Growing pains

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I spent some time today looking at my baby. I don’t know how, but sometime in the last few weeks, he decided to grow. I see his chubby legs and pot belly. A healthy double chin is developing. And his cheeks! Oh, those cheeks! A little dimple on his right cheek is noticeable with his smile. He is such a smiley, content baby. And he is growing. At nearly six months he is getting better at sitting up. This makes him look even bigger. Combine this with jeans and a pair of moccasins from Happyandthehectic and we’ve got ourselves a bona fide little man!

I can say the same of my other two children. Only their baby cheeks are slowly disappearing. No more dimpled hands. Less and less chub on the cheek. More muscle definition. Bigger shoes. Longer legs. Growing pains.
Little bodies doing their thing. Growing. Learning. Changing.

When my five year old clip-clops down the hall in my strappy high heels and sun dress wadded up under her arm pits, she smiles at me and says, “Will you save these for me for when I’m a teenager?”

All I can think is, “Will you save a little piece of your five year old self for me when you’re a teenager?”

Growing pains. I wonder is it as uncomfortable for them as it is for me? My anecdote today was kissing on luscious baby cheeks and squishy thighs. But soon those will be gone and there will be other new and exciting things to find joy in. And those growing pains? I doubt they’ll ever go away.

The Invisible Woman

I have got to get something through my head. My hard, thick skull. It seems some times it is impenetrable. Listen carefully, Holly:

It is not about you.

Why is that so hard to internalize and practice?

I read this article just now called The Invisible Woman. I am blown away when I think of the many women and mothers I know who truly are “invisible women” and take honor in that. Wow. I see you. And I thank you for your example.

 

Six Reasons to Never Give Up on Motherhood

I read this article this morning. It was just what I needed to read at this moment in my life. Not that I feel like giving up, but gosh- some days are so hard! Take the time to read it and glean the wisdom that you may need right now.

Six Reasons to Never Give Up on Motherhood.

 

“Never, never give up!”

Room

Looking for a good book to read? One that just may change your life? Do yourself a favor and go get this book by Emma Donoghue.
After seeing it on a friends Goodreads list, (thank you Emily!) I started reading this book last week and couldn’t put it down. If I didn’t have a real life, I would have been able to finish it in one sitting. It was that captivating. I finished it last night and now cannot tell if reading the book was as good as therapy, or if I need therapy now! Either way, my life is forever changed.

That’s all on that for now. Just go read the book if you haven’t. And if you have read it, what did you learn from this book? (No spoilers, please!)

http://www.roomthebook.com/

Growing up

My husband has been sorting through all of our digital photos this week. There is a crazy amount of memories that are crammed into approximately 200GB of space on our computer. What is even more obscene is the amount of photos we have of just our daughter. Upwards of about 1500 pictures of just little Natalie. It’s a lot, not because of the number, but because in comparison, there are only about 400 pictures of her younger brother. Whoa. I heard that happened with each subsequent child that came a long, but that has got to change!

We were browsing through some old videos and stumbled upon one of little Natalie from about 18 months ago. She was 2 1/5 years old and I think Henry was just born or he was due soon. The video is of us stomping barefoot in the puddles of a recent rain storm. We were looking for worms together. Near the end of the video, you can hear my timer go off and me asking Talie what the timer means. This time, it means that our cookies are done and we have to go inside and get them out of the oven.

In the video, she looks up at me and with her big doe eyes says very matter-of-factly”…come back outside?!” As if saying she’s cool with going in to deal with the cookies, but after that, we’ve got to get back out here!

The clip is priceless. It shows so much of her little brains working, her sweet tiny voice and huge personality. I watched this video with her and my husband and we laughed, but then I burst into tears. And grabbed Natalie and held her tight. My little girl is growing up. I am in awe at the things she says and does. I am so in love with her! I don’t often get emotional at the thought of my children getting older. I mean really, yay for no more diapers, spilled drinks, wet beds…all that stuff. But in the end, it really is those small moments that make this all worth it.

The next day, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth while Natalie was sitting on the potty and after she said, “I’m ALL DONE!” to me (while assuming the position to be wiped) she said so innocently, “I don’t want to grow up, Mom. Am I growing up right now?”
“Yes.” I said. “We all are growing up. It’s just what happens to us.”
To which she replied, “But I don’t want to grow up! I don’t want to get big.”
I told her I didn’t want her to grow up either, but it was going to happen. And she shouldn’t be scared.

I guess I ought to not be scared either.

It is a good thing I have so many pictures to remember her by. We can both look back and see how wonderful and fun growing up really can be, one stomping puddle at a time.

Swimming the River

I never thought that I would be in the category of women who experienced postpartum depression. But I am.

When I had my first child, I was in the blissful land of Motherhood for the first time and I just did not understand how anyone could have any negative feelings during that new sacred time. Cloud Nine was a wonderful place. And then around my daughters first birthday, I finally came down from that euphoric feeling. I experienced a mild sadness in the realization of where I had been emotionally and where I was sinking to. It was like the end of your favorite roller coaster ride. The ride is wild, up and down and fast, but you can’t wipe that silly smile off of your face. And then the ride ends and you are left with a wonderful memory, but you have to get off. And its like, BAM!-over and blah. Such a contrast. Not depressing, just a little bit of a downer.

I thought that would be my bout with postpartum symptoms.

Fast forward two years and enter stage left child number two. The pregnancy was good, the child huge (we’re talking 11lbs huge) the birth plan perfect.  The space was perfect down to the color of paint on my walls and the playlist of music. My home birth unfolded without too much of a hitch. (If you don’t count the size of my baby or the hemorrhaging afterwards…) I had all the wonderful support a mother could want.

But something was just off.

The only way I can describe it is that suddenly I was feeling EVERYTHING. It took me by surprise because I realized that I had gotten pretty good at not feeling things, as a coping mechanism. I was in a state of constant trance-like melancholy. And to be honest, I think I liked it. And all in the same thought I said to myself often: “What is happening to me?”

There is a lot more to my experience going through that time, but my intent here is not to go through that again, but to share with you that if you think you are going through similar things (either BEFORE of AFTER the birth of your baby), there is help. There are resources, forums, -an ENTIRE community of people wholly devoted to getting the word out about Postpartum Depression and helping women in need. I have found peace in just reading the blogs and websites of other women who experienced this, some worse than others.

For me, the key has been to “lean into the discomfort” and work my way through the emotions. Actually letting myself feel when something was welling up helped me explore emotions that I had not experienced in years. In a way, it was refreshing and I found myself feeling like I didn’t ever want to come out of the place I was in. Strange? Maybe.

I learned to respect and protect that sacred postpartum time where I truly was “cycling so close to heaven” (as my loving midwife explained to me). Those first six weeks were difficult for me in so many ways that I just don’t have words for. From my experience, I feel I have gained a greater compassion for new mothers around me. And believe me, I am surrounded by them!

Below are a few wonderful resources that I have skimmed from during the past year as I’ve been swimming to the other side of this river called Postpartum Depression. I hope that if you are experiencing PPD, or know of anyone that is, you will find the support you need. There are so many women who understand. So speak up.

 

 

Postpartum Progress  This site laid out in dimple terms the symptoms of PPD so that I could understand and more easily see that I was indeed experiencing PPD.

Beyond Postpartum is a blog that I have recently stumbled upon. One of my favorite posts is called: “Baby Products that Lead to Unrealistic Expectations in New Moms”. Its so perfect!

Living Self Care. If you are not already a follower of this blog/website, I highly recommend you add your name to the list of readers. While this site is not specifically about PPD, they publish daily essays that help us remember to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. I love particularly that the authors are pulled from a wide pool of people, so its not the same person writing all the time. I have a close friend who has an essay published, that is great.

The Healing Group A group of therapists who specialize in Women’s Health. If you live in my area, I highly recommend The Healing Group.

 

The list of resources is endless. You could spend hours just following link after link after link reading of others’ experiences and seeing that you are not alone. For me, doing just that was enough for me to come through it relatively unscathed. But the truth is, I am a changed woman. And I don’t really want to go back to the Me before all of this. I guess this is where Wisdom is grown, through tough experiences like this. Some day. I hope that you, too, will gain wisdom through the madness.

Passions

During my freshman year of college, I had a roommate who built her school schedule around the schedule of the soap opera called “Passions”.

I know.

Without fail she was home everyday just in time to turn on the tube, sit down with her bowl of Ramen and glue her eyes to the tele. Don’t even think about starting up a conversation, asking a question or blocking her view! Bad idea!

Although I felt her priority was a little skewed, I still felt her commitment to something she loved so much was admirable. And though her grades probably suffered, she was connected to this show on a level that I have never understood…until now.

My friend had an obsession with Passions.

And now, ten years later, I finally see her wisdom. Not in the failing of classes, but in the finding of something you love and doing it. We call that a passion. You know those questions?

What is your passion? What moves you? What do you love? What lights you up?

I have dabbled in many things in my short life: writing, swimming, animals, languages, books and reading, mountain biking, ballet, children, teaching, massage, pregnancy, motherhood, nutrition, and art among other things. And it has taken a long time for me to finally find my way into my passions.

I think I can safely say that my passions at this point in my life are all things pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Of course it took me actually becoming a mother to find the joy and enthusiasm in Mothering. My love for this has helped sculpt me into a sort of a Sherpa for those in my circle who are going down the path into parenthood.

But this is not about my passion- just that I have one and I am confident in identifying it. I am also continually exploring and finding new things to be interested in and perhaps become well-read on. What else is this time on Earth for if we are not learning and soaking up all that we can? How boring to not?!

I realize however, that not everyone has had that “coming to Jesus” with discovering what moves them. I read a blog post today where this was just the case. It took this woman 57 years to find that writing was her passion. Fifty-seven years. Can you imagine living almost an entire lifetime without that? My heart is happy that this woman finally did realize her passion.

But I have questions.

How do you find it? I guess some people just happen upon a passion. Others actively seek. And I think the people who don’t ever find anything they love is because they have not fully realized who they are. How can you possibly find a match to this puzzle if you are unsure of your own shape?

How to find “you”: self exploration through:  discipline, taking risks, doing hard things, being alone, thinking, writing, following a curious thought, working, talking to people, listening and watching the world around you, taking time to be quiet, being brave enough to be loud, allowing yourself to feel awkward and just be in that feeling- questioning why you feel the way you do, be open to change. Change. Grow. Feel. Decide. Stand Up. Love.

There is an interesting ebb and flow of life. There are time when I feel like this:

closed. small. quiet. unwilling. push away. yin. safe. nostalgia.

And I guess that is okay too. But I think there is danger in nostalgia. “What if’s” sneak in. “If only’s” whisper temptingly. Regrets show their face. Unreal memories are created. And then all of a sudden the now doesn’t look so great. Then the cycle starts again: closed. small. quiet. unwilling. push away. yin. safe. nostalgia.

See? Dangerous.

So. Passions. Those are things that help drive me forward. They beg the question, “What next?!” For example. My interest in Birth began with Massage. Let me take you through the process, if I may.

Hmm, massage seems to be pulling at me. Enroll in school. Dabble in 10+ different modalities. Intro to Prenatal massage class piques my interest. Take it. Love it. Take it beyond. Buy specific pregnancy massage supplies. Incorporate what  I know in my own pregnant life. Love it. Read more. Graduate massage school. Get license. Begin practice. Invest in extensive certification course for Prenatal Massage. Practice prenatal massage. Love it. Feel fulfilled.  Read more and more and more. Have two babies. Love it. Get involved in network of other mama’s just like me. Gather info on becoming a Doula. Work with/for Midwife. Love it. Read more. Do more. Talk more. Read more. Listen more. Watch my midwife. Notice that world. Flirt with the idea of Birth Assisting. Love it. Feel excited about it. Read more…realize the can of worms that has been opened. Breathe.

“What is next?”

Do you see how easy it is to be taken away in something you love? One thing leads to another and without fail, you are bound to find something at the end of some line that will define who you are. In fact, it is not that one thing that will define you, but your entire journey that has shaped you.

How divine.

Each of us has something. What is your passion? What moves you? What are you so committed to that the clarity is unmistakeable? People who have that drive and direction are easy to spot. They have a glow about them. If you don’t feel like you have that, I encourage you to start asking the hard questions and get to know yourself.

What is your passion?

Change

Soon after the birth of my son (baby #2), I felt myself being stuck. I was down. Blue. Very melancholy and just all around blah. But the interesting part about it was that I actually liked it. I was experiencing emotions that had been buried for so long- I did not even know what to do with them! My poor husband! On the other hand, that place I was in was a motivating factor for me. I saw where I was and where I wanted to be. In fact, I wrote all about that place here.

During that time, I had an email exchange with a dear friend from high school. She and I have been in touch off and on since we graduated. It is amazing that she and I have chosen much of the same things in the way we choose to live our lives. (Natural living, home birth, reading, spirituality) Although I’d wager that she is more of an Intellectual than I am. And I’m okay with that.

Anyhow, I thought I would share Mel’s words with you because they helped me so much. I hope she doesn’t mind…

*****

Holly –

I’m sorry you’ve been feeling hints of those darn winter/baby blues. Change is challenging and stretching and beautiful and some days downright hard. I think the transition of adding children is particularly multi-faceted. We want to add to our families, we know it will bring unmeasured joy, but this quote has always spoken to the feelings I’ve had moving from one to two and then two to three:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. -Anatole France

There is a loss of what previously was and never again will be. In those moments of frustration, sadness, or whatever the emotion of the moment is, perspective is our salvation. There are so many sweet reminders that the new normal is full of adventure, joy, wonder, and growth. It is the plan of God that we may learn to love as much as our mortal hearts can possibly bear. It is His plan that we learn to sacrifice that which we didn’t think we could – our time, energy, preferences, ideas of things as we think they “should be” etc. And the process is refining, beautiful, and wholly Godlike.

A recent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education made the following point (ht: Andrew Sullivan):

“I for one am afraid that American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am concerned that to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful of our society’s efforts to expunge melancholia. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?”

We shun sadness, but yet we worship a weeping God. A God who knows all there is to know of sadness and heartbreak. And we strive to be like Him. That means we strive to feel, experience, and to some extent come to understand and maybe even embrace sadness. And that’s an uncomfortable thought and reality.

Feeling that melancholy is a beautiful process of this mortal experience thing. Love it. And then let it pass by and choose joy.

*****

I have reflected often on these words. About how we must die to one life before we can grow into another and how it is important to feel the Ups and Downs of life. About how dealing with Change is Godly. What a beautiful thing that is. I am grateful for this realization. I should report that since I have been aware of this, things have gotten better. I still have those days. However at times, I enjoy their presence because it reminds me that I am Real. Part of being Real is feeling and changing and being okay with processing all of it.

I don’t really have anything that I can add to what has already been said.

If you have struggled with postpartum emotions or just have a difficult time dealing with Change, I hope that Mel’s words will help you like they have me. I am so grateful for them!

Early Morning Thoughts

10/16/2010

I wake up to Tally kickng me. Brilliant. She is such a bed hog. I am beginning to really hate it when she come in our bed at night. It is ME that loses my spot and pillow in bed. Chris is none the wiser. I should tell him because it is HE that sometimes brings her in.

I take Tally back to bed. Its 2:30 a.m.

I pee.

Henry is squirming in  his bed and squeaking which tells me he is beyond just going back to sleep on his own without crying. So I lift him up, decide to change his diaper, and lay him on the bed. Snaps. Uhg. I remember how Chris has said that we should only ever buy zipper pj’s. I agree with him. Henry is cold and naked on his legs. He’s starting to cry so I grab the plug. He takes it, but can’t keep it in by himeslf. I help him. He pees. On the bed. Wonderful. I grab a burp rag. I’ll get to sleep on a towel later. Awesome. And more laundry. Even more awesome. How do I get pee out  a pillow top matress? I love my life right now! Diaper is on. Snaps. Dreaded snaps. I’m so tired. Towel down, I climb back into bed with Henry.

I nurse Henry. He latches on immediately and my mind continues to wander.

For some reason I start thinking about a dress I have. My pageant dress for Miss Kamas Valley. But it didn’t start out as that. It was really a bridesmaid dress from a fancy shop down town. I can’t believe that my poor/broke parents bought it. It was crunch time before my first HS dance. A sophomore attending Jr. Prom. That dress cost over $300 and was a size 8, or was it a 12? I don’t recall. I was a size 2 then. Susie altered the dress in just thee days. It fit so perfectly. That dress was magical at the dance! Later, she altered the dress again to fit my growing body and embellished the bodice with sequins for the pageant. Again I wore it and felt like a queen. Cinderella for sure. The magical dress was altered two more times to meet the needs of other girls. I wonder what size it is right now? I think how amazing Susie was for making that happen for me.

My mind wanders further to recall me asking Susie if she’d make me a vest. They were in style at the time and anyone who was cool was wearing them. It was around Valentines day so she found some neat denim materal with red hearts stamped on it. That vest was cool! The hearts were upside down and I wondered if she meant to sew it like that. I remember I got a picture at a school dance in that vest. It symbolized me being “cool”. But ironically, I am standing alone in the picture. The popular group of girls who had invited me to be in their picture went ahead of me and didn’t tell me. I was too shy to say”Wait for me” so I stood alone in front of a lame backdrop and paid 25 cents for Miss Mitchel to Snap a shop with an old 35 mm camera. I didn’t feel so cool.

I wonder what ever happened to that vest. I know where that pageant dress is. On the hill. (My family’s storage building is on a hill in my hometown)  Should I bring it down so the moths (are there moths up there?) and mice don’t eat it?  I won the pageant in that dress. That dress was a right of passage for me. That dress is heirloom material.

I remember the time when me, Myndy and Mardee (or was it just me and Myndy?) Decided it would be cool and would make a statement to dress like Gothics every Wednesday. We’d call it “Gothic Wednesday”.  Original, Iknow. Turns out the first Wednesday we did it happened to be the day after the shootings at Columbine, HS. Whoopsy.

Back to getting my dress dowon from the hill.

Henry is still nursing. Marke the time: 2:45 a.m.

I would really like to store that huge LOVESAC of ours on the hill, but it would be mice heaven! All that warm foam! We’d have to hang the sac from the rafter, but they’d still get into it from the ceiling rafters. Drop down onto it and take up residence. Guess we won’t put it up tthere. It really just needs to be sold.


Mice. That building is filled with the critters. I used to get paid 25 cents a mouse for catching/killing them. One time a brother of mind made a mouse trap  by making a ramp that led to a bucket of water. The mouse would fall in and drown. Sad. Other traps were ones where they crawl in and get stuck. They’d die of hunger in those traps. Poison. And the classic snap off your head type of trap. I dedided that the most humae way to catch a mouse is the snap off your head kind. If I were a mouse thats how I’d want to die. Quick with bulging eyeballs.

I reflect on all the thoughts I’ve been having since nursing Henry. He’s still going at it. Must’ve hit another growth spurt. He’s not sleeping through the night anymore.
I think about a friend, Bryanna Johnson, and how much I love her blog. I realize that this is how she writes. Fragments and blurbs from her life instead of drawn out stories, yet you still feel like you get the whole story. I think how I’d like to write like that and then realize I just did in my mind. I say to myself: “Go write it down.”

Henry pulls off. It’s always best when it is HIS idea to be finished eating. Its 2:59 a.m.

I lay him back down, grab my journal and find a comfy spot on the couch.

 


Feeling Love

September 30, 2010
Today while feeding Henry I had a profound gush of the feeling LOVE. He was so precious, innocent and needing me. I had what he needed. It was incredible. I didn’t want the feeling to go away; I just lay there, holding my son and basked in his eternal beauty. Splendid splendor. Its the feeling of being Motherhood, I think. What true love feels like. Such a gift.