Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Daisy House

Ten years ago three of my best friends in the whole world and I finished up a novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and we had no idea what God would do with our prayer intention...

It was a year or so post-graduating college, and we were sort of settling into our new lives as "young adults." At least as much as you can settle into that transitional part of life when you don't know exactly what or where your vocation is. We were three girls and a great guy who had known each other for varying amounts of time, but had become nearly automatic friends. Jose was from Illinois, Lisa from eastern Kansas, and Kim and I (though we had grown up in the area) didn't really get to know each other until our senior year of college far from the city where we were now trying to make our way. By the grace of God, we four became friends. Friends with a common purpose.

So when we all began to read The Story of a Soul (the autobiography of St. Thérèse), and at the same time, Kim, Lisa, and I became roommates in our newly-rented little blue house, Jose suggested we pray a novena leading up to her feast day. St. Thérèse always wanted to be a simple daisy in the garden of life. She didn't desire to be the most beautiful or most popular... she lived a simple way.  And so we named our house "The Daisy House" to honor her. She is also known for sending roses from heaven as the Lord answers prayers. So as the intention in our novena, we prayed for a bouquet of friendships. And, wow, did the Lord work!

Before we could even think, our little blue house became the hub of Catholic young adult activity in our city. We had parties, prayer gatherings, "cozy Sundays," and a revolving door of people through the place we called home. We encountered some of the most amazing people. Many of them were searching, just as we were, for their vocations. Some were lost. Some were struggling. Some were just beautiful little lights.

God sent varied personalities to our little blue house. And, of course, with a slew of 20-somethings hanging out, things weren't always rosy and great. We definitely had moments of being utterly stressed out. There was usually some drama happening somewhere in our Catholic community. But overall, we were living out lives showered in grace. And the Lord kept sending more and more souls to our doorway. We were but instruments in His hands, and many times we felt unworthy... overwhelmed... even attacked. But always He held us up and reminded us to turn to Him.

In that short 21 months of living in the Daisy House, the Lord shaped me in ways I cannot even put into words. I learned so much about myself. I fell in love with Andrew. I made friends who would be by my side 10 years later. Friends that I still cherish even though life has changed so much since those carefree days of young adulthood, and I don't get to see them as much anymore. The Daisy House and all of the people I encountered living there will always be a major part of my life story.

Ten years ago three of my best friends in the whole world and I finished up a novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and we had no idea what God would do with our prayer intention... And tomorrow, on the 10 year anniversary of the first time I prayed this novena to St. Thérèse, I will continue to thank Him for the beauty that was and is the Daisy House. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trying to Whatever

Now that the babe is 10 months old, Andrew and I have officially reached the point post-child where our friends, families and coworkers have come to expect a pregnancy announcement.  For some reason, when you have four kiddos that are approximately 2 years apart each, you've set a pattern and you're kind of expected to uphold it.  So the questions amd hunches start rolling in.

The questions usually begin with Andrew's coworkers.  "Isn't it about time for another one?" Or "Kristi isn't pregnancy again is she?!"  One coworker recently told him that we should stop making children and start fostering or adopting instead.  I don't know why she felt like that was her suggestion to make... But she put it out there nevertheless.  It seems everyone has an opinion on our procreative ways.  But I digress.

A few months ago I ran across a question on a Facebook page that said, "In an ideal world, I would have _______ number of children."  Neither Andrew or I knew how to respond.  We never had a plan for how many kids we wanted... I guess we still don't.  In the Natural Family Planning world, you're either considered "Trying to Conceive" or "Trying to Avoid."  But other than a few months after William was born when we needed to wait for health reasons, we've always just been "Trying to Whatever."  Which for us meant, if we get pregnant, awesome... If we don't... awesome.  It was all in His hands.

But that brings me to today. I'm not sure how I feel about TTW these days.  I actually might not quite be ready to add to our family just yet.  If I found myself pregnant today, I wouldn't be sad by any means, but I would definitely be overwhelmed.  For some reason, four children has seemed like a whole lot more than three children.  And while I think I would like to meet another little U kid one day, I'm not sure I'm mentally ready to tackle pregnancy and postpartum all over again just yet.  Not to mention trying to figure out how to haul 5 kids around or find a babysitter every other month for 5 kids. Or how to trek 5 children across country on all our random road trips.  Or feed them. Discipline them. Teach them. Parent them. Yipes.

A question I like to ask mommas who are a bit older than me is "How did you know when you were done?"  Most of them tell me that they just had peace knowing said child was the last.  And some say they just consider said child the last "for now," always leaving that door open just a bit in case God has other plans.

But right now I don't know where I stand.  And Andrew is uber understanding about that. If U4 was the last, he's okay.  If we're called to have and blessed with some more... That's okay too.  The whole idea that she might be our last is very foreign to me because I've never felt the need before to step back and go, "Woah... I'm not feeling mentally, physically, psychologically or spiritually ready to plug down this road again right now."  So I'm sitting with that.  I'm trying to discern... with Andrew... The whens and ifs of another baby.

Being "done" seems so final to me and I'm pretty sure I'm not ready to say that just yet, but I'd love to hear other parent's thoughts on this.  How do you know when you've produced the number of people you were intended to produce? Do you ever know for sure?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The heavy fog of postpartum depression

This is the face of PPD...

I don't look terribly sad, do I?  That's because I'm not terribly sad.  But something is definitely off. I've never really posted about what tends to happen to me postpartum.  I'm not sure if it's because I've never received an official diagnosis, or if it's because I'm embarrassed to admit the crazy thoughts that swirl through my brain, or if it's because I've assured myself that my PPD isn't as bad as most, so I need to just get over it.  Nevertheless, the other night while in a conversation with Andrew, he asked me why I don't tell more people what I'm going through.  "After all," he said, "people can't support you if they don't know you're dealing with stuff."  I guess that's right.  So here goes nothing.

So that sweet baby above is child #4 for me.  Each pregnancy and each postpartum period has been different.  I've been most messed up after pregnancy #2 and this pregnancy #4, and probably a little bit after #1 and #3 but not to this extent.  And here's where I tell you what I mean by "messed up."

My entire life I've been a hypochondriac.   When I saw some terrible disease on tv, I usually believed I had it or would get it. When my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a preteen, I was convinced I too had it (I didn't even have breasts yet by the way). Freaking out about my health and the health of those around me has been a way of life for pretty much as long as I can remember. But it was never constant or bad enough that I actually went to the doctor for my crazy symptoms.  And then I had babies.

Somewhere between 3 and 9 months postpartum, something switches in my brain that causes me near constant anxiety.  There's rarely a day that goes by that I'm not seriously convinced that either I or one of my children has some terrible illness.  You see, my postpartum depression isn't mostly tears and sadness, rather it is the gripping anxiety of hypochondria.

And while I know they mean well, the reassurance of my friends with words like, "It's probably nothing,"  "You're overreacting," and "I think that symptom is normal," just don't provide me a lot of solace.  The strange thing is that it isn't like I just come up with symptoms.  Weird stuff (or at least what I deam weird) is actually happening to me and my kids.  For example, the baby does this thing where she stretches/spasms at random times.  My mind automatically jumps to autism or brain tumor or infantile seizures.  In reality, I'm pretty sure that it's just her way of expressing excitement or sometimes pain (teething.). But even though my rational brain can kind of talk me down from freaking out, the constant worry that something is truly wrong won't let go of me.

This postpartum stuff I'm dealing with now happened after #2 was born as well.  About three months after his birth I was diagnosed with high cholesterol.  I drastically changed my diet and started exercising more, but in the 6 months following that diagnosis, I visited my doctor at least three times just sure I was having heart problems.  Each time she told me that it was likely anxiety and I should take an antidepressant.  But I figured I didn't need pills... I just needed to trust God more and I would feel better.  Eventually the anxiety tapered off and I felt better.  It would come and go, but it was less noticeable once I got on some great food supplements.

Unfortunately, it's back in full force right now.  Even this week I'm dealing with it.  For the last 8 days or so my right leg has felt tingly or achy or strange.  I've been convinced on multiple occasions that I'm suffering from a blood clot, but I've been able to talk myself down from that overreaction.  Just today though I was in a near full blown anxiety attack worrying about it, so I've made my first doctor's appointment in  very long time.  God willing, words from an MD that I'm okay will be enough for me to believe that I actually AM okay.

I'm sort of sad that this blog post has no good ending right now.  I just needed to get the crazy out of my head for awhile.  It isn't as though I'm in a constant state of anxiety, but these days it's more often than not.  I'm desperately looking forward to the day when this postpartum fog breaks and lets me live in a good place for awhile.  God willing, that day will be here soon.  Bring on the spring sunshine... That will certainly help!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Flashback Friday - And Then He Kissed Me...

"The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Maybe I'll try something new with my blog this year by doing a weekly theme.  I love Throwback Thursday photos on Facebook, so I'm thinking of making Flashback Fridays on my blog to rehash some historical moments in the life of one KUMommy (most of them probably occurring prior to mommy-hood).

The other night I had this crazily realistic dream about being on a date.  I couldn't identify the guy.  I'm not sure the girl looked like me but I was in her head for sure.  But all of the feelings and nerves of a first date were definitely real and those I remembered vividly even as I awoke.  And though I'm fairly certain there was no kissing in my dream, it got me thinking about some of the first kisses in my life and the feelings they stir up in me even now as I think back on them.  

My First Kiss:  I didn't receive my first real kiss until I was 17 years old.  I was working my first job at a movie theater, and I had finally escaped the stigma of "band nerd/wallflower/drama geek/smart girl" that I fit into in my small high school.  I still was all of those things, of course, but I felt like I could be more than that in the big city at my job.  And, of course, there was a whole new group of boys whose stigmas from school didn't follow them either.  The crushes came and went as I worked there, but I had a particularly strong affinity for one young man who flirted with me all the time.  If my memory doesn't fail me he also had dimples.  Ah... gotta love dimples.  He was way more interested in one of my besties than he was in me, and I'm pretty certain he had no clue I liked him for a long time.  After one late evening of closing down the concession stand, we were both in the break room and I finally just told him how I felt... or maybe I just asked him if we could go talk somewhere.  I was so tired of him gushing about his crush on my friend when she didn't like him back especially when he and I flirted all the time.  So we went for a drive.

We ended up at a tiny park in a small neighborhood just down the street from the theater.  We sat on the park bench and I told him everything. How it sucked to watch him like someone else. How I had liked him for a long time... all those silly thoughts that happen in a teenage girl's head.  And that sweet boy, under the cloudy sky with the moon peaking through the clouds, turned my face towards his and kissed me.  It seriously felt like it came right out of a movie or a dream.  I don't remember much about driving home that night, but I know I couldn't stop smiling.  And as I woke up the next day (at 5:30 a.m. because I was too giddy to sleep) I ran down the stairs and told my mom that "I FINALLY GOT MY FIRST KISS!!!"  I proceeded to hum "And then he kissed me..." the entire next day at work.  Nothing much came of that first kiss.  I pseudo-dated that boy who seemed a little shady and all kinds of mysterious for MAYBE two weeks and then he promptly got fired from the theater and basically stopped talking to me.  But that first kiss will stay with me forever.