Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 1001: Ending...

But, not really.

As the date of my 1000th post drew nearer, I found myself increasingly sad about it.  I felt for some reason that I needed to quit this little "project"--for you guys.  Yes, I feel guilty that maybe you feel obligated to read and support me in this?

Anyway, I decided I'm just going to keep on posting.  You can officially consider yourself off the hook.  You don't have to read this anymore to support me.  (c:  You are welcome to, but my focus has shifted a bit.  Now, I'm going to keep doing this for my children.  I think my journey may help the.  Hopefully, none of them will suffer through depression, but they may benefit from seeing how I've struggled and still kept trying.  And, it might help them to see that I'm far from flawless.  Because without this blog, I'm sure they'd never figure that out.

Plus, over the past three and a half years, I noticed that the majority of my Joyful Moments come from my children and I think that is something they should know.

That's not the only thing I've noticed during the course of these last 1,000 days.

This is what I looked like 1,000 Days ago.

This is what I looked like a few days ago.

So, much has changed between now and then.  Our family has doubled in size, I've been to hell and back numerous times, and we've come to the end of this chapter of our lives.

Each pregnancy and post partum period has challenged me to my breaking point--even past it at times, but HH was fortunately there to carry me through.  That being said, we felt very strongly that we needed to have Darling A.  But, we knew from the get go that she (before we knew she was a she) would be the last one for us.  And that pregnancy solidified that knowledge.  After what I (we) went through, neither of us would dare try to brave another one.

Knowing that this is the last newborn for me has been bittersweet, to say the least.  For the first month, or so, I struggled to feel much of the sweet over all of the bitterness.  It broke my heart to think of each "last" event, i.e. the last time giving birth, the last time snuggling a brand new baby in the hospital, the last first bath, the last first smile, the last...

I could go on with this for a very long time.  It was a big struggle for me.  Sometimes it still is.

But, over the past week, or two, the sweetness has finally been able to shine through over the bitterness.  I've been able to just enjoy Darling A for the glorious little wonder that she is.

But, it's more than that.

Imagine running a race with an unknown distance.  You just know it's going to be a long one, but you don't know when exactly it will end.  You'd never give it your all.  You'd just keep going at a maintainable pace, hoping to save enough to last however long you'll need it.  At least, that's what I would do.  And, that's the best analogy I can come up with for how I've been living my life these past several years.

I remember once, while pregnant with Little M, crying to HH.  I told him that it was hard to be optimistic when I knew that this is the cycle I would repeat for the next several years:  Get pregnant, get depressed, have a baby, get more depressed, slowly recover, wean baby, find happiness again, get pregnant, get depressed, have a baby, etc...

And then he said something that, oddly enough, I'd never considered, "We don't have to have any more biological babies.  We can adopt.  Or, not have any more."

We both come from big-ish families and I had always planned on having a big-ish one of my own.  So had HH.  So, I'd never considered stopping at just two.  And the truth is, I'm really glad it came from HH.  Having him originate the idea let me know it was sincere and that I was his top priority.  And the idea was so liberating for me.

Obviously, we decided to have more than just two.  And I won't go into the long story of how it all came to be, but from midway through my pregnancy with Baby B, I knew there was supposed to be a fourth.  And I knew she would be a girl.  Long, personal story, so we'll just skip that.

This is shaping up to be an epically long post anyway.

Even though we made the decision to be done after Darling A before she was even conceived, I guess it didn't really fully become real to me until just recently.

Which is where the race analogy comes in.  It's like I've finally been told how long of a race I'm running.  I know that parenting never really "ends" and I know that each stage brings new, often more difficult, challenges.  But, given the significant impact of hormones on my depression, in a way, I can confidently say that this stage, the whole pregnancy/baby process, is the hardest one for me.  And now that it is almost over, just another short year (give or take a few months) left of nursing, and my body will finally be free of that hormonal process.

I'm not saying I expect to never deal with depression again, or that being a mom will suddenly be a walk in the park.  Here is what I am saying:  I have finally reached a point where I can give "Mommyhood" my all.  It's like, before, I was subconsciously holding back.  I was never "all in" as far as being a mom to my kids.  I needed to keep something in reserve because I didn't know exactly what was going to be asked of me.

But, now that this "finish" line is in sight, I feel like a new, free-er me.  I feel so much more open to loving and being fun for my kids.  HH is still the Captain of Fun, but I feel relaxed enough in this role now to let loose a bit and truly enjoy what I have in front of me freely.

And it's been fun to watch the surprise on my childrens' faces when I surprise them by being silly, or share a conspiratorial giggle at a slightly inappropriate moment, or cut them some slack with their chores, or whatever.

There has just been a lot more fun, freedom, and joy in my life as a mom.

I feel like I'm kind of restating myself here.  Mainly because I'm not yet satisfied with my description of these feelings I've been having.  But, I think I'm never going to get there.  The point is, something inside has changed and I'm loving things in a way I wasn't capable of before.

And it's awesome.

My children are amazing.   And so, going forward, I dedicate this blog to them and to all of the Joyful Moments we have yet to come.  Together.

To Sweet P, my patient and forgiving sweet heart.  She is truly our guinea pig and I can see how she was blessed with a great inner strength and confidence and independence so she can weather our mistakes and learning process in this whole parenting thing.  When I think about it, I feel so bad for her because I was so wrapped up in this depression for so much of her early life, it's like I completely missed out.  And I feel like I'm just getting to know her in some ways.  But, she is amazing.  That independent streak that has been a struggle for me since she was a baby seems to be serving her well.  She seems to be totally above peer pressure and determined to be who and what she wants, no matter what.  And she is so ready to love and be loved.  She just doesn't seek it out, so I'm learning to offer it first and loving the reception I get.  Maybe my independent girl needs me quite a bit more than I initially thought.

To Little M.  He is a crazy pants.  From Day 1 he has thrown me curve ball after curve ball and always kept me guessing.  But, there is so much I need to learn from him.  He really is better than me at changing his attitude and I need to practice what I preach when it comes to this.  He is so full of life, it literally overflows sometimes.  He is an expert at living in the moment.  But, he definitely suffers from Middle Child Syndrome.  He's got so much more potential than I think we've realized.  He is so smart and talented and I feel bad for how often he's lived in his big sister's shadow.  No wonder he's a crazy pants--he's got to get the attention somehow!  He's always been my snuggler, though.  And I love that he'll just come up and give me a hug, or snuggle into my lap, or rub his cheek against mine.  He is such a comfort to me.

To Baby B.  My volatile little toddler.  When he is happy, there is nothing sweeter or more fun than he. When he is unhappy, it's indescribably awful.  But, he almost always wants a snuggle with me (and his sheets) to make it better.  And being able to comfort him is somehow comforting to me in return.  Watching him laugh uncontrollably while a tear is still trickling down from his big blue eyes is a regular occurrence here.  He is so sensitive to my moods and that is actually helping me find the motivation to control my frustration and sadness.  I'm impressed by his empathy.  Shortly before he was born, I began to feel very strongly that his was an extra strong spirit and destined to accomplish something really great.  This is no way detracts from my expectations for my other children, it's just what I felt about him.  And I think his willfulness will serve him well to that end.  It's my task now to help him learn how to direct that for good.

To Darling A.  She is so new, but I feel in someways that I know her the best.  In those first few weeks,  when she locked eyes with me, something happened and I could feel this strong pre-existing connection, like she actually knew me.  This is also a long and personal story that I'm not going to share here.  I know that Darling A was absolutely meant to be a part of our family and that her being born at this time was no mistake.  She has already been a help to me in ways I can't describe.  Sometimes, it's like I've felt her willing me to be happy and pull out of it on my darker days since she was born.  She's beautiful and amazing and I can't wait to see what the future will bring.

I can't wait for the future with all of them.  They are precious and priceless and magical and wonderful children and I feel so blessed that I get to raise them.  I'm excited for all of the Joyful Moments we have yet to share together!


Becky said...

Well, this post definitely deserves a comment, but I'm not sure what to write. I love your description of your beautiful kids and their sweet individual personalities. What a treat this blog will be to them as they grow older. And even if I don't comment, I'll enjoy reading about your daily joys; they bring joy to my life. Have fun being a mom, on the good days and the bad. You're all awesome!

Cheryl said...

Oh, Becky, thanks! I always love your comments. (c: