Blessing from Chaos

I keep seeing posts and YouTube videos detailing people’s routines: morning routines, night routines, or daily routines. The other day I stumbled across an article on the Baby Center website that outlined different daily routines based on being a stay at home versus a working mom (linked here.) So, to keep in the spirit of the fad, I thought I’d share my typical daily “routine.”

Sometime between 5:00 and 8:00 am – Baby girl (hereafter referred to as “Peanut,” a nickname she’s had since she was in the womb) and I get up, start the coffee, change her diaper, and get dressed.

Sometime between 5:00 and 7:30 am – My husband gets up and joins us, unless he’s leaving for work while we’re still sleeping.

9:00 am – 4:30 pm – Peanut and I play with her toys and read stories. When she gets fussy I try to feed her (sometimes nursing, sometimes a bottle) or change her or hold her until she is better. When she sleeps I either clean, do laundry, or sleep too, depending on the night we’ve had.

4:45 pm – My husband gets home (unless he’s working late). He plays with Peanut while I cook supper.

Around 5:30 pm – We eat.

6:00 pm – 10:00 pm – We play with Peanut. I try to straighten up the house. Peanut has a bath and generally a late evening nap from which she awakes to want to play more.

Sometime at night – We all go to sleep.

Briefly after that – Peanut fusses until I pick her up. We retreat to the nursery to sleep the rest of the night in the recliner.

Throughout the night – Peanut wakes and I nurse her back to sleep. My husband comes in to see if I want him to take a turn. We switch off sitting/sleeping in the chair with Peanut.

Morning – It starts over.

You see, we don’t have too much of a “routine” right now. When Peanut is hungry, I feed her. When she’s tired, I rock her to sleep. When she’s wet or dirty, I change her. In between we play and read stories and do tummy time and clean the house. We listen to music and I read the Bible to her. Sometimes we run errands or go to Grammy and Grampy’s house. We text Daddy and wait for him to come home. We sometimes cry and we giggle a lot.

Some days are easy, when Peanut is in a good mood and so am I; when I get the whole house clean and do laundry and we play and giggle a lot. Some days are so hard, when she is fussy or I’m struggling or things have piled up and I can’t seem to get ahead. Sometimes it feels like our days are filled with chaos. But truly, each day I stay at home with this sweet baby is a wonderful gift and I thank God every day for blessing me so much.

We don’t really have a “routine,” and that’s okay with me, because I know that these days are fleeting. We pretty much do the same things each day, but every day Peanut is growing bigger and learning more and more. I try to bask in the glow of that first smile she gives in the morning and to remember the sound of her sweet little laugh. I let her take naps sitting on my lap or laying in my arms. I cherish the fact that I get to stay home with her because my husband works so hard for our family.

In all, I really admire those families that can have a daily routine that is actually scheduled and works. But for now I think our “routine,” of just living life, is working just fine.

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.

—Anonymous.

Joy Comes in the Morning

This post has not been easy to write, and I went back and forth about whether I’d actually share it. But, although the subject isn’t easy for me to talk about, I think it’s important for me to be open and for others to know that they’re not alone.

If you read my last post, you know that I have been dealing with some postpartum depression. The truth is that I have struggled with depression to one degree or another since high school. Some times in life have been so difficult, and other times I can pretty much forget that I have struggled at all.

I used to be ashamed that I had depression, especially in high school and college. I have pretty much kept it quiet and not many people knew except for my family and a few close friends. The more I think about it now, though, the more I realize that it’s important to be open about it. First, it helps me feel less alone and reminds me that I don’t need to be ashamed. Second, who knows who I could help simply by talking about what I’ve been through?

I think depression is different for everyone who experiences it, and I can’t claim to know how others feel. For me, it’s a pervasive feeling that can sometimes fade to the background and sometimes be so overwhelming that I struggle to get out of bed. I took antidepressants for many years which helped me to feel better. However, when I started growing closer to God, I started questioning whether I was putting too much faith in medicine and not enough faith in the true Healer. I weaned off of the medication and, for the most part, did just fine.

When I got pregnant, my husband and I talked about the possibility of postpartum depression (PPD). He was pretty convinced that I would end up with it, and he was right (yes, I said it). After my little girl was born, I was so emotional that it was hard to tell if it was just hormones – baby blues, as it’s called – or something more. But as the weeks went on, it didn’t get any better. I stopped crying all the time, but I still just felt so down. I felt like I was worthless and drowning, and I felt so incredibly guilty about feeling that way because my little girl (and my husband!) didn’t deserve it. But as hard as I tried and as much as I prayed, it didn’t get better.

At my six-week checkup, the doctor asked me how I was doing and I just started crying. I told him that I had really been struggling. He asked if I’d had a history with depression and told me that this makes it so much more likely to end up with PPD. He was quick to explain that there is PPD that is more like “regular” depression, and there’s PPD that involves having weird/scary thoughts and ideas. I have the former.

My doctor then suggested that I use antidepressants. At this point I had been thinking for a while about asking for medication, and my husband and I had talked – and prayed – a lot about it. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t relying on the medicine too much and on God too little. My husband’s doubts prompted me to ask myself – had I been praying enough about this? Had I truly handed it over to God to take care of?

Because I could respond “yes” to these questions, I felt okay telling my doctor that I wanted the medication. If I had not been able to say “yes” to both questions, I don’t think I would have have been at a point where medication could even help.

It has been over a month now that I’ve been taking medication for PPD, and I do feel like it’s helping. However, I also firmly believe that it is helping because of God – because I have put my faith in Him to heal me. Some days are still really hard. Most of the time it gets better once I get up and doing things. It seems to get a lot better once I open my Bible and read (funny how that works). I have also found that if I’m open about it, especially with my husband, and if I pray and put it in God’s hands, those hard days are so bearable.

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:5, 11-12 NKJV

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Expectation Versus Reality 

There’s a fad all over the internet right now of “expectation versus reality.” There are tons of memes and YouTube videos with funny takes on the whole expectation vs reality concept. It generally works like this: the expectation is something wonderful or perfect, and the reality is a far cry from that. The relatable thing about “expectation vs reality” is that they’re often true, and make you feel like you’re not the only one who feels the way you do. Here’s an example:

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Becoming a mom was like this for me. The difference though, is that the reality turned out to be both harder and much more beautiful than I could ever have expected.

When I got pregnant (and long before that), I daydreamed of having a baby. I had all these lofty ideas about snuggling my little one, playing with her, and dressing her in adorable outfits. I just knew if would be the best time of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those things are true. I love snuggling my little girl and watching her smile when we play. And she has some adorable little outfits! But here’s the reality: being a mom is hard! That was never part of my expectation. Yeah, people warned me that I would lose sleep and things would be tough, but I was not prepared for how difficult it really is.

It starts the moment your baby is born. Suddenly, a huge piece of your heart is living outside of you, and all you want to do is protect it. It’s a feeling beyond words – the love and the worry rolled into one as you stare at this perfect little baby.

On top of the worry come the hormones, which for me were almost unbearable. I would just cry and cry and then feel so guilty because I felt like that. I guess the “baby blues” are common, but for me it was more than that. I ended up having to get medication for postpartum depression (a story for a different day), which has helped immensely.

My expectations about being a mom never included all of the trials – the utter lack of sleep, fighting with my husband about what to do or just because I was exhausted, or not showering or brushing my hair for several days just because I’d rather sleep when I could.

But here’s the flip side – the reality is not only more difficult, but so much more amazing than any of my expectations ever prepared me for. Despite all of the struggles and sleepless nights, I look down at this beautiful baby girl and am filled with so much awe and love that my heart just might burst. Seeing her smile for the first time, holding her as she sleeps, watching my husband interact with her, and cuddling her in the middle of the night – nothing could have prepared me for how incredible these moments are. I thank God multiple times a day for this time and for this precious miracle he has given me. And let me tell you, the reality is turning out to be so much better than the expectation!

 

“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”

‭‭I Samuel‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬