To make a long story short, in September of 2015, we started trying to have baby #2. This was later than what we had wanted to start trying, but we didn't have much of a choice because some complications from Brooklyn's birth needed to heal before we could have another baby. I was excited to start trying and was very good at convincing myself that we were pregnant multiple times, only to later realize that we weren't.
Fast forward to a year later, and I was starting to get a little bit frustrated, because we still weren't pregnant. Why wasn't this working?! I was ready, and we weren't having success or really any chance of success yet.
The next month, I started to experience the new emotional symptoms (the ones that I've written about on this blog) that suddenly shifted my whole world. Everything crumbled beneath me, and I literally thanked Heavenly Father every day that I wasn't pregnant or didn't have a newborn at that time, because if everything would have worked according to my plan, that would have been the case, and there was no way I could have handled that at that time.
Suddenly, I didn't want to hold a baby, see a baby, hear a baby, etc. because the thought of ever having another baby seemed impossible and completely overwhelming to me. I was already convinced that I was failing my one child, so the thought of bringing another child into our home was not a possibility in my mind. I could do it again if all of this emotional struggle stopped, but otherwise, we would have to be done and appreciate the one sweet little girl we were blessed with. Those seemed like the only two options.
About six months later, I was still in the depths of emotional struggle, when I felt the very distinct feeling that we needed to start trying to have a baby again. I was taken back by this feeling because 1) I hadn't felt the Spirit or anything like this in months, 2) I wasn't "better" yet like I thought I had to be before we could have another baby, and 3) I was terrified! Literally nothing scared me more than having a newborn and taking on more in my life, when simple things like doing the dishes and staying out of bed seemed impossibly difficult tasks to accomplish every day. It was especially difficult to imagine, because my last pregnancy, I was an emotional wreck and cried nearly every day for the whole 9 months. I couldn't imagine adding more emotions to what I was already experiencing on a daily basis.
I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before that Heavenly Father would show me how this would work out. If I could just see what was to come, then I could do it. I knew I could if things were going to get better, but otherwise, I couldn't. I didn't know how. It seemed impossible. I kept praying, but I didn't get any kind of confirmation that things would be okay or that I would be able to handle it. All I felt over and over and over again was that I needed to move forward in faith and trust in the things I couldn't see or understand at the time.
With more fear than I've ever felt in my life and with the love and support and strength of my husband holding me up, I made an appointment with an infertility specialist to help us get pregnant. I still couldn't comprehend how this was going to work, but I moved forward, hoping and praying (and crying every day) that it would all be okay.
Six months after that, we were finally able to try a procedure for the first time, which ended in more emotional pain and turmoil than I have ever experienced and more than I hope to ever experience again. I wanted to take a long, healthy break from all of this, but I knew that I should at least give it one more chance before waiting a while to try again.
The next month, we tried again, skipping the infertility medication this time that had caused so much trouble the time before. The morning of the procedure, I was still somewhat afraid, but I also felt peace. Somehow, I was going to be okay.
Two weeks later, we found out that the procedure had worked, and I honestly cried the happiest of tears that over two years after we started trying, things had finally worked. But even more, I cried happy tears that I was genuinely excited and happy to welcome this sweet baby into our family, a feeling that I had been so conflicted about in the previous months.
Suddenly, the weight that had burdened my shoulders so heavily was gone. At first, I thought it was simply because of the excitement that this new change brought into my life. But it stayed. It didn't leave. There were moments of fear or sadness, but they were so fleeting, and I felt fully capable of talking myself through them until I felt better. I struggled physically in the first trimester and that led to some emotional struggle for a few weeks, but for the most part, I was okay, and peace filled my heart.
While I would say that I have struggled much more physically this entire pregnancy, I have been doing so well emotionally, and for that, I am very very thankful!
For so long, I dreamed of getting to the point of feeling emotionally stable and healthy for long enough that I didn't really even think about mental illness anymore. I dreamed of feeling peace and light for so long that happiness seemed like my normal, not sadness and darkness. I dreamed of reaching the day when I would no longer fear making plans or adding more to my day, because the worry of ending up not feeling well and cancelling would be obsolete.
That day is here, and I could never be more thankful! Not a day goes by that I don't thank Heavenly Father in my prayers for giving me this time of peace and joy.
Quite honestly, reading back through some of my most difficult experiences in the last several years brings me to tears and feels like a dream or another life. Surely I didn't struggle that much. Surely that must be someone else's story, not mine. But it is mine, and I will never ever forget it!
So while this beautiful time of light and peace and joy is here, I want to write a few things that I can hold onto if things get tough again:
- Right now, I am in a very blessed place of being able to serve and give so much to others. It feels wonderful and so so fulfilling! But should I have to cut back again, should I have to simplify my life to the very basics again, including how much and what capacities I am able to serve, it's okay! It's okay to have my best and everything I have to offer be less than what it is right now. It's okay to have to say "no" to take care of myself and my own family first. It's okay to have to be the one asking for and receiving help for a time. That's the beautiful part of life. Sometimes we are on the giving end and sometimes we are on the receiving end, and both are okay!
- I am a good mom. One of the most wonderful and cherished parts of feeling well is recognizing that I am not a failure of a mom. I'm definitely not perfect, but I fully realize that I don't need to be perfect. I'm trying and who I am and what I have to give is enough. My daughter (and now my son coming soon) need me, not some other mom.
- Things always get better. They really do. No matter what kind of pain I may have to experience again in the future or for how long, the light will come again, and it is more than worth it to hold on! This time has been glorious, and I'm so thankful that I'm here to experience it.
- Heavenly Father truly knows what is best. I never thought that I could feel so blessed and emotionally well while being pregnant, especially when the months leading up to getting pregnant were harder than I had ever imagined possible, but Heavenly Father knew what I was capable of and knew that everything would be alright when He gave me that first feeling that it was time to start trying to have a baby again. I would like to say that it won't be hard to trust in the future because of this experience, but I'm sure it will still be difficult when the next struggle comes along. I do hope to remember this experience though and to let it carry me when I am unsure of what Heavenly Father is asking me to do.