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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Awkward Phase

The other day, I was sitting in a circle with a group of very beautiful, very trendy women from my church. Two of them were pregnant with their first, and the other's son was in between my two girls. We started talking about the "awkward stage" that most teenagers go through. You know, when you're in between being a kid and suddenly thrust into full-fledged puberty before you even know what hit you.

Suddenly, your body is expanding in ways that you never knew existed. Your hair is suddenly greasy, your skin breaks out, your teeth are in braces, and you don't quite know what to do with this suddenly bigger body. Especially for me. This all began when I was 9 and by the time I was 12, I was a full grown woman. Eventually, you read some magazines, talk to some other girls about what they do, and figure out how to dress appropriately for your figure and use makeup to cover up the acne until it finally dies out on its own.

Slowly but surely, you feel good about yourself again. As you grow into an adult, you feel confident with yourself, your body, and your accomplishments. You feel so confident in who you are that you are able to attract a mate and get married. Life is good. You have finally accomplished what you longed for all those years as you cried out to God to change you and help you find the One.

Then, something happens. All of your friends that got married around the same time start getting pregnant and having babies. You watch them as they grow and suddenly, there is a longing in your heart once again not for the One, but for many. So, you start "trying", and for me, it took 8 months before it finally worked. 8 months of crying every time I got my cycle because it meant that I wasn't pregnant again. Then, finally, the pregnancy test comes up positive. Hooray! Now, what you longed for has been accomplished!

For me, pregnancy wasn't the smooth sailing that it seemed to be for all my friends around me. At around 5 months, I was so swollen I couldn't wear my rings anymore. By 7 months, I was so uncomfortable I could barely walk or function. By the time Sommer was born at 37 weeks, I was so swollen that my eyelids, my nose, and my ears were swollen. I had pre-eclampsia, and if I had gone 12 more hours, the doctor said that I could have died. But, Sommer was safe and sound and healthy, and that's all that mattered.

Except, she was tounge-tied, so she had a REALLY hard time feeding. I knew how important breastfeeding was, so I kept at it even when it was difficult. Finally, at about 5 months old, she "got it" and everything was smooth sailing. And then, when Sommer was 5 1/2 months old, I got pregnant with Harmony, but didn't find out for nearly 9 weeks. So, there was this period where I was trying to figure out why I was eating right and working out, yet feeling tired and gaining weight. I went to the doctor and he told me, "Eat less and excercise more." Duh. No help, at all. Finally, I figured it out on my own, and found myself pregnant while raising a baby. It was difficult, but we were able to get through it.

Once Harmony was born, a lot of things all happened at once. The first two months, she screamed and cried and I had no idea why. Later on, I figured out that she had a really severe milk allergy, and so I cut out the milk in my diet, which I read later has calming effects on the body, and can work as an anti-depressant.

About this same time, around Christmas, we were in Target and tried on some hats to be silly. A couple days later, my head was itching and so was Sommer's. I looked at her head and saw something suddenly crawl across her head, and it confirmed my worst fear: we had lice. I reached out the only way I knew how. I wrote it on facebook and tried to get advice and help from all my friends. However, instead of the words of encouragement and you'll get through this, I got reactions of disgust and repulsion. The worst statement that still runs through my head was, "Are you going to the Christmas party? Really? If you are, I'm not."

That sunk me into about a year of post-partum depression, and one of the hardest times of my life since I was that awkward teen. Everything that I knew, everything that I had clung to and was a part of how I valued and defined myself, was suddenly ripped from my arms. My body was awkward again. My hair went from being pretty and wavy to weird and almost straight. My face and body broke out again due to the post-pregnancy hormones. I was having hot flashes and mood swings that were off the charts. I related more to peri-menepausal women than I did the people that I had considered my friends.

Somehow, I got through that year, but sometimes I feel like it was by the skin of my teeth. I made it a point to reach out to people and I repaired the relationship that had been damaged by the hurtful comment. Slowly but surely, I began to redefine myself the way I had when I was a teen. Brian, my husband, got interested in fashion and started picking out clothes that he felt made me look attractive. Because he saw me that way, I began feeling attractive again, and I emerged from my awkward stage into something more.

We are currently trying for more, but I found out the last time that I went to the OB that I have PCOS, a condition that makes it difficult to get pregnant and has a whole host of other symptoms, including depression. I'm praying for more. The vision that I have is for 4 kids, but only God knows the number for sure. Until then, I enjoy my almost 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old with joy. God is good, and He brings us through every season and shows us a lot along the way. More than anything else, I know that my life is in His hands, and I can't do it on my own. Every time I try, I fail, so I give the reigns to Him daily.

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