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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Christianity, Paul, and Children

So now that we all have been reassured of my sanity (and trust me, it was rocky there for a bit..), I'd like to share a little more of how I got there. This one, my friends, is going to be far more personal than listing off symptoms of PMS.
On March 3, 2013, the love of my life became a Christian. I won't go into all the details, because those are his to share, not mine. What I will say is that I've known for a long time that God wasn't really a part of our  marriage, and I had a feeling that HE was what was missing in it. For 3 weeks now, God has been a daily participant in our lives, and it's so much more fulfilling!
We started at a new church around the end of February, and they were planning an all-day family event for the next weekend. They called it Converge, and the point was to focus on families and where they stand in their walk with the Lord. There were classes for couples without kids, couples who wanted to learn how to disciple their kids, and most importantly to me, a class for couples who needed to learn to put themselves before their kids. Yep, we're talking marriage > children.
I don't know about y'all, but this was a big deal for me. Surely my children are more important than my husband? They lean on me for their absolute lives.. he doesn't. It is my entire job to protect and nurture them.. I'm just supposed to support him, right? Wrong.
I'm telling y'all, this was hard to hear. What wound up happening was that I got kicked straight in the teeth with scripture. Did you know that Paul writes about the husband and wife for 12 verses before he ever mentions children? That right there should tell a Christian that we should value the couple more than children. We should be showing our children how much we love our other half. That has got to be the greatest comfort to give a child.. showing him how much you love his Daddy. "Yes, Geeby, I love you.. but I love Daddy more." "Yes Katie, Daddy loves you, but he loves Mommy more." Have you ever even thought that might be ok to say?? It is. If a solid marriage is the foundation for a family, then it has to be cared for. If the children are the foundation, then it is sure to crumble at any number of times, such as when the children move out of the home.
So now, here we are, making more of an effort to show each other that the kids don't always come first.. we do. Of course we are doing this in a loving way, not telling them "Good luck! You're almost 3.. totally old enough to fend for yourself!" No, we're just caring for us more.. Bedtimes have been scooted a little earlier, date nights are more frequent, even if they are pretty lame. I know this has been harder for me than it has been for Jason, but he's very good at supporting me. And he knows it has to happen, too. I must say, a lot of the guilt I have felt as a mother has suddenly left me. God didn't give me children so that I would devote every moment to them. No, that's what he gave me a husband for. He gave me children to nurture and raise in the Lord, so that they might do the same one day. I love my babies more than anything (except their father), so don't get me wrong.. I'm just getting past the part in my life where I feel like they need to rule it.
Sunday, March 17, 2013

Speaking of crazy..

So, I had this post pretty much written the other day when I posted Part 1. But now, after talking to some more friends, I think this post is going to go in a different direction. I think it's pretty important to talk about some of the things women go through after childbirth. When I wrote that I was tired and anxious and depressed, I didn't go into detail. Another friend basically pulled that out of me when she said it had happened to her, too.

From the moments I knew they were inside me, I loved my babies. There was never any question. I loved feeling every kick, every hiccup, I prayed that they would be healthy and bright, and above all, happy. It never occurred to me that I might should pray that I would be happy as well.

Katie's birth story was pretty amazing, and you can read about it here - http://emilynjason.blogspot.com/2010/08/day-we-became-family.html . And as happy as I was that she was ok, that she was healthy, and as much as I loved her, I did not feel attached to her. It wasn't the mother-daughter birth story you read about.. I wanted every good thing for her, and I felt the natural urge to do everything I could to ensure her health and happiness. She was my daughter. But, as another friend put it, I felt more like the babysitter. I was there to feed and comfort her, and to read to her and count her toes, but surely she belonged to someone else?

I felt like this for Katie for a very long time. Later, once I realized that most people do not feel that way, I realized it must have been a form of PTSD from the way she was born. Or maybe it was because I was stressed so mentally because Jason was deployed. To be sure, it got better when I was only a month out from Jason coming home. And interestingly enough, this is also the time I decided to get back on birth control.

This was December of 2010. Looking back on it, I know this is about the time I started to really connect with Katie. I always assumed that was because this was our first opportunity alone. We moved back to Guam and it was just us, waiting on Daddy. And I felt great! I was happy!

I stayed on birth control until June of 2011, when we decided to try and conceive Baby Fred #2. Turns out that we're crazy people, and we conceived on the very first shot. I was officially pregnant and telling friends we were expecting #2 within 2 weeks. I guess my body levels out a bit with pregnancy, because I didn't have any emotional problems while I was pregnant with Geeby.

And then the pregnancy went off without a hitch. I spent a long time worrying, and he came out perfect. Small, but perfect. But soon after he was born, and probably soon after the pregnancy hormones wore off, I began to feel about him the same as I had felt about Katie in the beginning. I didn't realize it was something I could fix with medication.. I honestly just thought I was a terrible person. Here was this little boy that I loved so much, but I just couldn't force myself to feel like he was really, really my SON.

And now you already know the story between then and now. I figured it out, and I am so happy I did. In fact, I'm genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. There are things that stress me still, for sure! But I'm getting back to being me, and I am so happy about that. I know there are a few people who read this that I can count on for prayers, and I want to say thank you to them. I love y'all so much! And in case anyone is wondering, I feel 100% crazy mama bear attached to my two beautiful babies.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Going Crazy and Coming Back (Part 1)

I wrote a while back that a lot of things had been happening, and I honestly didn't even know where to begin to write. I have really felt afraid that if I started to write, I wouldn't be able to stop because it would all just pour out of me. And trust me, there are some things that a lot of people just don't want to hear. But more importantly, there are two very tiny people who would much rather I play with them and occasionally cook them breakfast. And lunch. And sometimes dinner.

I'm going to try to post an abbreviated version, because I do think it's important to post my whole story. Though it won't be life changing for anybody else, my life has changed very much on the inside over the last year. Where I am now doesn't seem very significant if you don't know where I was 6 months ago.

Last April, something happened..I wasn't me anymore. I was anxious, depressed, tired.. constantly on the verge of tears. But, I was also in the process of a PCS move, where I would be single-momming it for a month, then going with  my husband to a 3 week school 3 states away, and oh you know.. raising 2 babies under 2. I felt like I had a right to be anxious, tired and depressed.

Toward the end of the Summer, it got worse. My first thoughts were the same.. "I'm a stay at home mom with two very little babies. Maybe I just need a break." So I enrolled Katie in Preschool 2 days a week. That didn't help. I was still just as stressed when I only had Garrett to care for.

Then I made a friend and got a hobby! That's what moms are supposed to do to keep their sanity, right? So I was following the rules. Well, that didn't help, either. (To be fair, I do now have this friend, and she is wonderful! And I'm so thankful for her! And I do pretty much adore sewing more than anything else I've ever done.)

Also, around this time I saw a doctor. I told him what was up with me, and he suggested an Anti-Depressant. He said he thought it was Post-Partum Depression. I disagreed, and in a big way.

Then, it came time for Christmas, and I thought maybe the holidays were just adding to my stress and anxiety levels.. maybe it would all level off after the holidays. Nope. That didn't happen, either. But around Christmas is when I began to realize there was something else going on. It wasn't just new mom stress. I felt really, really off.. So, obviously, I turned to Dr. Google with my symptoms. Once I got to clicking around, I found more and more that sounded like me. I don't remember where I found this to cite it, but I found one article that said "If you have 6 of these 14 symptoms, you should really see your doctor." I had 10!

It's not some scary disease, it's just too much Estrogen, but here are some of the symptoms:

Anxiety
Depression
Insomnia
Water retention
Nausea
Vomiting
Fatigue
Irregular periods
Breast swelling and tenderness
Fibrocystic breasts
Increased PMS symptoms
Loss of sex drive
Uterine fibroids
Cravings for sweets
Weight gain
Headaches
Recurring yeast infections
Leg cramps
Cold hands and feet
Hair thinning


Of that list of 20, I had 13 symptoms. Can you just take a second and imagine what it feels like to always have PMS? That's what I felt like! I felt like I was going nuts.. always so emotional and exhausted. So back to the Dr. I went, and I listed him my symptoms. As soon as I started describing how I felt, he mentioned an anti-depressant again. And he mentioned a therapist again. Once I got through the physical things that were going on, he agreed that it might be hormonal and agreed to do a test. But in the mean time, he would really prefer that I see a therapist. "Oh, and here's a prescription for an anti-depressant."

So, about a week later, my hormone test results came in. Or, at least that's when they called me and said I really needed to see a Gynecologist.

During the time between seeing my doctor and finally getting in to see a Gyno, I did see a therapist a few times. After our first assessment, she *strongly* recommended that I actually take the anti-depressant I had been prescribed. I didn't want to! I felt like taking that would just mask whatever might be going on with me, and that whatever WAS going on with me was not just a chemical in my brain.. it was something else. But, since two medical professionals had pushed it, and after talking to some friends and family members, I decided to take it. Umm.. Once. That was miserable and terrible and God-awful. I had some of the gross side effects, and yeah... that business is not for me.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I saw my new Gyno. Estrogen was through the roof. Fortunately for me, there is an easy fix, and that's birth control pills. I wasn't thrilled about going back on them, especially since I've had my tubes tied, but on them I went. And now, two months in, things are finally better. I finally feel like Emily again!

Part 2 coming tomorrow! Thanks for bearing with  me long enough to read this!