About Me · Motherhood

10 Things You Should Not Say to New Moms

1.”Isn’t it so worth it though?”

I don’t know, maybe? Ask me in 18 years! It’s not the point. Of course he’s worth it, but being a new mom sucks a lot of the time. It’s like telling a kid who won’t eat that there are starving kids in China. True, but I still don’t wanna eat your stupid broccoli or deal with this screaming child.

Try instead: “It gets better. For example…” I used to hate when people said this to me. Specifics are key. Don’t vaguely tell me it will get better. Tell me it will get better because one day he won’t poop 8 times a night.

2. “Cherish these moments. You’ll miss them one day.”

No. I will not cherish all of these moments. Sure, I love when he’s all sweet and snuggled up to me. I don’t love the meltdowns and being trapped under my baby for half of the day. And you know what? Babies are supposed to grow up. It’s kind of the point of RAISING a child. My baby is sweet and precious and I enjoy a lot of the things happening in his life right now, but some days I also can’t wait until he’s five. Or 20.

Try instead: “He is so sweet right now. What an exciting time in his life!” Live in the present. Don’t dwell on what will one day be the past.

3. “Don’t you miss him when he’s gone?” 

Nope. He’ll be back soon. The rest of the time I’m with him 24/7. Getting a break from him keeps me sane. Don’t make me feel guilty about that. I make myself feel guilty enough without your help.

Try instead: “It must be so nice to have a break and then get back home to him.” It is.

4. “Are you getting any rest?”

Why ask this? You know I’m not. Thanks for the reminder. See also: “You look tired,” “Is he sleeping through the night?” and “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”

Hahahahah. Okay, I’ll just immediately turn my brain off as soon as the baby goes down and not worry about the fact that he might (probably) wake me up as soon as I enter a sleep cycle. I’ll also make sure that I’m doing chores the same time the baby is.

Try instead: “Can I come watch baby for an hour or two so you can nap?” So many people did this for me. You know who you are. THANK YOU. Other ideas would be to ask if you can bring dinner or do the dishes. I would recommend staying away from “Is there anything I can do?” Although there definitely is, I will politely tell you no. On the other hand, if you just text me and say you’re bringing pizza over, I’m not going to stop you.

5. “Poor baby!”

The baby has an army of people doing literally anything they can to keep him happy, safe, and healthy. Not poor baby. Poor mom. See also: (ignoring mom) “How is the baby?” Babies are incredibly important to look after, but so are mothers. Don’t ignore them.

Try instead: “Is there anything I can do to help you calm him down?” There probably isn’t, but it’s still kind to offer.

6. “Just wait until…”

Until what, I go insane? This is dangerous to say to a depressed mom. I have to work constantly not to think in absolutes. It feels like everything is never-ending, so the idea that there’s always going to be something driving me nuts is overwhelming. I know there will be pros and cons to every stage of life, but there’s no need to fill me with dread over it.

Try instead: “They are always learning new things. It’s so exciting!” They are! Even when I’m depressed it’s still exciting to see my baby reach a milestone.

7. “Don’t you wanna have a couple more?”

No. Maybe I’ll change my mind in three years. But right now, please don’t bring up painful memories of morning sickness, swollen ankles, back pain, contractions, and waking up every two hours with a newborn. No.

Try instead: Minding your own business. 🙂 

8. “He’s hungry!”

Oh, really? Please tell me more things I might not know about my own baby. Do you know his schedule? Does he eat at your boob? Do you know the last time he ate? Do you think I might not feed him if you don’t say something? No? Kthxbai.

Try instead: “Does he need something that I can do for him?” If he’s crying, it’s probably because you’re holding him in a way that he hates. Ask me, and I can likely show you a position in which you would both be happier.

9. “Did you tear?”

Again with the painful memories. Even if you didn’t tear, your lady parts are still a mess after childbirth. I am a gossip. I understand wanting all the yucky details, but you have to get them in the right way.

Try instead: “Do you mind if I ask- How was your labor and delivery? How are you recovering?” Let’s let Mom decide how much she wants to share.

10. “I did X, Y, and Z, and my babies turned out fine.”

Good. I’m happy for you. Still don’t want your advice.

Try instead: “Do what you need to do. This is what worked for us.” 

 

Advertisements
About Me · Family · Uncategorized

Two Nights in the Psych Ward

Last week I glanced in the mirror and saw a legitimate crazy person. My face was bizarre and twitchy, I was rubbing my hands together, and my hair was completely disheveled.

Erwann asked me repeatedly if I had taken drugs. He promised to help me, and I laughed. He couldn’t help me. I wouldn’t get better. I broke. I knew the guilt would prevent me from killing myself even though I wanted to die more than anything, and part of me hated Erwann for keeping me here. All I could do was surrender to the pain.

We ended up in the ER. I hadn’t slept in two days and desperately needed help to relax. The doctor asked me if I had had thoughts of hurting anyone. I said yes, I wanted to punch my husband earlier when he was trying to calm me down. He ordered me a Valium and left. A social worker named Jennifer then came in and conducted a brief evaluation, concluding that I needed to be admitted to the behavioral health unit at LDS hospital. At first, that didn’t sound so bad.

Jennifer left, the Valium finally kicked in, and I decided I wanted to go home and go to sleep. Jennifer came back and informed us that transfer to the psych ward was not optional; I had been “blue sheeted,” a federal law that allows social workers to forcefully admit anyone who is a danger to themselves or others. Erwann and I both protested, as I had no intention of hurting myself or anyone else. Jennifer said it was too late, that I was “clearly failing at home,” and that I was homicidal. Erwann became agitated, and I was clearly in distress, so Jennifer threatened to call child services if we didn’t calm down and cooperate.

Erwann was not allowed to take me to LDS hospital, so two men came to the emergency room, strapped me to a stretcher, took me away from my family, and handed me over to a nurse named Gina. Gina took all my possessions and strip-searched me, squat and cough included. Once clear, I got in bed while Gina asked me all the intake questions, although she had to wake me twice before finishing. She finally left me to sleep around 1:00 am.

I woke up at 7:00 with full, sore breasts. I wasn’t allowed my own breast pump and had to ask the nurses to borrow one. They brought me a medieval-looking contraption that had no speed setting. It didn’t work well, and I quickly got a clogged milk duct.

I called Erwann and told him that I had ruined everything. I called my mom and told her the same. I slept most of that day, but I was interrupted by the psychiatrist and the social worker. The doctor was patient and kind, but the social worker was annoyingly optimistic and took a phone call from her car insurance in the middle of our conversation.

Erwann was able to see me with the baby at 6:00 pm. Léon began to fuss toward the end of the visit, and my anxiety peaked as they left. At 7:00 pm I asked for an ibuprofen (I had also developed a cold in the middle of all this) and something for my anxiety. I waited and didn’t get anything. I asked again and didn’t get anything. At 9:00 pm I finally pushed the call button in my room and asked again. I was anxious and feverish in bed for two hours before my nurse brought me any medication.

I slept well and was getting bored, so I went to the cafeteria for breakfast. I ate cold French toast and listened to a patient talk about how badly he wanted to be the victim of a mass shooting. I got stuck in a conversation with him about an “Amish whore” he’d shared a cocaine straw with a few months ago.

After breakfast I went to the medication counter to ask for more ibuprofen. There were two nurses behind the counter. I knocked on the window. They looked at me as if I were an interesting animal at the zoo and returned to their conversation. I waited for them to finish and help me, but they didn’t. I waved to try and get their attention. Again, they looked at me and returned to their conversation. I gave up and went to the nurse’s station. There were several nurses chatting in the back. I stood patiently waiting for someone to ask me what I needed. No one did. I waved at the chatting nurses, and no one came. A passing tech finally asked what I needed and helped me get some ibuprofen.

Also waiting for medication at the nurse’s station was another blonde girl about my age. She began to tell me in all seriousness about a crazy jealous woman who had hired international hitmen to have her killed.

“I guess I spent all that time overseas for nothing,” she said.

“You were overseas?” I asked.

“Apparently!” she replied.

I mumbled something about having to call my dad and sneaked away, but I kept an eye on her the rest of the day. She became angry with another patient she thought was trying to kill her and spent a lot of time pacing and chanting in a strange language in her room. I felt sorry for her and the reality she lives in.

I saw the social worker and the doctor again and got cleared for discharge. The doctor asked me if I would come back if I needed help. I lied and said yes. I spent the rest of the day learning nothing in group therapy and watching “Say Yes to the Dress.” I shouted out my commentary for the other patients, although they didn’t seem to enjoy it.

Erwann picked me up that evening, and I’ve been home since. I have had several more crazy episodes and feel complete hopelessness.

I’m just surviving.

About Me · Family · Uncategorized

Don’t Reach Out

Writing has always been a healing process for me, but I have put off writing what I’ve been going through because I feel like I have to be finished with it before I’m allowed to write about it. But I need all the healing I can get right now, so allowed or not, here’s what I’ve been going through.

I felt more fear and anxiety than joy and excitement when I first found out I was pregnant. My pregnancy was not complicated or unusual, but I hated it. I always thought that I would love being pregnant, but I had a lot of morning sickness, back pain, swelling, trouble sleeping, and general discomfort.

Every second of my unmedicated labor and delivery felt impossible. The entire time I thought I couldn’t take anymore. But I did, and I was SO relieved after, both physically and mentally.  Once the initial high of “I DID IT!” wore off, I started feeling pain in my tailbone. The day after returning from the hospital I was back in the ER because I couldn’t sit or stand on my own. I was prescribed strong pain killers, but didn’t take anything more than ibuprofen for fear of it getting in my breast milk.

And then there was a baby. We named him Léon James. He looked exactly as I had imagined he would. He made the cutest whimpering noises right after he was born and he had the most adorable mouth ever. I loved watching Erwann fall in love with him and whisper “He’s so cute!” every time he looked at him. I loved him. I had loved him for a long time, but he was a stranger and a 24/7 job. He ate and pooped every hour or so night and day. I couldn’t sit or lie down comfortably. I couldn’t sleep even when Léon did because I was in too much pain and too anxious about his breathing and when he would wake up next. I was in constant dread of the next time he would wake up, eat, need a change, or cry.

About a week after Léon’s birth, I spent the night slumped and sobbing on the couch in a position that barely hurt less than the others. I cried from the pain, fatigue, and because I wasn’t good enough for him. “I can’t do this,” was the thought that repeated itself without end. I resented him for hurting me and ruining my perfect life. I hated myself for resenting a baby that I had created. How could I blame my innocent baby? Why didn’t I feel that unique, overwhelming, all-consuming motherly love? There were a lot of answers to those questions. I’m worthless. I’m not enough. I’m a terrible mother, and so on. Those answers drove me to squeeze the soft skin on the inside of my wrist again and again until I couldn’t take it anymore, which wasn’t long. I cried and hated myself more because I couldn’t even self-harm properly.

I reached out to my mom. I reached out to Erwann. I reached out to my friends. But nothing changed. I hated being a mom. I wanted my old life back and simultaneously avoided thinking about my old life because it was too painful. I wanted to run away. I wanted to kill myself. I felt like I was already dead. I was no longer the person I had been. I didn’t know who the new person was, and it didn’t matter. I didn’t matter. Léon mattered. He was the only thing that mattered, and he deserved so much better.

I cracked after we had to take Léon to the ER. I stopped responding to Erwann when he talked to me. I cried. I hyperventilated. I cried more, continued taking quick, shallow breaths, and tried to scratch my wrists again. Erwann told me he would take care of everything. He said he would make sure I got better. I didn’t believe him. I wasn’t getting better. Erwann had to arrange to work from home because I couldn’t promise not to hurt myself. I spent days without talking. I only ate when Erwann sat me up and put food in front of me. He would bring the baby to me when he was hungry, and I would feed him, but I didn’t look at him. I stared at the wall crying and waiting for Erwann to take him away.

I started thinking about escape again. Erwann was doing everything in his power to help me get better. I wanted to get better, continue our life together, and be a happy family. I decided to give him time to try to find a solution. But I also I decided to take all the pain killers I had gotten for my tailbone as soon as it became unbearable.

I went to an appointment with my midwife and took the Edinburgh postnatal depression survey. My midwife said the score was scary and suggested immediate hospitalization, but I wasn’t willing to be separated from Léon. She said she knew of an intensive outpatient program for women with postpartum depression and asked if she could call and get me registered right away. I agreed.

I’ve been going to that program for two weeks now. I’m better than before, but I’m not “better.” I gave the pills to Erwann and am having glimpses at what it would be like to enjoy being Léon’s mom when he smiles and coos, but I still have panic attacks and think about escape. I’m learning ways to re-write some of my core beliefs that lead to negative emotions, but still feel criticized every time someone gives me advice because deep down I don’t think I’m a good enough mother. I still dread each feeding and diaper change, but find comfort in nursing and changing diapers alongside the other mom in the program. I am still overwhelmed by my new life and identity, but feel immense love and support from Erwann, my family and friends, and my therapists.

I don’t have much of a conclusion because this story is far from over, but I will leave you with this: Don’t reach out, because it’s not enough. KEEP reaching out. I reached out to my husband, and he saved my life. I reached out to my parents, my friends, a therapist, and my midwife. I have to reach out multiple times every day to get even a little relief from this burden. ALL of that continual reaching out is necessary for me to heal.

So don’t reach out. Keep reaching out until you find the help you need, and then keep reaching out some more.

 

About Me · California · Family · USA · Utah

We did a 12 hour road trip with our cats

“What are you doing about your cats?!” said about 100 people upon learning of our move.

Obviously we took them. We bought a little kitty tent on Amazon a few weeks ago and made a nice kitty fort in my back seat for them to snuggle up in during the drive from Orange County to Salt Lake City. While the tent was in our house, they loved it.

18789245_10155427060431941_1149900601_o

Obviously our plan didn’t work out in the car. Our cats DO NOT LIKE to be locked up. They cried and scratched incessantly. Hazel broke the zipper of the kitty tent and escaped in less than 20 minutes, although not unscathed. She was so desperate to get out that she tore up her nose on the zipper. Once out of her kitty prison, she howled and roamed all over the car, driving Erwann crazy, as he was trying to keep her from going under my brake and gas pedals.

Poppy was mostly chill from the start, but would also cry occasionally. Erwann had to pin Hazel on his lap the entire drive from Costa Mesa to Las Vegas. She would sometimes be calm, but every time she looked out the window she would start to howl again. She dozed off just in time for our first stop.

Along with the tent, we had also bought some kitty harnesses and leashes. I had tried to get them used to the harnesses to no great avail. However, crunch time had arrived. We stopped for gas just outside of Vegas in 108 F. I put the kitties in their harnesses and on their leashes to be able to give them some water and just get out of the car for a minute. They were not pleased.

20170524_113503.jpg

Erwann and I were not pleased either, because we let Poppy out of the tent to discover that she had peed all over. We decided to ditch the tent all together and make them a little bed in the back. We blocked the seats so they couldn’t go underneath and gave them free roam. This worked much better. They settled in pretty quickly and spent most of the final hours sleeping on our laps.

kittiescar.png

We made one more stop in Fillmore with the leashes and harnesses. The girls still weren’t loving it, but it wasn’t as hot as Vegas, so it went more smoothly.

kittiesfillmore.jpg

We rolled into Salt Lake around 7:30 pm, set up the kitties with their food, water, and litter box, and cleaned the cat pee out of the car as best we could. They are still on the traumatized spectrum almost a week later, but they’ll be fine. They have been drinking a lot of water because they refused to do so during the voyage and seem happy to have plenty of beds to hide under.

Poor kitties. We sure love them though, so I’d say they’re also very lucky.

About Me · California · USA

What I Learned in Grad School

My mom’s new favorite thing to make me repeat is, “It was worth it.” She seems to think that at some point in 2014 I said that a master’s degree wouldn’t be worth it. I’m pretty sure that never happened, so of course I’m happy to admit that, yes, it was worth it. I learned a lot, and it feels awesome to put “Master of Science in Education with concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” on my resume.

Image result for famous gif

Here’s some stuff I learned during this valuable process.

  1. Being a grad student doesn’t make you special. It makes you the system’s bitch for at least two years.  I’m also discovering that it doesn’t automatically prepare you to enter the workforce. Image result for funny grad school meme
  2. It’s much harder than a bachelor’s degree. MUCH HARDER. The study and learning methods I used during my undergraduate were not useful to me in grad school.  Image result for funny grad school meme
  3. It’s much less fun than ~college.~ No time for parties. No money for parties. No energy to make new friends.Image result for funny grad school memeImage result for funny grad school meme
  4. It takes a f****** toll on your mental health. I later found out I wasn’t alone in that. It’s not about avoiding it. It’s about endurance. Image result for funny grad school meme
  5. How to put theory into practice. I’m not sure how or when I learned that, but I did, and it’s actually cool. I see theory in my practice everyday. I find myself explaining things that seem like common sense. They’re not common sense. Apparently I absorbed something. Image result for happy surprised gif7. How to take better criticism. I’m a sensitive person. This is still tough for me, but I’ve improved and am generally more open to feedback. Image result for hurt feelings gif

My darling family drove 12 hours from Utah to attend the official ceremony today. Now we’re packing, packing, packing, and moving on Wednesday.

On to the next chapter.

About Me · France · Italy · Normandy · Rome · USA · Utah · Wedding

How I Found My Tribe

A few days after my wedding, Margaret, Aaron, and I went for a long hike in the mountains by my parents’ house. We were covered in dirt and sweat, but we made it to the beautiful waterfall and were now on our way back down the mountain. Somehow we walked right passed the bridge we were supposed to cross to continue to the trail on the other side of the river. I thought I had been following the trail, but eventually realized that the “trail” was no longer such. We had been hiking all day, and the thought of backtracking up the hill to find the bridge and relocate the real trail was not a bit appealing.

496 (2)

I scanned my surroundings and noticed that the trail was just on the other side of the ravine and across the water. We decided it would be faster to go down the muddy slope, cross the river, and climb up the slope on the other side. All too quickly we realized what a stupid decision this had been. It had rained recently, so we were immediately slipping and sliding down the damp slopes. But, it was too late to change our minds, so we laughed at the mud collecting all over our bodies and clothes and just kept on sliding.

At that moment I realized that these kinds of crazy, poorly thought out, and hilarious experiences are those which build the best friendships imaginable. All of the sudden, it felt like I was an international student in France again, part of me wishing I had been smarter, another part laughing hysterically, and another part petrified, all while having no other choice but to carry on. Sometimes during our year in France my American friends and I thought we had made a mistake in going there for a whole year, but all we could do was laugh and stick together until we made it to the other side. Even in the worst of times, we knew that the scary or horrible experiences would be unforgettable moments that would build lifelong friendships.

One particularly horribly unforgettable memory in France was waking up every Friday at 5:30 am to catch a train and be at work to teach English to middle school students at 8 am. Aaron, Margaret, and I all taught in a small rural city called Lisieux. Officially we were language “assistants” but in reality we were untrained English teachers. Lisieux was about a 20 minute train ride away, and we taught from 8 am until 5 pm every Friday. In order to take the train, walk to school, and begin class on time, we had to catch the 7:20 train. In Caen, the city where we were living, Thursdays were the best nights for students to go out to the bars. There were always parties on Thursday. My friends and I never went to these parties because we had to work, but they went on in our dorms without us every week. It was rare that we got enough sleep on a Thursday night due to the noise.

On top of that, we hated teaching. The students were between 12 and 16. They lived in a very small city in the countryside, so they didn’t see the use of English. They knew that we weren’t their real teachers and wanted to use the time in our classes to goof off. What’s more, we didn’t have sufficient training as “language assistants” to give engaging lessons. Dreading the following day, I always spent most Thursday nights lying in bed awake.

The only thing that made these Fridays bearable was my friends. Getting out of bed was made easier with the thought that I would spend the train ride with my friends. Although we were usually silent on the way to the train station, we would normally buy coffee and something sugary once we arrived. After perking up a bit, we would spend the time on the train bouncing ideas off of one another. None of us ever had a solid plan of what we were going to do on Friday; we all relied on each other for classroom activities.

During class, we would always send each other text messages about the happenings of our day. Aaron: “They’re fighting over the $1 prize for the game.” Alisa: “They’re rolling cigarettes.” Margaret: “They told me I have a big nose.” When the long day finally finished, we would meet up at the train station and spend the ride home venting and unwinding from the tiresome day. Aaron and I had been friends right from the start, but it took this uniquely miserable experience to bring me and Margaret together. We had always been cordial, but sharing those train rides was the building block of Margaret and my friendship.

Arin and I on the other hand, were already friends before we went to Rome, but we were bonded together after surviving a truly terrifying experience. There we overheard some American girls staying in the other room talk about whether or not their boyfriends back in the U.S. were cheating on them (they were). We saw the same old men from the restaurant at lunch on the news that same night. We giggled every time we got the opportunity to say, “Prego!”

378067_10150484118771789_730641095_n

We left our bed and breakfast to go back to France at about 4 am. Our flight was at 7 am, and we had to catch the shuttle to the airport well in advance. It was pitch black when we left. Upon arriving in Rome, we had walked through the train station to get to our bed and breakfast. At 4 am however, the train station was still closed. We had to walk around the station to get to the other side. Arin and I felt terrifyingly exposed with our red and blonde hair. Numerous homeless men spoke to us in Italian. At one point, a car full of Italian men pulled over and signaled for us to get in their car. We held each other, praying that we wouldn’t get kidnapped and guiltily thinking about what our mother’s would say if they knew what their daughter’s had gotten themselves into.

Not wanting to cause her more grey hairs than was necessary, I didn’t tell my mom the full story about my trip to Rome until three years later. During those days leading up to my wedding, Aaron, Margaret, Arin, and I finally recounted all the silly and sometimes downright stupid things we had done while studying abroad in France. When I first met them back in 2011, Aaron was a guy from Pennsylvania, Arin was the redhead who lived on the third floor, and Margaret was the girl with the cute boots. As a normal girl from Utah, I never expected to form such a strong bond with other seemingly normal Americans. But, through surviving a year away from our country and our families, near kidnapping, and sliding down muddy mountain slopes, I found my tribe.

About Me · Family

Mrs. Hickel

FRI-YAY, it’s Friday! Friday is Alisa day. Monday through Thursday are jam-packed with school and work, and on the weekend I try to spend as much time as possible with my hubby. So, a few weeks ago, I decided to set Friday afternoons aside FOR ME, and only me. Usually I stay at home and nap with my fur babies. Today I had some serious online shopping to do, but unfortunately I had to stop by the county records office to pick up a copy of our marriage certificate. I mailed the original off to the social security office awhile back, and they never returned it to me.

As I was walking through cloudy downtown Santa Ana, I got a phone call from an unknown number. I answered in a slightly annoyed voice, because I hate phone calls and I hate strangers. To my surprised delight, there was actually (what sounded like) a polite and efficient government worker named Justin on the other end of the line.

“Hello, is this Mrs. Hickel?” he asked.

SQUEEEEE! Mrs. Hickel! That was the first time a stranger referred to me as Mrs. Hickel. A bunch of people have been calling me Madame Hickel for over six months, but that felt more like a joke, because “Madame” sounds so old. Mrs. Hickel, on the other hand, sounds more real. It sounds like me, and I’m happy that people (and the U.S. government) are starting to refer to me that way.

Although we’ve only been married for six months, as of last week, Erwann has officially been my boyfriend for four years. It definitely feels like four years have passed, because so much has changed. On the other hand, our relationship still feels fresh and exciting, so it’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. We met in 2012, and I know we both feel lucky to have found each other.

In 2012, Erwann introduced me to all the best French things that I wouldn’t have found on my own. It wasn’t until he came into my life that France started to feel like a second home. We also spent a month in Portugal and then four months apart. In autumn of that year, he came to Utah for his first Thanksgiving and his first Utah winter. In Utah, Erwann said he felt like he was in “the real America.”

In February of 2013, Erwann’s tourist visa ran out and he had to go back to France. We spent another four months apart. In May, I graduated and immediately left to spend the summer in France and Portugal with him. Erwann spent the summer working at horrible temp jobs, trying to save as much money as possible. At the same time, he was also searching for any possible job in the U.S. Finally, he was offered something in Orange County, California. I was somewhat reluctant, but mostly ecstatic that we were AT LAST going to actually live in the same city.

And so for the first time in our relationship, we settled into real life. Over the next two years, I bounced between a few jobs, all of which I hated, and Erwann worked hard to refine his coding skills. We made some friends, adopted some cats, enjoyed the brutal Southern California winters, and whined about the traffic. By the end of 2014, I had quit my first “real” job and decided to go back to school. Erwann’s visa was going to expire soon. We had talked about it and decided to get married, but it was not yet official. Christmas came and went and there was still no ring.

Then, in January 2015, Erwann surprised me with a weekend trip to Catalina and proposed to me over dinner. The time between then and August is all one big blur of wedding plans, unemployment for Erwann, my stressful first semester of grad school, hating my new restaurant job, finding my first teaching job, and then WEDDING WEDDING WEDDING. After all the madness, we struggled to settle back into real life. The whole year had led up to that big day, and it was all so much fun. Going back to work and school sucked for both of us. However, we then got to plan our first trip back to Europe in over two years, and I spent the holidays with my new French family.

After that, as always, it was time again to calm down and get back to normal life. And here we are. We go to work, we watch TV, cuddle kitties, sleep on the weekends, and make plans for our future. As it turns out, normality as Mrs. Hickel ain’t so bad.