A few days ago I gathered with some lovely women for a Gift of Giving Life party. While there I shared with them some of the fascinating and beautiful insights I have been learning about the sacred interchange within the mother-baby dyad. The “thesis” of my message was this: mothers and babies are the key to creating a peaceful world. Without nurturing mothers and peace-filled babies, we will never see humanity overcome the evils that tear us apart. The love of a mother is so crucial, so irreplaceable, so powerful. Below I will share some of the slides from my presentation.
I don’t doubt that the Internet is full of posts like this. I haven’t checked. But apparently humankind is in need of more reminders, so I’m going to put another post out there.
Everywhere I go, people seem to feel compelled to say things. I’m not necessarily surprised, but it is still somewhat mind-boggling to me what people feel comfortable saying to pregnant women. Some of my favorite courses in college were linguistics-based, and I’m pretty sure I remember learning that dogs, babies, and pregnant women change the boundaries of human interaction. There was a fancy linguistics term for this phenomenon, but it escapes me at the moment. (If you happen to know what I’m talking about, I would adore it if you could remind me of this fancy linguistic term.) Basically, if you happen to be pregnant, with a baby, or with a dog, people will be more likely than normal to speak to you (or touch you/your baby/dog). People let down their guard more when they’re around pregnant women, dogs, and babies. I’ve especially noticed this while wearing my babies.
Sometimes these pregnancy interactions are pleasant. Older women often tell me about their daughters who are due to deliver or recently delivered. Men often offer to help me carry things. I don’t mind these kinds of interactions at all. But some of my day-to-day interactions leave me feeling, well… HUGE… or even more huge than I already feel.
Dearest Humans, I love you. You aren’t trying to be insensitive. I get that. But let me just offer a few suggestions that will make all the pregnant women you encounter so very appreciative.
Hope is a talent like any other. -Storm Jameson
Ever since I learned my baby’s name, I have been slightly obsessed with all things hope-related. Songs about hope, poems about hope, hope art, hope jewelry, hope scriptures, quotes, and t-shirts. I haven’t actually bought anything except a few songs from iTunes, but I have plans to make some art to hang over the co-sleeper we’re planning to make.
Speaking of baby Hope, after a few days of mourning Elijah, I found myself at peace and growing more and more excited to meet this little girl. I think I know who she is and why she is coming to me. Long story. Maybe I will tell it to you some day. What matters now is that she is coming, and she is very grateful, and I am looking forward to meeting her.
So I got this idea. It grew partly out of the widespread belief that more people commit suicide during the holidays. I did some digging, and it turns out that this is sort of a myth. In reality, suicide rates peak in the springtime, though there is a significant uptick after Christmas… “a 40 percent uptick, according to one large Danish study” (see here and here). But, whatever. It doesn’t really help to get lost in the details when it comes to suicide. Regardless of when suicides are highest, they’re always too high.
In the US, nearly 30,000 people die by suicide each year, and the rate of attempted suicide is much higher—so much so that there is an estimated one attempted suicide per minute. Worldwide, suicide claims more deaths than accidents, homicides, and war combined. And many cases of suicide, particularly in the elderly, go completely undetected and unaccounted (Neal Burton, MD, Source).
Suicide is also one of the leading causes of maternal death, as I’ve written about before.
I’ve been pregnant or nursing and caring for my children full-time for more than a decade. I’ve been blogging about pregnancy, birth, and mothering for over seven of those years. As a new mom, I had been neglecting to meet my own needs for intellectual growth and fulfillment, but my blog gave me that outlet. From 2009 until 2011 I wrote a book with four co-authors about spirituality and birth. Birth has been my passion (obsession?) for most of my adult life thus far.
But I don’t expect I will ever give birth or breastfeed again (so many mixed feelings about that one). My “baby” is nearly four years old. And I can feel my brain pulling away from birth. I still yearn for all women to have empowering and beautiful birth experiences, but my mind no longer buzzes with birthy topics and blogpost ideas.
This morning a friend posted this on my facebook profile: “This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Your life makes all the difference. Sending love and hugs.” I didn’t know that this week was National Suicide Prevention Week until she told me.
Do you know the warning signs of Suicide? The American Association of Suicidology shares this mnemonic:
IS PATH WARM?
S Substance Abuse
M Mood Changes
Back at the end of May, as we were franticly packing up for our sudden early departure to my parents’ house, my mind was scattered with horrific thoughts and images. In those moments, nearly two days without sleep, my body pulsing with panic, I prepared myself to kiss my children good-bye, perhaps for good. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I was sure I was either going to spend the rest of my life in a psychiatric hospital or soon be dead by my own hands.
Then the doorbell rang. A little while later, my husband returned from answering the door, carrying a cheerful-looking basket full of yellow things. Last year, I had brought a friend a “basket of sunshine” when she was stressed-out and struggling, and she said now it was my turn. One of the gifts in her basket was a picture she had painted.
Tonight I will be cutting my dose again.
As much as I’m eager to leave benzodiazepines behind, it always feels a little bit like voluntarily submitting to torture when I reduce my dose. Generally the next two days are alright. The third… not so much. If the pattern continues, this Thursday should be interesting.
In other news, my sleep is definitely taking a hit. Sunday morning I woke up at 3:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep. This morning I woke up at 3:30, but I was fortunately able to fall back to sleep until 5:00-ish. When I start catastrophizing, I imagine that I’m going to have some sleepless nights coming up. So far my worst fears haven’t materialized, so I’m hoping the trend continues.
I think it’s safe to say that the past four months have been the most difficult I’ve ever endured. I really hope September will bring mercy. I really hope I don’t have another month+ of withdrawals to look forward to. I really hope the next couple of weeks don’t kill me. <—Did you hear that? That’s called a will to live. It’s nice to have one again. I hope it sticks around. Never take yours for granted, friends.
So far tapering off my night-time dose has gone much smoother than I feared. I’m still getting sleep (thus far). Having my stepmom here over the weekend was a great support. Yesterday was really rough, lots of withdrawals, but today has been much better.
Here’s what my life looks like these days…
I know. This is dragging on and on. You’re probably tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of enduring it. But tonight is a big night. Tonight I start tapering off my night-time dose of the benzodiazepine.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want this drug out of my life and out of my body. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish I had never allowed this drug into my body. The next few weeks could be really intense. Getting sleep could become a rarity. Things could also go much smoother than I fear. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have no control over what’s going to happen. But I’m terrified. I’ve already endured some pretty horrific withdrawals for the past couple of weeks, and I do not want to experience any more.
I know I’ve already asked for so many prayers, but I need your love and support now more than ever. Things you can do to help me get through this:
- Send daily emails with encouraging words.
- Make a meal for my family (if you’re local).
- Call me (if you have my number).
- Send me a card in the mail (if you have my address).
- Post an encouraging comment on this post.
- Pray for me.
- Do whatever other nice thing you feel inspired to do.
My psychologist stepmom is flying in tonight to help give me extra support until Monday. Then my mom will be flying in Tuesday through Thursday. I have lots of local friends who are doing a remarkable job of supporting me as well. I feel like it’s taking a pretty big village to keep me going.
The other night my almost-11-year-old daughter told me she wants a tree necklace for her birthday (a little over a month away). I really hope I’m smiling and anxiety-free when I give it to her.
Yesterday I received some feedback from a reader. She said, in part, “I’ve got to unfollow you. Wishing you the best but three years of downers is making me depressed.” After seven years as a blogger, I’ve come to accept that you can’t please everyone. I’ve also learned a lot about how to minimize negative feedback. But I’m in a really vulnerable place. So this one really hurt.
I tried to keep reminding myself that the overwhelming majority of the people who are following my blog care about me and appreciate my honesty about my struggles. But just minutes after wincing from this “unfollowing” incident, I received an email from a friend. She has been in these agonizing trenches before. She gets it. Her words were just what I needed to lift me in that moment. I hope she won’t mind me quoting her here:
Yesterday my mom, sister, and husband helped me with a project. It is a binder full of all of the cards, emails, and messages of encouragement I have received from my people in the past few months, some of whom I’ve known for years and some of whom I haven’t yet met in this life. It also has uplifting quotes, scriptures, and pictures from Pinterest. I plan to add more and more to it as I receive them.
As I was meditating this morning, my mind was turned to the captives, most especially the girls. It is estimated that at least 20 million people are currently in bondage worldwide, many of them in sexual slavery. I’ve written about sex trafficking before. Human trafficking is now the fastest growing organized crime. It crushes me to think about the millions of children being sexually exploited around the world.
Growing up, I never imagined I’d have to worry about my daughters being forced into slavery. I really don’t want to teach my daughters that the world is a dangerous place. I want them to feel safe and confident. But I also know too much about sex trafficking to delude myself into thinking my daughters couldn’t become victims in the blink of an eye. I just can’t stomach the thought of what could happen to them.
My oldest daughter is approaching the most vulnerable time frame for child sex trafficking… 11, 12, 13. We’ve received notices more than once about sex offenders living in our neighborhood and attempted child abductions not too far away. I probably err on the side of over-protective when it comes to (not) letting my kids walk places without an adult. I only let them walk home from school because I can see the school from my house.
A few weeks ago, a friend showed up at my door with a giant stalk of brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s… like this…
It was a healing gift for a number of reasons… 1) Because there’s something very heart-warming about having another person “get you” well enough to know exactly what would make your day, and 2) Because brussels sprouts are healing in and of themselves.
I love gifts that heal. They’re the best kind.
Here are some more healing gift ideas…