I missed this when it aired, since we don’t have cable or even an antenna for our T.V.  Thank goodness for the internet.

Look at what my husband does!!!!  He is so hardcore.  He really is a warrior.  I’m so proud.  *sigh*

And, yes, this is the first time I’ve really gotten to see and understand what my husband does when he’s out there “haze grey and underway.”


Mommy Honesty

When we began working to form a Mom’s group at our church this past Fall, I envisioned it as a place to let our hair down.  The message that ‘The Pressure is off’ is one that I feel is so important for Mom’s to hear today, and one that frankly my heart beats to tell women.  Maybe it’s out of a self-serving need to believe that myself, who knows…  But something in our society has made Mom’s, especially Mom’s in the church, so uber worried about every tiny bit of mothering.  It’s as if we think we  must be absolutely perfect and make all the right choices, from schools to diaper cream and spanking to cereal brands, for our kids to have any chance to grow up and not be sociopaths. 

Oops, I accidentally went off on a rant there.  Back on track.

Anyway, we’ve had a very casual group and lots of good conversation, but there was something special today at our ‘playdate’ at the park.  I can’t explain it really, except maybe it was the work of the Holy Spirit.  At one point I found myself sharing about my experience with depression to a Mom who is going through many of the same things I have these last few months.  I was able to say emphatically, “You are NOT a bad Mom, and it CAN be better than this.”  Another Mom mentioned some developmental concerns her son was having.  Another Mom confessed her frustration at a custody situation she is involved in. 

We talked about bedtimes gone wrong and behavioural strategies and diaper brands, but we were also able to get to deeper things of the heart.  For a few brief moments we quit trying to look like we had it all together and just relaxed in the knowledge that we were all IN IT together.

I just love that.

Turning a Corner

Despite my last couple of days being a little bit ‘blah,’ I think I’ve turned a corner on the PPD front.  I am so grateful for that.

It seems like a few different things have shaken loose and suddenly I find myself on an upswing instead of a down.

For this cynical, jaded, faithless believer, I was surprised to find that the first breakthrough was spiritual.  (This might begin to sound a little Christianesey.  I’m not typically a Christianesey kind of girl, and I know that not all of my readers appreciate Christianesiness.  Hang in there.)  It occurred to me while I was reading some great stuff by John Eldredge, that there is an enemy of my heart.  There is someone who wishes for me to be taken out…  To be rendered useless and thus incapable of being truly who I am as Val and of doing those things that Val is truly meant to do.  Suddenly I saw so very clearly that I was being beaten up.  I saw myself just being sucker-punched and pummelled over and over and over again by lies:  I’m stupid, I’m a bad Mom, I’m a bad wife, I’ll never get it together, I’m worthless, I’m powerless, I’m incapable, No one cares, I am a burden, I cannot depend on anyone, I am meant to handle life alone, and on and on and on…. 

Seeing this clicked so many things into place.  First of all, I realized that this truly was a battle.  This wasn’t just something I could sit down and skate through.  I had to stand up and fight.  I suddenly had compassion for myself and my situation for the first time in a long time.  I was being BEATEN.  Brutally BEATEN.  No wonder life felt so awful.  You don’t blame the victim of a beating.  You don’t shake her and say, “Why are you bleeding?  Why can’t you just get it together you dummy?”  You realize that brutality was done to this person and you see her with compassion.  For the first time, I was able to see myself that way.  Not as a Mom and a woman who just couldn’t hack it, but as someone who had sustained a brutality to the soul and to the spirit. 

And if I was being  beaten, there was a reason.  Something or someone wanted to neutralize me.  If something or someone was fighting so hard to take me out, then surely that meant I was WORTH something.  Surely it MEANS there is SOMETHING in me to contribute, to bring forth into this world.  The darkness at work in the world has been working to extinguish the light within me.  Call it good verses evil, call it The Spirit at work in me verses the one at work in the world.  Whatever you call it, something clicked.  Since then, I’ve been soaking deeply in this paradigm shift finally understanding that my heart is good.  And firmly believing in a DEEP way in the goodness of God’s heart toward me, and His desire to be involved in my life.  Pretty heady stuff. 

The other stuff has been simple technical tweakings:  The sun is out more.  How I glory in the sunshine!  I love the colors it brings to the world.  My favorite thing lately has been soaking in the warmness of it.  And then shortly after the crazy God-stuff changes, I had a slight change with my meds–nothing more than my pharmacy changing manufacturers, and suddenly the ‘lightbulb’ that came on earlier in my journey came on again.

So I’m turning a corner.  And I’m experiencing more joy in my life than I have in ages.  Literally.  I feel better in a way that I haven’t since long before Mom died or the whole Navy adventure began.  I feel like a whole different person.  And I love it.

Life is turning a corner too.  This week will mark the beginning of our last longish stretch of Husband being away.  And there is a good chance that it will be THE last stretch of awayness for a very long time.  We’re heading into Shore Duty.  For so long I felt so guilty about that…  That our Sea Duty days were over.  That it wasn’t going to be US doing the deployments.  I felt like *we* hadn’t given enough.  Like our time doing deployments and detachments weren’t worthy enough sacrifices.  I’m beginning to realize, though, that shore duty is a built in part of a Naval career.  And it’s ok for us to experience it too.  We’ve done separations for five years.  We will have spent a full two of them apart.  It’s time for our family to experience stability.  It’s time for us to have some togetherness.  It’s time for Husband and I to learn how to function as a unit without a looming separation changing the dynamics up constantly.  After three more years and this stint of Shore Duty, our plan at this point is to get out.  This is our stepping stone to civilian life.  Things are really changing. 

And it is good.  I pray that it will continue to be good.  I pray that no matter the circumstances, that we are on the cusp of a sweet chapter of our lives:  One full of learning, and growing, and stretching, and one full of this abiding joy that I’m just beginning to rediscover.

Lack of Angst

I haven’t written much lately for a couple of reasons.  We’ve been busy.  We took a trip back to my old hometown and spent some time with Papa and Nonna.  It was sunny and warm and we played outside everyday. 

But also, and this is the best reason, I have had a serious lack of angst lately.  Do you know how awesome that is?! 


Husband gets home tonight and will be here for a couple of weeks.  I hope the lack of angst thing holds and we can just enjoy one another.


My baby girl will be one tomorrow.  How in the world did that happen?

I’m on my way to bed, and I can’t help but think back a year ago.  When I slipped into bed that night, I didn’t expect that I’d go into labor.  I snuggled into beside Husband and tried to drift off to sleep.  Only I couldn’t.

I realized that I was having some contractions and that they were starting to hurt.  At about midnight, I realized the contractions were coming fairly close together.  I got up to take a shower, and to assess the situation.  I decided I was in labor, and I woke Husband up.

I have my doula, Becky, to thank for how well the rest of the night went.  She came over right away and was an extremely calming presence.  I labored on the birth ball.  I labored on the couch.  We watched Murphy Brown Season 1 on DVD (giving birth to T.V. shows is a thing for me, ok?)  The contractions were getting closer together, but were never regular in duration.  I remember Becky urging me to relax my face muscles.  She said if I did that the rest of me would relax and that would help the baby come.  It worked.

Carolyn was sleeping in her room, and Dad was trying to sleep as well.  Eventually he came out and joined the party, mostly because he couldn’t sleep through the sounds of me in pain.

As the contractions got stronger, Becky felt pretty confident that we could stay put at home for a little longer (I am so grateful for this, as I seriously doubt that I would have remained as calm and able to cope as I did without her reassurance and confidence in the idea of staying at home for as long as we did).  I snoozed for a couple of minutes at a time to Murphy Brown.  At around 5 a.m. I woke up to decide whether or not to head to the hospital.  The back gate to base is very close to our house, and to spare myself time in the car, I really wanted to go in while it was open.  I knew that I could go in through that gate if I wanted to, but wasn’t sure I wanted to leave just yet.  The thought of seeing sunrise and giving Carolyn a hug goodbye sounded appealing so I stayed put and ate some Frosted Flakes.

Little Miss woke up a little after 7, and as the contractions got stronger I found it difficult to keep my reactions to them low key enough to not scare her.  With only an hour left until the back gate closed, we decided to head to the hospital.  I hugged and kissed Little Miss and left her with Papa.  We arrived in the birthing room a little after 8 a.m.  Someone put Murphy Brown back on the t.v, and I got down to business.

Time seemed to stretch on forever, even though not much of it really passed.  And I hurt.  I hurt very, very badly.  When I checked in, despite the entire night of increasingly intense, but never regular contractions, I was only at 3 cm.  But I hurt.  I really hurt.  Did I mention that I hurt?  I was starting to get panicky.  I grabbed at Becky and I grabbed at Husband and I begged them to help me stay calm.

My doctor came in and checked me and I was at 9 cm.  She decided it was time to break my water to see if we could move things along.  Knowing how bad labor hurt last time with my water already broken, and knowing how bad I was already hurting, I really, really didn’t want to do that.  My doula asked the doctor to explain the procedure and it’s benefits to me, and she launched into a gentle explanation of how this would help my body to pick up the pace.  I told the doctor to please not talk to me.  I didn’t want education.  I wanted my baby, and I wanted to stop hurting so badly!!!!  She broke my water, and immediately after said I was complete and it was time to push.

I was exhausted, and pushing was harder work than I remembered, but I got through it, and soon my baby girl was in my arms.  She was so beautiful, and so foreign.  I didn’t feel connected to my body.  I couldn’t even figure out how to move my arms.  And I was trembling violently.   I kept waiting for the feeling of euphoria and accomplishment that I remembered from my first experience to kick in, but it never did.  The important thing though was that my baby was there.  She arrived at 10:35 a.m. only 2.5 hours after we arrived at the hospital.  And I again progressed completely within a VERY short time span.  She weighed in at 8 lbs. 10 oz, and she was absolutely beautiful.

I cuddled her all the rest of the day and all night long.  I tried to stay awake long enough that evening to watch LOST with the rest of America, but the adrenaline wore off and I crashed about five minutes into it.  (I really sound like a TV junkie when I write my birth stories, don’t I?  ;))

The next day, Papa brought Big Sister in and it was apparent immediately that she was in love.  When we brought her home, Little Miss was devastated to learn that Baby Sister could not sleep in her bed with her.  She was just certain that that would be the only logical place for her to spend her nights.

I am so grateful for my baby girl.  I love her so much.  This year has been full of incredible blessing, and yet so very hard.  Husband has been gone so much with his deployment and detachments.  Depression reared it’s ugly head.  But I had my baby girl.  From the beginning, I would hold her and cuddle her and find comfort simply from her being in my arms.  Especially in those first few days, often the only place I wanted to be was hunkered down with her reveling in her sweetness.

It’s been an incredible thing to see the birth of sisterhood in our family.  I see my oldest baby girl growing up so quickly, and learning through the complications and joys of having this other little person to share life with.

And my baby girl is just amazing.  She does the very cutest things ever.  Like saying, “Shhh,” with a tiny finger up to her lips, and walking with adamance and vigor in a quick, sturdy, bow-legged cowboy walk.  She crumples to the ground in silent protest when she doesn’t get her way, and her nose crinkles in the cutest way when she giggles.  Her first smiles came as a result of my kissing her under her chin and that remains one of her very favorite things ever.

Mommy struggled through this first year, but I never, not once for a second, doubted the love that I had for my baby girl.  Even in a place where I was outside of myself and unable to enter into it she has kept me grounded in and aware of joy.  She and her big sister gave me a reason to fight to get myself back.

Happy Birthday little one.  Mommy loves you.