Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Blog Rehash and Nutrition Preachers

Hi.  Where you been?  I’ve missed you.

I didn’t know what to expect when I published my blog about my little health scare.   When I was writing that blog, I had that familiar sort of in-my-body, sort of out-of-my-body feeling I get when I’m writing as a reflex.  When I’m in that weird place, I certainly want to write, but mostly I just HAVE to write. I don’t notice time passing; I don’t want to eat, talk or to be distracted until my word well runs dry.

I felt compelled to share my last story, and I’m not looking back. But, I embrace truth.  The truth is, I made myself a little uncomfortable with that story.  I used the word “breast” a lot, didn’t I? You know what?  I’m not generally a big user of the word “breast”.  Actually, I try to avoid naming private body parts out loud, if I can help it.  I’m repressed, and I like it that way.

So, I flayed myself open with that story. Once the story was published, I felt spent.  Exposed.

Bloggers can keep track of how many people are viewing their blog.  You know where this is going, right?  Yep. I’ve never had more people read one of my blogs than this “breast” blog.  I watched the numbers keep climbing higher and higher.  I saw those numbers, and I felt grateful that anyone would spend their precious time reading words I wrote.  I also felt embarrassed. I thought, “It will be just my luck. That dumb blog will go viral, and the whole world will be reading about breasts.  My breasts.”

The blog did not go viral. The blog probably did not even register as a tiny droplet of water in that great blogosphere pool of blogs. People on the interwebs talk about breasts all the time.  Mine are not breaking news.  Whew!

Okay…I’m done now.  I just wanted to tell you how I felt weird about using the word breast, by continuing to use the word breast.  We get each other, don’t we.

I’ve been blogging for more than two years now.  That’s a lot of blogs.  People sure can change in two years, can’t they?  Two years ago, I was a meth addicted prostitute, living in the streets. Remember that?

Naw. That’s not true.  I’m just trying to make my blog go viral for real.  I’m gonna need more than the word breast to make that happen.

Two years ago, I was a busy, working mom with three kids and a husband.  Wow!  Still am.  Maybe things don’t change as much as I thought.

One thing that did change is this.  I used to proselytize about nutrition.  Paleo, in particular.  In fact, I still have “Paleo” in the title of my blog.  I don’t write about Paleo now, and have little interest in sharing what I know about Paleo anymore.

Here’s what I learned from my Paleo preaching days.  People do NOT give a crap.  Force feeding your ideas on nutrition down people’s throats is the perfect way to win the most annoying friend on Facebook status.  I know, because I won that award.  The ideal time to share your ideas on nutrition with your friends and family is when they ask you to share.  Otherwise, keep her zipped, yappy.

One day soon, the word “Paleo” is coming out of my blog title.  Prepare yourself.  I know It’ll be kind of a sad day for you.

I’m telling you all that, because, naturally I need to lower your defenses before I talk to you about nutrition.  And, you thought I wasn’t clever.

I just wanted to say this.  My family will tell you that I’ve always been a bit of a nutrition junkie.  Nutrition is very interesting to me, and I spend a lot of my free time reading about nutrition.  When I thought I had cancer, I was a little surprised that all the good food choices I have made over the years didn’t offer me protection.  Sure, lately I wasn’t as rigid as I was when Eddie was very sick.; still, relative to the rest of the world, I thought I was doing okay.

Before I received the good news that I was fine, I turned into the most fanatical health food junkie version of myself.  I told Scott that I was doing a ton of reading, and I’d be darned if I was gonna go down without a fight.  He laughed.  He said he knows me well enough to know I’d do everything within my power to beat whatever came at me. He probably feared it.

I realize, I’m not fighting for my life anymore.  Except, I am.  We all are.  Another reason I’m grateful for my health scare is that being scared reminded me that I have a decent amount of control over how I feel, and how I age.  I mean, I get it, ultimately, I have NO control over how things end.  We know any crazy thing can supersede the laws of nature at any moment.  But, minus a scary superseder, I AM in control.

I have a renewed fervor for building strength, and protecting the miracle of my interwoven body systems with high quality fuel.  This scare we had, reminded me of my belief that nutrition and exercise are my first line of defense.

That’s all I’m going to say. Please don’t block me on FB.  I promise I won’t post pictures of my brownies made out of avocado and kale.  Scott just gets mad at kale.  He’s sorry he knows about it.

Gross-Fe0322-Yogurt-Embed1

Yum!!!

Advertisements

It’s Been a GREAT Year!!!

Wow.  This has been a good year.  Last year at this time our family was limping along, wondering if a reprieve was possible for us.  Last winter, Eddie’s health was a mess.  Just like it has been for most of the last 11 years of his life.  When you’re on the 11th year of getting your head kicked in, you lose your optimism.  You lose hope.  It’s dark and sad, and it messes with your mental health too.  It sure does.

But, I have no intention of talking about Eddie being sick in this post.  I want to talk about Eddie feeling great.  Because, that’s how he feels right now.  That’s how he’s felt for a good while, and I would just like to yell for joy from the top of a mountain.  I don’t have time to climb to the top of mountain, because I’ve got presents to wrap.  So, I’m going to blog my joy instead.

Why is Eddie better?  I don’t know.  Why was he sick?  I don’t know.  I really, really, just don’t know.

I have no shame, and that’s why I’m going to tell you my latest, almost for sure crazy, theory.  If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you might remember me telling you we paid a guy to come and inspect our house.  We paid this guy a lot of money, and to be perfectly honest, initially, I wasn’t that impressed.  I had a bad feeling this guy just liked to hear himself talk, and I paid him to put on a show. I spent three hours following this inspector around our home while he pointed out all the dust,  cracks, and dirt.  It was exhausting.  Who could like a guy who tells you all that bad news?

In that three hours, he pointed out a few pieces of old furniture that had mold on them.  He said the boys’ bunk bed had a decent amount of mold collecting on it.  Eddie slept near the moldiest part of the bunk bed.  We threw the bunk bed away, and moved Eddie upstairs.  Eddie has been getting progressively better since then.

This winter, his health has transformed.  He’s like a pretty normal kid, and he just looks so much better to my eyes. We got those bunk beds before we moved to Sauk.  I never liked how they smelled.  It was a powerful, chemical type smell. I remember it was just one of about 100 things that kept me up worrying in the night.  Eddie did get sick within the first year of having those bunk beds too.  So, what do you think?  Coincidence?  Probably.  But, right now, that’s all I got. And, I just really like thinking it’s as simple as throwing out some stinky bunk beds.

So, this is where I’m at right now. I told someone my theory the other day.  They asked, “Did you run your theory by the Doctor?”

I said, “Are you being serious?  You think I’d tell THAT theory to a Doctor?” I can’t picture my self saying to a Doctor, “Oh, remember how Eddie had fevers, vomiting, nausea, hallucinations, rashes and fainting spells for 11 years?  Well, we figured out he just had bunkbeditis.  So, all’s well that ends well.”

I think a lot of Doctors would laugh at me.  But, I don’t think they should, because they haven’t exactly come with anything better.

We’re watching Eddie thrive, and we’re just so, so full of joy.  I have had quite a few people tell me they have prayed for Eddie for many years.  My Aunt told me once she has a little piece of carpeting that is her “Eddie spot”.  This spot was where she always got down on her knees to pray for our son.  Oh Gosh, whenever I talk about this kind of stuff my eyes start to fill with tears.  That’s just one story.  There are many more.  People who don’t know me personally, who have brought my son’s name before the Lord, and asked God to heal Eddie.  It’s a humble position to be in for a mom.

I don’t know what has made Eddie sick, but I do know WHO healed him.  I will never feel ambiguous about this. And, maybe that statement begs the question, “What if Eddie wasn’t healed? Where’s God then?” What I’ve worked out is this.  God is right there, where He always was and is.  And, for some reason (I’ll never understand) He has asked me to walk through a life that doesn’t always work out the way I pictured it would.  When life isn’t what I thought, I want to heap all sorts of sorry on myself, only I can’t do that anymore.  I can’t do that any more, because of what I’ve learned.

I have learned through living my own life, that accepting a hard fate with faith and trust in an outcome I may never see, leads to wisdom,strength and courage.  Wisdom, strength and courage that I don’t think I’d have, if my faith was untested.  Wisdom, faith and courage are precious and valuable assets in this life, that will help me work through every other challenge in my life.  I can share wisdom, strength and courage with my children.

Strength-Wisdom-Courage

So, that’s what the kids are getting for Christmas this year.  We told them that there won’t be any wrapped gifts under the tree this year.  Not when we are passing out heaping helpings of wisdom, strength and courage.   Can’t wait to see the look of joy on the little tikes’ faces Christmas morn.

I can only be serious and contemplative for so long.

Merry, Merry Christmas to you and all the wonderful people you love.  I am VERY thankful for you. Really, I doubt you know.  Writing this blog is a genuine treasure for me; It always amazes me that there are some people who enjoy reading it too.

I pray blessings on you and all your people this Christmas and into the New Year.

I’m Not High; I’m Happy.

I am happy.  I am happy to be alive, and happy to wake up, and happy to go to work, and happy to be breathing.  I am just happy.   Happiness isn’t the best subject for a blog.  I know that.   Because, really, life just goes to crap so often, and who wants to read about some annoying lady who is happy? That’s not helping.  That’s kind of boring, and I don’t blame you for saying it.   But, I just gotta call it like I see it.  I’m not good at fake stuff.  You just have to go where you’re led, right?

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of high.  You might not believe me when I tell you that I’ve never been high, but I’m not joshing ya. I just dealt the stuff, I was never dumb enough to take it. I’ve got a lying problem.  I’m sorry for that.  And, maybe I should try to remember that not everyone who reads my blog is a close friend, or related to me.  Some people might not actually realize that I wouldn’t be a very good crack dealer.  It’s just not my skill set.

What I’m trying to say is just that I think how I feel right now might be what feeling high is like. If  that’s true, I can see why people become addicts.

Last year at this time, life was hard.  I blogged my way through it; thank you for that.  Blogging helps.

Eddie was so sick at this time last year. Really sick.  I don’t want to say we were desperate, but we were desperate.  The whole winter was excruciating, really.  We just kept waiting for a reprieve; we couldn’t seem to find one.  Watching my son’s body be beaten by illness was bad. And, by bad, I mean soul crushing.  Physically, things were a mess.  Mentally, things were worse.  The whole ridiculous battle just felt like too much.

It’s hard watching people you love face pain and hardship. You try to fight for them, but, eventually you realize you really can’t.  They have to fight for themselves.  You watch them fight alone, and you hate it.  You’re not sure they’re strong enough to win. Eventually, they get tired.  They quit believing winning is possible.  They want to quit fighting. You hate it more.  You hate it as much as you’ve hated anything in your life.  You wish you could start from the beginning, but you can’t.  This is your life.

Last year there was a lot of fighting.  Last year there was a lot of me watching my son fight alone.  Last year there was a lot of crying, and wondering just what was so wrong with me trying to fight for him.

Last year, my counselor told me to, “stop”.  He did.  He told me to hand the gloves over to Eddie and to back out of the ring. He told me It was time for me to trust Eddie to fight for himself.   My counselor said this exactly, “A parent can never make something happen for their child by wanting it more than the child does.”

I’m not sure anyone has ever said something I needed to hear more than that.  That sentence from my counselor changed everything.  I’m still not exactly sure how, but my obsession with Eddie’s health, happiness and future, was making Eddie sicker, actually.

I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes in my life.  I’m sorry for them all.  I’m especially sorry for making Eddie sicker.  I didn’t mean to do that.  This mistake of mine brings tears to my eyes, and fills my heart with regret. I wish I would have known.  But, some things you just can’t know until you know.

I make too many mistakes.  I know I do.  But, I also learn from them.  Once the counselor illuminated the truth, I grabbed it, and I held on to it.  I stopped.  I just stopped everything.  I stopped hovering, and planning, and calculating, and talking and obsessing.  I just quit it all, and quitting it was really hard.

Eddie was born tough.  He really was.  Both my sons are tough.  I’m not bragging.  It doesn’t have anything to do with me. Tough is how God chose to make these two.  My sons like to do battle.  When our boys were pretty little, they’d go down in the basement with Scott,  and their toy swords.  For a half hour or more, I’d hear yelling, laughing and loud THWAPS.    All three boys would eventually emerge upstairs laughing, looking like they had the time of their lives.  All three of them had raised, red welts all over their skin.  See?  Now, I think that is absurd, but boys are weird.  And stuff like that makes me 100 percent sure I’m not one of them.

Eddie likes to do battle.  He’s good at it.  Eddie is resilient and focused, and he won’t go down easy.  He’s much closer to being a man than he is to being a little boy now.  He’s so much better at doing battle than I am. It’s time I let him do it.

Eddie is feeling significantly better than he was last year.  He looks better too.  I’m not sure what’s happening.  We did so many things, maybe one of those things worked like magic.  Or, maybe Eddie is just growing up and away from this thing.  Or, maybe God just decided it was the right time for a reprieve. Or, maybe Eddie is just so much better at battling things on his own.  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  Wait. that’s not true.  I do care, and I would like to know.  But, not knowing does not lower my inner happy.  My inner happy is through.the.roof.

I guess you wouldn’t know how good it feels to come up for air, if you were never drowning.  Pain, sickness and hardships make peace so, so much sweeter.  I’m thankful for that.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I’m embracing today.  I’m happy.

Parent Teacher Conference Fail

This week we had parent teacher conferences.  I’d like to tell all the parents with young children out there this: whatever your teacher said about your kindergarten child this year, is only a slightly different version of the same speech you will hear from your child’s High School teachers. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard this before, but leopards can’t change their spots.  You got what you got, sister.

That blonde, curly haired, black eyed cutie pie that got in trouble for entertaining his friends by squatting like a monkey on the toilet in Kindergarten,  WILL be getting in trouble for  wearing an obscene wrestling singlet under a robe, which he unveils during a high school Spanish presentation.  Just a couple of vague examples here.  I wouldn’t know anything about a kid like this.  I just know you’ve got your hands full.

I kinda know what my kids’ teachers are going to say about my kids before they even say it.

I told Scott that maybe I wouldn’t go to conferences this year.  He’s a teacher, and he thought that idea wasn’t a good one.  So, I went.  Or, at least I tried to go.

At some point in the busy week, Olivia was shoving this paper in my face.  “Sign up for conferences, Mom.”  I did.  Olivia told me what time and day I signed up for, and I told myself I’d remember.

Only, I didn’t remember. That must come as quite a shock to you.  I’m sorry for that.

I called the school on the day of conferences to ask them to confirm the time I should be there.  The person at the front office nicely said, “Your conference time is 5pm. Yesterday.”

What?  Olivia told me the wrong night.   It’s not like her to be wrong about the details.  She lives for that stuff.  If she’s not careful, I’m not going to let her be in charge of my calendar any more.

I asked the person in the front office which teacher my conference was with, assuming I had actually been there.  The front office person said the teacher I needed to see depended on which “team” Olivia was on, “A” or “B”.   She rattled off some teachers’ names.  I pretended to know which teachers Olivia had, because what kind of parent doesn’t know that?  I’m better than that.

Front office person says, “Oh, then your conference was with Ms. so and so.”

Great.  I knew what to do next.   I crafted a clever, humble and kind email to Olivia’s teacher. I let Olivia’s teacher know how sorry I was for standing her up at the conferences.   I explained that Olivia was enjoying school very much, and to please let us know if there were any concerns, or anything we could to do help.  I think I made some attempt at being witty towards the end of the email, and then, of course, thanked the teacher for all her dedication and hard work as it pertains to our daughter.

That night I told Olivia about the missed conference.  I told her I was a little surprised that she had the wrong date, but it wasn’t a problem, because I sent a long and nice email to her teacher, Ms. So and so.

Olivia said, “What?  Ms. So and So isn’t even my teacher!  Why would you do that?  MISTER So and so is my teacher.”

There you have it.  A story on how to fail at conferences.  I hope you feel better about who you are today.

Generally speaking, my kids are being responsible students, and enjoying school.  Can we just leave me out of it?  I don’t think I’m helping.

You know what else I’m not winning at?  Dieting.

I had this loony idea that it would be fun to have  a family weight loss contest with my sisters and their adult children.  6 weeks to see who could lose the most weight.  Final weigh off is on Thanksgiving.  Winner takes home about about 80 bucks.

Here are my before and afters:

walking posterabs

You can see that I’ve really leaned out here.  Which is cool, because I didn’t even know I could look better than I already did.  Scott’s so bad with technology.  I can’t believe he cut my head out of the after shot.  Plus, he caught me right in the middle of measuring my waist, silly.  How do you use a tape measure again?   They’re tricky.

All participating family members are self-reporting.  We’re on the honor system.  Suckers.

Some of my family members are reporting 5 pound, 7 pound and 10 pound weight losses.  I have lost 8 pounds.  Or, .8 (point 8), actually.  Who wants to get all bogged down with decimals?  I just like to keep things simple.  .8, round up to 8.  Simple.

Uhggg!!!  Losing weight is so hard.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re healthy, Miki.  Be grateful for the body God gave you, Miki. You already look A.MAY.ZINGGGG, Miki!!!!  Well, the first two things, anyway.  I just like having goals, and I like being on the lower end of the 10 pound swing my body finds most comfortable.  The older I get, the more naturally my body settles on the upper end. Plus, I have my fitness modeling career to think about. I haven’t gotten it off the ground yet, but I have always thought this could be a real money maker for us.

Some of my family members are doing some well thought out weight loss programs.  My program is one I made up.  It’s two steps: no cream in my coffee and no potato chips.  So far, I have not used cream in my coffee…on some of the days.   I think I’m getting awfully close to not eating potato chips too, and I certainly should get credit for that. Have you had potato chips lately?  They are so good.  I mean,  seriously good.  Especially when you’re jamming them in your mouth while you make dinner.

Anyway…I made up the stupid contest, so I can change the rules.  I think I’m changing the rules to, I win.

Our Story

Do you remember when I told you that our Pastor asked our family to tell our story?  Well, I did tell you that.  And, we did tell our story.  Scott, Eddie and I met with our Pastor in  our living room in late summer.  He asked us about our struggles.  Our Pastor wants to know what happens when faith meets hardship.

When Pastor Bryan first asked us to do this thing, we were scared.  Being on camera is uncomfortable. But, we didn’t hesitate.  We said yes right away.

A long time ago, Scott and I  told God that He could use our lives as He sees fit.  We said, “God, if we have to endure this thing we don’t want to endure, could you please help us see the point?”

We’ve told God many times that we would be very grateful to have Eddie be healed.  We’ve also promised God that we would be willing participants in whatever He means for us to do, regardless of the outcome.

The thing about making promises to God is that He remembers.  You don’t want to back out on stuff like that.  I’m averse to hanging out in the belly of a whales, and stuff like that.  I would just as soon do as I’m told.   I seriously  doubt whales have wi-fi, and I just don’t even want to think about how bad that would be.

Others folks in our church will be asked to do this man-on-the-street type interview.  I love it.  Because, guess what?  God is relevant.  He isn’t an icon, or out of touch.  He’s real, and He’s in every day.

I’m excited to hear other people’s stories.  Here is ours:

How I Know It’s Time to be Quiet

Sometimes you just know things.  You don’t have to hear it from someone else, or read about it.  You just know.

I’ve never asked anyone else about this thing, and how knowing things happens for them. Maybe I should.

I have a way of knowing things that takes time.  It starts with one thought or an idea.  That idea grows.  I can work over ideas for weeks or even years. Then, suddenly I know it. I don’t work it over again. My mind settled it.  I’m ready for the next thing I should know.

I have memories of being a young girl and going through this knowing process; it’s familiar now.  As a girl, I was overwhelmed with all there was to know.  As a woman I am grateful that I will never get to the last thing I know.  I like learning.

The latest thing I know is about silence.  It’s about being quiet.  We live in a loud world.  I’m one of those people who is making a lot of noise.  Sometimes I need to be quiet.  Sometimes silence is restorative.  That’s what I now know.

Fall/winter is trying for our family.  Fall/winter is running the gauntlet.  The only thing worse than running the gauntlet, is preparing to run the gauntlet again.  You remember how hard it is.  In theory, you should get better with all the practice.

I have been preparing for my challenge with silence.  I’m trying to be quiet.  Being quiet is not my natural state.

quiet

I’m using the quiet to think about what I’ve learned from running the gauntlet before.  How can I avoid the same missteps? Where can I find sure footing?

I’m using the quiet to talk to  God.  I’m using the quiet to listen to God.

I think I hear him telling me more about silence.  I guess I know it, because right now silence is what my heart craves.   I’m tired of hearing my own voice.

The other night I took a late night walk. I was a little sad.   It was Friday.  It was dark; it felt like I was the only thing stirring in my small town.

I looked into the black sky, and I told God a few things.  Then, I listened.  I enjoyed the warm breeze and bright stars.  I walked longer than I meant to walk.  I came back with a measure of peace.

After that walk I thanked God for helping me know.  I thanked him for using the simplest things to help restore.  I asked him to keep reminding me about those simple things.   I asked him to help me know when to be quiet, so that I can hear His reminders.

being quet

My Depression Story

My oldest sister, Chris, told me about this blog she thought I would like.  Strange.  I had just started reading this exact blog a few days before my sister mentioned it to me.  Chris and I are like that.  We often are separately coming to the same conclusions.  It is starting to freak us out.

Chris thought I would like this blog.  She was wrong.  I don’t like it.  I love it.  The author of this blog is so clever and humble and sincere.  She is insightful.  She’s thought a lot about faith, and uses her faith to guide her every day.   She has a family, and she also has Chronic Lyme Disease.

If you read her blog, you will see that she has made up some of her own theology.  You don’t need to warn me about that.   I know.  I don’t limit my reading or listening to people who think just like me.   I would not like to live that way.

I read her essays, and I get that she is intellectually out of my league.  She is playing for the Brewers (during a winning season); I am still playing T-ball.

I’m not saying any of that because I need compliments.  I’m saying it, because it’s true.  Saying these things doesn’t make me insecure. It just makes me honest.

Some of my very favorite people in the world are cursed with a negative inner dialogue.  All day they are tuned in to an unending loop of self-criticism.  They negatively compare themselves to other folks, and reject their own awesomeness.

I thank God that tape is not playing in my own head.  I am okay with my weaknesses. Other people’s awesomeness does not make me feel unworthy.  It usually inspires me.

One thing this blogger/author said was that she has all these ideas floating by her each day, begging her to write them down.   She says that need to put her thoughts into words is intense. She has a busy life, and a beautiful family.  She has more thoughts than she has time.  Sometimes she has to let  thoughts go before they’re captured.

I cannot explain how much I understand this.

Sometimes people ask me if it’s hard to keep writing.  It isn’t.  It’s hard to NOT keep writing.   But, I’m not an author, and I don’t write for a living.  So, a lot of the time I’m forcing myself  to attend to my responsibilities, and not write.  Not writing is an act of self  discipline.

This author I like talks a lot about her own mental illness.  I’m inspired by her honesty.  Scott and I were discussing this author and Robin Williams the other night.  I said I thought that Robin William’s passing was creating this positive dialogue about mental illness.  I told Scott I considered writing about my own experience with post postpartum depression; I didn’t know if that was selfish.  Robin Williams death is so sad.  I shouldn’t use his death as an excuse to shine the light on me.

Scott didn’t agree with me.  He said that the more people talk straight up about mental illness and depression, the better.  He said there is strength in honesty.  He asked how we could help each other, if we weren’t  being honest. I agree.  I have always agreed with that.

I have never decided NOT to talk about my postpartum depression.  For me, it is like the time I broke my finger.  It happened. It hurt.  It healed.  It’s over.  It isn’t relevant any more. Except, now I’m thinking that maybe sharing my story might be relevant for someone else.  For someone who is living in  it right now.  My story  might help someone who’s suffering to know that sometimes there is an end to it.  Sometimes you heal.

I know it is not like that for everyone.  Some people battle with depression, mood disorders or mental illness their entire lives.  That takes courage.

Here’s my story:

When our third child, and first daughter, was born I could NOT stop smiling.  Olivia was like Christmas every day for me.  I loved her intensely.   I would guess that the folks who know me the best would tell you that my knack for loving people intensely hasn’t always helped me.  I have been known to love people so much that I start to believe  their happiness, good health and well-being are completely on me.  Their happiness and success are my responsibility alone.   THAT is a lot of responsibility.  I didn’t used to  know that you can over-love people.  You can. I have.

When we brought Olivia home from the hospital,  life was sweet.  I can honestly tell you that postpartum depression, or not, my 8 years as a  stay-at-home mom were the BEST years of my life.  They were also the hardest years.  

 

olivia birth

 

I promise you that I didn’t take those years for granted while I was living them.  Scott and I made a conscious  effort NOT to do that.  We would tell each other out loud, “remember to appreciate this moment.  Some day they’ll be big.”   Then, we’d just be quite for a bit and try to permanently burn whatever image was in front of us into our memory bank.  It worked a little.  I have a whole trunk full of happy memories with our babies that I like to think about and re explore when I have time.

 

20140820_213914

I thought that not taking that time for granted meant that time would go slower.  It didn’t.  Time went just as fast as if I HAD taken those years for granted.   I was right there, and now it’s gone.

When Olivia was born, Zeke was a baby too. He was 16 months old.     Zeke didn’t take kindly to sharing his mom at first.  We knew that’s how he felt, mainly because he said, “WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!”  All freaking day long.  Every day.  For many, many days.   He was sad.  Of course,  I took his sadness to heart.  I felt so guilty for giving him a sister.

Then, you had Eddie.  Sweet, sweet, precious, ever-lovin’, never puts a sock in it, Eddie.  Who’s bright idea was it to read to that kid in the womb?

 Eddie was a very early talker.  Once he started talking, he never stopped.  Non. Stop. Chatter.  4-year-old chatter on top of WAHHHHHHHH!!!! On top of nursing an infant who was extremely attached to her mother.  I think all those things together could have broken the toughest soldier.

I’m going to be really honest about something else.  I’m saying this, because I know there’s someone else out there like me.  Maybe I can help you avoid the same mistakes.  I want to tell you that the other contributing factor to my temporary insanity was my habit of being too nice.  I hope you don’t think I’m complimenting myself.  I’m not.  Being too nice is NOT a worthy attribute.  Being too nice has nothing to do with being a good Christian, or being loving and kind.  Being too nice is being weak.  You know what else being too nice is?  Being too nice is dishonest.

When we had three children under four, there were things I needed from Scott.  There were things I needed Scott to do, and things I needed him to stop doing.  Scott is my favorite person on this planet.  I am his biggest fan. He only keeps getting better.    I want you to know that.   I wish  I would have been more clear with Scott about how he could help me back then.   He would have helped me too.  I just needed to tell him how.  I didn’t tell him, so without trying to, he made things worse.

Olivia was born in June.  All summer long I could feel my mind slipping into something unfamiliar to me.  I couldn’t explain what it was;  it felt a little bit like despair.  

Women with preschoolers, who are trying to keep the house clean, entertain the children and keep everyone fed and healthy are working like slaves.  They are.  It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.   The only people who think that work like that is easy, are people who haven’t done it.

My anxiety and sadness seemed to intensify over time.  I am an anxious person by nature, but I am definitely not  a sad person. I started to develop irrational fears for our children’s safety.  I remember at night giving myself lectures, “Normal people do not want to crawl in a crib with their babies.  Your baby girl is safe. Stay in your own bed.  Your baby is across the room.  You will hear your baby when she cries.  Just go to sleep.  You need sleep.  Sleep now, while your baby is sleeping.”

She would sleep, but I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t sleep, because I was worried that she might not sleep.  Even though she was right there sleeping.  It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?  

One night, when Olivia was about 4 months old I went out for supper with my sisters, Mom and Grandma.  My sisters didn’t know how fragile my state of mind was.  They thought we were going to have fun.

I watched my sisters interact with their beautiful baby niece, Olivia.  I was jealous of how carefree and genuine they seemed.  I was so full of fear and worry, that I couldn’t remember the last moment of sincere pleasure I had with my baby girl.

At some point in our dinner, I put my head down in my arms and I started to quietly sob.  I know women cry.  We’re emotional creatures.  I am weird. I  have never been prone to crying. My sisters rarely saw me cry.  My role was to make them laugh.  That day I cried.

I sobbed for a few minutes.  Everyone around the table became silent.   When I brought my head up, there were 6 women staring at me with tears pouring down their faces.  Wow.  Empathy.  It is so precious. So many lonely women go through postpartum depression without love and understanding.  Now, it’s so easy to see how God used His people to comfort and carry me.

I went back home after our dinner, and I cried some more.  My sleeping became more interrupted and anxious as the weeks passed that summer.  Eventually, I couldn’t sleep at all.   Literally.  I went several nights without one blessed minute of rest.  Then,  one morning I had a panic attack.  

I have wished to God that there would have been just ONE occasion in my life before that point, where someone would have described a panic attack to me.     I didn’t know they existed.  Being completely unprepared and uninformed for one of the scariest moments of your life, makes the moment worse.  Much worse.

Now, I am glad I had that panic attack.   It was a turning point.   Scott took one look at me that morning and he said, “You need help.”    Scott downplays things.  He is calm, and he doesn’t think in extremes.   Scott is definitely not in the habit of asking for help.  That day he knew we needed help. He was clearly in over his head; his wife would not be able to pick herself up by the bootstraps this time.    

I told him I might need to go to a hospital.  I explained that I thought there was a small chance I might  be having a nervous breakdown. The real kind.

I can’t really remember everything that happened after that.  I didn’t go to a hospital.  I do remember staying with my parents.  I remember my mom drawing me baths, and my dad hugging me and crying.  I remember my sister, Chris, staying with me, and treating me like something fragile that needed to be encouraged and cared about.  She was exactly right about that. All of those things helped.

Our Doctor put me on anti anxiety medication, and an anti-depressant.   She told me I had postpartum depression, and that I should stay on the anti-depressant for a year, at least.  I had never been depressed in my life.  No one in my family had been clinically depressed either.  All these words were new to us.  

My parents found a friend at church to call me.  This friend had gone through postpartum depression.  She knew exactly what was happening to me.  I clung to her.  Every word out of her mouth was sacred to me.  She told me what was happening to me was not going to kill me.  She told me that I was not going to lose my children, and I would not need to live in a psychiatric hospital.  She told me that I was NOT insane.  Or, maybe I was, a little, but I could handle it.  

I know now she was guessing at all those things.  How could she really be sure of any of that?  But,  she knew what I needed to hear her say, and she said it.

Seriously, why had no one told me about any of this before?  Never.  Not one person had mentioned that I might lose my mind after I gave birth.  That’s something I would have liked to have known.  

I  listened to my new friend, and I took great comfort in knowing that many people had gone through what I was experiencing.  So many people, in fact, that there were books and other resources dedicated to the subject.   I did what I always do when faced with a problem.  I researched and read.  I gathered information,  and I followed the experts advice.  

The medicine didn’t work right away.  I was mentally weak.  I wasn’t the confident person I had always been.  I doubted my ability to do simple tasks, like drive to the grocery store.  I would feel paralyzed by fear.   “What if I ran our van off the road…on purpose?  I don’t  feel like I want to end my life, but what if I do?”  I lost trust in myself.

I also had this gloom hanging over me. It’s hard to explain.  I can’t remember exactly how it feels, and I am positive I don’t want to remember.   Somewhere in one of the books I read, a person said that I could embrace my suffering.  This person said to acknowledge that things aren’t right, and tell yourself it’s okay.  Don’t bury it and don’t fight it.  That advice made sense to me.   Fighting and burying take a lot of mental and emotional resources depressed people don’t have.  So I told myself that this state of being was okay; I just kept taking tiny little steps in the proper direction. 

Eventually, I started to feel more steady.  I felt more capable.  The anti-depressant did work.  It took me off the ledge and put me somewhere safer; it also left me feeling dull and numb.   My anti depressant had fully kicked in when the planes struck the twin towers on 9-11.  I couldn’t shed a tear.  My body wouldn’t make them.  I didn’t like feeling so dull, but I knew that dullness was better than the alternative.

Even though I felt a kind of numb,  I also still felt unsteady and scared.  I still had to be careful about what I read and saw for the next year.  For me, postpartum depression came in the form of intense anxiety.  It felt like my nerves were raw and exposed.   I couldn’t watch or read about other people’s pain or tragedy.  If I saw anything that had to do with children suffering,  the darkness would threaten to take me back.  I couldn’t watch the news, or watch anything but comedies for a very long time.  

I remember during this time listening to my Dad talk about someone he spoke with at work.  My Dad was a Pastor.  He was retelling a pretty wild story about someone who lived on the streets who came into the church.  Of course, my Dad tried to help this man, but I remember my Dad explaining how odd the behavior of this person was.  I guess most people would have called this guy “crazy”. That story scared me.  Didn’t my Dad know that guy was me?  

That guy was broken.  So was I.  And, what did it take to break me?  Taking care of three small children?  I couldn’t believe I was so easily cracked. I wondered why I would ever have been so cavalier about my sanity?  I didn’t realize that I was never more than a few bad circumstances away from mental instability.  I wouldn’t have believed it.

I was an excellent patient.  I followed all the rules.  I talked about my depression.  I sought comfort from people who cared. I tried to take more time for myself.  I slept more. I told myself what was true, even if I didn’t believe it.  I read God’s word.  I prayed.  I ate healthy food.  I exercised.  I did it all.  None of it worked by itself.  None of it worked quickly.  But, all together, applied day in and day out over the course of a year, I found my way back into the light.  I started to feel more like me.   

I went off my anti-depressant after a year.  I didn’t relapse, but  I wasn’t totally well either.  I started having more and more moments where I felt  like the real me.  Not the muted, anti depressant me.  

It wasn’t until Olivia was four years old when I remember the last storm clouds permanently disappearing.  The clouds blew away when I started to work again part-time.  My work excited and challenged me.  I thank God for using that work to restore me fully.

When Scott and I were talking about this the other day I told him about those occasional storm clouds when Olivia was four.  He was really surprised.  He didn’t know.  He didn’t know, because I didn’t tell him.  I explained that those clouds were scary.  I didn’t want to draw attention to them.  He understood.  

Those clouds don’t bother me at all any more.  I won’t focus on them.   I will focus on good health and happiness.  I have an abundance of those.  

Today, when I walk by the woman on the street who smells badly,  is talking to herself,  and carrying all her belongings with her in dirty bags, I will look at her and know.  I will know that I am her.  She is me.  I’m just a few tough circumstances away.  I will give her respect.  I will help her in any way that I can.  

I am sorry that I once held myself in such high regard.  I thank God for using my life to teach me how to see people properly.  I commit to remembering what I have learned.  I wouldn’t want to repeat the lesson.

 

20140820_213621

Tag Cloud