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Healing.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Bert turned four  months old Wednesday. As I mentioned the other day, where does the time go? In that same post, I published some photographs my good friend Maggie was kind enough to take of our family when we were in West Virginia for Thanksgiving.

This marks the third set of photographs Maggie has taken for us. She took our engagement photos in 2017, our wedding photos in 2018, and now our family photos in 2019. All three sets of these photos are beautiful, make me happy when I see them, and are blessings to us. However, the most recent set of family photos has one adjective associated with them that the other two don't have: they are healing.

If you read my post about the birth of Bert and my expectations of it versus the reality of the situation (found here), you might remember that the one thing that truly pushed me over the edge was that we didn't get any photos of Bert in the hospital. As I wrote:

"But on Tuesday afternoon, two days after Bert's birth, I was standing by his bassinet in our room looking at him as he was lying in between the jaundice lights with his sunglasses on. I believe we had just found out he failed another hearing test. Suddenly, the photographer popped in and said she heard we were checking out that day and did we want to schedule photos for Bert? I just looked at him, then looked at her and told her that our son had some health concerns and it just wouldn't be possible for him to do it. So she said she'd just cross us off her list and get to the other babies who were also scheduled to be discharged that day.

The normal babies, you know." 

One thing that I want to add to what I wrote at the time, now that some months have passed, is that the photographer's response to me was part of what hurt so badly. It just hit me one day a few weeks ago that that lady never told me she was sorry to hear that Bert wasn't well. She literally just acted like he was taking up time on her list and she was relieved to be able to cross him off so she could move on with her day. I'm sure she didn't mean to be hurtful, but, you know, it hurt.

As time as passed, the wound has gotten less painful. But there are still times that it pops up. Just the other day we received a lovely picture frame for Bert's baptism (thank you Daniel and Catherine!) and the stock photo in the frame showed a baby with angel wings lying peacefully with his eyes closed. Joe remarked that we could never get Bert to pose like that, and I agreed with him that right now our son could never do that, but I also gently reminded him that that picture was a newborn photo.

Along with Maggie's photos, we were blessed to have Joe's sister Caroline come and visit us. Although she is not a photographer by trade (she is a stylist and business owner in Nashville), you'd never know it by the beautiful photos she also took of Bert.

Because of Maggie and Carrie, something that really hurt my heart and weighed me down was healed. I can't put into words how grateful I am to both of them for their kindness and time.

Photo by Caroline -- September 2019 
Photo by Caroline -- September 2019

Photo by Caroline -- September 2019

Photo by Caroline -- September 2019

Photo by Caroline -- September 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019

Photo by Margaret Schaad Photography -- November 2019


Month Four.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

It is hard to believe that it is already December and Advent is upon us. It's equally hard for me to believe that tomorrow Bert will be four months old. It's a cliche, but it is for a reason, that time flies. The time between Bert's birth in early August and now seems like it has gone by in a blur, but it also seems like so much time has passed. I can't figure out when we switched from short sleeve onesies to survive the heat to long sleeve fleece sleepers and coats when we go outside. It's never one day, it seems, but a series of moments: first you exchange your shorts for sweatpants, then you put away your flats and pull on your boots, then you find a cardigan, then your winter coat. A series of shifts so light they almost don't seem perceivable until you open your eyes one morning and realize you've turned your heat on and it's cold when you get out of the shower.

We have settled into a routine here, in a manner of speaking. I'm still very much baby-led: Bert eats when he's hungry and sleeps when he's tired, and in between we read, play, stretch, sing, go to the library, get our groceries, and run errands. We are blessed that Bert is mostly a cheerful, easygoing little fella. How his life started seems to have left no permanent mark on him, or, if it has, I pray that the mark it left is remembering how his parents never left him and how many people love him.

For myself, I am doing all right and try and take things day by day. I have not experienced the sadness and hopelessness that can accompany post-partum depression, but I have realized these last couple of months that my post-partum symptom is anger. I am quick to get angry and quick to stay angry, and I have a short temper. I really hold on to offenses and am unable to forgive and forget. The worst part is I'm the kind of person who, when I get angry about one thing, easily slides into recalling all the reasons I am angry until I am just one big ball of uncontrollable anger. I don't think this is my traditional behavior, but I have absolutely recognized it in myself these past weeks. I am not proud of it. I wish it weren't so. I do my best to control it, but sometimes (frequently) I fail miserably. I know it is taking a toll on Joe, and I'm sure it's taking a toll on my other family members and friends and probably randoms in the community that come into contact with me, too. Sometimes when I think about it I feel overwhelming guilt and quickly begin to beat myself up. The guilt compounds the anger, and I'm right back to where I started. I wish I could say that I'll start counting my blessings and realizing how lucky I am in life and that would take the anger away, but I know that it might not. So instead I'm trying to do those things while also taking life on a moment-by-moment basis and giving myself space and permission to mess up.

I think that because I was fortunate to recover physically pretty quickly from Bert's birth that I really didn't and haven't given myself time to fully recover in other ways. I know Bert is four months old now, but on the other hand Bert is only four months old. And this also corresponds with the holiday season which brings its own stress. I know in America it seems we give mothers three months to get it together, but I promise you that it's not possible. At the end of three months, at least in our case over here, it seems I finally got into a semblance of a routine and caught up on life and just now am becoming able to tackle my own mental and emotional health and coming to terms with the fact that I had a baby. And I'm not teaching this year after all I went through to become a teacher. And all my friends and family live 500 miles away. And I've got laundry to do and a house to clean and groceries to buy and dinners to make. And am I a good mother and I'm still Joe's wife not just a mom and oh my gosh did we forget about the dogs because they're our family too and I'm pretty sure there's a Palmetto bug over there and how do I always forget to buy nail polish remover and holy crap Christmas cards.

Some of you may be reading this and rolling your eyes and internally chastising me for being a complainer. You may be thinking that so many people have it so much harder than I do, and man, you'd be so right. As I said before I do try to remember how fortunate I am, but sometimes I really come up short. So sometimes all I can do is share how I am honestly feeling and continue to pray for the grace and strength to do better.

Whatever you're struggling with this season, I'd be happy to pray for you. One thing I have learned for sure is that everyone (E V E R Y O N E) has something they're worried about, that is causing them stress, or that is exhausting them. Maybe your particular battle and mine are two different battles. Perhaps you're praying for the very thing that I have. Perhaps you don't even know why you're so tired or angry or upset. But remember: we all carry weight differently. Your burden might seem easy to carry to someone else, but you carry it differently. And that's okay.






Some beautiful photos of our family recently captured by the practically-perfect-in-every-way Maggie!
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