Monthly Archives: April 2011

Faith & Motherhood: On Grief

We can plan all we want for how we want our lives to go. But then life happens and our plans fly out the window. We are left to improvise. Sometimes improvising hurts. Figuring out which way to go when a sudden change of plans strikes can be hard. But when we learn to lean on God no matter what, those sudden changes soften a little bit even if they seem harsh at first.

This morning I woke to the news of my Great Aunt’s passing. No one plans for phone calls like this.

My phone and I went into the front yard. I sat down, in between two humongous pine trees, sun shining down on my back, and cried. I sat there for nearly two hours. Wailing at first, then every so often my tears would just well up with tears until they couldn’t hold them back and tears would slowly slide down my face as I sat there, listening to the birds, watching the squirrels scamper, avoiding falling caterpillars, and chasing away tiny spiders from my feet. The wind softly played with my hair as well as with the trees. I sat there…. breathing. Taking in the sharp green of the surrounding trees, the echoes of life, breathing. For two hours, I got to just be.

My husband brought me a blanket and a cup of coffee. Apparently I sat in the sunshine for almost an hour despite the 50 degree weather.

Grief makes you do strange things.

In those moments outside, as I sat there, a warm blanket wrapped around my shoulders, I felt so alone and abandoned.

Thing is, I was not alone.

God sat there with me.

He held me, comforted me, and provided a warm, safe place in which I could mourn.

Friends offered condolences.

My children offered hugs and giggles when I got inside.

I’m still struggling to accept that she is gone.

I know right now we are working on the Shelter of God’s Promises but instead of writing from the book today, I needed to share this.

Today, I tried to live in the Shelter of God’s Promise.¬† It was not perfect. But it worked. Not all day, but it worked.

And that, my dear readers, is progress toward learning to live in the Shelter of God’s Promises.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @MammyWoo’s “Radio Silence”

Earlier this week, @MammyWoo messaged me to let me know she submitted a blog post for consideration this week. I could not wait to read it! Then life happened and I did not read her post until this morning but my sense of anticipation was dead on because the post is amazing.

In it, Lexy is amazingly honest about her experience with Postnatal Depression. She describes waking up to discover that indeed, morning has arrived and is not two weeks away as she wishes. Her 1 year old pokes and prods her to play, but she is unable to respond.

Once again, she’s stuck in Radio Silence, unable to talk, communicate, play, reach out. She’s trapped. “All the little men that live inside my body making things work (I was never very good at biology) have gone on strike and normal service delivery is brought to a complete halt.”

I especially love her reference to being a Postnatal Zombie. It’s so true that when you are in the depths of a Postpartum Mood Disorder one feels like a Zombie. Mindless, numb, drifting dangerously toward nothingness. For some, that numbness is solace. For others, it is a tailspin toward panic. If you feel you are trapped in Postpartum Zombieville, there are some tips for you here.

I remember that numbness. It did not hit me after the birth of our first daughter but it slammed into me during my second pregnancy. There were so many days when I would lock my daughter and I into her room, get her toys out, and then lay on the couch against the wall, staring up at the ceiling. Our 18 month old daughter excelled at independent play not because she was independent but because I was incapable of playing with her. I lacked the motivation to drag myself out of bed and certainly lacked the capacity to be imaginative enough to get down in the floor and pretend a bunch of blocks were involved in a tea party with Princesses. So many days spent on that couch without energy to do anything. Scared that if I did get up and do something it would end tragically. So I stayed. On the damned couch.

All I wanted to do, all I could do, was lay there. Listlessly. Mindlessly. Hopelessly. I did just enough to get by but not enough to thrive. She seemed happy enough. I justified my actions with her increased independence. It’s good for a kid to learn independence at such a young age, right?

Once I had our son though, and managed to have a pregnancy and postpartum without mental health issues, I became angry. I realized that all my “Radio Silence” had done was distance me from my daughters. To this day, I have a closer bond with my son than with his sisters. It is certainly not because I love them any less. It has nothing to do with their abilities as daughters but rather, everything to do with my illness after giving birth and during my pregnancy with our second daughter. I failed them. I failed myself. I failed my husband. I failed. (Hello, Postpartum Guilt. How you doin?)

Turns out these days that I did not really fail them. Both our daughters are brilliantly independent, wickedly smart, and hilarious little girls. They are full of sass, spunk, and determination. I don’t know that my issues with mental health affected the development of those skills or not. I like to think they would be the same way even if I had been a happy healthy mom when they were brand new to the world. Bottom line though, eventually I got help and got well. I may not have bonded with them when I should have but we are bonded now. I cannot change the past but with every new moment and opportunity I can change my future. I can change their future. It is a fine line to walk though because it is very easy to want to over-do it and make up for my past failures which is a dangerous slope down which to slide.

Enough about me though.

Lexy, oh sweet Lexy. I know you feel alone there in your Radio Silence. So many of us have been where you are now. We know how unquietly quiet it is there. We’re there with you, ready to listen. You’re not worthless. All you have to do is let us know you need us and we’ll be right there. Ready to listen, encourage, support, whatever you need from us, we’ll be there. You are not alone.

Go leave her some love and support.