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“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Mental Health Category

A Five Month Letter to My Daughter

[Previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

Well, my daughter, this month has been a rough one.

Not because of you — of course, my darling. You have continued to be the most charming baby I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with, and I’m not just saying that because you’re mine and I made you from scratch. You grow even more happy-natured and joyful by the day. Just when I think you can’t get any more smiley or sweet, you do.

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No, this month has been a hard one for me, as your mama. This was a month where I barely felt like I got the opportunity to enjoy the privilege of being your mother. This was a month where I felt I spent the majority of the time running and running, and a few times a day, I stopped and shoved a boob in your mouth before bouncing you to sleep, and little else.

There was the emotional struggle of you being underweight, which I talked about here, and the decision to occasionally supplement a formula bottle here and there. (And I’m pleased to report that your follow-up appointment went great, the doctor was very happy with your progress, and told us to keep doing exactly what we were doing — nursing at every opportunity, pumping at work, and feeding you a formula bottle twice a day when I’m working to ease the strain on everybody.) That was a lot of emotional and physical stress on me, and then, you know, it’s been December, and Christmas, and all of that hoopla.

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I wanted very much to make your first Christmas a beautiful and special occasion, and I do think your papa and I succeeded in doing so — but it’s been an exhausting month. I felt overwhelmed by my work — particularly busy for this time of year — any time I’ve gotten close to getting caught up, I’d have to leave my desk and run to pump. I get up early, early in the morning to rush to get myself ready and rush to nurse you as long as possible, and rush to get out the door remotely close to on time. The week I had to be at work by 7 AM every day really almost killed me. I came home on lunch, long enough to nurse you and stuff food in my mouth before I was back out the door again. I came home after work to enjoy the last few precious hours of your awake time before putting you to bed for a couple hours, waking you to nurse again, and then tumbling into bed myself. And then there have been all the Christmas celebrations, with friends and family and work and church. Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy to have those demands on my time. I’m happy that we as a family share a rich and full life with so many people who loves us and enjoy spending time with us. Not every family has the opportunity to star as Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in the annual live nativity. As your papa said, you got to time that just right to get that invitation. And I’m always so happy to gather our friends together at this time of year, your Aunt Ali home for a visit, and meeting your Uncle Ryan for the first time, being passed from lap to lap at a Christmas get together just like the little scraps of paper we played the movie game on.

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But all of that wore on me. I wanted in my heart to be joyful and light, but instead I felt dim and heavy. Listless and unenergetic. Snippy and short-tempered. Traits that don’t normally characterize me, not by a long shot.

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Humility.

I love my daughter more than anything else in this world, and I would do anything for her – and sometimes, I’ve learned, that anything I’ve promised to do is to humble myself and ask for help, to take an action I don’t necessarily want to take but become aware I need to take.

Motherhood teaches us humility in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we learn humility when we have baby puke or baby poop on our hands and clothes, and we can’t clean it off us until we take care of our child first. Sometimes, we learn humility when our child is having an epic meltdown in the grocery store and everyone is staring and we have to just patiently pass items onto the conveyor belt to get the shopping over and done with so we can get the screaming child out of there. Sometimes, we learn humility because we have a plan in place – a mothering plan, a parenting plan – and we are physically incapable of following through with it.

The last one? That’s me. That’s the lesson I’ve learned over and over again since I’ve become a mother. It’s apparently the lesson I need to learn the most, because it keeps coming back and reminding me I haven’t studied hard enough yet.

I’ve said this before – if sheer force of will were enough to get things done, I would never be behind. I would always have my ducks in a row. My spirit is always willing, but the flesh is weak. Or, perhaps more aptly – there’s just a world outside my stubborn, strong-willed self. There are other people in the equation. There are jobs and obligations and traffic and people whose priorities are not my priorities, and visa versa. I have a will, and I am determined to find a way – and the truth is, that lesson that I have to learn over and over again – is that just because I want make something happen a certain way doesn’t mean it’s going to happen that way. I can fight and fight the inevitable outcome as hard as I want – I will eventually have to humble myself and learn the lesson.

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BIRTH IS IMMINENT: The Final Shadea and Emily Pregnancy Chat

[Previously in this series…]

Emily: So, let’s start off by me explaining that we totally just DID a short-winded version of this chat through texting, but I decided we had to do it again because I’m long-winded and need access to a full keyboard.

So, bless you, our entire pregnancies, for putting up with my OCD and perfectionist needs.

Shadea: I am not inconvenienced in the least!

Good – I swear, this will be a theme both through our pregnancies and especially this chat — I think in a lot of ways, you have a more go with the flow vibe going on, and I have more of a fixated focused vibe. They’re both good in their own ways, and I like exploring how we meet in the middle.

So, remind the lovely people how far along you are…

I am exactly 38 weeks and 5 days today, 10 days from my due date.  Which I’m trying – again, go with the flow – not to fixate on. 

Because it really it a bit arbitrary and because I have a few things to wrap up at work next week!

And I’ll be 37 weeks tomorrow.

So we are both at that point of — it COULD be any time now…or it could be several more weeks.

We’re both straddling the possibilities of NOW! and WAITING.

Yeah, it’s a strange place to be in. One of the things you and I were texting about is trying to find that middle ground between being TOO aware we’re ticking time bombs, and also not emotionally prepared for the very real reality that we could go into labor at any time.

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HELLOOOO, THIRD TRIMESTER: Another Shadea and Emily Chat

HI SHADEA CAN YOU BELIEVE WE ARE BOTH IN OUR THIRD TRIMESTER LIKE HOW DID THIS HAPPEN HOW IS IT THIRD TRIMESTER CHAT ALREADY

ALL CAPS ARE APPROPRIATE BECAUSE MY PERCEPTION OF TIME PASSING HAS BEEN A CONTRADICTION IN SLOW AND TIME WARP SPEED

Exactly!

On the one hand, I remember us doing our very first chat, and imagining doing a third trimester chat, and that seemed like centuries in the future.

I blinked, and have +/- 6 weeks left of this incubation period.

Any time someone asks, “Has it gone fast or slow?” I always go, “Both?”

For me, the time has gone slow, which I’m grateful for, as it gives time to adjust, but then also now I’m kinda ready to be done being pregnant and get used to the baby/mom stage…but also, I’m astonished it’s already, eight-ish weeks left for me.

I have gone through 2 bottles of prenatal vitamins and am now like, “Do I really need to buy another bottle at this point?” lol

Yes!! I kept getting surprised every time I had to buy a new bottle. Oh, right, we need more of these…

I feel like I’m just being confronted with actually being physically inhibited by being pregnant – the bending over, the can’t walk for long, the swelling, the very real fatigue. So, I think that time will definitely slow down as I’m having to endure more.

Yeah — this is a good topic to get started on, I think. I’ve gathered for you, this has been a harder trimester?

It’s just different, but if I had to pick one, I would actually say the last one was harder.

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Finding Balance in the Second Trimester: A Shadea and Emily Chat

Shadea and I sat down for another chat, this time with both of us fairly far along in our second trimesters. It’s always so refreshing to sit down and talk with this girl in a practical, humorous, and honest manner, and this session was no exception. Today’s topics include: transitioning from first to second trimester, finding both emotional and physical balance, feeling sexy and empowered while pregnant (or trying to!), and how to face your limits and accept help and support when it’s offered.

 

E: HI.

S: Hey girl!
Sorry to keep you waiting.

No, I literally forgot today.

When Lauren and I were making plans for tonight (she does her laundry here), I mentioned, I will have to chat with Shadea at seven, and she just now said, you’ve got to do that thing with Shadea, and I was like OH RIGHT, YES. I DO. I TOTALLY remembered on my own.

So no worries.

I just finished dinner and I guess I was eating slow
Because, you know, food tastes so hella good these days

YES MA’AM, everyone asks what I’m craving and I’m like FOOD IN GENERAL.

Same way here. “Oh you have banana pudding this weekend? I need banana pudding like NOW.”

I’m super pumped about this! Not sure if this is how you did things before, but I just have a general idea of things to cover.

I mean, we can talk about food first.

I’m always down to talk about food, and I love talking to you about ideas and whatnot, so I’m excited!! Ready when you are!

Well in general, I’ve had a pretty easy second trimester. It’s almost over and I feel like throughout this process I’ve been kind of waiting for the hammer to drop. And it finally did, and I guess I wanted to see if you’d had a similar experience or how stress has affected you.

Yes, OK! Remind me how many weeks you are now – 23?

Yes – 23 weeks and…..4 days.

Right, and I am 21 weeks and 6 days. (when this was written)

So, how did your first trimester transition into your second? Was there a noticeable difference or was it more of the same experience?

It was pretty seamless. I didn’t have any incredible sense of passage or demarcation between them. Honestly, it seems a little arbitrary.
You?

I’m kinda middle ground. It wasn’t a huge dramatic change, but I definitely noticed some changes. I think I didn’t really FEEL pregnant at all (since I was never sick) until week 12, and so moving into week 13 was like, Wow, suddenly pregnant! And that feeling only grew from there.

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