Category Archives: mom’s night out

Sharing the Journey with Tara Mock

Tara has been a true source of inspiration for me through my advocacy journey. Her strength, faith, and dedication to supporting other women has made me examine my own work and my increasing awareness of the role my faith and God held in my experience with Postpartum OCD and my subsequent passion for advocacy. I often refer women to her website when they are in need of faith-based support. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and have connected with another wonderful Christian PPD supporter – Sue McRoberts – through Tara. Thank you, Tara for all you do for Moms who are still on that dark path. Thank you for showing them the way Out of the Valley.

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Share a little bit of yourself with us. Who IS Tara Mock as a woman?

I am a formerly-shy-now-outspoken woman who loves Jesus dearly, my husband 0428whole-heartedly, and my children with everything I have.  I am a pianist and an avid reader.  I can have a sarcastic sense of humor, but I love to laugh and believe the best memories are those with lots of laughter and smiles.  I hate pickles with a deep and abiding passion, but will eat chocolate with anything.  I love to have dinner and/or coffee (I prefer hot chocolate) with my girlfriends.  They are so precious to me, so encouraging and wise, and as a mom of young children, I love that.  I’m not sure what I would do without them!

You’ve walked the dark path of Postpartum Depression. Share with us what that was like.

In one word –  horrid.  I would not wish what I went through on my worst enemies. PPD hit me hard and fast in the week after my son’s birth.  I was in a lot of physical pain to begin with and then my emotions began to snowball, running the gamut:  sadness, anger, apathy, despair, hopelessness, frustration, to eventually suicidal.  That terrified me and it was then, and through the encouragement of my pastor’s wife, that I told my doctor.  Even after that, those crisis days were not over and I still had another couple of weeks to trudge through – including a hospitalization, suicide watch, meds, 24-hour care by a nurse-friend, and lots of sleep.  In the subsequent days and weeks and months, I gradually learned how to care for my son and gain new confidence as a mother, with my eyes towards hope for the future. There were good days and there were bad days, but when the good started outnumbering the bad, I knew I was getting better.  It was about nine or ten months from the time of his birth before I really felt like I had my feet on solid ground and out of that valley.
How did your faith affect your experience and recovery?

Greatly.  My Christian faith is who I am, but with this experience I initially felt like I had been “kicked while down.”  We had gone through infertility treatments to even conceive this baby, my husband had been laid off on the very day we found out I was pregnant, and I was very angry that PPD was happening to me after all that.  I repeatedly asked God “Why?  Isn’t it enough what I’ve been through already?”  But I learned that I also could not get through it without Him.  I clung to encouraging Scriptures with everything I had, even taping them on note cards around my house.   Unfortunately, there were Christian friends who said well-meaning but hurtful things (pray more, just be grateful, etc.), but working past that and learning what the Bible really says helped me grow so much.  I hated going through PPD, but I can also say that I am grateful for the experience and for who it made me today.  (Please know that it is ok if you do not feel the same way!)
At what point did you decide to become an advocate and source of support for other women who are struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

There were a series of events that solidified my resolve to become an advocate for women going through what I went through.  First, on my first Mother’s Day, the one I had longed for for quite a few years, I went to a local bookstore to purchase Brooke Shields’ new book, Down Came the Rain – it had just been released.  The lady behind the counter started commenting on my son, mentioned she had a baby the same age then started to tell me how she could not understand how anyone who had had a baby could be sad.  I was stunned.  Here I was purchasing a book about PPD and she could not put two and two together that I might be hurting?  I mumbled something about that it had happened to me and thankyouverymuchgoodbye.  I cried all the way home.   (Not to worry, I went back the next day and spoke with the manager about that employee.)  Second, the argument between Brooke Shields and Tom Cruise was a highlight in the news sometime around then and I was angry at the sheer ignorance that some people had about this illness as well as the fact that this Hollywood figure was spreading so much misinformation.  Third, I was part of an online Christian group and some lady (or two, I do not recall) had a discussion about the Brooke Shields book and began degrading her and what she went through.  I took it very personally because I was going through it as well – and these were fellow Christians.  Ouch!  The misinformation out there was stunning – I had just encountered it three times in a short time span.  I decided then and there to not be ashamed of my story, to share it and not hide it, and to encourage other women also sick with PPD.  That was the beginning….  I then began to search for Christian resources for this illness and at the time, there were none.  (Now, there are a few and the number is growing quite quickly, yea!!!)  After my son’s first birthday, I felt led to fill the gap – to provide a non-denominational Christian ministry for women, their families, and churches to know how to deal with Postpartum Mood Disorders.  Thus was born the (currently) online ministry, Out of the Valley Ministries, Inc.

You have two beautiful children. Did you experience PPD with both? If not, what do you think made the difference?

Thank you!  With my daughter, I experienced a small amount of anxiety, but overall the experience was remarkably better with no real recurrence of PPD.  We planned very, very carefully for her birth.  The planning itself was therapy, helping me feel like I had some control, whereas I felt I had none when I had PPD with my son. Medications were discussed with my doctor.  I had a therapist I could call if needed.  I had a schedule of family and friends to be here with me for at least six weeks.  My husband was insistent that sleep be my first priority (sleep deprivation being a huge trigger for me) and he was so wonderful in making sure that I got that.  I had a self-care plan in place for my return home to minimize anxiety.  I had the same doctor as I did for my son’s birth and amazingly, the same nurse who was there for our childbirth education classes, my son’s delivery, and who cared for me when I had PPD  – she was standing there when I walked into the birth center in labor with my daughter.  What a blessing!! She knew me and exactly how to take care of me.  As much as I had it under control, that told me that God had it in His hands as well.  I believe prayer and the pro-active approach we took to minimize/prevent a recurrence of PPD was really key.
Self-care is of the utmost importance on this road called Motherhood. What do you do to make sure you are taken care of on a daily basis?

Not enough! I make sure to always put the kids in their rooms for quiet time/nap time in the middle of the day – whether they sleep or play.  This gives me the mental break and quiet moment I need to get through the rest of the day. I treat myself to a cup of tea and either a book, my favorite blogs, or catch up on a favorite TV show. The days that I am able to have a quiet moment to read my Bible and pray are definitely my better days, but doing that consistently, especially when kids like to get up at 6am is difficult!   Staying in touch with the rest of the world is important for me as well – the internet is a wonderful thing to a mom with young children!  Being a pianist, music is ingrained in my soul.  If things are getting stressful around here, I know I can put on some music and my mood can change that quickly.  I love that!
List three things that made you laugh today.

Ah, great question!  I laughed when my son came up to me and said, “I love you wotsa-wotsa-wotsa-wotsa!”  (Translation:  I love you lots and lots and lots and lots!)   And my little girl makes me laugh all the time – especially when she grins and says “I did it!” for something she shouldn’t have done.  I have to hide my laugh then!
What have you found to be the most challenging about parenting? The least challenging?

The least challenging?  When the kids are actually asleep.  The most challenging?  When they are awake.  Some days we just have no idea how to handle this or that behavior, and other days we are just amazed at what great kids they are.
Tell us a little about Out of The Valley and how it has continued to grow. When you started out, did you envision it growing as much as it has?

Out of the Valley Ministries is primarily an online ministry – I share articles and Scriptures to encourage ladies who are hurting, help churches and loved ones help those who are sick, as well as list a wealth of resources.  On my blog, I try to list practical self-care tips, include music that encouraged me, and write devotional-type pieces to encourage the hurting mom, and have recently begun to feature stories and testimonies of survivors.  Periodically, I may share my story on the blog or other information that is of the utmost importance in the PPD world.  Yours (Sharing the Journey) and Katherine Stone’s (Postpartum Progress) among others do such a great job at keeping us updated on the news that I feel no need to duplicate the information, but to rather write from a self-care perspective.  That growth has come as I have learned about and gotten to know the many wonderful people advocating for postpartum mood disorders, as well as gotten better at managing my website and finding a niche that fits me as a person.  I love seeing how God has used this ministry to touch women’s lives – and women that I had no idea that it helped until recently.  That blesses my socks off!  It made what I went through worth every second.
And last but not least, if you had the opportunity to share one piece of advice about PMD’s with an expectant mother, (new or experienced), what would you tell them?

Just one?  Gosh, Lauren, you know how to ask the hard questions!  Some days you will need to take it one breath at a time, and others five minutes at a time, but eventually the whole day will be beautiful and full of hope.  You WILL walk out of this valley, and know that God is with you the entire time!

Sharing the Journey with Tonya Rosenberg

I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to share this interview! Tonya is the founder of the Online PPD Support Page and has built quite the support system over there. The typical population these days is in the low single digit thousands but that’s vastly more than the 50 women Tonya initially imagined gaining support from the dying site she took over quite some time ago. Now, there’s an amazing team of moderators (hey ladies!) who work very smoothly together to help keep the flow going without deterring the recovery of the women who visit the board. While I haven’t been active there for some time now, I am on the moderator team and am honored to be part of the group.

I am also honored to share Tonya’s interview with you – it’s worth it’s weight in gold, every single word is so intense, transparent, and informative. I read her interview on a rough morning with the kids and boy did it put things into perspective for me. I am always amazed at how that happens!

Enjoy the read and if you or someone you love are in need of some support and there’s nothing nearby or you just need to type some thoughts to get them off your chest, pop on over to the forums at the Online PPD Support Page. It’s like having your own best friend on-line! (Plus, don’t forget that recent study about peer support cutting the PPD risk in HALF – that’s right, HALF!)

Thanks, Tonya, for saving this invaluable resource from an early Internet grave. It’s meant so much to so many families and I know it will continue to do so for years to come. You my friend, ROCK.

Tell us a little about yourself – just who is Tonya as a woman?

Sometimes that’s a very difficult question to answer! I’m a woman who enjoys being 38 years old, as I’ve found some things have gotten better with age. I’m a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and an individual. I have days in which I feel proud of things I’ve done, and other days when I feel I’ve not done enough – just like everyone probably feels from time to time.

Just like me, you are a two time survivor of Postpartum Mood Disorders. Share with us what your first path down this road looked (and felt) like.

It’s hard to believe that my first child is now 14 years old, and the journey I started on began so long ago!

I was, in hindsight, ripe for developing a postpartum mood disorder. I was a young woman who’d rushed into a marriage with an older man, who himself had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the time. My pregnancy was incredibly difficult – I dealt with hyperemesis (and the accompanying weight loss of 40 pounds in the first trimester alone, the multiple ER visits and hospital stays, the visits from home health care providers). I developed gestational diabetes.

During my pregnancy my husband at the time injured himself and was out of work, bringing our usual paycheck-to-paycheck life down to approximately half that income for a couple of months. We racked up a good deal of credit card debt during that time, compounded by the extra medical expenses incurred by my pregnancy and his injury. Near the end of my pregnancy, my paternal grandfather died from prostate cancer.

I was induced, because on top of everything else I started having some blood pressure problems. The birth itself probably wasn’t much different from many birth experiences – I had an epidural and an uneventful vaginal birth.

I remember being alone in the hospital room the first time, exhausted, and thinking that everyone was focused on the new baby – but I felt like the discarded packaging the baby came in. I felt oddly incomplete without the baby still in my now squishy belly, yet also strangely free at the same time.

Breastfeeding didn’t come naturally for me, and neither did motherhood in general. I felt overwhelmed, wrung out, guilty for not feeling the constant glowing love I “should” feel, and irritable. I was grateful when my (wonderful, amazing, fantastic) mother came over to take the baby for a bit so I could rest, yet it also compounded my feeling of being a horrible mother because I seemed to make the baby cry while my mom could calm and sooth and quiet her.

At just a few days old, I was hyper-vigilant about my baby. If she cried, I held her. If she was quiet, I was convinced she’d stopped breathing and would panic. One night in that first week I was sure she was breathing funny, and we wound up at the ER. I still remember the ER doctor laughing at me and chastising me by saying “ALL babies breathe funny.” But then he gave her a closer look and said he’d be back. I found out they were going to take her blood, and I was in charge of holding her steady while they poked her little foot and made her scream. I vividly remember crying along with her, apologizing for letting anyone hurt her. Results came back declaring she’d developed jaundice, and they wanted to keep her in the hospital. (I should mention the hospital I gave birth in was fantastic, but this hospital was the one closest to my house at the time and one I’d never go to again if I had any choice whatsoever!) They wanted to put her in the nursery and send me home, and I remember going into a total angry panic. I insisted they find a room with a bed, because I would not leave her alone in the hospital.

Being in the hospital with her was painful for me on so many levels. I was made to feel that my breast-milk actually caused the jaundice, and was instructed I would have to “pump and dump”, and that she’d be on a bottle of formula until she was well. I couldn’t hold her because she had to spend so much time in the clear plastic bassinet under the Bili-light. When it came time to feed her those bottles, I’d wind up in tears and hand her to a nurse to feed. Holding her with a bottle just made me feel like even MORE of a failure as a mother.

I struggled through, getting her back on breast-milk exclusively a few weeks after her hospitalization. I’m glad of that, because I truly believe (for me) breastfeeding saved my life. I had become more and more miserable to the point of being suicidal. The only things that stayed my hand in those low moments was the realization that she could only be fed by me (she never took a bottle or pacifier), and I couldn’t leave her behind to starve.

One day I got scared enough to call my doctor. She’d been crying and crying for hours, and I was about to lose my mind. I took her into her room and put her (probably not as gently as I could have) into the crib. I walked out, closed the door, and leaned against the wall just outside her door as she screamed. I closed my eyes, and the best way I can describe it is that I saw a movie play out in my mind. In my mind I could vividly see me walking back into her room, grabbing her tiny ankles, and slamming her head against the pristine white walls of her room. The graphic images of her in my hands, of red coating the walls, terrified me. I knew in that moment I couldn’t go another second alone – I was terrified of hurting her and would have very possibly hurt myself if I hadn’t picked up the phone instead.

I called my doctor, who got on the line immediately. I asked her if she could help me, and told her I was terrified of my thoughts. She soothed me and told me she had faith that I wouldn’t hurt my baby, that by knowing those thoughts were WRONG and was reaching out for help, that I wasn’t going to do anything bad. She told me to call my mom over, put the baby in the car-seat, and have my mom drive me to the office. The doctor said she’d make time for me whenever I got there.

Just saying out loud all the things I’d been feeling and thinking and fearing to my supportive and wonderful doctor helped to ease the weight I’d been feeling crushed under. With her help I began a treatment that involved an antidepressant and talk therapy.

It was a turning point in my life as a mother, and as a person.

Did you feel any more prepared the second time around? My second pregnancy was planned but my third was not. I was also still depressed during the second pregnancy which is what I ultimately felt led to my break a month after my daughter came home from the NICU. Was there a difference for you between your two experiences?

There were a lot of differences between my first and second postpartum experience. With my second child I still had challenges, of course. I had a new husband, a five year old daughter to care for, and I had moved across the country (and away from the loving support of my family and my doctor). On the other hand, finances weren’t a constant worry, my second husband is mentally much more healthy, and I only lost 14 pounds in the first trimester.

I knew that breast-milk does not cause jaundice, so I was ready to fight for the right to keep nursing if he developed it. I had educated myself quite a bit about postpartum mood disorders and knew I was at a higher risk, so I talked about that a lot with my new OBGYN. I also knew I was at risk for gestational diabetes again, so I worked harder to care for my health in that regard. (I still developed it, but I think it wasn’t as severe and that I managed it better.)

My second child was a very different baby than my first, too. He was quick to catch on with breastfeeding, he slept easily, and was just a more relaxed and happy baby. (I’ve since learned that my firstborn inherited bipolar disorder and a few other issues from my ex-husband, which actually goes a long way in explaining some of her behaviors even in infancy.) And my new husband was excited to be a new father, and did what he could to ease my burdens which made a huge difference as well.

I still wound up having postpartum depression, some anxiety, and intrusive thoughts, but I’d also opted to start back on antidepressants during the last bit of my pregnancy. I think, for me, it helped act as a bit of a cushion to soften the transitions my hormones went through.

As with any stresses that come towards us in life, one can choose to run or stand and fight. We’re both fighters dedicated to reaching behind us to help other struggling moms finding themselves where we used to be. At what point did you decide to become an advocate and get involved in supporting other moms?

It was rather by accident, truth be told! With my second pregnancy, I was away from all things familiar. So I turned to the Internet to search for resources for postpartum mood disorders. While there were a handful of sites that offered a bit of general information, there wasn’t much “out there” in terms of person-to-person support. I stumbled onto a website that had a very small email group, in which the babies were older and the mothers had left the PPMD world behind. The person who ran the place informed me within a few weeks of finding her that she was going to close the doors, so to speak.

I begged her to let it stay up, and asked if I could take up the reins. That was the beginning of my role as an advocate and supporter. None of the old site I took over remains today, but it was an important starting point and one I’m very grateful to have found when I found it.

I’d already been active on other on-line communities – even met my current husband on-line in a community for a couple of our favorite television shows at the time – and had seen how valuable and wonderful it could be to have this worldwide community of people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. It seemed a natural thing to take that concept and apply it to the postpartum site.

I started updating information, rebuilding the site bit by bit, adding things here and there, deleting outdated or irrelevant things, and playing with my image program to figure out how I wanted the site to look. I went through a few different designs before I struck on the current theme, but pink always seemed to factor into the mix. What can I say, it’s one of my favorite colors!

In essence, I went looking for people to support me. Somehow it became helpful for me to extend MY help to OTHERS – my support of fellow struggling moms seemed to put my own struggles in perspective, gave me a chance to focus outside of myself, enabled me to gain more education on the subject, and let me redefine who I was and who I wanted to become.

What are some of the things you do to take care of YOU?

I go to therapy at least once a week – except my therapy is called live comedy! Laughter is really good medicine, and I find that I get rather antsy if I miss a week or two of going out to see comedy. It’s also important for me, as a stay-at-home-mom, to get out around other adults. Going to comedy helps in that regard, too.
Reading is something I enjoy, so I often keep my eyes open for books to devour.

It’s been a struggle, but I try to make myself a priority. If I need sleep, I go to bed. If I feel restless, I take the dog for a walk or to the dog park. If I am hurting, I’ll allow myself to spend some time and money for a massage.

The hardest thing – the thing I still struggle with the most – is being gentle with myself. I have had to work on retraining my brain to stop the negative self-talk, to forgive myself if I mess up, and so on. I’m a work in progress. :)

Name three things that made you smile or laugh today.

Watching Nickelodeon with my kids made me laugh.

My dog Blackberry made me smile when she gave me lots of doggie kisses.

The crew of one of my favorite local radio shows were hilarious today.

As you navigate motherhood, what do you find the most challenging? The least?

The things I view as challenging can change from day to day! Some days I feel challenged by things like my kids purposely annoying each other, but then I’ll catch them being sweet and thoughtful. Sometimes my teenager presses my buttons by saying everything AS IF SHE IS YELLING AND ANGRY, but then she’ll say something really funny or profound. Sometimes my son will drive me up the wall because he seems incapable of being quiet for five minutes straight, but when he’s not feeling well he becomes quiet and just wants to curl up at my side.

I guess the biggest challenge I face as a mother is myself, to be honest. I challenge myself when I play the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” game, when I second guess myself, when I take ultimately unimportant things far too seriously. Alternately, I feel least challenged when I am able to adopt an attitude of letting go and having faith that things will be okay even if I’m not micromanaging every second of every day.

How did your husband handle your experiences with Postpartum? What effect did your struggle have on your marriage (if any?)

My first husband had his own issues with mental health, and did not handle things well. He did the best he could, I believe, but his own illness really limited how much he could handle. There were things that happened during and after the pregnancy that I think were harmful to the marriage, things for which I don’t think I ever really forgave. I needed support, and ultimately felt that I had an infant and an adult child to care for instead.

My second husband was a champ overall, but I definitely think it was difficult for him. I think even almost a decade later, there’s a part of him that probably hangs on to some of the things I did and said during the darker moments. I know from my viewpoint it gave me some perspective on the differences of a supportive, helpful partner versus a partner who doesn’t know how to be supportive or helpful – it’s made me appreciate him more, perhaps, that I would have without the postpartum issues.

Tell us a bit about the Online Postpartum Support Page. Has it exceeded even your wildest dreams in terms of sheer number of women who have found support there?

When I started out, I figured I’d consider myself lucky if over an extended period of time there were 50 or so moms who’d used the site and the on-line communication tools. I just wanted to talk to a few other moms who understood what I was going through, and to let them know they weren’t alone in their struggles. I never foresaw the website growing to the extent that it has over the years, and still often feel a little in awe of it. I often feel guilty about the site because I’m not very involved in it and haven’t been for a while, yet I’m also incredibly proud of the fact that I got this ball rolling and incredibly grateful for the women over the years who’ve recovered and decided to “pay it forward” by helping moms.

And last but not least, what advice would you give to an expectant mother (new or experienced) about Postpartum Mood Disorders?

I’d like all new and expectant mothers to be educated on all the facets of postpartum mood disorders (and all doctors, for that matter!) – awareness of potential vulnerabilities, the various ways a PPMD can express itself, knowledge that having a PPMD does NOT mean you are a bad mother, and so on.
I’d like these women to know that media lies to us! Babies don’t come out with perfectly shaped heads and evenly toned skin. Mothers don’t always instantly have a magical moment as soon as the baby is born where they are madly, deeply in love. Birth plans don’t always go as planned, and that’s okay.
I’d like moms to know, ultimately, that no matter what thought they have or what feeling they experience (positive and negative), they are not alone. There’s been another mother, many other mothers, who’ve thought or felt the same thing. There’s a certain power in the knowledge that you are not alone, I think.

Correction to MOTHER’S Act Update

Apparently I missed an important fact last night – Motion to proceed to consideration of measure was withdrawn in Senate. (consideration: CR S7554) Click on S7544 to read the text of the proceedings as they played out yesterday afternoon on the Senate floor.

At this point in time, I am not sure what this means for The MOTHER’S Act. I am disappointed in the situation and sincerely hope that this will not dampen the drive for this bill that has been building for so long now.

Philippians 3:13

This morning we had a pediatrician visit for both Cameron and Allison. Cameron’s appointment was his six month check-up and Alli’s was related to her continued rash behaviour.

Alli is being referred to a child psychologist for further testing/evaluation and I am very relieved. Perhaps this will finally shed some light on the underlying cause of her behaviour and lack of discipline acceptance.

Cameron, on the other hand, is suspected of Failure to Thrive. The pediatrician suggested I pump exclusively for a couple of days, giving him my breastmilk via bottle. I have a few reservations regarding that plan of action. First, exclusively bottlefeed and pump for TWO WHOLE DAYS? Pumping is not a good indicator of supply, bottlefeeding may confuse him, and frankly, after exclusively pumping for Charlotte for seven long months, I’m not so sure that I’m up for a second time around that block. I am also scared to start EP’ing as I fear I may end up doing that until he’s a year old, continuing to struggle to pump as well as get his weight gain in order. And what if I start and then try to go back to the breast and he refuses to go back? I can’t handle that all over again.

And so it is with a heavy heart filled with experience, fact, and love, I have decided to switch over to formula. A gradual transition to be sure but a difficult decision nonetheless. I know I will miss our nursing relationship but his health and growth as well as my mental stability are vastly more important than any potential benefit of breastmilk at this point. I fully anticipate a mourning period and will be keeping an eye on my mood as the prolactin production decreases as we wean. Deep in my heart I know this is the right decision for our family in order for us all to be happy and healthy.

It is at this time I am reminded of a wonderful bible verse –

Forgetting things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, this is wisdom. Philippians 3:13

This verse has become a constant reminder not to over-analyze every minute detail of what could have been done differently or where the train began to run off the tracks. To do this would be assigning ourselves to a dark pit of despair and that is not where we need to be now. We need to be front and center, in the light with the Lord so that we continue to shine and guide our children toward His glory. We will accept (once again) our new normal and adjust our lives accordingly so we may move forward full of prayer, wisdom, love, and strength. For at this time, there is nothing more we can do beyond this but wait on the Lord and trust in His infinite power and wisdom.

Sharing the Journey with Sue McRoberts

I have had the good fortune recently to get to know Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me during Postpartum Depression, and 1/3 of the blogging team at Totally New Moms. The following are 10 questions I emailed to her and the responses I received. Enjoy!

(As a side note, interviews with Arlene and Rebecca from Totally New Moms will be arriving shortly as well!)

Sue McRoberts

1) When did you become a Christian and what has helped to solidify or sustain your faith over the years?
 I became at Christian at the age of 8 but I didn’t really understand it until I was 14.  In college I started really living out my faith.  What has solidified my faith is God’s faithfulness.  He’s always done what he says in scripture he will do.  Seeing God’s consistency and compassion has sustained me.

2)      What made you decide to write your book, The Lifter of my Head: How God Sustained Me through Postpartum Depression?
I went to a local Christian bookstore, looking for a book on postpartum depression from a Christian’s perspective.  There was no such book on the shelf.  After doing some research no one at the store could  find such a book on the Internet either.  The clerk suggested to me that I should go home and pray about  whether or not perhaps God wanted me to write that book.  At first I thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard.  God gave me no peace until I started writing!  
 
 
3)      What kind of process did you go through to write your book? What part was the most difficult to write?
Writing from beginning to end what happened to me during my PPD experience was excruciating.  I wrote 95% of my book while I was sick.  I wrote the book as these things were actually happening.  Only editing was done while I was well.  I cut about 35,ooo words from my final manuscript. I had a lot I wanted to share!  The process itself was simple.  I had  a brainstorming notebook I constantly wrote in.  I wrote constantly when ideas would come.  Sometimes at 3 a.m I would do my best writing and thinking.  For me the toughest part was describing the darkest parts of my illness.  I wrote the whole thing in faith that God wanted me to do it.  But I never believed for one second that anyone would relate to my experiences with psychosis.  I was wrong!  Other than that, reading the book in it’s entirety for the audio CD’s was a nightmare.  It’s one thing to write it and edit it over 6-8 months.  To read it in 5 hours was tough emotionally.  Hearing those words come out of my own mouth about broke me. 
 

4)      Prior to Motherhood, what was the main focus of your life?

I was a teacher and a coach.  My students were my life.  I miss teaching and coaching so much that it’s difficult to express that emptiness in my life.  I’ve filled that with a great husband, three kids, and much ministry but boy do I miss it.
 

5)      What is the hardest part of Motherhood? The easiest?

 The hardest part of motherhood for me is having strong willed kids only to discover that maybe I’m strong willed too.  That can be volatile so I’ve learned to be a little more passive and easy going.   What else is hard for me is that  I can’t make them choose the right things in life.  I can only guide them and that is scary.  I’ve learned to guide them and pray for them but let God take the reigns. It freaks me out to much to try to control these little people.   They aren’t puppets.  I was shocked when I discovered that!

The easiest part for me is playing with my kids.  I love pitching baseball to them, kicking a soccer ball, riding bikes.  My five year old can’t stand when I want to work on reading or math with him.  He sees me as his soccer pal.  So playing is a very important thing in our house. 

6)      How has becoming a Mother changed you? Has it strengthened your faith in God?

 I have three strong willed kids, all of which have worn me out at times.  I’ve learned to focus on what really matters and know what those things are that I will battle on and which ones aren’t so important.  Strong willed kids will get in your face no matter what though.  They love a fight and a challenge.  So I have had to rely on God for strength, creativity in parenting, rest, and most of all some grace for my kids.  It has strengthened my faith in God tremendously.  When my first child got her first spanking at 18 months she looked at me and said, “Is that all you’ve got?”  I knew I was in trouble!  But God has stayed with me!

7)      In your opinion, what aspect of Motherhood should be most celebrated?

 The fact that we  are molding and shaping godly men and women one diaper at a time, one feeding at a time, one school grade at a time, one conversation at a time.  Every day we are impacting our children’s lives.  Mothering matters!   It’s only what you do for Christ that counts.  Leading your kids to Christ, teaching them to walk with and depend on him…these things count.

8)      When you get time to yourself, how do you pamper yourself?
 
I eat breakfast out with my friends, go to dinner and a movie with my husband, or go for a nice  long run.
 
9)      How did the idea for your joint blog, Totally New Moms with Arlene Pellicane and Rebecca Ingram Powell come to fruition?

 I knew when Rebecca agreed to write an endorsement for my book that we would one day work together.  I prayed about it for ages.  I don’t even know if Rebecca knows that.  We both have a heart for girls and women.  That drew me to  her.  Arlene was Rebecca’s special find!  I’m pretty sure the idea started with me and Rebecca talking about it.  Then Rebecca  found Arlene and it took off from there.  I think the three of us have such different styles and personalities, we complement each other well.

10)   If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear?

Look for resources around you, they are everywhere.  Printed material, experienced mothers in different seasons of life, your Bible, your doctor, your neighbors.  Listen and learn.  Be open to other’s opinions and take help when it’s offered.  And above all, don’t be so hard on yourself.  We aren’t perfect and that really shows up in our mothering.  But don’t beat yourself up for a decade because you did or said something wrong to your child.  (I’ve done that…)  Kids are resilient.  We aren’t most of the time.  Ask God’s forgiveness and move on.  There’s bigger things to come!   And just think, some day you’ll be entering middle age and you’ll not know where the time went.  Cherish the good, the bad, and the ugly of mothering because it all matters!

A successful night off

Ended up going to Red Lobster for dinner with Grandmom. YUM. We had a great dinner, great conversation, and I picked up some Ben & Jerry’s S’mores ice cream for my movie night. Of course, the DVD player didn’t work so I ended up watching the tail end of “What women want” and then “Hitch” on TNT. Good mindless romantic movies. Lil’ Bit, one of the in-law’s dogs cuddled with me the whole time which was nice. I’m so used to being around dogs I think it would have been a bit odd for there not to be dogs there.

I finally started the bedtime process around 1030p – got into bed to go to sleep around 11p and didn’t wake up for the day until 10a! Even then I didn’t pop right out of bed – just kind of laid there for a short bit and then got up to take the dogs out. I went to Panera and got some hot cocoa and a cinnamon crunch bagel w/hazelnut cream cheese spread and took it back to the house to eat. Took my time and then packed up and went grocery shopping before finally returning home. All in all, it was a pretty nice weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed the mindless relaxation.

The girls and I ran some errands yesterday as I have access to MIL’s car this week (well, until tomorrow). I also took a nap yesterday afternoon as the rain lulled me to sleep. We live in Georgia, which if you’ve been watching the news, is now a major disaster area due to drought and seeing rain was nice. Driving in it – not so nice – people here seem to think that rain gives them permission to drive like idiots. But that’s a whole ‘nother post. 

Looking forward to my night OFF

I have to say that I am really looking forward to my evening off. And I mean COMPLETELY off. No husband, no kids, no nothing. Well, there will be the two dogs over at the in-laws house but really – I’ll just have to let them out tonight and feed them in the morning. That doesn’t count.

I am about to go pack and then shower – taking advantage of our new massage setting – then get ready to head on out. I am not taking my computer or anything PPD related with me. And I am packing my very nice nightgown set that my mom bought me for my birthday. It’s to be worn for my hospital stay once I have the baby but I have been wearing it here and there – just to pamper myself. And all moms deserve to be pampered!

I washed my body pillow and case this morning. I can’t be without it and it desperately needed to be washed. I can’t wait to sleep in a nice big comfy bed and not have an alarm clock shriek me into consciousness. So looking forward to a quiet morning!

Haven’t decided if I am going to go to the cell phone store this evening after dinner or not. Guess it’ll depend on how energentic I feel after dinner. I do need to grab a few movies to take with me – otherwise it’ll be Rambo if I want to watch something. I’m thinking something like Seven Years in Tibet or maybe even something hopelessly hilarious like There’s Something About Mary (that is, if I can find them). I may even splurge on a pint of ice cream for myself…. we’re tight in the budget department this week, so again, haven’t decided yet. For that matter, I haven’t decided where we’re going for dinner – although I am strongly leaning towards Red Lobster. I am suffering from a fierce seafood craving.

Gotta run, it’s nearly 3p here and Chris will be getting off soon. I need to be ready when he gets home to race to the car and be outta here!