My Postpartum Journey

This is a hard post to write. My youngest is just over a year old, and I’m feeling some sense of normality in my life. I’m actually feeling some of the enthusiasm that I forgot I had for life. In fact, in the thick of it, I didn’t know anything was wrong or off, but now looking back over the last year, I lost it to the void that was our postpartum period.

All I knew was exhaustion. Deep exhaustion that I couldn’t shake. No energy supplement, dose of vitamins, herbs, or oils truly touched the exhaustion. It was always there. Some day, I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I just laid with my nursing baby and it is kind of a blur to think back on.

I was struggling in a way I didn’t have words for, couldn’t ask for help with, and I couldn’t answer anyone very honestly when they asked how things were. The closest I came to an honest answer was, “I’m tired.”

Pa W and I were on the rocks, so I didn’t know how to tell him that things felt so dreary. On top of the exhaustion, I felt like I was failing at everything – parenting, homeschooling, work/business ownership, marriage.

I chalked it up to being worn out from 3 back to back pregnancies/nursing periods, 7 kids, a business, and a busy life. It’s hard to ask for help if you can’t even identify that something is actually wrong. I regret not recognizing that it was more than normal exhaustion.

It’s weird on this side of it – realizing that more days than not, I’m ready to get out of bed. I’m excited to see the boys off to school, to feed the goats, to play with my three busy toddlers, do my work, clean my house. I have energy and enthusiasm more than not. And on the days that I’m drained, it’s different. It’s less drained, it’s more identifiable (I stayed up until 2 am working and got back up at 6 am, of course I’m dragging). But it’s not every waking moment of the day.

It’s not smiling and saying we’re doing alright, a little tired though. It’s not turning the ringer off on my phone and closing the blinds and my bedroom door – letting the big kids care for the little kids because I’m just too tired. I’m not avoiding the grocery store at all costs anymore.

It’s weird that it is clearer looking back that something wasn’t right than it was in the middle of it. I first noticed things improving after returning from our first trip away from the kids since the baby was born. Pa W and I got a few days to ourselves, and I really enjoyed myself. Upon returning, Baby W let me know she would not continue nursing at all, whatsoever. I was devastated for the first couple of weeks, but then I realized I was getting more sleep and generally starting to feel better – physically and emotionally.

Feeling better brought some mom guilt – how can I feel better with her not nursing? I wasn’t ready for her to wean. But all nursing journeys come to an end, and ours was a good nursing journey. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend nursing her.

Can I just take a moment and say that if you’ve had a baby sometime in the last year, and you are extremely exhausted, talk to your midwife, doctor, a friend. Tell someone that it’s the kind of exhaustion that inhibits your ability to live.

Did you struggle after having your baby? Did you recognize it while it was happening, or when looking back?


Make it a Great Day

In the last couple of months, we have really ventured down new trails. Our adventure now includes public school for 2 of the boys. They are in 5th & 6th grade this year. I was sad at their choice to go to public school when they first said that’s what they wanted, but with each passing day I am finding joy in our new adventure.

They are learning things in a different way and are really growing as young men. I honestly feel much better a month in to our new normal than I did before it started.

I have always wanted to empower my kids to make choices – preferably the right ones, but choices nonetheless. There is power in choosing. There is power in having a voice. It starts when they are little – which cereal do you want? Which pair of socks do you want to wear? Which coat do you want to put on?

It grows as they get bigger, asking them which chore they would prefer, whether they want to make dinner or let me, whether they want to go to an activity on Thursday or Friday because I can’t make both happen.

My morning well wish as they head out the door for the bus is very intentional, too.

“Make it a great day!”

Not have a great day – because we are not the sum of all of things that happen to us, and quite frankly, so many things can slow our roll and trip us up that it’s hard to just happen to have a great day. I don’t want them to be a victim of whatever someone said, whatever didn’t go a certain way, or a change of plans. I want them to embrace their journey and make it great, their own way.

It’s a perspective thing, and I believe it’s life changing.

Often, when they get home, I ask how they made it a great day. Who did they encourage, what things did they think, do, or say to make the day great for them. Their answers were short, sometimes just a shrug the first week. As the days have continued, however, they are answering in more detail. They are taking a more active role in making their day great.

Some of their statements are even about something bad that happened, followed with a big BUT – I didn’t let it ruin my day because I read my favorite chapter in a book during break. Or I talked to someone much nicer. Or I chose to be nice even after someone was mean.

I encourage them to remember who they are and Whose they are. I pray endlessly for them to be rooted in Christ as a shining light among their peers, and I pray that they wouldn’t get lost in the things the world tries to tell them.

Tell me something positive that you say to your kids and how they respond, I’d really love to know.