I read a story about post-partum depression today, it wasn’t a happy one, which reminded me that I haven’t updated the internet on the state of my health: mind, body and soul.
It’s good news. [Sigh of relief]
I don’t really feel like talking about the depression, it’s part of my past now and I know that it could potentially be part of my future. For now I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing, about what makes me happy.
I needed more Family time, spouse time and time just for me.
First, I called my mom and asked if she would pay for my gym membership. I knew that all the time away from the gym was one reason I was sad. I missed regular exercise!! I started making better choices with my food and I started pampering myself.
Anyone who knows me, knows that when you think of me, you don’t necessarily think “cheapskate.” But, for years I have rarely paid for haircuts (ask a friend or sister to just cut it right over a trash can), I almost never go into a salon, I have never had a manicure and I only get pedicures once or twice a year (because if I didn’t, my entire foot would turn into a callus). I also never spent money on makeup, hair supplies or skincare.
My skin care routine – up until this year – was usually going straight to bed without washing my face. Rinse face in morning or just wait till I took a shower…whenever that was.
Wearing makeup was usually reserved for Sundays and the makeup I did own was either purchased for me by a mother or sister or given to me by a sister or my mother (because it came as a free gift during a purchase)! I spent very little money in the hair, skincare and makeup department.
In the spring and summer of 2016 when I struggled with pink eye, I had to throw away all of the makeup I did own – which included some new and nice (gifted) things. In addition to throwing out all my makeup, I threw out all my bed pillows (nice, newer pillows I couldn’t afford to replace).
We were also very broke when this happened.
Somewhere between back to back pregnancies, a husband who was gone all the time for school and with church responsibilities, a four year old just barely potty training (read “three kids in diapers”) – I was feeling pretty haggard.
Well, I discovered a multi-level marketing company that has amazing skin care and makeup. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy/wear good products unless I sold some. So, I signed up to distribute.
Along the way, I started having fun with my life again and taking care of myself made me feel good.
So, I’m going to the gym, taking care of my body, eating healthier and getting better sleep – now at bedtime, I don’t lay in bed trying to un-wind from a day that pulled and stretched me, I go to bed, I think of all the things I’m grateful for and all the things I can do better tomorrow.
Then, I stop thinking and go to sleep.
I started singing around the house more often, letting the messes sit later, snuggling with my babies a little longer.
I decided that dates with my husband were worth the cost of a babysitter (again, where I tend to be cheap – “let’s just not get a baby sitter and stay in or take the kids with us.”
I re-took my Athletic Training exam (to re-certify) and was 23 points short of passing!! [I mean, I can’t be too sad, I’ve been out of practice 11 years!! With very little study time I squeezed in, I almost passed!! Yes, I’m taking it again].
My energy levels increased and the chemicals in my brain have found balance as I allowed for more positive thoughts.
I consciously made it a daily effort to push negative thinking away and only see the positive. I had let negative thoughts camp too long in my mind and I didn’t want to be sad anymore.
Happiness had been my life before and I wanted that life back.
I never stopped praying during my struggles. I never stopped hoping. I knew that change would come if I just kept trying.
God knew me, He had faith that I could overcome my circumstances and He has faith in you too. The tools are there, we just need to reach out. Ask for help and take steps to change.
Postpartum depression is not an old friend, but foe. An enemy I may face in the coming years. But I have hope that my faith and past experience will help me defeat him again.
Disappointments still arrive, but I see the light and know that everything will work out.
This morning, after a few hours of anxiety, everything changed and the sun started shining through my soul again.
The day began like any other, woke up started breakfast – except this time I turned on some LDS general conference talks while I prepared food.
There are things I’ve always known, but today I understood them.
One speaker quoted Neal A. Maxwell,
“Certain forms of suffering, endured well, can actually be ennobling. …
“… Part of enduring well consists of being meek enough, amid our suffering, to learn from our relevant experiences. Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us … in ways which sanctify [us].”
I know I’ve sounded a bit like a broken record when it comes to trying to find the positive during difficult times, but I’ve passed through something that has given me new perspective on those who suffer depression throughout their life.
I have depression each time I’m pregnant…then I have had post-partum depression following the birth of each of my three children. So, beginning with my first pregnancy in late summer 2011 through, this month…I have constantly struggled [mightily] with things I didn’t quite understand for a long time.
The first time, I didn’t even know why I felt the way I did.
I wasn’t disappointed in the idea of having a baby, I just didn’t feel joy or excitement about anything. Things moms are supposed to feel.
When I held my firstborn after delivery I was in love at first sigh. I couldn’t sleep I was so happy.
The pure excitement and joy that followed the next eight months was in a constant battle with depression. All the changes in my life added to six solid months of no sleep and then eating little – it’s no wonder my brain was off balance.
Just before my first turned one, I got pregnant a second time. Several weeks later I miscarried. Six months following that, I was pregnant a third time and later gave birth to a second boy.
I love babies so much. Love them and yet…
I constantly felt like I was going to snap in half and I cried all the time. My husband couldn’t fix anything.
My fourth pregnancy (and third child) was a complete surprise.
A tender mercy my last pregnancy didn’t make me feel sick physically, but mentally I was still fighting a mess.
I was vacuuming my carpets three times a day. Three.
How did I manage to get along? I set my mind to face each day, to put one foot in front of the other and not give up, rest if I must, but not quit.
So, today, with a morning full of anxiety I heard, Elder Evan A Schmutz say,
“The purpose and mission of Jesus Christ included that He would “take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people,” “take upon him their infirmities,” and “succor his people according to their infirmities.”17
To fully receive these gifts our Savior has so freely offered, we all must learn that suffering in and of itself does not teach or grant to us anything of lasting value unless we deliberately become involved in the process of learning from our afflictions through the exercise of faith.
Then we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught: “There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened’ [Mosiah 16:9]. It is the very Son of God Himself.”20
We can take strength in knowing that all the hard experiences in this life are temporary; even the darkest nights turn into dawn for the faithful.
When all is finished and we have endured all things with faith in Jesus Christ, we have the promise that “God shall wipe away all [the] tears from [our] eyes.”21
Something about hearing those words sent light through my heart. I hope that hearing those words will send light through your heart.
I hope that we can all keep trying to be a little bit softer, a little bit kinder especially towards those things around us that we just don’t understand, yet.
Don’t give up, keep trying, you are loved. Things really aren’t as bad as they seem.
This summer raced by with record speed. My baby is officially eight months old today!
This breaks my heart just a bit, as she is the best, sweetest baby girl and I’m obviously going to need another baby sooner than I originally planned.
Because babies are my absolute favorite…and no, this is not a pregnancy announcement.
What on earth have I been doing this summer?
What have you been doing this summer?
I asked first…
Mostly just all the great mom things of laundry, dishes, cooking…I’ll be completely honest here and admit that I have not been reading many books to my kids this summer, there has been a lot more tv and I have zero guilt about this.
Last school year wore me out. Then in the spring I got pink eye and battled it all the way through July 4th weekend. I have not had any pink eye since that weekend, still have a bit of dry eye, but that is so much easier to deal with.
What we have had is lots of cuddles – indoors – lots of dirt in hair from the hours spent outside in the backyard, lots of forts. I got tired of putting the boy’s mattress back on the bed, so it’s still on their bedroom floor, surrounded by toys.
I’m gloriously less stressed these days.
I want to attribute the goodness in my life to God.
In the chaos of this world, He gives me peace and hope that good things will come.
In addition to having the support of my husband, the women of the Relief Society (the women’s organization from my church) have gone above and beyond to serve me here in Columbia, Missouri.
I hit the jack pot – and it’s not just the women in my LDS ward – there are women in surrounding wards who have served me too.
Those acts of service (making us dinner, taking my kids, swapping baby clothes, having us over to play, teaching my children) have lifted my load.
If only the news was full of the stories of these life transforming women – the world wouldn’t seem so dark to me – it would be the light of God’s love shinning. A beacon of hope for humanity.
The women I go to church with lift me with their testimonies, their compliments, their smiles, their friendship.
In return, those women let me take their picture. I wish I could tell their stories from a photojournalist point of view – as an alternative to the terribly distressing news as of late.
Motherhood (since I’m a mother)/Parenting takes a lot of work/sacrifice and without this village of helpful women I would have lost my mind long ago.
(Note about photos – all are SOOC (straight out of camera) photos – because I’m currently too poor for Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.)
[Below are photos taken by a friend – with a nicer camera, nicer lens…nicer skills]
It helps to have a hobby.
Mine is record keeping. Family record keeping. Which is the main reason for blogging. It’s also why I love taking photos. I have made several family photo album books this year. It takes me awhile to make family yearbooks, but I enjoy reliving our time together as I pick through our photos from the year and write about our time spent together.
It is the reading of and looking through those memories that draw me nearer to my extended family and friends.
Anyone up for pictures? I can’t promise they will look mystically amazing, but I’d love the practice and you will have a moment of time captured forever of that day your three year old got gum stuck in his hair and your baby had poop up his back…
Today at church I briefly stood before my congregation and bore my testimony of God’s love, how sometimes in His love (and infinite wisdom) He asks us to do hard things…because He knows that it will make us strong.
Motherhood has been a struggle for me lately. Particularly with my first born. He is determined to help me be strong. Really strong.
After my testimony, I returned to my seat. Wiley was so happy to see me and said, very enthusiastically, “Mom, you did a great job!” followed by a sweet little boy kiss.
Floating – his kiss and exclamation had me floating the rest of the day! (much like the hot air balloon we saw fly over our home.)
God sent me a strong willed, funny, intelligent, happy, passionate, particular and loving boy we call, ‘Wiley.’
Wiley turned 4 years old last week.
Lord knows time is flying and somedays it doesn’t fly fast enough to bedtime…
I am well and healthy today, but the entire month of April I was sick. So, as Wiley’s birthday neared, I knew he wouldn’t care if he had a party, but I wanted his day to feel really special. I wanted him to know I thought he was special.
He started his day with cartoons. I had blown up several orange balloons to litter the floor and got him four floating balloons and two dinosaur puzzles.
[go Dollar General!!!]
I had to coax him away from the TV for a morning outing – just with mom.
I took him to the grocery store and let him pick out anything he wanted! Cause, I’m money bags like that.
The birthday boy wanted fresh strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream and donuts.
He also wanted a “grown-up sippy cup” (those plastic drinking glasses with straws/screw on lids) colored orange. The boy likes orange.
I’m pretty sure most of his t-shirts are orange.
Kind of fits his personality.
After our breakfast outing, he wanted to put his dinosaur puzzles together with me. He and his little brother had hours of fun playing with the balloons. I read some books…and I let him play on the iPad, because that was just what he wanted!
Daddy took Wiley and Tyler to the “big slide park” for about two hours later in the day.
(I love, LOVE, when Dan takes them to the park – no bedtime troubles – and quiet time for mom.)
The grand finale to the birthday boy’s day was after the two babies went to bed.
Daddy made a fire in the fire ring and they roasted marshmallows!
It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten marshmallows, they aren’t my favorite.
We didn’t have cake, I pointed them out in the store, but he wanted donuts for breakfast and marshmallows for dessert; who am I to argue with the birthday King?!
Wiley stayed up late. I wish I could say it was way past his usual bedtime, but he typically refuses sleep until around 10pm every night, so it was business as usual.
Wiley finally passed out on the bed next to mommy and his sleeping baby sister.
I laid in bed two nights ago asking God why I was so sick, again. After three weeks with a vacillating cold (started with the head, made it’s way to chest), I got the stomach flu…
Thanks to God, it was not nearly as bad as Danny had it; poor guy.
But, I laid in bed pondering on what I did to enrage God that He would inflict me so and with a new baby?
The prophet Job came to mind. Job was a good man and he was truly afflicted.
(You have to forgive me for feeling so pathetic, I was having a low).
Then it occurred to me that I needed to have the flu to protect my precious baby!
Before I began having symptoms, my body was already producing antibodies that my baby got through the breastmilk! So, God is pretty much a genius. I’m grateful it was me – it is so tough to watch a baby suffer.
I would take this bitter pill any day to protect my children!
With my new perspective on being ill, I decided to embrace life and watch The Office on Netflix.
By the time I started throwing up, Danny was feeling better and was able to watch the boys. Wiley got an overload of screen time and watched Octonauts all day and Tyler destroyed things…but I didn’t have to stress about the imperfections of the day, because I got to rest.
Another bright spot to the day yesterday was a friend who brought over the best remedy to fight any illness: homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade bread, oranges, Saltines and Perrier.
It was probably no big deal for her, but it meant the world to me.
After a day and a half of rest, I was able to get my camera out for baby girl’s two month photos.
Now that we are all on the road to full health, I have a lot of projects I want to get started…I’ve decided to repaint my dining room chairs, again.
I am so done being pregnant for a while – which means I might get a chance to get my house in order.
The last thing I remember was, I had a baby…the other baby in August of 2014. Then, I was having a baby.
About the time I got serious about getting back in shape in Jan/Feb of 2015, I joined a beach body fitness group…my entire family had whooping cough (yes we’d been vaccinated, thanks).
Sick as a person with whooping cough, who is taking care of two small people with whooping cough, can be – I still started my fitness challenge the day the rest of the group did.
A month into my fitness challenge, I was growing another human again.
I was eating well, just got off antibiotics, and exercising regularly – so I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired.
Well, truth be told, I knew (deep down) that I was pregnant, but hadn’t excepted or tested the fact yet.
Here I am less than a year later with another baby laying next to me. My brain is not… what it is capable of being. I can’t remember some people’s names, I can’t recall words I used to know (I think I still know them, somewhere in there…) and every day feels like yesterday.
We’ve had a wedding, births, deaths (in my extended family), holidays in all those yesterdays. Where has today gone? Just another yesterday now.
My husband has been just as tired and overworked as I am. This winter vacation has been such a blessed and lazy affair.
We have had a very short visit to see my family this break and a weekend visit with Danny’s parents.
I was mind boggling tired with each visit and forgot to get pictures of my kids with their grandparents!! I was so grateful for the time we had together.
I’m enjoying this “honeymoon” of sorts with a(nother) new baby! The long days just cuddling are slowly fading and I’m slowly pulling myself together.
It’s good to exercise my mind again – with the whole blogging thing – and having just looked at a calendar, I can see that today is Monday…January 2016!
Wishing you all the best while facing your trials and reaping your blessings of another year.
My aunt Julie read a poem at Grampa’s funeral, one that he had found in a newspaper years ago and one that he shared with many, that was a much needed reminder to me – in many ways.
I have saved the xeroxed copy Grampa gave to me and I wanted to share it with you.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit – Rest if you must, but don’t quit.
Life is queer with it’s twist and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow – you may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than, it seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down…how close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out – the silver tint to the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
I sent the following email to my younger brother in Africa last week:
I have been sick this week and I have a week and a half left of this pregnancy…
So, I slowly get anything accomplished – including emails.
After waking up today with a weird rash on my arms and legs, fighting a cold and…well, one other thing that left me feeling yucky the words of one of my favorite hymns came into my mind.
Isn’t it great how the Spirit can bring such things into our remembrance? That’s why studying the things that matter are so important, they are a balm of healing when we are in need.
Anyway, the words to ‘Praise to the Man’ came into my mind, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” This pregnancy is a great sacrifice for me, some women love this time of creation – I don’t, I don’t love anything about it, except for the blessing that follows – I love my children.
Sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless is requires work, patience/long suffering, a bit of discomfort and times where you feel all alone. It is our own personal mini-Gethsemane that we are called to walk through…though, unlike the Savior, we are not asked to walk it alone.
I know that I don’t walk this life alone, there have only been moments where I feel really lonely…usually after everyone in the house has gone to bed.
I’m awake, uncomfortable, aching, heartburning (I get nauseated from heartburn), and brain buzzing from the overproduction of hormones.
Although I’m far away from family and my closest friends, I have such a great support group of friends and acquaintances here in Columbia, Missouri – I am very grateful for my life and for the people in it.
I’m grateful for this yearly time to reflect on the things we are grateful for – because when we stop to count our blessings, especially during times of trials – we can see how much we have.
If you have family or friends who love you like a family – then you are blessed.
now…I just need to remember this every day for the next six days, as I wait for this baby to arrive.
Peace and Comfort to those of you in this world who are truly suffering – you are in my prayers.