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 ❤