Yay! It’s Mommy Monday! We took a week off last Monday to celebrate the 4th of July with family. But we’re back. And today my friend Sarah will be talking with us about her postpartum experience. Sarah and I are new friends who met through Instagram! She reached out to me, and I’m so glad. Instagram has helped create this little community and I love meeting new friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise!! Sarah is also a blogger and you can find that HERE. Sarah’s blog is unique because it is written by her and other woman, Katrina. This blog is fantastic and I encourage you to check it out!
This idea I had (Mommy Monday) has become something I look forward to every week! I really love hearing about other women and their stories. Not because I love reading about their struggles (although, it does feel good to know I’m not the only one who is a complete MESS inside. Misery loves company, eh?). But because it’s so nice to hear women talk “real” about life and motherhood. It’s soooo easy to compare and feel like everyone around us has their shit together. Which is NOT the case. It has been wonderful to read about other mother’s perspectives and see that though their struggles, challenges, strengths, weaknesses may be extremely different from my own, we are all just doing our best to keep afloat, praying that we are giving our children the very best childhood.
It’s crazy how my life turned upside down with my second baby. Don’t get me wrong my first pregnancywas a pretty good roller-coaster ride: it was a surprise, I don’t handle pregnancy well, I gained 50 pounds, it was an emergency c-section, he was 10 pounds and spent time in pediatrics – I mean the works. But all in all that only messed with my life for nine months and then I was left with this amazing, almost too calm and perfect little guy. My husband is EXTREMELY mellow – like to the point that when people first meet him they say, “he’s so calming.” Well baby boy was a chip off the old block. He slept well, he didn’t fuss much and when he was a toddler he listened to reason – for serious! I developed a theory: I was so “messed up” (emotions-on-my-sleeve, drama, anxiety-disorder, chronic pain issues, fatigue issues, etc.) that God was going to surround me with ultra-calm humans so that our family could hope to be “normal”. It’s funny to admit it out loud, but that was my honest-to- goodness thought.
Baby number two threw my whole theory out the window – and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. She came into the world fairly easy. Again pregnancy was a doozy, but it ended in what my OBGYN described as the “textbook vbac.” Just a little over 24 hours after we headed into the hospital we were headed out with our beautiful, healthy baby girl and life seemed perfect. Then reality hit: our baby girl did not get the super-mellow gene. She went from happy to fire-truck screaming in 0.5 seconds. She was a light sleeper and fussed through the nights. She was distracted easy while eating.
Now, I realize really she was just being a normal baby. My mom tried really hard to help me not panic about these very average behaviors. But, I couldn’t get over this deep-set fear that all of this was indicative of one terrible possibility: she was drama like me.
Fast forward six weeks. I tried to go back to work part-time to help my husband get through his last year of grad school and my hands started acting funny. They were tingly and would sometimes drop things spontaneously. We tried a few treatments. The tingling turned into pain. We tried different treatments. The pain increased and started radiating clear to my shoulders. We went to a specialist who said “no lifting, no diapers, no unassisted breastfeeding” and put me in these crazy big, stiff fore-arm braces until we “could get to the bottom of things.” So I had to quit work, I couldn’t care for my baby and life basically came crashing down around us. I found myself sitting there one day, trapped in those awful braces, staring at my sweet baby girl I couldn’t hold and asking myself why I was so afraid of raising her. The answer came tumbling into my brain: “she’s just like me and I don’t have a clue how to love me.” Oh! Lightbulb! It was time to get back into counseling and figure out this loving me thing.
This is already pretty long so I’ll bring it up to real-time. Its two years later. I’ve spent the last two years on this incredible journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. I’m learning to love me and to use my emotions and drama, my illnesses and struggles as strengths in my life. I’ve learned that God’s plan was not to surround me with mellow so I could continue in flawed thinking about myself. Of course he had a better plan: one that involved sending me a gorgeous little bundle of sass, independence and yes, drama so that I could understand how much He loves me and her and all of us. And how I love her – my little beautiful pixie who came into the world and helped me learn to love deeper than I ever could before.
Oh and my hands got much better, too. Not to where I was before, but better. And this is why I love being parts of groups like this “Mommy Monday”. This is why I love seeing people like Stefanie shinning their light in the world. Because there is no “perfect” or “normal”. There are only human beings who are strong and flawed and worthy of love. And this is the most important lesson I’ve learned as a mother with chronic pain and habits of self-criticism I work each day to break: I can only do my best. Somedays my best is a long crazy day at the zoo and somedays my best is an I-pads in bed fest.
But I am always worthy of love – and you are too!!
Oh! And if you could use a boost in the self-love department I recommend Beauty Redefined and the Mum Life Project for starters.
Mommy Monday Blogs:
Wishing you all a wonderful Monday! If you are reading this and feel lead to share, please contact me! I’d love to hear from you and think this community we are building to let women feel comfortable letting down their guard, to feel less alone, to feel understood, etc is a beautiful thing. XO
PS Sorry if things on my blog look strange. I am currently giving my blog a little face-lift and it’s taking some time and patience on my end! Thanks for bearing with me.