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  • Renee Burns

April 2020- Thoughts vs Emotions, pandemic-style

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Greetings fellow isolators!

How’s everyone doing? Going a bit stir crazy yet? Join the club.

The past few weeks for us have been a bit of a “groundhog day” scenario- eat, sleep, diapers, meds, walks, frequent visits to the fridge… probably not that much different than everyone else- with the exception that we have the task of being new parents trying to keep 2 little humans alive, and growing as healthily as we know how during an unknown time. To say each day has presented us with new and different challenges would be an understatement.

The following are some of the highlights from our past few weeks-

- Celebrating both of our birthdays! Zach had rings made with the girls names and birth stones on them for me, and I had a picture of the night sky with the constellations the night the girls were born made for him…we both shed some tears.

- Celebrating Passover and Easter! We participated in a brief Zoom sedar with my family in Virginia (which brought tears to my eyes missing my family) and had an Easter brunch with Zach’s parents.

- Zoom cocktails, or “zocktails”, for the second time with my fathers side of the family, including my 94 yr old grandmother who has enjoyed "seeing" her great grandchildren now twice.

- Having silly facetime competitions with out-of-state friends…nuff said.

- Making the front page of the paper! The girls and I made the front page of the local paper last week. We were interviewed about bringing home newborns during corona time, and were asked to send pics…we had no clue one of our pictures would be front page news!

- Returning to Duluth to boxes of treats from friends and family, including outfits, diapers, and other assorted baby goods…awesome!

The following are some of the girls highlights from the past few weeks-

- Eloise hitting 9 pounds and Vivian hitting 8.

- Both girls finding their smiles- and smiling back at us

- Both girls sleeping a bit more

- Eloise graduating out of newborn diapers!

- Vivian and El picking up their heads during tummy time

- Being awesome travel companions and making the 6-hour trek down to the twin cities and back in day for an eye appointment

- Getting good news from the eye doc that both girls eyes continue to develop appropriately! (still with retinopathy in outer retina- but hopes to continue to grow out and not need laser treatments)

We are working hard to focus on the highlights currently, because honestly, the sadness and anger creep in more regularly these days. It is difficult to not be able to bring my girls to meet my family, it is difficult to have babies that we cannot “show off” to anyone. And then- below the difficulties associated with the coronavirus are the waves of sadness and anger regarding our birth story.

As someone who has been involved in the field of mental health in some capacity or another for the past 20 years I know very well the importance of naming emotions…and have never shied away from expressing them (ask my parents lol). I have worked for a very long time to help make it “OK to NOT be OK.” I find it interesting, and encouraging, to see so many people openly sharing their struggles/imperfections/”authentic” selves on social media these days. The reality is that the next big crisis will be in mental health-coinciding with the pandemic. For our specific journey, it has been soooo important to name our emotions, and not shy away from them. Also, knowing what is truly important, and what is superfluous to us has gotten us to this point strongly united during such a difficult time.

I guess I have been reflecting more and more on my personal and professional background with mental health- specifically leaning on my background in dialectical behavior therapy- the idea that all humans operate out of three different “minds” at any given time; the emotional, the rational, and the wise mind. Us humans vacillate between these “minds” all the time, however spend very little time knowing which “mind” we are in, and how to “get out” of a mind that does not suite us. This type of therapy is grounded in mindfulness (makes sense, right?). However, not “mindfulness” like the buzz word out there...but a mindfulness built on a specific “WHAT” and “HOW” skillset. First- WHAT is mindfulness? and HOW do you do it? Once you are able to fully grasp the WHAT/HOW, only then are you able to become aware of which “mind” you are in, giving you the power to make a change…and in order to make changes you need tools.

Recently, I have needed my toolbox by my side more than ever, as the lines between “rational” thoughts versus “emotions” have become blurred. So there it is.

Anyway… We anxiously await our first telehealth visit with our pediatric doc since the week we discharged home, as well as a visit from the home health specialists for the girls updated shots. We have a follow-up for Vivian’s surgery next week, and our first Zoom meeting with the developmental educators from the school district. We feel as though we are about to enter the next phase of receiving new information regarding the girls progress. We will continue to focus on the highlights, be mindful of which “mind” we are operating out of, and above all else, work express gratitude for what we have.

We hope that each one of you are also able to find gratitude, honor your emotions, and be “OK” with things not being “OK” at times- all while navigating unknown territory. And, as always, thanks for following along with our weekly updates…Fingers crossed that the next journal entry after the doctor visits will be boring ones... but kind of the like the coronavirus, we have no clue what the future holds, so will work to appreciate the present between now and then~



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