Sunday, November 3, 2013
Being a parent
Parenting is HUGE! It is the most powerful, beautiful, difficult, crazy, loving, hurtful relationships you can participate in. For me, parenthood is a heavy responsibility that I constantly feel that Im failing at.
Since my first born came into existence and I was made aware by the positive pregnancy test I became a fearful nut. I had to take progesterone shots to support the pregnancy. Our first pregnancy ended in a miscariage, a chemical pregnancy where the baby dies right around the time of conception but the body still shows signs of pregnancy for a while, for us it was 10 weeks, which is VERY long for chemical pregnancies. So when we became pregnant again I was a wreck of nerves. We told all of our friends in our church community as soon as we found out. My husband wanted to make sure that we had a great Christian support system to be there for us especially if anything was to happen (with our miscarriage he was on deployment and it just wasnt a good situation with local friendships...and I hit a horrible depression). We wanted to celebrate this new little life and have others around us that would celebrate life and support us to.
I remember sitting with my husband waiting for the doctor to come in to preform an ultrasound after we found out my progesterone levels were low. My husband held my hand and talked about us preparing ourselves for if the screen was empty like it was last time. He caressed my hand and said he was there for me. We were nervous. Then suddenly there it was...that teeny tiny heartbeat fluttering. So strong yet so small. I didnt have a magical moment like in the movies but it was more like Reality struck...this was real. There was a little person inside me and I couldnt just sit back and be pregnant, I had to be proactive and get my blood tested every 2 weeks and drive 45 minutes to get progesterone shots every 2 weeks at the hospital for 35 weeks of our pregnancy. From the beginning of my "open to life" moments I have been filled with the fear of the loss of the very life that I was saying yes to. Fertility became something so precious and so powerful, something to be in awe of, not something to be controlled and/or suppressed.
After 9 months of worry and stress and excitement and anticipation came my 35 hour back labor all natural birth of our first born son. Even labor was harder than I anticipated. I remember being so exhausted I couldnt get really excited after he was born and didnt bond for a month. I struggled with feelings of pain and worry as to how I could be a good mother. I couldnt be a good wife. I had so much baggage and pain that I was carrying into motherhood that I knew for sure this sweet innocent baby wasnt given a fair advantage...here he was with a mess of a mother. I couldnt bond with him for a month. I kept listening to everyone who said "dont put him in bed with you, he'll never sleep in his own bed" or "dont let him pacify on you, only give him a pacifier" I was a wreck. Finally I called my NFP counselor and told her how I was feeling and she calmed all my fears and told me I was experiencing post partum depression which was very normal for women who had to take progesterone shots during pregnancy. She recommend I receive a progesterone shot. Between the progesterone shot, some sleep(my mom came) and me throwing out all that ridiculous information people told me(not to co-sleep or nurse on demand) I started to experience a change. I looked at my little baby boy and for the first time thought "Oh my goodness, you are so cute." Its like I could really see him for the first time. I fell in love. I still had a lot of personal stuff I had to work through but I began falling in love with him.
My second pregnancy was the same but my progesterone levels were even lower and the shots were not absorbing so I began a round of trying different things, shedding lots of tears and worrying about our little baby in utero. But so many beautiful things happened during my pregnancy with her. We moved to an amazing Catholic university town and I learned SO MUCH about myself. I learned that I was a person with a body and soul, I learned about femininity and masculinity away from the cultural confusion out there that I had learned in school and the media. I learned what marriage really meant and how I was really living out a vocation with this other person and trying to get him to heaven, not just a relationship based on mutual understanding, commonalities and pleasurable sex like all the Romance movies out there tell you its suppose to be like. My husband and I entered into a deeper place in our relationship filled with pulling off masks, opening up painful doors, pulling up old weeds that didnt want to budge.
When our daughter was born at home(intended homebirth with the best midwife in the world) I hit rock bottom again the first week. Now I had a daughter and all I could think about was the horrific world I was bringing her into. All the pain and all the problems that young women face in our culture of death and lies(I know thats strong language. but its how I felt). My mother came and we had some heart to heart talks about some things that I was feelings and our relationship grew to a deeper level. My husband counseled me through some misconceptions I had about ideas of myself and the Church(he was receiving a degree in Theology at the time. He was like my personal speaking Catechism and Bible).
At that point I was holding everything all together with having long hair and wearing skirts and watching the Duggars on t.v. I really felt that my female Christian walk as a mother would only be acceptable to God and to the world if I looked like an ideal Christian woman, hiding some deep pain in my heart. My husband was patient with me. He knew I didnt need to do these things. I remember asking him once how he would like me to act and look. He told me to just be myself. I asked him "what if you dont like me for who I really am?" He looked at me and said " Rhianon it would be better for you to be yourself even if I didnt like your personality, than you pretending to be somebody else. You need to be you" That sounds like love to me. At the time in all my hormonal thinking I dont know if I believed him but I sure do now :)
Going back to after I had our daughter. When she was 5 months I was struggling so bad with depression that I went to the doctor and told him he had to do something and figure out what was wrong because I knew something was very wrong. I explained everything to him and he said it sounded like a thyroid issue. He checked my thyroid TSH level and it came back in normal levels but he kept checking. He then checked my T4 which most doctors wont go back and check if your TSH come back in normal range but he was great and knew I was really struggling. And then he found it. My T4 was the problem. I got on thyroid medication and oh my goodness...it was like waking up to a world you never knew existed. I remember thinking "Is this how other people experience the world" I could do so much. I could feel emotions at a calm normal level and I could handle situations so much better. Life continued and I felt way better. I started working out, went back to school and took a class in Biblical Archaeology...very interesting! Then found out we were expecting again! Surprise! But this pregnancy was very different since I was taking Armour thyroid medication. I didnt cry all the time feeling like a failure. I only had to take progesterone for the first 3 months and I had a super easy labor! Our third baby second son was born at home and the kids ran in right after and were jumping up and down welcoming their little baby brother into our home!
Life has gotten easier is some ways with the right thyroid levels but there is still a place where my life meets Christ and I find myself struggling against him. I parent my children like I am it, I am the one that will make or break them. I worry constantly that my fussing at them today for not picking up toys will result with them not being able to tell someone no someday and getting into a horrible situation that they cant get out of. I worry that when I leave them with a trusted babysitter that I could be harming their future becasue they didnt have me at their side to explain something. All these thoughts are suffocating.
But tonight I was thinking about Gods will and how He grants us glimpses of His will and sometimes even lets us participate. Like with NFP, he gives us a glimpse at how He created the cycles in a womans body and how amazing and intricate the hormone levels fluctuate but in the end its just a glimpse because life is a gift not a right that is owed to me. His will is the deciding factor in whether or not my husband and I will conceive a baby. He gives a glimpse into pregnancies with progesterone support but in the end His will is perfect and ultimately He is the giver of life and He knows when or if the baby in utero is called to His mercy early. And in parenthood, He gives us a glimpse into the psychology of children and the parent-child dynamics etc. but in the end His Will is there tugging at the child's heart, alluring them to Him; their ultimate love and life.
I am thankful to have the Church, the body of Christ and her wonderful teachings to guide and to protect my life and dignity and the life and dignity of my children and my marriage. Its a constant struggle and hard hard work being a wife and mother but staying close to Jesus in the Eucharist, knowing Him, learning about Him in Church Tradition and Scripture and experiencing Him in others like at a Communion and Liberation community I had the joy of being a part of in Steubenville, OH, is the way to peaceful inner life. Being with Him in these different ways leads me to be present for my husband and children and for myself so that I can be the true me and the woman that God is calling me to be.
I know this was an eternal post but if you made it this far, I want to say thank you for reading this and for sharing a little piece of my world. I pray and hope that this post will meet another mother who may be struggling with similar issues. If thats the case, feel free to email me at Faithfulcatholic@yahoo.com! I love you all and am so happy that we get to be on this adventure of life together and I hope that we all get to experience the eternal peace of heaven forever together in Christ who will strengthen us in times of pain and struggle!! I can think of nothing sweeter but being in His arms for all eternity!