Saturday, May 19, 2018

I Was a Foodie, Now I am Mostly Headache Free

For those of you who don't know, I have suffered with fairly debilitating headaches for several years now. Most of those headaches were migraines, some sinus, and before my hysterectomy (that is its own story) hormonal headaches.

So to say that I have tried everything is an understatement. I have tried many many drugs, botox, daith ear piercing, oils and more oils, chiropractors, neurologists, massages, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, and hydration (although that one for sure does make a difference).

Some of these things worked for awhile, or did a little to ease my suffering, but nothing seemed to keep me from getting headaches long term and it felt like a mask not a cure. I could manage them okay if I got to them before they became too bad, but overall I was getting one to two headaches a week, some of them being bad enough that Flavio would have to stay home from work to take care of the kids.

This just wasn't working for us.

So I kept learning, reading, and trying knew things. For about two years I was getting headaches that literally sent me to the hospital, I would wake up with them and it felt like my head was going to explode, I would vomit non stop until the doctors gave me a cocktail of meds that knocked me out. This kind of headache happened once or twice a month for two years and it truly was disrupting our lives. No drugs or oils were making any dent in the pain and I was desperate.

That is when I decided to keep a food journal. I had started to read about how food can trigger headaches, even though NO doctor had told me this and instead just kept upping my meds.

I soon found out that those terrible headaches correlated with me eating strawberries. :(



I stopped eating them.

And from that moment on, I didn't have any more of those horrific headaches.

Fast forward three years and I was still having pretty bad headaches, nothing that was taking me to the hospital, but bad enough that it was keeping me down and away from hanging out with my family.

I started the food journal again.

It took me another year to finally see everything that caused these headaches.

So far I have found that I can't eat any kind of berry (none), including tomatoes and peppers. I can't eat dark chocolate, walnuts, or coconut and I can't have avocados or cheddar cheese or any nitrate meat, such as hotdogs or pepperoni.

And now that I don't eat these foods anymore, my headaches have decreased dramatically! I have maybe one or two headaches a month and they are very manageable.

It has been life changing.

I hope that this helps any of you who are struggling with headaches. As you can see, most of what I am allergic to, is healthy! It does make going out tricky and I can't always eat what my family is eating...but the trade off is worth it!

Keeping a food journal changed my life and has helped me be a lot more pain free :)

Hugs!
Niki

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How I Know Lord Voldemort has Reactive Attachment Disorder

I am a Harry Potter fan and I find myself listening to these wonderful books regularly while I clean or do gardening. These books are full of imagination and mystery. They make you a part of the story and sometimes I find myself wishing I could conjure up the spell that cleaned my house from top to bottom or knew how to take the food in my pantry and "poof" make it into something delicious. 

But, alas, I am only a muggle and have no such ability.

However, in the world of magic, I do believe I could have helped stop Lord Voldemort from becoming who he was and helped him be a self-loving, caring, Tom Riddle. 

Not even magic could take care of that.

So why in the world would I make the comparison of Lord Voldemort to a child like my L? Voldemort is cruel and down right evil. He kills people for his own power and seems to not have a caring bone in his body. He is a bully and a manipulator, a liar and a thief. As a young student at Hogwarts he charmed the teachers masterfully, and even fooled the beloved Dumbledore, as he was convinced Tom was just a child who needed his direction and support. Dumbledore thought that the cruel nature that Tom had been accused of at the orphanage would change as soon as he was under the Hogwart's roof. 

Tom was just a child, for heaven's sake, how could he really be that broken?

But Tom was, wasn't he.

Tom's mother wasn't able to show him love once her spell bound husband left her. She withered away and died shortly after Tom was born. Tom had in a sense been abandoned the moment his father had left. Tom was born broken. 

Broken can be seen like a truly negative term, but I see it as one who has been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order, by no fault of their own.

But this does not mean something once broken cannot be mended, if done right. 

Tom was brought to a school with many people who became his friends, even his teachers showed great respect to him for his abilities, he was in a sense loved at the school. So why did this not fix him? Why did he not change as Dumbledore thought he would?

Because Tom was never properly mended. 

Tom's deep feelings of abandonment and hate for a father who left him were his driving force, his only knowledge of who he was. No matter how many peers or teachers told him he was worth more than what he saw in himself, he didn't truly believe them. His deep hate for himself stemmed from the very source that tore him apart. And yes, while Tom was a child this was hard to see, but children do grow up and once they do, trying to change them is a mighty hard thing to come by. 

I know without a doubt that Lord Voldemort had Reactive Attachment Disorder or Disassociative Trauma Disorder. Tom Riddle was born with trauma, just as my L was. 

The definition for RAD is this: 


Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is one of the few psychological disorders that can be applied to infants 
(Zeanah, 1996).
Children affected by RAD exhibit an inability to form normal relationships with other people as well as impaired social development and sociopathic behaviors due to the absence of secure attachment formation early in life 
(Wilson, 2001).

So while the amazing Harry Potter, by all rights had his own trauma, he was loved while in the womb and cared for by his mother during his first year of life. This truly made all the difference for him, although he does struggle to fit in and has a harder time trusting even his dearest friends. However, while Tom was never abused or physically hurt in any way, his lack of the feelings of love within the womb and feelings of abandonment by his father and the death of his mother, made him who he was. His brain was formed in such a way that he wasn't able to care about anyone, he didn't feel bad when he killed someone, and he truly believed that control or power thwarted any real and loving relationship.

While I pray that my L will never turn into someone like Lord Voldemort or those broken young men who take pleasure in their devastating shootings, I know that it is not out of the realm of possibility. These broken children need our help. They need to not be overlooked by the system and not be cast aside, in hopes that they will grow out of it. If something is broken and not repaired properly or even at all, the break becomes more apparent and less repairable as it ages. But when we repair the break early on, the break can become that person's strongest point. I have seen it with children like my L who receive the right kind of help, the right kind of therapy and repair. They become loving and very caring people who end up doing a lot of good in the world.

Their break becomes about what they have overcome, rather than their downfall.

Lots of love,
Niki

Friday, January 5, 2018

When Satan Whispers That I Can't

I think we have all had the experience where we were given the answer to a prayer where we knew we were sure we should and could do something.  Whether it was becoming a wife or a husband, a mom or a dad, getting a new job, moving, getting a new calling in your church, getting a degree, and so on...and then, feeling shortly afterward that you are in no way able or qualified to do this in any way shape or form.

This is where I have sat these past few weeks about adopting another child.

I have been frozen in fear.

It took me until today, until really truly talking with my Father in Heaven for awhile to realize that satan, too, knows that this precious baby needs to come to us and that he doesn't want this child here.  He doesn't want us to be happy or for this child to have a family.  He doesn't want any family to be happy or healthy.  He doesn't want people to succeed in what is good.  He doesn't want people to do what is right or true.  He doesn't want anyone to feel happy or to follow what God would have them do and so he whispers to us that we can't.  He whispers to us that we aren't good enough, that we aren't smart enough, that we aren't pretty enough, or worth enough. He whispers to us that others will always do better, be better, look better, and are better than us.

And I am wondering, why are we listening to him?

God loves us right now.  Right this very minute.  He loves us with all our flaws, our sins, our deepest and darkest secrets.  He loves every single part of us.

And yet, we resist Him.

This New Year, I am going to do better at praying more earnestly and at seeing myself as God sees me, at serving others, at loving others as God loves them.

I am choosing God this year. He knows that I can do all that He asks of me.  He believes in me and He believes in you.  Let's trust in Him more this year and ignore the whispers of the one who only wishes us harm.

Lots of love to all of you.

Niki

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

L is nine.

Today is my L's birthday.



She is nine.

Nine years ago today we had no idea she even existed.  Nine years ago this week we had just been through another failed adoption that left my heart broke in half.  Nine years ago today, my L was left alone in a hospital with no one to claim her, no one to love on her, no one to celebrate her birth.

And this just added to her already broken mind and heart.

As an infant she had no one, we wouldn't know about her until she was a week old and then we wouldn't be able to meet her for another five days.

She was eleven days old when we took her in our arms.  She had already been hurt in the womb, then left at the hospital, given to a foster family, then given to us.  In eleven days my L had felt the break from her birth-mom, the nurses, her foster mom, and finally she was placed with me.



My L was already on a course of attachment problems, and we didn't understand what she had suffered.

****

I love birthdays.  I love celebrating those I love on their birthday.  I love spending time with them, giving them gifts, letting them know they are loved.


I want you to imagine your deepest fear.  Is it spiders, heights, loss, darkness, large crowds, speaking, or even death?  Now I want you to imagine that every birthday those who cared for you most made you experience this fear, they pushed it upon you and they celebrated and had fun the whole time you sunk into a deep darkness, into total anxiety, into a swallowing hell of fear.

That is where L goes when our love is poured upon her.  L's greatest fear is love, as love is no where near controllable.  Her need for control is as strong as her need for water, for food, for air.

This may seem ridiculous, but so are most fears.  When someone screams bloody murder over a tiny, little spider, that isn't even poisonous, it seems ridiculous right?  Or when someone can't go up an elevator or up a large flight of stairs due to their horrific fear of heights...the rest of us can't understand.

But I promise, no matter of talking, showing charts of safety, or forcing will help that person overcome those fears in just one day.

It takes years, maybe even a lifetime of baby steps of little doses of this act for them to hopefully overcome this fear.

That is where my L is.  She literally thinks she will die if she allows us to show her love.  She truly goes into complete and total anxiety driven fear when I do anything that resembles too much love.

My heart aches that I don't get to make cute little invitations to her birthday party, my heart breaks that even singing to her will cause her to fold up inside and regress from all her progress.  It destroys every part of me that we can't celebrate her the way I want to, they way a mother should be able to.

Each birthday she has, is a reminder that my love, that no one's love will ever be enough to heal her, to console her, to bring her joy.

She is literally wasting away her childhood and all we can do is wait, wait for her fear to subside through therapy, wait for her to desire more, to desire to trust, to desire to feel this kind of love.

We love you our little L, more than we can show you.

We are waiting, our precious L for that day you will want to run into our arms and feel completely safe and happy because of our love will finally be a source of light and joy, rather than a source of pain and fear.

We pray every day for that day to come.

Happy Birthday, our dear L.

With love,
Mommy and Daddy


****

I want to add, per L's amazing school director, that what we are doing for L is how we show our true love for her.  We don't give her the big party or any kind of big celebration, we give her what she can handle today, we hold back our desire to give her more than she can take.  We keep her birthday simple, but I can't tell you how perfect that is for her right now.

I simply told her, Happy Birthday this morning and she beamed from all angles.  That is how much she can handle right now, a simple and predictable day, with the ever so small addition of, Happy Birthday.  The stress from a party, from others laughing and cheering, the unpredictable aspects of fire and candles and too many presents sends her over the edge.

Just as putting a person afraid of spiders into a room full of spiders would be too much, and then singing, Happy Birthday and expecting them to be happy about it. :/

So we will go against the world's view of showing love and give her the amount of love that is best for her, the amount of love that won't spin her into darkness and a fit of rage, the amount of love that she needs at this very moment so that she will one day be able to accept the total amount of love we want to so badly give her.

Hugs!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'm not as excited as I should be...so please be patient with me.

(this post is very honest and not very heart warming, just a warning) 
💕

Last week we announced the adoption journey our family will be taking.

We were not planning to add another little one to our bunch, but God let us know that we aren't quite finished. 🙈

But now I am an emotional wreck. 😜

For those who have suffered infertility, adoption failure, or miscarriage, you will completely understand what I mean when I say, as soon as I knew there was another baby that needed to come to us, was the exact moment I fell in love, not when I got pregnant or when we received the baby, it was the moment I knew the baby existed.

And it has happened that way each and every time.

I am already emotionally involved, attached, hopeful, joyful, scared out of my mind, and so worried some days, it literally makes me sick.

I've had so many people these many years tell me to, "just adopt" when our IVF's failed.

If only they knew how difficult it is to do so.

To want something so badly and have zero control over when or if it happens is one of life's more difficult lessons.

Adoption is no exception.

Imagine getting pregnant, and you are able to get past the first 12 weeks, everything is well with the baby, you can't wait for the baby to come, you have names and a room all ready, you love this baby fiercely, and yet, when you have the baby you don't know for sure they will be yours to keep.

Now, I know, biologically, this baby isn't mine.  They are not growing in my body, but I will tell you that maternal love does not have anything to do with biology...that love is real and it starts the day you start your adoption paper work.

That love continues after emails and phone calls and pictures are sent.  That love grows as the baby's due date approaches and you have names picked out.  That love intensifies when you make plans to meet and be there for the delivery, and then when they place this precious baby in your arms, all you can do is pray, pray that this sweet birthmother won't change her mind, that her mom or boyfriend won't step in and take over, you pray that this little angel will know how much he/she is loved.

You pray they will be yours.

We lost three babies to adoption failures, two were exceptionally hard.

And I will tell you right now, it is fall on your knees heartbreaking hard.  It is cry your eyes out, slam your fists on the floor hard.

You grieve for a child that never died.  You grieve for their love, their life, their future, you grieve for the carseat that sits empty.  You grieve as though that child had died, and yet, you know they are still alive somewhere without you. You pray they are happy and healthy.  You pray that they are being taken care of and given every opportunity to succeed.  You pray that you can make it through a day, a week, a month knowing they will never be yours.

And you do this alone.  You are not met with flowers or dinners or help with your little ones.

No one comes to visit or cry with you.

Life goes on, and very well-meaning people see it more as bad luck and tell you maybe the next one will be yours, as if you were shopping for a car or a house.

I am here to tell you, it is a true and heart-wrenching loss, and even when you do receive that next one, you never forget the ones you lost.

Never.

You never forget the what-ifs, the maybes, the hurt.

So if you see me and talk to me and I'm not as joyful or excited as you think I should be about this journey, please understand that I've walked this road many times.

The road to adoption, every time, is in darkness.

Every step is a step forward into an unknown of hope and pain, joy and fear.

Every time I dream or plan or get excited about having this little one in my arms, I have to stop myself, to protect myself, to keep myself sane and moving forward in the present.

This is not a path I chose, but I trust God, and I have faith He will not let me down.  I have faith that we will find that beautiful spirit that I know needs to be with us.

However, in the end, that does not guarantee we will bring that baby home, and because of that one fact, I must not get too excited, I must not make too many plans.  I have to protect myself from the potential and real loss that comes with every adoption.


As, either I or his/her birthmother will lose their baby.


With love,
Niki





Friday, September 29, 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words

I've had a few people still wonder how in the world L could have anything wrong with her.  They only see a very obedient, shy, seemingly sweet natured girl.

People still wonder if I am making this all up.

We were able to take some family photos last night, and while I had a dear friend of mine take the family shots, I took the individual ones of each of my children.

In doing so, I was able to take a picture, without L realizing it (as I didn't prepare her first) that shows truly how she looks at me nearly even minute of every day.

I have had people ask me to show them her rages, her violent side, but I struggle to do so, as I don't want to vilify her.  If you saw what we saw, you may not accept her when she heals, you may not want your children to play with her, or invite her to your child's birthday party.  I want the past to be the past with our L.

She is making improvements still.  She is moving forward and trying to overcome this harrowing disorder with the right help from our therapist and her amazing school.

She is healing.

However, that doesn't mean she loves me.  She simply doesn't want me in her life and we are working to help her see that being loved is not life threatening.

Children with RAD literally feel that love will kill them.

So they fight.

They fight hard.

And only those closest to them will ever feel their wrath.


I want to share these two photos, just to give you an idea of what I, her nurturing enemy or mother, sees every day.  I want you to see how quickly she can go from one child to another.  I want you to hopefully see that we are not making this up, we are not seeking attention, we are not in any way, harming our child.

We love our L with a deep love, one that goes beyond this life.  We love her, even though she does not love us.  We care for her, even when she throws that care in our face.  We hope for her, even when some days it feels there is no hope left.

Here is what I see every day, every morning when I greet her, every afternoon when I pick her up, every time I reach out to her, this is her face, this is her reality:

Here is what she did not two seconds later when I told her to smile for the camera. This is what EVERYONE else gets, this is the greeting friends and family get, this is what she shows the world:



This beautiful girl truly has a mental disorder, and even though you may not see it...it is there.  Her world is dark and lonely and we are gently chipping at the cracks to let out her light.  We have to chip slowly and carefully as not to crack her further...but I promise every decision, every step forward or back is for her.




With love,
Niki

Friday, September 1, 2017

I Choose Hope

As I begin this blog post, I am overwhelmed with the notion that I am truly blessed with an abundant and beautiful life.

I am grateful for my blessings.

And, I am grateful for my trials.

I remember a talk given by a man who I truly love and look up to, Elder Henry B. Eyring, a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called, Mountains to Climb.

In this talk he literally tells us that we can and should be thankful for our trials.

When I first heard this, I was taken-a-back as he opened with this statement:

"I heard President Spencer W. Kimball, in a session of conference, ask that God would give him mountains to climb. He said: “There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.”
My heart was stirred, knowing, as I did, some of the challenges and adversity he had already faced. I felt a desire to be more like him, a valiant servant of God. So one night I prayed for a test to prove my courage. I can remember it vividly. In the evening I knelt in my bedroom with a faith that seemed almost to fill my heart to bursting."
I honestly thought, "How crazy! Why would anyone pray for more trials?"

As I journey through this trial of having a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and as many do not understand or still do not believe our truly heart-wrenching and emotionally and spiritually depleting life, I will honestly say that I am still not able to ask for any more mountains to climb. ;)

The mountain I am on is enough, thank you.

However, on this mountain, I have learned that I can either fall into a deep darkness of hurt and fear, which I have many times...

OR

...I can look to my Savior and choose hope.

L's school is called, New Hope Academy for this very reason.  They teach us and help us on our journey, guiding us up the steepest of hills, coaxing us to CHOOSE HOPE over fear.


And I can tell you right now, it's working.


These past few months have been an awaking for me.  While the trial of RAD is just as hard and painful to navigate through as L gets older and is trying knew and sometimes difficult ways to hurt me or my family...we have also seen some significant improvements.

Imagine a child you love throwing themselves around her room, hitting her head on walls and doors, kicking the door until she takes it off it's hinges, kicking and hitting you, spitting on you, saying horrific things about you, throwing food at you, ripping apart her clothes or bedding, pulling down curtains and any decor in her room, taking toys or other items in her room and throwing them at you or making weapons to hurt you, and screaming at the top of her lungs how much she hates you.

Now imagine your child doing this almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day and nothing you say or do can calm her down for hours.

This is what our L did for nearly seven years.


And now she doesn't.  


We have gone three entire months without a full-blown rage.

Three months!


She is truly making progress in her healing!


Seven years of climbing this mountain and I can finally see the top!


It has been seven years of some of the darkest, most painful days of my life.  Lower than our infertility journey, lower than our failed adoptions, lower than our failed IVF trials, lower than losing a loved one (not including a child, parent, spouse, or sibling), and even lower than my experience of being sexually abused.  

I have never experienced more pain, more loss, more fear, more loneliness, more desire to give up, or more struggle in my faith than I have these past seven years.

But as Elder Eyring stated, that as I have climbed this mountain, I have changed, I have gained courage and empathy in return, I have gained the unshaken faith that my Savior knows me, He loves me, and that there is nothing in this life that I can go through, that He does not understand.  

Nothing.

I have gained a relationship with my Father in Heaven and my Savior that I never want to lose. I have leaned on my Savior more and begged of the Father through Him, I have fallen on my knees over and over again and can now see, clearly, that They were with me all the while.

This is a blessing far greater than I could have imagined.

Now, while I may not be to the point where I ask for more mountains to climb just yet... ;)

...I can truly say that I am grateful for the ones I have been given thus far. 

We still have YEARS of therapy to go with our L, she still is no where near ready to join her peers, but I have truly seen the hand of God in my daughter.  

I have seen what seemed impossible become possible.

Her healing is my greatest hope.  And I choose hope for her.

Lots of love,
Niki


Elder Henry B. Erying's talk:
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/mountains-to-climb?lang=eng