Supermom Strong

Seeing the positive and sunny side of things has never been difficult for me… until now.  Oh those blasted postpartum hormones…  Kick me when I’m down, why don’t you?

The crying…  Waking up and feeling completely overwhelmed…  The guilt…

It’s all too often commonplace for new moms recovering from a pregnancy, and it hits at the worst possible time.  You’re not feeling 100% yet.  You’re recovering physically.  You’re taking care of a brand new life (and getting very little sleep because of it).  And now there’s a cloud of depression hanging over your head, trying to block out the sunlight.

I’ve had to give myself a lot of pep talks lately.  Like yesterday for example…  I woke up and was filled with a sense of dread.  I immediately thought, “I don’t know if I can have victory over today.”  I already felt like I was drowning and failing.

Overcoming feelings like that is foreign to me.  I don’t think that way.  I’m very rarely negative, depressed, or defeated.  But then again, this is only the second time that I’ve lived the postpartum life.  And honestly, the first couple of months after baby arrives can throw even the most positive of moms for a loop.

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Trust me, I’m proof of that.

Yesterday, after waking up and feeling such anxiety, I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that we had nowhere to be…  No one coming over.  I literally just had to make sure my kids were loved, fed, and clothed.  The house might be chaos, the meals might be from the freezer section, and there was a very good chance that I wouldn’t be showered.  BUT my family would be okay.

Somehow realizing that made me feel a little better.  But really, it’s hard to be rational when those hormones are throwing darts of doubt into your mind.

In addition to those pep talks to myself, I’ve had to apologize to Nate a lot as of late.  I’m not as patient.  I snap sometimes.  I cry a lot, because I feel overwhelmed.  I just don’t feel like myself, because – some days – I’ve poured so much into my babies that I don’t feel as though there’s anything left to give.  There’s never time to recharge, so I’m running on empty.

And I’m fairly certain that Nate was starting to think that his wife had been replaced with an emotional, irrational alien from another planet.  So having an open conversation about my feelings (and how sorry I was for acting the way I had) was nothing short of a relief for him.

Granted, a lot of this heaviness stems from just how difficult this past week was.  Kaitlyn had to be rushed to the ER last Sunday, because she was struggling to breathe.  Long story short, after a terrifying night, it turns out that she has bad acid reflux like her brother did.  We’re still not entirely sure what’s causing it or what the best game plan is to help ease her suffering, so we’re trying a few things.

It’s hearing her scream from pain and discomfort that kills me.  I would do anything to help her feel better, but I don’t know what needs to be done.  So I usually end up biting my lip to keep from bursting into tears… again.  And I cradle her and walk around the house, gently singing to her and hoping that she’ll find relief soon.

And then Brady pretends to cry or get hurt, because he is aching for attention too.  He just wants his mommy, but mommy is tending to a baby girl who just vomited again.  Or who is screaming at the top of her lungs.  And realizing that I can’t hold him in that moment breaks my heart even more.

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It’s been a rough week.  A really rough week.  And those postpartum emotions are just making it harder for me to be strong, and confident, and level headed.

So want to know how I’ve fought through all of this?

I’ve admitted that I’m human.

I’ve admitted to people I’m close to (and, okay, now to all of you in the hopes that I might help someone else) that I’m struggling.  I’ve had open and honest conversations with my husband about how I’m feeling, rather than hoping he might be able to guess what’s going on in my overworked brain.  I’ve taken deep breaths and realized that I need to cut myself some slack.  I had a baby only three and a half weeks ago, and I’m still healing.  We’re in survival mode, so it’s okay if Brady watches more TV these days.  (It’s a great time to cuddle).  It’s okay that our meals aren’t gourmet.  It’s okay that my house is trashed most days.  And it’s certainly okay that I’m not always feeling presentable (because always being showered as a new mom is overrated).

It’s even okay sometimes if I snap a bit and have to go back and apologize.  I hate that I do it.  I especially hate when I’m not as patient with Brady, because he’s so little and doesn’t understand.

But it’s okay.  It’s all going to be okay.

Little by little, things will get easier.  Life will find a comfortable routine.  I’ll feel better physically and mentally.  We will feel normal again.

So deep breaths.  Deep breaths and prayer are my best friends right now.  Deep breaths, prayer, and staring into the precious faces of my toddler and baby girl.   They remind me that this is all worth it and that each day can be beautiful amidst the chaos.  (That and dairy-free, coconut icecream.  The coconut icecream helps too).

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One day at a time.  That’s all a new mom can focus on and conquer!  But even amidst the hard moments like this, it doesn’t mean failure.  Quite the opposite.  When you’re going through a rough patch and still doing your best (even if your best is less than usual and sprinkled with mistakes), you’re still supermom.

Moms aren’t perfect after all. They’re just loving enough to keep fighting, even when anyone else (probably anyone in their right mind) would lift the white flag of surrender.  We are incredible warriors even when the battle seems to be too much!  Because even with so much pulling us down, we not only rise up; but we also rise up carrying our families on our shoulders.

Our love is that strong.  And a love that strong can carry a woman through anything.  It just takes time.

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Have you ever struggled with postpartum depression or blues?  If so, what did you do to help get out of it?  

Mom-like Reflexes

My best friend Ashley and I were sitting on the floor, casually chatting about everything from The Bachelor to mommy life, when I suddenly leaped into action.  One minute I was just sitting there, legs crossed.  The next moment, I was flying through the air, redirecting my son’s chubby hand from a glass of water that was sitting just a tad bit too close to the edge of the table.

Shattered glass averted!

Then I calmly settled back down again, never missing a beat in our conversation.

Ashley  watched me with slightly widened eyes before commenting, “I never really realized just how quick your reflexes have to be when you’re the mom of a toddler.”

I paused a moment to think back to how quickly I had sprung from a sitting position to a full-blown lunge across the room.  Oh my gosh, she’s right.  I have super-human strength and agility!  Someone sign me up for America Ninja Warrior…  Someone film me teaching a workout DVD with Jillian Michaels…  Someone sew me a Superwoman cape (but just make sure it matches my new leggings from Lalaroe).

But here’s the crazy thing.  I’ve tried yoga once in my life, and I managed to less-than-gracefully fall over onto my face while simultaneously bruising my kneecaps.  (Apparently you aren’t supposed to attempt a balance-on-your-hands style pose on your first attempt, but – I digress – I’m all about aiming big).  I’d rather eat kale than do squats.  I’d rather eat a cheeseburger than eat kale.  And the closest I get to doing Parkour is jumping into my Jeep while juggling groceries.

(Okay, you’re right, let’s scratch that teaching a workout DVD with Jillian Michael’s idea).  

I’m not going to appear on a fitness or extreme adventurer magazine anytime soon.  (Or how about never…). But when Brady was in danger of being injured?  My body sprung into action with an agility that I normally wouldn’t possess  And because of this, to Brady, I am a super-hero.  And strong.  And an ever-brave explorer to help guide him through this exciting, sometimes -confusing adventure of life.

My job, as the leader, is to jump into action, should Brady need protection.  (And when you’re raising an energetic little boy like Brady, you are constantly leaping into action, trust me).  😉  But as time passes, I also need to help equip him with skills to forge his own trails.  I need to help him find courage to venture out on his own, while making sure he knows that his mamma will always be waiting with homemade cookies to welcome him home.

Silly, right?  That one little leap during a toddler playdate could remind me of how incredible I am as a woman?  But the thing is, I so often doubt myself…  And sometimes I need that reminder.

There is no meter to gauge just how fierce, unending, and strong a mother’s love for her child is.  And even though that love will never put us on television or in the pages of a book, to our children, we are guides.  Protectors.  And warmth.

We don’t need all the answers – or to have it all together – in order to be super-mom.  We just need to love unconditionally and selflessly.  Everything else just kind of falls into place after that…

We will always have mom-like reflexes to hold our children close when the world tries to hurt them… but yet we posses the strength to gently push them away when they need to learn to stand on their own two feet again.

And THAT is enough.  America Ninja Warrior can keep its prize.  🙂

 

 

 

Good Mommy

I felt like a bad mom today…  And a bad wife…  And a bad friend…

I even burnt the split pea soup, so you might as well add ‘bad cook’ to the list.

I should have known it was going to be one of those days the minute I woke up.  I awakened to the desperate cries of a very unhappy little boy.  He had woken up to the very uncomfortable feeling of poop squishing out of his diaper and up his back.

There should be some kind of rule in the universe against this.  Like the Mom’s Law of Thermodynamics:  blow-outs shall not befall a baby before the warmth of 6am.

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But instead, my day followed something a little closer to Murphy’s Law.  (Which brings a random thought to my head…  Who was Murphy and why did the poor guy get such a horrible law named after him?  I mean, ‘If something can go wrong, it will go wrong’?  Poor Murphy.  I doubt he deserved that kind of legacy).

Anyway, while grocery shopping, I was the one who grabbed an egg carton… that held a broken egg…that messed up the register.  And I’d grabbed over-ripe bananas that broke off the stem the minute the cashier grabbed for the fruit.  And I’d accidentally mixed up organic veggies (for Brady) with the cheaper veggies (for me and Nate), which caused confusion and a bit of chaos.  (Maybe a bit too much confusion and chaos if you ask me…).

“You’re on a roll today, aren’t you?” the cashier asked rather sarcastically.

As if to say, “Oh, we’re not finished yet,” Brady began to scream at the top of his lungs.  They were happy screams, in his defense.  He’d picked up on the fact that the cashier was ignoring his cute little smiles and laughs, unlike everyone else in the store; and so he obviously came to the conclusion that an ear-splitting, excited scream would bring her around.  Everyone in the store stared, I’m pretty sure we destroyed the hearing aid of the elderly gentleman behind us, two other babies in nearby aisles decided to join in, and the cashier hissed, “See what you’ve started!”

Normally I probably would have turned beat red and hastily made an exit.  But I was too busy thinking about poor Murphy and how he must have had a much worse day than mine.  So I just smiled absentmindedly and waved in sympathy at the other moms who now had screaming babies too.

Going home was even worse though…

Lately I’ve kind of felt like I’m drowning.  I’m trying to sort through summer clothes, while washing fall clothes, while keeping up with day-to-day laundry.  The house has to be cleaned for piano lessons, which I need to prep for.  Brady is eating solids (but not the solids we’re usually eating), so meal planning just got a whole lot more interesting.  And after long days of playing and cuddling, I usually fall into bed exhausted, ignoring emails that need to be replied to.  When I do reply to emails, most times I’m saying that while I’d love to hang out, I just really can’t right now.  This leads to some friends being hurt, especially when I took so long to reply in the first place.  😦

“Sending an email takes two minutes, Nicole, ” you might be thinking.  I know, I know!  But somehow, when I’m that tired, the thought of putting together a logical sentence feels painful.

And my wife status?  I feel as though I don’t have anything to give emotionally some days.  I want to be the bubbly, encouraging girl that my husband married; but I just don’t feel it some days.  I’m tired physically, but – after giving so much to Brady – I’m also tired emotionally.  So after being bubbly with the baby all day, there’s often only the tired, cranky version left come evening.

Being a mom is tough most days, but – at the same time – the good always outweighs the bad.  I always say that Brady’s smile is better than caffeine…  🙂  No matter how exhausted I am in the morning, the sight of his chubby cheeks and ear-to-ear grin puts the spring back in my step.  But some days?  Some days, the bad, the hard, and the tired just kind of pile up (like those never-ending piles of laundry) and leave a mom feeling like maybe she doesn’t have this.

Maybe she’s not the mom, wife, and friend that she should be.  That she wants to be…

But here’s the thing…  We moms are going to make mistakes.  And, although we often forget it, we are only human.  It’s completely normal to be a new mom and to feel overwhelmed sometimes.  To wonder how in the world you’re going to get everything done while still putting your precious bundle of joy first.  And sadly, your availability to ‘hang out’ or chat with friends usually suffers too, just as it’s tough to adjust to wife and mommy.

So thank goodness for the way these rough days often end…  My tough day ended with two chubby arms around my neck and a curly head lying on my shoulder.  One extra-long snuggle with him before his bedtime helped wash all the uncertainty and frustration away.

I kissed my little guy goodnight and gently lay him down in his crib.  And as I tiptoed out of his room (dodging a pile of laundry), I smiled to myself.  I am a good mom, and a good friend, and a good wife.  I don’t need a perfectly clean house or neatly folded laundry.  This joyful, healthy little boy is all the proof I need.  🙂

Tomorrow is a brand new day.  I’ll do my best to reach out to a friend. Maybe I’ll make a dent in the laundry.   I’ll make being the world’s best wife and mom my top priority, as I always do.  And in the end, I’ll try to focus on the love I have for my little family.  I can only do my best. That IS good enough!

And guess what?  Your best is good enough too!  🙂