Nine years. That’s how long Josh and I were married before my beautiful baby boy entered the world. Nine years of waking up late on weekends, traveling internationally whenever we wanted, and taking impromptu long drives to Texas to visit friends when ministry was taking a toll. We had just moved back to Columbus, Ohio from Springfield and built our first home. I remember how big it felt and what little furniture we had to fill it. Josh looked at me and said, “This is where we’ll raise our family.” You know what? He was right. After years of infertility struggle, I was finally pregnant. That next year I gave birth to our son, Caden. After that? Complete bliss.
Caden was a highly demanding first baby. He suffered from colic prompted by acid reflux. He projectile vomited everything he ate while screaming at the top of his lungs. ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT. Our sweet golden retriever Gibson was slightly traumatized by the whole thing and so was I. This once quiet, spacious home began to feel claustrophobic and confining. Prison might have been a nice escape at this point. Sleep deprivation crept in like a wet, cold blanket along with deep depression. This baby I had prayed and tried so hard for was changing my perfectly ordered world. TRANSITION.
Transition can feel exhilarating, exhausting and down right difficult. Why? Transition always involves change. Losing control of what “was.” The four walls my life fit so neatly in were now shrinking. All of the carefully placed chess pieces were in disarray. It felt like chaos.
If you’re anything like me, (Type A, Enneagram 8, Choleric), then transitions are not your cup of tea. This season with Caden was changing everything and it hurt. Up to this point in my life, it was single-handedly the biggest season of self-sacrifice. Giving up the idea of sleep, breastfeeding issues (sorry gentlemen), less than positive changes to my physique, and a constant feeling of isolation had all become my new normal. Typically, I would try to put everything back into place. Similar to “after the party” when you’re faced with a huge mess. You clean up and put it all back in place. The problem was, I couldn’t put this baby back nor did I want to. TRANSITION.
Sometimes the best answers to our problems come right in the middle of the storm. The tension that comes with change creates the urgency we need to find our inner strength.
Change during transition can feel so awkward, misplaced and down right hard. It can be easier to ignore or run away from it. Have you heard of fight or flight? In this instance, standing up and facing the present is the first step towards accepting the reality of your circumstances. Coming to terms with what you’re up against will help you conquer the mountain in your way.
For me, it can be easy to feel stuck on this first step because I was raised to be strong, independent, and resourceful. I feared being labeled, “NOT strong enough” or “weak” if I admitted how hard things were.
Action Step #1: Admit It. Journaling my emotions, thoughts, fears and needs helped me take the first step of accepting my present circumstances.
What do I wish? I wish that I had stopped long enough to communicate with someone, who loved me. Yes, my husband knew my reality to some extent, but I was the primary caregiver for Caden. Up all night and day feeding him, bouncing him and cleaning up vomit while daddy worked. I wish I had told him that I was in trouble.
My reality? Insomnia had taken over and I was now a reluctant member of the Walking Dead crew. Postpartum depression had taken the place of any resemblance of joy. Food had lost its lure almost entirely. Even the sun looked grey. The truth? I felt unnecessarily alone. I had a husband who deeply cared about me and an entire extended family who loved me. I could have asked for more help instead of trying to do it alone.
Action Step #2: Share It. Talk with your partner in life, or close friend or family member who love you. They care more than we give them credit.
The last, but most important step, will require a dose of humility. Ask for HELP. I can say it again if you need me to. Take it from someone who has spent most of her life pushing through hard times like rolling up a boulder up a mountain. Time typically moves fast in my world, but lately I’ve been longing for a slower journey to scale. To be able to stop and enjoy every day with all that it brings.
My husband and I meet weekly to discuss “all the things” in the Scott world. Home front, weekly schedules, dinners, travel for work, the business (yes we work together now) and self care. This has also become a time for real conversations, when we discuss sometimes tenuous subjects. Just this week, we talked about the sense of overwhelm both of us were experiencing. Josh and I are producers, so it can be hard for us to recognize when we need help until that lack of help becomes a problem. Fortunately, our conversation became full of solution-oriented ideas that would help create some margin in our lives. Regardless of the type of transition you are going through, I can confidently say that we all have at least one friend, family member, neighbor who would jump to help at the first notice of your need.
Action Step #3: Phone a Friend. Create a list of the stressors, ideas to solve these problems and names of people who could help you. Then ask them for help.
Fast forward thirteen years from my season of “all things newborn” and Caden is now taller than me. Yup! 5’ 11”and continues to grow weekly. He is the size of most men in shoes and height, while reassuringly reminding me that his brain is still operating as a young teenage boy’s should. In the end, he was worth it. He was worth the emergency c-section. He was worth all the sleepless nights. He was worth mopping up all the vomit. He was worth countless trips to the doctor for mastitis. He was worth enduring some of the saddest, yet happiest months of my life.
After the first year, the sun rose again and laughter came back into our home. He and I bonded during those early years and it paved the way for our closeness. Because of my buddy Caden, I know what it feels like to be a mom…one of the best roles on the planet.