The Annual Calendar, The 10 Month Fog, and Postpartum Depression

toddler feet

In 2005, I started making calendars for the grandparents (and for ourselves) every Christmas. It’s this wonderful, neck cricking tradition where I pour over all of the photos from the year, trying to pick only the 20 or so best ones. I always end up in a very melancholy place while doing this because looking at the moments that are gone and the children that just keep growing is terribly sad to me. I know. Perhaps this should not be, but I can’t help it. I look at these fun old moments, and my favorites really aren’t calendar worthy, so I choose the ones that look like calendar pictures.

This year Amy is in charge of the calendar for that side of the family. She has asked me for six or more photos. Well, you know I can’t narrow it to 6, but I did my best.

For some reason, as I went back over these, this one memory stuck in my head, so I feel like I should share it.

I was sitting at my 6 week postpartum appointment, (14 months ago) feeling much better than I’d felt in…..well, 6 weeks. I had finally started taking iron pills again, and it was making a world of difference.

The midwife and the doc-in-traiing-of-the-day gave me the good ol’ postpartum depression questionnaire.  “Do you have feelings of hopelessness?” “Do you want to hurt yourself?” “Do you feel depressed?”  etc. etc.

I answered the questions as truthfully as I could, while still trying to maintain my integrity…..can’t be done….

She looked at me, wearing my biggest, brightest April smile, and she said, “Well, you failed the quiz, but you look okay. Are you okay?”

“No, I haven’t really been okay,” I told her, “but they sent me home from the hospital with no iron pills, and I was too far gone to understand the mistake and fix it. So I have four small children, I’m breastfeeding, I’ve been in pain, not sleeping, and I’m anemic. Who wouldn’t be depressed?  I’m just so incredibly tired, and I’ll be fine now that I’m taking iron again.”

My midwife also had four children, so she got it. We agreed I’d be fine, and that there was no way around the funk.

I wasn’t totally fine until THE WEEKEND. What happened on THE WEEKEND? Nonna came and weaned John David to bottles for me. She sent me out into the town while she stayed home and fed JD.

It was the strangest experience. It felt like leaving your house and forgetting your left arm. I jumped at the sound of every baby. I cried sometimes. I felt like I had done something terribly wrong, and I should run home and feed my baby! I was a little bit nuts!

I tried to enjoy it, and I did, but it was all so strange. My hormones were out of control. It was an experience I cannot describe. Eventually, we got him completely weaned, and suddenly it didn’t matter if I forgot my iron pills that day, or if I took only one instead of two or three. (I had a serious anemia problem).

I’m always telling postpartum women to not forget to take their iron. Ha! They probably think I’m crazy because not every woman needs them.

So most of the photos I chose for the calendar were from after the fog lifted. It was a 10 month–oh yeah–10 whole months– fog of crying, breastfeeding, dreaming about laundry, trying to get 4 small children out the door to take the kids to school or wherever. It was a year of learning how to multi-task, learning to accept my messy house, apologizing to Betty who was probably the only cleaning-lady in the neighborhood that knew and understood I could not get it all de-cluttered before she got there.

No, I don’t even have a cleaning-lady now, but I do hand out chores to the kids like candy.

It was a beautiful year, and it was the most stressful year I’ve ever been through, which is saying a lot considering all the year-long and half-year deployments we’ve weathered.

God got me through. Should I have been medicated?  huhuhuhuhuh uh-huh. Yeah. Definitely. But I really wanted to breastfeed my baby. Why? I don’t know. I can’t explain it. The same reason I want to do every little *best* thing there is to do. I like to drown myself in self-inflicted-pressure.

Am I okay now? Absolutely. I am more than okay. I am happy, blessed, and thankful. My house is still messy, but see, I’d rather have a fun blog and lots of children than a perfectly clean house. I was the girl that snubbed home-ec class (jokes on me) to take band and honors classes. My heart will never really be in the housekeeping. It’s important to me, but it’s not my gift, that’s for sure.

I love how God gives us all different gifts. We all complement each other, and that is how it is meant to be.

Amy, let me know if you have any trouble down loading the pictures from here.

daddy love all 4 bros familycloseup bundled up snow family

(There are also several great ones on the About Us page that we could use for the calendar.)

This one is my favorite, Amy. It was taken by a really sweet friend in Virginia, and it reminds me of a super fun phase of our life. I want to go back, but I know the right thing to do is to make this place happy too. I think we’re doing a good job of that. This is like a two-year vacation at the beach, really. Then it will be off and away, to where– we do not know yet.

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”   John 3:8

What do you think about when you look at your past year?


Road Trip Success!!

  Don’t you just love the whole “New Year” thing?  I do.  I’ve loved the idea of a clean slate for as long as I can remember.
  2013 was one of our harder years, just adjusting to the new baby, and I just wasn’t well for a while there.  The baby fog is lifting, though, and I’m feeling down right normal now!  I’m actually enjoying talking to people again, laughing when appropriate, and even getting stuff done!  Having a baby always throws me for a loop for a while, but around 6 months I begin to feel like myself again, and I am SO THANKFUL for that!
  2014 is going to be so much better, except that we won’t be having any adorable new babies this year.  JD was 2013’s one redeeming quality!
  But 2014 is going to be awesome.  I have decided!!  More about that in the next post.
  It had been a whole year since I’d been to my home land–Alabama–so it’s great that we got to spend about 10 days back down there visiting our families.  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone, even if I did spend a few days of it recovering from strep throat!!
  Let me tell you, that was the worst case of strep I’ve ever had, and I hope to never get that again.  It was BAD.
  Now we are dealing with the aftermath of Christmas:  over-stuffed suitcases exploding into our house.  Luggage for six people, plus gifts for six people is a NIGHTMARE to unpack!  We got so much stuff, I’m going to have to re-organize to fit it all into my house.
   Okay.  That doesn’t sound grateful.  Well, this is America, where our gold shoes are too tight.  We complain about everything.  Truth is, our family blessed us big time, and this is a good problem to have.
  …..So let’s focus on the coolest thing about this Christmas at Alan’s parents’ house.  Two babies!  What is more adorable than two little baby cousins, all dressed alike???  Nothing.  Look how cute:

 Wesley, age 10 months and JD, age 6 months, playing with Nonna’s Christmas toy collection

 We stood them up at the coffee table to play, with Nonna supporting JD.
 ….but sometimes JD would go all baby-spaz and throw himself back like this.  (cuteness)
These were my favorite:
 Wesley was all calm, and JD was super excited about all the attention.  I think Wesley was thinking, “Eh, I’m the first baby, I have photo sessions like this all the time.  Can we go play now?”  And JD was like, “Hey, look at me!  Oh boy!  No brothers here!”
 Really!!  Nothing cuter than TWO chubby little babies!  I love it.

 They are so lucky to have first cousins their age.  I think this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

the cousins with Uncle Greg (Wesley’s daddy, but isn’t that obvious?)

 Caleb and Dan were super excited to open even more presents.
  Our trip home went well.  We have come to terms with the fact that we now require either a really nice suite or two joined hotel rooms when we travel.  This is not as easy to come by as your standard “one double” for a family of four, so we actually booked a hotel in advance for the trip home.  That was such a relief, knowing that we’d have a place to stay and wouldn’t have to drive all night because we couldn’t find a place—yes, that has happened to us before!  Ugh.
  No ER trips this time either.  PHEW!
Happy New Year!

Finding My Sunshine

no make-up, no nice clothes, no contacts… problem.  
  Saturday.  Don’t you love Saturday?  Here in suburbia, Saturdays are kind of stressful for many.  That’s the day of kiddo ball games, birthday parties, scout events, just a constant string of commitments.
  This was another Saturday that we were thankful we skipped sports this fall!  The only commitment we had was Cub Scouts.  It was a pretty busy cub scout day, but there was plenty of down time too.
  I went grocery shopping, looking like the above photo, wearing my Boston hoodie and jogging pants. About half way through the store, I looked down and realized I had a giant chocolate smudge across my left shoulder.  
  It wouldn’t help to remove the hoodie because my t-shirt underneath had a giant spit up spot on that same shoulder.
  Oh well.  Who cares.  It’s Saturday. 
  I’ve come to a new place for year 2013, a place I’ve been looking for ever since the arrival of JD in June.
  I think the feelings of depression and just sheer being overwhelmed are finally fading!  
  I feel downright okay!!!  ; )
  And who wouldn’t, really?  Look how cute these people are!!!!! 

 A singing birthday card is a bonafide toy in this house!
JD says, “hehehe  This guy right here is pretty funny!”

I may look tired.  I am tired!  John David has woken me up every single night of this week.  I am so sleep deprived it hurts a little, but even still, I feel all right….even happy, down right content.

  About a month ago, I was walking to school with my friend Barbara, and she said some things that are very true.  She said that when you have little ones, even though it’s hard, they keep you from going over the edge.  ( I was thinking, “Yeah, but they push you right to the edge.)  The thing is they are so cute, and they truly need you, so they keep you going.  You can’t lay in bed and be depressed or bored or lonely.  That could never happen because the little ones always need something, and you always have some place you have to get up and go.   There is no room left for pity-parties or laying around!
  No matter how overwhelmed I felt this past four months, I will say, these precious babes did keep me in line!
  I am so thankful for them!
What the boys have been up to:
  Right now Caleb and Alan are at Lowe’s buying new blinds for the boys’ rooms.  Why do they view it as a personal challenge to destroy blinds??
  John David is now wearing size 9-12 month sleepers.  The boy is 4 1/2 months old!
  Dan has developed a fascination with the Swiffer Wet Jet mop.  It’s an expensive toy.  When I’m stuck in a chair feeding a baby, he is left to his own sinful little devices.  One of his favorite activities is to swiffer the floor.  I finally put a mop pad on the thing.  At least that way maybe he’ll accomplish more than soaking my floor!
  Oh!  Alan’s back.  They are probably hungry.  Hope they are in the mood for leftover chicken!!
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