Monday, April 30, 2007

Sweet Pea's Birthday

Sweet Pea was born on Dr. Seuss's birthday, which we think is pretty cool around here. We are huge fans of the Dr.Seuss catalog of books, so we were all really excited to receive this gift from a friend this week. It's a great collection with essays and the like also. You have to check it out!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Let's talk about Postpartum Depression

It's a difficult thing to be in the first few weeks of caring for a new beautiful creation, yet all the while feeling consumed by negative emotion coming from deep within. I have suffered from postpartum depression and when I was in the midst of it, I did not have the words to articulate my experience... but now I have them... and so I will share.

When I was in my last few weeks of pregnancy with Baby J, (my baby girl) I knew in my heart I was having a girl and the dread was already setting in. For me the depression was largely situational, meaning there were several dynamics that acted as kindling for the hormonal swings to ignite into a full blown mess. I had just left a job I loved and it was a messy separation. Remind me to talk about that some time again in the future. I left the job only a couple of weeks before delivering my sweet baby girl, so the process of grieving that season of my life was shoved to the side and yet was stealing energy from me on a daily basis.

Add to that, I had a baby girl who became a mirror for me to really see how small and innocent I was so long ago. I had a ton of shit in my past to wade through and lots of family of origin issues just came seeping up to the surface. My husband and I were struggling financially, when I did work I got paid a ridiculous amount of money for what I contributed, but it was more than I was making being at home. We were in huge debt from our business of the dot com crash and we were not managing things as well as we could have. I felt isolated and overwhelmed every waking minute of my life. I did not have any stay at home mommy friends. I did not know how to ask for help from the family and friends around me and I was just a mess trying to convince people and myself that I was perfectly okay.

Only now, after having my next child, can I see how bad the darkness was for me then. I am not suffering from postpartum depression this time around...thanks to many years of psychotherapy that has finally taken hold in my life and my relationships to bring about true transformation inside of me. When I find myself laughing and giggling with my kids these days, I remember what I missed the last time around. I did not giggle for a good year after Baby J was born. Now saying that though, I do not mean I did not take joy in watching her and Boo grow...my depression was not dark enough to cut me off from their joy, but the joy was through their eyes. I did not feel joy in me, if that makes any sense. I was walking around burdened by my own past... the abuse I survived and the mistakes I could not forgive myself for. I was difficult to be in relationship with. I was like a wounded animal who had a tremendously difficult time even trusting someone who was safe to come close enough to help me heal. There was a lot of darkness.

But then the light came in, and God work a mighty act in my heart and life. First, my girlfriend and former co-worker helped get me involved in a group called Mothers of Preschoolers or MOPS. I had left behind the church of my childhood and career so I was not in fellowship at the time, and I needed it. The women of my MOPS group welcomed me with open arms. I usually have a very difficult time cultivating new friendships, but I felt comfortable from day one and I felt connected by the end of the first semester...which is huge for me. It was great to be in the midst of many other women who were in the same season of life as I was, and it was good to have great caregivers for my children.

One of my biggest issues is trusting my children to someone else's care. I had the terrible fortune during my childhood to be in a not so good childcare situation and it is my deepest seeded fear as a parent. I can trust someone and they can betray that trust and my kids might not have the ability to tell me what happened. Being able to trust my kids to the care of the church's children's director and the caregivers has helped heal that very old wound in me. They were sensitive to my kids and their needs from day one.

Second, I made the choice to put distance between me and the areas in my life that were not working. I needed to be grown up in lots of ways. I needed to gently be taught how to put my big girl pants on. It was really messy, but in the end it was all good. I needed to exercise my responsibility to make my life my own. I was no longer a child, now I was the mother of two wonderful children and I needed to behave that way. I needed to put boundaries on my thoughts, who I spent time with, and where I found community. And as I did that relief came. I needed to make my own decisions and I needed to learn to take responsibility for the outflows and changes of the decisions I was making. I took my power back and I learned a spirit of humbleness... a spirit that is still evolving in me today.

I know this is a hecka long post, but I just needed to get it out. Postpartum depression is horrible, but living through it, I can see it now as the opportunity in my life to make the changes that would open me up to deeper connection in all of my relationships. I now like who I am and so I like people around me a lot more. Now that I embrace my humanness in new ways, I have the grace and wisdom to accept those around me who are also human. I am freed up to love my children and my husband in whole new ways and I am able to trust God with more of my heart than ever. I am grateful for two things from that dark time. 1. I don't ever have to re-live it and 2. I am forever changed because I dealt with when I hit me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This is the life...

I have a newborn curled up with me on the sofa right now, slumbering away. He's more of an infant these days...his newborn features are being replaced with cute chubby baby features. I just love this!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Yeah, what he said

A great article about our culture's sexual woundedness.

Earth Day

I was so bummed that I could not be with my dh and older dc for Earth day celebrations yesterday, but I am glad that dh was able to take them to a fun festival. My husband and I have been conservation minded for our entire marriage...we were both that way before our union so it has been a natural progression for us. Saying that we are *conservation minded* though, does not actually mean we have arrived at a lifestyle that is completely reflective of our ideals...but we are trying to take one step at a time to move in the direction where our beliefs and our practices actually sync up.

What we have already instituted in our home:
* Recycling (even when it isn't convenient)
* Reducing water consumption
* Switching to Compact Flourescent light bulbs
* Switching to non toxic cleaners that are also vegetable based not petroleum based
* Using re-useable canvas bags for shopping etc., or asking to go without bags when possible
* Using our own coffee mugs when we go out to coffee
* We've used cloth diapers and various times, when I'm not pregnant or going insane
* Using cloth napkins, rags, towels, and wipes rather than paper products
* Re-purposing items to save them from landfills
* Replacing our doors and windows with more efficient ones
* Changing our showerhead to a slow flow
* Shopping organically and supporting small independent farms and companies whose practices are gentler to our earth.
* Purchasing energy efficient appliances

Where I'd like to see us go in the near future:
* Buy a hybrid car
* Switch to cloth diapers full time
* Switch to cloth feminine products (if I can cope)
* Finding and installing the best insulation for our home
* Composting
* Begin our own garden
* Stop the junk mail that comes our way
* Stop buying new items... seek used ones first
* Install a water filtration for our home so we can discontinue our Arrowhead delivery
* Install new toilets
* purchasing and using smart strips that reduce the rate of electricity suckage from un-used appliances in our home.
* Supporting the movement in a greater way financially
* I'd like us to be more vocal about what we are doing so others might consider some of what we do to Reduce Reuse Recycle.


All in all I think we are moving forward. It has been an exciting year for us. Environmentalism in general and Global Warming in specific is gaining footing in the mainstream media and thought. Celebrities like Leo DiCaprio, Oprah, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Silverstone, Noah Wyle, Matt Damon... and of course a certain politician are speaking out and helping to raise awareness of what is really at stake and just how close we are to losing everything we need to sustain life on this planet. I am encouraged that real change is actually beginning. May our children and childrens' children look back on this time as the turning point where we as a world united to save our mother earth.

Okay, Okay, enough. But may I get one more tidbit in before I descend my soap box. Think. Act. Change. That is my daily mantra these days.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A week in review

So I was on my own again this week and all things considered, we are settling into a new normal. It was a busy week of errands for the bridal shower I am helping host this weekend, catching up on laundry and household chores, and trying to stay above water with all of our regular activities. Everything has gotten done, though I did miss MOPS this week =(. Being a nursing mom means I have to plan well to get three kids out the door and Wednesday I did not get the timing right...because I got moving late. Oh well.

Right now I'm nursing two kids, and a nasty migraine that has been going strong since Wednesday afternoon. Wah!!!! Dh is helping as much as he can, though he does have to go to work. I love being at home with my little ones. It is hard though, because my job doesn't come with any sick days.

The highs for the week:
* Sweet Pea is smiling a bunch now...it's great!
* Baby J and mommy had a couple of tea parties.
* I got to play play doh with Boo all by himself for almost an hour.
* Baby J is currently dancing in circles naked right now... so cute!


The lows:
* Baby J decided to climb to the top of the McDonald's tube structure when it was time to leave...knowing I could not go up and bring her down. It took a half an hour for her to come down. Note to self...do not take Baby J to McDonald's for a few months. Grm.
* Caffeine does still bother Sweet Pea...lay off the sauce momma.

Have you heard about this?

Dh led me to this little invention...and it has changed the way I follow blogs.

Fascinating...

I love the blogging world. I have followed Real Live Preacher for years... since I was up in the middle of the night nursing my first child, who is now 4. His latest Post speaks about a new blog that I am already in love with. I just love how the web can, in it's best uses, bring people together whom would otherwise never associate. Bible Versus is a breath of fresh air. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

if I have to...

...hear another "newscaster" repeat Imus's disparaging remarks about the Rutger's Woman's Basketball team...
I'm gonna scream!!!!!!!!

It was horrendous when it was broadcast over the airwaves and radio waves, THE FIRST TIME! Why are we repeating it ad nauseam? Enough. We are becoming desensitized to the terminology.

I'm not currently an employed Youth Director...

...but I will always have a youth worker's heart.
Letter by Jim Hancock

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just so sad...

Shooting

I'll save my social, spiritual, and political commentary for another day. Today I come along side the family, friends, fellow students, and community of the fallen and weep with them.

I just love weddings...

One of my favorite people got married this weekend and I felt so fortunate to be able to celebrate with him and his now wife. I grew up with this man and have been scratching my head as to why the perfect girl had not come along and swept him off his feet. His wife is a perfect fit for him! It was a very sweet ceremony and I am so happy for them both.

My younger cousin is getting married in may and I am helping host a wedding shower for her this coming weekend and I am so excited! I hope she has a great time...I'm trying to add some little touches that will make it special for her. I love to watch people find joy in relationship!

And every time I go to a wedding I am reminded just how much I love being married to my best friend. The decision to marry dh was the greatest decision I have ever made!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My bad night at Starbucks

Last week I went for coffee with bff and of course brought little Sweet Pea with me...he was after all only five weeks old. We were at a Starbucks that is a stone's throw from the christian university that I graduated from 10 years ago. While at coffee he needed to nurse and be changed. I nursed him on one side as discreetly as you can nurse a newborn and then he needed to be changed before I finished and then headed on my way home...which was a half hour away. The coffee place had no changing table and so, being the tired momma I was, I just laid out my diaper mat and changed him on a cushioned chair. I did not have my van with me and it was almost ten o'clock at night. I had the VW beetle and there is no good way to change a dipe without having the door open. Anyway...it was not my first choice but like I said I was tired. My mistake.

Anyway, there was a male and female at a table not far from us and they were clearly students at my alma mater. The male had no direct line of sight to me, but the female was giving a play by play and I had already sensed she was disapproving of the NIP (nursing in public). When I pulled out the pad the man went up to management to complain very loudly that there should be a changing table in the bathroom (something I whole heartedly agree with) and he went on and on. I was finished with the change and out the door before he sat back down. I know that my actions can totally be offensive to some, so I left out of embarrassment. (Not the NIP... the changing a dipe)

As we were walking to my car, he followed us out of the coffee house and approached us rather aggressively. I made eye contact with him and asked him not to engage us, we were leaving, but I started going off about the health code violations and so forth. My friend and I were shocked at his aggression and disrespect and she tried to refute him saying we never touched the seat etc. and he just got more hostile.

I then asked him what he is doing with his life and responded that he was a student and I pushed the matter and asked if he went to the college. He confirmed it and I let him know I was an alumni. I went on to ask if that was the christ image he wanted to share with others. By now I'm close to tears and I said that what my son and I needed in that moment was a bit of grace. I was sorry my actions were offensive. He continued to yell about fecal matter and the bit, so realizing that we were not going to be able to reason with him...I after all had committed two cardinal sins...changing a diaper and NIP. So we walked away. As we were walking away he called me white trash. I asked for him to repeat himself and he called me white trash again who lacked all modesty.

I was feeling shocked, hormonal, shamed, exhausted and totally wounded. I collapsed in a puddle of tears and cried for like two day straight afterwards. It did not even occur to us until we were in my car how scared we were and that we should have threatened to call the police.

I left feeling totally beat up and it has taken over a week to get my head around my emotional response...and here is where I am with it today:
1. It sucks when I run into evil disguised as religious piety. His behavior was of judgement and righteous indignation. And he was hostile and aggressive in a way that was really scary. If I come across that kind of behavior again I will immediately call 911. Following us out of the store was unacceptable. And...

2. There really should be adequate changing tables in all eating establishments...babies are everywhere and deserve a clean and safe place for their mommas to attend to their needs.

I'm really hoping that I will mature to the point that when a hostile and angry man approaches me, I will simply not allow it. I am really done with aggressive men.

Sorry it's been a while...

Well week one at home alone with the kiddies went really well, but week two... that's another story. I had a couple of really lousy things happen last week and so I was pretty much out of emotional energy to blog. I want to share what happened to me last week, but that will be a post of it's own. Thank God I had help from my mother this week...boy did I need it! Hopefully I am on the other side of some of the hormonal blitz and hopefully Baby J is on the other side of some sibling jealousy. Next week will be a new week and we are back to our regular schedule...I'll let you know how things go.

I love the chaos and I hate the chaos...such is my life

Monday, April 2, 2007

Same story new perspective

So the family went to church this weekend (an occurrence that has been more regular these days) and though we were a bit late it was really good. I thoroughly enjoy the teaching of the lead pastor...he teaches straight down the middle of an issue and I admire that tremendously. You see I'm a Jesus person who doesn't much enjoy being around "church folk" when they all get together en mass... mostly because I don't like what darkness comes out in me while I'm in that sort of environment. I prefer reality with an incarnate touch...real people, living real life, looking towards a real Savior for a real connection.

Anyway... the point of this post...

Last night's sermon focus was on the traditional Palm Sunday text and it is a story that I have heard every single year since I was three-ish years old. Some years the story feels repetitive, other years it is meaningful but in an egocentric sort of way. Rarely is there a time when something totally catches me and this year I learned a ton about the historical context of the palm procession to Jerusalem. And that is saying a lot. I am a life long church goer, who attended a christian university, received a biblical studies minor, then worked in vocational ministry teaching others for ten years. So when I sat down for the same ole' same ole' sermon, I was not expecting much. Boy was I pleasantly surprised... and last night taught me something really key about my spiritual journey. I am growing into a deeply contented joy and gratitude that God's story of grace is new every day and I get to be a part of it. There is always something new that can reach out and wrap around me...thus keeping me totally engaged.

For a cynic like me that is a very good thing. It keeps me grounded and hopeful all at the same time.