State of Affairs

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Some of my days go like this: I wake up and have time to fix my hair. I'm not thinking about the next time I'll get to sleep while walking downstairs. I accomplish things during the day. I clean up the kitchen after breakfast, start dinner before Christian gets home, and throw diapers away in the trash can. I start loads of laundry. I make plans about exercising again someday, maybe. I'm patient with my children and listen when they talk to me. I give reasonable consequences and make interesting lunches. We play games. We laugh together. We go on outings to the library and Target. I enjoy their lingering babyhood. These are the good days.

On the bad days, I feel like I'm moving under water. I'm moving in slow motion and I struggle to catch up to reality. My children are blurs of movement, and when they talk to me it takes three or four repetitions before I understand what they're saying. I get frustrated easily, I yell, I feel guilty and end up crying in a corner of the kitchen, or in the bathroom, or just on the couch with my hands over my face. I check Instagram constantly in an attempt to connect with other adults, but the happy moments of other people's lives hit me too hard, like sunlight in the eyes of someone walking out of a dark room. The TV stays on all day and I accomplish nothing. I see tasks that need doing around the house and feel unable to do anything about them. When Christian comes home, I ask him what his plan is for dinner and ask to take a nap.

There's no pattern to when the bad days happen. Sometimes the trigger is clear: a night full of nursing Leo and empty of sleep, a fight with Christian or with my mom, a headache that refuses to go away. Really, I think the culprit is just boring old postpartum depression. I've come to realize over the past few months that mild depression is a familiar condition; it's come before when I've moved to a new town for college, or when my life takes a turn I didn't expect, or when I haven't been able to get pregnant, or when I have more babies than my brain can handle. I've talked to my husband and my doctor and my bishop, and we're working on it.

Most of the time, I enjoy my life. I enjoy spending time at home with my family. I love my family like crazy, and most of the time, most of my frustration and hard feelings are normal, and just stem from parenting three intense toddlers and a baby all day. I guess what I'm saying is, postpartum depression isn't the worst thing in the world.

Things will get easier. Time will pass, my children will grow older, my day-to-day workload will decrease and I will finally have time to accomplish all of the everything I dream about now. And yet... I can't type those words without wanting to cry. "These are the glory days," my in-laws keep telling me. "These are the days you'll look back on and say, those were the days." And I can feel it. I can feel it, and feel the passage of time fighting against these moments we have together almost tangibly. I see it in the length of their fingernails, and the budding freckles on their cheeks, and their laughs, and their words, and their faces.

I know none of these feelings are anything new. In fact, this entire post reminds me of this {much better} one. But just in case anyone was wondering, I'm still here, feeling all the feelings and changing all the diapers.


Here Comes Another One

You may have heard, our little baby Leo was born seven and a half weeks ago. He is gorgeous and sweet and growing fatter every day.

This pregnancy was a tough one for me. It wasn't as difficult physically as my first {although I did end up going to physical therapy for both shoulder and back pain - it turns out being pregnant for almost three years straight will mess your body up}, but emotionally I couldn't deal. The whole time I felt either exhausted or defeated or just incredibly stressed because of everything I couldn't get done.

When I went past my due date I thought I would explode with frustration. And the more short-tempered I was with my family, the more inadequate I felt. WHY, I said to myself, was I being given another baby when I couldn't even take care of the ones I already had?

I did experience a few golden moments while I was pregnant with Leo, when Christian was playing with our children and they were all laughing hysterically, and I could see past the haze of my own discomfort and it would come to me: this is why Leo wants to join our family. He wants to be a part of this.

I went eight days past my due date before I was induced. I delivered Leo without an epidural as a test of my own strength, to prove to myself that I could. If you were wondering why I look exhausted in the pictures above, that's why. I was so tired I couldn't even open my eyes to look at him when the nurse placed him in my arms. I was shaking with shock and pain, and I could only just hold onto him.

Since Leo's birth, life has been incredible. Not all aspects, not always {trying to get enough food and sleep is an uphill battle, my older kids watch TV all day, and none of my clothes fit}, but having him here brings peace to my heart. I don't know if our family is complete, but whatever hunger that's been pushing me to have ALL THE BABIES is gone. I feel like I've finished running a marathon and I'm now allowed to rest {metaphorically, I mean} and focus on raising these four. It's good. It's a good feeling.

P.S. Read about when Maggie and Max were born, when they were in the hospital, here are a couple posts from when Lucy was born, and here is her birth story.


When Skies are Gray

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In my last post I mentioned almost casually that my mother-in-law has cancer again, and then basically asked everyone to leave me alone about it. I wasn't ready to talk about it then {not even close}, but I'm going to try to talk about it now.

Maybe the words that I find today will feel inadequate again, and maybe that will make me feel like I'm dishonoring a woman I love and admire so much. But maybe if I keep waiting until my words are perfect, I'll end up never saying anything.


I find myself here again, trying to find words to share with you all after being absent from this blog for so long. I feel the need to sum up everything that has happened since I last posted, to do justice to the length of time and its significance, but that seems too big a task for me to accomplish in the moments that I can scrape together. I'm afraid that writing has fallen into the cracks between cleaning macaroni and cheese off the floor, toddler story time and assembly-line-style diaper changes. It's not that I haven't wanted to come here and share my life, I have. I love how many of you have reached out to tell me that whenever I'm ready to come back, you'll be out there. I so appreciate it. Thank you.

I've started this post many times, several on the computer and infinity in my head. (This one is actually being typed on my phone, just to mix it up). Words, appropriate and worthy words, have always escaped me. It's just that, when your mother-in-law has cancer, when doctors say that her chances of surviving the next five years are 20 percent, sometimes there are no words.

You want to say things like: I'm in denial that anything is actually happening, but there's an undercurrent of stress in my life that causes me to lash out at everyone close to me. When I take a shower I fantasize about someone giving me a really good reason to yell at them because I don't have an outlet for my anger.

Or: My heart is breaking and I ugly cry whenever I think about the possibility that my children, who have the most beautiful relationship with their grandmother, may never remember her or how much or how well she loved them.

Or just: Every time someone makes a joke about cancer, I want to punch them in the face.

But none of those options encompasses your grief, how your heart is simultaneously trying to hold on to hope and guard itself against enormous pain. You keep telling yourself this isn't about you! but also you get irrationally irritated at people who call "How's your mother-in-law doing?" across a crowded hallway at church, even though you know they're just trying to be supportive, because you have no idea how to respond.

"She's my hero" is what you would say, if you were being completely honest. "She's the strongest woman I've ever met."

You cry on the phone when your mother asks you, "when it comes down to it, would you rather have the best mother-in-law for a few years, or an okay one for the rest of your life?" and your children huddle around you to give you soft little hugs and pats on the arm even though they don't know why you're sad.

You find yourself crying at Cheerios commercials for fifteen minutes at a time, sobs that leave you exhausted and with a headache.

All of that has been a large part of my life lately. Even now that I've finally written it all out, my brain is screaming at me, "erase! Erase! Erase!" because these words aren't good enough. I love my mother-in-law like I love my own mother, and what could I possibly come up with that would do justice to what any of us in her family is feeling? It will have to do, though.


Cancer hasn't been all of my life for the past three months, of course. With my kiddos, I haven't been allowed to dwell on anything for too long. Block towers need to be built and Goodnight Moon needs be read five times in a row, thank goodness. Christian keeps making me laugh day after day, and The Walking Dead just started again on Sunday, in case you hadn't heard. And thinking about our baby boy coming in December has saved my spirits from falling. He gives me something to look forward to, a reason to be grateful that time is still moving.



D o i n g : Nesting like nuts crazy. My hormones are begging me to redecorate every single room in the house, clean constantly, and clear out half of our possessions, but it's a battle between what I want to do, and what's actually possible with three tiny kiddos running around. Besides some slow {incredibly, frustratingly slow} progress on the living room and the big kids' room, I refreshed our downstairs bathroom over the weekend. It's now my favorite room in the house, which isn't helping me not hide in there when the kids are being particularly whiny. ;)

L o v i n g : Feeling our baby boy kick around inside me. Buying him new white onesies. Eating fresh local peaches {they are HEAVEN}. Pinning my heart out, because I like to collect all the beautiful images from around the Internet, even if I'm never going to do anything with them. Seeing pictures of everyone's babies & baby bumps on Instagram {keep 'em coming, friends!}. Lucy's cuddliness, Maggie's precociousness, and Max's easy happiness.

R e a d i n g : The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, right on schedule. It's not the first time I've started the Guide. My first attempt was a couple years ago, but I couldn't get into it. This book should be right up my alley, science fiction young-adult-level reading with dry humor, but I find myself rolling my eyes at it at least once a day. I blame the movie. In high school I had a friend who dragged me to the movie and was over-the-moon into it because she had loved the books for years, and I just didn't get a-n-y of it. Since then I've kind of had this attitude of, "really, Hitchhiker's Guide? Really?" condescension, which I'm seriously trying to get over. I don't want to be that person.

W a t c h i n g : Season One of Alias with Christian. It seems only right, after the other J.J. Abrams shows we've watched and loved. {Also considering my major long-standing crush on Jennifer Garner. She's my fave.} On real TV, I'm watching So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and all the HGTV I can squeeze in.

T h i n k i n g   a b o u t : My mother-in-law, who's currently in the hospital recovering from some extensive surgery. She has cancer, again. {You can read more about her diagnosis and treatment on her blog, here. Or, for more frequent updates, there's her Facebook page.} This may be news that deserves its own blog post, but it's something that's hard for me to talk about with people who aren't family or close family friends, so while I couldn't not mention it, I'm throwing it in with this other stuff in the hopes that not everyone will comment on it. My mother-in-law is an incredibly strong, hero of a woman, and we have the highest hopes for her future.

L o o k i n g   f o r w a r d   t o : An Ikea trip coming up sometime soon. Our closest store is three hours away, but I can't stay away for more than six months or so. And yes, I have another to-buy list complete with product names and quantities ready to go. ;) Also, we're planning on getting a bigger car at the end of the month, and even though I feel like a total nerd saying it, I'm SO excited to get a minivan. {No more kids kicking each other on long car trips! Hooray!} There's also our beach trip coming up in September; bless these long North Carolina summers.

M a k i n g   m e   h a p p y : Encouraging comments from everyone after announcing our pregnancy; really, people have been so amazingly kind and positive, it's been surprising and just the best. THANK YOU, you wonderful readers you.

P l u s : Two recent favorites on happiness. 1 & 2.


One Two Three Four...

Hey, friends. I wanted to share some news with you.

I'm pregnant!! {Um, again!} We're expecting baby number four {who is a BOY, we found out earlier today} in early December.

I thought about making some kind of awesome tear-inducing announcement video {see: example}, but I'm 18 weeks along and haven't been able to find the time yet. {As you can see in the awkward self-portrait above, I can't even find the time to ask someone else to take my picture, or at least clean my bathroom mirror. I DID spend 45 minutes on Pinterest today, so rest assured my priorities are all in line.}

If you've done the math, you've realized that our baby boy will be born before Max and Maggie's third birthday, so yes, four under three is what we're looking at here. Honestly, it was a lot to take in at first, and I had a hard time emotionally for a little while. I feel so ungrateful saying it, especially when I know there are those out there who are struggling with infertility and would give anything to be pregnant. We just didn't expect this baby to come so soon.

I think I first began to feel really excited when Candis posted this photo on Instagram. It reminded me why I love growing this {not so} little family of mine so much, why it's worth it, and how great we are together. {Thank you, Candis. Reading that caption still brings tears to my eyes, every time.} When we had our first ultrasound and heard the baby's heartbeat, all my doubts flew out the window and now I cannot wait.

We are beyond excited. Having babies is kind of addicting, I've found. ;)