I Need to Calm Down: Weight Loss Angry Day

I am so angry.

This week I hopped on the scale to see that I had gained pretty much all of the weight I had lost back. Seriously?? After all of this time? What was the point of any of it if I’m back at this? My BMI was back up by a full point, and my muscle was down. I started to do my inches and I just gave up, “Nope, I am not putting myself through this.”

I rested on it a little while and everything felt a little more stressful all day. I survived the day though and I started to realize. I didn’t gain EVERYTHING back. I gained some weight back yes, but considering that from when I started I had two pregnancies and ended up even heavier than I had ever been, but got it back down, That’s incredible. I started to slow down a little bit and take some time to give myself some credit.

Here’s a list of my achievements:

I have still lost 32.5 inches. It is not as amazing as the 60 I originally had lost, but that is still a lot! Especially if you consider what else I have done in the last couple of years. I had 2 pregnancies, and not just normal pregnancies but pregnancies where I was super sick and under a great deal of stress. We moved-THREE TIMES, changed jobs twice, lost the higher income paycheck to me becoming a stay at home mom, and all of this while dealing with severe anxiety and depression made worse by hormones that are skyrocketing and plummeting constantly.

Plus, there are a lot of mitigating factors to my numbers. Ok, my boobs are bigger, I AM BREASTFEEDING SO FREAKING DUH! They are STILL less than they originally were, and that is awesome! I got them down way small before they had to hold the morning noon and night buffet! (I love breastfeeding but it does add inches, lol)

Also, my weight? I went way up when I was pregnant with Sage! And managed to get it all the way back down to AGAIN?! In a year? While breastfeeding and raising two toddlers and under ridiculous amounts of stress? That’s pretty awesome.

Even still, some of those measurements were really exciting measurements to improve.

That difference on my calves made the difference between me buying regular or wide calf boots.

The inches on my hips made it to where I can shop in stores now for my pants and shorts, I don’t have to order online anymore.

The two inches on my arm got rid of a lot of the flabbiness that drove me crazy.

Also, I GOT TO MY GOALS. This year, I got a Victoria’s Secret pajama set! I didn’t like the fabric so I returned them, but I FIT IN IT. I was able to shop in stores for the clothes I wanted. I still am. In fact the shorts I bought in Target are now too big and I need new smaller ones. My body has completely changed over and over again and I am still better off than I was.

Biggest of all, I achieved a goal that I didn’t think was possible. I balanced my hormones enough to have two babies. That is a huge enormous deal for me. My babies lived. ❤

Time to set new goals, but those are some pretty amazing goals to have achieved.

The Demon that Won’t Go Away: A little known fact about HG

Hyperemesis Gravidarum has been getting a little more publicity lately as Amy Schumer and Kate Middleton have been honest about some of their struggles with it. HG is really severe morning sickness that can end women up in the hospital, on IVs, and with many different pregnancy complications. Many don’t know though, that HG doesn’t always end completely when the pregnancy ends.

I didn’t know about HG during my first pregnancy. I thought that either it was just normal or I was making up in my head the constant nausea and stomachaches that came with pregnancy for me. Almost every day I was bowed over my desk at work(I was teaching full time) desperately holding on to keep myself from passing. Some days I would be almost in tears from the stabbing pain in my side. I couldn’t eat anything but yogurt and cheese and saltine crackers. Believe me, I tried. Whenever I would try to eat anything normal I would vomit with a violence I have never experienced outside of HG. I will never forget the spinach I ate one day when I got desperate for some vegetables. I could not move for the rest of the day without making myself sick again and again and again. My mom and I got in an argument because I didn’t want anyone to come visit for a baby shower because I was in so much pain I couldn’t fathom the idea of trying to keep up with people visiting. But I couldn’t express to people how awful it was because I thought this was just what pregnancy was like for everyone.

Thankfully, I found out about HG before my next pregnancy and I had a much easier time. It was still difficult, but there is medicine for HG and while it didn’t fix everything for me, it definitely helped. I was able to eat and drink a little more, and there were days where I felt good.

Since this last pregnancy, though, I have learned something about HG that makes me angry, and frustrated, and strikes fear and anxiety into me.

It doesn’t always end completely with pregnancy.

I am somewhat lucky in this regard because mine does mostly go away. However, recently my symptoms have been coming back around ovulation and PMS. That’s two weeks out of the month. It varies in how bad it gets, but there must be a huge hormonal shift at one year because lately it has been bad. Just last week, I couldn’t stop shaking, and I was lightheaded for several days, and everything I ate seemed to make me nauseous.

What sucks the most about this is the despair and anxiety that comes with it. I was just working on getting a job to get me out of the house when the week started. At the end of the week, I was shaking and in tears because it was taking everything I could do just to watch the girls during the day, and get enough to eat and drink. As the next week started, it didn’t go away like I thought it would and despair started to take over, I started to feel like it was never going to end, I started feeling consumed with my own inability to just “be better.”

What this means, is that in addition to any PPD or PPA that a woman has after pregnancy, a woman with HG must also deal with the paralyzing fear that, not only might it come back if she were to get pregnant, but it could come back whenever it darn well feels like it. It is terrifying to be at the mercy of a monster that could come back and take over your life with no warning at any given moment in time. My husband has repeatedly had to talk me down from panic attacks about death that I think are arising from feeling as helpless as I feel when this happens. 

Also, having all of these issues while having a baby, or two toddlers in my case, is a special challenge, because falling behind in chores and consistency with the kids is BAD. One week of feeling sick lost us a full day of cleaning, a week of laundry, a whole bunch of organizing and adulting things that needed to get done. So now that I’m recovering from the anxiety of seeing how sick I could get at the drop of a hat, everything in me is screaming out that I need to do a major overhaul to fix everything, and I feel like a complete failure. Now the healing process has to start all over again.

The healing process for me is a variety of stages of working through paralyzing fear of getting pregnant, anxiety attacks about death, getting back into physical activity, trying to learn to be fun or have fun again when you were too sick to even think about having fun, and the hardest part, learning to fight again after you feel like giving up. The mountain of tasks before me seems absolutely impossible while I am attempting to repair my body and mind, but it’s time to take it all back and pick the fight back up.

Take a second to imagine the worst flu you have ever had in your life, the one that made you feel like you were going to die. Now imagine that you feel that for 9 months straight, and just when you thought you were free a year later, it came back for seemingly no reason. That’s what HG is, and that’s why it sucks that it comes back with a vengeance after being silent for a time, like a demon that pops its head out of random corners so you never feel safe. I share this, so that you may know a little more about what HG survivors fight, but also for those women who feel lonely and miserable and hopeless when their HG seems like it will never go away. You are not alone, I see you. 


 

Finding Freedom in Motherhood

When I became a mom, I was terrified. I thought this meant I had to be into legos, Lincoln logs, and other little people toys and I was going to have to give up on everything I actually do love. The problem with this that a lot of people don’t have is that I wasn’t even into these things when I was a kid, so being forced to play with these for the rest of my life seemed like a horrifying fate. I still get the head tilt eye roll combo from some moms when I’m vocal about how much I hate that stuff.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with feeling like I had to give up and just be that mom, and it was killing me. I’m not a good mom when I try to be that quintessential mommy because it’s not me at all. This morning, though, I was reminded of how good it feels to be myself as a mother.

Yesterday, I found Useless Magic, a compilation of art and poetry by Florence Welch. I bought this for myself, to share with my oldest when she was not even one yet. It’s a beautiful red velvet art book with odd drawings and sketches, accompanied with random phrases from the wild imagination behind Florence and the Machine. She is my favorite singer and an artist I respect incredibly deeply. Willow curled into my lap and had me read it to her again and again. We traced the “Heartlines” on each other’s hands, laughed about the eye that was also a heart, and she misunderstood a song lyric to say “play dough head!”

Afterwards we scrambled to get our swimming gear on and we went to the pool to spend a glorious hour in the water and sun, which is by far my favorite activity in the world. We watched other people play, and ran our fingertips through the water, spun, and splashed. It was amazing, and the great thing is they got the active play and sunshine they needed, and I got to do something I enjoy.

Last night, I was wondering if parenthood meant giving up everything you love and becoming a shell of yourself. Today answered me that it doesn’t have to be like that. It reminded me of how much my oldest loved staring at mandalas with me when she was only a few weeks old, how much she still loves to read classic literature(at one year old her favorite book is an old copy of Crime and Punishment we let her play with), how happy her sister is when I do yoga, and how much they both love to dance and draw. All of these things are things I am so passionate about, and often felt lonely doing them alone, but now we can enjoy them together.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how hard motherhood is, and whether or not the sacrifice is worth it, and honestly, it is hard on a level that I cannot even explain, and I’ve never felt so defeated in my life, but at the same time, there is something to it, something more than happiness, something more than joy even, maybe even something just so perfect about that moment when you see your family becoming a family. That is what you do it for, worth it or not.

The Abortion Bills

Tonight, my newsfeed is full of anger and sadness. Pain is manifesting all over the internet in 100 ways, from the women whose hearts are breaking over the children dying, to the women who see their own lives being torn away in front of them. There are screenshots being shared in all of my groups of what other people have said accompanied by comments about how wrong they are, how sad it is, condescendingly talking about how they could be so stupid(though of course never worded that way.) I am just overcome with sadness for all of it.

The pro-life people I have met in my life tend to downplay the struggles of having children. They talk about what wonderful gifts children are, and how grateful we should be to have them. They are right, but they are also full of it. I have listened while many of them talk about how important it is to talk about the good things about having kids, because our culture doesn’t. Many of them are in denial over their own problems and/or are constantly talking about offering their sacrifices up to God and how we are just meant to suffer on earth. The truth is though, if they were to be honest, they KNOW how hard it is to raise a child to the depths of their being. Pro-life mother’s everywhere are crying because they found out they are pregnant and they don’t know how they are going to feed another child, they are screaming angry at God because they don’t want to have another miscarriage, they are wishing they would miscarry because they are so tired, they are angry that they can’t have a child when mothers everywhere don’t want theirs. The thing that sucks is most of them are afraid to say any of this out loud. They are full of dark thoughts that make them feel afraid they are evil or something is wrong with them and they try to fit into the mold of what they are supposed to be because they are pro-life.

Many pro-choice women are strong women who have been through hell, and they are done with it. They want to have control because they know what it feels like not to, and they never want to feel that again. They don’t believe they are killing children.

Let me repeat that again.

They do not believe they are killing children. Literally, I have never spoken to a woman who believed an abortion actually killed a child who was also pro-choice. I have told this to pro-life Christians over and over and over. Over and over I hear other Christians telling each other, “how can they believe it’s ok to kill a child?” They. Don’t. It makes me so angry, that right now I want to spin off into a rant about how mad that makes me and how angry but that’s not the point of this post.

Almost 50 years ago, the pro-life side was in shock and tears when abortion was made legal. Tonight pro-choice people everywhere are living the same thing, different side. Yet, neither side has any compassion for each other. Condescending pity, sometimes, but not true compassion or empathy.

Someone with true compassion or empathy would truly see how the other side feels. Maybe say to the pro-choice moms, “Hey, I know how scary this must be for you. I know you believe this is a matter of being told what to do with your body in a world where that happens all the time in really scary ways. I’m here for you.” Pro-life people have already been through this side. You know the pain of living in a country that doesn’t agree with you, that’s what they are afraid of right now. That is a terrifying thing to experience, whether you agree with them or not.

Facebook sucks for this because the internet is mostly made up of the facades we put together to try to be who we want to be instead of who we are, so our defense mechanisms go wild whenever anything emotional is going on. Instead of throwing knives at each other like people did in ancient times, we are throwing around insulting or quasi-informative fear inducing memes and hoping that we will change the world with it. We may change the world with some memes, but will we change the hearts of the teenage girl who is crying alone in her basement right now? The dad who is grieving a loss? The mothers who have lost children? The mothers who have had abortions? Anyone else who is acting out about the changes happening whether on the pro-choice or pro-life side, and is really just crying out on the inside.

There is so much pain on both sides tonight. I don’t want to argue the right or wrong. I just want everyone to stop throwing words at each other, and really talk, hear each other, love each other. Grieve for those who are feeling fear, and rejoice for those who are feeling joy and hope for the first time in a long time.

If you are commenting on Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever else, just take a second tonight, and be love to that person. Slow down before you respond, and maybe just think about their side before you respond, or what they have been through. Better yet, ask them about it, not just to argue with them, but hear their story, and love them through it. I’m not saying you have to believe they are right or agree with them, but you can change how we handle issues in this world.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas(Free and Inexpensive)

As our Dave Ramsey mother’s day approaches, I have been dreading it. I really struggle with holidays right now because I love to celebrate and I want to celebrate big! Here are some ideas for free and inexpensive gifts you can give to the moms in your life to show them how much you love them. Husbands if your kids are too young, this is your job!

Free Gifts

Coupon Book/Jar/Box-This isn’t fun unless you really put thought and effort into it. Don’t just throw it together. Make pretty coupons and display them in something you have around the house that is pretty. Maybe decorate the container too! It doesn’t need to be flawless it just needs to be obvious that you did not just throw it together.

A series of letters/poetry/song/notes written by you and assigned to different occasions so she can read them. Maybe by feelings, “Happy” “Sad” “Overwhelmed” “Lonely” “Tired,”

Time as a family doing something she loves that maybe you don’t, or maybe she doesn’t get to do as often as she would like.

Time to herself to read, take a bath, whatever. She should be getting this at least once a week, but it’s still special!

Breakfast in bed-eggs, bacon, toast, veggies, fruit, you know what her favorite is-if you don’t find out-preferably without asking her, so she doesn’t guess the surprise!

Flowers picked from nature by you!

A mommy and me photo shoot-shot by YOU. You know what she loves and when she looks the most beautiful, capture that!

Inexpensive gifts

Pictures of her and the kids-Kidnap her phone or use pictures on the computer and print some out, or maybe just give her a budget for some she can get printed out herself if she’s opinionated.

Go to Hobby Lobby and pick out a wall art/decor piece that she might like, or take her with you and walk around with her romantically to let her pick one out.

Altar’d State has some really beautiful wall decor as well, there are all kinds of things to choose from. You could get her something sentimental or something silly, but make sure you know which one she prefers! They also have inspiring books that are really amazing and beautiful gifts. Again, this is a fun one to take her to with a budget and let her run wild.

Gift cards-to anywhere she likes, and maybe even volunteering to go with her. If you don’t know for sure what she likes a few safe bets are Target, Hobby Lobby, IKEA(MAYBE-this depends on the wife-for some its not so much a fun place as just functional), Altar’d State, Barnes and Noble, TJ Maxx. Try to pick a place where shopping there is a fun, calming experience for her, and not just places where she can get stuff.

Check her amazon wish list. We know you are linked because of Prime-see what she has on there that seems like a sentimental mother-y gift. NOT SOMETHING RELATED TO CHORES. Unless she likes that.

Last Minute Gift Tips

Pictures can get printed same day at Walmart and Walgreens and you can choose how many to do and what format, just make sure you pick something thats available same day.

Amazon is really good if the person is out of town and you want it to get there fast!

Taking her for a fun shopping trip can be fun and also works last minute.




Academy Nicholls, Here I Come

I did a thing last night.

It might be crazy. It may be a little arrogant? It takes a lot of arrogance to be an artist, or at least that’s what I tell myself so I won’t hide all of my work under a rock. Yes, this writing of mine is a conscious decision in favor of pride in the face of possible humiliation-in a way at least.

Anyway, the thing I did is bold if you say it nicely, foolish if not. We have been struggling so much with money. Last week I decided that I would use my fun money that I’ve been saving for months and all of my returns for our emergency fund and debt payoff. It was more important that little rewards right? I’m so discouraged about money, maybe that is what would make me feel better.

Then I found out that I hadn’t missed the deadline for the Academy Nicholls Fellowship.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the most prestigious film competition out there for new writers. But that’s not what matters to me(although it’s the first thing I tell people so they get the context of what I did.) What matters to me, is that it is the answer to all of the prayers I’ve said this year if I get it.

It is just enough money that Patrick could stay home or work part time while he finishes school, so he could have some time to breathe, which I have been begging God for all year.

It is just enough money that we could cover everything. We wouldn’t be rolling in the dough by any means, but we would be ok. I have been asking for help with that.

I would be getting paid to write MY work. I would be getting paid to do what I always wanted to do, and not on someone else’s terms. I’d have a mentor, but I wouldn’t have to write a story fitting their guidelines. It would be mine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with getting paid to write for someone else, but this is a whole other level.) I have been asking God for this since I was born.

I would have a mentor to encourage and help me to improve my work and it would be their job to help me write another screenplay. I’ve got one almost done, one done, I’d have time to do another one. I’ve been praying for that this year.

I would have more time with Patrick and more time to breathe. I’ve been praying for this since Willow was born.

This year has been so hard. It’s hard to express how hard because some stupid things don’t make any sense if you describe them, but they can devastate you if you are having a hard enough time. I’ve noticed sometimes if I stub my toe I don’t even care, but if a day is bad enough it’s enough to resort me to a sobbing mess, or a cursing sailor. This year, has made the smallest issues into mountains that make me feel completely helpless.

It took over year for me to build the courage to do this. God has been working in so many ways in my life to prepare me. He healed my trauma about miscarriage and spiritual abuse through a hellish year teaching at a Catholic school and a horrific birth that was still the most amazing thing that could ever have happened to me. He healed the trauma from that birth a little over a year later with another birth. He healed the wounds from the Catholic school by bringing me to a new Catholic Church and Bible study.

My first time at the Bible study, I hated it. I was never coming back, until I saw the back of one of the books. “I am looking for a deeper relationship with you.” I knew without a doubt it was God talking to me. Every single time I have made it to this Bible Study He has shown up for me. He has taught me SO much. He brought me back to myself through the women that I met, the readings they supplied, and the time out that I got because of the study. I am incomprehensibly grateful for what He gave me in them.

If I tried to list all of the lies and fears that God came down and disproved this would be the longest blog in the universe, but suffice it to say that He worked on me hard, and that is exhausting and hard, but it was amazing in so many ways too.

Holy Week was like that point in labor when you decide you can’t do it and you are totally ready to give up. I started to think there was no point to anything that I had heard all year. I felt myself fading away, and I was so angry. Easter was, surprisingly, even worse.

It was awful. God sent me a free Christian concert(yes I believe it was from Him because it was my favorite Christian band and I had been longing for a Christian concert and mourning that we couldn’t afford it and this was free) and I was so excited, but then it was actually a Protestant service. I was raised that you don’t go to those, so I was in a tailspin of enjoying it, and being terrified of the guilt and shame of being there. They talked about “taking your place at the table” and “the battle is already won,” and I loved it, and I heard Jesus in it, but then I became lost in sadness about the Catholic Church and the fact that I couldn’t accept their message because I’m Catholic.

I fought that, because none of what they said went against the Church. They had a message that we are supposed to be giving and arent. And sure, I believe there are things Catholics have to offer too, but Protestants have some amazing gifts. So I prayed away the guilt and shame a little bit more everyday.

And I found out about Academy Nicholls.

Part of what I have learned this year through Dave Ramsey is that I have been serving money, not making my money serve God. I’ve got a whole lot more coming about that, and how it doesn’t always look like Scrooge hoarding money, but for now suffice it to say that I was convinced I couldn’t try for this fellowship that I believed God wanted me to try for, because money said no.

I prayed every day for the money, but I was convinced it would be a no.

Then I got the money, and I fell into despair and misery because I became sure I wouldn’t win it.

Then I went home and I read the reading from the Bible Study. Ephesians 6, about putting the armor of faith on to conquer evil in the world. And I knew.

So I entered the Academy Nicholls Fellowship competition, and I probably will not win, but, I could. With the money I spent to enter it, I bought freedom from fear financially, I bought hope, I bought one of the greatest acts of faith of my entire life, I bought a new life. So wish me luck, and say a prayer when you can for my dream job. ♥️♥️♥️

Praying for your Husband

I am constantly hearing women ask, “How do I get my husband to do Dave Ramsey too? I’m on bored, but he is not.” I have so been there. I was so frustrated with my husband for years that I couldn’t convince him, and he wouldn’t hear me. We tried to do it once, but he just got frustrated with how preachy Dave Ramsey can be and wouldn’t finish it with me. I was patient with him about it, but it was really hard for me.

Then this year, I was incredibly stressed and despairing about money. Every time I talked to Patrick, I felt like he wasn’t hearing me. He would tell me everything was fine, or he would just get frustrated with me, and I would just get more frustrated with him. Out of nowhere, I found this prayer that I still pray today:

http://thywordisalamptomyfeet.blogspot.com/2013/06/prayer-for-my-husbands-work-finances.html?m=1

It is a prayer for my husbands work and finances, and immediately I started to see a difference in him. Just a few days later we got into the worst money fight we had ever had. We live with my parents, so there was that cherry on top too. At the end of it, I was just exhausted and I said, “Look, if we don’t do Dave Ramsey, I don’t think we are going to make it.” Miraculously, he said ok.

It hasn’t been sweet sailing the whole way, baby steps 1 and 2 are not easy at all, and staying on the path when you are low income is exhausting sometimes, but we are making progress, and our relationship is getting better, and we are becoming better people through the struggle we are facing, instead of letting our lives fall apart while we do nothing about it.

I still say this prayer as often as I can, I try to remember to say it every day when I can, because it really lifts both of us up and we can feel the grace from it, especially with financial worries. I am so thankful for this prayer, and for all the answers we have received through it.

Let the Little Children Come to Me: Defending Catholic Moms

Last night, I had to leave the Good Friday service halfway through. I went to this particular Church because the churches nearby us don’t have cry rooms, but at this parish, we had been treated kindly by the parish priest and daily mass crowd, so I figured they would be kind and merciful to us if the kids were not great. It was my first time going to mass with them alone, and I have a one year old and a two year old, so it is not an easy feat.

Just after I got little one #1 out of the car seat, my heart sank. The doors were chained shut. There was another door nearby that was open, so I thought maybe it was to the stairs. Turned out it wasn’t, but I made it down anyway. I knew the Church was under construction and I expected that, but what I didn’t expect is there was nowhere to take the kids. The service was being held downstairs instead of in the Church which we had navigated before.

There were some very sweet people when we first came in, the usher smiled at us and waved, another older man did, and two teenage girls were right behind us and they smiled at the girls and waved too. I was so excited and grateful that we had come here.

But then the girls had a much harder time than I expected. The younger one would crawl away under the chairs and the oldest kept calling for me to read “Batgirl! Batgirl!” I tried pacing the back of the church area but the two year old kept running away. I tried going by the entry door, but there were multiple doors open with Mass supplies, making it unsafe for her to be pretty much anywhere. I found a little nook with mostly closed doors, but one open one I could stand by and listen to the service. I was exhausted, but felt peaceful, finally I could keep an eye on them, and still be present.

It was still hard managing them in the little nook, but they were at least mostly happy(okay the little one face planted and wailed for a second, but mostly happy, lol.) Suddenly, after relative peace had been accomplished, an usher came back, cast us a dark look and slammed the door. Well, the closed door made the room echo badly, which my two year old just loved. I try not to shush her most of the time because she is rarely loud, and I want to encourage her to use her voice, and not make her feel bad about it. I became a shushing machine. We were boxed in and echoing so bad, and I didn’t know how much they could hear and seeing the door close made them want out, and I couldn’t hear the service anymore, so what was the point of all of this effort. Suddenly another usher came back, cast us a glare and left.

You guys, it is already so hard having two under two, it took all of my courage to even try to come to the service, but my lent had been so hard, and I had been clinging to Christ the whole time so desperately, I just needed to be there. I hadn’t expected them to be helpful, but I had expected to be treated kindly if it went badly. I was so frustrated to be trapped in this nook and feeling so ashamed. Finally, I decided I was just going to have to leave. I tried to get out, but the door wouldn’t open. Had it LOCKED on me? I muttered under my breath, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and of course it fell open jolting me and the girls, and what felt like the entire congregation turned around and glared at us. Most of them looked away, and we made our way out as fast possible.
Once I made it outside, I realized I could still be present to Jesus if we stayed. So we wandered around outside for a little while. It wasn’t a safe area for kids at all, but my girls are really well mannered, so I was able to keep them calm. A few minutes later a mom came out looking just as frazzled as I felt dragging her 5 year old son. He was crying already and she spanked him, hard. What got me was not just the actual fact of her spanking him, but I could so feel her frustration. If she was feeling even a little of the shame I was at making noise in that environment, I could sympathize with any amount of exploding in anger.
I tried to listen through the windows as much as possible, but I ended up timing our entry for the Veneration of the Cross badly. Most of the congregation hadn’t gone yet. I felt so awkward and ashamed, and no one looked at us. Finally, when my poor two year old was sobbing and fell to the floor, my attempt at “presence” with Jesus had to change. In this moment, I needed to be present to Jesus as He lives in my little girl. It was not ok to traumatize her, and become this angry monster in order to be present to Jesus Crucified. He would rather her grow to love Him than have silent resentments because Church was torture. (I firmly believe this because I have to work so hard to overcome how much I hated Mass and Church as a kid, and I was very spiritual, I loved Jesus.)
Finally, we left. I told my littles how much I loved them, and I prayed aloud for the congregation as we went home.
St. Paul says, “They shall know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me.” Not only was this church not an example of these things, but they were the exact opposite. The church we normally go to embraces children, and loves them. They have a “wiggle room” for children to go to when they need to move around a little, but they have a sign that reminds parents that they are welcome and wanted in the main church area. There is a beautiful 3D painting of Jesus holding a crowd of children. I still occasionally get a little side-eyed glance for walking around the back of the Church or letting my little one look at the statues, but more often, I get smiles and nods. I am so grateful for that Church. It is a rare, and amazing blessing, I know because I went 5 years without being able to find a Church I called home.

This Church was the absolute opposite last night, it was the example of all the reasons why I hated being Catholic for so long. I almost left the Church. I was so profoundly angry at God. Last night, because of the mercy of having an amazing Church that provides for us, and my own work to stay in the Church no matter what, I wasn’t tempted to leave, and I wasn’t angry at God, but instead, I can tell you, this needs to change. There are people who have not had the same experiences I have that are leaving the Church because of being treated this way.
So, do better.

How?

1. Welcome people who come to your church. Say a quick hello, give them a smile, something. I have been to churches where there is a moment set aside at the beginning for greeting each other before Mass begins and as a first-time parishoner there, it made a huge difference.

2. HAVE A CRY ROOM, better yet, don’t call it a cry room-call it a Wiggle Room, or something else fun, so it doesn’t sound or feel like a horrible place to be.

3. Do anything you can to let parents know they are welcome. They are forming the children that are the churches future, and they are treated badly enough anywhere else. They don’t need to feel like even God hates them. Plus, kids can pick up on the anger and frustration and then they associate that with God, which is BAD.

4. In fact, do anything you can to let everyone know they are welcome. Be love, like St. Paul.

5. Incorporate the kids in ways that take into consideration the purpose of the service, aka meet their needs without corrupting the actual Mass itself. At my Church, the children get to bring up little meal offerings at the offertory. It doesn’t interfere with any actual Mass parts, but it gets them excited about helping the poor, and about giving back to God. My two year old loves this, and it brings me so much joy. They also bring the high-schoolers who want to up to the foot of the alter during the Canon of Mass, physically manifesting “Let the little children come to me.”

6. Let go of the desire for the “perfect” service. Jesus did not command us to have the perfect ceremony. He did ask us to remember Him. He asked us to love. Sure, we could have a perfectly silent Mass, with no children there, but I’ll tell you as an ex-member of parishes that were that way, there is a heck of a lot of pain there. A lot of pain, and it wasn’t just me. Maybe if you really want to offer a really nice fancy silent service, have a children’s Mass available where parents don’t have to feel condemned.

7. Jesus first. In any decision being made in the liturgy, or any way you act during church or at church or ever, remember who Jesus was, and live like Him.

I have a theory about Post Partum Depression. I haven’t talked about it, because I’m kind of afraid I’m going to get stoned for this, but hear me out, ok? I have a theory that PPD is not really a thing as much as we think it is. I think what everyone thinks is PPD is really just a natural reaction to insane amounts of stress brought on by how completely our society neglects moms, especially at the beginning of motherhood.

Let me start this off by saying, I have said that I have PPD, and my counselor agreed. I am not saying this out of some suffering-free glass box. I am saying this out of the heart of someone who curled up on the floor in complete despair, more than once. I had to ask my husband to tell me that he wanted me alive and wanted me around, over and over again because I was so overwhelmed by it. I have been in the trenches, and they were bad.

As someone who has gone through it, I don’t know if I even believe in it. Not because I don’t believe in the suffering, but because I believe that IT IS NOT IN OUR HEADS! The problem is not women. The problem is that women are being put under insane amounts of pressure at the most vulnerable time of their lives, and then people are asking why they are having a hard time.

After birth, women have a wound NINE INCHES WIDE inside of them, and they have just gone through one of the most physically and emotionally taxing experiences in existence. I was lucky enough to have people to watch out for me for the first week after my first birth and a month after my second, and I still had a hard time. I was not feeling better by the time my family had to go back to work and daily life. They just had to go back to work and daily life.

For months after birth, women are enduring huge hormonal shifts, an adjustment to their new body, their new mind, their new life, their new child, and at the same time, most of them are dealing with working, and the ones who aren’t dealing with that are dealing with staying home with other kids, which comes with built in expectations of keeping the house clean, cooking all the meals, getting the errands done, being the best mom ever, and not worrying about money, which is no cake walk when you are dealing with all of these other things.

So moms are overwhelmed, physically and emotionally and mentally exhausted, their entire lives have changed, and everyone is telling them that everything is fine, and this is how it goes, and life is just hard. Then, we blame it on their minds that they are suffering.

My midwife gave me a list of things that would help with my feelings after birth. For a little while I had time to do them, and when I did, they helped a TON. Who has time to do anything extra with two under two though? And the people around me would ask why I wasn’t doing them, but sometimes you are barely holding your own head up, let alone able to follow all the things you are supposed to be doing.

If you are suffering PPD and you reading this, I am NOT in ANY way saying that you are not suffering, what I am saying it is possible that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU OR YOUR BODY.

Women are being neglected and wronged. We do not have a society that supports women who are just starting out, that is, unless they think about having an abortion, then we will help them, either to not have the baby or to “save” it.

Women need a community to rally around them, not for a week or two, but I would say for a year. While all these hormones and changes are happening, women need extra support. Their struggles and their suffering NEEDS to matter. They need to not be told it’s “just depression,” and “maybe they should go talk to someone.” They need HELP.

I’ll just clarify here, this is a symptom of a bigger problem. I am not saying moms need help and other people don’t. I am saying our entire society is built on rushing to keep up with everything going on in our lives, but people are not helping each other. I believe we have widespread issues we are experiencing because we are not taking care of each other. I believe men need to be supported too, I believe children need to be supported. I believe everyone needs more love.

Be the love that changes the world.

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