The “Girls’” trip

No boys allowed. Not even Clark

I always question people who say they are not close to their siblings. Like, why? I’ve already shared my love letter to my brother, but I also have two older sisters, and I talk to them all the time. Every summer, my mom, 2 sisters, sometimes my sister-in-law Lakon, our combined 4 daughters, and I go on a beach trip. We first started this tradition when my eldest sister was in high school, and then it was interrupted for a few years while she and my other sister were in college, med school, grad school, etc. Basically they were too busy building their fabulous lives to go on vacation with me. Those bitches 🙄.

The girls’ trip. No boys are allowed. Not even tiny ones. I mean, think about it. Guys always want to do things on beach trips instead of just relax. Also chicken salad and fruit aren’t enough to satisfy them for lunch. So, basically they aren’t allowed to come and poop all over our trip. Seat’s taken, you can’t sit with us, bye Felicia 👋

Anyway, when Katie (#1) was pregnant with her first baby, we started up the tradition again. We stayed in a hotel on that trip, and Katie was all, “I’m cool, no worries. Y’all can watch TV while I sleep. It won’t bother me!” Five minutes later, the room next to us was being a little loud. She shoots up out of bed, grabs her slipper from the floor and begins smacking the wall, “BE QUIET!!!” She promptly lay back down with her eyes closed. Anna (#2) and my mom and I exchanged glances, turned off the TV, and wordlessly went to sleep at 7 pm 🤫. No one wanted that wrath (or slipper) directed at them.

We’ve since mostly stayed in condos, occasionally hotels, and most recently at my parents’ new beach house. We eat chick food, are supremely lazy, and laugh a lot.

One year, we were staying at a condo in Gulf Shores, and my niece chunked her baby doll’s pacifier off the balcony. She then cried and cried for it because toddlers are rational. We looked for ages, but never found that one. Then there was the year that Lakon had to dig a belly hole in the sand to accommodate her very pregnant belly. Then there was the year Katie took a muscle relaxer for her janky neck before playing cards and just got stupid. Probably the only time I’ve been able to beat her because she was literally moving in slow motion. I’ll never beat Anna. She’s a freak and can play a whole deck. Ugh, and last year I was about 11 weeks pregnant with Clark, and Darcy wasn’t walking yet. Toting her and our beach gear while I was miserably ill was awful, so Anna and Mom did the grunt work on that trip. Also Darcy was basically just miserable on that trip. She was demanding (surprise, surprise), and hated the beach after about 30 minutes. We tried to make it more bearable with a baby pool for her to play in. My sister Anna had to blow that bad boy up and ultimately it did nothing to convince Darcy that the sand and water were not the devil. Anna still bitches about that.

This year, we had our first stay in my parent’s new beach house. It is just beautiful, and I swear we had the best time! I should mention that Katie is a gourmet chef. Seriously, she is amazing and everything that we ate was sublime. My favorite was a sea bass dish she made. Also she mixes fabulous cocktails, and I was the only one to benefit because Anna is pregnant and my mom doesn’t drink at all. Katie and I also took the kids crabbing one night, and it was hysterical. Katie’s daughter is a beast at catching things and crabs are no exception. Anna’s kids–not so much (God bless ’em), but seeing all of them chase after those crabs was hilarious. We then took the golf cart off-roading. Not exactly intentionally, but memorable all the same. I really haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Anna has had a difficult pregnancy and doesn’t need to carry anything but herself, so Mavis, Katie and I carried all our gear to and from the beach each day. This wasn’t a problem until one afternoon where Darcy decided she needed to be carried across the sand. I told her, “No.” Cue the full-on meltdown. She screamed from our spot on the beach all the way to the boardwalk. We passed by a tent of people laughing and they pointed to her and said, “Does she happen to be about two?” “Uh, yes. How ever could you guess?” They just laughed and said, “Darcy, what’s wrong?” Darcy cut them an evil look and continued to sob. But guess what? The next day when I told her no, she didn’t cry (as much). So, I’m counting that as a win. 

My mom plans all these precious parties for the girls during the trip. She picks a theme for every night and it was just the cutest thing. The first night was a barn party, the second, a unicorn party, and the final night was a pink pirate party complete with a scavenger hunt. It was so much fun! The adults had just as much fun as the little girls. My mom really is amazing. She cares about all the little details and makes everything so special. She’s always been that way, and I strive to make similar memories with my babies.

Ladies, if you weren’t so fortunate to be born into a girl-tribe, then you’ve gotta make your own. Pick your friends and hold them close. Go on the beach trip. Help your girl out when she is big and pregnant and basically useless, and forgive them when they’re being a bitch (never me). Cook the amazing food and laugh at each others kids when they faceplant during a tantrum. Go off-roading with the golf cart. Make fun of each others hairy arms and talk about everything from Jesus to snissing to sex and all topics that fall in between. You can google snissing if you don’t know what it means, but if you’ve had a child then you’ve experienced it.

If you were born into a girl tribe, then you are lucky. Super lucky. Foster that relationship and love each other hard. Just because you aren’t close now doesn’t mean you can’t build that relationship into something worth having. Look, I love my sisters, but I definitely still argue with them. For instance, two weeks before the beach trip I told Katie she was uncompassionate and sucked at being a sister. Three days later, I apologized and told her that I knew I was actually being crazy, but she still sucked and was old AF. It’s all about balance, you see. I love these women so much. I mean, they’re control freaks and judgmental and not nearly as funny as I am (God bless ’em), but I love them and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am #blessed.

The crushing weight of anxiety

My journey, my story, my kind of crazy

I wake up to hear Clark stirring via the baby monitor. It’s 1:30am. I’ve been asleep 2.5 hours. I get up to nurse him before he starts crying and wakes up Darcy. After nursing him, I go back to my bed, and try to sleep. I am exhausted. I haven’t slept more than 3 hours at a time since he was born 3 weeks ago. But I can’t sleep because what if Darcy heard him? Do I hear her? Is she going to wake up again at 3am crying? Why isn’t he settling down?! Is he going to go back to sleep? Please, God, let him go back to sleep. Do I need to go burp him again? Should I enroll in classes this upcoming semester? Or take a break? OMG! Go to sleep, Beka. Now I only have like 2 hours before he wakes up again, ready to eat! Shut up, brain, shut up!

And I didn’t go back to sleep because these (among other) thoughts are racing through my mind nonstop. Just like the previous night. And the one before that.

In the morning, I check to see if Clark is breathing–constantly. Did I turn off the coffee maker? What are we going to eat tonight? Is Clark still okay? Is Clark going to be okay? Do we have any paper towels? What if Darcy has another ear infection?

I’m easily able to convince myself that I just “have a lot on my mind.” I mean I’m a mother of two children that are under two years old. I’m a grad student that works full-time. I’m just a little stressed, and that’s why I’m having trouble and feeling anxious. Then the other thing with those symptoms happens…the heart racing, palm sweating, stomach dropping, limb paralyzing thing. It’s kind of like the exact moment where you remember that you forgot to do something really important. Except I haven’t forgotten anything, and knowing I haven’t doesn’t stop these feelings. I have exactly zero relief.

Anxiety–postpartum anxiety to be exact–is the worst, and these episodes can occur three or four times an hour lasting anywhere from 2-15 minutes and occur independently of my unrelenting, worrying thoughts. If I’m completely honest, it probably started with all the drama surrounding Clark’s pregnancy, and his birth, combined with the heavy postpartum hormonal shift, made it pretty terrible. Making matters worse, I felt guilty, and I tried to pray my anxiety away. Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” But my anxiety wouldn’t dissipate because I was sick. My brain was, anyway. We wouldn’t be expected to pray away diabetes or high blood pressure, would we?

According to americanpregnancy.org, postpartum anxiety affects around 10% of women, but I’m pretty sure it is severely underreported. Why? Because women are scared of judgement. Of being ignored. Or of confirming their worst fear—that they are, in fact, a “bad” mom. Just last week I read this article, where a postpartum woman told her provider she was having persistently violent thoughts she would never act on, but was disturbed by. Yeah, they called the police on her, who escorted her to the ED, treated her like a criminal, and finally released her 10 hours later with a list of phone numbers to call for “help.” Zero support, zero medication, and zero empathy.

No.

Just. No.

That is so far from acceptable that I actually hurt for this woman. I know firsthand how hard it is to get help. You see, I experienced postpartum depression with Darcy. I claimed it was situational depression only because of her surgery, etc. It was hard and dark and affected my initial bonding with her. Thankfully, with meds, love, and support, it quickly abated and I became strong again. Towards the end of my pregnancy with Clark, Ben had mentioned he was worried I might struggle again once the baby was born. So in my favor, I had a husband who was looking out for me. This is important because when you’re bogged down with the weight of depression and/or anxiety, it can be hard to see things for how they actually are. So, when I confessed to him how insanely worried and anxious I felt, and that I didn’t know why, he told me, “Call Dr. B right now. Get help.”

My reaction wasn’t calm. “I’m not crazy, dammit! I’m just…I don’t even know how to explain it.”

“No, Beka, you’re not crazy, but the way you’re feeling IS making you sick. Call her.”

Dodging it, I said, “Well, my appointment is in a couple of weeks, so I’ll talk to her then.” There. That should satisfy him that I’m going to take care of it, and (bonus) will put it off for now. Because I’ll get better by then. Right?

“Call her now,” he insisted.

“But it’s Friday.” Even I knew that was a weak argument.

“Yeah, and her office is open. Call her, Beka. Now.”

“FINE!”

So I did, and I told her nurse, “Look, my anxiety is kinda bad. Ben said I should call…shouldn’t I just monitor it and see if it gets better?” She immediately responded,”No way! It will only get worse if we don’t do anything. We’ll start some meds now and see if we need to adjust the dosage when you come for your appointment.”

The second thing in my favor:  a matter-of-fact, yet compassionate response from my doctor’s office. When I returned to her office 4 weeks later, we decided to increase my dosage AND she gave me a PRN (as needed) script because I told her Clark’s surgery might just push me over to crazy town 😜. The reason I go into all this, and air my “dirty” laundry is because this is a problem. I’m a nurse, I’m educated, and it still took my symptoms, my husband’s urging, and my doctor’s following up to get me on the road to a more therapeutic place. If a link in any of those chains is broken, women will slip through the cracks and take on motherhood with an additional, massive weight on their shoulders.

So, maybe we should talk about this. Maybe we should de-stigmatize these mental health issues that are SO very relevant to our loved ones. We should listen, support, and help those we know are struggling. We need to look out for our friends when they’ve had babies and encourage them to seek help if they need it. If you are struggling, you aren’t alone. It’s going to be okay, mama. You won’t always feel this overwhelmed. Love yourself, give yourself grace, and get some help. Because your children need a happy, healthy mama, and you’re gonna get there. Love to all ❤

My awesome mom, my dead fridge, and Darcy’s book pillow

My mom is better than yours. She just is, and she drove 5 hours to save the day last weekend because her name is Mavis and that is how she works. You see, Ben left the country because he’s not pregnant and still maintains a fun lifestyle. I, however, am something akin to a beached whale, who has contractions if I sneeze, lift a pillow, or roll over in bed. Lifting and chasing after Darcy full-time could seriously send me into pre-term labor (again), so my mom drove 5 hours and stayed with me to help. She cleaned my house, did my laundry, cooked, shopped, and took care of Darcy all while I planted my fat ass on the couch and watched new episodes of “Call the Midwife.” It was glorious, and if you haven’t watched that show, you are totally missing out. I hope I’m half the woman my mother is one day. Seriously that short, little woman can accomplish anything in small timeframes AND do it better than anyone else could. Also, while Ben was gone (side-eye to Ben), Darcy decided to cut 4 teeth at once, and our refrigerator died. Like dead, died. Luckily my in-laws quickly got us a new fridge. In the meantime, Ben’s twin brought us his mini-fridge, and Ben’s younger brother brought us food. So, even though Ben was all la-ti-da “I’m going cliff-diving and climbing volcanoes,” while the world fell apart (exaggeration, but have you HEARD my daughter whine while teething?!), his family stepped in with greatly appreciated replacement fridges and Newk’s pizzas. That Mavis, though? She’s the real MVP for life. Darcy agrees and is in love with her. She’s known as Mattie by all of her grandchildren, except Darcy. Darcy calls her Mammy and cried whenever “Mammy” left the room. Last night she saw one of my mother’s diet cokes in the fridge, snatched it, and ran for the front door screaming for “Mammy!” It was cute, but Darcy was pretty disappointed when the Diet coke didn’t work like a genie lamp and produce her doting Mammy.

Anyway, Ben returned from his Central American adventures, my mom went home 😢, and this past weekend we transitioned Darcy to her big-girl IKEA bed (see previous post) and moved the crib into baby Clark’s new room. Darcy is doing fairly well-ish with going to sleep, but has been waking up at around 5:30am on the nose, screaming. It’s not very cool, but at least she’s sleeping through the night in her bed. Sunday morning, Ben crawled into her little bed with her when she freaked out, and we all got another 1.5 hours of sleep. Success! So, it’s not perfect, but we’re working on it. For instance, tonight she decided to act crazy and keep climbing out of bed while screaming hysterically. So, we let her scream (I’m a member of the cry-it-out-within-reason camp. Not sorry) for about 5 minutes and wander around in her dark bedroom. After 5 minutes, silence. We go and check on her and she’s fallen asleep face-first on her books on the floor. It was hilarious and kind of tragic at the same time. But, because we are not stupid, we let her continue sleep on her books for another 15 minutes, so she would be in a deeper sleep for the transfer back to her bed. It worked like a charm, so judge away if you so feel inclined.

Andddd, we had another depressing doctor’s appointment today. I’m not even going to share details on it right now because I’m already sad enough, and I don’t feel up to rehashing the particulars. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt better about Clark’s situation. I feel hopeful that he’s going to be okay and that the “potential issues” could be nothing and that everything will be fine and he will be healed. I want to chalk it up to having faith, but in all actuality, it’s probably just a heaping dose of denial. After I recover from an appointment, I blissfully live in my growing faith-bubble (denial) for a couple of weeks. Then, I have another appointment and the hope I had been growing is dashed and destroyed in about a 2-hour time span. I cannot possibly convey to you how absolutely wretched these appointments are, I can only tell you that I would not wish the “gift” of this pregnancy’s anxiety to the person I hate most in this world. I’ll be 32 weeks tomorrow, and I’m thankful that this pregnancy is drawing to a close. I genuinely hope this baby comes early. Not *too* early, but early. So that this part will be over, and we can move on.

School continues to be unimportant. I ignore it as much as possible because I have very healthy coping mechanisms called: 1) avoidance and 2) eating all the things.

I’m sorry if you’ve called me, sent a text, or left a FB message, and I haven’t responded. I fully intend on responding to each one, and your reaching out is so appreciated. I’m just buried in my feelings, and I’m feeling fragile lately. You see, I used to think I was kind of badass and could handle heavy and uncomfortable things, but I was stupid. I am not very strong unless you count waiting until I get into my car to fall apart when leaving my hellish appointments. My faith is shaken, and I’m struggling to find the good in things right now. I don’t want to be anyone’s rain cloud, so I’m retreating to my safety bubble (the couch–lets be real), and I’m waiting for Clark to get here, so that I can come up for air. Love to all of you beautiful people.
 

 

 

 

 

So, I’m starting a blog

Hello any and all readers! I’ve been urged by multiple friends and family members to write a blog for several years now. Why? I don’t really know their reasons, but the more people asked about it, the more I thought I might like to start one. About 3.5 years ago, I decided to do it! I had just gotten married, moved to Virginia, and all these awesome adventures would NEED to be documented. I thought of the perfect name, “Rayner Shine” because my new last name was Rayner, and how cute is that?! I told my husband, he agreed it was a good idea, but here’s the thing–I am a major procrastinator. SO. Almost 4 years, 3 moves, 4 job changes, and 1 baby later, here it is! I will backdate some blog entries on some of the more interesting occurrences in our lives, but first we have to agree on a few things.

  1. I am not a professional writer, mmkay? I say things, I write things, but I doubt you’ll see much symbolism,creativity, or special enlightenment that makes your head explode. So seek that on a different blog. Sorry.
  2. Grammar Nazis:  go away. I’m going to write in a conversational tone, end sentences with prepositions, use made up words and contractions because it’s a free country, and you can nitpick elsewhere.
  3. Weird stuff happens to me that doesn’t happen to normal people. I’ll write about it here, and I swear I’m not lying. You’ll have to just believe me.

Now that we’ve crossed that off our list, I’ll have to tell you that my life is chaotic. I know, I know, whose isn’t? But you see, my husband is in school full-time for engineering. Part-time he works as an engineering intern. I also am in school full-time to be a nurse practitioner. WHILE WORKING FULL-TIME AS A NURSE. Also, I have a 15 month old tyrant toddler. Help me, Rhonda! No, seriously, send help. I would say send wine, but I am also pregnant. 17 weeks to be exact. Anddd, I start a new job on Monday. Life is busy, time and money are short, but Ben and I laugh a lot. If you’re game to read along, I’ll gladly share our crazy with you. Love to all.