On the mental side of becoming a mom

On the mental side of becoming a mom

I want to share what my mental state and thoughts have gone through in the last 10 months (or rather, the last 19 months including pregnancy). I don’t know if these feelings are a universal thing, but I have been vulnerable to a few friends who could relate. I had never heard anyone open up about these emotional issues before baby, so I felt crazy and awful experiencing it. I want to share in case I can help anyone.

Pregnancy was physically easy. (Sorry to those who had a rough time). I felt great. No sickness at all.  Gestational diabetes wasn’t awesome, but the resulting healthy eating kept my weight gain to a minimum, which helped me feel physically great.

The mental side of things was an entirely different story. Everything was a disappointment. Not the actual pregnancy, of course. We were trying and happy that it happened so easily and things went smoothly.  But everything else. Tyler’s response to my telling him we were pregnant wasn’t grand enough. I was upset. People weren’t fawning over pregnant me, and I was upset. I just felt like everything was a bigger deal and a bigger disappointment.

I was  15 weeks pregnant in NYC on a work trip and was already feeling like I was failing my baby. I was struggling. I saw “Waitress” the musical and heard these lyrics:

“It’s not simple to say, that most days I don’t recognize me……

She’s imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy, but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She’s all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine”

I cried hearing that. That’s how I felt. I was broken. I was lonely. I was gone.

Side not: What was crazy is that the character in the musical was pregnant too….it was a big parallel of that NYC trip. I saw THREE musicals with pregnant characters that trip!

I hated how it was all going. I wished for a do-over. I spent lots of time crying and upset. I know now that I was suffering from some anxiety and depression. I did reach out to my doctor at one point, but they just handed me medication over the phone (I had called to schedule an appointment and the nurse prescribed me Zoloft over the phone). There were scary things about pregnancy in the medicine brochure so I didn’t take it long (like a week, maybe?).

After baby, I did have some emotional high. But that quickly faded.  I did many things to try and help. I got outside. I walked. I did some hormone stuff.  But I always felt like everyone had the best time with my baby — holding her while she slept while I cooked dinner. And then she would have her witching hour (THANK GOODNESS it was only her first few weeks of life) and I felt like she hated me. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right for her. Everyone else seemed to have an easier time than I did (looking back, well DUH! They hadn’t actually been the one giving birth. Of course things were easier for them!)

I second guessed every decision. I felt like a bad mom. I looked forward to going back to work so I wouldn’t have to. To what? I’m not sure. But life just felt heavy. I finally asked for help. Help and understanding from my husband, from my family, from my doctor.

I did take some medication, but I also prioritized myself. I made eating healthy and working out and sleep a priority. I made sure to do some things that felt like they gave me life. Sometimes that meant fighting guilt and leaving baby to get a break.

I had lots of moments where I felt like the worst mother on the planet. I have to be honest that those days are (thankfully) fewer and far between, but they still happen. Days when I yell-cry. Days when I call my mom freaking out because I feel like my chest may cave in from the weight of it all.

But it does get better. With help. With intentionality. With work. With medication. With supplements. With sleep. With laughter. With understanding.

I guess I just share that to say, if you’re feeling like you’re gone, there’s hope. There’s hope in Jesus. He wants better for me (and you!) and he is the provider of truth – and I knew those thoughts weren’t the truth (even though they felt truthful in my heart).  Reach out. To me, if you want. I’m happy to help. But let someone in. You don’t have to be stuck there. I’m so thankful I’m not.

And if someone around you has had a baby, ask how they are. REALLY ask. I read from someone recently that a friend asked how her soul was. That’s profound. Dig until you feel like she’s telling you the truth. She may be ok, but she may need someone to say “It’s ok to not be ok.” I reached out to a couple different people who didn’t know how to respond.  Take her to lunch.  Come over and bring chocolate and wine and queso and a funny movie.  Laughter is medicine. Friendship is medicine. Funny memes texted late at night are medicine.

I’m grateful that now I feel much more joy than I do worry. Much more pride than I do shame. Much more happy than fear. Much more peace than I do anxiety. Much more love. From others, from my baby, for my baby, and for myself.

 


Having the Courage to Chase After What Matters

Having the Courage to Chase After What Matters

I had a conversation recently with a friend who is struggling.  She knows she needs lots of things- she needs more time with God, she needs positive people in her life, and she needs to do some courageous things like ask for help.

I told her, I’ve been there.  I’ve tried to do this on my own and decided I couldn’t. I’ve been bottom of the barrel and had to find ways to climb out. I told her that the crazy thing is, most people wouldn’t know my story unless I told them. We are great at hiding our problems…when in reality, the only person you’re fooling is yourself.

In this season of life, I’m finding so much more contentment. I’m trying to chase after God and what He values more than what the world values. There are so many “yes, ands” and “yes, buts.” Yes, I want to get health, and I don’t want that journey to become an idol in my life. Yes, I want to have friends, but I won’t compromise to be liked. Yes, I want to be successful, and I want to do it by doing my best. Yes, I want to help others, but I won’t enable them.

I saw a shirt from Cross Training Couture that I immediately ordered because it’s so what I’m feeling right now. It says “Seeking my perfecter, not perfection.”

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And that’s totally the mindset I want. Yes, Lord.  Give me the courage to chase after what matters and help me loosen my grip on the things that don’t.


Ride the wave

Ride the wave

For some reason, the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt like I’m slowly getting a handle on everything that was stressing me out.

Especially with the change of the year. Something felt miraculously new on January 1. I haven’t experienced that feeling before- the magic clean slate of a new year- but I think that for the last couple of years, so much life stuff has been bogging me down in a struggle…that I finally felt like I could get past it in this new year. It feels like a new wave has washed onto the shore.

Now, I’m not being naive. I know that even though at midnight 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve when we toasted to 2016 with “Here’s to all good things this year!”…that doesn’t guarantee that 2016 comes trouble-free. However, it felt like for the first time in a while, that was a possibility.

In the past couple of years, we had struggles of Tyler finding a job, family health stuff, adjusting to police life, the death of a loved one…it’s been heavy stuff. And processing that heavy stuff has taken a toll on me mentally.

However, with a lot of that behind us (for now), it feels fresh and new.

I told someone at Zumba last night that I finally feel like I have a good grip on life again. I feel it’s possibilities, it’s promises. I feel good.

I don’t know where this year and this feeling will take me.  I’m hoping that feeling more “in control” will allow me to get back to some health goals (because I’ve talked before that the good choices train is the first one to go when my life becomes too much to bear).  I’m hoping that means we will have lots of fun memories. I’m hoping that means spiritual growth. I’m hoping that means dreaming and making goals and reaching them.

So, here’s to things coming together. Time to ride this wave.

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Thankful for People in My Corner

Thankful for People in My Corner

I was talking last night with a friend who is raising teenage daughters.  She was talking about some of the things that pretty every teenager goes through- pushing boundaries, being boy crazy, struggling with confidence, having trouble seeing outside themselves.  I was talking to her as someone who was a little closer to remembering those things in my life and encouraging her to stay the course.  That I know it’s tough to parent and help them be better people…but it’s worth it. It’s hard to be in someone’s corner when they are struggling, but it’s important.

I know for me, between my parents, my pastor, and my friends- they all helped me take those struggles and become a better person by working through them. Having those people be “for” me was priceless.

Sure, learning that the world didn’t owe me anything was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m so thankful to understand that now. I’m thankful to have had people that cared enough about me to walk me through that lesson.

Understanding how to get along with difficult people was an invaluable thing to learn. Having people willing to listen, give advice, and help me get this lesson has helped me time and time again.

Or learning to trust those who love me, even when it’s hard.  I hated that one- but I’m so glad to rest in the comfort of my loved ones and their love for me.

I’m also grateful for heartaches and hard times because you learn how to handle those situations with grace every time you go through them again.

All that to say, I’m so glad to have people who were on my side and investing in me.  And I’m so thankful that my hardheadedness slowly softened to allow their teaching to soak in.

I finally watched DWTS from Monday night, and Nick Carter (yes, from Backstreet Boys) had a great night.  At first, he messed up his first dance and was devastated.  You could see the disappointment in his face.  But he had someone in his corner.  His coach (whom I LOVE) told him “I got you” and gave him a great pep talk and encouragement mid-dance and they made it through.  I’m not sure what she said to him before his second and third dance, but he nailed it. In fact, his last dance was the best and most-confident I’ve ever seen him.

I thought how often my life is like that.  I have a tough time, I stumble, I fall.  But someone is my corner telling me they are holding me up and making sure I make it out of that muck, even better than before.

And it also makes me think of when I can be that person holding someone up. That’s an honor as well.

Whether you’re in a season of needing someone in your corner, or being in someone’s corner – remember that someone is for you and you can make it.