Saturday, April 25, 2009

# 4 is on the table

I know I've discussed my emphatic feelings regarding only wanting three children since Riley was born. Well, really only since he was a few months old, because for the first few months all I wanted to do was crawl back into my birth experience and do it again. But since the gloomy weather started up and my anxiety disorder peaked, I've been emphatic about stopping at three. I've said on more than one occasion (tongue in cheek, of course; you know how much I love my kids!!), "Why would I want more when I don't even like the ones I HAVE?" I have mostly just said that to make people laugh, because outrageous things with an element of truth to them are particularly funny. But there was an element of truth to it, because I was finding enjoying my older 2 boys exceedingly difficult for a few months there. I loved them dearly and am so glad they are mine, but enjoying their presence was proving difficult. At least when they were awake. When they sleep, they slay me with love. When they are awake, they slay me with noise so it's hard to hear the love (another outrageous statement designed to make you laugh). Well. I've discovered on my journey through treatment for my anxiety disorder that (a) avoidance behaviour is CLASSIC for anxiety disorder sufferers, (b) my desire to not have any more kids was avoidance behaviour, in that I wanted to avoid more of what was causing me anxiety (c) my thoughts pave the path for my feelings to a degree I've never before realized, and (d) winters are tough. The more I deal with my anxiety and learn how to balance my emotions out, the more I enjoy my kids' presence (the sunshine sure helps with that, too!), and the more appealing a fourth baby seems. Brent has always quietly lobbied for more children, since he loves to have kids and our plan was always greater than three (with the freedom to stop at any point if either of us felt 'done'). This actually caused me a great deal of [could it be?!] anxiety, because I didn't want to let him down or cause him unfulfilled dream but I really felt absolutely that I would go mental, drop all my spinning plates, hate my life, or have a psychotic episode if we were to have four kids. Or all of the above.
It's funny, I always feel I have to take on God's jobs. Keeping everyone alive. Vigilantly watching for SIDS. Condemning myself for not being the ideal parent. I'm going to tell you one of my anxiety trigger thingys. It is weird. But, you know. You all know I'm crazy. When I pray, I often retract my prayers and reframe them or ask for the reverse because I always, always hear in the back of my mind, "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it!!" So I will pray, 'Please God, make this baby fall asleep,' and in my mind that 'be careful what you ask for' voice speaks up, and it says, 'You could pray that he falls asleep, and he might fall asleep but never wake up! Then you would have prayed that he fall asleep but really you prayed and were the cause of his death! Better change that prayer. Better not ask for that, or you might get it!'
I'm a certified nut job. And the craziest part is that I LISTEN TO THIS VOICE, and CHANGE MY PRAYER, all the time. All. The. Time. As if I could inadvertently trick God into killing my baby because I asked Him to help him fall asleep quicker. What kind of a vindictive, stupid, horrible God is that? I don't want to follow HIM! Yech.
Somehow, I've got to keep that baby alive. And I have to trick God into allowing me to do it. Jeepers.
So anyways, since I have been getting major help for my anxiety I have been more amenable to the idea of four children again. It especially helps when the weather turns, and when we do fun stuff as a family and I just enjoy being with my kids. It reminds me why we had any to begin with [well, God kind of planted that seed without asking us, now, didn't He? But we were going to HAVE kids, just not 9 months after we got married, that's all!]. In fact, tonight I took the big step of sharing with Brent that I'm thinking this. Before now I was toying with the idea, but not telling him because I wanted a back out clause. I didn't want to tell him I believed the desire to stop now was a result of my anxiety disorder because I didn't want to give him ammo for any future arguments about whether or not to have more. 'Oh, you're just crazy. You actually DO want more, and you even told me that the reason you don't feel like you want to is because you are crazy. So let's have more.' Like he would ever say that. But anyways.
#4 is on the table.
No time soon, no pregnancy to announce, no plans as to when. But tabled for discussion. Big step.
I love my kids. I love babies. I loved being pregnant this time around [though I'm not sure that came across last year, since I mostly posted complaints regarding being pregnant...I loved it, except for the last month. And puking on my birthday]. It's just not my nature to gush and rave about the good stuff, on paper. I talk about it in person but I don't like how I sound when I post sweet cheerful seems inauthentic, somehow, a lot of the time, as if I am doing a disservice to anyone who might not be feeling only cheerful that day, you know? Plus, I've gone through a lot in my life and it feels like a disservice to my own story to front only happy stuff. Or maybe I just don't always have the time or energy to devote to making a post sound soulfully happy, instead of peppy and chipper. Because I really am soulfully happy in much of my life. I really am! I find great joy in being a mom, in much of what I do as a paramedic, in my friendships, in my husband, and in our life together. I was overjoyed to be pregnant with Riley, and I savored it. But I wrote stuff that was funny most of the time. Which maybe was't all that wise, but then again it's my blog. There is no rule book about how one has to be on one's blog.
Some thoughts.
If I were to have another, I would get GD testing. I would eat even better than my last pregnancy, and exercise even more. I would test my blood sugars and go to the diabetic counselling and try for a more average sized baby (again. I was trying for a more average sized baby with Riley. Ha. 10 lb 2 ounces of 'average.' Though my midwife did say, 'Maybe you had GD. Or maybe you just have big babies There is nothing wrong with that.']. I would also have a midwife and try for a HBAC [home birth after cesarean] if she'd go for it. And I would love it.

I think I've also decided to prophylactically start taking St John's Wort every fall when the weather turns gloomy, and stop in the spring. For a great many years I've had funks in the winter. It's time to do something about it. Not that my post partum anxiety was a result of winter! My first anxiety attacks were in September when it was still beautiful. But I think winter compounds things, especially around here, in the West Coast rain forest. Some extra Seratonin could really help me out. But most helpful of all, I think, has been my post partum depression and anxiety treatment group. It was a support group with an educational component that helped me to realize how anxiety works, what contributes to it, and how to change my thought patterns in order to help me combat it. I really, really feel tons better. Some of that is the passage of time and the calming and regulating of hormones, but I think the majority of it is finally getting a handle on what is going on in my mind and my thought patterns. Some seriously whacked out stuff goes on in my head. As you all know. I should change the title of my blog to "Diary of a Crazy Lady." I say crazy a lot when I talk about my anxiety, and mostly I do that to make you laugh. I think it's funny, so it makes me laugh. But I'm not crazy, and I know that. Just a bit to the left of normal, I think. What is 'normal?'
Well, who the heck knows. Maybe we're all just a certain degree of crazy.

In conclusion; much of my anxiety has come to find peace, and #4 is back on the table.


Louise and Gary Chapman said...

This was great Melissa. I don't even know what to say, but I love the way you are working through everything. As for loving your older kids when they are asleep...yup. Finally, I think the weather is HUGE with emotions. We seemed to have such a long, gloomy winter and I'm also WAY happier now.

nancy said...

can I pull out the pink stuff AGAIN? Just kidding - love my noisy energetic crazy-busy grandsons.

lori lls said...

It's so fun to read your musings. Congrats on the new step of being willing to think about considering talking about the potential idea of maybe, just maybe, growing your family! I remember well some of your posts on done-ness.

The emotions of motherhood are like a big stew of Thai curry: there are some strange vegetables in there to be sure (akin to anxiety, anger, and frustration), but the whole thing is steeped in yummy coconut milk (i.e.; love...and breastmilk). Have I ever mentioned that I love weak analogies that start breaking down almost as soon as they're out of your mouth? Well, I do.

You may recall that deep inside I have anxiety issues too. This tie-in of faith to anxiety is interesting because it is quite familiar. I tied so many things to God and wondered about His will in regard to so many things that I would have surely qualified for institutionalization, if only I'd have told people what I was thinking. Missed opportunities. Oh well. [yuckity yuck] Finally this counselor I saw in college told me I was over-spiritualizing things. And he was a man whose faith and life I respected, so hearing that from him totally set me free.

So, to me, you're as normal as can be! And real funny too.

Jen said...

That's fantastic.

Asheya said...

It is pretty amazing how sunshine and warm weather make our kids and us happier, isn't it! I've noticed a big change in Elias' behaviour since we started going outside a few times a day (instead of a few times a week!). He's going back to being the boy I always knew he was.

That is so neat that you are considering having a fourth baby! Give me a few years, maybe that will be me talking... People keep asking me how many, and I really don't know. I'm still trying to figure out the purpose (as in why I think I want more, if I feel I should have more etc.) and the sanity of having more, in the context of our family.

If sunshine and warm weather are the key, maybe Nicaragua will end up inspiring us to have six or something!

The Land of the Lamberts said...

Melissa, if you didn't catch my name on my blog site (i'm not sure it's posted anywhere), my name is Larissa. We live in Vancouver, Wa.
I can't tell you how much your blogs are a breath of fresh air to me. I said before, that I think we could be related, because you say a lot of things I'm afraid to admit to people. Only a couple of really close friends, and my husband are aware of my 'crazy' thinking behavior and the frustrations and doubts and anger I feel sometimes as a mom. After reading your blog it helps to make me feel 'normal' again, you asked, what is 'normal'? But, you know what i mean.
We often try to impress, show-off, boast about our great days and our wonderful children and not often enough share with one another our trials and struggles (why does that word look wrong? Is is spelled wrong?) Anyhow, thanks for your honesty, I definetely will continue to follow your blog and if you're ever in the Portland/Vancouver area look me up, maybe we could actually meet. I really do think we would have a lot to talk about.
I too suffer from some sort of depression or something in the winter months, and I have never heard of the "anxiety dissorder" you were talking about. I am going to google it and if you have more info I would be interested. I hate having the weather and winter months contributing to my sadness and lack of 'self'.
My husband also wants 5+ kids! Yes! And after 2, I'm just not in a hurry for that many more. I go back and forth most weeks..."yes, I would have more, no I don't want anymore"!
Adoption is also one of our goals and desires for our family, so when we begin to cross that bridge maybe I'll tickle your ear (or blogger site) for advice and, encouragement.
Man, I could post my own blog with the length of that comment! :)