Let's start with the easy one: BODY.
How I'm looking: Well at the risk of sounding vain, I think I look great. I'm able to wear all of my pre-pregnancy clothes with the exception of only a few dresses that I bought right before I got pregnant, and those were always a crap-shoot anyway. My body has definitely changed, though. The shape is slightly different. It may not even be noticeable to anyone but me, but I can tell. Things fit, but differently. More snug in areas that used to be forgiving, but loose in areas that used to fit like a glove.
It's always a trip to see people for the first time since I had Z and watch their eyes dart immediately to my stomach to check out how it looks. Don't think I don't noticing you doing that, folks. :) But it makes me laugh, so don't feel badly about it. I'd do the same thing.
How I'm feeling, physically: I was hanging out at around 10lbs above pre-pregnancy weight for a long time, but as of last week's doctor appointment that number has creeped up by a couple of pounds. Nothing alarming, but a definite sign that the steady postpartum weight loss has stopped, and that it's time for me to start being proactive again. I'm looking forward to putting some exercise back into my life, and hopefully cooler weather will visit us soon so that I can get outside with the pup and the babe. Cutting back on all the sweets and Dr. Pepper I've allowed myself during and since the pregnancy will be the most difficult part. However, I've done it before and I can do it again.
Without going into unnecessary detail, I also just feel better, physically, every day. My body can go for longer periods of time without feeling tired or sore or getting too winded. Going back to work as soon as I did actually made me regress in my physical healing, at first. But it's getting better and, despite the typical new-parent-sleepiness, I really do feel physically great.
Now for the not so easy one: MIND.
There's a part of me that wants to beat around the bush about this, but I've been brutally honest about everything else, so here goes:
I mean...what else do I say about it on a blog? It's probably pretty obvious that I have good reasons to feel this way.
Being a mom is hard.
I am still not completely over the disappointment over not breastfeeding. I don't think about it daily, but sometimes it doesn't take much to make me regress into feelings of guilt or disappointment. I think I need to come to terms with the fact that it may never completely go away, or that it may take a very long time.
I had a Car Seat Issue that those of you who are Facebook friends with me saw unfold as I completely berated myself for making an honest mistake. An honest mistake that might have seriously hurt my son if we'd been in an accident, and I could. not. let it. go. I sobbed for hours the night I discovered my error. I took every "wow, thank God you figured it out" as a judgment on my parenting and my ability to take care of a baby. I cried most of the next day, too.
I get so sad at work sometimes because I like my job and I love working but I feel crushing guilt that my son only is with his parents for about 5 cumulative awake hours every weekday.
I have a crippling fear of growing older and dying and leaving my son and my husband. I have dreams that one or both of them dies and it's my fault.
The Last Straw happened when I was at work, eating lunch in our break room and flipping through a magazine. I came across an ad in which an elderly couple was dancing at a wedding reception, having the time of their lives. I suddenly pictured myself as old and it was as though all the air was sucked out of the room and a ton of bricks had been placed on my chest. I had to go into the bathroom so I could cry and freak out. That was it. I knew I couldn't do this on my own anymore and I have to be functional at work. I also knew it was okay that I couldn't do it on my own anymore.
I called The Healing Place at my church and set up an appointment for pastoral care (meeting with a non-licensed counselor [mine happens to be in school to become one] for therapy that includes a spiritual and prayer aspect) immediately.
These sessions have really helped. The first few were really just about me spilling my guts to her: all my fears, my doubts, my worries. I've been able to put some things into perspective. For example, though I feel that I should definitely not fear death and eternity with Christ, the reason I'm not exactly praying "Come quickly, Lord" is because I am blessed beyond measure here on Earth. I'm surrounded by love. I love people. I love this Earth, though it is of course filled with pain and conflict and war...those aren't the things on which I focus. I love people-watching and the relationships that we have with each other. I love the actual earth and the incredible, mind-boggling science that makes it all work. I am in no hurry to leave what is known.
When I said all of this to my counselor, she smiled at me and said "Yep. All this and Heaven, too!" I've heard that phrase before, but it never really resonated with me until that moment. We have been given this Earth and the people in it as a gift, and even on our best day, it can't even compare to what we've been promised.
I was doing a lot better with the anxiety until this past week, when the Car Seat Issue happened, and that a week after our President announced a possible plan to attack Syria's means of chemical warfare. Hearing about "the murdered children" as I bounced my son to sleep, feeling as though there were a flashing neon sign above my head screaming "TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC," and then one minor, but important thing that I had failed (in my mind) to do to keep my own son safe was just as crippling as that day in the break room.
A friend asked me, "Would you chastise anyone else as harshly as you're chastising yourself right now?" Of course I wouldn't have. And neither does Jesus.
In my last session, through a completely cleansing prayer exercise, I heard Him tell me "It's okay."
But! It's not! I don't even PRAY when this stuff happens! It doesn't even occur to me sometimes! That's terrible, right?!
But I still don't know what I'm doing! And I'm scared. Why does anyone bring a child into this world when there's a definite limit to how much we can protect him? What if I can't do it?
But....*sigh*....Okay then. I release it. I have to release it. If I don't, I'm going to miss out on everything happening now. I'm going to miss the sleepy smiles and the funny faces because I'm so worried about the future, about what could or might happen. If the future is going to worry me, I need to focus on today. What is happening right now that is wonderful? Find the joy in this moment.
"I've got this. I've got you and Michael. And I've definitely got Z. It's okay."
Postpartum depression and/or anxiety is very real. The hardest part was considering that it may be real for me and, once I hit a certain point, I had to entertain that it was possible. Even if it's temporary. Even if it's situational. But it's not bad or embarrassing or shameful.
I'm not embarrassed at all about admitting that I'm struggling. I'm not embarrassed that I've sought counseling. (I'll admit that I'm a little embarrassed that I might need to consider a small amount of anti-anxiety medication at some point, but we have agreed to try more sleep, more physical activity, and healthy food choices in addition to meditation and prayer and release before we take that route.)
But every day is a day closer to further healing. Every day might need a reminder to let it go, to find the joy, to trust in my God-given instincts and abilities, to give myself a break, to ignore the lies of the Enemy when he tells me I'm not good enough.
Most importantly, to be joyful and thankful for what I am instead of focusing on all the things I'm not.