living on the navajo reservation

I grew up most of my life in the city and coming back to my great grandmother’s house was a regular event throughout my entire life. Nearly all of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents have spent most of their lives around that house and it has become the place where parties and holidays are held and it really is so stereotypical and happy there.

Almost 30 feet away was the house that belonged to my paternal grandmother and that’s where I currently live with my son. We’ve lived here for a year now and I really do think that he loves being here, so close to his grandmother’s every day. It’s definitely a big change in environment for me every day but I  really wouldn’t want to change a thing about it.

It is really unfortunate the kind of circumstances that brought us here though, but as always it is because of my boyfriend’s actions and choices involving heroin. For at least 4 months before we moved he was taking money from my account to spend on his habit. This money was what I made at my full-time job, money that I worked hard for while pregnant might I add. This decision to basically steal from me was the reason that we almost didn’t make our rent payment for those months. And why for the last two months that we lived there we didn’t pay our rent at all. If we didn’t move when we did we would’ve eventually been forced to leave by the constable with our 2-month-old infant.

And even after moving and being away from the toxic environment that was our apartment complex sobriety wasn’t a priority to Kannon’s father. Just finding some way to get a buzz even if it wasn’t from opiates. And for other dramatic and just stupid reasons and events, Kannon’s father was no longer welcome on my grandmother’s property.

But that’s all changed and we are happy here on our own.  We live at least 45 minutes from a Wal-Mart and a mall and other main food places but the view every day is fantastic and so worth it. We live right across from this small mountain and it is just gorgeous. My family each year goes on a group hike and we get right up to the edge for picture and just for the thrill of it.  We have our Easter egg hunt at the base of this mountain and my Great Grandfather was even laid to rest nearby. Each winter we also go sledding and tubing down the roads too. There have just been so many memories created by my family on this lands that make it so unbelievably special.

It definitely is a shock not having a heating a cooling system like most civilized areas but it’s nothing some hard work and elbow grease doesn’t fix. It was a struggle to keep the wood stove constantly going and warm with a young baby but you know next winter will be a different story and experience because my son will be much older. Even now we are fortunate enough to have an air conditioner in our bedroom now that it is getting to be warmer each and every day. Even living on the reservation we are very fortunate and privileged to have running water, electricity, and gas in our home readily available to us.

Many of the residents of the reservations including elderly don’t have access to these kinds of basic needs. Many people living in more rural areas than myself have to go and get water and bring it back to their home and conserve this water for possibly a week or more before they can go make the trip to get more. Many of these same homes don’t even have access to electricity. This could be because of the cultural preferences of the elders but that doesn’t make it right. If anything because they are elderly they should be receiving access to electricity more than others. But this is just the cold hard facts of the lifestyle of that is very common on the reservation. Each Native American reservation is considered sovereign land and only receive a predesignated amount of fund from the US government and as much as the Native governments try their best to distribute assistance to those who need it the fact is that we as Native Americans are struggling each and every day.

 

mother of a club foot child

At birth, my doctors found out that my son has been affected with clubfoot, on his right side. Because of the medical treatment, I got in the early months of my pregnancy at the IHS hospital in Phoenix, AZ, I was only able to get two ultrasounds my entire pregnancy.

Sometimes if a baby is positioned in the right way then clubfoot can be identified in utero, other cases like my son’s it can’t be known until birth. There really isn’t a way to prepare for this if you are able to have the early diagnosis. Except that maybe your newborn can’t wear some of the really cute pants or PJs because of the way that treatment goes.

Clubfoot is caused by a varying number of things, positioning in the womb, genetic history or even just the ways the muscles of tendon develop by being too short causing the foot to be curved and turned downwards like golfing club, hence the name.

Treatment for clubfoot starts as soon as possible with an orthopedic surgeon, this just the kind of doctor that you go to for broken bones and such. But what the doctor does is stretch and manipulate the affected foot to the correct position and cast the foot in place, from upper thigh to toes. Each and every week the appointment is made and the cast is cut off and replaced while the cast each week slowly and slowly turns back into the correct position. This didn’t harm to my son or cause him pain, and it’s really similar to what orthodontic do to patients with braces.  But like braces he was sore and irritable after each adjustment, nothing a little cuddling and ibuprofen could help. This goes on for about 6-8 weeks depending on the severity of the clubfoot but luckily enough my son only needed 6 weeks, 6 casts for his treatment.

My son did well with each casting but the hard part about it was making sure that he didn’t get hot and that the cast didn’t get wet and sweaty. My son also wasn’t able to take a regular bath for weeks and he had to take plenty of sponge baths.

After the 6th cast instead of the regular appointment, my son was scheduled for a tenotomy. This is a simple non-invasive surgery that is done to the heel tendon, aka Achilles tendon. All the doctor does is cut the tendon and recast while in the operating room this cast stays in place for 4 weeks. This just helps to ensure that the surgical wound heals properly. While in the cast the tendon regrows longer and is completely fine afterward.  my son acted and developed in all of the

Despite all of this my son acted and developed in all of the regular ways and in the regular average timeline of most babies.

Dealing with all of this while being a first-time mother was probably one of the most difficult things ever. if it wasn’t for Kannon’s father I really believe that I would have developed postpartum depression. But luckily enough he was unbelievably supportive because I truly thought that my son’s deformity was my fault I thought every day that I was not big enough for my son to grow and that I caused this. But each time this thought bubbled in my head my boyfriend reassured me.

As amazing as he was my boyfriend’s addiction also was a common factor in my son’s recovery. There were the times when his father was so dope sick that I couldn’t convince him to get up to come to the casting appointment with me for our son. There were even times he would call me as soon as I parked at the doctor’s office and he would apologize and ask for me to come pick him up because he knew he had to be there for our child. This, in turn, would make us late for the appointment.

Even on the morning of the surgery his father turned off our alarms and made us hours late to the scheduled appointment for his surgery. Anyone that has surgery knows that the patient can’t eat or drink anything before the operation and with an infant that is just plain torture. My son wasn’t able to breastfeed for 6 hours before the appointment and because of his father’s decision to turn off our alarms my son had to go almost 3 extra hours without feeding.

This made the entire rest of the day so tense between us and he even had the audacity to sleep in the waiting room while I was pacing and waiting for our son to be our of the operating room.

After the 4 weeks of a single cast my little boy would only have to wear a special kind of brace for 23 hours of the day and 7 days of the week. He was only allowed to be out of this brace for an hour for a bath and a strech. Mind you my son was still tiny and squishy and small. He learned how to roll over in this brace and if that gives you an idea of how little he was.

But as time goes on he is now at the point of his recovery where he only needs to wear his brace over night. This is the longest and most vital part of his journey as a clubfoot baby. He has to continue wearing his brace until he is 4 years old. Each and every night. Along with the brace there are ankle streches and rotations that need to be done daily to be sure that his foot stays flexible and this helps ensure that there is no relapse of his clubfoot.

So the jouney goes on but despite everything I am so grateful of my son and eveything that he is. He is currently walking and every single step that he takes I am so so proud to see. With out his doctors and treatment he wouldn’t ever being doing anything that a non-deformed child could do. So thank you to his doctors I’m be beyond grateful.

 

waste free day to day DIY products

The more I look into the effect that each person has on the earth the more I notice commonalities in the habits that we are all making. If you are a person with at least halfway decent personal hygiene then you would at least have soap and toothpaste. And for those that pride themselves on their hygiene rituals then you have much more in your arsenal. But after plenty of research, I’ve learned that many of these day to day products could be made at home in bulk or in small batches as needed.

Like toothpaste, you can spend between 4-8 dollars per tube and they last well enough but there is a way to pay less than a dollar for just about the same amount of product, comparatively. All you need is BAKING SODA! Of course, you can add flavoring through essential oils like peppermint.

Baking soda is really just like the holy grail of DIY and can be used for so so so many things for beauty and household cleaning.

I have yet to start making my own products in any sense except for a body scrub recipe I’m experimenting with but right now I’m using up all the products I have the plan is not to re-buy or restock on any of it.

I have looked into the history of soap and I realized how easily I could of start making my own and I could possibly do in the most all-natural way. I love in an area of the Navajo reservation where wood stoves are the main and only source of heat in the winter. From the ashes, a type of chemical can be extracted, and combine that with a type of oil or fat, and you have the beginnings of soap! There is just so much information on soap making that I’ll make a post of its own on that, I’ll maybe even try to document my progress on it.

I think that just goes for most of the projects or plans that I have for the future. Right now I’m just so busy with mom duties that I can’t have much focus on anything but my son. But I will try to at least put out a bit of writing each day.

fathers day ’17

First and foremost if I haven’t made it clear enough before my son’s father is addicted to heroin. He has been since about January or February ’16. I tried hard to allow him to be a father to our son because that what Kannon deserves a rounded development with a mom and dad. But life isn’t perfect and there are evil things in the world that can draw in the most beautiful souls like my ex-boyfriend.

I know without a doubt that he loves Kannon but the fact is he loves the drugs more. Its baffling that someone could choose a high over the perfection of a child, but drugs do that. they poison the mind body and soul, and no one can make an addict leave it behind expect themselves. It took me a long time to realize that.

I cut contact with my son’s father not long before I started this blog. But I got slightly drawn back in the past couple of days. He called me from the hospital and since I didn;t recognize the number I answered. We talked, cried of course but then didn’t speak for the rest of the day. I realize faulting in my no contact self-agreement is kind of a setback in recovery but so far I think I’m alright. He called again the day of Father’s Day and I allowed that because no matter the past he is my son’s father and nothing can change that.

But what makes the day a bit more strange is that Kannon’s paternal great-grandmother drove over three hours just to meet him. I was expecting that lunch to go so many different ways but honestly really enjoyed myself. It was really a huge weight off my shoulders being truthful about why her grandson and I are no longer in a relationship. Being truthful about how that relationship was becoming more and more poisonous to me each day. And how it has affected my college career path and such was such a relief. She understood and sympathized and it allowed me to justify my feelings of disappointment in myself and other factors of why I decided to leave college.

I felt so terrible telling her about what was going on and seeing how much it broke her heart. She is a kind lady and really cares about her family and I could tell she tried her best to help her family. Hearing about her experience trying to help her daughter, Kannon’s paternal grandmother, with her addiction just made me realize that I am making the right choice. That I don’t have to drag myself behind my ex-boyfriend’s path just because of his decision to bring a dangerous drug into his life.

I told her all about what he’s done to my family and how there were conditions made so that we could reunite as a family but he couldn’t follow through on any of them. I told her about his many stints in a detox facility and his experience in rehab and half way houses and how none of that still didn’t seem to stick. After each time he attempt to get help it would be quickly followed by a relapse and the cycle that was just constant and that i really couldn’t see the end of it insight.

I think right now my ex-boyfriend is much too like his mother, just because fo the addiction and the fact that I have separated us physically and emotionally. listening to his grandmother’s stories just shocked me so much, the similarities between them was uncanny. I Have plenty to say about my experience with his mother but most of that could probably be a blog post all of its own.

My lunch with Kannon’s great grandmother made me appreciate my outlook in my future. I choose my son, I choose to show him a happy fulfilled life. I am so glad that he has started to meet his father’s side of family because I know how much my family loves him and how much joy he brings to our lives and if I can give that joy to others through Kannon just by the fact of him being created then that is something I can get behind and support.

birth story of Kannon Joseph

My son was born on April 27, 2016. I was induced on that day but because of some distressing heart rate observations during each of my contractions, my doctor decided to just schedule a C-section for late in the afternoon.

Unlike most fathers, my son’s dad didn’t stay with me the entire time, he didn’t offer to get me ice chips and all that cheesy stuff. He decided about 3 hours before the surgery to go back to our apartment, right across the street from the hospital, and check on our dog one last time. It wasn’t until months later did I figure out that he left so that he could go get high. He almost missed our son’s birth. For an entire 45 minutes before the operation, I was calling and texting asking “where are you?” , “is everything okay?” , “you need to come back!” , “the surgery is soon, hurry!” and all kinds of things. I was taken into the operating room not knowing if he was going to make it in time. my nurses were sympathetic enough to allow me to bring my phone in the operating room so that I could keep calling and texting. but it wasn’t until after I got the epidural for my c section, and I was laying down on the table did the nurses announce that he was here, that he made it. It really stung a small part of my heart that I didn’t get to take that silly little picture of him all dressed in his scrubs but I guess that is just the cost of addiction. Missing moments in life because the need to get high is just more important.

If it weren’t for the fact that I was so nervous about my major surgery I probably would have been even more mad at him than I was. But I needed him. I needed him because no matter what he did I relied on him so much because in the past he was what got me through so many just overwhelming emotional and mental anxiety bursts and he was truly my best friend and soul mate.

I swear that surgery felt like it was so short but in reality a major surgery like that takes time. I had no idea where in the process they were, my surgeon wasn’t saying much to me then all of a sudden I heard that beautiful cry, that is a moment I will never forget, I cried as soon as I really registered that that was my baby crying, that he truly was his own person now.

When the surgical nurse showed me my son for the first time I immediately saw my father’s face and the resemblance of him. It was so quick, a flash, but I knew that my dad would be a major part of my son’s amazing life.

But getting past the surgery, when I finally got to the recovery area my doctor came in and he told me that my son had a condition called clubfoot on his right side. Kannon was bundled so much by the nursery blanket that I didn’t even notice. Our previous ultrasounds, only two sessions, had never given any sign of that. But I’ll create a post all about that and his surgery another time.

I remember sitting in my recovery bed and I just could not stop itching my face! I mentioned it to Kannon’s father and he just told me it’s a side effect of the kind of drug they put me on for either the epidural or the pain medicine. I always thought it was funny that I asked him before the nurse. I guess it was just an automatic reaction, I mean ask the addict first I guess…

I also really don’t know how long we were in the recovery area. I remember breastfeeding Kannon for such a long time and since he was so tiny I didn’t want to squish his face with my boob so I held down that part for him and I think I started to fall asleep like that. I really don’t have a clear grasp on the timeline during and after the c section.

I know without a doubt that Kannon’s father loves his son. I don’t want to in any way portray a story that makes it seem like he doesn’t. But the fact is no matter how happy the memory, it is always slightly shadowed by addiction.

This is reflected even more during the next few days of our hospital stay. Kannon’s father would always leave, sometimes hours on end. It was so often that our nurses even started to notice and mentioned something. There were even a few nights when he would sleep at home, or at least say he was sleeping, instead of being at the hospital assisting me with our new son. And anyone who has had a child knows that the second night is nothing but cluster feeding, diaper changes and 30-minute cat naps every couple of hours. So exhausting. And his father was barely there. I believe there was only one time in his entire newborn stage that Kannon had a skin-to-skin session with his father.

our first picture together-1

But we still made it home. And that came with enough difficulties of its own but that an entirely different story. All in all, I was blessed with a tiny little angel and there is nothing I would change about him. He will forever be part his father and I love that fact. Because let’s face it, I will forever love his father.

first step to a waste-free life

You know with all that’s going in the world ecologically and politically I have been looking into what I can do to help reduce my footprint in the world. I read a statistic somewhere that said each person creates about 7-10 pounds of trash in a single day. That is just ridiculous to me but it still makes sense.

As much as I’d like to put my son in cloth diapers and reuse and wash them each day where I live it is just not possible, so like most parents across the country and the world I use disposable diapers because of the convenience. There’s not much I can do to change that except looking into potty training him early but even that is a challenge in itself.

The most simple and lazy thing I have found to reduce my waste is to start composting. Composting is basically putting together all kinds of natural waste from fruits and veggies to cardboard and paper and letting nature do its thing. To speed up this process vermin aka natural decomposers like different species earthworms can be added to the pile and they will just digest and expel it all again.

When the pile is completely composted this can be reused as fertilizer and it saves you the trip to home depot or where ever to spend 15-30 dollars on the pre-produced stuff. That is just mind blowing to me, with this fertilizer you can grow your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs or even just have a flower garden.  And don’t even get me started on how a flower garden could help out the bee population.

But you really don’t have to use your product to plant because that is just anxiety inducing itself because of the whole “what if I don’t have a green thumb?” dilemma. That means that if you are willing to you can find a local farmer or gardener and make them offer for your product, and there you go money in your pocket for your trash.

So from what I can tell all you need is some kind of plastic container to layer your waste and within a matter of weeks, you’ll have your own piece of mother nature doing work right in your backyard or porch. And yeah I know it is kind of unnerving thinking wow I have a bunch of stuff just sitting there decomposing and doesn’t that just mean its rotting? No, it’s not it’s slowly breaking down the enzymes and this is just an all natural chemical reaction that our planet has been doing since the beginning of life. It’s really just trying to find the right combination of green and brown waste and once you find that balance you really don’t have to do much except stir and re-layer waste occasionally.

So that is my first solution to a green lifestyle change, I still need to get a container but I’ve already been collecting my waste and once it’s started I’ll be sure to take pictures and I think eventually I’ll add in some earthworms. but I want to learn how to balance my green and brown waste before hand.

why start this blog?

This blog, for now, is a way for me to move on from my past by talking about it and making what I’ve been through more real. By making it real I believe I can ground my memories in the past so that I can focus on the future of myself and my son.

I still have aspirations and goals. By writing about it, it’ll help me get back there. I want to go back to being a University of Arizona student, online most likely. I want to start living a more green and healthy lifestyle, good habits, good project and a waste-free lifestyle.

The more I write I hope to become more comfortable talking about my past and hopefully I can help somebody anybody that needs it. To know their not alone, to know that what they are feeling is real and it’s okay to choose yourself, your mental health, your emotional health. Just to be able to know what you want in life to be happier to live a fuller life.

This poem is what made me choose to change my life. This made me realize that I loved my son so much more than who was holding us back. This made me realize that I loved myself more than that, it made me remember the goals I used to prioritize and the person I used to be. I want to be a stronger version of that person for my son. He deserves that kind of role model. He deserves the world and I will give it to him. No matter the cost.  To The Man Who Loved Drugs More Than Me , I’ve chosen to love our son and myself more than you ever could.