The Outerbanks Part 1

Nearly two months ago we spent a week at the Outerbanks in North Carolina with Tim's family. The memories are so sweet and happy still in my heart. It was a week that will not be forgotten. I'm embarrassed that it's taken me so long to upload the pictures, but it was difficult to do so with Timmy sleeping in our room. He is now in his own room so I am taking a minute today to start posting a few pictures. 

Understanding postpartum depression

I've been fairly open about my postpartum depression (PPD). Some people shake their heads at this, and sometimes I get disapproving phone calls or messages, telling me that perhaps I should deal with things in a more private manner.

I absolutely disagree. Before I had Timmy, I read a story about a mother from Utah that suffered from PPD after her 5th child. She had never experienced PPD before, and the effects of the disease crippled her in the most tragic way. She died as a result of PPD, and she was seeking professional help and had the support of her family and friends. 

I remember aching for her young family and grieving husband, and I remember hoping I would not suffer from the disease after Timmy's birth; I felt, perhaps foolishly, that I had already been through so much during my pregnancy that I might sail through postpartum easily. Within weeks, I realized this would not be the case. Because I had been diagnosed with PPD before, I recognized the signs. I expressed concern to Tim and my closest family and friends and immediately received love and support. 

The thing about PPD is that it's never the same. It changes from woman to woman, and baby to baby. My experience with it after my miscarriage was much darker than what I currently feel (so much so that I even wondered if there was a God). I received an email a week ago asking me if I was not connecting with Timmy, and although it is a valid question (because most people associate PPD with not connecting with children or wanting to hurt oneself or the baby), this has not been my experience with Timmy. In fact, he and I have a very special bond. His smile feels like sunshine; it hits me with such a wave of warmth that I truly feel special everyday. So for those of you wondering how I'm doing with Timmy, the answer is remarkably well.

So if that is not my problem, what is? I feel I am in a constant state of spinning, like I'm standing in the middle of a tornado, and I can't quite grasp solid ground. I reach out, but things and people slip through my fingers. It is exhausting and overwhelming. I continuously feel like I'm letting people down, and I apologize so much that I'm tired of apologizing. I feel like wearing a shirt that reads: I'm sorry. It's probably my fault. Obviously I'm not always at fault, but my brain refuses to process that fact so I just feel a lot of exhaustion and guilt, which leads me to feel sad and angry a lot. More than a lot. I have a difficult time enjoying myself because I never get to relax. Every moment of life is calculated; I am excellent at multitasking, which is great, but it also means I don't rest. I'm always doing 3 things at once, and I almost feel like I'm failing at 1 or more thing. 

So that's where I am. I want you to know I have superb help, and I do feel a lot of love. After having a severe panic attack on Sunday, I have been the recipient of so much goodness. A friend took my kids to church, fed them dinner, and let them play so I could rest. My neighbor helped me pick everything off the ground so I could sweep and vacuum any potential fleas. On Monday, a friend helped me fold 10 loads of laundry and she took Elle home with her to give me an afternoon break, another friend took over my duty at carpool this morning, and another friend watched Timmy and Felicity while I went grocery shopping this morning. 

My world often feels crazy, but even with the constant crazy, there is so much goodness. So much kindness. I am undeserving of much of it, but I am grateful for all of it. I hope I grow out of PPD as time goes on, but while I'm experiencing it, I'm learning to do less.


Tuesday night confession: Tim and I watch a lot of Family Feud. We may or may not have a thing for Steve Harvey. ;)

Help me erase the last 10 days

I'd like to erase the last 10 days.
Nearly 90% of each day was a living hell.
There were a few shining moments.
Like when Elle told me I was a fun mom.
Or when Genevieve wrote me a note declaring I was the best mom ever.
Or when I played soccer in a dress with Mya after her practice, and she beat me badly.
Those were a handful of good times.
The rest of the moments felt pretty dark.
Full of carpet beetles, larvae and fleas.
And mulloscum--a contagious skin rash spreading rapidly on Genevieve's body.
I'm fairly sure I stopped breathing a few times.
Only to be revived and reminded I still had 10 loads of laundry to fold.
My chest has felt so tight and heavy.
My eyes are so damn tired.
And I keep praying tomorrow will be better.
Postpartum has been real bad lately.
I thought it would get better with time, but it seems to be getting worse.
Like I said, I'd like to erase the last 10 days.
Soon they will be a distant memory.
But today they are so raw and real
And my wounds are still so fresh.
I'll collect myself soon.
I promise.

My mother heart

It's just after midnight, and I just laid my snorting baby back in his bed after his first night feeding. I stood in the darkest corner of my room, swaying him back and forth in my arms. His head nuzzled into my left armpit and his legs straightened in defiance for the first few minutes, but slowly and surely, his body grew heavy and his legs limp. And for a moment I wished I could go back and whisper to the 25-year-old mom that everything was going to be okay. That the late night feedings and struggles would be short lived. That the rigid newborn body would turn into soft rolls and growing bones. That it would all pass too quickly.

I remember being so frustrated with my first two babies when they would cry instead of falling asleep. I remember feeling like my back would give in before exhaustion would ever take over their bodies. I remember crying into my pillow because I had no idea what the hell I was doing and was sure I was screwing it all up. I remember comparing myself by other new moms and milestones. I remember those first few years of motherhood very well.

These days my heart is more patient. (It's obviously not always 100% patient, but you know, it's better.) My heart is more kind. It's more aware that the days are slipping through my fingertips, and it is very open to the late night feedings; sometimes it even welcomes them. It gives me one more opportunity to hold my baby and whisper "shh, shh" into the thick, black air.  I'm constantly amazed by a mother's heart--how it expands over and over again with each new child and experience.

I have a mother's heart. It is, perhaps, my most treasured muscle. Of all the things I try to strengthen each day through rigorous exercise, it is the one I am most proud of. It has certainly grown the most. My calf muscles pale in comparison. My heart has undergone and continues to endure the most difficult daily training, but it's worth it. The late night feedings are worth it. The early morning wakeup calls are worth it. The tantrums are questionable, but worth it. The learning to listen is worth it. The saying "I'm sorry" is worth it. The hugs are worth it. The satisfaction that I'm growing 5 decent human beings is definitely worth it. I am grateful for each day--even, and perhaps more especially so, the hard ones.

shaking out the kinks

It's been 7 days since school started for Mya and Genevieve, and just as I expected I miss them terribly come noon every single day. It is nearly impossible to entertain a 3 year old day in and day out, especially when I have a baby strapped to my chest and another clinging to my back, which is Felicity's preferred method of getting around the house these days. By noon I find myself glancing at the clock and wishing the hours would pass quickly.

Genevieve has done remarkably well in school; I figured she would, but her glowing confidence in herself has really surprised me. She already acts as if she's been going to school and riding the bus home for years. She has picked out each of her outfits, which are usually made up of some sort of stripe combination. She is ready at the door before anyone else, and she takes off running the moment the sliding door opens on the van at school. I had to remind her yesterday that mama still needs hugs. She gave me an extra large eye roll, but I pretend sniffled and she came rushing to my side to squeeze my shoulders.

Mya, on the other hand, has had a harder time transitioning back to school. She hasn't said much about her teacher (she absolutely adored her 1st grade teacher and talked to me about her every day last year as soon as she got off the bus), she hasn't been clicking with friends at recess, she isn't a huge fan of what I serve her for lunch, and she hasn't liked the bus ride home at all, which was her favorite thing last year. Yesterday she came running into my room when she got home and sobbed into my bed sheet. I listened to her talk about the kids at recess, and my heart ached for her. Sometimes growing up can be so fun, but sometimes it can be so hard too. I hugged her tight and told her I loved her as sincerely as I could because I knew there were no appropriate words to "fix" her problem.

Lately I have been missing school. I have the itch to go back, which is completely ludicrous for my current situation, but oh how I love learning. Sometimes as I lie in bed at night, I make notes of what I would like to study if I am ever able to return to school. For now, I will be content with teaching the girls daily and learning with them. Just today I taught Elle about buoyancy (although I didn't even use that word), but we talked about why some things float and other's don't. I happened to fail this section of science while at BYU so it was fun to learn in kid language. We both learned and laughed as we raced our boats in the bathtub.

I hope things around here continue to shake out and school gets easier for Mya. I worry about her constantly. It amazes me how much my mind concerns itself with my children's happiness. But it does. I want them to experience life with all its ups and downs, but I want them to come out on top, knowing they've done all they could to learn and grow along the way.

9 years

I have been married for 9 years today. I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday; it was, perhaps, the happiest day of my life, only to be followed by the births of each of my children.

Marrying Tim was the best decision I had ever made in my 24 years; working hard to create a happy marriage and friendship over the past 9 years is the best decision I make every single day. I could not be happier in the life we've built together, and although it is far from a perfect life, it is a good one. It has the necessary ups and downs that break us down and build us up together, and I guess that's one of the biggest thing I've learned from Tim--everything that breaks down can be created again with a lot of love, work and forgiveness. He is the most kind and motivating partner in this crazy journey, and I love him very much.