The Secret I Won't Keep
I am generally a super extroverted, happy, outgoing person.
I love meeting new people and can start up a conversation with pretty much any person I come into contact with. So when I found myself curled up in a ball in my bed, bawling, not wanting to see my kids or husband and his family I knew something was terribly wrong.
Post Partum Depression,
Here’s the story:
I’ve had thyroid problems since I was about 17 years old. I’ve always had my levels tested when I started to notice symptoms appearing. My most noticeable symptoms appear as extreme anxiety, racing mind, insomnia, brain fog, and fatigue. Any time I start to experience two or more of these at once I assume something with my hormones is off and I usually have to adjust my medication.
When I was pregnant I had to adjust it nearly every single time I went to my doctor, so I knew once Beckett was here I would most likely be going through the same process again. Which let me add, getting bloodwork done is NOT cheap being paid for out of pocket.
I had felt pretty good for most of my post birth so I figured I was past the whole PPD stage and that my anxiety and stress and irritability was just due to lack of sleep. Combine that with Becketts growth spurts and breastfeeding on demand, it made perfect sense in my mind that’s what it was and I never even thought about PPD.
Fast forward to the last few weeks.
My migraines came back with a VENGEANCE. I was becoming more and more irritated with everyone around me. I was not sleeping at night even though Beckett was going to bed around 7:30 pm and sleeping until 4:00 am. My body and mind were so fatigued and yet I was extremely restless. Sound like my thyroid and hormones were starting to adjust back to what I consider to be my “normal”. I started having a really hard time concentrating on things, which I just assumed was my ADHD rearing it’s ugly head in combination with the hormones, so It was time to call my doctor and get the dreaded bloodwork done.
I went in and we discussed all of my issues and she got my panel of tests ready for me. She did not want to refill my ADHD medication because of the risk of it passing to Beckett and I will be honest I was devastated. If you have ADHD and you’ve ever experienced medication that allows you to focus and be PRESENT with people and actually soak in everything going on around you, you’ll understand. But, I also understand why she wouldn’t prescribe it. What I want to point out here is when I got in the car and walked out with an order for bloodwork totaling $454 and a list of supplements to try and help my ADHD instead of a prescription I was SO so SO discouraged and frustrated and sad beyond what would be considered normal. I broke down. This was the third time I had a break down over something small already that day and it was only noon.
We had plans for the next day to have Zach’s family over to see the new house.
His oldest brother loves cooking so he said he would bring dinner and I offered to make dessert. After my doctor appointment and bloodwork and getting my other prescriptions filled I made a run to the store and grabbed the few ingredients that I knew I was out of at home. I got home and decided to make the cake a day early so I didn’t have to worry about not getting it done the next day. When Beckett went down for her nap I managed to get it done between going back and forth into her room a million times to give her the beloved pacifier every time she would spit it out. Mind you, I am not sleeping well at all. Elijah had a friend over and my irritability was out the roof from running all over town, trying to keep a baby asleep while there were two 8 year old boys playing in the house, and bake a cake.
The next day was no better.
Beckett was only napping for about 30 minutes at a time and extremely fussy during the times she was awake. By 4:00 when I knew Zach’s family would be headed over I was completely emptied of any type of energy, positivity, or even desire for anything at all. I knew that Beckett was needing to take a nap and by the time she was getting fussy and tired again, I heard people start arriving. Cue the screaming. I tried everything to soothe her and none of it worked. I finally walked into the living room, handed her to Zach, and proceeded back to the bedroom where I just sat on the bed and stared out the window. Zach came in to check on me and I literally lost it.
I’m talking sobbing tears down my face, can’t hardly breathe, hunched over type of cry. I told him I just needed to be alone for a while so he went back out to his family while I tried to pull myself together. I knew this wasn’t normal.
It wasn’t until I remembered a message I had received a couple months back that a girl from high school sent me that I began to realize, maybe this was something more.
She had reached out to me on Facebook after I posted how irritated and frustrated I was with Beckett’s most recent spurt and just let me know to be mindful of myself because she herself had PPD and her symptoms started out much like mine. Naturally I turned to google and searched post-partum depression symptoms.
Insomnia, intense irritability, anger, anxiety, loss of interest, mood swings, crying, restlessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, depression, repeatedly going over thoughts, guilt.
There are more symptoms but those were the ones I identified with the most. I immediately reached out to the sweet girl who had contacted me and told her what was going on and she told me some experiences she had while walking through the process herself. After talking with her I realized how serious this could get and I immediately called my doctor to let her know what I felt was going on. As terrible as I felt at that moment I couldn’t imagine allowing it to get any worse and I knew I was the only one who could do anything about it. I called and talked to my mom just to be able to vent it all out to someone and she was a great listener which is exactly what I needed. She suggested I tell Zach exactly what I felt was going on and then to spend the evening relaxing. So that’s exactly what I did. I took a bath, stopped reading facebook, and got in bed at 7 pm. I slept that night from 7:00 pm until 7:00 am and if it weren’t for having to get ready for work, I would have slept longer.
The worst part about it all is feeling like you are an inadequate mom and that you are the only one who has felt this way.
I opened up to a few other people about it and I realized so many more women deal with this than it is ever talked about. I for one have had times where I have told Zach, jokingly, “I am so done, I’m getting an AIRBNB and I’ll be back in a day or two.” The funny thing about that is… I eventually truly felt that way. That evening I would have loved nothing more than to be in bed in a dark room, completely alone in silence, no makeup, no tv, no music, just quiet.
I’ve had days where I don’t feel like I can be a mom anymore.
I’ve had times of frustration that I am hateful and rude to my husband and Elijah. I have had times where I isolate myself and disappear for an entire evening. There are times where Beckett is just doing normal baby things like crying for comfort and I am so irritated for no good reason. She wants me, and I don’t want to be wanted. All of these things just add on to your guilt and depression… yet so many of us struggle with it.
So I decided to tell my secret,
so that hopefully more awareness is brought to this issue. Medication is okay if you need it. A therapist is good if it helps you. Journaling your feelings and thoughts will help you be self aware. Being open with your husband and kids about it will help all of you understand one another better. It’s okay to need help, but it’s up to YOU to ask for it. Don’t let your joy get stolen from you, fight back. Your family is worth it.
YOU are worth it.
I am still walking through this season and God is giving me grace every step of the way. But I stand on His promise to me from His word and know that because I have called on Him, He will set me free.
“Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.” Psalm 118:5
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Today in my reading I was brought to the story of Hannah in Samuel. I remember reading her story when I was waiting on God to deliver on his specific promise of a child. It was actually around this exact time last year. Isn’t it funny how God does that? He will show you something over and over again and it can be completely new to your spirit.
I want to first let you read the scripture we will be looking at: I recommend reading 1 Samuel: 1 in totality so you can know all of the context but for the sake of my fellow sleep deprived moms or friends who struggle with ADHD (I am both!) I will try and summarize to the best of my ability-
In verse 5 of chapter one it tells us the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. On top of that it tells us her rival was always holding it over her head that she couldn’t have children. How miserable! Hannah was provoked every single year at the same time by this brat of a woman. It tells us in verse 10 that she was bitter in her soul and she prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. She told God if He would please not forget her, but give her a male son, she would give him to the Lord for all of his days. It tells us later on that Hannah prayed silently with her lips moving and Eli accused her of being drunk. She said no I’m not drunk I am a woman of sorrowful spirit, I am pouring my heart out before the Lord. Eli answers her and basically says alright well go in peace and may God grant your petition. The story goes on to tell us that they worshipped the Lord, and in the process of time Hannah conceived and did in fact have a son. Samuel. Hannah was faithful to her vow to God and dedicated Samuel to him, and they worshipped the Lord again.
So many of us can relate to this story in some way but I stand convicted today of a few key things I want to point out that the Lord showed me.
_First I want to point out that it was the Lord who closed her womb. I mean as a woman who knows what it feels like to be waiting to get pregnant that seems so cruel. For God to know how deeply Hannah was wanting to be a mom, and for Him to close her womb? How dare He! Why would He do that? How many times in life are you faced with a “not now” from God, or maybe even a “not ever” and think well THAT’S NOT FAIR. What’s even worse is Hannah’s rival was such a brat and she could have children but Hannah who was faithful could not. The good thing about receiving a not now or maybe even a never answer from God is that He is the one who knows what is best for our lives and He knows what He is doing. At this point in time the Lord had not told Hannah she would have a child yet she was faithful to Him regardless. She stayed faithful even as she was taunted. We are blessed to know how the story turned out but she had no clue if it would turn out the way she wanted or not. And yet she worshipped God. God used her closed womb to further His purposes in the earth and to give her life even more meaning than she could have ever imagined.
_I want to point out secondly that Hannah was deeply grieved. Sisters. Brothers. I URGE you to realize that sorrow is okay. Sadness is welcome at the throne of your Father. In waiting for God Hannah did worship but she also wept. She went as far as to say that she had a bitter soul. She was so burdened that as she prayed she appeared to be drunk! Sometimes pain is going to come and that’s normal. It is normal to weep over something maybe the Lord has said no to us about. It is perfectly okay to feel brokenness. What we must never do is fail to worship the Lord just for being the Lord. He is worthy of our worship no matter what promise He makes or whatever door He closes.
_The final thing we see here is that just as Hannah had been a faithful daughter all along she did not fail to remain faithful after Samuel was given to her. She followed through on her vow to the Lord and dedicated Samuel to him. We must never forget who it is we are given the opportunity to serve. We must follow through in obedience out of our love for the Father.
So let’s be like Hannah.
Let us persevere in honoring God no matter what He promises, no matter what He takes away or withholds. Let’s trust that He knows what He is doing and that it is good, even when it doesn’t look or feel like it. Let us be humble and submit to His will and let us be obedient in all things.
Let us follow through on the promises we give Him as He is always faithful to deliver on His.
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“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)
Two things I have learned about the context of this passage is that Jesus was referring back to Genesis 4:24 when the word says, “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” That is so interesting to me because of the second thing I learned about this scripture. Jesus surely didn’t want us to stop forgiving at 490 times, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to be making a point that our forgiveness should go beyond what is normal? In that time forgiveness was said to be given up to 3 times, so Peter suggesting 7 was very out of the ordinary and extremely generous. Of course Jesus takes this further and challenges us to forgive, always. Jesus is showing here that his forgiveness goes beyond the normal 3 times, and far beyond the very generous 7 times that Peter suggests. It’s unlimited; And we are called to be Holy like Christ. Our forgiveness should mirror His.
But… Jesus is Jesus. I am not.
You are not. Forgive every person, every time? Seriously?
Let me be real. Forgiveness is hard for me because I am a sinner full of pride. I don’t want to forgive someone who has done something wrong to me. I want an apology and I want them to have some sort of consequence because they did ME wrong. You may be wondering, “How is that considered pride? Isn’t that just wanting justice? Aren’t you just requesting for fair treatment?” What is wrong with someone receiving an apology and then forgiving them IF you WANT to?
The problem with that lies in two things…
_One is that it doesn’t mirror Christ accurately.
Christ was humble and forgiving regardless of his mockers and regardless of what the people did against him. “…He gave himself up for us while we were still sinners…” (Romans 5:8). And he is “…merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” (Dan 9:9).
_The second is that it puffs me up in pride.
Who am I to say that a sin committed against me is any worse than the sins I commit every day? The bottom line is all sin that is committed ultimately is against God. You are not my enemy, I am my own worst enemy. Focusing on someone else’s sin gets my eyes off of my own sin and has me more concerned with yours. The enemy LOVES that. He loves when I focus more on other people and what they are doing instead of allowing God to slay my heart and make me more like Christ. He doesn’t want me to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32) and he most definitely doesn’t want me to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col 3:13)
My aim as a Christian is to become Holy, as Christ is Holy.
(2 Cor 7:1, 1 Peter 1:15-16, Hebrews 12:14).
In order to do that we must focus first on His goodness. Secondly we have to focus on the radical corruption in our heart apart from Him. And lastly we have to be in the word allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us (Hebrews 4:12).
Brothers and sisters, join me in forgiveness.
Join me in laying down my pride and saying, “I am no better than any other. I forgive you, I am a worse sinner than you. I deserved hell and the Lord rescued me. I have no right to hold condemnation toward you because He has not held it against me. I will live like Christ, not like the devil.”
Die to yourself.
Paul said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)
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There comes such a time in life when you realize how little control you have.
I have such a hard time dealing with this on a daily basis. I want to be in control of the scheduling and how the entire day plays out but thats honestly just not realistic. For me to have control would mean that everyone and everything acted and happened the way I plan. For some reason my child doesn’t usually nap as long as I plan on her napping. My husband doesn’t always remember to put his coffee mug in the dishwasher. Elijah typically doesn’t remember to unload his backpack and put away his lunchbox. Traffic isn’t normally moving at my pace. The chores around the house never seem to be done and I can’t seem to ever accomplish all of the things I need to get done.
I want it.
But, do I really? Some of the most amazing things in my life that have happened were out of my control and definitely not in my plan. I didn’t plan on getting pregnant at 18 years old. I didn’t plan on buying a house at 24. I didn’t plan on being a single mom for 7 years. I didn’t plan on getting involved in a church again. I didn’t plan on marrying the drummer from Theatre Breaks Loose. I didn’t plan on getting married in a hospital. I didn’t plan on getting pregnant so fast with my second baby. I didn’t plan almost EVERY single good thing that has happened to me. Some of my choices did lead to these things coming to pass but at the time I was making the choices I had no idea what the outcome would be.
I didn’t know that I was actually going to get pregnant (yes, I was super naive) after having sex. But, I did. I didn’t know that going to all of those Theatre Breaks Loose shows as a teenager would eventually lead to me marrying my husband, but it did. I had no clue when we started dating that we would get married in the hospital in perfect timing so his mother could be there with us, but that’s what happened. I had no clue that going to a fertility doctor I would end up pregnant on the first month, but God made that happen. I had no clue that visiting a church, only because my boyfriend was there, would spur me back into a deep relationship with the Bride of Christ.
My point is this… I am learning to not only be okay with not being in control, but asking God to help me release the desire for it. If I am not in control to begin with why keep striving for it? If God clearly knows what is best for me and He will make it come to pass despite my shortcomings, why on earth do I keep trying to fight my way to being Him?
I am not God. I am not in control. When I think about it I REALLY don’t want to be in control. He is the one who knows what is best and when it is best.
I’m giving it up. It’s not mine to begin with.
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Let’s be real honest.
If you are a mom you know that pregnancy really throws you for a loop, ESPECIALLY the first time around. But even the second time around, everything changes!
The journey starts for everyone a little differently. Some people are like me the first time and unexpectedly get pregnant. This can be exciting, or scary, or both. Some people have to work really hard at getting pregnant and have so much anxiety over it that they have trouble sleeping at night. I know women who have literally gone through the process of in vitro by personally inserting a good friends semen because she wanted children so badly and couldn’t afford to actually have it done. Don’t place judgment on her, it was successful and she is an amazing mother. Some of you have tried and succeeded only to find yourself shattered because your pregnancy ended way too early. My heart goes out to you, sincerely. We all hear these stories, right?
So, now you are pregnant!
You get all excited and jittery and nervous and anxious and “all of the feels”. You dream about your baby. You also despise them at times because you can’t go 30 minutes without a bathroom break or wanting to sleep or vomit. But then the emotions come back and you decide you love them regardless. You can’t stand your husband for breathing too heavy one minute and then you love him more than yesterday for smiling at you when he walked in the room. You get to have baby showers and wear comfortable clothes without judgment. You don’t feel the need to wear makeup every day and you get a little more relaxed on your diet. SUPER fun times!
My birthing experience this time around was amazing. I had a great doctor, great nurses, and we loved our hospital stay. My labor was all day long but I wasn’t in pain for any of it (thank you epidural) and the pushing was literally only 7 minutes. But again, I want to get to the aftermath.
So we talk about getting pregnant and we talk about being pregnant but we don’t talk a whole lot about afterwards.
When you finally come home again with “all of the feels”. You are so excited and happy and exhausted at the same time. You are once again madly in love with your husband beyond what you were two days earlier and he is basically your superhero. Watching my husband fall in love with our daughter has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever gotten to experience. He is an amazing daddy! What follows those first few days home is different for everyone.
You have mood swings. If you are breastfeeding you’re most likely up every 2 hours in the night either feeding or pumping. If your daughter is like mine you are changing poopy diapers multiple times during each feeding. You basically snack all day because there isn’t a lot of time for cooking or actual meals. If you have family members that have passed, you mourn them all over again for an entirely new reason. Then a couple weeks go by and you seem to have forgotten everything you knew from the first time you had a child or if you read books you realize that your brain absorbed about one percent of the information you read. My first is 8.5 years old so give me a break! I basically remember she needed to eat and she would sleep a lot at first. So then I had to relearn that babies have growth spurts like every two weeks and every time we start a new one I don’t even realize that’s probably why my little angel has turned into a demon until we are already almost out of it. Shots also make them crazy, but not the day of… no. This madness starts a day or two later and lasts 2-3 days. I never knew breastfed babies can literally go 2 weeks without pooping as long as they are having wet diapers so I went into panic thinking she was constipated. Breastmilk is absorbed easier than formula.
I also didn’t know breastmilk could have “high lipase” and taste like soap after being expressed and sitting for too long.
Apparently they can still drink it, but some babies won’t. I don’t blame them! Who wants to drink soap? Breastfeeding for sure shrinks your uterus faster so I suggest doing it even for a little while for your own self image! Sound selfish? Maybe. But it’s hard to feel good about your body after a baby. You also don’t need to consume EXTRA calories while breastfeeding but you definitely need to consume more liquid. One day you will think, “Oh, Yeah! I’m feeling back to normal!” And the next you will be bawling in the shower literally for no reason at all. Another tip, just because you are breastfeeding doesn’t mean your baby won’t take a bottle. If you vaccinate your child, good for you! If you don’t, good for you! If you breastfeed in public, awesome! If you don’t, that’s okay! Everyone feels differently and has learned different things. We are honestly all just trying to do our best to figure out ourselves and our children. Every person will take a few different turns than I do, and that’s great for them! At some point, I may need them to teach me what they’ve done so I can try it.
For all the people who are wanting to be moms, are currently pregnant, are new at the mom game, or you are a seasoned vet… Do your thing!
And please, share your aftermath stories. We all need the encouragement and we all need to be informed so we can do our best at making decisions or trying things to help ourselves heal and enjoy our babies, our children and our adult children.
We never quit needing guidance and encouragement because we never quit being moms.
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