I'm learning with every parent living with Autism.
In the meantime, I'll keep sharing bits and pieces of what I'm doing...

And today, my number one priority is to find a place to hide the computer. I'm gonna have to get rid of all electronic toys too. They gotta go. No human being can compete with a toy that lights up, makes noises or plays music. Forget about it. I'm not gonna get rid of everything all at once though, that's just mean. My goal is to have him off all the stuff by January. A new year, a new way of living with Autism...and it's going to be so much fun for everybody, especially Jakob!

I can't wait!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November 6, 2007...the first step

Healing myself. Sounds like a party. But so far, it has been. I'm feeling better every day and more and more like the girl who laughed all the time. I'm a work in progress and so far, I like it. A lot.

Probably, the biggest lesson I've learned about Jakob is he's sensitive to more than certain foods, grocery stores and restaurants. He's sensitve to the moods of the people around him. Super-sensitive. No matter how hard I try to fake it, if I'm annoyed, agitated, frustrated or impatient, he knows it. And it absolutely, undeniably affects him. He feels more than he sees.

So that means I can never be annoyed, agitated, frustrated or impatient. Simple enough...uh huh.

It's a process and it's a choice. I can choose to feel however I want to no matter what the situation is. They're my feelings and I'm the only one responsible for them. There is no one else to blame for my feelings.

And I'm not a victim. Neither is Jakob. We are survivors and thrivers.

Attitude is everything and my attitude is improving every day.

We're off to a pretty good start.

Monday, November 05, 2007

November 5, 2007...getting clearer

As Jakob's "differences" continued to become more and more apparent, I continued my own personal downward sprial. It was unavoidable.

In order for me to understand why he was the way he was, I had to get into his head. I had to see what he saw and feel what he felt. It was the only way to help him.

The whole way I looked at the world changed. Jakob was in pain, he was suffering, he was frustrated and angry. I'd never felt any of that my whole life so the only way that I could ease his pain was to experience the way he was feeling and look for ways to make it better.

The process took over every aspect of my life. I had to feel it every second of every day to really get a handle on it. I had to live through him. And I did.

The old Jenn was completely lost and confused as the my "Inner Jakob" took over.

I guess that's why it's all such a blur...I was too close to it to see it.

The memories that I do have are the moments when I was trying to figure it out. Why certain things made him stim, what environments were just intolerable, what people did to cause him to shut down. It got to a point where I could spot a potential issue from a mile away and I did everything I could to avoid it.

Where I got myself in trouble was when I reacted to my own insecurities and self-doubt. Unfortunately, that happened quite a bit. From the doctor that told me that vaccinations were harmless to therapists who used methods that caused him additional anguish in their attempts to help to friends and family members. Instead of following my own gut instincts, I would listen to them since they were the experts. When in fact, I was the expert. He was living inside of me.

I get it now. It's becoming more and more clear to me every day and I know what I have to do.

First and foremost, I have to heal myself.

Then, along with other people who love Jakob, I will heal Jakob.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

November 4, 2007...it's blurry

We got moved into the new house and I hoped that things would miraculously improve. Maybe there were just too many changes in our lives and once we got into the house and settled, everything would calm down. Maybe I was just a nervous nelly and seeing things that weren't really there. I always did have a pretty active imagination so maybe I was just imagining things that weren't abnormal at all. And I did trust everyone that was telling me that he was fine and honestly, I liked hearing that.

It's funny. I can vividly remember so may times in my life from a very young age, through high school, college, my first few years in radio, my wedding. But those first few years with Jakob are a different story. I remember panic attacks, uncontrollable crying (his and mine) and an overall feeling of helplessness but that's pretty much it. That time period seems more like an out-of-body experience. I wasn't really there. I mean, I couldn't have been. I was a happy, fun-loving, positive-thinking girl with not a worry in the world...not the girl that was living in the new house with Jakob. That girl was anything but in control. That girl was lost. And that girl wasn't having any fun at all. I certainly tried but it sure seemed like nothing was going as planned.

I had never known stress like that, the kind that never lets up. Every waking moment was filled with anxiety and I wasn't sleeping much. Jakob would wake up in the middle of the night and be up for hours. The only thing that kept him happy were Baby Einstein movies so we owned the entire library.

I've never done well with sleep deprivation and I was definitely suffering from it. Work was hard, home was hard, everything was hard. I kept up with the medication.

The bickering between his dad and me kept getting worse and worse. We didn't agree on anything...especially anything to do with Jakob or money. I knew the conflict surrounding Jakob had to be affecting him so I tried not to fight in front of him. But we were fighting all the time, so it was hard to shield him from it. Even when we weren't arguing, you could still cut the tension with a knife. If he didn't hear it, he had to feel it.

Since Jakob was only 18 months old when we moved into the house, we were still rationalizing all his different behaviors. He wasn't talking yet, but the doctor said not to worry until he was 2. Whenever we'd try to take him somewhere and he'd freak out, we'd write it off to he's hungry or tired. When he ignored other kids, we said that he just wasn't used to being around other kids. When he'd ignore adults, we figured he was just picky and if he didn't take any interest in them then they weren't doing anything interesting.

I kept up with all my research, still leaning toward Autism but at the time, all the research said that it usually didn't get diagnosed until the age of 3. I was playing the waiting game and hoping all the red flags would go away.

Looking back, I'm pretty proud that I made it through as well as I did.

I don't beat myself up for that time anymore. I was absolutely doing the best that I could. I was in new territory. I was still using the old problem-solving skills. This was just a whole new kind of problem and the answers weren't coming as fast as I wanted them to. And the problem was of a completely different nature. There was something wrong with my child and I believed it was my fault. Tough pill to swallow. But every waking hour, I was doing the best that I could...and I knew Jakob was doing his best too.

Friday, November 02, 2007

November 2, 2007...big red flags

The first 6 months in Cincinnati were rough. Jakob was mobile and getting into everything. He liked to run...just run. Not toward anything and not away from anything...just run.

There were several incidents during that first 6 months that I'll never forget. I had gotten him the cutest little lion costume for Halloween. It was a simple pullover number with a hood that had a mane around the face. I put that on him and he was pissed. He wanted absolutely no part of it. He kept trying to pull it off his head. I took him up the street to a friend's house to show them how cute my kid was and he screamed like nothing I'd ever seen. I think we scared the daylights out of them. We stayed just a couple of minutes and had to take him home. After I got the costume off, he calmed down a little but remained angry for awhile. Ya know how when a little person is really mad and crying, they look right at you to make sure you know that you're the one that's causing all their misery? That wasn't Jakob. He looked everywhere but right at me. It was as if he wasn't looking at anything at all. It was a complete loss of all control. It was scary.

We had enrolled him in Gymboree classes. There were probably about 10 kids in the class all around his age. The other kids loved to run around, climb on things, play with toys and participate in circle time. They took an interest in the other kids and laughed a lot. Jakob was a different story. He was a runner...he just ran back and forth. He could've cared less about anybody or any of the activities. We'd try to get him to hang out in the circle and sing with everybody but he just wanted to run. We'd chase him down and drag him back to the circle. Then he'd get up and run again. The only thing he really enjoyed was the parachute and of course, running all over the place. He never made eye contact with anybody and didn't answer to his name. I don't think he could've picked me out of a crowd. He'd walk up to any woman with blond hair and want to be picked up. That was especially hard on me...furthering my belief that I was such a terrible mom that my kid didn't even know what I looked like and that I obviously wasn't spending enough time with him. Guilt with a capitol "G".

The big one happened in December. This was the day that I couldn't come up with an explanation for why he was doing what he was doing. We had taken him to a wedding in Columbus. He was ok until we got to the church. Before the ceremony began, there were trumpets. Those trumpets startled the daylights out of him and he looked terrified. The screaming began and didn't stop until we got home. We took turns watching him in a hotel room at the reception. Every time we'd try to bring him into the ballroom, the screaming started all over again. The lights, the music, all the people...it was just more than he could take. It was a long day...a very long day and I was feeling what people were thinking. It was a combination of "don't you have any control over your kid" and "there's something not right with that child". A look that I've gotten used to over the years.

A new job, looking for a new house and looking for answers about Jakob consumed every day. I didn't sleep much and I was feeling pretty lost. The pediatrician wasn't any help, telling me that he was fine and that vaccinations were safe.

I would ask people around me what they thought might be going on and they would all say not to worry. Yeah, right. If only I had followed my mother's intuition and trusted in it. But it was too hard to face at the time. The truth was more than I could bare.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November 1, 2007...a transition

Oh yeah...one thing I forgot to mention yesterday...when Jakob was 11 months old, I got fired. That contributed slightly to my level of stress and anxiety...

Luckily, it didn't take long to get a new job and within a few weeks, we were packing to move to Cincinnati.

I thought a new start in a new city may do us some good. A new place, a new home, new friends, new job and we'd be closer to my parents. It sounded like a big adventure and I was excited, nervous and definitely overwhelmed.

At this point, there was little denying that something wasn't right with my little man. I certainly had my suspicions but the doctor kept telling me that he was fine and I had nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, I was constantly searching for answers in every child heathcare book I could find and on the internet. I read about Autism. At that time (2002), there wasn't a lot of great information. There were a handful of warning signs but nothing like there are today. Some of them seemed like they might apply to Jakob but I could always rationalize it and like I said, the doctor said not to worry and I decided to trust the expert. Especially considering that I had already decided that I was an awful mother.

The move took my mind off of it for a little while. I needed the break but a trip to an island with frozen cocktails would have been a better escape than packing up everything, saying goodbye to everybody and trying to figure out where we were going to live.

During all of this, Jakob's dad and I were fighting more than ever. I think some of our friends were happy to see us go just so they wouldn't have to listen to all the bickering anymore.

And I was still fat. I'd lost maybe 35 pounds of the baby weight but considering that I'd gained 80, I still didn't look like myself. And losing weight was my last priority. There was way too much drama already without me having to give up pizza and quarter pounders with cheese. A girl's gotta have some joy in her life for crying out loud.

The truth was there wasn't much joy at all and I knew it. I wasn't happy and that just added fuel to the guilt fire. I was a new mom with a beautiful baby boy and I was miserable. I wanted so badly to enjoy all of the new mommy stuff but nothing ever went like I thought it was supposed to. Everything was a struggle. I loved Jakob so much and he couldn't have cared less if I was even in the room. And nothing I tried seemed to work. Once in awhile, I'd get a smile or a laugh and I cherished those fleeting moments. But for the most part, I felt like a failure. I was a failure at being a mom and I was failing Jakob.