Tag: answer my prayer

Rough Night – Healing Your Child’s Soul

I sat on the uncomfortable rocking chair around 3 in the morning after the rough night. My son arched his back as if he couldn’t get comfortable. His head lifted away from my chest. Occasionally it would bounce back, and the cool tears on his face would wet my skin. After just a minute or two, the gas slipped up out of his stomach and his neck slowly relaxed as he rested his weary head on my chest. It got heavier and heavier and so did his eyelids.

rough night with an infant, mom cradling

After 4 hours of trying to help him, he finally succumbed to sleep, trapping me with 24 lbs of squishy baby weight. And in spite of my exhaustion, I sat unmoving and just held him. My cheek pressed against his fuzzy warm head. His breathing, remnants of sobs abandoned. My precious boy nuzzled against me. It was my reward for my toil, so I enjoyed every special second. Thirty minutes of quiet snuggles on a squeaky, unyielding rocker. I watched the shadows and breathed deeply. There aren’t many moments like this. It was just me and my boy.

At 3:30 in the morning I finally slipped between my sheets and my eyelids slammed shut.

My Rough Night

The Likely Cause

That day, we had gone to his six month appointment. We found out he was off the charts for weight and pretty big in all other growth aspects. And to top it off, he has got a giant head that comes from my side of the family. If you ever wonder why some hats are so big, it’s for people like me and my son.

grayson at the doctor, cause of the rough night

He got two shots. I didn’t think anything of it. With his first couple of rounds he had been fussy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. My daughter had never had many ill effects from the shots.

I put him to bed around 7 just like any other night. He fussed a little more before he fell asleep, but soon he was breathing out Zs.

 

I just had to…

As a matter of safety, I usually take the sound machine out of his room at night after the loud noises in the house have disappeared. He has a bad habit of putting a blanket on top of his face and if I’m asleep and he’s having a hard time breathing, I want to be able to hear immediately.

beginning of the rough night, he wakes up

My daughter was in bed, my company had left and I was about to sleep as well. So, like every night, I snuck into his room and took it out. Usually he moves and then goes right back to sleep.

On this particular rough night, he moved and then woke up.

Quick Fix

All right, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just give him a bottle, top him off for the night and that way I made sure we all got a good night sleep.

He drank about half of it and I thought that he probably wasn’t hungry because he’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of days now.

 

The 4 Hours

The rest of the four hours that made up my rough night are a little hazy. It all blurs together now. I know that some things happened during that time. Here is a list of all courses of action in no particular order:

  • Gave him Tylenol.
  • Rocked him.
  • Held him.
  • Sang “I am a child of God”
  • Left his room about 15 times.
  • Entered his room about 15 times.
  • Sang “I like to look for Rainbows”
  • Sat on the floor by his crib and held his hand while he tried to settle down.

  • Let him play with my face.
  • Sat on the couch and the living room while he looked at the lights.
  • Let him lay in mommy’s bed. (Austin was out of town.)
  • Burped him. And again and again and again. So many burps.
  • So much spit up.
  • Bottle attempts 1, 2 and 3.
  • Wrapped him in a semi-swaddle

  • Pacifier.
  • Reached under the bed for all of the pacifiers he had chucked by the wall.
  • Wiped his tears.
  • Gave him Ibuprofen.
  • Caressed his head.
  • Tried to let him ‘cry it out’. (I can only last about 15 minutes at the most.)
  • Bounced him.
  • Sang “Down in the River” over and over and over again.
  • Prayed for any possible relief about every 10 minutes.

There might be more. I don’t know. It was a rough night.

 

The Unexpected Reward

I know I am not alone in the ‘rough night’ department. Most parents get to experience this joy at some point or another. Most of the time, you are only rewarded with an hour or two of much needed sleep.

But sometimes, the world stands still and all is quiet as your little one finally falls asleep in your arms. The whimpers subside and you get a small glimpse at how much your baby must love you. His face is pressed against you, cheek smashed against your skin. The deeper he falls into sleep, the more his breathing levels out.

Only you could heal his whole soul. Not only have you labored to help his little body feel better, but you also kept his spirit full. He knows that you are there for him and that you love him and have taken the time to understand him.

You heal his whole soul regardless of whether or not he falls asleep on you. But if you are lucky enough to feel your trusting little one nuzzle in, you can take the time to pat yourself on the back. Because you did it. Even if it took you until 3 or 6 in the morning, you did it. You healed your baby’s soul.

 

More Rough Nights to Come

So I hope I can remember when I have another rough night and many more, that every time I choose their needs over mine I heal their soul. I heal their physical hurts and I show them for the rest of their life, that they are worth me climbing out of my bed.

And in the quiet moments when I have evidence in my arms of how much my children appreciate it, I hope I can remember that I am doing okay. I healed my baby’s soul and I think I healed mine too.

 

I’ve had many a rough night with my toddler too.

Completely Broke in Italy, Best Time of Our Life

Birds fluttered to the ground by our feet. They could see us eating bread and the little crumbs that were falling in between the cobblestones below. Normally, I would have loved to throw a couple of pieces of bread at the birds. But as my feet dangled off the bench in the courtyard of the church, I clutched my bread in my hands and didn’t share a morsel. Because, if you can believe it, this piece of bread was my food ration for the day. We were so completely broke, that we couldn’t even share some of our bread with the birds.

We were in Padova, Italy, had just gone through a beautiful church and were eating before our next leg of the journey. I will never forget sitting next to my love, eating bread and denying the birds of any of our limited food.

Completely broke and traveling everywhere

 

How it Happened

Austin and I had been saving up money all year so that he could do an internship in Italy. That sounds amazing, right? We had it all planned out, to see as much as possible while we were there. After all, how often do you get to live in Italy?

He got an internship with the Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena. And with the $1000 they would be paying him, we had just enough money to fund the remainder of our trip. We were excited.

We flew across the world and landed in Torino, Italy. From there we went to a number of different cities in the North. The day before we went to Padova, we were in Verona, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

completely broke and completely in love
Leaving our mark on the wall of Love by Juliet’s balcony.

Right before we left for an opera, Austin checked his email. During the week that we had been in Italy, the bank had gone bankrupt and was obviously not going to be having any interns whatsoever. His internship was gone and our $1000 was gone.

Fortunately, our school was able to find him a new one. But this one was an unpaid internship and suddenly we found ourselves completely broke in Italy.

 

Completely Broke in Italy

If there’s one place that you don’t want to be completely broke, it’s Italy. The food is incredible, the sites are amazing, the history is rich and everything is expensive. Suddenly we had no money in one of the places where you want to spend money.

completely broke but can still see the sunset
You don’t need money for sunsets!

 

Spending Habits

We did the math. The amount of available money we had for our meals for the rest of the trip was $5 (3 euro) per day for both of us. Meaning we had 1.5 euro per person for the ENTIRE day (breakfast and lunch were already covered in our living expenses during the school week, but on days when we were away from Siena, we were all on our own). Our habits changed drastically:

completely broke in Verona
In Verona; we had just become aware of our financial situation. It took some time to look this happy again.

Grocery Stores instead of Going Out

We went to grocery stores to buy all of our meals. These meals frequently were things like rolls, cans of tuna, tomatoes & mozzarella cheese. There, the cheese was much less expensive than it is in the United States, and much better.

Non-Glutinous Gelato

If we ever treated ourselves to gelato, we got the smallest size and we shared it.

Towel Tale

In Milano, it was 90 degrees at night. We were sweating in our room. Our clothes were sticking to us. It was 10 euro for air conditioning. Do you think we got it? Nope. Instead we got the towels wet and slept with them on top of us to cool us down. That was my husband’s ingenious idea and I couldn’t believe it worked as well as it did.

Halvsies

We shared every meal except two. One was an incredible panzerotti place in Milano (Luini’s by the duomo, in case you are ever there) – Austin said this was one time we could not share. And on my birthday, I got my own gelato, which was my only request.

eating my only gelato that was completely mine when we were completely broke
Happy Birthday to me!

Feeding Frenzy

If a hotel ever had a breakfast (which was rare because we were staying in hostels), we ate as much as we possibly could and took whatever we could with us. We didn’t care who looked at us sideways. It was take the food or starve.

No Rest for the Weary

We walked EVERYWHERE. In Rome, at the very end of our trip, we had been walking forever. My feet were so sore I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Suddenly, Austin pointed at the metro. “Want to take the metro?” I think I started crying.

feet in a fountain to help the blisters
The day when I wore the wrong shoes to walk around. Blisters for days!

Rare Remembrances

Our souvenirs were extremely limited and we only bought what we had planned on buying. Because on top of being broke, we were also carrying everything on our backs everywhere we went.

completely broke with our only possessions in Italy
This is all we had for 3 months and we carried it everywhere we went.

We were literally, the epitome of starving college students.

Yep, that’s us with all of our stuff as we began our adventure.

 

Miracles

When you are in dire straits, you tend to see more miracles. We, of course, said many prayers pleading for help and we saw so many miracles that helped us make it through. Even if they weren’t critical to our well-being, they were all a reminder that God was watching us and He cared about his completely broke children.

walking to the nearest town because we were completely broke
When I say we walked everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE. This was a 5 mile walk I believe.

Advance Payday

One of our photography clients offered to pay us early for an upcoming wedding. We graciously accepted. (Unfortunately, on our way to the wedding, our cameras were stolen in the airport right after we got home from Italy. Gratefully, we had emptied our memory cards onto our computer just a half an hour before.)

Blessed Bracelets

There are people everywhere who are trying to get you to buy their products or souvenirs. In one such situation, the men were trying to get us to buy their bracelets. In an act of desperation, they pleaded, “One euro. Just one euro.”

Little did they know that one euro was 1/3 of our combined meal rations for the day. We both declined again and again.

Finally they said, “You can just have them. For free.” I don’t know why they both changed their mind. Maybe they could sense that they may have met a couple of tourists who quite literally did not have one euro to spare.

 

Whatever the reason, we kept the bracelets on the rest of the trip as a reminder that God was looking out for us.

Extra Tickets

Someone had extra tickets for a tour and they singled us out of a group of tourists and asked if we would like them. The tickets were only 2.5 euros each, but we could not have gone inside without that blessing.

Hop on, Hop off

A couple was going home a day early and had one more day of a Hop on, Hop off bus ticket in Rome. Guess who they asked to take it? We rode that bus, seeing a lot more of Rome than we would have otherwise and saved our feet some serious damage. Which, really could have changed the outcome of the story above when I could barely make it to the metro.

Vatican Visual

There is only one Sunday every month when visiting the Vatican is completely free. It’s the last Sunday of the month and guess what Sunday we were there. Yep, after standing in the pouring rain, we made it in and saw everything. It was incredible!

Dripping wet by St. Peter’s Basilica right before standing in line.

Christmas Present

An already planned, but a miracle nevertheless was a Christmas present we had received. Austin’s parents had used their points to get us two nights at the Waldorf Astoria in Rome. It was, in a word, exquisite. Basically, it was a good thing we had already seen everything we wanted to see in Rome because once we went into that hotel, we did not leave until we were forced out.

Marriage Magic

Being completely broke was one of the most stressful things we had done together up until that point in our marriage. We hadn’t even had our one year anniversary. But because we were going through it together, we leaned on each other and became stronger together because of the trials we faced.

completely broke and in love in Venice

We survived.

Three months later, our trip to Italy was over. We were exhausted, hungry and excited about hamburgers, but also devastated that we would be leaving. We had had so much fun. There were so many adventures, so many stories and so many moments where I grew to love my husband even more.

Didn’t cost anything to act like touristy fools in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

We worked through being completely broke and came out on the other side, albeit a total of 35 lbs lighter for both of us. (I lost 15. Austin lost 20.) It was hard going back to America and finding jobs again and ending our adventure, but after that I knew that Austin and I could get through anything together. We had endured a lot and relied on each other.

Dealing with the struggle of being completely broke in Italy, enabled us to travel to China later with a 6 week old baby. I couldn’t have made it through without knowing what I learned when we were in Italy. We may have been completely broke, but it was the best time of my life. My husband and I are imperfect, but we can get through anything together.

My best friend for-literally-ever. He’s stuck with me.

Answer My Prayer – When it Feels Like You’re Not Listening

I am sure I am not the only one who has sat alone in my room and looked up, wondering if He really loves me. Am I the only one who wonders if He cares? Does He really know me? Will He answer my prayer?

Reassurance of a Parent

I have often wondered why, when I am feeling this way, when I really want to feel the love of my Father in Heaven, do I not immediately receive heavenly help? Wouldn’t my Heavenly Father want to remind me that I am loved, that I am not alone? Wouldn’t he want to reassure me that He is there?

answer my prayer the way I answer my daughter's request for a hug

Sometimes when I have prayed in anger at my lack of answers, I have told him that if my child needed to know that they were loved I would never hesitate to tell them. I would never hesitate to show them. If He was in fact my Heavenly Father, why would He not want me to know just as immediately.

Where are my guardian angels? Why can’t I feel the warmth in my chest? Is it too much to ask for a heavenly hug?

I wrestled with this question for months. Why wouldn’t He just reassure me of His love? Deep down, I was pretty sure that He did, but I felt like I needed to be reminded.

Unexpected

My answer came after much studying of the scriptures and General Conference talks. It came after praying and pleading with my Heavenly Father to just show me His love for me.

If I knew He loved me, I didn’t have to feel alone. When everything else felt like it was falling apart, I would at least know that He was with me.

After much praying, studying and crying, I finally stumbled across this talk. It was by Elder David A. Bednar, and He talked about ways that we can receive revelation from God. I wasn’t necessarily trying to find the answer to my prayers in this talk, I was just trying to draw closer to the Lord.

He used two examples during his discourse.

Example 1

When you walk into a dark room and find a light switch, you turn it on and immediately the room is illuminated with light. Suddenly you can see more clearly. Everything is shown to you at once.

answer my prayer like lightbulbs being turned on in a dark room

This type of revelation is infrequent and rare. It is most commonly used when you are in dire need of a course correction in your life, Elder Bednar says. This is one of the ways that we can receive revelation.

When this has happened to me, I have looked around me in shock that no one else seemed to feel what I was feeling. It felt so tangible and real. It also came when I really needed the assurance of God’s love. I have only felt this kind of revelation once or twice in my life that I can remember.

And to be honest, this is the kind of heartwarming, bosom burning answer from God that I was looking for. Elder Bednar goes on to say that while powerful, this kind of revelation is not necessary for receiving a testimony.

Example 2

Imagine you are  facing the east and watching the sun rise. First you would see evidences of the rising sun. The darkness would begin to lift and more and more of the surrounding wilderness would be revealed to you.

sunrise as an answer to prayer

In fact, you might not notice it was even happening unless you were watching for it.

Even though the source of this light is the most powerful source of light in our world, sometimes we do not even notice that we are using it.

This type of revelation, the kind that comes quietly is much more common and frequent. We can receive answers to prayers like this all the time.

 

Answer My Prayer

Suddenly I realized that He had been answering my prayer all along. He didn’t need to show me with trumpets and a burning bush. He was guiding me little by little in my life. My Heavenly Father could answer my prayer, simply by showing me that He was with me by BEING with me.

Just because He wasn’t answering my prayer the way I wanted Him to, doesn’t mean that He wasn’t answering it.

 

To Recognize When God Wants to Answer My Prayer

As I went through this experience, I realized something especially important. I wasn’t hearing the answer because I wasn’t actively listening. I was doing what I was supposed to; going to church, saying prayers and reading my one chapter a day.

praying to God to answer my prayer

But I wasn’t doing everything I could to discover what I wanted to know. In a way, I think I expected Him to answer my prayer without having to put in any effort. But when I didn’t go to Him, how could I hear his gentle whisper?

 

What I know

I know that God loves me. He loves all of us. I am constantly amazed at the evidences that He knows us each individually and wants us to return to Him. I know that He is always with us, always wanting to help us. We just have to draw close to Him and ask. As we are near Him, we will always hear His answer.

answer my prayer like a sunrise so it lasts longer

I am so grateful He answered my simple prayer with a simple answer. I learned way more about how to be close to Him than I ever would have if He would have just obliged my demands. He certainly knows me better than I know myself.

 

I have had God answer my prayer on many occasions. I am sure that I will write more, because His love constantly amazes me. General Conference is always something that inspires me and during this last one I received an answer to my prayers about loving everyone.

Feeling Alone? You’re not the Only One

There are many times when I am feeling alone. I think those times started increasing in frequency when I started staying home with the kids. It was easy to feel surrounded by people and validated when I was working or going to school.

But even then, there were many times when I would feel alone.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling alone. We have all felt that way. Whether you are alone surrounded by coworkers who you can’t seem to connect with or you are alone by yourself. Perhaps you are alone surrounded by kids who don’t get your witty sense of humor or recognize how much you love them. Maybe you are alone with a spouse or alone surrounded by friends.

Feeling Alone while surrounded by people drawing

Loneliness doesn’t have to strike only when you are physically alone.

A Mortal Experience

As hard as it is to feel alone, we can take comfort in knowing that this is a mortal experience. Everyone feels alone at some point or another. They have to. Because even Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God felt alone.

Evidences of Christ Feeling Alone

I don’t know everything that happened in the life of Christ and I am certainly no expert. But, it occurred to me while I was reading my scriptures today, that He prayed just as much or much much more than we do.

“And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.” 

Jesus Christ prayed to the Father all the time. He wanted to be close to Him. Just the simple act of Christ praying to His Heavenly Father shows me that feeling alone is a mortal experience.

I am sure He prayed for other reasons as well. In this case, He was praying to bless the people He was with. And I am only left to guess what else he prayed for.

The Greatest Scriptural Evidence of Christ Feeling Alone

When Christ was hanging on the cross, we have a lot of evidence that He was praying. And not only was He praying, but the scripture suggests that He was left alone, by the Father, which is something that we never have to experience.

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After Christ died on the Cross, the Pieta
This is one of my all-time favorite statues and we got to visit it when we went to Italy. The Pieta depicts Mary holding her son, Jesus after He died on the cross.

In our General Conference, that we have as a church semi-annually, one of our Apostles gave a great talk on this verse. I am afraid that I will not be able to give it as much justice.

But something that Elder Holland says in his talk is that Christ had to experience feeling alone. He said that even when we are alone, we are always only a prayer away from God. But if we sin, we remove ourselves from the presence of God and because of the atonement, Christ had to feel everything that we feel.

Why it Matters

After Christ was feeling alone on the cross and diedSo, even when we are really, truly feeling alone, we can always know that we are not alone in what we are feeling. Christ has felt it too. He will be there to help you. He knows how we feel, He wants to help, because even for Him it was crippling to truly be alone.

If we want to not be feeling alone, all we have to do is pray and we will receive help. We may not feel it immediately, but He will eventually help us to feel that we are never alone, not truly. Because Christ has already felt what that was like, we can be assured that He will always be there so we don’t have to feel the way that He did.

Just Remember

If you can look outside of yourself, there are so many people around you who are probably feeling just like you. Try to help your friends and family remember that they are not alone, because you are there with them. We can always help lift those around us and you never know how much you will help someone.

When you are feeling alone, don’t you wish someone would reach out to you?

 

More

One of the times I was feeling alone was when I struggled with Postpartum Anxiety. It is still possible to come out on the other side.

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

In fact, this is a video put out by my church talking about the need for professional help. This woman describes her experience and there were so many things that resonated with me. I always appreciate it when someone has the courage to share their experience. It helps me feel like I am not alone in this struggle; that it has happened to other women.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

 

enjoying the sweet moments with my son
My Sweet Son, Grayson

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can. 

When Anger Blinded Me to My Toddler Who Kept Getting Out of Bed

The Frustration of Kids Getting Out of Bed

Why do you keep getting out of bed?! Don't you understand that if you don't go to sleep you're going to be grumpy all day tomorrow and then I'm going to be grumpy all day tomorrow and then you'll have to go to bed even earlier? I want to take this knowledge and insert it into my child's cranium with a thumb drive so they can process the consequences. And yet, every night I feel like I am waging the age old war of the toddler who keeps getting out of bed.

I don't have a solution per-se. Our methods work on and off. But, I do have a story for the moms or dads who want to rip their hair out because their baby doesn't treasure sleep the way that us adults do. Welcome to one of the countless nights that my 2 year old kept getting out of bed.

Calm before the Bed Time Storm

It was a quiet night. My husband and I were excited for some downtime and a break from work and caring for two sick kids. I had just managed to get both of the kids in bed and felt like I could finally relax after an exhausting day. We had just settled into the couch cushions when I heard the familiar turn of the knob from down the hall. Ugh... it was happening again.

Flashes in the Distance

My daughter stood in the hallway, waiting for mama or dada to come put her back in bed. This happened about three times in the evenings. Each time, we took away one of her toys that she likes to sleep with. The one that usually keeps her in bed is the threat to take away her baby if she gets out of bed again. This was the last threat before she finally stayed in her bed.

Thunder Rumbling

We stayed up later than usual and I didn't fall asleep until around 12:30 in the morning. At 2:00 am my 2 year old daughter walked into our room. "Mama? Dada?" I woke with a headache.

To my dismay, it looked like she had gone into my 4 month old son's room to let him join in on the fun. He was awake too. My husband was down for the count. I quickly put my daughter back in bed, after taking away her baby (as promised) and then fed my son.

It was 2:30 now. That was rough, but my bed was calling me. My eyes were just drooping enough to partially sedate me when I heard the door open again.

Lightning Strikes

I growled as I dragged myself out of bed, trudged down the hall and less calmly explained it was time for bed. After flinging some more animals out into the hall and listening to her scream as I walked back, I laid down on the couch this time, having some inkling of what I was in for.

Torrential Rain, Tornado Wind, Flooding Molten Lava

She kept getting out of bed again...and again..and again...and again! I wanted to cry. I wanted to swear. I wanted to strap her to the bed with a couple of tie downs. Instead, after about the 8th time of putting her back in bed, I towered over her and said loudly, "This is not okay. It is time for bed." It was the sternest voice I could muster without screaming the way I wanted to.

I stripped her bed of all toys, blankets and happiness and then stood outside of her bedroom door like a rabid dog about to attack the bunny rabbit inside. Anger flowed out of me like the never ending spit up of my infant son. Could she not see that her mama was at her wits end? Did the darkness mean nothing to her? If I broke down and started sobbing in front of her, would that make a difference?

I had let my anger get the better of me and suddenly I felt very childish. I was raging against a two year old. She had reduced me to her behavior. This had to stop. I had to regain control and act like an adult. But since I had no idea how to do that, I silently said a prayer that I would be able to let go of my anger.

Clouds Break

I listened intently at the door, still irritated but the blood boiling, all consuming rage had subsided. The furnace was blowing hot air throughout the house and I couldn't hear into her bedroom very well. Finally it stopped and I could hear deep breathing coming from the room through an extremely congested nose. I considered leaving her there, but I couldn't bear the thought of her sleeping the rest of the night (what little was left of it) without a blanket. As angry as I was, I couldn't shake the thought of a shivering, little girl in her room.

My daughter did have jammies on that night. This is a picture of her a different day but still sick.
I cracked the door open. It woke her up immediately. She sat up, looking sad. I grabbed some blankets from the closet and put them on top of her. "Thank you for staying in your bed," I said.

She tried to snuff her nose but it was still very congested.

"I'm going to go get you some medicine."

Tears of gratitude and in a tone that expressed that I finally understood what she wanted, she said, "Okay."
 

Sun comes Out

I wanted to cry now. My little girl was just sick and needed help feeling better and that was why she kept getting out of bed. And in my anger, I couldn't see it. All I could see was how angry I was that I still wasn't asleep, that my husband was still asleep and that I was traipsing around the house in less clothes than I would have liked, trying to deal with my misbehaving child.

But if I had just taken the time at the beginning to ask her why she had gotten up in the first place, I could have saved myself 2 1/2 hours! That's right, it was now 4:30. I got her some Ibuprofen and her bunny and her favorite blanket.

After she got her medicine, she immediately laid back in her bed. I gave her her bunny and blanket. "Baby? Baby?" she asked.

"No. You still got out of bed and so we can't have the baby. But when you wake up in the morning, you can have your baby."

"Okay."

Warm Breeze

I kissed her goodnight and finally laid back in my bed. This time, I knew she wouldn't be getting out of her bed. And I could finally rest my eyes without waiting for her to get up. I was right. I slept all the way until 6:30 when my son woke up, ready to eat again.

While my night actually had some legitimate reasons behind the nighttime wakings, there have been plenty of nights that were just frustrating until I finally 'fell asleep' with adrenaline still flowing through my veins.

We’ve all been there.

Mamas, dadas, we've all been there. And if you haven't, just wait. And for those of you who feel like you are all alone because you don't know anyone else who has gone through this, you can know that this mama has.

If you want to read about someone else's miserable night of trying to keep their kid in bed, click below:

My Baby's Heartbeat Bear Blog