As I sit here in the loft of the house we rent, paper airplanes are currently flying overhead. Papi, the chief paper airplane maker sits to the right of me at the girls homeschool desk. The girls’ laughter continues to break through the stillness and soberness of my thoughts. A lot has happened in the 4 months since I posted.
It was never my intention to not keep this updated. In fact, life utterly took the rug out from under me. When I describe life with Iris it’s hard to know where to begin. Overwhelming joy and gratitude fill my soul to overflowing in a way I just thought wasn’t possible.
I look back over the course of the last two years: back to back miscarriages, a devastating break in our marriage, a restorative sabbatical, a decision to leave overseas ministry that broke my heart and an international move, the thought of being pregnant was just overwhelming. I honestly never thought God would bless us with a child, and I made peace with that. We moved on. Then I found out I was pregnant and everything changed inside me. I held my breath for the first 12 weeks.
At my 22 week appointment I let out a sigh of relief and actually uttered the words “Oh my God, she’s still alive,” after I heard the heartbeat. Once you lose a baby its hard not to hold your breath until the baby is in your arms at the end of your pregnancy journey.
My pregnancy was beautiful. Joyful. Everything and more I prayed it would/could be. Sure I gained more that what was recommended, but I didn’t give a shit. I was growing a tiny human miracle, and after suffering two unimaginable and heart wrenching losses I was going to celebrate whatever way I pleased. The mere fact that every day I continued to grow a child was a day to celebrate.
And then she came. I was induced, but my body quickly caught on to what was happening and it wasn’t long until I pushed her into the world and into my arms. She was perfect. Heavenly perfect. She was all the things I prayed for and all the things I didn’t know I should have prayed for. She had deep eyes. Penetrating, alert old soul eyes. She knows things. She is special and anointed and we know this. And somehow in the midst of all of this greatness I suffered great depression. I physically had no energy to leave the bedroom. Iris nursed sometimes 16 hours a day and still cried because she wasn’t full. My dream of nursing my singleton was rapidly dwindling and unfortunately my support system was rather small. My older girls felt neglected. They loved their new sister, but were rough with all 7lbs of her. Then they contracted Influenza and had to be quarantined outside of our home. Our home was the upstairs of my parents house and while we’ll forever be grateful for their hospitality, my anxiety and depression can make cohabitation quite difficult. I struggled with anxiety and depression and now PPD and PPA. I cried all the time. all.the.time. I felt defeated as a mom, and as a wife. I never saw Alan who worked 80 hours a week and had 2 days off for Iris’ birth. I wasn’t able to care for my big girls. I am pretty sure I didn’t even see their faces until around 11am each day. Homeschool was on hiatus. I slept and cried, and nursed and saw LC’s and yet their was no change. The idea of leaving the house was like a horrible nightmare and the thought of anyone coming over seemed too exhausting.
I went from loving my entire pregnancy to wondering what the hell had happened to my life. I kept thinking “what have we done?” and “why did we do this?” I was a prisoner in my own mind. Many days I wished for “the old days.” I wished to be in the DR. I wished to be anywhere than where I was. At six weeks I saw my doctor for my postpartum checkup and after discussion, a Rx and about 2 weeks, the fog gently began to lift. I felt like I could see clearer. I felt like leaving the house didn’t seem like such a daunting task. The fresh air even felt nice. I began trying to school for little pockets of time here and there. I met with friends. I took Iris out. I began to look behind and see the dark hole I was in and began climbing out of bit by bit.
Many times you don’t know how dark your sky has gotten until the clouds break and the blue begins peaking through. As someone who struggles with mental illness and will likely struggle my whole life, it’s so important to do things that fill me. Just getting some sunshine each day helped break the clouds in my life. I still take my two little pills daily, and I want you to know that there is absolutely no shame in that for me. Satan often tries to use lies to tear me down, to shame me, to haunt my decisions, actions, words… but I know the truth, I know who I am in Jesus and I know and I see these things clearer when I take my medication. I don’t share this to advocate for medication, but to simply say, mommas, if this sounds like something you’ve been through you aren’t alone. I know the feeling of immense joy for your baby, and intense anger at everything and everyone else around you. I fully support every momma doing what needs to be done to feel healthy and whole. Whether thats a holistic approach or medication or a combination (my preferred method).
I’m so grateful to say that the sky looks much bluer these days. It doesn’t mean I don’t have dark days. I am prone to them. But I know the God of the Universe sees me and loves me and he sees and loves you too, no matter what you are currently struggling with. Don’t stay in the dark, hidden in the shadows if you are struggling like I did. I wasted months away of feeling like a failure when I didn’t have to. I wasn’t alone, I just didn’t know it.
These last couple of months have been full of joy and sweet moments, and I’ve got 4 months of videos to prove it. Enjoy a fun walk down our last 4 months with our newest baby. And let’s just be honest for a second, this is the highlight reel. See it as such. Life is hard. Transition is hard. Be kind to those around you. Be for those people in your life. Love others and let all that you do be done in love. You’ll be alright, I promise.