It's been about a week and a half since I last wrote, and I wonder where the time went. I've composed a number of blogs in my head, but they never made it out here. So much living has taken place in the last week and a half - nothing major, just a steady stream of events.
I haven't slept much in the last week either. Baby has more teeth coming in and gets up shrieking in the middle of the night. Some nights, he wakes up multiple times. Sleep deprivation makes me silly and forgetful. I seem pleasant and friendly on the outside, but my mind is actually in la la land. I get more and more wound up, kind of hyper, but then I crash. I run out of steam and have to stop everything to refuel and regroup. Sometimes that crashing can be ugly, with an explosion of emotions and mess. But usually I just slow down until I am barely functioning. When I communicate that my battery is running down, Sean is great at helping me recuperate - the key is in the communicating. Many times I mistake running on fumes for more gas in the tank and keep on going, full steam ahead. I've been known to take on more in the mistaken notion that I really have an amazing and unlimited level of energy and stamina. Not true. But apparently I can be good at fooling others and even myself.
My ability to seem calm and in control on the outside despite struggling desperately inwardly came to light when I was in labor with my first baby. After several hours of laboring at home, I had Sean call the doctor because the level of discomfort was increasing significantly. The doctor wanted to speak to me directly to gauge what was going on. As soon as I got on the phone and he asked how I was doing, my control thing ("say everything is fine no matter what") kicked in. I spoke in a normal, cheerful voice. And the doctor didn't believe me that the contractions were strong because I sounded so wonderfully pleasant. In desperation, I gasped out that I wasn't fine but was culturally trained to respond in that way to most everything. Thank God he believed me then! But it happened again when I was stuck at 9 1/2 centimeters. My body needed to rest and regain some strength for the next stage of labor. So I dutifully sat back and closed my eyes, the picture of composure. At one point Sean commented to my doula that I must not be feeling much pain since I was resting - I calmly opened one eye and informed him that the contractions were as strong as ever. I was just trying to follow the doctor's instructions!
The most difficult realization about this facade came the year I suffered from severe postpartum depression following the birth of my second child. I did communicate with those around me that I was going through this and was even on medication. I shared about my struggles and fears as my life seemed to be spinning out of control, yet family and friends mistook my outward demeanor to assume everything was okay. I don't fault them entirely because I don't easily show my struggles. But I wasn't trying to conceal them, not this time. The stakes were too high - my two little babies needed to have a mother that was healthy. I reached out for help, talked about it, went to counselling... In the end, God brought us through it. My husband, children and I slowly healed from a very difficult and pain-filled year. We learned a lot, loved deeper, forgave a lot, and grew stronger. Sean and I have a lot more compassion, gained from understanding the realities of postpartum depression. And I work at communicating more clearly what is going on inside, even to myself.
Some of the special healing moments are taking place even now. My third child has the same birth date as my second one. Because of the depression and medication affecting me through so much of the first year of his life, I don't have many memories. But as I go through the stages of this baby's first year, the lost memories are being returned to me. It's like a road being repaved and reinforced with new concrete - the old one is there underneath but the material being added strengthens it. I did go through that difficult year following the birth on December 29, 2002. This year, following the birth on December 29, 2007, is a new experience with this delightful baby but also a reinforcement of the gift of our second child. Interestingly enough, his name means "Son of Encouragement." God is good. All the time, God is good.