So, I had a bit of a setback this weekend. :) To be perfectly honest (and blunt) I think it can be summed up as this:
Hormones are a bitch.
In this blog, I always strive to be funny, but most of all, I strive to be honest and straightforward. Writing about life's journey is only interesting to other people if it's *real.* And the real truth is that this usually very happy-go-lucky girl, who never suffered from depression a day in her life, struggled mightily with postpartum depression after the birth of my son 5 years ago. For about a year, I felt like a heavy blanket was over my head, and despite my strong desire, I simply couldn't shake it off. It's a humbling and frustrating feeling. Since then, it's been a lot better, but every so often I go back to that dark place, and I hate it so much I can't fully articulate it. I'm better at coping with it now. I do not take anti-depressants (don't feel that I need them, although I know a number of people who benefit strongly from them), but I know that physical exercise, keeping myself distracted, and not isolating myself are key natural remedies to dealing with this horrible malady. Those things always work, but sometimes it takes a day or two to fully pull myself up out of the morass. As you can imagine, pregnancy or postpartum hormones can really exacerbate this problem.
So, Friday evening, I started feeling a bit "off." A number of things could have contributed to this. As you may have saw from my post on Friday, I was starting to feel panicky about the coming discomfort of the third trimester of pregnancy. I was trying to downplay it a bit, but it was a very strong feeling of fear. I had a bit of a rough time of it in that part of my pregnancy with Henry, and naturally I'm bracing myself for the same type of experience. Lately, I'm feeling very visibly pregnant and vulnerable. I miss my "old self." Plus, (and this is going to sound ridiculous, but that's just how I am sometimes :) ) I noticed that I'd lost a blog follower (as well as a few in Google Reader) and for whatever reason that nearly brought tears to my eyes. What was that? Right, hormones. Anyway, I take a lot of pride in my blog, so naturally I fretted about how maybe I'd lost my blogging mojo and wasn't engaging my readers anymore. I see this blog as a personal form of ministry for me, and it means a lot to me.
So, I got home from dance class Friday in a bit of a funk. Feeling preetttyyy darn sorry for myself. I didn't sleep well (also deadly to the depression issue), and finally dragged myself out of bed Saturday morning. And that's when it hit me. Even though I had just blogged happily about how my sciatica wasn't nearly as bad this time, I noticed that suddenly, my entire butt ACHED. I did some stretching, and that helped. I hoped it was just a temporary flare up. Well, that would be a negative. My sciatica is officially back, and it's angry. Especially as the evening rolls around, anytime I get up from sitting for any length of time, I'm feeling it BAD. That was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back. I was officially miserable. Well, I'd also gained 2 lbs overnight. That hadn't helped either. It's not merely a vanity issue; more weight means worse sciatica.
Early Saturday afternoon, after a lengthy trip to the grocery store to fill up on supplies for the week, I went into the cupboard to get something. Mike found me, about 5 minutes later, weeping at the kitchen table.
"It's...it's... the ZIPLOC BAGS!!!!!!!"
Yes, I was THAT devastated about plastic sandwich bags. Remember the hormones?
"We forgot the Ziploc bags, and I've had them on the grocery list for WEEKS! I need them for lunches, and then at the store, I didn't have the list in front of me *hiccup* and I forgot, and..."
Well, it wasn't a happy scene. I knew the dark feeling, and it was hanging over me like a rain cloud with a real mean-looking face. It scared me a little. I'm going to be home all summer with a newborn, a 5 year old, and my postpartum hormones. I need to be able to cope better.
All day, I dragged my pathetic self around. I couldn't even pray my daily rosary. I was constantly on the brink of tears. They spilled over only 1 additional time, when Henry finished a poo resisting effort on the potty and I needed to do butt wiping duty. Mike and I often joke about when the day will come that we will not have to wipe anybody's butt but our own. I think that day is officially a LONG way off.
Yesterday, I felt a smidgen less horrible, but still not great. Going to Mass helped. We also kept ourselves busy with cleaning out the storage and getting Henry some much needed new clothes. I made one of Mike's favorite dinners, which kept me busy in the kitchen for a time. And later, I read my new birthing book and we watched Nature on PBS. Lately, they've had several shows about animals with their young. This is a real soft spot with me right now.
" I feel such a kinship with that mule deer/grizzly bear/whatever mammal is featured that week!"
I really do enjoy watching how some wild animals instinctively birth and care for their young. We, after all, are mammals too, just like them. Unfortunately, their motherly instinct does not extend to *other* animal's young. They'd stalk and eat somebody else's cub in a heartbeat. Not so pleasant.
Anyway, this morning on my way to work, I was listening to The Catholics Next Door with Greg and Jennifer Willits (the podcast version) which was about emotional hurt and healing. I'm definitely feeling a bit better today, and the topic of this show really resonated with me and gave me some ideas.
First, I need to stop focusing on the negatives and focus more on the positives. This is not a physically comfortable time, but whining about it is not going to help me one iota. It's quite selfish and vain, truly. I'm going to try to do better. I'm not beating myself up over it, I'm human too and there are areas in which I am weak. This is one of them. The primary positive is that my baby is healthy and well. After that, my pregnancy is 2/3 completed, and only the home stretch is before me. 12 weeks will pass quickly, and to the extent I can, I'm going to try and enjoy them. At 36 years old, I don't know if I'll have another pregnancy. Of course, it's entirely possible, but it's not a given. Why rush this precious time? Feeling my baby move inside me; expectantly awaiting that time in 3 short months when I'll be meeting this new person for the first time; knowing how amazing that first moment is when you see their little face:
So it was *you* who was growing under my heart for all these months!
I'm certain that next year, when I'm feeling much more back to myself, I'll be all weepy because I'm *not* pregnant. Hormones.
Second, when I'm weak, I need to not rely on *myself* to try and fix everything. I'm going to get down sometimes, or feel overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, and I need to realize that only God can fix that. And, it's *good* to be weak sometimes to allow God to work in us and teach us new things. For quite some time now, I've focused my life on God and tried to be open to let Him work in me. But I know that I often fail, and that I try to shoulder everything myself, all the while telling myself that I'm "letting go and letting God." Lately, I have not been. That wasn't my intention, but that's in fact what I was doing.
With Lent approaching, now is the perfect time to focus more on my spiritual life and let God take care of my emotional life. How are things going to go this summer? Will Mike get a job? What will happen in the fall when I need to come back to work? I have absolutely no idea. And that's absolutely fine. We'll do our part. Me, by keeping up with the small, natural remedies that I know contribute to a healthier mental outlook. Mike, by applying for jobs and working on his resume and cover letter, as he's already begun doing. But the rest is up to God. Worrying about it ahead of time is not going to benefit any of us.
Besides keeping up with my daily rosary, I can incorporate some new spiritual practices in for Lent (and hopefully, beyond). Some short daily prayer time, some time in adoration when possible. Attend daily Mass more. I have some specific ideas, which I'll blog about this week. But I feel better now that I have a plan. And that plan is letting God take the wheel.