Friday, August 26, 2016

a full discloser

When I had Joe, I used to look at moms with newborns who managed to be somewhat put together and wondered how they did it.

How were they not losing their minds?
How were they not crying all the time?
How were their babies so happy?
How did they seem so calm and I seemed like such a wreck?

When I got help for my post partum depression, I started to see a turn around. When Robert's dad died and I quit caring what anyone told me, I started doing what I wanted with my baby and saw another jump of improvement.

As a second time mom, I have the benefit of all that experience. I don't want anyone to look at me right now and think, "wait - how is she so functional?!?!" and not know all the behind the scenes.

First, "functional" is relative. I spend 90% of my day feeding a baby, doing laundry, doing dishes, and keeping my 2 year old alive. That's it. You may see the other 10% and be impressed, but it's a lot of messy hair and yelling, "JOE DON'T TOUCH THAT" most of the time.

Second, Sam is, in comparison to Joe, a much easier baby. You get the kids you get and have zero control over it. Some babies are content, some aren't, and none of it is a reflection on your competency as a parent.

Third, I got help for post partum depression and anxiety before it hit this time. And I am so glad, because it came immediately and stronger than it did the first time. I filled out the little screening in the hospital and had to talk to about 100 people about how high I scored before I could leave. As awkward as that was, it made me realize how real the condition is. Honestly, it feels like it's your fault. Like you should simply calm down and get it together (can you tell I'm a little type A??). But just like I couldn't control my blood pressure continuing to drop during labor, I really can't control so much of the PPD/PPA. With the help of a good support system, medication, a great ob, conscience thoughts, prayers, and some good advice, I'm in a really good place. The best pieces of advice I got? Eat, sleep, try to get in some sunlight. Ask for help. When you wake up and feel like you're in shambles, tell yourself, "Today isn't going to be my best day, and that's ok. It's temporary". All that sound silly? I've been surprised by how much of a difference it has made.

Finally, there is no underestimating the benefit of getting to be a "been there, done that" mom (BTDT). Nursing constantly stresses me out. So I don't do it. BTDT and it was awful and probably the biggest contributing factor to my PPD/PPA the first time. We nurse when we can and do bottles and formula the rest of the time. We are all so much happier. Baby crying? He's fine - I know, because I've BTDT. The baby won't die if I first go to the bathroom, finish my dinner, or stop Joe from jumping out a window. Need to go somewhere? It'll be okay. BTDT. There are a hundred times a day that little things like this pop up, and it's so much less stressful because we know how it ends - with a crazy 2 year old. Turns out, you don't kill your kids, you just have to keep them from killing themselves.

The biggest blessing in all this is that I'm actually enjoying my baby and my toddler. We've had days of tears and exhaustion but it's not all dark. There's been so much joy. In fact, I feel like we are hunkered down in a little insulated bubble and I'm enjoying it. The days of returning to routine and getting stuff done will come. Today is not that day. Today I will play with Joe, I will feed Sam 100x, I will do dishes, I will watch re-runs on Netflix, and I will do about 10000000 loads of laundry.

Friday, June 10, 2016

when your birthday doesn't mean anything anymore

Today would have been my father-in-law's birthday. Isn't it weird to think that one day, we will die, and our birthdays are almost null? We have lots of birthdays we celebrate with our friends, families, and their kids, too. Birthdays are a big deal. Until you stop celebrating them.

And the weirdest part of this? I'm actually so, so glad to know that one day, my birthday won't mean anything. That is there something bigger, more significant, more important than the time I spend here on earth. I find that comforting on an existential level.

The truth is, I get mad some times. I get mad at the milestones and moments I don't get to have with my father-in-law. It feels like being robbed, over and over again.

C.S. Lewis said, "There are far, far things better ahead than any we leave behind." When I think about that, my anger fades. While the birthdays of my kids feel like a big deal, they are nothing compared to what Don gets in glory. They are nothing. I can't be mad at God for giving us far, far better things than that which he calls us to leave behind.

People say weird things to you when someone you love dies. God didn't "need" my father-in-law to be with him. He doesn't need any of us. He chooses to give us love and life. My father-in-law isn't an angel that is added to some celestial menagerie by God, he was a man redeemed by grace, and for whatever reason, his time on earth ended when it did.

So happy unbirthday to a man we all loved very, very much. As hard as it is, I am choosing to find more hope in the not celebrating than I find in marking the passing of life.

And as hard as it is, I will continue to raise the mini-Don, the Robert-clone. I mean, good grief people, this kid is crazy ;) But I don't think we could love him anymore.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

i love having a 2 year old

I don't know who called the 2's terrible, because from what I hear, it's really 3 that we need to watch out for.
Joe is obsessed with noses

I love having a 2 year old.
Every single day, I turn to Robert and I say, "Can we keep him like this? It's perfect. Just for a bit longer. Not forever. Just maybe an extra year?"

I know I talk a LOT about the craziness of two. It IS crazy. But it's a hilarious crazy. It's ABSURD. My son cannot talk and argues with me on a daily basis. While that's frustrating, it's also laugh out loud funny. And no, I do not get anything done, but there's a hilarity in that, too. While it may seem awful that my son can undo child locks and doesn't listen and is almost never still, all those things are what make him an amazing little person. He's bright and mechanical and determined. I wouldn't change any of those things about him.

Joe's fashion
Two year olds are funny, and Joe's sense of humor bloomed over night. While he is often intentionally funny, he's unintentionally funny, too. There's something about a little mini person wearing a diaper (no pants), one of mommy's high heels, and INSISTING he can do something that's way above his ability that's comical. Again, it's absurd.

Joe loves hats right now... and paci...
Two year olds are sweet. They don't mind loving you. While getting Joe to pause long enough to show affection can be rare, he will surprise us with hugs, kisses, bringing us something to play with, or putting his hand on yours. He shows unbridled joy at the things that delight him.

Some times, I think I don't want a baby. I love this baby so much already - don't get me wrong. But newborns aren't fun and they aren't predictable. I feel like we have to wait that 2 years to get to this point again, and that seems like a long time. At the same time, I don't Joe to grow up. I don't want a kid who talks back and whines and isn't enchanted by small, every day things.

I know we will love it. I know there will be things in the next stage that are amazing. I know we will have our two boys, and it'll blow us away how much better it is with all four of us then it was before. But it won't stop me from wrapping my arms around Joe every day, holding him tight, and whispering, "Don't change. Don't grow up. Stay this way just a little bit longer."
unbridled joy

Monday, March 28, 2016

the idol of safety

I'm not going to lie. When I heard this morning about what else happened to the little girl who was murdered, I really had a moment. My arms dragged as I lifted Joe to his car seat. I opened the door to the gym and really thought about turning around so I didn't have to leave him in the child care area (which is friendly and full of wonderful stuff). And then I thought about what our pastor preached on yesterday - Joshua 24 - choose this day whom you will serve. 

Fear is a master and it makes you it's slave, robbing you of goodness and life. 

Jesus said you can't serve both God and money, and I think the same thing is true about fear. You can't experience God's unconditional love if you choose fear. Today, I'm going to choose God. That doesn't mean I'm not a good parent who leaves her kid with just anyone. That doesn't mean it's not my job to know who my kid is with and where he is at all times. That doesn't mean I don't get to say "no" if I am uncomfortable with something. 

But I won't let fear creep in. My heart is too full of Jesus to have anything else.

And if I am honest, my efforts will fall short every time. I can wrap my kid in a bubble and lock all the doors, but it won't work. We are only as safe as God keeps us - and I would much rather lean on his strength than my own.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold...
...For who is God, but the LORD?
Psalm 18

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Grace in a season of limitedness

Now that my second pregnancy is public, here's the {not too gory} details of how it's going:

If you knew me at all when I was pregnant with Joe, you knew my life was overtaken by Hypermesis Gravidarum. It was a long 9 months.

I was dreading pregnancy again. I truly was, and it wracked me with guilt because I know couples who would give anything - including 9 months of health and happiness - for babies. But it doesn't make rolling that dice any easier. You have 3 prospects when you have a history of HG - same, worse, or better. No guarantee on what you'll get. It's truly a roll of the dice.

I used to say that Joe was the most planned baby in the history of mankind, but this little one will take that title. I worked for MONTHS before I got pregnant again, following every tip and trick I could find to lessen and avoid HG. It wasn't obsessive, but I felt like it was due diligence. I had to do what I could, mostly because my job is caring for an active toddler.

I did the prep, and then I found a new OB, willing to do aggressive medication therapy other OBs refused to do.

Then I rolled that dice, and luck was a lady. I got an easier pregnancy. {easier does not mean good}

I've still been diagnosed with HG, but it's much more mild than it ever was with Joe. I have so many more moments of "normal". I have many hard days, but the good out number them. I can eat somewhat normal foods. I can keep water down. I can do basic things. These are all huge blessings that I do not take for granted. The piles of medications on my nightstand that I take to start my day are a blessing. I am on many Facebook support groups where women live in countries where the health care system does not allow them to see an OB early enough in pregnancy to get those medications, or does not insurance options that cover them. That may sound trivial, but many of those women go on to lose their babies because they are too sick for their bodies to sustain them {this, btw, has given me a whole new perspective on universal health care, too. yikes!}.

I am greatly limited right now, but my life is full of grace.

I can't exercise and I can't always choose what I can eat. I have days where I need to stay on the couch. I had to quit 90% of the activities I did/led because I knew I wouldn't have spare energy to do them once I got pregnant. But I have so, so much grace. And really good, understanding friends who are kind about my limitedness. And a husband who doesn't care that I don't cook and barely clean and am sort of a grump for 9 months.

Best of all, I will, God willing, have two healthy boys come August. That is the greatest grace of all.

I did my first 2 Lent readings today, and in a season where my body is failing in many, many ways, it's a good reminder that this body will return to dust. My second man, my soul, will forever belong to Him. My suffering isn't pointless or lost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

it feels like Christmas!

Everyone here in Indiana is freaking out over our warm, green, Christmas weather. "It can't be Christmas without snow!" They cry.

Meanwhile, I feel like this is totally appropriate Christmas weather. When you spend 90% of your childhood Christmases in Southern California, 60 degree weather is right on target. In fact, it's been making me feel full of nostalgia and a bit giddy. It FEELS like Christmas.

It just goes to show that so much of life is what we are used to. One person's disappointment is someone's preference. We are products of culture and habit. We can't ever think we know all the right things, or our way is always the right way. 

I hope no matter what your expectations are this Christmas, you find yourself filled with joy and peace. And when life hands you a green or white Christmas to your dismay, you still find a way to stand in awe of our Savior.

This Christmas, may our expectation be set aside as we say, "Come, thou long expected, Jesus".

Monday, December 7, 2015

a blog about a blog

I've been thinking about something for a very, very long time. In a way, it came to a head for me yesterday, and then I read this blog post this morning and I decided it's my turn to talk a little bit about this issue.

For a long time, I've been saying, "It's not you, it's me", but I think it may actually not be me.

I read that blog this morning and tears came into my eyes. Tears of frustration, of loneliness, of relief. Frustration for things I do not agree with but I feel are accepted as "cultural norms", loneliness for thinking I am one of a very select few who think this way, and relief to hear that I am not the only one.

That last one is why I decided to write this blog: if you read that above blog post and resonate; or if you sit somewhere on Sunday desperately wanting to worship God but wrestling with a Christian church or the American Christian Church; if in Christian culture you often feel like you are a round peg in a square hole; if you know only pieces of your faith make sense and they don't fit with many other people's pieces of faith - you. are. not. alone. I read that and cried, I sit and feel alone, I am the strangest shaped peg, my pieces don't go with other people's.

And all that is okay.

I often pray the prayer, "Lord, move - or move me." So far, I keep being moved, and I keep being moved farther away from the direction I think I should be going. I do not get moved back to mainstream Christianity, but I often feel like I am moving closer to Christ. So far, I haven't ever felt moved to leave church, and that's not really an appealing option, anyways.

This is not a passive aggressive statement towards anyone in particular, or towards a Body of Believers, or any one thing; nor is it a criticism or calling out of anyone who has not had these feelings. I am a member of a church I love. I call myself a Christian. But I keep many things buried deep within, and when I cannot reconcile them, I leave at the feet of Jesus.  I don't need anyone to agree with me, but I don't necessarily need to agree with anyone, either. I just need space to exist and trust that God is faithful to me - someone who is not wise, who has a lot of questions, and who recognizes her need for a Savior.

When all else fails, I cling to that old rugged cross. It has never failed me. I hope you can do the same.