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It’s okay.

I think its safe to say that we live in a time of immediacy. Immediate gratification, immediate results, even immediate prayers. We pray for a person to be healed and we can lose hope (or interest) if things don’t happen within weeks. Years? Even harder. If we want to lose weight, we tend to choose the fastest option. We like our food fast, our internet faster, and our lives much the same way.

There are some areas of my life where I prefer to savor and slow down, but I’m guilty of desiring immediate results in the areas of my life that need work. I will tell any new mom in the world, whether it is her first or her fifth, to let a year go by before you put pressure on yourself. It takes 9 months physically to get that baby here, and studies have shown that it takes an entire year or more (That’s just one article!) before a woman is totally healed from birth. I don’t believe it’s any different for a fostering or adoptive mom, and from what I know of the families who have taken on that ministry, it’s often much, much longer than a year.

I feel like there is this immense pressure for us as humans to prove to everyone around us how okay we are. We can say things are hard, but delving into the details of our personal struggles often proves to be too intense for most people. We can pray for healing, and once the person passes the worst of the battle, it becomes too much work for most people to continue along the healing journey with them. One of my friends recently got very, very sick, and we prayed for weeks for her. While she is still in the process of healing physically, her battle is so much greater than she lets on. She often is quiet about her struggle because she feels like everyone expects her to be okay already. But it’s okay to not be okay. I’m saying this because I’ve been guilty of forgetting the daily struggle she faces because I forget that healing doesn’t follow a linear path.

I forget that the same is true for myself. I confessed a few weeks ago about my struggle with postpartum depression, and because I was feeling so much better at the time, I keep assuming I should have my act together. The truth is so far from that. Ironically enough, the days that someone asks me if things are okay, things are most often feeling pretty good at the moment. When the days are tough, I feel like I can’t say anything because it’s been 15 weeks and I’m supposed to have my act together. Shouldn’t I have my routine down by now? Shouldn’t I be able to keep a house clean, meal plan, grocery shop, stay on top of the laundry, make doctor appointments, call the tax office, pay the bills on time, and get kids where they need to be every day? Also, shouldn’t I be wanting to be more womanly and focus on romance? I need to lose the weight, both baby-initiated and not. I should stop drinking Cokes, stop eating out, plan meals that everyone likes and is easy to prepare when the baby is grouchy. I also need to find time to shop for new clothes for all three kids and also myself, since the old clothes don’t fit anymore. I’m supposed to be exchanging one breastfeeding session with a bottle session so I can give the baby a bottle and get out of the house, so I need to find time to pump every day. The baby needs tummy time every day. I need to read to the kids, practice Dean Bean’s speech, and practice spelling words with Bluebelle. I need to work out. The list goes on.

There are days, even weeks, that I yell and I feel the guilt overwhelm me. There is no family nearby who can drop in, so help comes in the form of me gathering the courage and asking and making plans for someone to make the drive. Even then, sometimes that blows up in my face and becomes a disaster.

I’ve digressed a little, but the point is this: I feel pressure to be okay, but sometimes I’m not okay, and I’m trying to remember that it’s okay to not be okay. 

I need to stop looking at the moms who look like they have it all together and stop panicking because I feel like they’re doing it right and I’m not. Lest you think that somehow I am one of those moms, let me assure you that I am most definitely not.

It’s time to gather up two of the kids to pick up one, so I will end this post here. Some days are good, some days are bad, and some days it’s all I can do to keep everyone alive. But that’s okay. 

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Where I am: the state of my address

I never intended for the gap between the last post and this one, but isn’t that how life works? Right now my life is at the mercy of an infant’s demands and the every day cycle of housekeeping and motherhood.

I think that instead of a big lead up into where I am now, I’m just going to come out and say it: I am dealing with postpartum depression.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you might remember me saying that I suspected that I had it with DeanBean, but I didn’t realize it until it had lifted when he was about a year old. I was just so angry all the time. I chalked it up to sleep deprivation and being alone a lot, but I saw after the fact that I was in a fog.

During my entire pregnancy with Peanut, I felt like I wasn’t myself. (Ha! Does anyone feel good in pregnancy?) When he was born, I had a momentary burst of loving him so much, but he also felt so much like a stranger. As my milk came in, so did his reflux. So. Much. Reflux.

Here I am, sore and recovering harder than my first two (thank you, thirties), and I am slave to this stranger who won’t sleep and is gagging and choking so much I can’t rest. He’s crying all day every day, and I’m changing clothes and doing a load of laundry every time I turn around. The guilt over how my older kids are being left to themselves is simply crushing me.

After one particular 24 hours where I just laid him down screaming on the mattress and I just cried and cried, and then the next day I made mental plans to leave it all behind, I reached out to some godly women I knew. I was reminded that I was normal, that my baby didn’t hate me (I wasn’t convinced), and encouraged to call my doctor.

The next day, I called him. I was determined to listen to wisdom this time around, but it was still the hardest call to make. He called me back personally and I told him how I wasn’t sure if I was depressed or just sleep deprived. He told me that he thought we should try something and see how it goes. Almost immediately, I felt a difference.

For the first time, I felt more like I did before I got pregnant and I began to see this beautiful, beautiful boy for what he is.

He’s precious. He’s perfect. He’s loved.

I’m tearing up just writing this, because I could have robbed us of so much more. I had already wasted 8 weeks of that time… but it could have been much worse.

The tone of this will likely be my theme the upcoming weeks. I try to be a person who is open and forthcoming with my life, and I am unable to act like things are absolutely perfect all the time. I think it’s likely that more of us are struggling than not, and if someone else can feel like they are not alone, than I feel I’ve accomplished something.

Here I am. A mother. A daughter. Loved by God. Struggling in my blessing.

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What’s in a name?

Our little Peanut’s birth story will be a little different than Bluebelle or DeanBean’s. Not just because he was a scheduled delivery, or because he’s my final one (God willing!), but because he was by far our most considered.

Peanut’s story begins in April 2016. That month, I went to a retreat called Splendid. It wrecked my heart, began to heal some places I didn’t realize were still broken, and filled my spirit in ways unexplainable. Back then, I was wrestling with the idea of adding to our family. You see, things were good. Our kids were in school and Mother’s Day Out, they were independent and fun, and relatively easy to manage. I’d always wanted three kids, but I wasn’t sure at that point that I wanted to give up my freedoms that I had recently regained.

Also, with every pregnancy I obtain the same fear. Will this child be the one to break me? When I was a child, I was told many times that I was the reason why my mother took medication. I knew she was depressed. I knew she had an addiction.

I just thought it was all my fault.

I was wrestling with this lie during the retreat, and I had just returned home. That Monday morning, I dropped Bluebelle off at school, and my heart ached leaving her again after being away from her for the whole weekend. I said a short prayer to God.

“Thank You, Lord, for her. She is such a blessing.”

I heard back, “Any child I give to you is a blessing.”

It was in that moment I felt peace over the situation, even though I wasn’t sure I still wanted to add to our family. It would be months before I was ready.

Fast forward to January 2017. I had discovered I was pregnant in November, and we were discussing names. Both of the older kids had been named with an A as their first name, and my husband wanted to keep the tradition so Peanut wouldn’t be left out. I’m stubborn, so I was planning to do something non-traditional, although I wanted the middle name to be a family name. My grandmother gave me a list of names she had been compiling and one stood out — Asher. I remembered it from the Bible and looked up its meaning. It means, “Happy, Blessed.”

I remembered that day in April and I knew it had to be his name.

He was to be our blessing.

This was going to serve as a reminder to me in the recent days, and I’ll tell you more very soon. I’m afraid this post is too long as it is!

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