Monday, August 3, 2015

On Becoming a Mother... Again!!!

Hello Ladies,

It's not common knowledge but what the heck! This blog is anonymous anyway so here goes: Yes, I'm pregnant with my fourth child. I'm mostly happy about this but to be honest I'm a bit frightened. First of all pregnancy kicks my butt. Secondly, I've suffered from postpartum depression... twice. I must really love my kids (though some days they might argue that). It's so easy to say that bearing children is God's work. And it is. But when you're sobbing at the bottom of your closet, well it would be nice is God would change a diaper. Or perhaps rock the baby to sleep. Or, well, anything.

So when that pregnancy test came back positive, I definitely felt happy and blessed. I also told Jesus that I simply cannot do this on my own. Yes, I believe in redemptive suffering, but that cannot mean putting your mental state and perhaps you children at risk. So far I have been underwhelmed by the mental health care I have received. 

This time around I chose to go to a Catholic OB/GYN who has been recommend by several friends. "The office is so peaceful," they said. "They really listen to you. They respect your body."  Well, ok then. I agreed that it would be nice to be in an office where pregnancy is considered normal and not the result of failed birth control. (I thought birth control was supposed to work??) But anyway...

So I went to this Catholic doctor's office. And the office was peaceful. There were no pictures of female anatomy anywhere and no information lying around telling you how to avoid your current state in the future. (There is nothing like telling a woman suffering from PPD that the real cause of her condition is the baby. Thanks!)

Anyway, on to speaking with one of the doctors. Instead of a whirlwind visit and tests, we actually had a conversation. She asked my about my concerns for this pregnancy. I mentioned the PPD. What she said next were some of the most beautiful words I have ever heard. "Postpartum depression is not your fault; It is purely physiological. We will monitor your progesterone throughout your pregnancy and can even give you a progesterone shot in the hospital if you need one."

Ladies, if you have ever suffered through depression you will understand the power of these words. It's not my fault. I don't have to go through it again. I am not a problem. My children aren't problems!

Now I'm not saying that only a Catholic doctor's office can come up with this. A good friend of mine, who lives in a different city, had access to midwives who gave her the same treatment. Me? I got a prescription for happy pills and an option of birth control. 

It's one thing to say that a physiological problem can be fixed. It's another thing to say that I'm the one who needs to be 'fixed'. (No more babies - no more problems!)

But honestly this isn't meant to be a rant. (Though those of you who have been pregnant before know how hard it is not to rant about things that really aren't that big of a deal. Yes, I'm avoiding commercials and the evening news. I've already mentioned that pregnancy kicks my butt!) This is just meant to say that it's so much easier to go through all of the physical discomforts when I know that I won't have to suffer through the isolation of depression at the end of it. 

Ladies, I'll tell you a secret. Before each of my pregnancies I have had a sense that God was asking me to be a steward of one of His little souls. I have honestly felt that I was given a choice. A part of me has always known that God has always looked out for me. But this time around I had to really struggle and pray before saying 'yes' to God. I never did have the faith of Our Lady. God waited. I waited. And finally I said yes. Three months later I was pregnant. Why now and not six months after my youngest was born? I guess God knows what I can handle. And I am now so grateful to know that whatever happens, PPD will not be a part of the journey.

So far I am expecting a healthy pregnancy and a healthy delivery of a healthy baby. Still, every new life comes at a cost. Please pray for me, my family, and for this tiny one.

May God continue to bless you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cut the Crazy!

Hello Ladies,

Gosh, it's been ages! I've missed you. I really have. I feel as though I'm sitting with a bunch of girlfriends talking about things that would make the men in our lives look blankly and then say something unfortunate like "That's great, Dear. Would you mind getting me some water while you're at it?" You've been missed.

In my defense I've been really, really busy. Couldn't exactly say what I've been doing but I'm always exhausted at the end of the day so that's something. One thing is that my youngest child is now two. Being two keeps children very, very busy. It's a fun age. The older two are in school and activities. Once the kids hit school the years fly by. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. All of that complaining from earlier posts about how things never change and I'll be stagnant forever? I don't say that anymore. As a matter of fact I don't complain about how much thankless work I have to do anymore. (Probably much to the relief of those around me.)

Why is that? What is my secret? Sleep. Like I have a shot at getting some. Pregnant? Not at the moment. Pregnancy for me is purgatorial. We have not been blessed with a fourth but you'll probably hear about it if it happens. Awesome parish. As you know I love the study of theology and have a hard time comprehending that others don't. If you meet me on a plane and I can't shut up about the Church Fathers or some saint it isn't that I'm trying to convert you. It's just that I think that it's Just That Cool. And our now pastor thinks so, too. Can you say Adult Faith Formation? (Without the tedious papers and the stress of being graded?) With free child minding? And coffee? This pastor is serious!

All joking aside there has been a major shift in my life - and people have noticed. One very good friend whom I'm able to see every few years mentioned that I'm more joyful than when she had last seen me. I realized it was true. She asked how (since I had had two more children and my husband was working crazy long hours) I could be less stressed than when she had last seen me. After a moment's thought I replied "Because before I was driving myself crazy and then going to God. God has proven Himself faithful so now I go straight to Him. I just cut out the crazy."

It's really easy to say "God is faithful" but I'm telling you there are times when you feel desperately alone. Alone with young, helpless children. And no sleep. With gifts from God. No help. Not feeling worthy of such gifts from God. Feeling like a total failure for totally missing whatever goodness God has given because obviously you're so pathetic that you wouldn't know Jesus in your life unless the baby miraculously stopped screaming or He showed up to change a diaper. And when you try to pray it ends up something like this: Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is - what on earth are you doing out of bed? Get back to bed!! - The Lord is with - what do you mean you just wet your bed? I just put you on the potty not five minutes ago... No that's not pee... what did you do?    Ok, you get the idea.

The above was a real life episode which resulted in pathetic sobbing at the bottom of my closet. You see - I'm far from perfect.

About a year later I was thinking about that incident and many others. I was wondering, perhaps praying, why, why a time that should be so beautiful (the birth of a baby) could end up like the scene of a horror movie. I was pretty angry about it for a year. Maybe it took that long for my body to heal. Maybe it took that long for us to heal from a death in the family about that time. Maybe God was waiting patiently until I was quiet enough to hear Him. But I don't think so. You see, my prayer was answered.

As I was asking this I felt peace in my heart and then the voice: Let me tell you where I was. I was there the whole time. With these words my world shifted a little and I saw myself of the floor of my closet. I also saw the possibility of my feelings of isolation and worthlessness feeding upon themselves and becoming So Much Worse. Our minds are incredible things, aren't they? We can convince ourselves that some momentary setback is eternal failure. We can make some pretty poor decisions in those moments. Possibly regrettable ones. But God doesn't leave us there. My world rightened itself and I was a bit dizzy. The voice continued:  I wanted it to be a joyful time for you. I'm sorry it didn't work out that way. I was there for you the whole time. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you  for giving everything you have for the souls I entrusted to you.

Just the thought God would thank me for anything made me sit down.

Ladies, I'm really not all that much. I'm not super mom. There are days when you would that my family a good fit for Super Nanny. I'm not Super Theologian. The likelihood of earning a PhD is slim to none. But God Did Not Abandon Me to My Fears. He Did Not Abandon Me At All!

When I think of where my mind was taking me....

But today was ok. And it only gets better. Not because of anything I'm doing but because I'm not allowing my own crazy to get in the way.

Some say that the Church is about mind- control. Don't believe it. It's about self control. It's about living in such a way that you would recognize God working in your life. Because God is always working in our lives. He doesn't ask for much in return. He just wants us to work with Him a bit. He'll do the rest.

And yes, the baby did scream. And yes, she did sleep. Sheets did not need changing. My husband got home from work and traveling. And I finally have time to blog.

Cut the crazy. All paths lead to God anyway. Might as well take the route that allows you time to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the view along the way.

May God continue to bless you!