Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Real Life Stories: Colleen Of The Stealthy Kitchen Mama

Joy, to me, is all about the little things. 

TJB: Thanks for being here today to share your story with all of us. Let's get going on the questions I have. What does having joy mean to you? 

Colleen: Joy, for me, is the journey, no matter the winding roads or rocky pathways, within it. Joy is the little things within the overall experience, that tickle my heart in the most unexpected way. Joy is a way of seeing beyond the obstacles and hardships and instead choosing to find the soft, quiet things that bring me rest and quiet contemplation. 

TJB: What brings you joy? 

Colleen: My Daughter brings me immense joy. Where I’m able to set aside the many physical struggles of mine and experience all of the wondereous, beautiful little things in life all over again, through her eyes. She is my inspiration. And my reason for being. And the one who helps me through my darkest days. She is my Joy.

TJB: Describe in detail a time or event in your life where you dealt with a mountain that seemed impossible to climb. 

Colleen: My entire life has been a mountain to overcome. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Chronic illness, chronic asthma, tumors, endometriosis, surgeries, PPD, an anxiety disorder as well as full menopause as 36 years old. Through all of it though, then and now, the outcome was my Daughter. 10 years ago, after my first major surgery that removed three tumors, one full ovary as well as half of my second ovary, my doctors told me that I was on borrowed time in regards to my fertility. 5 years later, when the pain from the endometriosis became nearly unbearable & my life became one of strict bedrest 70% of each month, every fertility specialist that my husband and i met with, unsympatheticaly revealed that the chances of becoming pregnant, even with help, was slim to none. but no matter the pain or doubt and resulting depression, I choose not to give in.

I was battling for my life but just as importantly for the chance to concieve. Which, to me, outweighed any sacrifice. Nearly 2 years later & over 100 trips to the ER to help manage the pain, I had finally convinced myself of the inevitable and went in to my specialist to schedule the full hysterectomy. This is when the miracle happened. One week after I saw my specialist, I discovered, in complete disbelief, that I was pregnant. Disbelief that became cautious optimism once I took three pregnancy tests. 9 months later, after a very scary, high-risk pregnancy resulting in the growth of another tumor at 4 months, as well as pneumonia the last two weeks of my pregnancy and during my daughter’s delivery, and the miracle that we had hoped and prayed and fought for, entered our world and changed it forever. In every way. The best of ways. 

And even though 6 months post, I underwent an emergency hysterectomy and am now in full menopause, I wouldn’t change these past 10 years of pain and struggle and on and off again depression, for anything else.

TJB: That sounds like a lot of pain, and a lot of perseverance. How did you make it through all of that? 

Colleen: I battled my way through all of it because I believed that I was meant to be a mother. I knew that I was meant to be a mother. And choose to never give in to anything or anyone else who said otherwise. 

TJB: Sometimes we just have to listen to our hearts, don't we? Did you choose happiness as a way through it? If so, what things did you do to bring happiness into your challenges?

Colleen: Happiness (then) was an incredibly difficult way to live for me because of the pain and struggle. Those couple of years before I became pregnant were more of survival than anything else. But even then and especially now (with my continuing battle with PPD, anxiety and menopause), my Family has become my true source of comfort, joy and yes, pieces of happiness. 

TJB: What did you learn from those experiences? 

Colleen: So many beautiful things. I could write a book on everything that I’ve learned about myself and my experiences within these past 10 years. Overall though, I’ve learned that nothing is finite, whether is be within this world or within ones heart, and because of this, nothing should ever be taken for granted. I believe that although the struggles that I faced before my pregnancy made me stronger, it’s the Miracle of my Daughter, who came after, who has made me a better person. 

TJB: How do you choose joy now? (If you do.) 

Colleen: I choose joy now by always (always) looking for the bright side of things. It’s not easy being a mother to a very active toddler, while owning a business, as well as battling through continuous bouts of depression, anxiety and not-so-lovely menopause. But Joy, to me, is all about the little things. The feel of my Daughter’s soft, curly hair upon my pillow at night. Her hand upon my neck. The smile she gives me when we awake every morning together. The giggle while watching her favorite show. The excitement she shows when we go to the park or the zoo or the grocery store. The way she runs, with such unbridled enthusiasm. The Joy that I feel as a Mother. A Mother’s kind of joy, which surpasses all else. 

My favorite quote: "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a Butterfly." 

TJB: Thank you so much for sharing that story with us. It seems like it would've been a struggle to just get through all of those days full of worry and fear, and I think there are a lot of women who would agree with you and probably can relate.

To catch up with Colleen outside of this post, you can find her at her blog: The Stealthy Kitchen Mama.

++ Please share any comments on this story, questions for me or Colleen, or your own similar stories below in the comments.
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Join the conversation!

  1. Joy and happiness is truly a choice. I've spoken about that. Hugs to you. And yes. The little things can outshine those big horrible things.

  2. What a powerful story! Thank you for sharing it. Your little one is beautiful.

  3. I am loving these interviews! Colleen sounds like an amazing person.. thanks for sharing!

  4. such a beautiful baby! colleen you are amazing!! my best wishes to you!! xo

  5. So inspiring! Thanks for sharing, best wishes Colleen!

  6. Thank you for sharing my story, Lana! This project of yours is such an empowering thing! And thank you ladies for all of the kind regards! xoxo

    -Colleen C

  7. Colleen, your story inspires me to appreciate all the small joys (and big ones) that come from my daughters. Thank you for sharing and being so strong and joyful through so much pain. Your daughter is a lucky girl :)


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