the truth behind a smile.

Recently, this POST has been all over my Facebook and I knew I had to comment on it. Please go and read that post and watch the news clip, and then meet me back here. My prayers are with Allison's family, especially her sweet baby girl and husband as they grieve over awful loss. 

The American Psychological Association states that 1-in-7 women will experience postpartum depression after having a baby. When a healthy new baby is brought into the world, there's so much smiling going on. I remember all too well smiling for the camera and pretending like I finally had more joy in my life than I ever thought imaginable. Sadly, for myself and for so many other new moms the smiles do not tell the whole story. Off camera, something else is going on.

There's nothing in life to prepare a new mom for the amount of change she will face once baby arrives. There are the ever-fluctuating hormones, there's breastfeeding, the exhaustion that comes from sleepless nights, physical pain recovering from birthing a child, and the fact that you now have a little human to keep alive. For many moms, this leads to postpartum depression; something not to be taken lightly.

Allison, this new mom, suffered from postpartum depression and she sadly lost her life to it. On the outside though, she seemed to be doing just fine. Her friends and family even repetitively asked her if she was doing okay. This could lead someone to think, Well, what else is there to do in order to find out if someone is silently suffering alone?? How do you know the truth behind that white smile? Although I don't have a clear answer for it, I do know what helped me. 

Each day brings it's own set of challenges and like the wind you never know which way it will blow. There were some days where I desperately needed someone to talk to and then other days when I just needed time alone without a care in the world. What I appreciated the most is when my family and friends checked in specifically with me and not just on my baby.

Questions that can help are simple:

"How are you healing?" 

"Do you need to get out of the house while I stay here with the baby?"

"What time of the day is the most difficult for you?"

"Want to get out of the house and come over?"

"Hey, it's okay if you aren't feeling yourself yet. Do you want to talk about it?"

Allison in one of her emails to her family said she did not know how to explain the emotional pain she was experiencing and this is something that really resonated with me. I clearly recall sitting outside on the curb trying to find reasons why I could not experience any joy and nothing would come to mind. I simply did not feel myself. As an extrovert, the hardest thing for me was feeling trapped. I felt guilty telling people that I did not want to spend all day cleaning up and nursing my baby and instead wanted some socialization and freedom from it all. Any mom who deals with postpartum depression will experience it in different ways. Some like to talk about it (like I needed to), some keep it in, some are ashamed, some do not know they are experiencing it. 

If you are going to be a new mom or if you know someone who is having a baby soon, please learn to know the signs. Know that it is okay and common to experience postpartum depression and that there is help available. Some may need medical help or just some medicine, others social help, etc. Whatever the remedy, this is not something that needs to be gone through alone. It was not until I voiced and cried my heart out to my mom that I realized what I was suffering from PPD and that a lot of other women around me were going through something similar. The smiles in our newborn photo shoots, my happy Facebook posts, and happy demeanor did not tell the whole story. I cannot speak for Allison and do not know the severity of what she went through, but if there is a way we can make postpartum a more talked about topic then maybe we can help more women walk together in this. No one should have to be alone. We are not alone.

Did you or does someone you know suffer from postpartum depression? Did you experience PPD with any of your other children? What helped you the most to talk about what you were going through? What was the most unhelpful?

Smiling in this picture but silently suffering. Ironically, the picture below with me holding Max I am not smiling but was filled with nothing but joy.

Smiling in this picture but silently suffering. Ironically, the picture below with me holding Max I am not smiling but was filled with nothing but joy.

i hate cancer.

Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center

Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
— Galatians 6:2
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
— Philippians 4:6

 

Cancer sucks. I do not know anyone who has not been personally affected by cancer. There is always a family member or a friend who has it. With the help of social media our family has been able to pray for many people whom we have never met face-to-face but who have had cancer. I want to take a few minutes to share some stories of these families and would ask that you please pray for comfort and peace for these sweet people. 

God calls us to bear one another's burdens and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So with that I hope you will please come alongside these families. Also, please add in the comments anyone that you know who is battling cancer that we can pray for.

Pray for the LaSource Family

Last week sweet little Ryan died of cancer at the age of 3.5 years old. He had been diagnosed with AML at the age of 5.5 months and battled cancer four times. His bravery, sense of humor, and love for his family was so remarkable to watch on Facebook over these past few years. Please pray for his entire family but especially for his mom and dad Lauren and Austin who were by his side throughout his entire journey. Ryan is now in heaven where he will never shed a tear or suffer again and now his community, family, and friends will put his earthly body to rest this week. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, but to watch his parents faithfulness and trust in God despite all of these trials has truly encouraged me in every way possible. 

Picture from Ryan's Facebook Page 

Picture from Ryan's Facebook Page 


Pray for Martin Meyers

picture by inframesphotograpgy

picture by inframesphotograpgy

Emily blogs over at The Freckled Fox and is mom to 5 amazing little kids and the wife of Martin Meyers. Emily's blog covers a variety of topics from family to beauty to fitness. 

Around a year ago Emily found out that her husband Martin was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. For months Emily has had to balance caring for their 5 kids and her sick husband. She posted here a few days ago that he may only have a few short weeks left to live and is in a lot of pain as the cancer has spread. Emily has stood by her husbands side through all of his treatments, ER visits, and has done so with love and patience. I cannot count how many times she has posted on Instagram a picture of her husband in bed sick and she would still find some ounce of joy or encouragement to share. Her strength through all of this is something you only read about in stories. 

This family is so beautiful and kind and needs our prayers. Pray that Martin's pain would be managed, that Emily would be comforted as she makes some hard decisions, for their 5 kids, and that they would make some sweet memories over the next few weeks. 

Picture by justin hackworth 

Picture by justin hackworth 

You can help support the Meyers family by donating to their YouCaring Page HERE


Pray for Kicker

Kicker was diagnosed at 2 years old with ALL in December of 2013. Kicker's mom Season Johnson has made it her mission to educate families on how to heal bodies with food, detoxing, chiropractic care, essential oils, and how to find the underlying causes of medical issues. Season is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and has started the KICKcancER movement to help bring awareness to families who have love ones suffering from cancer to kick cancer by coming alongside modern medicine with a healthy lifestyle. Her son has thrived through years of treatments and has amazed me with how well he lives life all the while receiving chemo therapy. 

Kicker is also the coolest kid around because he eats so so well. Follow their journey on Facebook and take a look at some of his favorite foods (fermented sauerkraut, organ meats, bone broth, berries, coconut oil, kale, root vegetables, you name it). This Paleo kid does not look like your typical cancer patient and he continues to thrive thanks to God. Please pray for full healing of his body and that he would continue to experience low side effects to his treatment.

You can see what his movement is all about HERE and learn how they incorporate a healthy lifestyle to their everyday regime with dealing with childhood cancer. 

Thank you for reading these stories and caring the burden of these sweet families. Is there a Facebook page or blog that you follow who is also battling cancer or another type of life-threatening disease? If so please comment below and let us know. 

[Pray also for Hope, Melissa, Ella, Gina S., Caleb, Dora R., Doug R.)

when to get help.

If you are a first time mom it might be hard to discern whether or not you need help. Do you have the baby blues or is it postpartum depression? For me I kept thinking each week that I was suffering with the baby blues and would just wait for the crying and emotions to subside. I remember sitting in my doctors office gripping the table as for her to not see my hands trembling. I was afraid to admit I had a problem and needed help, so I lied and told her things were getting better.

What she didn't know was that I was suffering so bad that I would get anxiety attacks from around 8PM-6AM daily. I dreaded sitting in my rocking chair to nurse Calvin and having to stare at the night light while hearing my family enjoying life beyond my trapped bedroom doors. I felt guilty and not normal for not loving my healthy baby and as a result, I do not remember anything about Calvin as a newborn. I dreaded not getting enough sleep for fear of not being able to function the next day. I wish I had known that this was not an easy fix. I wish I had known that there were other people struggling with the same thing, and medicine to help me through these tough transitions. 

Thanks to my dear friend, JG, whose precious son was only three weeks older than Calvin, I was slowly able to realize that I might actually need help. She explained to me what the "baby blues" was like, and how the blues had gone away rather quickly for her. But I felt as though what I was experiencing was something far different, and maybe more extreme.

It is absolutely crucial to be open and honest with your family and doctors about the emotions that come after giving birth. Sharing your thoughts and talking about your frustrations and anxiety in itself proves to be beneficial. Especially if you have never dealt with depression prior to having a baby, not being warned of the possibility of baby blues or postpartum depression can leave you feeling so lost. If I had been somehow warned about the aftermath of having a baby, I would have realized the importance of speaking up earlier, vs. waiting months and months for it to end.

When a friend of mine has a baby (whether it's their first or fifth), I can easily tell if they are going through these fourth trimester emotions. A few texts and a phone call, or bringing them a meal helps me to see if they may need some support. *Note: I'm thankful for the handful of friends who have easily transitioned into motherhood with little complications.

I encourage you to try to talk to moms who have recently given birth, even if they seem to be doing okay. Try to offer them practical help and support, such as the following:

  • Come over and ask if they need help. Give them specifics like help with laundry, or dinner prep.
     
  • Bring them a meal and be sure to ask them what they like.
     
  • Bring them a nice candle, and maybe some lotion.
     
  • Offer to hold their baby, so they can shower.
     
  • Ask them if they need anything from the store.
     
  • Never over-extend your welcome. Remember that new moms get tired quickly!
     
  • Invite her out for a cup of coffee and help her load up (and unload) the car.
     
  • Help clean/tidy up her house.
     
  • Call and text a few days later to ask if she would like some more company.

The moment when I looked down at my perfect baby and felt...absolutely nothing. The moment when...postpartum began.