If you haven’t read part one please make sure you do before reading on! Knowing the whole story makes all the difference.
As I mentioned before, I loved being a mom. And while Isaac was not the best of sleepers, I felt like he was the most perfect child who ever lived. And if we made one perfect child, why not have another?? I was ready for baby 2 from pretty early on, but Matt was not quite as sure. After much discussion, we decided that we wanted our kids to be about 2 years apart. Since it took longer than we had hoped to get pregnant with Isaac, we figured it would be the same the second time as well. But let’s just say it didn’t take much, and I found myself pregnant once again when Isaac was 17 months old. We were in complete shock that it could happen so fast! Seeing that pregnancy test produced a mix of emotion ranging from excitement to second thoughts… “Can I do this?! What were we thinking?!”
Isaac was a pretty perfect baby. But the toddler years were far from perfect. It’s like a switch was flipped at 12 months and everything changed. He is a strong willed child and I found myself at my breaking point over and over again. Add in some pregnancy hormones and intense pelvic pain from 20 weeks on, and I was a mess during this season. In fact, I hardly remember it now! It’s much a blur. Really, this season could be summarized by our last day together before sister was born. I took him to the mall at 41 weeks pregnant for one last outing with just the two of us. He whined most of the time and threw the most epic tantrum in the middle of the packed food court as my large and pain-laden self wrestled him into his stroller and walked out with him thrashing and screaming. Let’s just say it’s not what I hoped for our last day together.
Matt, on the other hand, was having a different experience with Isaac. While he still dealt with the frustrations as well, of course, he found himself really falling into the groove of being a dad. While he was unsure of what to do with a baby, he loved Isaac’s newfound mobility and playfulness. While I was feeling less confident as a mother, Matt was definitely growing in confidence daily as a father and loving it more and more. I relied on Matt a lot during that time and was grateful to watch the growing relationship between my boys. It was during this time that the Lord healed a lot of the open wounds in our marriage and began to really draw us together as a team. It is so easy to fall more in love with your husband as you watch him loving your child. Matt knew that being a pregnant stay-at-home mom was not easy, and he would always thank me and encourage me in the work that I was doing. We were finally in our new normal as parents and were driven towards one another instead of away when things were hard. I’m grateful for this, because the next year would throw us a curve ball we didn’t see coming.
Hallie was born in July of 2015. Before her birth, I was slightly obsessed over wanting a vaginal birth after my last cesarean (also known as a VBAC). Isaac’s birth was a bit traumatic for me and I thought having a baby “the right way” would fix all of that and prevent it from happening again. I was so grateful for an amazing midwife who helped make this a reality, but it didn’t change things as I hoped. While I knew I was happy to have a child, the baby girl I had prayed for, I didn’t FEEL happy. It was as perfect of a birth as you can really get, but I felt numb as I held her. I kept telling myself that I loved her instead of really feeling it. That was the first sign that something was wrong, but I was too ashamed to tell anyone that these thoughts were even going through my mind. As the months went by, I never struggled getting out of bed and I never felt overly sad, but I did feel an unbelievable sense of being overwhelmed. Both of the kids would be happily sitting/laying in the living room with nothing wrong, but I would stand in the kitchen in a near panic about what I should do while they were actually ok. Figuring out the order in which I was going to get things done felt like the biggest weight I’ve ever carried. I would picture myself trying to swim in an ocean as waves were crashing over me, just trying to keep myself afloat. It took until Hallie was 6 months old that I realized this was NOT normal. I kept telling myself that I was just adjusting to two children and a new way of life, but this was much more. After googling the feelings I was having, I realized it was postpartum depression and anxiety. The relief I felt was unbelievable. I had a name for it. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t a bad mom who couldn’t figure things out. I was going to be ok.
I tearfully told Matt what I had finally figured out and there was an immediate relief in him as well. He knew something was wrong, but didn’t understand what it was. I have degrees in psychology and counseling and couldn’t even figure this out in myself, how was he to do so? He began taking on even more then he had before. He allowed me more time to focus on myself, and over time we saw great improvements. I really could write a whole blog post simply on postpartum depression and anxiety and the impact on a marriage and a family. But I’ll save that for another time and tell you that things did get better and by the time Hallie turned one I was at a much healthier place, which meant we were all in a healthier place.
The difference in our marriage from the first year struggles of our first child to the first year struggles of the second was like night and day. After Isaac, we began drifting apart in completely opposite directions. Resentment, frustration, pain, and sadness were formed from pushing away from one another and ultimately from pushing God further away. Yet after Hallie, we ran towards one another and towards the Lord. A shift had taken place. Being parents was not easier after two, it was actually the complete opposite of easier. But our marriage was stronger because we chose to put the Lord again at the center.
I said in part one that having children is a blessing, and I do not want us to forget that, ever. We think our children are the best gifts ever given to us. But they did complicate our lives a bit. And you know what? I’m grateful for that. I’m a different person now at 32 with two children than I was at 26, when pregnant with my first. I’m stronger. I have a better understanding of God’s love for me. Grace is a concept I see on a daily basis. I know a love like no other. And I have a marriage that can thrive through chaos and change. The Lord knew what He was doing when He gave us the ability to bear children. And I’m humbled that He chose us for Isaac and Hallie. I’m humbled that He chose Matt to walk this path with me and I with Him. The journey is far from over. We are about to celebrate Isaac’s 6th birthday in April and I pray there are many more ahead of us. There will be many ups and downs in the journey, but I’m ready to walk hand in hand with my husband and my Father each step of the way.
As for this blog and my ministry? I’m still praying through this. The Lord put it strongly on my heart that I needed to write these posts. I’m not sure why and I don’t know if I’ll ever know. I ask that you say a prayer for me now as I walk forward. I’ll continue to write if He put words on my heart. But if not, I hope these posts were encouraging for you. If you are in the process of growing your family let me leave you with these encouragements:
Your children are a blessing.
So is your marriage.
Run towards one another.
Run towards Him.