Thursday, January 23, 2014

Three (Enormous, Not Really Fair to Ask Them in One Post) Questions

I'm pretty sure I made a great discovery, but it will be a while (and a doctor's visit) before I can say it with confidence and boldness.

I think my depression is simply PMDD gone rogue.

This will completely change the way I view my depression, my triggers, and the methods I use to treat it. I believe this is affecting my fertility, as well as my brain, and with the new things I'm going to try, I'm really hoping it will help improve my life. However, prayers for me would be appreciated.

FIRST QUESTION: Have any of you dealt with this kind of thing and if so, what helped you the most? 

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My sister-in-law is pregnant! Yay! I'm so excited because they're pretty sure it's another girl. My other sister-in-law is having another baby girl next month and I can't wait. With 10 grandsons in our family, two more girls *almost* evens things out (making 6!).

This means my brother and SIL will have four children, my sister and BIL have four children, my baby brother and SIL will have two children (and probably more in the future), and we have six children (still praying for more).

I've been thinking about children, posterity, and fertility a lot, lately.

I read a book last month about fertility and how to hand over the decision of when to have children to God. It's called Three Decades of Fertility and it changed my views on families forever. It's not LDS, but it is very Christian. The women who tell their stories experienced years of infertility, miscarriage, twins, multiple pregnancies, heartache, stillbirths, and incredibly amounts of joy. Not one experience was exactly the same, but they all shared one thing: the faith to allow God into their marriage and their decisions of when/how many kids to have.

It reminded me that Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself and it made me stop and ask:

Do I really trust Heavenly Father when it comes to my fertility and to raising His children? How much fear is keeping me/kept me from having the family I could have? Why am I placing social and mortal limits upon myself? How is placing limited number upon how many children we "should" have preventing our family (and me) from the blessings we can't see? What should I be doing differently to show Heavenly Father that I trust Him to guide our lives? 

Brandon and I discussed things in the book, and although we don't agree on everything, we do agree that letting Heavenly Father decide how many children we should have is a much better answer than deciding for ourselves.

I feel so much peace about this. It shows me that it's the right answer for us, and I'm grateful that Heavenly Father has changed the the woman (me) who said, "If I have 'em all before I'm 30, they'll all be gone before I'm 50!" to "I'm almost 35 and I really hope we have more coming."

SECOND QUESTION: How have you let Heavenly Father into your family-size decision making? How have you felt His influence as you've made those decisions? (Because I will never expect everyone to be just like me. I promise.) 

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Sometimes I am overwhelmed, and not in the way you may be assuming, dear reader. The overwhelming feelings come in all aspects of my life and I find that I feel things very deeply.

I am overwhelmed at all I must do as a mother. I have lists and lists of things that never get done, and invisible lists that can't be measured through clean dishes or folded laundry.

I am overwhelmed at the quickness of society to reject the God that made them and to throw away anything that would bring about eternal joy, such as family, religion, children, marriage, respect, knowledge, grace, manners, and service without reward.

I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am in my life. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I sometimes feel guilt because of how great my life happens to be. And yet I know that these overwhelming feelings give way to immense gratitude, which is a very good thing. I also feel these things because I know what I could lose, and I have suffered enough to know of pain. The best way to describe it is this:

"Warm enough?" Mike asked when we were at the top of the hill.
"Yes."
The twins were pulling at him, demanding a snow fight, but he still looked at me, unsatisfied.
I tried to tell him. "It hurts a little."
"What hurts you?" Connie asked. "A pin?"
"No," I said. "Happiness."
(Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman)

A dear friend mentioned today that she was so overwhelmed with gratitude that she just couldn't contain it and had to share all of her blessings. It was so beautiful to read her words and to know that I understand how she feels. Overwhelming gratitude is a blessing. I want to feel it more often.

THIRD QUESTION: What overwhelms you? Daily? Collectively?  

8 comments:

Stephanie said...

1. Yes, I dealt with depression for about 6 years. The majority is due to the postpartum thyroiditis I experienced after my fourth and fifth were born, the medication I used to treat it, and other hormonal problems. It finally ceased after a wise endocrinologist prescribed me the right types and mix of medicine to treat my now chronic thyroid disease. I think that some was situational, though (don't want to get into details).

2. I grew up with the expectation that you should have as many kids as the Lord sends you (or until your body breaks down so you can't or the doctor tells you to stop). That seems to be the badge of honor - when the doctor takes out your uterus or something. We had our first two because we planned them that way (waited a year after marriage and then waited until the first was a year old). The last three were distinct impressions that it was time - long before I was ready. When I was pregnant with #4, I had the prompting that there would be one more and then I would be done. When I was pregnant with #5, I felt she was the last. She is almost 4 and a half, and I have never received any other promptings. We haven't done anything permanent because we want to leave the option open, but I just have not felt the prompting. And since I know what it is (having experienced it three times), I think this is right for our family. Postpartum thyroiditis really messes my up emotionally, and neither my husband nor me think I can handle the cycle of depression again.

I have struggled with his because I feel like I am "not enough" for not having more kids. I haven't earned my "badge of honor". But, I had the realization one day that having a doctor tell you to stop having kids isn't exactly using your free agency to choose. How is that different from the Lord telling me that my mind and body can't handle another pregnancy? It makes me grateful that the Lord cares about me enough to care about my mental health and understand my limitations.

3. Chaos overwhelms me. When my kids dump all the toys out in the game room, I can't cope with cleaning them up. Usually my husband leads them in picking up the big stuff, and then I do the detail work. I can handle so many things in life well - give me a CEO to negotiate with. I can handle it. They call me "Calm, calm Stephanie" at work. Put me in the middle of a bunch of kids who whine and scream and disobey and make messes, and no wonder my mind is breaking down. (To be fair, I am very patient. I just have very high energy kids who stress everyone out. I just get to live with them day in and day out).

Stephanie said...

I apologize for all the typos. I should have edited before posting.

Britt Kelly said...

1-I have had PPD-things that help me=stop eating sugar and eat much better and exercise and lots of social interaction and VERY gentle spiritual stuff. I have major lows after a big spiritual or big event.

2-I grew up with the concept that procreation is God's power. I have felt that we should have baby's when God wants us to. So we pray. WE pray and pray. Sometimes when we are praying about other things (the other children God has already given us and the unique challenges they present) God will say "have a baby". It's a challenge. We have gotten a WAIT...

The challenge is...we have gotten definite "have a baby" answers when we were not financially sound, when we were not physically ready, when we were not emotionally ready, when there was upheaval in our family....sigh.

3-I'm overwelmed by the laundry, the dishes, the impossibility of the places my children "need" to go vs the quantity of me and the hours in a day...I'm overwelmed by the complete and utter lack of sleep I have. I struggle with how much I need to do for my calling (primary president) and how little time I had available before I even got that calling. I'm overwelmed by all of the changes I need to make to be any sort of loving. sigh. I frequently feel that I am really not cut out to be a mother. I'd make a really good scholar.

swedemom said...

Three of my sisters have PMDD and it has been quite simply a version of Hades that is horrendous. Unfortunately, the one that is doing the best is the one who had a hysterectomy. Obviously that is not a solution for you. There are no easy answers. And I am really, really sorry for that.

I have two serious chronic conditions which affect me deeply. It has taken a lot of prayer and effort to. Work with them.

I have always felt The guidance of the Spirit I'm our family planning. For me, that included using birth control after much prayerful consideration. I will soon have my sixth child and my husband feel that we are finished having children. We will not do anything permanent to prevent children and if I became pregnant again we would view it as a blessing.

I am overwhelmed by my weaknesses and inconsistencies.

FoxyJ said...

1. I have struggled with anxiety for, frankly, most of my life. Looking back, I was an anxious child and my parents and family situation didn't help much. Things have definitely been worse for the last 10 years or so--due to a lot of different crappy things in my life. Right now I'm doing meds or therapy and I feel like I'm in OK place--surprisingly considering my life situation.

For me, a big help was just having a diagnosis and accepting it. You might need something more than that, but for me in my situation that was key. I spent way too much time worrying that I was just a bad person for being so stressed out all the time by every little thing. It actually does help me to step back and be able to say "it's just the anxiety, it's just that my brain works differently". I feel more comfortable asking people for help or setting limits when I accept the fact that if I don't manage my brain issues, things won't go well. Knowing that there is an actual, real issue is much better than the years I just thought "I should be a better person than this" Also, as hard as it is, exercise, sleep, and other self-care really do help me a lot.

2. We treated family planning like most other big decisions--study it in your mind and heart, pray a lot, and follow promptings. The fact that I have complications with deliveries has, obviously, made some decisions easier in some ways. After my traumatic delivery with my 2nd kid, we both thought we were done. The doctor even supported that decision--though it wasn't totally clear-cut. Thankfully we didn't do anything at that point--and finally about 3 years later we felt prompted to have my 3rd kid. I knew right away that I wanted to get my tubes tied, and had the doctor do that during my c-section.

3. So many things overwhelm me--chaos, kids all talking at once, making big decisions, messy house. I'm getting better at taking deep breaths and trying to set the tone as being calm. Not as much as I would like to, and right now a lot of my calm parenting is through gritted teeth.

Emily Pugmire said...

To be honest, after reading the other comments, I am really impressed with the humility and meekness.
1. I never thought I had any mental/emotional struggles until I had kids. What I realize now is I just didn't recognize the symptoms til I was pushed to my limits. Once I started figuring myself out (anxiety for me) then I could accept my limitations and be kind with self-talk. It's a process!
2.Family planning was a little easier for me since I didn't get married til 30. I knew I needed to get started right away since the clock was ticking. I don't regret it for a second. However, we have had our own trials including c-sections, miscarriage, that have limited our choices in the matter. I have always felt that I would have a smaller-to-medium size family, so maybe the Lord was preparing me for that all along.
3. I get overwhelmed when I don't have me-time. Pretty much anything can overwhelm me if I haven't felt that my soul has been getting nourishment by something uplifting and personal. I've found that if I can find some time every day to just be alone and be still for a moment or two(and even be lazy for a little bit if needs be) then I can usually step back into the world and tackle whatever comes my way.

Cheryl said...

There were two more on Facebook who answered these questions and another who emailed me privately. (just FYI)

And THANK YOU for answering them! I love hearing how we are all different and yet all the same. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Holly said...

OK, this is probably getting weird because I'm commenting on lots of your blog posts all of a sudden. But your revelation mentioned at the beginning of the post about thinking you might have PMDD interested me. I've never even heard of that, but for several months I've been thinking I have exactly that! I just didn't know there was a name for it. Right before my cycle I get almost hysterically crazy and I finally noticed the pattern and told my husband to watch out for it. I'm glad you mentioned it- I'm going to have ask a doctor about it specifically.