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6 weeks old

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It's starting to feel more real. Or maybe I am ... starting to feel more real, that is. It's like I've finally gotten a grasp on myself in this new reality. It's still a little disorienting, but I'm feeling more capable of navigating it without leaving myself behind.

We've gotten into a bit of a routine now. I know when she's hungry. I know when she's gassy. I know when she doesn't want her paci and when it's the only thing she's looking for. I've learned she really likes baths (love the warm water like her parents ...) and doesn't completely hate having her diaper changed (turns out, changing her BEFORE she's eaten is NOT the way to go). 

She's way more alert the past week or so - follows me with her eyes and seems to hold a gaze. Whatever that does for connection, it's something solid, because I definitely find myself more entranced and in love with her than I did prior. Her cries cause less distress in me than they did prior. I equate that to a sense of capability and adaptability I've discovered (or grown?). I'm less anxious about doing what it takes to take care of her (and, honestly, myself). That's a bit freeing.

Now my anxieties have more to do with getting a nanny and what my practice will look like financially as I head back to work next month. Time will tell ...

LOVE.

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3 weeks old

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The Mr. goes back to work tomorrow. 

And I hate everything as a result.

Honestly, I don’t know how it’s going to work for me to do this newborn wrangling thing without him. It’s not so much that I NEED the help - though, yes, having an extra set of hands to grab me food and water and my phone when I’ve got a baby attached to my chest, is pretty wonderfully “handy” ... and I will miss terribly everything he’s been on top of - it’s that I need the partner in the mess. I never realized how much I want/need someone I can just be raw with and feel supported by ... And thinking about doing the hard stuff solo, navigating the mental challenge and emotional energy required, well .... it feels really, really daunting. Kind of impossible, really.

Now, she‘s very cute. Wonderfully sweet when she’s sleeping on my shoulder. Mesmerizing as she’s making faces, working her digestive system out. She’s a beautiful baby (and I say that realizing I’m biased, but confident that I’m also right). But, it’s not enough to make these days, this season of living, enjoyable. (Yet?)

I hate myself for thinking that. I genuinly wonder if it’s proof of the “I probably wasn’t meant to be a mom” concept that’s always nagged at the back of my mind. Would good moms struggle so much with this gigantic change of life? This physical lockdown (two months before hanging out in public places?! I DIDN’T KNOW!)? The physical/body toll? This emotional turmoil? I swear no one has ever relayed their dismay about having a kid like I’m feeling. So, it’s gotta be just me, right? 

And I hate that thought. I hate it for her. She deserves better. I wish I had known better. She deserves better than me. Than this. 

So, somehow, I have to figure out how to become what I’m not. How to feel good about what doesn’t. Because she deserves better. 

I just don’t know how. 

Help? 

Love.

 

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2 weeks old

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It’s all still hard, but it’s getting better. Whether that is because of the human ability to adapt to new circumstances or because it’s legitimately slightly easier two weeks in than it was at a week and a half in, I can’t honestly say .... but it’s a tad bit better.

And she’s still adorable. And warm. And squishy. And when she falls asleep on me, immediately after nursing? There’s very little in the world that feels better.  

But she’s been air-side for TWO WEEKS. It feels so much longer and like it’s flown by at the same time. If this is any indication of how fast time will move through her childhood, I’m terrified and sad ... I don’t want to miss it. I want to cherish it. I want to be transformed by the pure joy of it. She’s precious and I never want to lose sight of that ... in fact, I want it to be so real for me that I can’t help but transfer that truth to her ... that she’ll believe it about herself and act and feel accordingly. 

I’ve spent a lot of time holding her and praying over her this past week - for her protection and health and wisdom and salvation and sanctification and innocence and confidence and mental health and relationships ... and I just get the sense that God and I are going to be talking a lot more simply because she exists. 

That’s not a bad by-product of these hard and sacred times.  

Love. 

UPDATE: It’s a few hours later and I’m on the edge again. A little resentful, a lot lonely, a whole lot more insecure - about my mothering, my instincts, my future ... and it’s feeling really heavy again right now.  I’m tired with no good sleep in sight. I can’t poop or sit comfortably like I could just two weeks ago ... and it’s crazy how body discomfort can really mess with a mind (see previous post at 37 weeks, ha). 

So there’s that real life. 

Love. 

 

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40 weeks

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It’s my due date, and I already have an almost two week old baby girl.

I’m celebrating by changing a dozen diapers, offering up my boobs every couple of hours, trying half a dozen techniques to calm crying (with little, to no, success), and sitting and standing with an excessive amount of caution due to tears in the lady parts.

This ish is hard. Harder than I could have expected. Harder than I wanted. Harder than I would have signed up for. We’ve walked into a very harsh reality. One that is self-doubt inducing, emotionally overwhelming, relationally challenging, and worldview confounding.

In these first days as a family of three, I’ve marveled at her every feature, took thousands of pictures, cuddled her close and posted my pride on social media. But, in and out of those days, I’ve also had what one mom friend called “buyer’s remorse.” I’ve wondered out loud, “what have we done?,” and “what if I’m not wired for this ... what if I forced His hand and she’s going to pay the price for what I lack?” I’ve felt my blood pressure rise, my survival instinct flair up, at a hint of a whimper. I’ve worked hard at breathing deeply when she’s at my breast, hoping against hope that somehow I can spare her reading (and transferring) anxiety from her caregiver. I’ve struggled, tears streaming down my face, just wanting to hear my husband say all these feelings are normal and that I am a good mother, that, somehow, he’s seen me show up and impress him with my maternal instincts. And I’ve cried more, alone on the corner of the couch, when he’s remained silent. 

This is hard. She’s beautiful and precious. And I can’t help feeling like she deserves better than I’m giving her. And that’s all I’ve got right now.

Love. 

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37 weeks

Well, nothing about this is enjoyable.  

I feel disgusting. My thighs are - not kidding - double their normal size. I’ve got a double chin developing. I’ve gained 50 pounds. 5-0. These boobs I paid for? No longer sexy. My ankles and feet and hands are swollen. The extra weight has turned into plantar fasciitis pain in BOTH feet. The belly (and she who dwells/moves within) has turned into very regular and painfully acute back pain - especially while sitting or laying down. The influx of hormones equates to sweat-soaked tossing and turning throughout the night, EVERY night. There’s the bruised ribs, from her stretching ... and the pain in my pelvic area EVERY time I stand up. And the itchy, stretching skin? Yea, that just started. And sometimes when I walk? Feels like I just tore my hip out of joint. 

I can’t paint my toenails. Or bend down. Or help do ANYTHING. 

In my discomfort, I’m grouchy and on edge. I legitimately have a new-found compassion and understanding for chronic pain patients. I will never judge your opioid addiction or grouchiness again. Not being able to be and or do what is desired, when it’s desired and how it’s desired is its own kind of hell.

Hell. 

Now, I know I’m supposed to preface or back-end this complaint with commentary on how it will all be worth it - that the temporary struggle pales in comparison to the joy having a child will bring - but I don’t do platitudes. I also don’t speak from inexperience.

So, all I can say is that I hope I like her. I truly hope I have some astonishing measure of magical connection/attachment to this being I helped create. Right now, I’m just marveling (with slight disgust and an ounce of disdain) at my audacity in thinking I had any right or wisdom enough to embark on plotting for parenthood. Foolish human.

I hope she comes soon. I hope she doesn’t. I’m scared of when she does. I’m eager to find out how it plays out. I want a known in all this unknown. I don’t want things to change. I don’t want to be pregnant anymore. I’m worried about what life looks like when we’re permanently three instead of two. I’m a bigger dichotomy then I’ve ever been and it’s driving me a little bit crazy. The hormones are not helping. 

Relaxin sucks. Ironically. 

And that’s all I’ve got for this Mother’s Day morning. Thanks for letting me be real. 

Love. 

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peace and presence

My work this pregnancy, besides the obvious (i.e. growing a human), has been a lot of peacing out and trying to stay present. And, yes, it’s work. Hard, intentional, purposeful WORK.

Let me explain: 

Peacing Out 

This isn’t leaving, it’s anxiety management. It’s calming my body down the very second I notice tension building. It’s choosing into a meditative practice when there’s still a list of other things to be done. It’s taking the automatic negative thoughts and the circular thinking and challenging them with truths, again and again and again .... and again. 

None of that comes naturally to me, but I know too much to discount the benefits of or to sidestep the work. 

My hypnobirthing classes and resources have been invaluable in the process (more to come on that later), as has my professional training and experience ...

I KNOW how important it is to a developing brain to know peace and calm versus fight or flight. I KNOW that anxious parents produce anxious kids. I KNOW we often manifest that on which we ruminate. I KNOW good parenting begins in pregnancy. I also KNOW that 0-18 months is when innate personality traits, secure attachment, and coping strategies are wired into a brain.

So, I choose to work hard at peacing out. Working hard at letting go, freeing up, and calming down. And it’s good. 

Stay Present

If I have my way (at least in my current mind), this is the only time I’m doing the whole pregnancy she-bang. The only time I’ll watch my stomach expand beyond a food belly. The only time I’ll get to put the Mr.’s hand on that belly to feel an inner tumble. The only time I’ll have a baby shower. The only time I’ll have a viable reason to eat two cupcakes for breakfast ... 

The last time the Mr. and I will be just us. That thought makes me tear up every single time.  Cause I love us. I really do. And I am mourning the change, despite the excitement over what’s to come.

So, I don’t want to miss the blessing that is this passing season. As a result, I have to work to stay in the moments - to catch and stop myself when my mind jumps into tomorrow’s what if’s. Reminding myself that my energies are best engaged in today’s experience instead of spent out on tomorrow’s ideas ... it’s work. 

But, it’s worth it. I like being here with my boys, squishing the pups and leaning into my husband. These are beautiful moments - spent chatting on the patio, in front of nightly Blue Bloods, listening to 80’s metal while putting a dresser together, online boat shopping, walking the neighborhood and local festivals ... I love this life. And, honestly, I wouldn’t want to bring a new love into a life I didn’t love so much.

So, my work is peacing out and staying present. For the remaining two months of this pregnancy ... and, God-willing, for the rest of this beautiful life. 

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i'm an addict

No, seriously. Sugar is my drug of choice. I'm a snob with my vice — I tend toward the chocolate, baked goods, and bready carb iterations that feature quality ingredients (none of the corn syrup nonsense) — but it's a vice, nonetheless. And like any addiction would, it's got a powerful hold on me. I'm a willing slave.

But things have to change. My thighs have moved into unacceptable spaces with unacceptable textures. I'm officially disgusted with myself. I dread the idea of getting into any one of the twenty-plus bathing suits I own and adore. And, as a result, I've started to hyperfocus on the cause of my distress. Unfortunately, I can't do much about the need to exercise right now — a recent heel injury has me laid up for the time being, but I CAN do something about the food ... and, more purposefully, my relationship with food.

I've known for sometime now that I grew up associating food with celebration, reward and freedom (instead of fuel, nutrition and function). More recently, however, I've noticed a tie to boredom. It's hard to admit, but sometimes I'm pretty sure I'm eating just to feel alive and satisfied and excited. It's like a high. And, while it makes all the chemical and psychological sense in the world, I hate admitting that I'm just another unhealthy 30-something American, using food to numb, escape and soothe.

It's astonishing, because this is a dramatic pendulum swing away from the perfectionistic, overtrained, marathon runner I used to be. Maybe you have to land at the other extreme to do the work of finding balance. If so, I'm there. Pregnant, "crippled," and totally there. Not able to ignore it anymore. 

So, I emailed a dietician today. I'm seeing my therapist on Thursday to start talking about the gaps I'm trying to fill with food. So, toward balance I head ... one carrot stick at a time. 

 

turns out i'm a three

I thought I was a six, because in all but one test, I tested so. But that one test, it cost money ($12) and it was thorough and from one of the Enneagram experts .... and the explanatory results? Pretty much spot on - in a way the six explanation, though familiar, never quite connected. 

Then I re-listened to Richard Rohr's Enneagram talk ... and, sitting at the kitchen table over laptop speakers with the Mr., I had a head-nodding confirmation. Yup, I'm a performer. An achiever. A success. I am a total three.

It doesn't sound so bad when defined in those terms, right? After all, American culture heralds those qualities. It's built on them, even. And, in large parts, these personality penchants have worked incredibly well for me.

BUT, the truth of being a three is that I've spent most of my life showcasing (and mostly rocking) only about a foot of the miles of depth I actually possess. And I've kept to that foot, because my heart doesn't believe anyone's interested in the rest ... and worse, that if they tapped into it (or rather, if I stopped the show and exposed the rest), no one would stay .... or love me ... or value me. See, we threes are doers. And we're good at what we let you see us do (explanatory sidenote: we run far from that which we don't excel at). But, if we're not doing, then what do we have? What are we left with to give/be? Who are we? 

Realizing I'm a three, facing my years of deceit and reconciling myself to the internal questions I still have yet to wrestle with, has helped me put some structure around some of the general angst I've dealt with in the past couple of years. The personal work (through counseling and intentional practice) I've done over the past six years has moved me away from many of my compulsive three-ish ways and into a healthier behavioral space, but now I'm realizing just how much more room there is to grow.  Maybe more to the point - knowing I'm a three gives me some additional clarity on where the sin still lies and where the compulsive core still gets in the way of my true self. 

Just some thoughts on my latest foray into my personal spiritual journey. More to come, I'm sure ...

23 weeks

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Being pregnant is so weird.

It's exciting. It's humbling. It's terrifying. It's perfectly surreal.

As my belly has grown (and with it, aches and attention), I keep being struck with the thought: Is this real life?

And that thought is not at all unfamiliar. I distinctly remember living with that emotional distance and suspended belief when I got married. Before that, it showed up when he put a ring on my finger. Before that, in the dating.

These romantic ideals and joyful milestones in life ... I can't quite shake the thought that I never fully believed they were for me. I mean, for me, TOO. I think I may have thought I was an exception. And I don't know where that evolved from, but my current (and past) bewilderment seems to indicate there has to have been a genesis, right?

Regardless, the fact that there's a living, moving being in my abdominal region right now? The idea that I might actually be a real mom, tasked with the gift of loving and raising a human in just a few short months? It's all just SO weird. That this is happening.

But I'm grateful, even if not fully conscious to it all yet.

where I'm at

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I haven't written in a LONG time. Not here, not in a journal, nowhere. They say to write what you know and following that train of thought, I think I've just been knowing too much ... overwhelmed by it all. My stuff. Other people's stuff. Family stuff. Friend stuff. Life stuff. I've wondered if it's the age - this being in my 30's thing - when your brain has grown up and out of the invincible and enchanted space and you've experienced enough of life to come face to face with the reality that it's HARD and often SUCKY and that it NEVER, EVER turns out like you'd imagined or planned.

In fact, the show I was watching last night (Heartland - it's Canadian and sappy and about a horse ranch and I LOVE it) put it this way: "I've hate to meet the liar that would say his life has turned out exactly like he'd imagined." 

That's how God speaks to me. Through trains of thought and a myriad of external confirmations. I think he's been trying to tell me I'm fighting too hard against the reality of life. He's telling me I keep buying into the lie that A equals B, that doing life well equals being a particular brand of joyful and successful, all on a particular timeline. He's telling me that kind of strive is futile.

So, fuck it. Life's hard and then you die. But, how to live it in the meantime?  The question ... rather, the point of it all ... becomes how to live the hard life in light of/because of eternal life. Which, of course, requires some kind of human understanding of a totally divine concept.

Ugh. Eck. Mind fuck, for sure.

But, I think it's a MF that we're required to embrace. I think Jesus called it FAITH ... and the more enlightened of we humans tend to move the conceptualization from mind to soul ... or from concrete to abstract ... from certainty to curiosity ... from confusion to acceptance. They get okay with the questions ... and believe in better despite ... and they start looking for it and celebrating it and choosing into it. 

That's so hard to do. But I'm trying.

On a kind of related note ... my sis-in-law recently asked me what I want (in life, fertility, purpose, etc.). And, I told her I don't quite know. And, I don't. I think I just really want to know me and be me and see that (i.e. ME) bear fruit this side of heaven. But to get that, I have to know me and quit denying me when she shows up.

So, who is ME?

I'm a girl that's pretty good at telling it like it is. I discern problems/rationale ridiculously well. I'm not that great at holding other people's emotional stuff. I don't do a ton of emotional connection well, but I get what's going on in a person. I can create room for it, I'm just not really wired for entering into that space with someone. I think people make dumb decisions because they don't like doing hard stuff. I get impatient with someone's close-mindedness or inability to connect consequences to action (or inaction). I like dogs, mine especially. I am still not SURE I want kids. I like the sun. I hate rainy days and nights. I like drinking a bit, but my body doesn't love it. Traveling stresses me out, but I like knowing I've been to new places enough to choose into the stress. Very little energizes me, even less excites me. I live in my head too much. I do things because I can or feel like I should WAY MORE often than because I actually have a desire to do so. I do not know what passion feels like. 

Yet, I do know what disenchantment feels like. I do know what disappointment feels like. I do know what fear feels like. I also know what grief feels like. I get mad at people and things that hurt the people I love. I get pissed at the dysfunction and piss poor decision-making at the heart of the American church, namely the ones that have picked apart the beautiful hearts and passions of the people I love. I can't stand the nepotism and egotism and narcissism and the utter lack of self-awareness and intentional personal growth at the core of church leadership. I have been unhealthy in my anger toward it in the past and probably border on remaining hard hearted toward all of it, even today. But I am aware of it ... and I'm working on it.

And that's the thing: Everything/everyone is dysfunctional this side of heaven, but healthy people realize it and intentionally (and consistently) work on it.

So, I'm a girl that's working on herself. Aware of the dichotomy and dysfunction, I'm noticing it, admitting it, giving myself some grace in the midst of it, and moving toward changing it (on the regular). I'm trying to learn a little harder into what feels natural and true of me and less into what is prescribed or deemed acceptable by the voices outside my head and heart. That's hard, because the voices of culture, church, family and friends are loud, and often, my flawed filter distorts even their truths, but it's a thing ... and I'm aware of it.

 

#justsayin

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I found a tick walking on my dog's back. I picked it and squished it between my nails. Currently feeling like the best mom ever. 

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12.28.16

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"Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ..."

Loving the whole of Psalm 16 this morning. Feels kind of like a proclamation of mental health on David's part. He's resourcing with an Eternal nurturer. Describing real resilience. The counselor (and human) in me loves it :)

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12.26.16

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A few years back, I accidentally started a tradition of reading through Psalms between Christmas and New Year's. This morning, I was wondering why ... and I think there's just something about all that vulnerability, all those emotions - the vacillation between fear and courage, hope and despair, joy and sorrow, and the juxtaposition of the messy human and the beautifully Divine, that resonates with the end of a year and the beginning of another. I want to believe in transformation and revelation and redemption and reconciliation and celebration in 2017 ... and I just don't think I get there without wrestling first with the disappointments and losses and woundings and confusions and griefs of 2016. So, that's what I'm doing this week - leaning into the dichotomy of life on earth and breathing in Hope.

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we should be friends

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I don’t know you well but I know that look
And I can judge the cover ‘cause I wrote the book
On losing sleep and gaining weight
On pain and shame and crazy trains
Well then, oh, we should be friends
Well then, oh, we can be friends
— Miranda Lambert, "We Should Be Friends"

If you put your "comfy pants" on the moment you get home ...
If you believe leggings ARE pants ...
If makeup is a daily negotiable versus a necessity ...
If you can appreciate top shelf, but given the choice, you'll likely opt for the free beer ...
If you can throw down whiskey like it's water ...
If you love Jesus, but don't know how you feel about the current state of church ...
If you think you can be 35 and still feel 18 (an occasionally act accordingly) ...
If you treat your pets like they are human children ...
If you love God and still (unapologetically) cuss a little (or a lot) ...
If a good summer day needs a body of water, a bikini, a bunch of beer and fun friends ...
If you'll spend more money on travel experiences than house upkeep ...
If you're both headstrong and insecure in each and every moment of your day ...
If your daydreams take you simultaneously to the beach, the mountains, and back in time ...
If you dance in your living room when no one's home ...

Then, yes, we should be friends.*

(*I'm not excluding the rest of you, just giving a shout out to like/life-minded)