Hello blog friends!
It’s been a while! And I’m sorry for that – I just had my 3rdbaby, so life has been busy for a few months… but I’m looking forward to continuing my blog now that I’m settling in to life with THREE! That’s right- THREE little, moody human beings who depend on me almost completely for their daily survival. And guess what?!!! I. LOVE. IT.
(Special note: Since writing the beginning of this post, I survived… the last few days. What happened over the last couple days, do you ask? Well… little insane gremlins invaded my childrens’ bodies and wreaked havoc on my sanity and my heart. Not the cute little “gizmo” gremlin in the beginning of that movie… but the slimy, crazy, destroying ones who almost leveled an entire city. Yeah, THOSE inhabited my children sometime between bringing them to school and them getting home in the afternoon 2 days ago… Actually, maybe it’s contagious… So, PSA: * Alert to parents of children at my kids’ school…. if your children get the same thing, all I can say is “God be with you”… *
BUT… – and I actually cringed before writing this – I STILL love it.
(And I especially loved when my kids went sleep and must have slept or farted or otherwise dispelled those evil gremlins out, because yesterday afternoon was MUCH better… But now, moving on…)
So, some people might just read that “I love this life” and think that’s not a big deal. Kind of like, “Oh good for her – that’s nice.” And at one point in my own life – when I had no kids… and NO clue how freakin’ hard it was to even raise one – I probably thought the same thing… Sure, it’s hard being a parent, but it’s what you do – you raise your kids; you deal with tantrums here and there; you help them (hopefully) develop into little happy world-changers; you laugh and skip and frolic through the meadows with them… right?! …. but NOPE!! OH no, no, no. Raising kids day after day is no joke. Seriously, give a mom (or dad) a high-five or a hug today (but maybe ask first before initiating the hug) when you see them in the store, on the street, … or twitching in the corner of a bathroom as they pray for bedtime to come more quickly. I’m telling you – you never know how hard it is to raise children until you’re doing it.
All that said, loving my crazy, chaotic, child-filled life is a huge deal for ME because I couldn’t have ever imagined feeling like this while I was going through the depths of my severe post-partum depression and anxiety – even while I was recovering from it.
There was a time when – as you may have read in my initial blog post – I sincerely couldn’t remember what it felt like to hope, to feel hopeful. I didn’t – couldn’t – smile for days. I felt like there was a 100-lb weight sitting on my chest all day long because I just couldn’tbreathe. I was scared to be home alone with my 2 kids because I was just overwhelmedby what terrible things could possibly happen. I was afraid of anything triggering a “PPD&A attack” and being unable to care for my kids, let alone myself. And – this is a “no judgement zone”, right? – I had to ask a family member to keep (and hide) my medication because I was afraid to take more than I should in moments of desperation to feel better/less anxious/less depressed faster. (*Obviously, medication doesn’t work like that – taking more doesn’t make it work faster or better AT ALL, but that’s what I “thought” in my worst moments.*)
It’s so hard to remember these things, and especially to share them. Even now, I can feel that weight on my chest, those horrible days/weeks/months of hopelessness… and I’m tempted – so tempted – to hold back some of these details because it sounds awful… but THAT was my life. It was AWFUL. Not my kids, not my family, not my friends… but my personal EXISTENCE during that time was just awful. Having to live and endure and push through every single moment of every single day struggling… was awful. And when I write these things, I’m not exaggerating. At all. Every second was hard. I couldn’t even plan a few days ahead, because I honestly didn’t know how I would make it until then… if I even could make it until then. There really is no way to describe it, or fully convey how horrible it was… but, in hopes of helping others who may be feeling similar things and thinking “it’s just me”… I’ll continue to try to explain and share it all – even the darkest parts.
One of the recurring thoughts I struggled a lot with was, “Maybe this isn’t just my postpartum depression and anxiety… maybe this is just me. Maybe it’s just that I can’t handle 2 kids the way others can. Maybe I’ll never be that mom I always imagined I’d be. Maybe this is just the “new me,” and it has nothing to do with hormones, after all.” But I don’t think I ever really accepted all those “maybes” were untrue until I had my 3rdchild recently and my hormones flipped the other direction and I realized that WOW! It really was ALL hormonal… I literally became a different person in the days after my 3rdchild’s birth, as my hormones surged post-birth and now have been evening-out over time. Do I still have hard days? Yep. Do I still get overwhelmed at times? Yes, my friends. Do I still want to bang my head against the wall when I hear “mommy” for the 3,487thtime that day? (It’s actually more like “mommy, mommy, mommymommymommymommmmmmmmyyyyyyy” 3,487 times per day…) I sure do!! And do I still worry my PPD&A will come back? Yes. Every. Single. Day. Every single time I feel down, or cry, or feel a surge of anxiety.
But, even with those fears, it is such a RELIEF, and a literal weight off my chest, to realize that that “person” (more like a “blob”) I had been for 2+ years, was NOT me. It just wasn’t. And I can’t believe the difference. And now, having lived several months without PPD, it really and truly amazes me even more how insanely terrible it was, how I somehow made it through, and how different it is now. I really consider Ruby – my 3rdchild, who is now 3 months-old – to have saved me. (And God, of course – thank you, God!)
Would I have gotten better someday, without the hormone-shift after the birth of Ruby? Yes, I’m sure I would have. But I thank God for that 3rd (unexpected) pregnancy and subsequent birth, because the drastic change in myself and my existence over just a few months showed me that it really wasn’t my own inadequacies and shortfalls that led me through that darkness… it was an illness that happened to me. I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t have prevented it. I didn’t bring it on myself. It wasn’t me.
And if you are going through something similar, this applies to you. You may not believe it, or be able to understand it fully until you are on the other side of this, but I’ll say it anyway – this is not your fault, your weakness, or your inability to be like “normal moms.” This is a result of your brain/body chemistry being imbalanced, as well as most likely being severely sleep-deprived and over-worked. It’s not a good combination… but also NOT your fault.
And I can now say something with full confidence that I couldn’t before – IT WILL END. As my therapist told me many times, “This is time-limited.” Did I believe her then? Ehh…… Do I believe her now? YES. So, hang in there, mom warriors. Don’t give up. I’ll try to share as many practical things as possible that helped me through my own battle with PPD&A, but – in a good and bad way – this is a battle that you unfortunately have to “wait out.” Why is that a good and bad thing? Well, it’s “good” because it means it’s really not in your control, and therefore NOT your fault. But, it’s a bad thing because… well… it’s really not in your control. Many things can help – therapy, medication, coloring, journaling, exercising, communicating, sleeping, etc. – but it does take time.
As I continue this blog – definitely more consistently than in the past J- I will continue to share about the darkness of the depression I was in, the web of anxiety in which I was trapped, and the details of my journey through PPD&A before, during, and after my pregnancy with my 3rdchild. I’ll share the hilarious things that help(ed) me get through the day, and the difficult things that made it hard to survive to the next one. I’ll probably share a whole bunch of silly, corny revelations or jokes along the way, and hopefully a few helpful grains of “wisdom” I’ve learned or am learning now. Actually, I’ll probably even ask YOU for your input, as well, because I won’t endeavor to pretend that I know everything about… anything! I’ll discuss how it was finding out I was pregnant and going through the pregnancy while not being fully recovered by PPD. I’ll let you know the things people said that did and didn’t help along the way. And mostly, I’ll just be honest about how PPD&A changed me forever. Even now, I have scars that most can’t see, except those who know me well. I will never be the “old Jenny” ever again. But… maybe this “new Jenny” is even better. I mess up more, and also more obviously to those around me. I say what I think and feel with less inhibition – for better and worse (sorry, to my husband… haha), but I’m also less insecure, more confident, and more eager to share my journey with others. I hope you’ll continue to follow along with my journey, and even share this blog – MY handful of sand – with others who may need to know they’re not alone.
And until then, enjoy these pictures…
On the left below, is my little tribe of children (/sometimes gremlins). Scarlett is 5 (she’s the one who brought me a handful of sand and unknowingly inspired me to do this blog!), Isaiah is almost 3, and Ruby is 3 months old.
On the right is me jumping over (real) fire at a “Warrior” Mud Run I did almost 1 year ago, on my 28th birthday. I participated with some friends for fun, to stop isolating myself, to face some of my fears, and honestly just to do something silly that made me feel like the warrior I knew I’d become inside through my fight with PPD&A. *Also, I found out a few days later that I was pregnant with my 3rd child… So, Ruby did that mud run with me!!