7 Months Pregnant

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I had every intention of sitting down and blogging over the past, cold, holidays. Obviously, that didn’t happen; and once again, I underestimated the exhaustion that comes with pregnancy!

I am now 7 months pregnant, with another little turning 2 next month, and our oldest approaching 4 in the spring. With almost three kids, we decided to stay home and not travel for the holidays. It was really relaxing when I was ironically expecting it to be lonely. I’ve been learning to be more aware of my limitations and finding peace in respecting them, even if it means missing out.

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Both S and C are becoming more helpful to me as they see my mobility limited each day by an extremely swollen tummy. They pick up the things that I drop, bring me their cups, and throw away their trash. Of course, they still act like normal toddlers still… but these little acts of childlike kindness have been a huge consolation to me.

The one thing still making me anxious is giving birth. Even though I have done it twice now, each time has involved fighting with doctors, arguing with nurses, and having to advocate for myself and the kind of birth that I want. I’m afraid I’m attempting a medication-free birth this time around, which is typically met with a lot of resistance from the medical community. Just the thought of having to advocate for myself is exhausting. There is also the fear in the back of my mind, one which the medical community would love to convince me of, that I can’t actually do it naturally, on my own.

The truth is, I actually have been complacent in preparing to have a natural birth. Despite gathering books on different methods and downloading birth meditations, I haven’t read or listened to any. I’ve made the excuse of being busy, and surely I am with 2 toddlers, however, the time has come to make it a priority. This gives birth to yet another fear… the reality that this IS happening. I’ve been able to just daydream about those ideal moments one has with a newborn: the cuddles, the coos, the surprise smiles. I’ve ignored the trial that will come before those treasured times to the point where I now resist the inevitable.

Well, it is a goal for me in the next week to crack open a book and listen to a meditation. The time has come!

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Postpartum Depression

I have debated on whether or not I publicly wanted to declare that I am suffering with postpartum depression, and have since decided that it would be more therapeutic and healing for me to write about it, then to put effort into concealing it.

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I have been on a long and exhausting journey, and I wish I could say I have reached my destination but the reality is, I am still on the road to recovery. I don’t know when I will feel comfortable writing about my experience from start to finish, but today I wanted to reveal my very first encounter with a psychiatrist when I first started treatment. This doctor was horrible, and I’m not just saying that because I am “ill” or because she told me things I didn’t want to hear; I’m saying that because she had no clue about postpartum depression and was less than qualified to do her job. To any woman who has attempted to get care and been treated this way, I am sorry. I am sorry that our system failed  you. I am sorry that you may have even given up seeking treatment because of a bad experience. I am sorry that mental health care professionals carry stigmas against their own patients. I know; I experienced it.

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I remember walking into her office, alone, afraid, and completely vulnerable. Her space was the epitome of a psyche ward: cold pale tile floors, white walls with various dents and scratches, and bright fluorescent lights that occasionally flickered.  As I explained my symptoms she interrupted me and in a very brash tone assumed “This is your first baby, huh?” I remember being taken aback that I would A) be interrupted just as I am bearing my soul and B) to have an assumption made about me by some one who had only known me for a total of 3 grand minutes. “No,” I replied, “This is my second child, which is why I didn’t expect–” Interrupting again, she just couldn’t hold back her surprise at being so painfully wrong. “Second child? That is very unusual. Are you sure you weren’t depressed with your first? It isn’t common to have depression with your second child and not your first.” And that’s when it hit me, I wasn’t going to receive a fair assessment and this doctor was going to do every thing possible, even imagine a history of depression in me, in order to make my illness fit her perception of what Postpartum Depression looks like.

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When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, she ended our appointment by asking me, “Do you want to have any more children?” I told her, “Yes, my husband and I would like to have a large family some day.” With a cold, domineering expression she said, “You may want to reconsider. I would probably stop having children in your situation.”

In a society where it is a CARDINAL SIN to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body, an incompetent doctor who had assessed me for only 20 minutes decided I should never procreate ever again. This was my first experience receiving psychiatric care for my postpartum depression. Perhaps to some it sounds dramatic, but I am completely serious when I say that the care I received was criminal. It amplified my symptoms of feeling like a failure, feeling guilty, feeling crazy

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I have since found a therapist who specializes in Postpartum Depression, who cried when I told her of this account. She is the one who made me feel human again. She is the one who gave me hope that I could get better and go on to be an amazing, wonderful, loving mother [to even MORE children, if I wish!]

If you are struggling with this horrible, awful illness I want you to know 3 things: You are not alone, it is NOT your fault, and with the appropriate care you can get better. For great resources and tools to help you find a specialist, visit http://www.postpartum.net/

Good Friday

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I’m going to be really transparent with you: This was an exhausting week. Not exhausting like “I’ve been really busy and got an hour less of sleep than I normally do…” No. This has been a week where the baby cried every 20 minutes, the house was chaos as we started transitioning our winter things to spring, I was running on only a few hours of sleep every day, and the toddler decided to test some boundaries (as they do…) J came home for lunch one day to find me on the floor crying because I literally didn’t know how to handle everything.

We’re human, and some times we can’t handle everything. It doesn’t matter if we should be able to, it doesn’t matter if the task seems easy or hard, some times we just can’t handle what’s on our plate and we need to call reinforcements. Luckily for me, I have awesome reinforcements. That afternoon, J took the rest of the day off to help me handle what I couldn’t do alone. He let me get in a 4 hour nap that my body was begging for, and after that, a couple of my friends dropped in just to see if I needed any help with the kids. Just when I couldn’t feel more loved, a mom from church delivered me a home cooked dinner and brownies.

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I am loved and I am lucky. When Jesus suffered, he was alone. I can’t imagine how that must have felt, as I just explained, I am easily overwhelmed and isolated just with the work of being a Stay-at-home mom. He took on unbearable pain, and he did it alone. My week has been rough, but ending it with Good Friday has certainly helped me to keep things in perspective. He did it alone because he loves us, and he was capable of doing it alone because he was the Son of God. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in that, I’m more a kin to Eve than I am to Christ. She was also alone when she decided to eat that apple. I’d like to think that suffering alone would help me be closer to Jesus than to Eve, but let’s be honest: I’m a sinner… 99% of the time, I’m going to drift closer to Eve. I’m sure suffering alone has its merits, but for me holiness comes through humility and admitting that I need help. I can’t do it alone. Holiness is being seen stripped of all my armor and perceived strength,  lying in a puddle of my own tears. So that is what I did this week. It was hard, exhausting, and embarrassing at times, but it’s what I needed, and I can’t help feeling like a new woman as I emerge out of Good Friday and head toward Easter Sunday.

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Part of the reason our house is in such disarray  is because we have another BIG change we’ll be experiencing soon. Some of you may have guessed it already but,  we bought a house! OK, so the sale is still “pending” but we are so excited and I’ve been wanting to announce it here for a couple weeks. Yes, I am overwhelmed because we just had  a new baby, switched to a new church, and now we’re going to be moving into a new house. These are all fabulous changes of course, but to a person with anxiety it has been overstimulating to say the least. Anyway, I’ll be posting updates about the house when I can (be on the lookout for pictures soon!) because we have exciting updates planned for it!

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Most importantly: have a happy Easter everyone! and don’t expect too many posts for the next few days, as we will be celebrating this joyful feast with family, and I want you to, too!