Dealing with a False Sense of Entitlement

Growing up, my mother used to tell me how special and unique I was. How there was never another person in the whole world who was like me. I was also my father’s only daughter, and he spoiled me. So naturally, I believed that I deserved certain things in life. I deserved to be treated special, because that’s what I grew up believing. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned…

I don’t deserve anything from anyone.

And neither do you.

No, I am not the center of the universe. While it’s quite shocking to come to this realization, it’s also liberating. It’s still something I am working on, but baby steps. It’s difficult to change your mindset from believing that certain people in your life owe you things (whether it be time, affection, money), to realize that is not the case at all.

Having a sense of entitlement only hurts myself in the long-run. So I am really trying to be more self-aware and not take things that people do personally.

But how do you handle someone who feels entitled to your own time, love or even money?

We’ve all come across people who feel like we owe them something. Someone who needs you right away to complain about the same shit going on in their life, with no regard for you. This has happened to me recently.

A family member of mine, who I cut out of my life a few years ago, wants to reconnect. Our relationship was horrible most of the time, I was always treated terribly. I admit, I was tempted to try and reconnect, we’re family after all. But I reminded myself that this person only wants to have a relationship with me to fulfill needs and desires that have nothing to do with me. I am just another ear to listen to bullshit, to feel sorry, and I refuse to do that.

And I refuse to feel guilty for distancing myself from people who disturb my peace.

Maybe that’s me feeling entitled again. I feel I deserve some peace in my life. I’ve dealt with enough of other people’s shit. I’d like to deal with my own.

Walking away from bullshit

-Toniann

A Lesson in Gratitude

Hi everyone, I haven’t posted in a while because a lot has been going on. We went to San Diego for Memorial Day weekend to celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday. The weekend started off great, we went to the beach, which was my youngest’s first time, so it was wonderful. The next day we went to LEGOLAND waterpark and we were really having a fun time. But as we went to one last area to wrap up our day, my diaper bag was stolen. Someone went into my stroller and stole my bag with everything in it: mine and my husbands phone, my wallet, my car keys and my daughters diapers and change of clothes.

I was fucking furious. Enraged that someone could actually do that at a family park. I felt violated; I couldn’t believe that someone felt they had a right to just take our belongings. And most of all, I was mad at myself. I was mad at myself for being foolish enough to let my guard down. I was stupid to believe that there are no bad people out there anymore. I was so mad, I started to cry.

We spent the rest of the night with security from the park, and later the police to file a report. I knew that since our phones were turned off, there was no way to track them, and our stuff was gone forever.

I went to the LEGOLAND hotel and used their phone to call a locksmith to get a new key cut for my car so we wouldn’t be stranded. I was on the phone and computer cancelling credit cards and trying to get replacement phones. We had to print directions out to and from our hotel. You don’t realize how much you depend on your smartphone until you don’t have access to one.

Since all this happened and my anger has subsided a bit, I’ve had some time to reflect on what happened.

I’m GRATEFUL it wasn’t worse.

I’m constantly reminded that no matter what happens, things could always be worse. I’m grateful that my daughters weren’t injured in any way. I’m grateful I didn’t have any cash in my wallet, whatever money they spent on my credit card can be replaced by the bank. I’m grateful my husband had his wallet on him and not in my purse like much of the day. I’m grateful that while I was on the phone and computer for hours at the hotels in LEGOLAND, my daughters were having fun playing with the slide by the stairs and the countless LEGO bricks. I’m grateful for the staff at LEGOLAND who helped us with everything we needed. I’m grateful for a dear friend in San Diego that happened to have an extra phone that we were able to use for the rest of our trip. And despite being robbed of my possessions, I’m grateful that my daughters still had an amazing time.

Everything that was taken from me can be replaced. It’s easy to stay angry at this situation, but I want to remember this trip as a fun one. That’s how my daughters see it. They’ll look back at all the rides they went on, the prizes they won and all the fun we had together.

And to the person(s) who took my diaper bag: you may have stolen my belongings but I refuse to let you steal my joy. What goes around comes around, so I’ll just sit back and let karma take care of it.

I’m grateful either way.

Birthday dinner with my favorite people in the world.

-Toniann

Dear Anxiety, You’re a Bitch

This weekend, we’re going away for the weekend to celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday. A trip that I am really excited about. But today, checking the weather for the weekend at our destination, I see that it’s going to be a chilly weekend. Our plans were to go to the beach and to a water park. So I couldn’t help but feel like our weekend’s plans would be ruined. But I know that’s my anxiety talking.

It all started when I was pregnant with my second daughter. I was so scared of having another C-section because my previous one with my oldest was horrible. But being pregnant, I was in a constant state of worry for my baby, which I think is pretty normal. But on top of that, we decided to move across the country, WHILE I WAS PREGNANT! My husband was in Arizona while I was still in Florida with my daughter. I talked to my midwife about my anxiety but I opted not to take medication. I just assumed once I was in Arizona with my husband and daughters, things would go back to normal.

But my anxiety hasn’t gone anywhere.

It’s not just worrying. My heart races, my chest feels so tight I can hardly breathe, I’m tired and irritable. Lately I’m noticing that there is little or nothing to prompt my anxiety. And I’m trying to manage my anxiety on my own but it’s so exhausting.

I exercise 6 days a week for at least an hour, I have a healthy diet, and I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are all bad for anxiety. The three things I turn to when I’m feeling anxious and stressed out are making things worse. So I’ve managed to cut out my beloved morning cup of espresso, which was fucking painful. I’m still working on cutting out nicotine (yes, I vape and am a former cigarette smoker), and working on keeping my alcohol consumption to just weekends. Which is so hard because I love having my red wine!

I haven’t been consistent with my meditating either, but I’m starting tomorrow. I’ve already started waking up earlier to make time to meditate, my problem is just getting out of bed.

It’s hard for me to reach out and talk to people about what I’m going through. Especially when my anxiety makes me worry about trivial stuff. Honestly, even writing this blog post right now is making me anxious. But I’m trying to find a positive outlet, so here I am typing away. I knew I wanted to write about my anxiety at some point, so I figured now was a good a time as any.

I’m a work in progress, I always will be. Managing my anxiety is just something I have to deal with everyday. Some days are better than others. But I’m getting better at realizing which situations make me anxious and I’m making an effort to stay away from those situations.

I am more than my anxiety.

-Toniann

Cherishing Time with Your Kids

I remember the day we brought Isabella home from the hospital and I had her in my arms. I was doting over her and in complete awe of how beautiful she was. And my mother said “Enjoy it, soon she’ll be starting kindergarten.” I looked at her like she was crazy, “Ma, she’s a newborn, kindergarten is a long way off.” That was almost 8 years ago. Isabella will be 8 years old and four days after, Emilia will be turning 2. And ever since I became a mom, I keep asking myself:

“Where has the time gone?”

2 month old Isabella

When my daughter first started kindergarten, I knew exactly what my mom meant that day four years previous. She warned me about this, time going by so quickly. It’s unbelievable how fast time can go by once you have kids. I cry every year on my girls birthdays, the start of a new school year, and any significant milestone. But I’m realizing just how important it is to cherish the day-to-day as well.

In her big girl bed

Throughout the day I find myself waiting for the day to be over. “I can’t wait to put the girls to bed and relax” is the usual thought in my head most days. But I don’t want to be like that anymore. I want to appreciate all the moments I have with my girls, even the not-so-great ones.

Sisters

I know that one day from now, honestly not that far into the future, my girls will be grown and out of the house. There won’t be toys for me to trip over, messes to clean up, or the sound of them screaming and laughing as they play. And honestly, the thought of that breaks my heart.

They get along… mostly

So I’m going to play with them more, hug them more, kiss them and memorize how they look at this age. I’ll gladly read another story, change the poopy diapers, and cuddle my girls as much as they’ll let me. They will never be this little again.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be with my girls.

-Toniann

10 Things I’ve Learned in a 10 Year Relationship

May is a busy month for my family: we’ve got my birthday, both of my daughters birthdays, my anniversary with Jonathan, not to mention Mother’s Day. Jonathan and I have been married for a little over 8 years now but we are coming up on 10 years together this weekend.

We got together when I was 19 years old and I’ve learned so much since then. Back then I thought I knew everything, but I didn’t know shit. To be fair, I still don’t know shit but I’m learning slowly. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned since Jon and I first got together.

Us 10 years ago

1. People Change

People often view change as a bad thing. But when it comes to relationships, change is important. In the 10 years Jon and I have been together, we have grown together and I feel like we’re becoming better people together. No one is the same person they were even yesterday. At 19 years old, I was spoiled, hot-tempered, and stubborn. Ok, I’m still stubborn but I’ve gotten better. Since then, we’ve become parents to 2 little girls, moved throughout 4 different states and faced so many other challenges. All of that has changed us individually and as a couple, and we’re better because of it.

10 years later

2. Communication

I cannot overstate the importance of communication in a relationship. When Jon and I first got together, it was difficult for me to talk to him about things that bothered me without catching an attitude. Or I would just ignore him, which only made things worse. Overtime I’ve learned to be kinder with my words and talk to him more calmly about important issues in our relationship. I’ve also realized its important to talk about problems in person, not over the phone or text, and not to talk when I’m too upset. Communication is key.

Climbing mountains together

3. Be Honest

Honesty relates to communication, but it’s just as important. Being honest can be messy and painful but it’s also liberating. Honesty is the foundation of trust in a relationship and Jon and I have worked very hard over the years to be honest with each other. And because we’re honest with each other, we’ve gotten to know each other on a deeper level over the years. We were both honest with what we wanted out of a relationship, marriage, how we would raise our kids and our goals in life. We’re always finding out something new about each other because we work at being honest with one another.

All dolled up for my best friends wedding

4. Pick Your Battles

When Jon and I first got together, I was always picking fights with him. I would make things out to be a bigger deal than they actually were. Recently, I’ve been making an effort to check in with myself when I’m upset with Jon. I ask myself if this is really something he’s doing wrong or is it just me overreacting for some reason. And usually, it’s something else that’s bothering me but I’m taking it out on him. Slowly, I’ve learned to let things go because life is too short.

Thanksgiving 2017

5. Alone Time is a Necessity

Having kids can make it difficult for any couple to have any alone time but it’s so important. Jon and I make it a point to go on date nights as often as we can, we try for once a week but that’s not always possible. So even that time between when the girls go to sleep and we do is special. We watch some of our shows or movies and cuddle. Its important to spend time with one another, even if it requires more effort with have 2 kids. Sometimes you just have to get creative.

Celebrating one of our anniversaries

6. Sex, Sex and more Sex

For those new to my blog, I wrote a whole post discussing The Importance of Sex in a Relationship because I truly believe its one of the most important keys to a relationship. Sometimes it’s difficult with work, kids and other commitments. There are some days when we just want to pour ourselves into bed and go to sleep. But we make an effort to keep an active sex life, and we are happier for it. More sex, less stress.

I can’t get enough of this guy

7. Our Love is Still Strong

I’ve heard from many people in relationships longer than us, trying to convince us that our love for each other will fizzle a bit. That we won’t want to be around each other as much as we are now. But that hasn’t happened yet. To quote my husband yesterday “I feel like I’m falling more in love with you the longer we’re together.” And yes, I teared up because that was romantic as hell. And it’s true for me too, the longer we are together, the more opportunities for us to grow together and love on each other. Even after all this time, I still can’t get enough of him.

My 26th birthday

8. Laugh More

Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I’m a really silly person. Its fun to be with someone who I can be completely myself around. I can act like an idiot dancing around, and no, I don’t mean the sexy, cute dancing, I mean like a fish out of water dancing. We both jam out in the car and do dumb dances and crack up laughing when other drivers see us. And laughing helps with tense situations, and if we can laugh during an argument, then it really wasn’t a big deal after all.

Christmas party 2017

9. Flirt Often

I’m always flirting with my husband. I make it a habit to tell him when he’s looking good and be affectionate with him. Light touches, sexy text messages, getting dressed up for each other are some ways we like to flirt with each other. Flirting keeps things exciting, and lets my husband know that I want him, not just sexually. Flirting helps to remind us what we love about each other and keeps the spark alive.

Universal Studios Orlando

10. Relationships are Hard Work

Yes, relationships aren’t easy. I consider Jon and I a strong and happy couple, and it’s because we put the work in everyday. We make an effort to listen and talk to one another, make sure that we show our love for each other. Because saying it isn’t always enough. Some days are easier than others. There’ve been countless times where I felt like I couldn’t be loved, but he’s still there. I wake up everyday and choose to be with Jonathan, to love him and be there for him, as he’s there for me. And we never give up on each other.

Thanksgiving 2018

So there it is, 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 year relationship with my husband. Every couple is different and this is definitely not a guide to follow for your relationship. These 10 things I’ve listed are what’s important in my relationship. We work everyday to communicate with each other and love on one another as often as possible. I love how far we’ve come in this past decade and it makes me excited for the next 10 years. Happy 10 year anniversary baby.

Cheers to 10 years!

-Toniann


Birthday Anxiety

My birthday is a time that I’m always excited about. I count down the days and look forward to celebrating with the people I love most and going on great adventures. But coming up on my 29th birthday this year, I don’t feel the same excitement that I usually do. Last week I was anxious thinking about this being the last year in my 20s.

I would never have considered myself an anxious person, but since I got pregnant with my last daughter over 2 years ago, anxiety seems like a normal (and horrible) part of my daily routine. But despite countless anxiety attacks, I was happy about my birthday last year.

Why is this birthday different?

Turning 29 was a happy thought at first, but then I realized that this is the last year in my 20s, and I only have a year left to accomplish certain goals in my life. And that was frightening. I started to think about my best friends, who are earning their masters degrees, one of whom has 2 kids. I started to compare what I have accomplished in my life, and I couldn’t think of anything.

What have I truly accomplished in this decade, besides raising two wonderful daughters?

And panic set in at this thought. So I began to dread turning 29, my last chance at doing something meaningful with my life. To create lasting friendships in my new home state, to get my career and education back on track, and work on becoming a better version of myself. Its overwhelming to think about all I have to work on.

I spoke to my sister-in-law about this. I told her all my worries and how I’m feeling lost. And that I’m scared to pursue my own goals, because my anxiety has convinced me that taking care of myself meant that my relationship with my husband and children will suffer. But I owe it to myself, and my family to work on myself and my goals. She reminded me of all that I have accomplished in my life already. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

In this past decade of my life, I’ve lived in 4 states: New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and now Arizona. It’s such a big achievement in my book that I’ve moved out of my hometown, something that many people will never do in their lives. I’ve met some amazing, and not-so-amazing people, and they’ve all taught me something. I’ve realized my passion for fitness and while I have neglected that passion these past few years, it’s a goal of mine to become a personal trainer again. I’ve become vegan, something I never thought would happen, ever. I married the most amazing man in the world and we’re coming up on our tenth anniversary. I’m proud of the work we’ve put into our relationship and we’ve become better people since we first got together. I’m raising two children, a job that is so important, and I’m doing a kickass job (even though I feel like I’m not most of the time).

And most important of all, I’m learning more about myself. I’m learning the kind of person I want to be, and I’m taking steps everyday to become that person. I’ve realized what kind of relationships I want in my life. And because of that I’ve let go of relationships and set boundaries with people. I know that I alone am in charge of my happiness. I’ve realized how strong of a person I am. The most difficult thing I’ve gone through was losing my father. I deal with the grief of that loss everyday. And all the struggles I’ve faced have made me a stronger person.

So I write this blog post to remind myself, and anyone else reading, not to compare your timeline to someone else’s. We’re all on different paths, dealing with our own struggles. It’s only natural to compare ourselves to others, but it’s unfair to do so. I’m trying to focus on my own journey, to count my blessings and to be okay with imperfection. I hope the same for you.

Alright 29, I’m ready for you.

-Toniann

My Experience with Pregnancy Loss

Last night, we were sitting around the dinner table talking about babies. Isabella, my oldest daughter said “Mommy, you’ve been pregnant two times and you’re not having anymore babies.” I hesitated at the “pregnant two times” part of her sentence but I told her she was right. My daughter, and so many other people, do not know that I’ve been pregnant 4 times but only have 2 children.

When my oldest daughter, Isabella, was about 18 months old, I went through baby fever, and it was bad. I wanted to have another baby, I wanted Isabella to have a sibling to play and grow up with. But my husband wasn’t ready, and he knew deep down, I wasn’t either. So we decided to wait. I was taking birth control pills after having my daughter. The birth control was covered by Medicaid, but as Isabella’s second birthday was approaching, my medical coverage was ending. My birth control was $90 a month, an expense we couldn’t afford at the time, so I had decided to get an intrauterine device or IUD.

I made an appointment with my gynecologist, and I told her I needed to get an IUD as soon as possible, before my insurance coverage ended. We talked about different IUD’s and I decided on ParaGard, which is has copper and no hormones. It was supposed to be more effective than the hormonal IUD’s and I was more comfortable with a hormone free one. I wasn’t sure how I would react to the hormones in other IUD’s and I couldn’t chance it. And the copper IUD would last 10 years and I could just make an appointment to get it removed whenever Jonathan and I decided to try for another child.

I laid there on the table, my feet in the stirrups while my gynecologist prepared to insert my IUD. She was having some trouble but after a lot of poking and prodding at my cervix (ouch) I finally had my IUD inserted. And I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting pregnant any time soon.

Or so I thought…

It was about a year after having my IUD and I had no issues with it. My husband occasionally felt the string from the IUD when we would have sex, but overall, no real problems. Then one day, I had just finished working out at home, and it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten my period. I ran to my calendar in the kitchen to count the days since my last period.

29 days…

Not very late, but late nonetheless. “Fuck, could I be pregnant?” I went to the store and got a pregnancy test. A faint positive appeared and I cried on the toilet. How? How did this happen? I know the IUD is still in, did it move?

I called Jon and told him I was pregnant and he thought I was joking. I told him “no, baby, I’m not kidding. The pregnancy test is positive and I’m scared.”

I started looking up the chances of getting pregnant with a copper IUD, less than 1%. What are the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and delivery with an IUD? Mixed research. I made an appointment with my gynecologist and I remember telling the woman at the office “I’m pregnant and have a copper IUD.” She couldn’t believe what I was saying.

I had to wait until the next week for my appointment, which was hell. Even though I didn’t want to get pregnant at the time, knowing that I was in fact pregnant, I wanted my baby to be okay. But I started spotting, and the bleeding got worse as the days went on.

I heard blighted ovum at one appointment and ectopic pregnancy at another. I honestly don’t know what it was and I was in too much shock to ask questions. Either way, I was not going to have another baby.

And I was crushed.

I got my IUD removed because it didn’t work for whatever reason. Maybe it moved or wasn’t inserted correctly. It could be possible since my gynecologist at the time had trouble inserting it. I’ll never know and the answer wouldn’t make me feel any better.

I was heartbroken. And I wanted us to try for another baby. But every month, my period came and my heart broke all over again. I tried to act like it didn’t bother me, but it did.

And a year later, I got pregnant again. I was excited, but I was wary. I made sure not to tell anyone but my husband and mother. I wanted to go to the doctor before I said anything. But I’d have to wait until at least 8 weeks to have my first appointment and I was only 5 weeks.

When I got to 6 weeks, I started spotting. And my heart sank. I went to the emergency room and sure enough my hCG (pregnancy hormone) levels were low. I stayed at the hospital for a few hours so they could test my levels again, and if they were continuing to lower, that meant I was having a miscarriage. I tried to hold on to hope that things were fine, but after a few hours and another test, we found out I was miscarrying.

I remember how direct the nurse was. Quick and to the point, and not sympathetic. I was told, just like the first time, that my body should “take care of it” and my body should expel all remaining tissue. And to follow up with my doctor in a few weeks. My husband, daughter and I made it to the car before I started crying. And I kept crying.

When we got home, I was crying in my husbands arms and I looked at him and told him…

“…I feel broken. I’d rather never get pregnant again than to feel this pain one more time.”

I didn’t tell anyone, no one knew I was pregnant, so why should I share my loss? I convinced myself that I was lucky. I was lucky that my body would take care of things and I wouldn’t need surgery like other women have. I was lucky not to have gotten so far along in my pregnancy. I was lucky to have one child, when so many other women struggle with this loss and still don’t have children. I told myself that my grief wasn’t valid because there were other women who have endured much worse than I have. And maybe that helped me cope at the time, but my loss was real. My pain was excruciating, both physically and emotionally. And it’s a pain I still carry today.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was going through something called secondary infertility. I found out later that it’s common for some woman to have trouble either getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term after giving birth to a child previously. It was over a year later before I got pregnant again. And four years total after my first pregnancy loss before I got pregnant for the last time.

But I am lucky. I got my rainbow baby, my Emilia. When I got pregnant with her, I was wary yet again. I was careful not to let myself get excited. But I made it to my 8 week appointment and explained to my midwife that I needed to have an ultrasound since I had 2 previous pregnancy losses. And I got my ultrasound, and we saw that heartbeat flicker and I breathed a sigh of relief. Not a big one, because I knew I was not through the woods, you never are when you’re pregnant. But I was relieved and I was excited. And she’s here, and one of the greatest joys in my life. I am incredibly fortunate to have 2 beautiful children.

But some women never get their rainbow baby, and for that I am truly sorry. To anyone reading this who is struggling to have a baby, I see you. To those who have endured countless pregnancy losses, I feel your pain. And to the women, suffering in silence, trying to put on a smile at the news of other women getting pregnant, I see you too. There are no words that can ease the pain of losing a pregnancy. Grieving a life that could have been.

You are not alone.

Below, I will include a link for pregnancy loss support or if anyone who wants to chat about pregnancy loss can email me.

NationalShare.org

-Toniann