Write 31 Days, Losing My Mind

Hello,

I’m popping in to explain why I am so far behind on this weeks’ posts.

My husband recently took a new job, and it’s turned our lives upside down.  I signed up for this challenge before he had the job offer.  I figured, if I could do it last year, with a 6 week old baby, I could do this.

It turns out, my husband’s actual support (with the kids, household stuff) was a major factor in last year’s challenge.  While his emotional support matters to me, without him being around I just can’t keep up.

I’ve been attempting to write the night before, edit in the morning and sharing socially throughout the day.  Unfortunately, as I attempt to wake at 5am to write, one or more of my children wakes up with me.  One morning, it took me 4 hours to edit a post while taking care of them.  I had thirty minutes to make breakfast, get myself ready and leave for work.

My husband is basically gone Monday-Friday, even though he sleeps here.  He sleeps from 3am-3pm on Sunday then leaves for work at 5:30 pm and gets home at 5:50 on Tuesday morning, sleeps, showers and goes to work.  On Fridays he wakes up early, so I can go to work at 11am.

Last week, he had a 10 overtime shift, and then he got sick.  It was a rough weekend for me emotionally and physically.

That leads to this week, I am also dealing with kids who miss their dad like crazy.  With all the waking up early, very little napping they are struggling to get good sleep.  So, by the time I get all 3 kids to be, it is 10pm.  Three times I have sat down to type, what I feel is the most important post in my series, and FALLEN ASLEEP AT THE COMPUTER.

Obviously, it’s normal to hit the wall many times int eh writing process.  Tonight is the firs night this week that I have any energy when the kids are all asleep.

Another factor that I have been struggling with is the reality that my husband’s work does not pay enough for us to put money in savings, and we really need to save.  We don’t have a car, and could really use one.  Our emergency fund is still a baby one, and I am just tired of that.  I am emotionally ready to push hard on Baby Step 3 (6 months of expenses saved) and move forward.  Being out of debt is a huge blessing, but I just want to start moving forward financially, even if all that means is we have money to cover an emergency.

That being said, I need to continue to work.  Childcare costs take up such a huge portion of the money I earn, that it hardly seems worthwhile.  So, I am working one afternoon a week doing massage, in addition to teaching essential oil classes.

I’ve been struggling between the demands of keeping a home, homeschooling, massage practice, oil business and the blog.  Taking two hours last night (I woke up at midnight, having fallen asleep on the couch again) and some quiet time this afternoon, I realized that I need my focus to be on homemaking and homeschooling/parenting my children.

Yes, I must continue to work.  Yes, I want to continue to work, but in a limited capacity.  I think I am allowing myself 10 hours of work a week, for this phase of life.  I’ve felt so much peace, and way more energy today.

Someday, I might work more, but for now I am keeping it limited.  There is a cost with that (less in savings) but it seems worth it to pour into my family.  I hear a baby stirring as I type this.  So, I’m not quitting write31days, but I may give myself some grace to extend it into November to keep my schedule.

Writing nourishes my soul, and I must continue to do it.  The SEO, the social media may take a back burner to allow me to finish.

Tonight, I’m going to watch another episode of Portlandia (Season 6, on Netflix!! Yay!!) and watch my first “TV” in a month.  It’s not holy, admirable, and probably will rot my brain.  It will however, help me laugh, relax and feel a bit more human.

So, I hope to be back very, very soon with my story on how God had shaped my heart and drawn me closer to his.  Thanks for reading.

 

Losing My Religion: What It Means

Losing my religion.  Nothing better describes my journey of switching churches quite as well as the title of R.E.M.’s famous song.

losing my religion

Losing My Religion.

This song has always stood out to me.  It is a bit shocking, for me, it is sad too.

I have never been one to pretend that I “get” music, and I always look up lyrics to try and make sense of what I hear (and sing while driving down the road). I won’t pretend to have the understanding of the writers,  the title inspires me more than the lyrics. Losing my religion

I battled using this title, because it sounds shocking and sad.  Changing churches was shocking and sad.

Now, let’s switch over to me

All of my years serving Christ have been in the church, I attended the same church from 1984 – 2013, and when I was in college, I went to one church for all 5 years.  I immediately found churches to attend in Hawai’i and Sweden.  I have always taken being connected to the church very seriously. Even at our new church, I take being connected to the body very seriously.

Changing churches was a quick decision, and although some of the impetus was not deeply thought out  the decision was made very carefully and very prayerfully.

I knew it would be hard to “start over” at a new church and I knew it would be painful to “say goodbye” to relationships (simply due to proximity).  I had NO IDEA my heart would change, I wasn’t even aware it needed changing.

The past nearly 3 years have been sad and shocking, much like my reaction to R.E.M’s song.

I’ve been shocked to find that the relationship with Christ that I prided myself in was deeply intertwined in religious behavior, making it worthless to Christ.

My church was Everything

When our income troubles continued, we decided to sell our car before our second baby was born. It would not always be possible to ride to church with someone else.  We were, after all,  2 adults with precious cargo in very bulky seats.  I was unwilling to take two buses with a toddler and baby and then walk a mile in Wisconsin winter weather.

We connected with the pastors under whom we ministered and let them know that we would make every attempt to keep our commitment. If we ever couldn’t arrange transportation, we would let them know the night before. I understand how deeply frustrating that must have been for them, I do.  They relied upon us.

For October, November and December there was only 1 day when we couldn’t make it.  My husband had a pre-arranged work day, I didn’t feel up to heading out with both kids on my own (a 4 week old and 23 month old).  I walked 8 blocks to the church we now call home. I loved it, I had some friends there and it was so convenient. This was the first time I remember thinking I wanted to change churches, but it was not real option in my mind.

We continued to pray.

We prayed for God’s will and expected that to be full-time employment. We asked God to close doors he wanted shut and open doors he wanted open.  We prayed and waited.  The first Sunday we couldn’t make it to our “home” church we heard a sermon from the series “Regarding Joy: A Study in Philippians” and we were so deeply convicted.

We walked home both believing God was calling us to the new church.  Our hearts were touched, not in the emotional, blissful way I was accustomed to.  We were convicted and yet surrounded by God’s love and presence, completely aware of our sin and in awe of God’s mercy and grace.  We felt so humbled, not encouraged or inspired.

I didn’t want to let go.

A week after we decided to stay at our new church, we met with some church planters.  I imagined we would leave that meeting and become leaders in their new church.  The pastor said to my husband  “If God calls you, you follow and you know that means you will never achieve success, would you still say yes?”

My heart I screamed “NO!”   Immediately I was convicted and knew that following Jesus meant my answer was “Yes.”  The thought still made me sick.  I’ve never imagined being wealthy, famous or even having an amazing business.  I envisioned myself as stay-at-home-mom, a pastor’s wife, maybe doing a little massage work on the side.  Looking back, I can see that this was a clear indication that I was frustrated with God for not being faithful to me, after all I had been faithful to him.

All the good deeds for nothing.

I did (just about) everything right.  I went to Christian high school, I never really dated, I went to Bible college, I felt called to ministry, my husband is the only man I’ve kissed, I was a virgin when we got married.  I never smoked, partied or did drugs.  I followed Jesus in those actions, I did them because I thought that was what he asked of me, and I didn’t do them to “look good” I did them to “be good.”  Oh, how wrong I was.  I thought my motivation of “being good” versus “looking good” mean that my heart had things right.

The story of my relationship with my husband is beautiful and miraculous.  Our inability to be successful (financially or by being employed in ministry) made no sense to me.  If we were following Christ, why were things not getting better?  It had been two years of underemployment or unemployment. I began wondering if I had made a mistake marrying him.  The hurt and disappointment of our poverty was growing into bitterness.  I thought that if I just kept it up, without growing weary things would turn around.

Never be successful?  Ouch.

Church lady hooked on success.

How did I get to this place?  How did I become a person hooked on success?

It’s engrained in our culture, and some how it permeated church culture.

I thought I was pursuing Jesus, but it was really Jesus + American Dream.

I thought my last service at my former church was going to be significant.  I thought there would be bells, whistles and cupcakes.  I imagined a typical “missionary send off” service with fellowship afterward.

I can’t even remember my last service at my old church. I am sure no one else remembers it either.

Losing My Religion

One day, I started writing out my experience and I titled it “Losing My Religion”, the words have never seen the light of day, but the title has been in my heart all this time.

My series is sad and shocking because for me, leaving my church for a new one has been filled with shock and sadness.  I have LOST SO MUCH in this process.  It hurts, oh it hurts.

I welcome you, to my experience.  I don’t know *exactly* where this series will go, but I will take you through the series “Regarding Joy” because it has reshaped my heart, my heart has been changed by the words of the book of Phillippians, and I want to share it. Phillippians will take about three weeks, I’m still working on an outline for the final stretch of this 31-day series

Your experience will be different, as you read, I pray that God’ word will illuminate your heart, every corner, and reveal who Christ is, and how you need to be more like him.

Although I lost my religion, I can say it was the best thing that happened to me.  It has opened my heart up to pursue Christ, to be honest about my sin and be changed by his holiness.

And You?

How did you feel when you first heard REM’s song?  How does my title make you feel?

 

 

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31 Days Postpartum Reflection

I am so glad I committed to this writing challenge.  My husband told me, back in August, that it would be too much.  It probably wasn’t wise to do it, and I agreed. Then, for some foolish reason I did anyway.

Being “Real”

The discipline of writing, everyday, for 31 days.  Well, actually every day for 29 days, and two days where I wrote twice.  Has forced me to be more real than I would like to be.  My days are full enough that polishing every post in the way I want them to sound would require me to neglect my relationships and responsibilities.

I’ve learned a thing or two about being real in the last 31 days.  It is frightening to put my heart out there for anyone to see, barely edited.  It is rewarding, in this experiment I have received so many kind words from other women as I have shared my most vulnerable memories and moments.  To be honest, I expected harshness, I found connection.

I have a lot to say, even though my punctuation and grammar could stand some improvement.

Being Disciplined

I have always desired to be the gal who gets up at 5:30 a.m., exercises, reads, eats a healthy breakfast, completes everything on the checklist and is in bed at a reasonable hour.  I’ve never really been that person, not for long at least.  I’ve learned that discipline can look differently than that.  Most of this challenge, my posts have been written within an hour of my “midnight” deadline. Right now it’s is 12:31 am, on Sunday, November 1.

Technically, I have failed myself and this challenge.

Yet, the practice of writing once ever 26 hours is discipline none the less. I’ve come a long way.  From thinking every day for months about writing, and only have the courage and discipline once to write, to doing it daily is a major step.

I have not done it perfectly, not the way I have imagined, but I have done it.

Costly

My husband, who is amazing, is comforting my very sad daughter who simply wants to nurse back to sleep.  It hurts my heart to hear her cry, but I need to write.  I’m compelled and called, and my family chips in to that cost.

Very Healing

I don’t have all the words for this right now, I am so tired.   I am also typing while nursing, so I feel a little anxious.  Writing out some of these stories and then reading them has allowed me to see that I have done a great job. My lactation may have “failed” but I didn’t.  That was not my perspective 32 days ago, and it is now.  It’s been so healing.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.  I hope it has blessed you, it has really blessed me.

 

Guilty Pleasures: Periscope!

#write31days_ Day 24I confess, I am a smart-phone mom.  I look at it when I nurse.  Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. E-mail, Kindle and now Periscope!!!!

When I first heard of Periscope, I resisted.  Erin of Humbled Homemaker and Kayse Pratt both began mentioning Periscope in posts around the same time.  I caved in and gave it a whirl, expecting it to be another fad that I’d bore of quickly.

No boredom here!   It’s my new thing for doing chores, I hook up the earbuds, baby wear and was those dishes, flip the laundry and sweep. Since I can’t accomplish much in a regular day with my precious babies; Periscope has been so much fun and encouraging.

I’m following a few people and I love what I am learning.  So, let me share how a few of my favorites have really encouraged me and challenged me since hopping on the bandwagon.

Crystal Paine / Money Saving Mom

Crystal has two weekday scopes running right now.  At approximately 7:30 am CST Crystal hosts #YourMorningMotivator.  Since I began following her, she has been doing a book club and she has a theme for the each morning.  I have not been able to join the book club because none of those books are available in our library’s system, but it has given me a list of books to read for the future.   Her motivation tips are practical and for the most part easy to implement.

She also hosts #MoneyMakingMom around 3pm CST.  Crystal gets her inspirations for her MMM scopes from questions people ask her on Twitter or via e-mail.  I’ve really enjoyed listening to MMM as I am considering some new business ventures.

She is also promoting her newest book which comes out on November 3: Money Making Mom I am NOT an affiliate for this book, but I am on the launch team, which means I have a digital version of the book but I receive no compensation if you buy this book.  If you are looking for a way to be a work at home mom, or become self-employed you must read this book.  It is so practical, it really is a great guide for you to avoid common pitfalls of starting a business. If you pre-order, you can score a bunch of cool freebies!

Anyway, Crystal’s scopes are very well-done.  You can find her previous scopes here.

Mackenzie Monroe / BOLD Turquoise

I had actually seen Mackenzie interacting on Crystal’s scopes, but didn’t realize she was a scoper or blogger until Crystal shared her favorite Periscopes.  Since that was only last week, I am not super familiar with Mackenzie’s show, but I am enjoying it when I can tune in.  I did watch a few on katch yesterday.  Mackenzie has a morning show called “The Cultivating the Lovely Show.”  I am really starting to enjoy the community on this one, becoming familiar with other followers as they share 3 things they are doing each day to cultivate the lovely in their lives.

I’m also a little obsessed with Mackenzie having a bit of my dream life.  Mackenzie has been scoping for a while and she has a stash of scopes you can enjoy

Internet Community

Sometimes, I feel like a bit of a weirdo staring at a phone.  I don’t want to be someone who engages with a phone and missed out on real-life.  I think if I can manage to enjoy periscope and make it something that adds to my life, instead of taking from it is a great tool.  It would be very easy to start following dozens of people and become a slave to the whistle (my phone has a whistle notification for periscope, not sure if that is a phone thing or an app thing).  I’ve become aware of this pitfall, and am doing my best to side step it.  I am the sort of person who enjoys talk radio, podcasts and intelligent background noise.  I’m making sure the scopes I watch or “katch” are topics that are helpful to my life.

Even though I didn’t go into detail on Erin and Kayse’s periscopes, I always enjoy theirs too!

So, what is your guilty pleasure as a mom?  What was it when you had a newborn?  Please, tell me I am not the only one!

 

I Miss Reading

I miss reading, curling up in bed, or a cozy chair with a mug of coffee. I miss that quiet, rainy day when I could choose to forsake other responsibilities an get lost in a story.  I really enjoy reading, novels are my favorite, but really any kind of reading makes me happy.

I wanted to accomplish the 2015 Reading Challenge, I got as far as making the list.  I am actively reading “The Call” by Os Guinness as well as “Finally Alive” by John Piper. I’m enjoying the a lot, I am also working through a 52 week personal challenge and a business book.  This is a major step forward, and I am proud of that. I am also reading Money Making Mom by Crystal Paine.

No novels for me lately, using a SNS with breastfeeding is a pretty hands on experience.  I am always amazed to hear moms at LLL meetings say they read while they nurse.  I can’t manage it.  I can barely manage to hold my phone while nursing.  Someday, I won’t be nursing.  Someday, there will be no babies to hold.  Someday, I’ll pick up a captivating novel and get lost in it without worry of my children destroying something or getting injured.

For now, I click interesting links from Twitter and Facebook and get mesmerized by Instagram.  I watch my favorite people on Periscope and You Tube while I do dishes.  It isn’t glamorous, but it’s real.  Somehow, these creatives have connected me to online communities that have helped me feel connected, more confident and less alone in this mothering work.

So, this lazy Sunday evening I am sharing with you a few great reads from my week.

This article made me think about the words I use.  Do I have political or social ideals that I’m not willing to back up in my day-to-day choices?

Why White Parents Won’t Choose Black Schools

This article made me think about how sometimes I want to say something, I fear sounding foolish and just remain silent.

10 things to say when a baby is born with Down’s Syndrome

This one reminds me that how a woman feeds her child isn’t my business, and that I shouldn’t really even give it thought unless I actually care enough to listen to and strive to understand her story and her choice.

To The Mom Who Didn’t Breastfeed

I never clicked over, even though i LOVE The Onion but this looked like fun too

New Study Finds Link Between Breastfeeding, Always Knowing What is Right for Everyone

I hope you had a lovely October weekend.  I am hoping to share some of my PPD experiences this week and possibly Baby J’s birth story.  We shall see how the weekend goes.

What are you reading?  Do you make it priority? What blogs and websites do you keep up with?

 

 

Pressing On

Day 14!

I am almost half way through the write 31 days challenge!

You guys, this has been much harder than I expected.  I expected it to be very hard.

This is been a lot of fun, which I did not expect.

I’ve been given with positive feedback, I really didn’t expect that.

Thank you to everyone who shared my posts, it means a lot to me.

Today I want to express my gratitude to you. This has been an experiment and labor of love for me.

Tonight I’m writing from my bed on my not-so-smart phone. I begged my husband to tell me it was okay to go to bed. He said that I could.

But you, dear reader, are the reason I am writing and not sleeping. I’m tired, but thankful, so I will keep this short.

This challenge has not only caused me to have the discipline to write daily; it has also caused me to look closely at my previous breastfeeding experiences. It has been so healing.

And that I suppose is why I write. It’s not to impress or instruct. It is to shed light on my soul.

Thank you for reading. I am energized to press on.

Rest

I am a little disappointed, but not surprised that I am 25 minutes past my deadline.  Rats, apparently, I fell asleep waiting for my turn at the computer.

My heart is full of complicated ideas to communicated a very uncomplicated truth.  We need rest.  Jesus said the sabbath was created for man, what a nice gift when I actually stop to enjoy it.

While waiting for the perfect words to say this, I opened up my Bible and found this Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

bless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children of one’s youth.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with this enemies in the gate.”

First, I was struck by the “rising early and staying up late” because I keep doing this.  I attempt to get to bed early, but can’t seem to be in bed before 11.  Then I try to wake up at 5, and I am exhausted.  This scripture called me out on my “anxious toil.”

Secondly, I was surprised to realize that verses 1-5 all go together, it is a “family psalm” according to some commentators.  These verses are a complete thought, not random ideas written in the same notebook.

I supposed I realized that I need to rely on God to build my family.  There are not enough hours in the day to create the perfection I want to accomplish in my parenting. It’s just not possible, and it isn’t mean to be.  I’m meant to rely on God to be the mother my children need.

I’m thankful for simple, relaxing Sundays.  We went to church, ate a simple lunch, my husband and I talked about how we want our Sundays to be (unhurried and refreshing). He took Z & C to buy some mozzarella while I made a gluten-free pizza crust,  We had pizza for dinner, I sprayed the diapers that had piled up.  The kids took baths, bedtime took FOREVER, I tried to re-watch Agents of SHIELD, then fell asleep while he upload pictures to our computer.

Simple. Unimpressive. Refreshing. Rest.

Making Choices and Accepting Not Having Control

I apologize that this was not posted yesterday.  Our internet was down, so it was out of my control.  I’m trying to get in the habit of early morning posts.  However, I’m just going to do my best, and it might not be 6am everyday.

I’ve been reflecting on the first month after C was born, I learned so many lessons during that time.  Today, I want to write about what I think may be the most difficult thing about mothering.  We must make choices for our children as we bring them up, and all of our research, due diligence and personal conviction can not guarantee the results we want.  I re-learned it during a 7 day stay at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

As you may recall, I was a both of a wreck already.  When C was 10 days old, he felt warm.  I took his temerpature, and it was 101.  This is of course too high, and I got him in a cool bath while I waited to hear from the doctor.  It was terrifying, and we were instructed to head to CHW immediately.

Mom, I do not like this hospital gown

Mom, I do not like this hospital gown

We packed for an overnight stay since it was already late evening when we left.  Unfortunately, we came right on the cusp of visiting hours.  My husband had to take our daughter home, while I stayed with C.  In the ER, I was devastated to learn that with a newborn they have to look for every possibility, and that a 48 hour stay would be the minimum.

In the ER my baby had 3 pokes in the arms and leg before a blood draw was successful and an IV was inserted.  He urinated right before they used a catheter to “empty” his bladder,  this procedure was repeated again the next day because there was not enough urine in the first test (duh!) to draw accurate results.  He also had a botched spinal tap, and a successful one.  He was put on two strains of antibiotics until the cultures came back.

The last dose of antibiotics!

The last dose of antibiotics!

It was horrible, now bear in mind I am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL that we were able to receive the care he needed.  However, watching your newborn endure all of this, while being separated from your partner and toddler is heartbreaking.

After 6 hours of antibiotics it was clear that he had a bacterial infection, but it was a few days before we knew it was a urinary tract infection.

You may already know that UTIs are uncommon in males, but they do occur more frequently in males with intact foreskins.  Our little man happened to be one of those rare cases.

On this topic we had the entire spectrum of advice from different doctors, residents and specialists.  Some of the advice we received was given with great information, some of it was given with great emotion, and some of it was given very disrespectfully.

At the end of it all (and many more procedures) no doctor could explain how he got a UTI or guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again.  We decided that the best way to treat a male UTI is the same way you treat a female UTI: antibiotics, good hygiene and hope for the best.

Now, we had an added layer to these debates or conversations with medical staff.  We had already made a series of unconventional choices for our son, and all of them were questioned:

Home-birth

Water-birth

Using Donor Milk

Declining Erythromycin (antibiotic for the baby’s eyes after birth)

Using oral vitamin K instead of injectable vitamin K

Declining Hepatitis B vaccination

Opting against circumcision

I’m used to scrutiny and lots of raised eyebrows for my crunchy ways, but none of these seemed has intense as it did during our stay after the UTI was discovered.

Baby of Steel, the IV stayed in for 7 full days. Here of our amazing nurses removes it.

Baby of Steel, the IV stayed in for 7 full days. Here of our amazing nurses removes it.

A few reflections on making and living with my decisions as a parent:

At some point you must decide.  

Many decisions in life can be delayed for quite some time, but there are lots of decisions in parenting that are time-sensitive.  Vaccinations was one of them, now if I declined I could change my mind and go ahead and vaccinate as I saw fit.  But once I decided to vaccinate, I couldn’t take it back. This felt like a really harsh lesson, it feels like that often in daily life of parenting.  Eventually, I have to make a decision.

You can’t be an expert on everything

This is a reality of life and it is obvious.  I can’t be an obstetrician and an oncologist, and a rheumatologist, etc,.  I can educate myself, but there is no way to know and understand every debate of parenting.  I just can’t.  With each of my pregnancies and with medical care for each of my children, I have done my research.  No, I could not possibly pour over every research study on each of these topics. I have looked at the spectrum of advice for and against each, and decided what seemed best to me, for me and for my babies.

You should still educate yourself

I firmly believe people, parents in particular, should educate themselves about health care.  We should chose care providers who offer the care we believe in, and they should be people we trust.  Take time to understand why things are recommended and then see if there are reasons to decline that recommendation.

I think knowing why you made a decision makes acceptance of undesirable results easier to bear.  An off-topic example would be my breastfeeding journey.  I believe that breastmilk is the best way to feed my babies, that made it possible for me to push through multiple challen

Your choice does not guarantee your desired results

This is the hardest, isn’t it?  I can’t guarantee that the amazing schooling will make my child a success as an adult.  I can’t be certain that my child won’t get a disease s/he was vaccinated for.  I can’t be certain that my home birth will go as planned.

Oh, this one HURTS.  I had made this series of decisions that, for that week, no one around me liked.  We decided that there was no medical reason to circumcise, and found ourselves in a situation where it might be advisable.  Our research, our prayers, our hope didn’t prevent a UTI.

It is hard, choices we make for the well being of ANOTHER DEFENSELESS HUMAN BEING that we are in love with, come with to guarantees.

This mothering thing, parenting is full of these heart-wrenching choices.  Decide we must, and hope, maybe pray for the best.

Finally, my faith in Christ has helped me through these hard decisions.  Knowing that I am really not in control is hard to accept, but knowing that I serve a good God, allows me to rest in that lack of control.

 

 

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Sparkly Stefka’s Postpartum Life

dayspostpartumWrite 31 Days

October, Another reason to love autumn.  As if apples, squash, crisp air, pumpkin spices, corn mazes, trick-or-treating and bonfires were not reason enough.  The Write 31 Days challenge is here, and I am honored that you have joined me.

God saw fit to direct me to #write31days, and I am so thankful.  I first heard of this challenge in passing on a podcast from Tsh Oxenreider.  I was reminded of it in August while pouring over The Only Hope I’ve Got.  I adore Kayse and her message has been perfectly timed for this season of my life.  Write 31 Days is the working out to be the grand opening of Sparkly Stefka, and I am launching it with a topic near and dear to my heart: postpartum living.  As you read my story, I’d like you to know a little more about my family.

Me and Mine

I am a massage therapist and doula, I am self-employed and I LOVE my work, but they are both physically and emotionally demanding so I limit this work to around 30 hours a week and 1 birth per month.

My husband and I were married in January of 2011. My husband lost his job 4 weeks after our first child was born, and has not had “regular” work since.  This bit of information is important as you read these posts, because although we are currently debt-free concern over finances have always added enormous stress to my times of maternity leave.

These days my husband has quite an irregular job as an artist.  He loves to do sculpture, but he primarily sells hand-crafted mustaches, wands and cardboard swords.  He also is a talented cartoonist.

We have three children, a daughter who will be 4 in December, a son who turns 2 tomorrow, and our freshly born daughter. They are beautiful, funny, smart, silly, energetic and in need of constant care and attention.

Longing

I always loved babies and children, I spent most of my teens and early twenties babysitting, volunteering in church nurseries and children’s church.  I longed all my life to be a mother, and understanding that a diagnosis (at age 15) of PCOS might mean fertility challenges, I was terrified the day I told my (then) boyfriend that I might not be able to have children.  Because we married in our 30s we decided to forgo hormonal birth control and use barrier methods.  My husband and I were shocked to learn I was pregnant just a few months after we married. My dreams were coming true, and without the anxiety or broken-heartednessI expected.

Expectations

I anticipated baby-bliss and because I am a perfectionist and organized, a clean house.  I lack the words to express how much I wanted to be that perfect stay-at-home mom with healthy meals and of course, homemade cookies.

I never thought my dream coming true would be connected with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  The year after my daughter was born was the hardest year of my life.  I was completely in love, and so thankful for her little life.  Yet, I was also broken hearted and overwhelmed.  I felt like a fraud and failure.

The expectations placed by society on women after birthing are varied and confusing.  In my experience, women take this pressure on in different ways, many times it becomes unhealthy.  It can rob us of the beautiful, exhausting experience of bonding with our newborn babies.  This is intensified when we have other children to care for.

Important self care for the new mom!

Now

I write today just 5 weeks after the birth of our third child, a little girl.  I am a little overwhelmed, and by God’s grace, healthy and joyful. I will spend the next 30 days exploring the physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual complexities of postpartum life.  I’ll share about giving birth, breastfeeding struggles, failure to thrive, postpartum depression, marriage with a new baby, and of course the insanity of caring for three children under 4 years of age.

You

If you are close to someone who has recently birthed, please visit her and bring a snack.  Instead of asking how to help, may I suggest that you just start a load of laundry or dishes. Offer to bring a meal over, maybe create a meal train for her. Perhaps you could take her older kids out for a fun activity so she can rest and bond.

If you have just given birth, stay in bed as long as you can.  Ask for help and do something that makes you feel rested and at peace, even if it’s just 3 minutes.

Mamas, you are not alone. Mothering is hard work, especially when your body is recovering from pregnancy and childbirth.  In the last 3 hours, I’ve had 3 baby-free minutes and she cried the whole time.  Ask for help, it’s not selfish.

This Matters

I am passionate about this topic because babies need healthy and happy mothers.  I am passionate because I believe this time is also sacred.  We can allow God to minister to us through the exhausting nights, the long days, the messes, the days without a proper shower.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  Please share this series with anyone you think may benefit from it. You can subscribe to Sparklystefka,com so my posts pop up in your inbox and you don’t have to remember to pop back over here every day. The subscription box is to the left of the posts.  I won’t use your e-mail address in any other way.

 

Unedited photo of my daughter and I shortly after her arrival.

Unedited photo of my daughter and I shortly after her arrival.

 

 

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