Of Course I Feel This Way

"Babe, did you wash your hands when you got home?"

Daniel has just walked in the door from work. I am loading the dishwasher and turn around to see him hoisting Edie onto his shoulders. Instead of feeling warm fuzzies at the sight of my two loves enjoying each other, I am immediately overcome with anxiety. It's flu season. Edie is young and her immune system isn't fully developed. What if what if what if? I'm terrified.

And then I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed with myself for sounding like a mom to my husband, I'm annoyed that I'm still seeing so many moments where this anxiety is controlling me. Because I know it has nothing to do with flu season or my husband's more relaxed nature or this particular moment at all. It has to do with what happened last year and the way my brain perceived it as trauma and made my daughter seem so fragile. It has to do with me wanting, NEEDING to save her and not knowing how and grasping at anything and everything I could reach.

"Of course I feel this way."

This is what I'm supposed to tell myself in these moments, per my counselor's advice. Instead of beating myself up for not being over it like I think I should be, not being the carefree wife and relaxed mother I hoped to be, I'm supposed to just let myself feel what I feel.  Because apparently the brain registers perceived trauma and real trauma the same way and the only way to get over it is to be present as I work through it. And that means feeling what I'm feeling.

It means showing myself grace for feeling this way, too. Of course I feel this way means it's okay to feel this way, even though it looks nothing like the standard I hoped for myself and my family. I am not invincible like I planned to be; I am broken. That ugly season last year broke me and as I was drowning I tried to grab onto anything I could to feel some sense of control. And it turned into some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder I feel uncomfortable even writing out. I'm embarrassed every day by it.

But of course I feel this way.

Because they told me my baby could be dying. They told me I was wrong. They said she was failing to thrive. They told me it was this. They told me it was that. They told me that test was negative. They told me they didn't know. They told me I didn't know what I was talking about. And they told me all of this while I was in the thick of a crazy postpartum hormone dump that very well could have sent me into a dark place on its own, without all of the hospital visits and x-rays and needles and sweat tests.

What I do know now is that she's okay, which is what several of my loved ones have tried to tell me over and over when I explain why I carry this anxiety around with me like an ugly purse. It's because I never know when I'll feel the need to reach into it, even though I hate it and am ashamed to be seen wearing it. I KNOW in my head she's okay, but my heart hasn't quite caught up.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I know I'm crazy. I'm sick. I'm sorry."

I've heard myself say this a lot in the past few months. I've done a lot of apologizing to my husband, because this nagging germaphobe is not who he married. This woman who lives and breathes in fear is not the wife he chose for himself.

But that's who I am today. Shortly after finding out Edie wasn't actually ill we realized I had developed an ugly disease. We can call it postpartum depression, panic/anxiety disorder, or post traumatic stress. Some days giving it a name like that makes me feel a little less insane and a little more like yes, other mothers have been there--it's not just me. Whatever we choose to call it, though, I've learned I have to acknowledge it if I'm going to stay married, get through it, keep my friends.  Because I almost lost it all. I acted like a fool and shut everyone out for months and had friends texting me like, "Since you had your baby I feel like you want nothing to do with me. I know you're busy, but I thought you cared about me more than that..." and I can't even tell you how many times my husband has said something along the lines of, "You only care about her now."  This isn't me, guys. I'm sick. I'm sorry. This isn't me pushing you away. I love you. Can you love me through it?

"Can you love me through it?" is something else I've heard myself say several times recently. This isn't an easy question for me to ask. I hate being weak. I hate being off my game. But who wants to be married to a nag who can't humble herself and admit she's struggling? I wouldn't want to be. I've learned the only way through this is to call it what it is, ask for grace and give myself grace, too.

For too long I thought if I ignored this thing it would just quietly leave, but the opposite happened. I got more lonely. I got more crazy. I got more obsessive. I got more anxious. I lived less. I feared more.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have nurtured the whole supermom idea when I was pregnant. Look at me, I'm Jordan, I'm not lining up anyone to come help me at all when my baby is born!

Because doing that meant I was totally alone when she went through an unexpected health scare. Telling everyone else, including my husband, to "Move--I got this," from the get go left me with no tribe when I realized I didn't "got this." And that left me in a panic trying to do the job of an entire village during a tragedy. I am a mother, yes, but I still only have two hands. I can't rebuild an entire town on my own.

So that's where I am today--rebuilding. With the help of counselors, a handful of other mamas I met through La Leche, and patient friends and family who have so lovingly said "Yes" to my question, "Can you love me through it?"

Motherhood will always be heavy, but I don't think it has to be back-breaking.

Luckily, bones heal. I'm told hearts do, too.

Valentine's Day Family Craft

Our girl doesn't love to be forced to do anything, so this craft is simple and quick. Still, she made getting her thumbprints pretty tricky. I'm not sure how many hand or foot print crafts I've attempted and filled with this strong-willed child of mine--yeesh. I hoped a thumb would be doable, and I'm so happy with how it turned out!

You'll need:
White or cream cardstock
Red cardstock or construction paper
Black inkpad
Glue stick

I'm pretty certain you can figure this one out on your own, but I'll spell it out for you anyway. :) Rub both thumbs in ink and stamp them down on the red paper in the shape of a heart. Have each family member do the same. Cut hearts around the thumbprints--Dad's is the biggest, then Mom's, then children in order. Glue down to white paper, frame and display!

I'm kind of a huge dork about Valentine's Day (every holiday, actually), so I'm excited to make the most of this week. Do you and your boo have any big plans or traditions?

How We Fight the Flu

Flu season is a way bigger deal now that we have a little lady running around tasting everything from the bottom of her shoes to library books to shopping cart handles. I don't love getting sick, but I know I would hate it a million times more if my girl was feeling really yucky. We managed to escape last year's cold and flu season unscathed, and I'm hoping we can say the same this year. So far, so good!

As soon as October rolls around, I run to our local co-op for a bulk bag of dried elderberries, a bottle of turmeric, and some local honey. Turmeric has lots of awesome immunity boosting properties and I like to add it to our soups, which we generally eat a couple of times a week in the winter. 

And for flu fighting, elderberry syrup is the stuff. I'm not one to measure when I cook, but I generally use a couple of tablespoons of organic dried elderberries to two or three cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for twenty minutes. Let cool and strain out berries. Add honey to make it more palatable if you wish and store in a closed container (I use a mason jar) in the fridge for a month or until your family uses it up and you need to make more!

Elderberries are known to fight off infection, reduce mucus and inflammation, and boost the immune system and are much safer (and probably more effective) than the over the counter alternative.

We take this syrup a couple of times a week for prevention and a couple of times a day if we feel the sickies coming on. You can also purchase elderberry syrup at your natural grocery store, but why not when you can make it in bulk on the cheap at home and know it doesn't have any additives?

Taking these measures on top of continuing to nurse makes me feel okay about sitting in the toddler section of the library listening to seven other kids cough. We've been going weekly all winter and have stayed healthy so far!