Enjoying more fully the Light.

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]

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My baby boy.

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.

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My oldest niece, the Mermaid. (side note, this was a candid shot, I caught her mid-imagination).

I needed more Family time, spouse time and time just for me.

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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.

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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.

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My sister, her husband and their sixth baby.

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.

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Candid shots really are the best.

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).

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We were also very broke when this happened.

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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.

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My sister and her baby and she’s pregnant with her seventh! (how amazing is she?!)

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.

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Along the way, I started having fun with my life again and taking care of myself made me feel good.

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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.

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Then, I stop thinking and go to sleep.

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I started singing around the house more often, letting the messes sit later, snuggling with my babies a little longer.

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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.”

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These two never want their daddy out of their sight!

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].

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My mother in law fostered a love for the ocean in my husband, and here she is with her grandchildren (whiny and all).

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.

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Happiness had been my life before and I wanted that life back.

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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.

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Those ‘gulls see food and in they swoop.

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.

Looking towards the light through depression.

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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.

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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].”

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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.

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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.

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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…

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This girl is pure gold. I am so happy she came to me.

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.

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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.

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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

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Something about hearing those words sent light through my heart. I hope that hearing those words will send light through your heart.

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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.

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Peace my friends.

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At 4 and a half our oldest decided to be fully potty trained and we are beyond thrilled. Anytime, anywhere.

I (Chris Traeger) Literally Can’t Get Stressed Anymore.

The perfect storm of stress was probably the main reason I went into the hospital two weeks ago (and missed my sisters bridal shower – sad face indeed) for pre-term labor.

I had a lot of friends, who have experienced pre-term labor, give me great comfort in knowing that things will be okay – EVEN if I have more days like that again.

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Living room turns into the climbing/jumping zone.

So much happening right now, I haven’t been making the time to write or take quality photos with my good camera, so you all will have to settle for the photos taken by my cell phone camera; which has been dropped far too many times.

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Party time – Excellent – woo hoo woo hoo!

My husband has been really busy – gone for long stretches – and with me having to rest more often…things get a bit messy (which leads to more stress…I’m still learning to let that thing called, “a mess” go… but I’ve been a struggle).

My husband did have a weekend free (or took the babies to do some work one day) while I drove to Tulsa to visit my Grandparents – sans children – Gramma was admitted to the hospital for another fall.

Enjoying a nice cafeteria meal.
Enjoying a nice cafeteria meal.

I spent the entire weekend with her in her hospital room.

I brought her 50th wedding anniversary album - she stared at every page for a long time - relearning things.
I brought her 50th wedding anniversary album – she stared at every page for a long time – relearning things.

Sometimes she forgot who I was, thinking I was a nurse, she would ask me questions about myself (that she already knew about me)…she was always embarrassed when she realized who I was.

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I called her 10 days after I returned home and she asked if I knew she had been in the hospital. I reminded her that I was there with her the whole weekend. She felt bad about forgetting.

I’m just glad she still knows who I am when I call.  I have three remaining Grandparents and they cause me tears every now and then.

The weekend after my trip to Tulsa, my mother came up for a brief visit (for a Midwifery conference) and she and I went out shopping one afternoon.

Dress needs to be hemmed, but it was the right color, lightweight and comfortable. Took longer to find the right earring than the dress!
My 60 yr old mother – whistle – Dress needs to be hemmed, but it was the right color, lightweight and comfortable. Took longer to find the right earring than the dress!

She needed to find a dress for my sisters wedding (In August. In Houston, Texas. Because people still get married in Houston in the summer – I did).

For my trouble of helping her spend money on new clothes and jewelry, she bought me some make-up. The fancy kind of make-up I’m too poor to buy myself.

He came out to be with me
He came out to be with me

Since my husband had Scout Camp the week before our trip to Texas, and I was slowly loosing my sanity, there were many nights where I let my sons stay up late.

Wish I could still sleep anywhere...
Wish I could still sleep anywhere…

I was too worn out to fight the bed time routine.

Our trip to Texas was a teary one…Grandparents weren’t feeling up to a visit on our way down, and I got a call that our dog got into some trouble at my parents. I’m not overly fond of my dog in the, “I cuddle with him every day,” but I love that Boy and I was quite upset that he got in a scrap.

So, I cried.

When we arrived at my sister’s house, I was so happy to see her. She too is pregnant (currently 36 weeks and has more hustle than I do!) and two pregnant sisters together is a great comfort. We ‘get’ each other.

Doing laundry and watching T Rock trying to walk.
Doing laundry and watching T Rock trying to walk.

We normally divide our time between Danny’s family and my sister’s home, but I – not feeling well – have kept mostly to my sisters house (where she and her kids have been a great help when I need to rest).

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Gregre and T

The day after my hospital visit, we drove out to spend time with Danny’s family.  My boys just love their grandparents and great-grands (on both sides).  Normally Papa gets all the love, but this trip Little T Rock was loving on Gregre.

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Later in the week, my sister’s family and mine drove out to Papa and Gregre’s for lunch and the kids were happy playing and running about.  It really is a little slice of heaven out on their property and Danny’s family are all Southern Hospitality.

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Last week my mother in law took some time off work to take me shopping! And my sister in law offered to watch my two boys.  My boys had so much fun playing at her home.

Wiley swimming with his cousin K.
Wiley swimming with his cousin K.

A few days after our shopping trip, we went back to have dinner at my sister in law’s and when we pulled up, Wiley recognized the front door and said, “yeah, this is the good house.”

We have to drag them out of that pool!
We have to drag them out of that pool!

It seriously makes my day that my children love their family like they do.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.

Baby sister will live in her very first home come Friday when she and Jeremiah get married!!
Baby sister will live in her very first home come Friday when she and Jeremiah get married!! I do hope they landscape the heck outta that yard. 🙂

My baby sister gets married this Friday – last Friday, while she was at work – she and Jeremiah got the keys to their new home…which didn’t have electricity yet, but the family got them moved in (through 104 degree heat) anyway.

It was the day of the move, after spending so much time in the Texas heat, Danny said he wasn’t so sure about moving back to Texas…

So, uh, I have no idea what the future holds after graduation.

All his pants were dirty, so he is trying on some pink ones...don't tell anyone.
All his pants were dirty, so he is trying on some pink ones…don’t tell anyone.

I do know that we will have three children. 2 boys and 1 girl.

BabyGIRL