How filtered is our life? Every instagram post is perfectly filtered. Every selfie perfectly posed. Makeup on point, hair perfectly quaffed, outfit Pinterest worthy. What would our life look like without the filter, the coverup? What if we actually shared our struggles; non filtered. Why do we have this urge to make it look like we have it all together. That change doesn’t phase us. That our battles are just that…Our battles. I hope to see more men and women standing together in unity during their struggles. I recently read a story about how a young mom ended her life because of her PPD. She left behind a beautiful 4.5 month old and her husband. Along with her loved ones both friends and family. She was a fellow army wife. Though I don’t know her, I felt connected to her. My heart ached for her. How could this woman who shared the same life milestones as I, have gone through all this alone. And then my struggles looked me straight in my eyes. That could happen to me. A few months back I made a Facebook post about how my doctor suggested I take antidepressants because of my “situation”. A single mom to a special needs child. I angrily disputed his remark and carried on. Full of pride. I could get through this “situation” without a pill. And PPD would not overcome me. Thankfully, Jesus sustains me. Something I am always thankful for, and something I never deserve. But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle.
The most frequently asked question I’ve received since becoming a mom is ” Did you suffer from Post Partom Depression?” I always respond with I don’t think so? I mean Did I lose it when I left the hospital without my baby? You betcha. Did I cry every night she was in the NICU? Oh yes! Was I scared to touch her? Did the sleepless night ware me out? Did I have anxiety going out with her? YES, YES, and Oh YES. Little naive me thought that PPD was when you hated your baby, or if you couldn’t even look at your baby. There was a moment, well a few days actually, after Adaline came home from the hospital that I completely lost it. She was probably about 2 weeks old and we went to dinner with my grandma. This was the first moment I had realized I was 1.) A “single” mom and 2.) How much change our bodies go through. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I’ll touch on number 2 first. Physically I could’t even carry the carseat with her in it. And she only weighed 7 lbs. I remember feeling like I got the wind knocked out of me trying to get her from the car to the restaurant. That booth was a saving grace. She remained in her carseat the whole time. With a carseat cover on her and a blanket. I placed her in the booth first closest to the wall and I sat next to her. No one got to see her the whole time, which I have to admit I was totally okay with. I peeked in on her every 3 minutes. And thats not a joke. I was incapable of participating in conversation. I wanted to make sure I could hear her breathing. Now this might not be a normal thing for most new moms. However, being a NICU mom is very different. I had learned to tell how she was doing based off of what the monitors would tell me. I would watch her heart rate, her breathing patterns, and I would fall asleep to the beeping of her IV. I knew when she was “full” because the alarm would go off on her machine telling me that the IV fluids were empty. This is how I knew my baby was happy, alive even. When she was uncomfortable her stats would drop. Anything lower than 90 and a buzzer would go off. Now how was I supposed to tell if she was happy or comfortable or even breathing for that matter. I missed those nurses that once angered me. I missed those machines. We had developed a good routine with those machines. And then, it all hit the fan when I got home. The tears fell for what seemed like hours. I could have stopped the drought in California that night. I hadn’t cried like that in…well ever. I mean in the hospital after they took her to a different hospital I cried, but that was a combination of hormones, being exhausted, in pain and feeling helpless. I never had a good long cry after everything happened. I remember wanting too, but what would that do? It would just enable me. Enable me from being strong for my daughter, enable me for being strong for my husband who was on the other side of the country and couldn’t do anything to help me or his daughter. Crying wouldn’t make my daughter healthy. Crying wouldn’t bring my daughter home. So I carried on. I sat in that NICU for 12 hours a day. Pumping, starring, eating, taking water breaks, changing those horribly huge diapers you have to wear after birth. Sterilize hands, put on mask, phone in a ziplock bag. This was my every day. We started making games out of anything we could think of. (When I say we, it was me and my mom.) A person can go mad in the NICU everyday all day. Its such a sad place. These poor babies fighting for their lives, while the parents wait helplessly. I am not sure how those nurses do it. Any who, I digress. So once I was out of the valley, so to speak, my emotions overwhelmed me. Now I could cry. Now I could let my self feel. I didn’t have to be strong for anyone. So I walled, and walled and walled. I remember one night crawling out of bed and just hitting the floor with my knees. I was so mad at God. At my self. At anything. The only thing I could muster through the tears was the song “It is well [With my soul]” by Bethel. So I sat at the feet of God that night and cried and sang. And he met me there. In my wallowing pit of despair. The God of the universe. It wasn’t one of those earth shaking, wall rattling kind of experience. It was the complete opposite. He was gentle with me. Like a father who comforts his heartbroken daughter. And in that moment my heart exploded. I didn’t feel like an overly worried mother. All the anxiety and depression turned to joy and love. Instead of looking at Adaline and wanting to cry because of my fears, I would cry because my heart faintly knew what the love of our father feels like. (well not fully, but a little). And Praise God, because my anxious heart could have killed me. It was for sure robbing me of my joy.
My spiritual walk is a lot different now as a mom. Its a lot harder to find time or emotional energy to spend quiet time with the Lord. And going to church with a nursing babe and an overflowing nursing mothers room is also difficult. But Im amazed by the ways Ive actually found to worship our heavenly father. Right now I am in the time of Adoration. Im constantly blown away by the awesomeness of our God. Just watching Adaline grow up and defy all odds is proof enough that there is a Creator.
It takes me a long time to write these posts. Days even. The words flow out, but they create this huge mess. Run on sentences, spiderwebbed thoughts. I don’t know how to make a creative smooth transition. So sorry for the whiplash.
Having my solider home, watching him love on our daughter is a sight that brings so much happiness to my life. I knew it would be special having him home, but my heart wasn’t prepared. For the good and the bad.
He loves her so much, its…incredible. She is totally a daddys girl. A few weeks ago we were in Washington at the Aquarium and he was holding her showing her the fish and she turned up off his shoulder grabbed his face and kissed him. My heart melted…and broke. I of course was jealous. Who wouldn’t be? BUT, I am so thankful she knows the love of her daddy and loves him back. She will never wonder if he loves her or not because he tells her all the time. He smothers her with kisses and makes her laugh. He is the last one she sees before she goes to bed and gets the first kiss from him in the morning. I have an extra set of hands when we go out. I don’t need to carry a diaper bag anymore because Brian loves to carry his own. He carries the carseat and pushes the stroller. I guess Im living the luxurious life haha. As for resuming life with a husband again…that’s just something I don’t think you can plan for. Like for starters…Am I the only mom out there that doesn’t feel “sexy” after having a baby? I can’t be. I mean even if you’ve lost all your baby weight and then some, things just don’t work the same as they used to. Skin sags in places where it used to be tight, hips are wider when they used to be. On top of that, I haven’t had to give my love and attention to a man in 8 months. And the last 5 months I’ve given it all to Adaline. And at times I feel like I’m failing as a wife. Brian sits on the back burner a lot of the time. He knows I love him but I didn’t know it would be so difficult to express it, or even receive it. I sort of feel like I don’t know how to love two people at the same time. Im either giving it all to Adaline, or all to Brian. I haven’t quite figured out how to share my love with both of them at the same time. And then I think of the Lord. How does he do it? He loves 7.28 BILLION people the same! At the same time. Even me! And I can’t remember the last time I gave Him my undivided attention.
Adaline takes all my attention; emotional, physical, and mental. And Im currently struggling with the idea of ever being able to love another child the same as I do her. Or even worse…loving my next child more and not having enough time for both Adaline and Brian. Now I know this is silly, women all over the world are having multiple babies and great marriages. However, Im just now learning how to love this deeply. Most of my adult hood Ive had the opposite problem. Don’t get me wrong, Ive loved my family and close friends deeply. But thats where it ends. I had a very hard heart. A stone cold heart actually. Didn’t really care much for people, and refused to cry. I had no sympathy for really anyone. My naive self believed people got what they deserved. Including my self. Crying was a sign of weakness, something I refused to be or let people see in me. But man has that changed. Adaline has melted this icy heart. I cry during every episode of Army Wives, I cry at the Helpful Honda commercials, I cry when I hear sad music, and even just when I’m happy. Sometimes I get so caught up in my emotions I just want to take Adaline and live on an island and just cry. Cry for everyone and everything. There is so much hate it this world. I just want to shelter Adaline from it all.
My first semester at Bible College we had a semester verse that we were all called to meditate on. When I first heard it I wasn’t really moved by it. But now its become my testimony verse. Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” One day I’ll get this tattooed under my heart to remind me that its okay to feel pain and to cry. That having a tender heart is not weakness, but strength. Sharing your struggles and fears is courageous. I hope we all can learn from this verse. Life is messy and hard. We weren’t created to go through this alone. We are supposed to carry each other’s burdens, to lift our brother and sisters arms up when they are too weak. But instead we create this false filtered life. We ( I included) share the good things that happen and hide the bad. We feel the pressure to live a Pinterest life. I hope in the future we can come together to share in each other’s burdens. That we can create a community of people who share the same struggles instead of interests. Let’s help to end the pressure of filtered lives and instead create a place for people to share their struggles. It’s suicide awareness month, so let’s stand together and ask the hard questions. Let’s be #unfiltered.
As for the ins and outs of mom life. Its pretty messy, but beautiful. The daily life consists of Adaline getting up at 630/7 am to eat. We feed for a total of 20 min. ( 10 min on each side) Then we do some exercises. Unless its Tuesday. Adalines OT comes on tuesday mornings at 8. So we stay in bed until her teacher gets here so she isn’t tired or worn out. Her OT appointments usually consist of lots of tummy time, playing on the exercise ball, pulling to stand, stretching, massages, and some drills that will help her learn to crawl and eventually walk. DS babies usually develop slower than typical babies. We are being proactive with her therapy so that we aren’t very behind. Her OT says she’s on track for pretty much everything. All babies are different, DS or typical and they all progress at their own time. We are crossing our fingers that by 6/7 months we can introduce homemade baby food. For now we are EBF, every 4 hours. Her last feeding is 8 pm and then she sleeps until 6:30am. (Thank you BabyWise.) Usually baths are every night before bed. Some days every other night. Or other days there are multiple baths thanks to her blowout diapers. I probably have to bleach our sheets every week thanks to some messy diaper. Teething has become a nightmare. Poor baby whimpers in her sleep because her teeth hurt. They have certainly effecter her nap schedule. She does more cat naps now rather than long naps, but she’s still sleeping through the night so I can’t complain. Though just because she sleeps through the night, doesn’t mean I do. Sharing a bed with someone again takes some getting used to. I mean our SleepNumber covers the comfiness just perfectly. Im a 45 and it feels like I’m sleeping on clouds. If only it could take away the anxiousness. I wake up usually 2-3 times a night to make sure Adaline is breathing or hasn’t rolled over to her stomach and is covering her nose. And of course the worrying doesn’t just happen at night. Any other moms out there panic at just the thought of some sort of accident. I lose my breath or panic when Im carrying her down the stairs or if I’m too close to the railing. Im always thinking about an emergency plan if there is an earthquake or any natural disaster. I used to be more adventurous. Heck, I lived in a tent in Hawaii for 4 months. I’ve driven a 4 wheeler off a mountain, crashed a snow mobile into a tree, scuba dived with sharks, been to Haiti, Mexico, Jamaica, Germany, Austria, Italy, the Bahamas, and all over the US. And now I hardly ever want to leave the house. I mean I love traveling, but EVERYTHING gives me anxiety. The mom brain is a real thing. I forget what day it is and sometimes I feel like a week has gone by when it’s really only been 24 hours. It’s taken me almost a week to write this blog post and I’ve got plenty more to write. Somehow there’s not enough hours in the day. We live by a schedule. It helps me with stability and calms my anxious heart. Somedays ( like today) the schedule is broken and extra cuddles and extra boob time is needed for both me and Adaline. And we make do.
Well, that’s all for now. If you read this whole rant you’re incredible.
If you feel inclined share your struggles in the comments below or you can just email them to me to let off some steam.