Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted to write a bit about how I have been doing lately, what I have been learning through my postpartum depression recovery, and what God has been teaching me. Mother's Day yesterday was a little emotional for me, but in a good way. I felt a little overwhelmed yesterday...I am so very grateful for my little girl, and so grateful to be a mommy. An imperfect mommy.

For so long, I have felt sad about my postpartum depression - angry that I missed out on those happy "new mommy" feelings that I expected to experience (okay, so I still get sad about that, but oh, well, right?), confused about why I had to go through this, struggling daily with my thoughts and feelings. Slowly, God is bringing me to a place of freedom in Christ that I never could have known without experiencing postpartum depression.

I've always been a perfectionist and a very emotional person. Somehow, I thought that God wanted me to be perfect. (As my counselor told me, "Do you want Christ to die every day or what?") When Clara was born, and I couldn't get her to stop crying, couldn't keep the house clean, couldn't even remember to eat...well, you can only imagine how I felt. Add to that a crazy chemical imbalance and improper brain functioning, and that has been my life for almost a year now. I'm quite sure it's been the hardest year of my life.

But, oh, the things I am learning! I am learning that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to keep my house immaculate all the time. I'm learning that I don't have to make homemade baby food if I don't want to. I'm learning that if my kid watches TV, I'm not a bad mommy. I'm learning that when I make a mistake, I don't have to dwell on it for the next three days. I'm learning that I don't have to do what I think other people want me to do, only what God wants me to do. I'm learning that formula keeps a baby full, just like breast milk. :) I'm learning that what I do doesn't define who I am. I'm learning that I have a God who loves me, regardless of how I feel, what standards I do/don't measure up to, and what I accomplish in a day.

I am learning so much more than that, but those have been pretty big things for me. :) I am so grateful for my little girl and for all that God has been teaching me through my postpartum experience. This Mother's Day, I am overwhelmed by God's mercy over the past year. It has been (and will continue to be, I'm sure) a roller coaster, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I was singing this hymn this morning, and realized that it kind of expresses my feelings lately.

May the mind of Christ my Savior Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow'r controlling All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph Only thru His pow'r.

May the peace of God my Father Rule my life in ev'rything,
That I may be calm to comfort Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing -- This is victory.

May I run the race before me, Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus As I onward go.

- Kate B. Wilkinson

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday morning

I wish it would warm up and get sunny out so that Clara and I could go for walks again.

I'm proud of myself today. Clara has a cold, and I had the stomach flu over the weekend. But with God's strength, we are making it! Nine months ago, I don't think we could have. I feel strong today. The weather is yucky, the house is messy, the laundry is piled up, Clara and I aren't feeling well, but I know that it's all okay. We are going to make it! I know that it is not because of my own energy or resources, but through God's redemptive power. I love that!

I found out this weekend that my sister is pregnant again. We had babies a couple of weeks apart. I cried after I found out. I am super happy for her and excited, but it makes me sad that I am not in a position to be pregnant yet. I'd like to think that I am, but I know it's not God's time yet. It's all about expectations. I really thought I'd be pregnant by now, but that's not in the plan yet. I have an absolutely wonderful little girl who I love more than anything, and I am so grateful for her. We have a great time, she and I. Even if God doesn't give us any more children, we are so so blessed. I like coming to terms with that. I'm not saying that it's not possible, but I feel that I need to realize that it could be that God's will is for us to have just one. Accepting that helps me to be okay with whatever happens. We have a wonderful life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Not Cloud Nine

A friend had a baby today. She and her husband were described as being "on cloud nine." I'm happy for them. I don't understand it, though. They say you don't know the feeling of having a baby until you actual have one, but I think I still don't understand. When Clara was born, my most prominent feeling was terror. Recovery was SO MUCH WORSE than I knew it was going to be, and this little tiny screaming thing didn't know how to eat properly. I didn't want to hold her. "Cloud nine" is definitely not how I would describe those first few days. I vaguely remember watching I Love Lucy in the hospital the night Clara was born. I don't know why I was even awake. Shannon was sleeping on the little cot next to me, Clara was in the nursery, but I was awake. I remember that my mom came to visit me the next day, and I remember how badly it hurt when Clara was nursing while my mom was there. I remember attending the new parents class with Shannon at the hospital and not paying much attention when when the instructor talked about postpartum depression. I always skipped that part in the books, assuming it would never be me. I remember coming home from the hospital. I remember lying down on the couch in exhaustion as soon as I walked in the door. We gave Clara a bath and she..ahem..."went" all over the white towel we used to bathe her on. What were were thinking, bathing her on a white towel? :P My parents and Naomi and co. brought us dinner that night. I couldn't eat a bite. I remember feeling very overwhelmed and going upstairs with Clara to feed her. I didn't come back down until after everyone had left. I wish that I could tear up and how beautiful my baby looked, how glorious it was to be back at home, and how amazing it was to have a little family. But, I tear up because I remember so well that feeling of confusion and overwhelming panic. It feels good to write about it, to remember.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Post One

Sometimes I wish I could go back and re-live Clara's early baby days. Looking at her baby pictures brings back so many memories of pain and confusion and insomnia and just overwhelming grief. I wish I could go back, feeling how I feel now, and get to enjoy her tiny-ness, her newborn smell, those peaceful moments that I always dreamed of, but never got to enjoy. So much of those first few months I can't even recall, yet there are so many specific moments that I remember all too well. I know that Shannon was off of work for two whole weeks after Clara was born, but I have no idea what we did for those two weeks or any idea of what our days looked like, etc. I do, however, remember specific moments in time - specific feelings that now I wish I could forget. I remember, wailing on the bed in the middle of the night because Clara would not sleep. I remember watching countless episodes of House Hunters and eating hundreds of Teddy Grahams in the wee hours of the morning, then weeping again because the sun was coming up and I had slept maybe one hour all night. Looking back, I'm not even sure if Clara was really crying all night or not. I am sure she must not have been, and Shannon can verify that fact. I honestly do not remember much about her at all in those days. I grieve for what I lost, but at the same time, I am so grateful for what Shannon, Clara, and I got to experience. We all toughed it out together. Do you remember that scene in While You Were Sleeping where the guy is saying how everything is so much better since he had the close call with death, even his ice cream? That's kind of how I feel. Not 100% better, but compared to where I was, 200% better. I'm not even sure if that makes sense, but in a weird way, it does to me.