Monday, March 11, 2013

The Silver Lining

Being a mother is no piece of cake, I'll tell you what.  When I was pregnant with my son, everyone said that this was like having my third child seeing as I nannied for both of my nephews from infancy.  I can say, with confidence, no matter how experienced you think you are with children it is no where near what you deal with once you have your own.  That is a huge lesson I had to learn through experience. Not only do you have the newness of having a baby around 24/7, you also have those hormones that are out of whack and trying to get back to normal.  

I never really understood depression.  The concept was always so foreign to me.  I have family members and friends who struggle with it but I never thought that I would struggle with it.  Depression, to me, seemed like an inability to put things into perspective.  But I've come to realize that depression can be a subtle and slow blanket that creeps up on a person, suffocating their emotions until they feel numb.  It was for me.  I didn't realize that I was struggling so much until my husband sat me down and told me how worried he was.  

The first "taste" of depression I had was in the Fall of 2010.  I had gotten pregnant but things were not looking good.  I ended up losing the baby on Christmas Eve (you can read about that here).  During that experience, I would feel small waves of sadness and hopelessness as my body still suffered symptoms of a pregnancy though my womb was empty.  They were only waves and I was uncharacteristically optimistic during that difficult time.  The struggle brought my husband and I closer together as we looked to God for emotional support, trusting that He had a plan for our family.

The first difficult time I had after giving birth was in the middle of the night at the hospital while I walked the hallways trying to recover from my emergency surgery (see birthing story here).  I felt a strong sense of loneliness and an overwhelming amount of responsibility that I was not sure I was ready for.  This feeling lasted a long time.

My son, Jude, and I had a very difficult....well, probably first six months.  For the first week that we were home things went very smoothly.  Then, reality started to settle in.  The dreamy in-love state started to slowly wear off and the lack of sleep began to wear on me.  We had a difficult time nursing.  Jude would choke in the milk.  I got a breast infection.  Jude also started showing signs of colic.  He was fussy and gassy very often which we later found out was an allergy to dairy/soy and would constantly spit up.

As my diet changed and Jude's symptoms got worse so did my emotional state.  Sometimes, I would burst into tears while holding him and James would come running in and ask me what was wrong.  I would often say, "everything" or "I'm so scared".  I remember having such an overwhelming sense of fear, helplessness and, above all, a feeling of being completely alone.  I also felt jealous of my husband.  I was even jealous that he could go to church on Wednesday nights and I had to stay home.  As mothers, we have a job and a sense of duty that men just don't get.  Sometimes this feeling is even more amplified with breastfeeding because you really are needed constantly.  I would try to explain to James how I felt but I knew he wouldn't understand.  In fact, I thought no one would understand.  I would try to talk to other people about it but I was also too embarrassed to share with them my real feelings.  I felt like I was being such a terrible mother because I wished I could just go out for a cup of coffee with a friend or go shopping alone or sleep or read a book or just watch a TV show.  All of those things were gone.  I, undeniably, mourned for my life without children.  It was hard to put things into perspective.  Yes, I had a healthy baby.  I would try to tell myself that and I would feel guilty pushing that huge blessing aside.  But, the negativity always won.

I could go on and on about how difficult the first 6-8 months of motherhood has been but that's not the point of this post.  What I really want to say, especially to first time mothers, is that you're not alone.  You're not alone and you need to talk to someone about it.  Thankfully, I had a friend who was going through similar things as I was, feeling similar negative feelings toward this whole new mothering world.  We were honest with each other and that is the only way we got through it.  When I had the miscarriage, it was easy to cling to God and His provision.  During my postpartum depression, I didn't feel that.  I felt disconnected from everything.  I was withdrawn.

Christ is sufficient for all of our needs and He knew that my friend and I would have babies only days apart from each other.  He knew that we would need to share our fears and struggles with each other. He knows exactly what we need, even when we have no clue.  Even if we don't realize it until 9 months later.  He is our silver lining.

Jude and I are doing much better now.  As soon as I was able to start reintroducing things back into my diet, I slowly started to get better.  Also, my husband forced me to take some time for myself so I enrolled in a cake decorating class.  It was the best move I've ever made.  I was able to leave Jude for 2 hours every Tuesday night (and didn't feel guilty doing it because he was already asleep) and do something that I enjoyed immensely.  I started to find myself again.  I found self-worth in something other than being a mom.  I needed that.  Here are some of the baked goods I've done, and hopefully there will be much more to come!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grungy Prayer

The Lord has really been pressing prayer on my heart lately.  To get down and dirty with Him.  Does that make any sense?  I keep singing the song in my head that goes, "I'm on my knees at Your feet.  I'm on my knees again".

When I was growing up, my brother and I would go into my parents room and kneel next to their bed to pray.  I remember hating to get on my knees.  Being "too tired" to sit up straight, my brother and I would spread ourselves across the bed with our knees barely touching the floor most nights.  But, we would kneel there with our dad every night and say our prayers.  I'm not sure when that ended...but I do remember in high school that I would have to go into my parents room while it was still dark out.  My dad would lay his hand on me and pray for me before I'd go to school.  Prayer played an important role in our house.

As adults, we pray.  We pray driving to work or while we're drinking our coffee or as we're falling asleep in bed at night.  When was the last time we got on our knees to pray?

Right now is a time where I find getting on my knees essential to my prayer time with God.  It's my act of helplessness, fully surrendering my heart to Christ.  God's promises through prayer is the only thing that has kept me strong through this time.  He continues to remind me to pray without ceasing.

(and as God would: I was studying for my Friday night bible study and Jon Courson's sermon on Revelation 8 is all about prayer and the power of prayer!  Come on.  You gotta praise God for that.)

Psalm 141:2  Let my prayers be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dodging Curve Balls

In my last post I stated that Jude and I were finally finding a routine and settling in.  Then came the curve ball.  I noticed blood in Jude's stool on Thursday July 5.  Thankfully, the next day was his 2 month appointment at which time I spoke to the pediatrician about it.  She told me that I might have to go on a very strict diet.  I had already eliminated the major dairy products like milk, ice cream and cheese because Jude was so fussy, gas and spitting up a lot.  I had been off of that type of dairy for a  month.  Little did I know, there is a lot that has milk hidden in it's ingredients.

The pediatrician asked me to bring in a poopy diaper the following Monday to test if there was still blood in it.  There was and I was put on a very strict diet of no whey, soy or milk.  I'm not sure if you're into reading labels but I thought I was over that phase of my life after the gestational diabetes.  Nope.  This type of label reading is even worse because milk and soy have a lot of different names.  I am thankful that there is a health food store right up the street that has alternatives for yogurt, ice cream and bread so that I don't have to starve all the time.

Unfortunately, we are still seeing blood in Jude's stool.  We are going on two weeks this Monday on the strict diet.  He is still having episodes of major spitting up.  And my small list of things to eat is getting smaller.  The upside is that my waist is too!  :)

Anyway, please keep myself and this little blessing in your prayers as we continue to eliminate foods that seem to really bother him.  I praise God that this is only a season in life as poor Jude's digestive system continues to mature.

We are doing great otherwise and Jude was amazing on our trip up to Pittsburgh for my little brother's wedding (my mom and I attribute it to the fact that I hardly ate anything and when I did it was extremely bland).  Here are some of my favorite shots:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Outside Looking In

My dear friend, Lauren, made this beautiful quilt for baby Jude.  I've finally become adjusted to motherhood where I can start to have time for myself and post this!  These past 7 weeks have been the biggest adjustment of my life and I am so thankful that Jude and I are finally finding a routine.  Anyway, isn't this quilt so adorable?  It fits Jude's personality so well.  THANK YOU, LAUREN!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Labor of Love

At 12:30am Thursday, May 3 I woke up James and told him it was time to go to the hospital.  I had been having contractions since 3pm Wednesday afternoon and they were progressively getting stronger throughout the evening.  They would vary from 6 minutes apart to 1 minute apart back and forth for hours.  I finally gave up on wondering whether or not I should go to the hospital and just made the decision to go.  My mom met us at the hospital and we all sat in a labor room as they set me up with monitors and got me settled in.  The contractions had slowed down and were getting further apart (8-10 minutes) so the nurse put me on a low dose of Pitocin to get the contractions back up and on a more consistent pattern.  I was 4cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital.  The nurse told me that since I was at 4cm, I could get my epidural at any time.  I wanted to hold off as long as possible.  At 7am, Dr Lerner came on duty and told me that I was 7cm dilated and broke my water, at which time I had started using breathing techniques to get through each contraction (thanks to the teamwork of my mom and husband, they did an amazing job of keeping me focused) and told the nurse that I was ready for the epidural.  They said it would take an hour to get it ready and took my blood to get things moving.  About 30 minutes later, the nurse told me that my blood work didn't pass and my platelets were too low to safely get the epidural.  They would take more blood and manually count the platelets to see how many were functioning and if it was too risky to get the epidural.  We waited 3 hours to hear back. Finally, the anesthesiologist came in and told me that he'd do the epidural although I could become paralyzed from the waist down (due to bruising of the spine and inflammation from low platelets).  He said, "if it were my daughter or wife, I'd tell them not to get it" so I, of course, had to say no.  No temporary pain relief is worth a lifetime of paralyzation!  I realized at that point that I was going to be doing this naturally and pressed forward.

It took another couple of hours to get from 7cm to 9cm.  Those were very intense contractions that required a lot of focus and knowing that it would eventually pass.  After reaching 9cm, there was still a little bit of cervix left preventing me from being able to push.  I had to start suppressing the pushes until Dr. Lerner came in and told me that I had finally reached 10cm at 1pm Thursday afternoon.  For three hours, I pushed.  The nurse and doctor both showed James and my mom the baby's head and the fact that there was dark hair on it!  At about 2pm, my nurse explained to me that the head was not passing the pubic bone.  She said that with the first push, the baby would rock forward then the second push would rock back and with the third push was supposed to push further forward and stay in that position.  My baby was going forward again but not staying in the position but would rather go back to the original position, basically just tetter-tottering around my pubic bone.  She told me that I need to push really hard past that area, we concentrated on doing that.  At 4pm, Dr. Lerner came in the room and stayed for each contraction.  After about 4 rounds of pushes, he hit me with the news.  He usually only allows women to push for two hours, especially without an epidural this should be plenty of time.  He allowed me to push longer in hopes that there would be progress but even with my "perfect pushes", we were getting nowhere.  I had to have a c-section and, because of my low platelets, it was determined that I be put on general anesthesia and be put under.

It's amazing throughout this entire experience how faithful God has been.  He protected me and my child through birth.  He allowed me to experience child labor and the difficulties that come with it, allowing me to see that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!  Though the situation was not optimal, I still feel a sense of invigoration that I tried so hard and it was only through the strength of God that I was so calm and confident throughout the experience.  And, of course, I have the most precious blessing as a result!

Jude Ellis James Likeness was born May 3, 2012 at 4:47pm weighing 8lbs 11oz, 21.75 inches

(which was .25 of cone head, haha so he's really 21.5).  PS.  It took us until Saturday morning to agree on a name, due to the pushiness of the birth certificate people who told us we had to have a name by Saturday morning or else "Baby Boy" was going on the certificate.

More pictures of Jude on my friend's blog:  You Remind Me of Home

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our first DIY

I can't take any credit for this transformation.  My grandparents were kind enough to give us this three-drawer dresser which I thought we could just stick in the closet.  Unfortunately, there was absolutely no room so James had the idea to redo the dresser.  I did research and discovered that we first needed to prime it.  We went through the whole process of priming it, spray painting and eventually painting one layer with a paint roller.  James ripped off the fronts of the drawers, went to Home Depot and bought plywood (sandeply).  He had them cut the wood into three pieces at the store then was able to borrow some more tools from a guy at church to finish the job.  We bought the hardware at Home Depot too (probably would have been cheaper to get it from Ikea or something) and voila!  A brand new dresser!  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Nursery

We finally got the nursery done!  Well...almost.  As close as we are going to get before the baby comes.  I feel like there is something missing.  Probably the barn door.  Either way, here it is as ready as it will ever be!

Here is my original inspiration:

Here is our version of it: