Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Post about Pregnancy Two - (Woohoo) Life, Depression and Stuff

This is a post that has been bursting in me for quite some time. Unfortunately, I seldom have the time or energy to sit down without distractions and write about the nitty gritty stuff that God has been doing in my life.  Now that Summer is upon us and my kiddo is no longer napping my personal breaks have been in short supply to say the least:). I've been working on this post for a few weeks and I keep coming back to it and feeling led to finish it, so I pray that it can be an encouragement to someone today or next year or whenever it may be read by passing eyes. I pray that God is glorified as I let you in to my fragile heart and share a small piece of my story. 

 Soooo...As most of you already know...I'm/We are pregnant!! Woohoo! I wasn't even sure if it was ever going to happen again but, God is faithful and come this December (the 5th is our due date), we will be welcoming our second kiddo into our arms. This is a turning point for our family. Thank you Jesus!

Daisy is extremely excited about becoming a big sister.  She kisses my belly just about every day and talks often about all the things that she can't wait to do with her baby brother or sister.  She asks me regularly if she will get to hold the baby when she is still four.  I think she is trying to determine how much longer it is going to take for the baby to get here.  When I explained to her that the baby would be coming around Christmas time I think it clicked because she asked me where our decorations were.  I told her that they were in Granddad and Beej's attic.  She thought for a moment and then insisted that I go pick up the decorations so that we could set them up so that the baby would get here:). She will tell you without hesitating that she would like to have a baby sister but, she will also add that she knows it's God's decision.  Daisy is so gentle and nurturing with babies.  I'm so thankful she is going to be the older sister.  She will be awesome. 

To answer a few questions that I am being asked almost daily:

1. Yes, we will find out the gender, July 9th in fact and yes, we will announce the news later that day so hang tight!  I do not like surprises for the most part and knowing the gender of my child asap helps me to bond more quickly and feel more prepared.  Just the way I am.

2. This pregnancy is considerably smoother than my first.  It's certainly not a breeze as my fatigue is far worse this time and I absolutely drained by 4 every evening but overall it's been much less intense and has not been tainted by depression at all.  My nausea only lasted 8 weeks this time! Praise Jesus!  You will read below why this is such a blessing to me!

3. I started feeling the baby move just shy of 12 weeks.  Crazy early I know but, I'm certain.  I felt Daisy move at 15 weeks.  However; since feeling the baby the first time I'm lucky if I feel the baby once every day or so at most.  This baby is at this point much less active than Daisy was in my tummy.  I'm okay with that:).

4.  Yes, I do have cravings and aversions.  I crave a lot of fresh, cold fruit and cold drinks.  I also crave sub sandwiches again.  The crazy thing is I crave salads this time around.  I loathed them with a passion during my first pregnancy.  I've also been eating a lot of pimento and cheese cracker spread!  I've never bought the stuff before in my life.  Haha.  Pregnancy cracks me up sometimes.  I don't crave heavy food quite as often as I did during my first pregnancy but, I do get hit with intense hunger waves all the time and light snacking doesn't cut it.  I crave salt much more than I crave sweet.  I also crave sushi all the time and have allowed even myself to indulge a wee bit just once or twice to save my sanity...oh so good...:)  I have had an aversion to hot coffee since I was six weeks pregnant which is super bizarre since coffee was my favorite thing on earth...well, almost.  I am also far less interested in sweets than I was the first pregnancy.  

If you ever have a daughter she will likely love flower picking...if you name your child after a flower you can bet that she will live, breath and dream about flowers.  That is my Daisy girl.

5. Yes, we have a couple of name ideas but, they are not set in stone.  I am pretty sure that we will not be sharing the name until the birth again but, this may change.  My reason for not wanting to share the name in advance is because I don't want people ruining it for me/us with their strong opinions of disapproval.  I think some of you know what I mean.  lol 

6. I popped faster this time for sure.  I was expecting that though so it's all good.  On the other hand, at almost 18 weeks this time around I am about the same size I was with Daisy at 18 weeks so not much different at this point. 

7.  No, I do not like being pregnant....yes, I deeply appreciate the miracle of life growing inside me but, I appreciate the miracle most when it is in my arms and out of my stomach:).  #truth  I just don't feel great when I am pregnant overall. I never once looked at a pregnant woman over the last four years and wished that I was her...I just wished that she would give me her baby after she birthed it.  I have considered hiring a surrogate...only in jest but, still...I'm just not a fan.  I mean no disrespect to the women who struggle to get pregnant.  I am very sensitive to the fact that these women would do anything to be in my shoes.  I do not take life for granted...It just is what it is yah know. 
I do love that other women love being pregnant.  I'm happy for them:). lol

I took these pictures of Daisy the day that we took our first ultrasound pictures.  She was still processing the news but, because she is so much older, she processed it very well and couldn't wait to tell her friends and preschool classmates the next day.  We announced this pregnancy at just over 9 weeks.  Usually I'd want to wait until around 12 but, I couldn't wait that long to tell Daisy and she can't keep a secret yet.  It worked out so it's all good:). 
I love when she twirls.  My little tiny dancer
My little cutie pie has mastered the cheese smile that so many toddlers favor.  I love it:).

Now if you have time, travel back almost five years with me if you will and let me give you a little recap of my first pregnancy experience.  After that, perhaps you might understand why I was a bit nervous about going through a pregnancy again, even if it was what my heart had been longing for for over three long, aching years.

My first pregnancy was awful.  Sorry to be so blunt...wait, no I'm not. It's just the way that it was.  I am not one of those women who will ever speak fondly of pregnancy...sorry to all you pregnancy lovers out there who I have just offended.  I had severe nausea with Daisy for over 7 months.  Nothing I tried gave me any relief.  That intense nausea intensified my smell sensitivities and unfortunately the smell of my brand new home became a smell that I couldn't bear.  I literally wanted to and even contemplated burning my house down or moving out for several months.  I worked from home at the time and had to be in it all day long.  It was torture.  To make matters even worse I got slammed with the heaviest depression.  It kicked in when I was about 6 weeks pregnant and didn't relent or show me any mercy or good days until I was seven months pregnant.  Let me emphasize that I have never struggled with depression.  This was a legit, hormonal hell.  I was so down and miserable that I didn't even want to be pregnant or have a child anymore.  Everything in my life was overwhelming and burdensome.  I was so embarrassed by how I felt and the fact that very few people could relate to my lack of joy under such wonderful circumstances.  It wasn' exciting to announce my pregnancy because I didn't feel any excitement.  I forced it. I faked it.  I struggled along and prayed constantly for a break through.

About month five I started having severe, stabbing back pain and it was an all day and night ordeal.  Evidently a nerve was pinched in my lower spine and sleeping became so difficult that I had to sleep sitting upright on the couch for the last few months of my pregnancy and even then I was lucky if I got two hours tops.  Chronic nerve pain is a beast lemme tell yah.  I know a lot of you out there can relate!     

Surprisingly though, in spite of my misery...I was never one to rush my pregnancy because I valued the time that it gave me to get prepared for the child that we were about to welcome.  I was also enjoying my last little bit of quality time with my husband (to the best of my ability) before our 6 years of married twoness transitioned into a family of three.  

Two months before I delivered Daisy, my depression lifted and I can't tell you what a blessing that was.  Literally, one morning I woke up and I didn't feel the knot of anger and misery between my eyes that I had felt every day for months.  It was just, gone.  I still remember that day vividly. I was able to feel normal again, to feel positive and to feel hope.  I was able to appreciate the last leg of my pregnancy and even get excited about my daughter's arrival .  I still praise God that my relief came when it did because the depression could have lasted longer as it does for so many people and could transitioned into postpartum depression.  Praise God, joy kicked in instantly for me the moment Daisy was born.  My energy surged.  I was on a high for a year it felt like.  There is nothing like living in the shadow of depression and experiencing that nightmare for months on end and then getting to experience the beauty of being restored to a balanced mind.  Life tasted exponentially sweet and I was exploding with gratitude.   I actually slept better after my daughter was born even though she never slept, simply because I felt better physically and mentally. It was glorious to be back to my "old self," and yes, having a child does indeed make IT ALL worth it.  

My experience with depression greatly deepened my compassion for others who struggle.  Amongst the Christian community especially there is still so much confusion about what actually causes depression and how it should be addressed.  I was subjected to some very hurtful comments and counsel in my "season" as I'm sure many have been before me.  I tasted the sting of rejection so many times that I lost count.  The fact is, that I have accepted that the best way to have understanding and true compassion for others who struggle with depression is to walk a mile in their shoes...which I did and I hope to never walk in those shoes again. 

Thinking happy thoughts doesn't cure depression and I can even say that praying steadfastly or being prayed for for months on end doesn't necessarily lift depression either.  Depression is not something I chose for myself or fell into by making bad decisions or thinking bad thoughts.  It is an illness and I would say more often than not it appears to be triggered by a hormonal shift in the brain.  I urge anyone who has become consumed by depression to seek a counselor immediately.  Don't go at it alone or think that you have to.  I can't tell you how encouraging it was to talk to others who had been in my shoes at one time or another.  How healing it was to share my hurts and not be judged, condemned or gossiped about because they "got it."  Also, as hard as it is to accept, don't expect the people around you to understand what you are feeling or going through.  It's really not their fault that they don't get it if they haven't ever struggled with depression.  If you are still struggling after steady counseling then ask your doctor about anti-depressants and please don't ever be ashamed.  Shame only makes everything worse.  Trust me, I walked in that too.  Get help. Talk to someone.  Don't suffer in silence.  Please hold tightly to the truth that God is with you in your despair.  Even though it can be almost impossible to feel his presence at times please trust and know that He is there, He loves you and He is faithful always. 

I want to emphasize that the loneliness of depression served to draw me closer to the Lord.  My faith grew considerably after my depression lifted and when I could feel God's presence more clearly again.  In my darkest seasons I've always rediscovered that the person who understands me most intimately and who loves me unconditionally, even in my darkest and broken seasons,  is Jesus.  I took comfort in the fact that Jesus was a man acquainted with many sorrows, with rejection and loneliness as scripture says. "He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care." Isaiah 53:3
 Christ understands suffering intimately and his compassion knows no bounds.  He understands what it is to be broken and bruised and he was perfect and completely innocent!  He doesn't look at our suffering in disgust.  He doesn't walk by us and ignore us when we are begging for help.  He sits with us.  He stays with us.  He suffers with us if we have to suffer.  He never leaves us though it might be a test of days or years...He is faithful.  We can't scare him away on our worst days.  He GETS IT.  When no one else does...Jesus does.  I was deeply encouraged by the truth that Jesus knew my heart when it seemed so few did or could.  I wasn't being a basket case on purpose.  I wasn't depressed because I thought ugly thoughts or was a bad Christian.  God knew my heart.  I rested in his embrace when I was to weary to stand.  He was with me through it all even when I couldn't "feel" Him there...I know He was there.  

Sometimes, it can be extremely difficult to "feel" God's presence in the midst of such agonizing, long-term suffering because our feelings of pain and anguish will often overpower our ability to feel God's peace, joy and truth.  This is why I caution people not to rely too heavily on how they feel at one moment or the next.  Our feelings are often deceptive and they change hour by hour.  Our feelings are impacted by our ever changing circumstances and moods.  The fact is that our feelings are unstable and cannot be trusted (more often than not).  Only God's word can anchor our feelings and keep us steady as the only thing that never changes, is God's word.  We might not always feel God's presence in the darkness and in the storm but, we have to KNOW His presence in our spirit.  We have to hold tightly to the truth in God's word because faith isn't always about feelings.  Faith is about knowing, trusting and believing in what you cannot see and certainly..cannot always feel. 

In our suffering we can get caught up wondering why God would allow it in the first place.  We can grow bitter and distant from Him because he is the easiest to blame after all if He is Divine.  We forget about our adversary.  We often forget that Satan wants nothing more than to rob us of our closest friend and ally, Jesus, in the midst of our suffering.  Satan strives to leave us feeling utterly alone, unloved and betrayed by God. He loves to seeing us feeling abandoned and hopeless.  He strives to break us apart and steal everything good and positive from us.  Christ does not.  Christ speaks light into the darkness, hope into despair, love into the broken heart and forgiveness and healing to the wounded.  Christ stands by us closer than a brother.  Christ restores and redeems us from the ashes.

Jesus plants hope, grace, mercy, love and life in our hearts.  Even if our circumstantial feelings about who God is change day to day..the fact remains, who He is never changes.  His love for you is deeper and wider than you could ever begin to imagine.  Please remember that the next time a storm moves into your life.  You might not feel the presence of God as strongly as you did when the sun was shining but, you must KNOW that He is there with you always.  He will never leave you!

I have tremendous compassion for women who struggle with postpartum depression and I empathize with every man, woman and child who has been swallowed up by the dark shadow that depression casts over a life.  I have heard countless stories of people being restored to a balanced mind and set free from depression.  I pray that if you are one that struggles that you too will experience a total freedom from depression in Jesus name.  There is hope for you always.  You must never stop believing that even when the darkness lies and tries to convince you otherwise.

So, all this to say that I'm a believer that God can redeem anyone from impossible situations and that His love will carry us through the darkest chapters of our lives.  It is because of the impossible situations in my life that my faith has grown and I am confident that the impossible is possible through Christ.  

If you ever need prayer or encouragement please contact me! That's what I am here for:). 

This second child is a tremendous blessing (as was the first of course:).  This child is a long awaited blessing.  One that I wasn't sure I would ever get to see come to fruition in my life due to other trials and circumstances that our family has weathered over the past few years.  Every time I have had something taken from me in my life...God has filled up that empty space with his comfort and love and in time He has given something back.  God is faithful and heard the quiet cries of my heart.  To God be all the glory for ever and ever amen.

  I pray that this little one grows to have a passionate hunger for Jesus and that they live a life full of purpose.  I pray that this child knows how dearly loved they are already and as I feel the little one kicking inside me as I type this..I'm quite certain that he/she knows just that:).

Much love to you all!