My journey starts fairly simply. One day, my husband and I decided it was time for us to have a child. Neither one of us REALLY wanted a kid, in fact, Mike was strongly against it for most of our marriage. I would give it thought every now and then, but didn’t think it would be possible. I have a history of anorexia and bulimia, and my body was not quite healthy. I also have a history of alcoholism, self harm, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. So i was on an array of medicine to help manage that, and I didn’t think it was a possibility to get off of them. I brought it up with my psychiatrist at the time, and he seemed excited. He told me children are a gift, and when it comes time to have children, I had to weigh out the pros and cons of getting off my psych meds. I told him I did want to get off, I didn’t want there to be any bad side effects due to my medications in the baby. So we started tapering one medicine at a time until in September, I was off all of them. I had recently quit my job and wasnt really doing anything other than tending to our flock of chickens, so my husband said, “well, i might as well get you pregnant now, since you’re not doing anything else.” We felt led by God to start trying. in a couple of weeks, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! That wasn’t the first positive test I ever had. A couple years back I had one, but it ended up being an ectopic pregnancy. I actually had to have an unnecessary surgery because the doctor I had to quickly get in to see believed it to be a miscarriage. The whole situation was a very upsetting mess, but thankfully it didn’t affect any of my reproductive organs, so here i was 2 years later with another positive pregnancy test. I immediately called Mike, who was at work. I don’t think he was quite as excited as I was, but he came around once he came home and we talked about it more. I actually went in to my doctor’s office a couple hours after the positive sign came up. One of the benefits of working for my OBGYN was that I had become fairly close to all the staff, so I messaged one of the nurses and she told me to come on in. The test they had me take there actually came up negative, but i knew with my whole heart I was indeed pregnant, so I didn’t worry. She gave me a lab slip to get my blood tested, but I had to wait a couple of days for it to finally be confirmed. I immediately started pinning all the pins on Pinterest. I thought about how we would tell our family, how we would decorate the (nonexistent at that time) nursery, and began obsessing over whether it would be a boy or girl. We already had picked a girls name, but for the first few months we were positive it was a boy. To be continued…

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“Every time I see you, you’re eating. You’re gonna get fat.”

Wait what? Totally wasn’t aware that he was standing there watching me eat not one, but two of the cookies I baked just before coming here. Yes, band camp again. He must have followed me in.

….

“Yeah, well. I was hungry, but you’re probably right.” I put my head down and silently prayed that he would just go away. So freaking embarrassing. God, I learned my lesson. Please help me to NEVER eat in front of someone ever again. I cannot deal with this discomfort. In fact, please help me eat less. I don’t want to be fat, and I’m definitely going in that direction.

When I looked back up, he was still standing there with an amused look on his face. “I was kidding, you know. You’re not anywhere close to being fat. Trust me, you don’t have to worry.”

But it was way to late for that to be a joke in my head. I was scarred for life. This was the moment that my shattered mind and body would enter into a hateful relationship with food. This moment, combined with what happened earlier in the summer (more on that later) sparked the fire that would burn deep inside of my for the next TWELVE years.

I looked away, but forcefully laughed to let him know I heard him. Please just leave me alone. As desperate as I am for your attention, I don’t want it right now.

A couple of very tense moments went by. I could hear him sigh, and then finally walk away. Thank you. I don’t think i can be myself around him. Fuck, my stupid head messes up everything for me. I hate myself.

The band director walks in and we get ready to practice. My mind is far from thoughts of scales and new songs to learn. I’m already thinking of all the ways I can lose weight and stop eating. I know what Ill be doing tonight…

Taking a break from my birth story/journey into motherhood

That’s not really want I want to write about. I thought it was what I should write about, but I’m just not feeling it. So here we go:

Another year, another round of band camp. And here I am, finding myself so early that I’m one of only a few students plus one director. As anxious as I am around people, one would think I would try arrive places right on time as to blend in, not super early where everyone stands around awkwardly because we don’t know each other, and I’m too shy to do small talk. And my person (my best friend who we will call Penelope) won’t be here for another 15 minutes, so I won’t even get to vent to her about it. So I’ll just stand here, picking my fingers and keeping my eyes down, like I do every other time I show up early to something. You would think I would have learned by now, but my anxiety dictates when I show up to things because heaven forbid I ever show up late. Anyway, enough about that because more people are starting to trickle in, and oh crap, I have spotted my crush. Not really sure why I have a crush on him because I don’t even know him and he’s shorter than I am and younger than I am. Wow, that makes me sound really shallow. Even bigger crap, he’s heading my way. What do I say, what do I say, eyes down and oh great, he walked right past me. I’m used to that, but it still sucks. Time to eat my granola bar, that will give me something to focus on. Shoot, I should have known, now he’s coming and no no nonono he’s actually going to talk to me WHY did I decide to eat food right now, I must look ridiculous crap he’s looking at my hair I TOTALLY forgot I dyed it red. Who am I kidding, I did that JUST so someone anyone would pay attention to me, but dang, I did not prepare myself for this.

“Hey. Cool hair.”

“Wait, what? Who?” As i try to brush the crumbs off my face and shirt in as discreet a way as possible.

“Um…you? It’s red. It wasn’t red yesterday.”

“Yeah, duh I just kind of forgot, because Im already thinking about what color Ill dye it next.”

“Oh really? That’s cool. But i do like it like this,” HE SAYS AS HE REACHES OUT TO TOUCH MY HAIR.

Play it cool, Sophie, play it cool. Please, just be normal for once. What do I do with my face? Oh my stupid face, I totally wear my emotions on my face. So what else is new, I just look away and pretend not to care even though my stomach has butterflies that are about to fly off the top of my head.

“It’s pretty soft too.”

Holy crap ahhhhh afbvhfdg iih. Was not prepared for this. This is the thing of daydreams. And oh great, NOW Penelope decides to walk in, but she totally doesn’t see me so I have no options.

“Um. Yeah. Thanks.” What an idiot.

“Yeah…ok well see ya around.”

I’m stunned into silence. He gives me this look like what is wrong with you and goes off to talk to his friends. Whyyyyy am I like this? Why can’t i just be normal for once in my life. Why does my brain just turn off at the least opportune moment so I stand there looking like a total idiot and crush all my hopes and dreams that maybe this one person might think I’m cool and interesting and we can have a real conversation instead of me just staring down at the ground and seeming uninterested and like I’m this rude person who hates people. Maybe i do hate people. I just can’t handle this, gosh I freaking hate myself.

At least it’s time to start, thank goodness because I can’t handle another moment of this.

Part 3

So here I am, already not sleeping very well BEFORE my baby is even born. To help with my nausea, I was taking Preggy Pop Drops (an awesome Amazon find). But even with trying all the sleep etiquette in the world, it was not happening. Cue even more anxiety and depression. But Christmas was here before we knew it. My sister in law had come home, so she took the obligatory maternity pictures for us. We finally got together with my husband’s dad’s side of the family. We had put a picture from our ultrasound in a wooden frame my husband made and quietly gave it to his grandfather. Over the summer, his wife died, so he was in poor shape physically and mentally. But seeing that picture, his face lit up. He was so excited for us. He passed it around to all the siblings, and finally, I could post our announcement on social media!! The rest of the day was spent with me commenting back to all the congratulations and typical questions. That did brighten my mood, and I was on a little high for awhile, but once the holidays are over and the winter starts dragging on, my depression got to a pretty dark place. All the negative thoughts were pressing in, and it was taking everything in me to get out of bed and take care of myself. I was desperate for relief. I was begging God to take this from me so I could actually enjoy this special time. He did when I really took the time to be quiet with Him. It’s in the quiet when I most feel His presence. That’s where my hope starts to stir up again and gives me the strength to keep pushing on. I also had a lot of supportive people in my life who knew about my mental health struggles that were feverishly praying for me. Finding out we were having a girl really put things back into perspective and I finally felt like I was above water again with that exciting news. Even though we both thought I was having a boy, my husband and I could only agree on a girl’s name. So when the anatomy scan showed us we were wrong, we were beyond thrilled because we both wanted a girl. Either way, we would have loved that child no matter what, but it was still a nice little treat to cheer me up. I always knew I was meant to be a girl mama, and God confirmed that! Now the fun really began as we thought about ways to reveal the gender…

Part 2

We decided to tell both of our parents at 7 weeks. I couldn’t wait any longer! It’s hard to keep that big of a secret, especially because of how nauseous I was (not just in the morning, but all day long, and especially in the car). We went to my parents house first, and as soon as I opened the door, I shouted, “we made you something!” And gave them the picture from our first ultrasound. They were beyond thrilled…this was their second grand baby. Then we had his parents come up to our house. I let Mike decide how he wanted to tell them. He did it by drawing attention to the stool we have in our bathroom. The same stool he used when he was a kid. He said something like, “pretty soon we’ll have a little one using this stool just like I did.” They were so confused at first, but once they realized what that meant, they were so excited. Our child is their first grandchild. We then FaceTimed his sister/husband and she cried tears of joy. And then we just texted my two brothers and they were both happy for us. We decided to wait to tell our extended family until Thanksgiving. For his mom’s sister’s family, we announced before prayer at lunch. Then i went to my side of the family for dinner, while my husband went to work. I had my mom share the news. She decided to do it through the prayer before dinner. She said that she was thankful for another baby to be, so once the prayer was over, everyone was like “wait what?” And then celebrated with me, and along cane all the typical questions- what do you want it to be? Do you have names picked out, etc. We didn’t tell his dad’s side of the family until Christmas because we didn’t get together with them on Thanksgiving. I’ll share more on that in the next post. Our second ultrasound happened on my Husband’s birthday. My dr typed happy birthday dad on the picture to be printed out for us. It was that appointment that it really hit us…we are going to be parents! So here i was at the beginning of winter on no medications…the first time being off of them since I started taking them when I was 18. It was scary. I was having so much anxiety about having a miscarriage and freaking out about the foods I was eating. Every winter I am prone to depression, and this winter was no different. It was really hard to be happy about being pregnant. I was sick and uncomfortable most of my pregnancy, so that mixed with anxiety and depression made it really hard to be grateful. I feel terrible writing that now, but that’s just the way my mind worked. Yes, I was so thrilled to be the host to my baby, but i was so paranoid I was going to lose her before I got to meet her. My faith in God helped me tremendously at this time. I knew He allowed us to be pregnant, so I knew I could trust in Him. But it was still very challenging to shake those thoughts, especially since my mom gave birth at 28 weeks and sadly, her baby (my big brother) didn’t make it. One of my medications helped me sleep at night, so without being on it, I was having a hard time sleeping too. Plus, I developed restless leg syndrome, and that was not fun. …

Letter to my daughter, the first of many:

Adalind,

You are sassy,

But oh so sweet when you come in for a hug.

What an attitude,

But when you look up at me with those big blue eyes, my heart melts.

Who will you turn into?

Will you be friendly and self-assured like your dad?

Or quiet and reserved like mommy?

We will love you either way.

Will you be a beast in the water? Are you a hands-on type of girl?

Or will you run for miles and be book smart?

I’m anxious to see, but please take your time.

Just know, whatever you choose to do,

Wherever you go,

You are supported, you are loved by God,

And He will strengthen you.

If you are obedient, He will give you the desires of your heart.

I hope you are free from hurt, free from struggles,

But when they come,

Know that i am there, i will scoop you up no matter how big/old you are and wash away those tears.

You can move mountains, you will be a warrior.

Adalind,

Please don’t ever change for anyone else.

You are good enough no matter what you do, what you say.

May you find love and joy wherever life takes you.

My first attempt at poetry that rhymes

Motherhood is really messy

I’m starting to see

One day i think i have it all together,

The next, I’m left feeling really guilty.

I was selfish and wanted to do my own thing,

But you really needed me to hold you because you were teething.

All you wanted was your bottle and to be picked up,

I just wanted you to use your sippy cup.

I’m thankful for the lesson and I’m thankful for grace,

I’m thankful for that smile you still have on your face.

Tomorrow will be better, just you wait.

I’ll do everything i can to make you feel great.

I’ll put my needs aside and focus only on you.

I’m learning, I’m really trying; i hope it’s not too late.

I can finally write again!

Motherhood post #2:

I am currently looking through all the pics I’ve ever taken of Adi (thank you, Google photo) and I’m seeing more than one progression. Adi started out a tiny baby and grew very chunky, very fast. But my change happened a lot more gradually. At first, there were literally 200 pics every day, and i was in a good bit of them. After a month, that slowed down, but there were still pictures a few times a week. And i was still in them, smiling and genuinely happy. But then the further i looked, the less pictures there were. The last few months i am missing. Motherhood made me a ghost. I absolutely love my baby, but being a mom took over who i was until i was no more. Honestly, being a mom almost took my life. But the past week has been so different. Coming out of my week-long hospital stay, i finally saw my daughter again. Depression and mania had made me so blind to the world around me, including Adi. I stopped paying attention to her and watching her grow because i was so focused on my feelings and my pain. Not anymore. I see Adalind grow in little ways every single day. And it is amazing, and I’m glad I’m getting a second chance. I felt extremely guilty and overwhelmed for a couple of weeks, but now I’m just focusing on the present and enjoying every single moment of life, good or bad (because good stuff is everywhere, but bad stuff happens even when you think you’ve hit your limit of bad for the year). I’m so thankful for my opportunity to be Adi’s mom, and even though it has been so hard, i wouldn’t take it back for anything. She has taught me so much, and i hope i will never stop learning from her. #adalindhope #justbeingreal #messymotherhood #hopeishermiddlenameforareason

And just like that

The sun broke through the clouds

And i felt hope again.

Something shifted inside of me,

And this time it was good.

I finally hit the reset button on life,

In a way I wish i didn’t have to, but it was necessary for healing.

Sometimes even the strongest people break.

And that’s when the true healing begins.

I tore down my mask of perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, the girl who had it all together. And i finally admitted defeat.

And now i finally can push past the clouds and see the light.

I can finally hear my daughters laugh and see her smile.

I can enjoy the little things for what they are, the big things.

Life means something again, and it is glorious.

I’m recognizing all of my blessings, writing them down so i don’t forget this time.

I don’t want to live in the corrupt place my brain took me to for so long. I’m so thankful for finally breaking free. It was no easy feat, but I’m finally on the other side. Glory be to God for saving me once again. Saving me when i was on that thin line between life and death. And I’m so glad i chose life.

My life, no one can take that from me. I learned how to love it again.

By leaning into God, remembering that people loved and supported me, by looking into my daughters eyes and seeing how much she needed a mother, by deciding once and for all that i need to do this for myself, not anyone else.

And that is when once again, i chose to be a warrior, and i chose to rise up from the ashes into the beauty i know can only truly exist if i let it.

Will you choose that beauty with me now?

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