Monday, October 7, 2013

17 Days!

Day 17! We've been working hard around here and I am proud of those 17 days the way I was proud of each mile I ran in a half marathon. You don't just say thirteen miles. You say 13.1 miles. And you don't just say two weeks old around here. Around here, it is 17 days old :) Similarly, I am proud of the weight Teresa has put on in those 17 days. She was born at 8 lb 2 oz, went down to about 7 1/2 lbs a few days later and is now at 9 lb 7 oz, a testament to the hours we have spent nursing.

Today is Jason's first day back at work, which I have been dreading. I have never suffered from postpartum depression, but I definitely tend to have some major postpartum anxiety. I am not a typically anxious person and I don't like it! After Joshua was born, it was a few months before I took him grocery shopping because I had this irrational fear about it. Of course, when I finally did it, I wondered why I had been so anxious. And now it just seems absurd to be afraid of going shopping with just one little baby!

A few days ago, Teresa fell asleep on me and all of the sudden I felt incredibly anxious just trying to decide what to do next. Should I lie her down in the living room? Should I just continue to hold her and rest with her? Should I lie her down in her crib? I stood paralyzed with indecisiveness for a couple of minutes, tears streaming down my face and feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy racing through me. Realizing that my tiredness and hormones had the best of me, I laid down for a nap with Teresa. Thank goodness I had enough wisdom and rationale to choose a nap! Such moments come and go, and while they can be very difficult, they don't last for long. And thankfully, once we have discovered our new normal, this unfamiliar anxiety will pass.

I have been afraid of this week, doing it all on my own. When expressing this to Jason, he immediately offered to work from home this week. But I explained that this would just prolong my anxiety. It's like ripping off a band-aid. I just need to get through it, to see that I can do it and that it's  not as bad as I feared.

It has quickly become apparent that I absolutely must be taking care of myself in order to take care of the others who are counting on me. I have to think of this almost as an item on my to-do list and really make it a priority. My idea of what this means has changed and matured over the years. It used to be that I considered taking care of myself as pampering myself or treating myself to something yummy. Well, there isn't the time for pampering myself right now which is just fine. And eating junk that is only going to make me feel lousy has really lost its appeal.

This is like marathon training, remember? I don't need treats. I need fuel! And I need that fuel to be as nutritious and lactogenic (milk producing) as possible. After doing some research, I have decided to limit my dairy intake, chocolate, cabbage, broccoli and peanuts as these can cause gas and colic in babies. If you knew how much ice cream I ate over the summer, you would understand that giving that up is a huge challenge!

On the menu for the coming weeks will be lots of yams, beets, carrots, spinach and other dark leafy greens, oatmeal, almonds, cashews, macadamian nuts, brown rice, salmon, butter (all fats in moderation), olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, tumeric, garlic, lentils, hummus, papaya, asparagus and apricots. And of course, lots and lots of water!

Of course, taking care of myself also means trying to rest when I can. There's always the advice given, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." Yeah, well, that's good and all with your first baby. But with number four? It usually isn't possible. Occasionally I will be able to nap when she does. But I have to broaden my definition of rest. For instance, right now I am writing. Teresa is sleeping, Joshua is reading, Veronica is napping and Noah is listening to an audiobook. So I am taking a break from folding laundry and doing dishes, sitting and writing about life which is very therapeutic and relaxing for me. Also, I have been going to bed each night around 9:00 or 9:30, helping me to make the most of the nighttime hours.

I also have to make sure I am connecting with the outside world. When my whole world is diapers, nursing, crying, whining, sibling arguments, dishes, laundry, cooking and schoolwork, I can easily get overwhelmed. Getting out of the house, going for a walk, talking on the phone to a friend--these are all important in order for me to keep some sanity and make my problems and concerns not seem so daunting.

I also need to make sure that I remember to pray. I especially need to pray for God's grace and help in being patient with the older children. It's easier to be patient with a baby. But I tend to focus on how hard things are for me and forget that this is a difficult change for the older children too. 

I realize this post may seem like I am complaining or unhappy. Neither is true. It's just real. I could sit here and write about how beautiful my baby is, which of course she is. I could write about how amazing it is to look into her eyes, which of course it is. I could write about how moved I am to see Joshua, Noah and Veronica already love her the way that they do. I could write about how the other day, I was so euphoric as I watched God's light pour through our window and was moved to tears. These are all real moments too.

But the truth is, it's more comforting and helpful for me to write about what I'm struggling with.

While I'm sure I put my best self forth on my blog, I try to also be real and share my difficulties too. And like all of the most worth while things in life, this journey is wonderful, but it is also hard.