Saturday, June 8, 2013

For Jet

Hey baby,

I know I've probably asked you how old you are almost every day since it happened - but it's just that I can hardly believe it. You turned 4. My baby is four years old. 

You wouldn't agree that you're a baby by any means. In fact when you asked to watch a video and I called it by it's name "Baby Einsteins : Noah's Ark" you argued with me that it wasn't for "babies." I hope you didn't see me giggling. Because honey - it's totally for babies. And I find it quite hilarious that you've taken an renewed interest in a video I used to prop you up with pillows to watch from 4-6pm (aka "the bewitching hours") waiting for Daddy to get home when you were about 6 months old. But you go ahead and watch it sweet boy. Watch it along with Peter Rabbit and Sofia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates and every other kind of cartoon/commercial/preview you love my little TV-holic. And I will continue to only slightly lie to your pediatrician that you watch less than 2hrs of TV a day. 
(Some days we just have to watch "The Incredibles" twice, people. We just do.)

I'm sorry we don't let you watch the oldSpiderman reruns from the 1960's (that Daddy found on youtube) anymore. You love those so much! And we thought they were perfect. The dialogue was so dull and innocent - and the "violence" consisted of cartoon fights covered by clouds of smoke or an occasional close up of either spiderman or the villain. And the song is so catchy. It seemed perfect for a the budding superhero fan. Until you started waking up 10 times a night talking about snakes,  bears, lizards, owls, aliens, skeletons, vultures, and everything in between. (None of which we had any idea why.) Those weren't apparent themes of any of your videos. But we thought perhaps things were just getting a little "too big, too fast." So we decided to do a little "detox" and deleted the youtube app from our phones so you couldn't find it (you crazy techno-genius) and went back to Chugginton and Curious George. You know - safe, normal shows with talking trains and a destructive monkey who can somehow communicate with any given person and lives with a man who only wears yellow.

Oh my. Jet you are just amazing. You probably know that. In fact I'm pretty sure that's what you hear in your head every time I talk to you because you smile gloriously at almost anything.
Me :"Jet - did you make this at school?"
Jet : "Yes!"
Jet's eyes: "Yes! I created that out of no where! And I have no idea what it is or how it came about or why my name is on it - but I'm pretty sure I made it and it's the most fantastic thing anyone has done since I made that other thing yesterday!"

 My heart could burst.

You are my sour patch kid. My make-the-biggest-mess-I've-ever-seen kid. My I-won't-eat-ice-cream-but-I'll-eat-a-pina-colada-flavored-dumdum kid. (??) My Boo. My sweetheart. My incredibly stubborn, smart, yet fearless let's-point-at-mommy-and-say-something-bossy-and-see-what-she-does kid.

You mystify me.

I can't always predict your reaction anymore. I still can read your emotions like a book - but have no idea why you're feeling them. There are times I have no idea where you learned what you know. Or why you said what you said. Or why you're looking at me like I'm Wonder Woman in the flesh one minute, and like I ate the last cookie the next.

Ok maybe because I sometimes do eat the last cookie. And I could say I was sorry. But let's be honest.

I love you honey.

I love you so much.

I love you so much that I sometimes stop breathing when I'm rocking you at night - praying so hard for God to let me keep you just a little bit longer. It probably seems a strange way to think (and not very healthy for me to stop breathing). Why am I afraid? You are a precious, perfect, picture of health right now. Why would I worry about that changing? And I don't really worry. Not really. What would it accomplish? But I know Who holds your life and mine in His hands. I know Who made you. I know Who you belong to. And I also know His plans do not and will not always coincide with my own. 
I know that. 
And I trust it and am terrified by it at the same time. I can't wait to tell you more about Him. To share with you this journey of faith and fear and everything that comes with it. To see you understand it and to watch your understanding grow and change. And I pray I get the chance - and that your Daddy and I raise you right in His eyes. 
And in the meantime I strive to take nothing - not my life, my family, my home 
and especially not my most cherished blessing - you - for granted. Nothing is guaranteed us. Nothing is owed to us. Everything we have is His. So we should cherish it.

That doesn't mean we are perfect.'re still pretty close. But I know you are like us. And one day your mistakes will grow from spilling milk on the couch or throwing a rock at a dog or slapping a baby on the head (Yes honey. You have done all those things. And you repeated my mortified apologies in the same tone as one would say "happy birthday!") But you will make more serious mistakes - and face more difficult consequences. You will feel Awkward. Embarrassed. Guilty. Ashamed. Angry. Vengeful. Confused. Hurt. You will face heartbreak and retaliation. You will feel alone even though you are not. You will feel unworthy as we all have felt. You will feel lost at times. Or betrayed. At times you might even feel betrayed by the person you though you were.

But know this.

You will never be less loved than you are at this very moment. Not by me, nor your Daddy, nor our Father in Heaven. Our love for you has only ever grown with time - and it will only grow stronger, purer, more refined with every passing year of your life. You will never fully know how strongly my heart beats for you. How fervently I pray for you. How beautiful you are to me. How feircely I would fight for you. How willingly I'd die for you. And even if you break my heart someday - and you probably will - it's been broken before sweet boy. 
I think God and I know how to put the pieces back together by now.
 It won't change my love.

It's amazing - how God not only demonstrated His love for me by sending His son to die for my sins - but then He made me a mother to a son whom I love so much it hurts sometimes. And the knowledge that my love for you may be a drop in the ocean compared to His love for you, and me, and all His children - that my sweet boy - is impossible to comprehend. But I believe it. And that faith keeps me going. It will keep you going one day. I pray that you let it.

Four years ago this past May 26th, I was the most nervous I'd ever been in my life. We'd been through some of the scariest times in our lives - some major ups and downs - and then there we were at the hospital. Getting ready to meet the miracle baby we'd been praying for. My mind was racing and I remember thinking "I can't do this." There was a nameless fear on my heart that I couldn't shake and I seriously contemplated ripping the iv out of my arm and running waddling out of there before they could take me back to surgery.

But when I saw you...heard you...when they held you up in all your baby gory glory. I felt a peace like no other come over me. For up until that moment I thought I had loved you - and in many ways I had - but in that moment, true love was born in my heart. 
I was acutely aware of God's love for you - that He gave you life.
And God's love for me - that He gave me you.

I don't know if every mother feels like this about her baby. Or father for that matter. I don't know if I'm embarrassing your future self by referring to you as my "baby" at the ripe old age of 4 and frankly, I don't care. ;) I don't know if it's the same with every child or different for every person. I cannot help but feel I have more of this love to give and therefore I pray God will bless you with siblings one day. And of course, I pray someday you and your wife will feel this for your children. But for now, Jet Montgomery Penny, I want you to know that from before you were born, and at 4 seconds old, 4 days old, 4 months old, and 4 years old (ok....I'll admit it...4 months old was a little "touch-and-go" there for a while) - I have loved you from the start. You are my sunshine in every way. I love being your mommy even with all the challenges it brings and all the tears I have cried - my every hope has always been, and will always be, for you to grow and live a life full of Love. Because it's the only way to live, angel. It's the only thing we have sometimes. And it's the closest thing we have to understanding God, His plan, and our Hope in heaven. So as wonderful as life can be - as each birthday has just gotten sweeter to celebrate - just imagine how amazing it will be to spend eternity with the One who gave His son for us, long before He gave you to me.

Happy 4 years little boy. 
I am so proud, blessed and honored to be the one you call Mommy.
Or "Mama."
Or "Joanna."
Or "Hey babe!" when you're calling from the bathroom.
I understand your reasoning behind all those. 
And I love you for them as well.

For all the silly and the sweet things that make you who you are,
And for all the stubborn and flat-out startling ones as well,

 I love you to California and back. 

Because let's face it - California is way more awesome than the moon.
It's got beaches and Disneyland and great weather and so many friends and Chewy and Gumbo! 
(ok...I know I just lost some of you there - but this letter is for Jet so just go with it.) 
And we both know I'm never getting anywhere close to a rocket ship. 
Or a blimp. Or a whale. Or a replica of a dinosaur. Or giant inflatable gorilla. 
And if we're lucky, you will understand all those things in time.

xoxo xxxxxx
(come and I both know I kiss you an absorbent amount of times)

All my heart,

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Looking Glass

(I wrote this post this past weekend - on the evening of my little guy's birthday. It was a beautiful day - but a difficult evening for me. Not because of anything to do with him or anyone. But because of my own battle with anxiety and depression (original post here). Then I hesitated to share it because of my love for him. What if he reads this someday? Will he worry that his mommy wasn't happy on his birthday? Will that hurt him? Will he feel less important somehow? Maybe I should post about his birthday party first then share this later. Then last night happened. A horrible night of what I can only fathom was some intense side effects from one of the anxiety medications I'm taking. I'm not sure which one. I'm not even sure that's what it was. But I've never felt so out-of-my-head. It's wasn't a panic attack. It wasn't a dream. It was something new. And it scared me and angered me at the same time. So here I am again. Not through this tunnel yet. Questioning myself. Knowing others are questioning. "why not stop the meds?" "do you really need them?" "medications can't be the answer" "isn't there a better way?" Honestly...I don't know. What I do know is 5 months ago I was unable to function. Unable to eat. Unable to drive, cook, work, do laundry, or rock my little boy to sleep. Unable to think. Now I can.What I do know is I am still doing everything. Everything. From prayer and meditation to therapists and counselors, from meds and doctors to lifestyle changes and a new way of thinking. What I do know is I am improving. But I'm still here. Still trying. Still waiting. And I need to share this with you.)

Hello world.

Today my little miracle turned 4 years old.
Today my mind was filled with the wonder at his existence.
Today my heart was filled with love for a piece of myself that I'm convinced is better than my whole self will ever be.
Today my soul was full of gratitude to God for a gift I could never have imagined.
For not only has He sent His Son to die for me, and save me from my sin, but then He sent me my son, to save my life all over again.

And through all the happy times, and all I have to to be thankful for.
And through all the difficult times and all I've had to be afraid of.
And through all the heartbreaking times and all I've had broken inside me.
He remains the One to gave it all to me...and the One who watches over me and holds me when it is taken away.

Today is my little boy's birthday.
If ever there was a day to feel happy - it's today right?
But amid the excitement and joy ... my heart kept crying out within me.

Hello world. I am in pain. And I hate it.

"What?" you say? "On such a happy day how can you feel anything but love? I know birthday parties can be stressful but just relax! It's all fine! You're not really hurting. It's just (stress/hormones/satan). Let's go out for ice cream*."

And maybe I would.
But if ice cream could fill the hole that gnaws and grows in my heart, we'd all be a whole lot happier. And probably a whole lot fatter. 
But I digress.

To anyone who has ever suffered from depression, panic or anxiety disorder. You know what I'm saying. And I'm so sorry you do. It's not a road I'd choose to be walking and I know you feel the same.

To anyone who hasn't...the difficult truth is you don't know what I'm saying.
You don't understand it.
You can't understand it.
You may think you do. You may know an acquaintance/sibling/mother/child/neighbor who claims to have suffered from it. But you don't really know.
You may sympathize. You may judge.
You may reach out. You may look away.
Some of you may research and read about what mental illness is all about.
Some of you will choose to remain ignorant.
And I wish I could say the only person you're hurting by doing that is you...

...but that's not true.

You're hurting those who are suffering in earnest - and you don't even realize it. 
You're hurting my friends.
You're hurting my sisters
And you're hurting me.

By believing that this monster that has eaten it's way into our lives is not "real".
Or that it can be easily controlled or defeated.
That it's all in our head. It's a mental game that can be beat simply by doing something different. Making a change - a decision - to beat it.
And it's just weakness or drama on our part by not getting past it.
Your false judgments along with your innocent misunderstandings hurt us.

How do I know?
Because I've been on both sides of this looking glass.

I've been the one to think "if they just didn't stress out so easily" or "if they didn't try to do so much" or "if they just had their priorities in check" then life would be easier. They need to chill out.

I've been the one to criticize saying "life's tough people, wear a helmet" or question their faith thinking "they just need to let go of all of this and realize God's in control."

I've been the one to sympathize saying "things will calm down soon - life's full of ups and downs. You'll be fine. I get it. We've all been there." then forget about them, or worse, wonder judgmentally if "they are just doing this for attention."

God knows I've been that person.
To strangers. To friends. To family.

Not always being cruel but certainly not always being understanding. How could I when I'm always thinking to myself - why all the drama? Why all the tears? Why all the disappearances and emotional break downs? Why do they do this to themselves?

Did you hear that? 
That was the sound of my heart cracking open just a bit more at the verbalization of my own misunderstandings, my mistakes, my shortcomings.

How dare I assume I knew "better"? That I knew what was really going on. That I knew what they needed. I knew what they were feeling without even asking. That I'd "been there done that". 
We all have pain right? We all have anxieties right? We all have stress right? 
We're all the same...really??

No. Not really.
You are not me. I am not my neighbor. And my neighbor is not her mother.
We are all individuals.
We are all God's children.
We are all created in His image.
We have commonalities. Similarities. Shared experiences.
But we are in no way - all the same.

Most of you know I'm on the other side of that looking glass now.
I came crashing through it a few weeks before Christmas and much to my dismay I'm pretty certain this is where I have to stay. There's no way to the other side of the mirror now. It's broken - I've seen the other side - and I can't fix it anymore than I can rewind the clock.
I am where I am. God has brought me here for a reason and I don't say that lightly - I mean it. I know He has purpose for me and as long as I am seeking Him, He will lead me - even when I can't see where we are going. And while the bigger wounds from my crash into the glass have been treated and cared for. While doctors have monitored and amended and redesigned my care plan. While God is healing in His time and I cling to His promises. And while I'm seeing pieces of my old self more and more in the reflection of this broken mirror....I need you all to know something.

I am still picking splinters of glass out of my body.

I still remember every bit of what it felt like to be so physically ill I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't think, couldn't cry. I still have days when I'm not sure what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it.
I still have moments when I talk to God so hard and so long that the tears - oh those blessed tears FINALLY come and I feel relief. It's odd how tears are a curse when you can't stop crying for months on end, until you've been numbed to your own emotions and suddenly tears are a blessing. I can tell you that numbness, for me, is so much scarier than crying.

I need you to know - I still have pain.
Pain so deep that it makes me question who I am and why am I doing this to myself?
Here I am on the other side of that looking glass asking myself that very same question.
How very telling.

And I will tell you right now. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks - are real illness.
You can make the illness harder.
You can make it last longer by ignoring it until it finally crushes you. Or you can fuel it in a negative way enough that it will consume you. Or you can choose to recognize it - face it head on - and seek the attention needed to heal this illness.
But you can't make this up.
Who would ever choose to live this way?
This isn't just the occasional case of the blues, or a fight with your spouse, or an emotional week.
This is a daily fight for your sanity and your health. Your ability to cope. Your desire to keep going.

I am not doing this to myself.
Friends - you are not doing this to yourselves any more than the woman with thyroid disorder (um yep - that's me again) or the man with high cholesterol or the young girl with an eating disorder are doing those things to themselves.

Those are real problems.
Those are treatable problems.
But those are not always preventable, nor predictable, nor self-inflicted problems.
Sometimes illness is just illness.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

That's the diagnosis they've given me to explain the last 5 months (or longer if you talk to my therapist) of my life.
And honestly - I hate it. I didn't want it. I want to be ok! I want to be happy!
Every bone in my body, every fiber of my being, every logical thought in my mind tells me - you don't want this. Push it away. Fight it off. Make it stop. You're stronger than this.
If you've been reading my blog you know - I want another baby. I want to grow and serve and do MORE! Not fall apart into nothing.
I don't want this.
I didn't ask for this.
I'm not ok with this.

So somewhere between "that's a really stupid diagnosis" and "oh thank goodness I'm not crazy!" I have tried to find peace. 
It's one day at a time. 
It's one step up and two steps back.
It's a roller coaster...and I hate roller coasters.

But if you understand nothing else from my (potentially stream-of-conscious-style) writing please understand this.

This is a real illness.

Not merely physical - though some of the physical symptoms include muscle tension, dizziness, chills, sweaty hands/feet, heart palpitations, dry mouth, numbness in the hands/feet, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and the inability to be calm and still. (btw - I can check all those boxes)

It's not merely mental/emotional - though feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness, nightmares, problems sleeping, repeated thoughts, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks, crippling fear and severe anxiety are common symptoms.

It's a life-effecting, game-changing, mind-bending, heart-wrenching illness that I for one cannot wait to beat. I pray to God that it is His will I will be healed. That this is not like Paul's "thorn in the flesh" and I must content myself with it because He knows how much it's broken me thus far.
It has not torn me away from Him.
But at times I feel my very being is tearing itself in half.

Mental illness gets the short end of the stick. It's unfairly named as "mental" as if your physical body is somehow unaffected. And for some horrible reason it's developed a reputation for being a "made-up" illness. We are desensitized with with such words as "crazy" and "unstable" and confuse a true medical imbalance with someone who is "lacking in faith," a "control-freak" or "just a worrier."

If there is anyone out there who is more of a skeptic than I am, we've never met.
I am all about reason. Finding answers. Making sense of everything. I drive my family crazy questioning everything. Not believing it until I can see it for myself. (Doubting Thomas anyone?)
And that has been God's theme of the last 5 years of my life. He is truly refining me with fire - showing me that I am NOT always going to be able to find a reason, or an answer, or a solution.
That I can be wrong.
That I can be weak.
That I am vulnerable to lose what I most want to control.
Even myself.

But if living these trials has taught me anything it's that God can use anything for His purpose. He can turn even our greatest pain into a mysterious blessing that gives life to something worthy and beautiful.

This was hard to write.
I almost didn't write it because I felt awful for sharing something so difficult on the birthday of my sweetest blessing.
But if I pretend that I'm only suffering on bad days - that's not helping anyone.
Not me. 
Not others who are beating themselves up for feeling sad during happy times.
Not those who don't understand that this is not circumstantial or controllable.
The reality of mental illness isn't pretty or easily compartmentalized or convenient.
The reality is that even when everything is okay - this illness tells you it's not.

There are many times I wish I was still on the other side of the looking glass. 
Blissfully ignorant of what it's like to experience any trials : miscarriage, the heartbreak of losing a baby, the fear of what your unborn child's disabilities will mean for your family, the longing of wanting to be pregnant for 2 years with no success, the helplessness of anxiety and the hopelessness of it's sidekick depression.

But on the other hand...if the looking glass was still perfectly intact, I would still be looking vainly at my own reflection. Unaware, unable to relate to anyone other than myself. Focused on the image before me and all I wanted see. How I thought life should be.

So even though it hurts like shattered glass through my heart, I'd rather be looking to God to help me pick up the pieces and see through His eyes, than spend my life gazing mindlessly at my own reflection.

Because no matter what I see in the mirror - it's still me. The way He made me. The way He is molding me daily to be. Not perfect. But somehow perfected in His love.

Thank you.
Thank you for caring enough to read this.
And if you are so inclined - you can use this link to learn more about what's affecting so many - most of whom are still suffering in silence for the fear of being misunderstood, perceived as weak, or feeling guilty for the pain they feel - even though it is out of their control.

*It should be noted that I have a "super" wonderful birthday boy post on it's way. :) He had an awesome birthday - best yet in fact - and I am so blessed to be his momma. It should also be noted that I wrote this and was later invited out to ice cream by my sweet siblings before I posted. Ironic and totally coincidental guys. So don't think I was trying to say anything. ;) I love you. And I love ice cream.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Parental Parallel

While my most recent posts have allowed readers insight into my own struggles and stresses - my personal weaknesses and worries - there is another in this household who is no stranger to anxiety. He has asked to remain anonymous in this post, so for this purpose he is wearing a mask.

This young man suffers numerous anxieties a day as he encounters the various roadblocks, injustices, and hardships of being a 3 year old. So I have decided to share with you just 30 of the reasons this 3 year old might be upset with me on any given morning. And I must warn you, it is truly heartbreaking...according to him.
  1. He doesn't want to wake up.
  2. He wants to watch a show.
  3. He doesn't want to watch that show.
  4. He can't tell me what show he wants to watch. I'm supposed to know.
  5. He can't hear the show, he needs the "memote" to make it "bigger"
  6. He wants chocolate waffles...5 mintues ago.
  7. He wants chocolate milk.
  8. There's not enough chocolate in his milk.
  9. He dropped a piece of waffle on the floor. And it's dirty.
  10. *Clover kicked her poop out of her cage onto the floor.
  11. He wants to pick it up and give it back to her and I won't let him.
  12. He wants to rock. 
  13. Not in that rocking chair. In the other one.
  14. He wasn't finished with his breakfast and I took it away. 
  15. He wants real clothes.
  16. He doesn't want that shirt. He wants  a super hero shirt.
  17. Not the batman shirt.
  18. Not the superman shirt.
  19. He wants the iron man shirt.
  20. He doesn't own an iron man shirt.
  21. He wants to wear a mask to school. 
  22. He doesn't want to comb his hair because then he has to take off his mask.
  23. It's time to go to school and he wants to play at home.
  24. I made him get in the car.
  25. He wants to listen to High School Musical 3.
  26. He doesn't want me to dance.
  27. He doesn't want me to sing.
  28. He doesn't want me to lip-sync.
  29. He doesn't want me to look at him in the rearview mirror.
  30. We've arrived at school. He doesn't want to leave me. He suddenly forgets how incompetent of a human being I have been thus far and wants nothing more than to be by my side. We part ways.
And that my friends. Is what true anxiety looks like. And he can't even take a xantax. Poor kid. 

Don't you just feel so sorry for him? I wish there was something I could do to make life happier for the little fella. But alas. It's his burden to bear.

*For those of you who haven't met Clover...

She also wishes to remain anonymous. So out of respect, I'm afraid I can't tell you which one she is. But she is happy to be a new part of our family.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Unspoken : Baby Talk

Just a note :) **As a follow up to my last post about my recent battles with anxiety - thank you so much for your sweet encouragement. What beautiful friends and family I have. I am doing my best to  live one day at a time and so far I am thankful for how much better I am feeling. I know it's a long journey. And I am getting lots of help! And by no means do I think I'm "all better now." But God is with me. There is joy in my days. There is purpose in my life. And there is hope above all else. So thank you.**

*Warning: This post is extremely wordy. In fact there are NO adorable pictures of my son or ANY pictures for that matter, (gasp!) I know. It's horribly disappointing. Some of you may just bail right now. But I hope you don't. And I promise to make it up to you soon. He's just getting cuter you guys. I kid you not. So just you wait. :)*

Similar to my last post, there are many things that have inspired me to write this - both recent and ongoing - but at the heart of it all is this : I want to be real. I want to grow. I want to reach out. I want to live fully and honestly and happily. And this is one way I feel I can do that.

Ok here goes.

No, I’m not pregnant.
I know the title had the word "baby" in it but no - I'm not pregnant.
For some, that sentence might carry as fairly neutral or dismissive tone as I’m sure many of you read it. For others, it might have a humorous ring to it like “No I’m not pregnant! Can you imagine?!” or even bring a sigh of relief to some. But for others – it brings slightly different feelings. Feelings of longing, frustration, sadness, or real pain. And if you could feel the twisting of my gut just typing those words – you would know where I fall in those categories.

If you could feel the way I catch my breath and my stomach lurches when I see a baby shower invitation, or ultrasound picture or cutesy photo on facebook announcing that someone else is going to be welcoming a baby into their lives – you would know how deeply I want that for myself.  If you could see me read one of the many emails I receive about scheduling a maternity or newborn photography session and see my eyes burn with tears and feel my heart race– you would know how sometimes my love of photography intertwines with my own personal hurt so much it makes me dizzy.
If you could hear my thoughts, read my heart, feel what I feel … you’d know.
Yes. I want another baby.

I want another baby so much that I will probably put Jet in footie pajamas till he’s 15 unless I get one. He's in one now. I kid you not. I’m grasping at his last bits of babyhood so fiercely that I may very likely lose my mind at his 4th birthday next month. My baby is growing up so wonderfully…but so fast.

I want another baby so much that I’m pretty certain it’s a big part of what pushed my recent anxiety attacks into the nightmare they became. That no matter how I tried to not want it so much., to just live and let live. To just be thankful for what I have been given and focus on all the wonderful things I can do in my life.
I still want another baby so much it hurts.

It’s not that I begrudge anyone else their babies – please! Such a beautiful blessing to be given. I love when my friends and family become mommies. Babies are to be celebrated and cherished. I love being an Aunt and hope to have more nieces and nephews to come. I want you to have your babies. God bless your heart if you think your baby makes me sad. Not at all sweet mommas. 
If I shed a tear it’s not for you, it’s for me.
I don’t want your baby. I want my own.

We want to grow our family and have wanted this for 2 years now.

Did most of you know this?
 Probably not.
It’s extremely personal.
Just like my previous post on anxiety – it’s not something we generally like to talk about. Even with our spouses it can be difficult to open up about. It’s not something to you dive into over a quick cup of coffee with a friend nor would it be polite dinner conversation. It’s kinda heavy. It’s certainly serious. And it’s way too emotional for the everyday chat with the neighbors or even sometimes with your own family. But just like my battle with anxiety – I know that I am not alone in these feelings. I can feel it. I can see it. And now…my heart is aching not only for myself, but for the others, some of them very dear to me.

There are many women I know (friends, family, even acquaintances) with whom I have discovered common ground in these areas that I would have otherwise never known  - because we don’t usually talk about these things. Who wants to?
Infant loss.
When you have lived through something I just listed above– just hearing about it is like the sting of a band-aid being ripped off a wound that never seems to heal. Talking about it can be like pouring salt in that wound. But keeping it inside – for me - that has to have been the worst pain of all.

I know all pain is relative.
Everyone is different. Every circumstance is different. Everyone feels, copes, processes, and handles things different. But somewhere in all those differences there has to be some commonality.
Whether you have struggled to get pregnant for 6 months or 6 years.
Whether you have had 1 miscarriage or 5.
Whether you have lost a child at birth or just too soon into their lives.
Whether you have no kids…or 2 kids…or 4…when you want a baby - you want a baby. The desire to be a mother is one of the strongest, deepest most compelling feelings we as women can have. There is certainly nothing else like it for me. The pain, the confusion, the anger, the frustration, the fear, the heartbreak of the above situations may manifest itself differently in each person. And it may differ in one individual from one experience to the next. But at the core I can’t help but feel like the hurt is somehow the same.

Before we had Jet, we lost our first baby early on in the pregnancy in a miscarriage. And I will be the first to tell you that it ripped. my. heart. out. I had never felt a pain like that before. I’d heard of it happening. I’d had friends who I’d seen go through it. I felt as if I could sympathize. It was sad, but there was always that strength you witnessed in their actions and words that consoled you into thinking “it’s all gonna be ok.” But nothing could have prepared me for fear that gripped me at those first drops of blood, nor the stabbing in my heart when I learned I was in fact losing the baby. My baby. My baby I’d dreamed about since I played with baby dolls. My baby I’d already bought little white Auburn booties for to surprise Daddy the night I told him. My baby that I loved with all my being the instant that magical Clear Blue digital pregnancy test in the Starbucks restroom said “pregnant”. My baby who I’d excitedly told my family and coworkers about within 48hrs. My baby! Whom I’d only known about for 4 days but felt as if I’d been a mother always…was suddenly gone. Only a few days to fall in love so hard – to see your life changing before your eyes in a beautiful flash – and having it harshly taken away truly felt as if a part of me were dying as well. Like I said. I know everyone is different. But for me, this was the first time my heart was truly broken. I felt emptier than I’d ever felt before. My baby was gone. And I questioned God’s plan for me, and how this could possibly have been the right thing to happen. Will I ever know what it’s like to have 2, or 3, or 4 miscarriages? I don’t know. I pray not.
 And when I think of the mothers who have gone 5, 6, 10. 14, 20 weeks, full term and beyond their first years and lost their babies. My heart cannot fathom the feeling.

I was a walking shadow of myself for weeks. There were of course ups and downs. God let me work through pain then took it away and brought me peace. I was healing…slowly. 
Too slow it seemed most times.
 Then one day something changed. I found out I was pregnant again. God gave me my second baby. The baby whom I found out about after a quick 6am stop at Walgreens and practically running into the bathroom of the elementary school I was teaching at to take the test. The baby I kept secret from everyone but family as long as I could. The baby I was equally excited and terrified about for weeks. The baby I prayed non-stop would be my baby. My baby to have in my arms. My baby to help heal the hurt. And for almost 20 weeks, he was. He was my precious, perfect baby boy.

Then many of you know what happened next.
 After some bloodwork came back abnormal, we were sent to a perinatologist to check everything out. Everything was “probably fine”. We just have to be sure.
And that’s when I lost a baby for the 2nd time. That’s when the doctors told me that the beautiful, perfect, angel boy growing inside me had a severe form of neuro-tube defect and would most likely be incompatible with life. That’s when they told me about my option to abort so I wouldn’t have to carry him just to watch him die. That’s when my still fragile heart burst into a thousand little pieces and fell in the form of endless tears from my eyes. I cried till there were no tears left. I cried until my heart physically hurt within me. I cried until I was numb. Out of breath. Out of tears. Out of thoughts. Then I would stop, rest, and then cry some more.
I knew I couldn’t abort my baby.
My baby who was still alive and moving inside me.
Dear God I can’t do that to him.
But I didn’t know how I would ever survive carrying him 4 more months knowing I would have to say goodbye. Or at best – see him on life support or in a comatose state – severely handicapped for whatever short life he lived. I was so broken I was certain I would never be whole again. I prayed right then to God that no one, no mother, would ever have to feel this pain I was in. I prayed that He would just take me and my baby right then and there - to heaven – where we could be together whole and perfect without living another day of this nightmare. But many mothers have lived this pain before me and many have gone on to feel this pain since. And God didn’t take me then. But nor did He take my baby. Instead, He gave us a miracle. A miracle in the form of a second appointment that gave us a new hope – a diagnosis that our son had Spina Bifida – that he may never walk, would be developmentally delayed, would have bladder and bowel problems his whole life and perhaps a string of other issues – but that he was going to live.

That miracle – is our Jet.
My sweet Jet Montgomery Penny born in the beautiful month of May and who will turn 4 years old in a matter of weeks. The funniest, cutest, wildest, sweetest part of our lives. A dream born out of what threatened to be the worst nightmare of my life. My baby.

Being Jet’s mommy has been one of the most profound and rewarding experiences of my life, and this love is more beautiful than I could have ever known.
So of course, I want to do it all over again. J

We’ve always planned to have more children. And we were able to get pregnant so quickly the first 2 times that it seemed like having more was only a matter of when we wanted more. It’s up to us right? So let’s wait till Jet’s 2 and then get pregnant again. Oh how God must have smiled knowingly and shook His head at us. His poor children still thinking they’re in control  - not relying on His plan but trusting in their own understanding of “how it should happen.” Little did we know…just because you’ve had a baby doesn’t mean you’re a baby factory. And boy was that a hard lesson for this momma heart to learn. After a few months of “see what happens” we slid into “ok lets maybe pay a little attention to timing” then shaking our heads in confusion started asking doctors for tips on increasing our chances and what we should do to get pregnant. Mostly we heard “you’re both so young. No worries, it will happen” or “the average time it takes for couples to conceive is 9 months to a year – just wait,” or my personal favorite “oh just stop thinking about it and it will happen.”

Now if you’ll just hold onto my heart and brain for a bit while I go live in a world free of baby ads, baby clothes, and actual babies, I’ll go “not think about” it a while.

Ok so maybe that’s dramatic.
There are certainly days – even weeks – where I feel like I’m “not thinking about it.” In fact, with my recent battle with anxiety and how awful I’ve felt and all the medications I’ve been trying I’m certainly not on baby-watch right now. Deep down I know what’s good for me and my family – and getting pregnant right now would not be that thing. But with so many reminders (including one monthly reminder that screams in your face “no baby in there again this time sucker!”) It’s honestly pretty much impossible not to think about it. Yes I’ve heard the stories of so-and-so who gave up on getting pregnant then was suddenly expecting twins or the Mr and Mrs who decided to finally adopt then found out within weeks they were expecting. I know. It happens. They “stopped thinking about it” and it happened. Or so it seems.
But I’m telling you.
You can’t make yourself stop thinking about it.

All you can do is try to think about other things and make those your focus. Being a mommy to the awesome little boy I have. Being a wife to my husband. Being a friend to those who need me. Being a servant of God and sharing His love with others. Did God put me here solely to have kids? I’m pretty sure that answer is “no”. So what else could I, should I be thinking about? Not that I think we should feel guilty or beat ourselves up for wanting things in life like healthy relationships, marriage, children and good jobs that we truly love. Those are blessings God has given us and He created us to want them. But He didn’t create us to stress or obsess about these things. And as difficult as it is for any of us, most especially me, to not think and worry and plan and take the responsibility for mine and other’s happiness on my shoulders – my shoulders are not nearly big enough.

But His are.

When I was a little girl. I would say “when I grow up I want to be a mommy…then a ballerina.” Now. I share that not only to show the incredibly poor planning on my part, but to show you where my heart has always been. I wanted to be a mommy. I love my own momma so much. I wanted to be just like her. Still do. Many would say I’ve succeeded. So much so that we often show up dressed alike at the gym or church or each other’s houses without meaning to. I promise. Some have questioned the legitimacy this phenomena but as much as I love my mother – what 28 year old girl on earth would purposely dress as twins with their mom?

So to have experienced a miscarriage first, then think I’m going to lose my 2nd baby at birth, then to want more children and have to wait much longer than I ever, ever, planned. This has been a struggle for me. I know 2 years for some may seem short. I guess relatively it is. I know I already have a child. I know there are others with no children who have tried 5 times as long with no success. I know that. 

But this is my life.
My heart.
My longings.
And no one can tell me that one person’s pain isn’t equal to another’s.

That one person’s suffering in one area is somehow “less” difficult because of the circumstances. Logically – yes it would seem that having a child is better than no children. I 100% agree. My boy is beyond precious to me. But does having him make me want another baby less? No. If anything it makes me want another baby more. For once I felt the love of a mother…when I first dreamed it….then got my first a glimpse of it…then finally held my dream in my arms….my desire if anything grew stronger. I love him more everyday. So how could I ever compare the loss of a child at 2 weeks, 2 years or 22 years old? I can’t. We can’t. We can only know what we’ve personally experienced. What we’ve felt. What we’ve lived. So in my mind, there is no ranking the heartaches of motherhood. Whether you have no children. Whether you’ve never been pregnant, or you’ve had a miscarriage, or you suffered the loss of a child already born to you. The pain is incomparable. And to try and compare our sadness or experiences to others in that way is only harmful. Unless you do so in order to keep perspective in your own life. Such as realizing that while so many may seem to “have it easier than you”, there are just as many who you might find have it much more difficult.

There’s that saying “if we all threw our problems in a box with the rest of the world’s problems, we’d all pick our own right back up.” Life isn’t always what we plan. In fact in my experience it’s rarely what I planned. And I’m pretty sure God is doing that on purpose. Not because He gets a kick out of it (although He might, just a little). But because He loves me, and He knows me, and He’s trying to bring me closer to Him, despite my arrogant insistence that I have the best plan ever and I can do it on my own if only He’d listen to me more.


So I write this for me. To really search my heart and my feelings – to reevaluate my relationships and my goals – to focus on my place in the world right now and my role in God’s family plan.
And I write this for you. The mothers who are blessed with children. The mothers who have lost children. The mothers who have known the pain, heartbreak and fear that I have in one way or another. And the mothers who are still yet to be. You are all in my heart.
So there you have it.
Another piece of me.
A big piece.
A very current, ever-changing, still-unsolved, daily-learning, one-step-at-a-time piece of my life. I’m not asking for answers or tips or even encouragement (although of course I would never turn any act of kindness away). I simply wanted to share it. For many reasons, but mostly because this is on my mind and has been for some time. This is who I am. This is what God has placed on my heart and after years of keeping it one-on-one with Him and a few close friends I feel the need to reach out. Maybe this is your life. Whether it be in some small part or perhaps almost identical. Or maybe you simply know someone whom this applies to.

Or better yet – you don’t.
You’ve never experienced this. You’re at a stage of life where this hasn’t touched you yet. Or you’ve made personal decisions that have kept these particulars struggles from reaching you.

But here you are.
And I’m sharing this with you.
The question is…why?

Maybe it’s so your eyes will be opened to someone who needs encouragement. Maybe it’s because you or someone who know will go through something like this someday. And now you’ll know you’re not alone. Maybe it’s only to remind us think twice before complaining too much about children or pregnancy to someone who may be hurting – wishing your problems were theirs. Maybe it’s to make us think before asking those seemingly harmless questions like “when are you two going to start having kids?” or “when are you going to have another baby?”
Because while the answer for some may be just as simple as “oh maybe someday!” or “we’re not ready quite yet but we want to!”
For many the answers are hard to voice. Because the answers literally hurt to say aloud.

“We’ve been trying to have a baby. But nothing yet. We’re still waiting.”
“We’ve been told we don’t have a good chance at getting pregnant naturally. We don’t know our next move.”
“We will never be able to have children for medical reasons.”
“We were just pregnant a few months ago and just lost the baby.”
“We’ve been pregnant 4 times and no one knew because I miscarried early each time.”

Such harmless happy questions…with a very real potential to hurt.
I don’t say that to cause anyone to feel guilty, or defensive or hurt. I too have asked those questions in the past. We are human. We can’t expect each other to be sensitive to every single other person’s personal struggles. But  awareness is power…awareness can strengthen, empower and heal…awareness is a gift., should we choose to receive it with a open heart.
So I’m opening mine to you.

You may not know me. But to everyone who reads this, I hope that God will reveal His plan to you as He has revealed it to me. Usually slowly. Often times blurrily. Sometimes all mixed up like a jigsaw puzzle that I still can’t understand. But on occasion as beautifully, perfectly and purposefully as only He can do. And when that happens, it will all, everything, be clear. And may we all be so blessed as to someday see God’s wisdom, love, and perfect plan come together … even amid the most unwanted, incomprehensible, unplanned moments of our lives.

 Nothing is "a given" in this life. We aren't promised anything - not marriage or children or a house or a job or anything. Our only Hope is in the Lord and returning to Him someday. That's the goal folks. And though it's often hard to keep my eyes on that...I will be the first to admit I need to keep trying harder.

Lord help me as I press “publish” on this thing. Please understand this is all just my heart. I do not claim to have any answers much less all of them. I just wanted to share. I hope my words will encourage and not injure, protect and not provoke, heal and not hurt.

God bless you all…and goodnight.

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