Momlife: 18 Months Postpartum

With the healing of Grayson Quinn’s heart I am reminded that he is gifted to us by God. We are to care for Grayson to the best of our ability but to fully rely on God for his ultimate care and protection!  As a new mama fresh out of the hospital with a NICU baby I struggled in ways that I didn’t know I was capable of.  My love for Grayson Quinn had ignited during those long hours in the hospital and continued to do so each day thereafter—coming in at unmeasurable amounts!  (I’m sure you other mama’s out there can relate.) This love has been incredible but also exhausting. I always hear people say that having a baby (kids) is exhausting but for me I viewed what they were saying from the physical aspect— long nights, feedings, crying, rambunctious toddlers, etc etc. I never ever thought that loving a human so much could create exhaustion!

Having a baby was clearly a new thing for me (still is) and figuring things out has been a daily growing experience.  Grant was ever so busy with the California project working 70+ hours a week and I was home alone still trying to manage some part-time work for MK Interiors, blogging and desiring to keep my previous (pre-baby) life afloat; all while caring for an infant. Grayson and I were practically attached at the hip.  Grant and I often talk about how incredible it is that once again God knew what he was doing when he gave us a baby out in California.   It truly allowed for a nurturing (mama-baby) time.  Since all of our days and hours were spent “attached at the hip” we truly did develop a relationship that I didn’t know was possible.  Had I been in Indiana with family and friends close-by I know things would’ve been different.  I would have found plenty of other things to do instead of spending quality time with Grayson Quinn. I would’ve had numerous people to babysit and again wouldn’t have been able to cultivate our beautiful relationship.  We had our small group and the other hand-full of people we knew in Turlock but with family back in Indiana and not really meeting anyone else we didn’t have a babysitter.  I didn’t have my own vehicle so we stayed home most days.  Grayson’s days consisted of reading, playing, singing, dancing, tummy-time, naps galore, and floating in the pool. We went on walks and even to the park once he got a little older but nothing too extravagant while Grant was away at work.  We truly just basked in time together!

Grayson loved and still loves to nap.  During sleeping hours I tried to workout, make dinner, blog, work on MKI, clean, have my quiet time and any other odds and ends.  Sounds easy, right?! It did to me pre-baby. I had never considered that I may lack sufficient time to complete everything I took on prior to having Grayson.   As each new stage of babyhood came and went it always left me with something additional to juggle, mixing up schedules and routines even more.  Resulting in less and less time to keep that pre-baby life afloat!

Like I said I adored our time together and the fact that I could be at home seeing each new milestone was (is) a blessing. Caring for Grayson during sickness, praying for him day and night as we rocked in his blissful nursery was crucial and monumental!  As all of these wonderful things were happening inside our home there were many others happening for me— as a woman, wife, mother, designer, friend, daughter, and believer.  

As someone who used to have ample time to do the things she enjoyed: shopping, designing, working out, manis and pedis, layout, date-nights, ample quiet time with God, etc. I now was a woman who shopped with an infant, designed when it was nap time or bedtime (if even then), worked out sporadically—usually as dinner was cooking and Grayson played nearby, getting a mani/pedi was nearly impossible as I had to work around Grant’s 70+ hour schedule and of course the close time of the salon—most times I’d run in with 30 minutes before close and then they would stay a little late for me.  Talk about annoying and barely relaxing!  Laying out meant a covered stroller beside me, timing it perfectly after a feeding but during a nap.  Usually allowing for forty-five minutes so Grayson wasn’t getting overheated— better than none I guess. As for date nights, our first official date night wasn’t until Grayson was six months old.  Way too long! We enjoyed traveling and taking him along, but seriously six months is a long time for your marriage to go un-catered to.  (We didn’t have any other options with being in California.) My quiet times used to be whenever I woke up and for as long as I wanted loving my time with God! Now they were as long as Grayson would sleep and if I accidentally slept in, then my day didn’t start off well. So you get it, things changed!

As I spent time with Grayson I also wanted the best care, nutrition, learning, family environment, and health for this little mister. I wanted perfection for his surroundings and if I wasn’t meeting each of those needs I was failing as a mama.  I lived in constant fear of his health and well-being.  Even after seeing a beautiful miracle of his heart being healed—I lived a daily battle of handing over his health into God’s care and not mine—or as much as I could worry or think something was wrong.  We went through a series of health concerns with Grayson—what we thought might be seizures from numerous shaking episodes, every-day sicknesses, ear infections, projectile vomiting, coughs that lasted way too long, breathing treatments and high fevers that really have raised flag for concern.  Each of these have grown me and stretched me as a wife, mama and believer.  It was at our Turlock church, Crossroads where I was first introduced to the song “No Longer Slaves,” By: Bethel Music. If you haven’t heard it listen to it, It’s soo good!

I have never listened to the words of a song so intently, letting each resonate on my heart and quench the depths of my being! Convicting, healing, and promising me of God’s goodness.  Each time I listened a new portion would tear down a wall that I had built and each time I listen I cry like a baby.  No joke, this song has been my theme song for the last year and a half. It’s a genuine reminder when fear sets in that giving whatever it may be both in the mom life and away from it to God will allow for a peace and deliverance like no other. Trust me not everything was pieced together easily by that song, I still was struggling but in the grand scheme of things making it by.

At six months postpartum, I realized I had been in a whirlwind! I was a mess physically and mentally.  I was still having pain from giving birth and this was affecting more things than it should have been.  Anytime I thought back to giving birth I was immediately anxious and would cringe as if I was in a nightmare. I never ever wanted to experience giving birth again!  I met with my gynecologist and she seemed to think my pain was a result of my fear. She began asking questions like: Are you emotional for no apparent reason? Do you have someone to watch Grayson to give you a break every now and then? Are you getting out and hanging out with other moms?  How is you and your husband’s relationship? The list goes on and I do have to say that I didn’t answer all of them with one-hundred percent honesty.  I wanted to pretend things were ok, better than they really were! At the end of my appointment she said I probably was still experiencing the Baby Blues.  Me have the Baby Blues? Yeah right I thought! I never even knew of anyone having this before.  I went home and googled baby blues looking up the symptoms.  Sure enough, I had them and then some! The next phase where they worsen is Postpartum Depression.  Ugh I dislike that word depression but sure enough I thought, that sounds just like me.  I looked into more details as I was interested to see what the potential causes were— difficulty/exhaustion at delivery, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, stress, and lack of support.  Symptoms that I read and noticed in myself were: feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed. Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason. Worrying or feeling overly anxious. Feeling moody, irritable, or restless-can’t sleep when baby sleeps.  Can’t concentrate or remember details. Withdrawing from or avoiding family and friends. Persistently doubting my ability to care for Grayson Quinn.  I am thankful that through this dark time God spared me from a few of the qualities— hurting myself or lack of taking care of Grayson. I know that those are key attitudes in most postpartum cases. So again, truly thankful as I’ve gone through this process God spared me from those!

My doctor also recommend that I get away and have some time to myself every now and then.  I told her I had a Europe trip scheduled soon with my sister where Grayson would be staying home.  She said that would be perfect— It was so refreshing to hear her say that it was a good thing.  I did feel like a bad mom leaving him for a week so that I could travel the world but that all subsided when she said it was much-needed!

Wow, it was all coming together now. Each time I went back to Indiana after Grayson was born I told Grant I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know where I belonged.  I always felt alone but then when I would get around people I wanted to be alone. It was a weird thing! I never knew how to balance being a mom with people.  (Still wanting that pre-baby self, but now with a baby.)  As the year progressed, so did my postpartum depression.  Symptoms would flare up each time we would travel back to Indiana and it really made times spent with friends and family difficult. Getting excited about things I once did was truly exasperating but I felt like that’s what I had to do so I cycled through the motions of life! I was always ready to get back to California, where my new home was and where I could escape the chaos! It wasn’t that I loved family and friends less I was just simply overwhelmed.  I spent a year on a roller coaster thinking I was healing on my own but each time we went back to Indiana I was quickly reminded that I wasn’t healing—I was just hiding! Moving back to Indiana in March was when things came crashing down.  It was another hard move, another big transition, another way that God truly was growing me.  Life was crazy busy when we moved back and there were no hiding places there.

In April, I had a yearly check-up with my family doctor in Indiana to re-establish care.  I had been praying about what to do with this postpartum depression and how to truly heal–the answer I kept getting was counseling. I was very honest with my doctor about what was going on and she recommend several things: routine exercise, time for myself, counseling, and medication.  I walked away with great advice and tips but still no intention of seeking out a counselor nor taking the medication. As life kept piling up in Indiana I was falling apart.  I was continually seeking my pre-baby life (which is all I knew last time I lived in Indiana).  I could handle doing everything before, so why not now?!  

My sister got married in May and just about every weekend from March to May we had a festivity to help celebrate and prepare for her special day!  It was on my drive home after a crazy, fun-filled weekend in St. Louis for her bachelorette party that I was begging God to heal me.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time over the weekend but was once again overwhelmed. I wasn’t performing like I once was—decorating and planning a party wasn’t coming naturally. I was clumsy and forgetting everything. I needed extra sleep and clearly didn’t get that after a weekend like this.  Then was immediately tossed back into the mom role with no time to catch a break.  A never-ending cycle.   As I finished my plea to him, the immediate answer from the Holy Spirit was put your pride aside and get counseling. Since talking to the doctor I had been consistently exercising and it was making all of the difference, but wasn’t the complete answer.  After a clear answer from God, well I knew it was time to seek out a counselor and finally obey what I had been called to do!

That week I contacted a local counselor and scheduled my first session. The first meeting was unbearably awkward.  I even told her that I didn’t want to be there as I shared what was going on. As I continued to talk and meet with her I began to see a difference in my life with the postpartum depression. I quickly saw that this postpartum thing was in the making prior to delivering Grayson Quinn, with other large life changes and events weighing in.  One great piece of advice that my counselor gave me was to rethink what I commit myself to.  That maybe I can’t do everything I use to do—prior to a baby.  I think she was right, but wow was that a hard one to fathom.   Like I mentioned with wedding festivities, I wasn’t performing well—Something else God was teaching me was to rely on him for my talents, He is indeed the one who has gifted them to me! Before then things had come naturally: planning a party, doing wedding makeup, being organized, etc., all very easy but now I was having to think twice before completing such items. God was at work and to Him all of the glory was going to be given!

I took my counselors advice and started re-thinking what I commit my time to. It was freeing in some ways but I didn’t fully get the hang of it.  I continued to see her and sought out advice, more so going as an obedience to God. I was slowly feeling healed but not quite there. I needed something more in-depth, something to challenge me and dig into the roots of my pain—something that would break into those wounds.  I’m telling you God works in unimaginable ways!  It was time for a new devotional or self-help book and so I began searching for recommended ones. One in particular that popped up was “Uninvited” By: Lysa TerKeurst.  I read the subtitle and was immediately intrigued, “Living Loved When you Feel Less Than Left Out and Lonely.”  Feeling lonely had been the theme to my life since having Grayson Quinn.

A side note: I had never heard of Lysa TerKeurst before, which I find almost comical because I feel like I should have at least heard of her.  A week prior to buying the Uninvited book, I signed up for the Proverbs 31: She Speaks Conference (again didn’t know anything about the ministry–just recommended by a friend). When I put two and two together seeing that Lysa was the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, I thought, well her book must be good! Seriously, I feel super naive for not knowing but also think it was a neat God moment that I stumbled upon the book right before conference. 

Anyway, I began reading “Uninvited” unsure of what to expect. After a couple of chapters in I told Grant that after I’m done reading this book I’m going to be fully healed. I know it sounds bold but seriously Lysa’s story and the way she writes was the perfect medicine for my heart.  I had never been able to get to the bottom of the pain, loneliness, overwhelming feelings I was experiencing even with a counselor.  The Holy Spirit was truly at work through Lysa’s words as past hurts were unraveled (a major one being my parent’s separation back in high school) and much sin in my life exposed—some that I didn’t even know was there. (Trying to mold others to fit my perfection-based life.) Her story is beautiful and her writing technique is impeccable. She really captivated my heart and has taught me what it means to Live Loved: Live from an abundant place that you are Loved and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love. 

Uninvited really has little or nothing to do with being a mama, but truths from the book applied to what I had been seeking, trying to be a perfect woman, wife, mama, designer, friend, daughter, and believer.  When seeking perfection in various avenues of life I was also causing everyone around me pain to perform in an unrealistic way, whether they knew it or not.  As Lysa says, “The exhausting manipulation and control it takes to protect an identity based on circumstances will crush our hearts and hide the best of who we are behind a wall of insecurity.”  No one was measuring up to my standards always leaving me disappointed, hurt or frustrated. Like I mentioned, I too was less able to naturally perform and so this was the breaking point for me, it was time to fully rely on God and take pride in Him alone.  “No soul can soar to the place of living loved when it’s a performance-based endeavor.”  It was time to Live Loved and to know that no amount of perfection in the exterior was going to create perfection on the inside!  “You are known, you matter to the Lord…You are important, valuable, and secure, in HIM.” 

As I wrapped up Uninvited I read a few more key truths that really mended my heart tying up loose ends to the hurt, pain and depression.
“It’s not about you becoming anything.” I didn’t need to measure up or be perfect!
“Your soul was made to simply be with Me.” God has been patiently waiting for me to find everything in Him.
“Rejection—It may be a delay.  It may be a distraction. It may even be a devastation for a season but it is not your final destination.”  A season indeed! A season that seemed like it would never pass, but with obedience to a tug from the Holy Spirit I can stand here today and say that I have been healed from this postpartum depression.  Never easy, still so much work to be done in my life but beautifully healed by the power of Christ!

Being healed doesn’t mean that life as a woman, wife, mama, designer, friend, daughter, is all figured out, trust me. It’s a daily learning experience! A constant battle of trying to balance each avenue of the various roles.  I definitely was trying to be a mama during the day and a wife at night when Grant came home and then sometimes I would even need to take a break from being both and go have some “me” time. Some advice that I was given at that She Speaks Conference was to work to keep all of those hats on at once and let things get a little messier than I prefer!

God hasn’t called me to be a mama in the morning and a wife in the evening, oh and maybe some work dabbled here and there, with me time as the cherry on top.  No, He’s called me to be all in.  (Yes, I’m still wrapping my brain around this!)

What does that mean, what does that look like??
I think the biggest take away is that if I’m overflowing in Christ I will have all of the more love to pour out into those areas of my life–ultimately captivating them in Christ’s love and uniting them together! (Still not easy.)

By this I don’t mean that I can’t have some me time or that I can’t focus on my marriage while leaving Grayson aside– what I do mean is that if I’m being filled up by Christ I can be easily pouring love into every avenue that God has called me to be in during this season of life.

My postpartum journey is unique to me, everyone with their own. If you’ve ever experience postpartum depression or any depression I pray that you will seek help and find healing, don’t let pride stand in the way from allowing God to work–always easier said than done. I’d love to talk more! I am truly thankful for this journey, wouldnt wish it upon anyone but thankful to have a glimpse of those who do experience depression in one form or another.  {For you I pray.}

“You are destined for a love that can never be diminished, tarnished, shaken or taken.  You have a story. May it be His Word that becomes the word of this story you absolutely must tell to the glory of God.” —Lysa TerKeurst  Thank you Lysa for sharing your story and inspiring others to do the same.