It’s true. That’s one of the reasons why we chose the name for strength and (girl) power. Fearlessness. And friends let me tell you that in her almost 19 months of life, she has certainly lived up to the name. Especially for me because I. am. depressed.
I believe people like to call it the “baby blues” – although I think they are technically supposed to arrive AFTER a baby is born. But ya’ll… I have to be honest – I have been going through and my little Aria has literally been my backbone and my joy – my lion, so to speak, forcing me to keep sane – because let’s face it gals… we can’t fall apart. Am I right? Here’s a little background before I move on to solutions and how my daughter helped me – because we all need to know how to get through the weeds when the going gets tough.
Pregnancy for me has not been a walk in the park. It was rough even with Aria. I know some of you moms have the ideal pregnancy – no sickness, sciatica, bad hair days, memory loss or anything of that stuff. You all float on clouds for 9 months and pop out the perfect kid. That’s not my testimony. Perfect kid, yes. Perfect pregnancy… not even close.
Sidebar: For you fellas reading, if your wives are pregnant, hug her and thank her for the HARD work she’s doing. You may look at her and just see her napping all day – sugar, you grow a human and tell me how easy it is for you to have energy.
So I’ve had ALLLLL the symptoms, the morning sickness – sometimes pretty severe. And unlike a lot of moms, mine never went away in that “glorious” second trimester. Nope, it continues to rear its ugly head. So eating for me is hard. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. Eat several small meals a day they said. Yeah, I tried that too. No dice. Sciatica.. check. Some days I can hardly walk. Insomnia, been there, done that. Got about 20 t-shirts. Anybody need one? Total body discomfort – yep. Nausea and dizziness – sometimes I can’t even stand up for longer than 10 minutes without feeling like I’m going to fall over and pass out. Numbness and pins and needles, got those too. Forgetfulness? Ha! fuggedaboudit!! Because I literally did forget about it. And those are all the normal pregnancy struggle bus symptoms.
Then you get life attacking you at lightening speed. Murphy’s Law ain’t no punk. Murphy has to be someone’s bitter, petty, ex-girlfriend because my God she is relentless. In addition to the internal bodily strain, the external strain that you have to deal with – relationships, toddlers (yes she’s helped, but know I’ve also needed a break from that tiny bottle of 100% pure caffeine), finances, careers, personal mental battles, that ever-nagging fear of having a healthy, happy baby… it weighs on you. Eats at you. Minute-by-(hour-long)minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day… and one day you just break. And there is no joy in anything. There’s no reason to smile. You fake it. Keep it close, because if you crumble – so will the world. Because it’s all on your back. Does that sound dramatic? It probably is. But at the same time… IT’S REAL. And it’s painful. And you’re completely alone in it.
So what do you do?
Breathe. Aria watches Sesame Street all day. On television. On her iPad. On my phone. And there’s one segment that she keeps on repeat. It’s called “Belly Breathe” and it features Common rapping about how to calm down your inner monster. And it’s true. Sometimes you have to take a minute and just breathe. It doesn’t seem like it would and sometimes it doesn’t last that long, but a few deep, controlled breaths can work wonders. At the very least it will give you a second or two to gather your thoughts that are scattered everywhere.
Stay Busy. There is nothing faster than a bad thought. Those suckers can catch up to you if all you’re doing is sitting there and wallowing in your funk. It’s easy to fall into the pit. So get yourself something to do. For me, it was nesting. I decorated Satiah’s nursery and I let Aria help me do it. From our runs to the store to letting her pick out different things that SHE wanted in the room. It helped me keep those demons at bay. Now that the nursery is done, I’m working on a second baby shower. And I’ll make the goodies for the sweets table (because I’m crafty like that) just to help “sweeten” the deal. But all of that stuff takes time and focus – away from your burdens. Get a hobby.
Pay Attention. To yourself. I am 1,000% guilty of this one. I haven’t. I’ve spent so much time trying to make sure that everyone else is OK around me. My daughter. My husband. My parents. My friends. I have completely forgotten how to make sure that I was OK. Usually, my alone time comes when my husband comes home from work and I get to go to the grocery store and Aria stays home. That 20-30 minutes feels like a vacation. It’s a small amount of me time that I get to carve out. Sometimes I linger on an aisle – looking at things that I don’t need to buy. But it’s time to myself. And I need that. My husband got me a prenatal massage for our anniversary and it was some kind of amazing. I got to relax. I mean really, really relax… for about 50 minutes. Hey, something is better than nothing. 🙂 But during that time, I let every worry go. And even if the bad thoughts found a way in, with a cup of chamomile tea in hand, it didn’t feel quite so big and bad. If you can, get a massage, or draw yourself a bath, or go to the store. Find a way each day to pay attention to what YOU need.
Soak up the love. My little buttercup is such a love muffin. She is hilarious, when she thinks she’s going to get scolded she has a way of doing things that make you smile. Like saying a new word or doing something silly. One of my favorites is when she goes in for an unexpected hug or kiss. Oh those warm my heart. I can’t get enough. It happens a WHOLE lot when she’s stalling at bedtime but I’ll take it any way that I can get it. There’s nothing purer than a kid’s love. They don’t look at you for anything in return. There’s no agenda. They just want a hug. So give it. And savor how it feels. Her conversations (even though I can only truly understand about a quarter of it at this point) are everything. We can go on and on for hours about her books, Sesame Street, her Mrs. Bunny, snacks… whatever. We go on walks and sometimes she holds my hand – not always, because she’s a big girl. But when she does… the sweetness. Stay small forever kid.
Pray. I have to admit that sometimes I struggle here too. Even knowing that God has already worked out everything that I’m facing, I still have a hard time. Because let’s be honest, it’s easy to have faith – until you actually have to have practice and believe on that faith. I was at church one Sunday and the pastor said something that couldn’t be truer – “We sometimes liken God to the 30-second button on our microwave. We want the fastest solution to our problems. But we have to realize that God isn’t a 30-second button, he’s more like a crock pot. Simmering us slowing, preparing us, making sure that we’re ready for the biggest blessing that He can give to us.” And while I’m truly over Murphy and her bitter antics, I would rather be “done” and “ready” for my next chapter as opposed to under-prepared and overeager for something that I’m not ready to handle. So even though it is agonizing, I wait – ever impatiently – for my crock pot cycle to complete. During that time I do pray (I actually plead, through tears) for my breakthrough. Then I go kiss my baby and pull myself together.
The point is mamas, it gets rough sometimes. But (I’m speaking to myself as I’m speaking to you…) YOU. GOT. THIS. Keep on moving forward. Don’t quit. Roll up your sleeves. Wipe your snot and tears on said sleeves and push forward. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will get better. You will get through. Hang on to hope (the audacity — thanks forever Pres Obama LOL) because there will be glimmers – sparkles even, every day that propel you through the muck. Let’s do it together. I have your back.