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Stress is a thief

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I really don’t like to pull the hormonal card, but for once, I am hoping I can place some blame on the emotional whirlwind that is pregnancy.

I’m not sure this is even related to pregnancy hormones, but I am pretty sure being hormonal doesn’t help rationalize thoughts or back me off the ledge of a mini-meltdown. The past few days I have been feeling oddly distant from my daughter. She is 8 months old and the brightest ray of sunshine on any given day. She is so infectious, and I am more than in love with her. So, the problem (if there is one) isn’t my feelings, but possibly her feelings.

Allow me to back up and provide some reference for the above statement. I have had pretty easy pregnancies. I would describe them both as physically unnoticeable and sometimes emotionally turbulent. I don’t get sick or wiped out, but I do experience an increase in feelings I have a hard time understanding. I analyze more and become inwardly combative with my own thoughts. This manifests on the outside as … stress! I try to live a pretty calm, relaxed life, but certain moments are exceptionally trying, and I lose my cool.

Bellamy is very observant. From birth, she has been a very relaxed, fun-loving child. We like to think this is in part due to our mission to have a home that reflects those attributes. We try to always keep a grand perspective on things, and she seems to respond to whatever we put out there, too. When I have an increase in these moments of stress, I feel as if she doesn’t know how to be around me, or rather, she prefers to be with her dad (or my mom—she watches her two-three times a week for me during work hours). This week in particular has been plagued with a lack of zen, and I feel she is more attached to her dad than ever before.

This is not exactly a bad thing, but it’s something I am learning from, and it makes me a little sad! I opened up to my husband, Matt, about this the other night. I told him I felt she was reacting to my mood swings, and that it was causing her to pull away temporarily. I can’t say I blame her! My husband is a champion at being the calm to my storm when needed, but Bellamy doesn’t know how to cope. We were at dinner one evening, and she just seemed to have a hard time being comfortable in my arms. I tried and tried to find a place of common ground with her, but it honestly just added to whatever pent up stress I was feeling at the moment. Even if on the outside I seemed normal, I knew (and she knew, too) I was a mess.

Matt, as always, tried to be a voice of reason.

“Lauren, you’re pregnant. We are busy, and it’s something we don’t really talk about right now, but you are pregnant! You are going to experience moments of stress. You have a lot going on inside of you. Let me be Bellamy’s resting place right now while you focus on you. We take turns on being this for one another. There have been plenty of times you had an inner balance and I didn’t. Let me be that when you don’t have it, either.”

Comforting and hard to hear when you want to be everything to everyone, especially the people most important to you. I honestly cried. Having a child is hard because they don’t exist within the realm of social cues and people-pleasing like adults do. She is simply reacting and expressing herself the only way she knows how, and if she is more comfortable with someone else at dinnertime or nighttime, I can’t take it too personally. It just hurts my heart a little bit.

Because every pregnancy is different, I know this may not be a feeling or experience shared by many mothers. Babies grow up in different homes, and “normal vs. abnormal” varies greatly from person to person. For my family, we are always together. We function as a unit, which is why hormonal hell is a bit disruptive. If I weren’t pregnant, I wonder if this would bother me the same way, or if I would be able to compartmentalize it differently. Either way, I am very, very thankful for Matt. I am certainly not complaining about the amazing father he is, or the attentive, patient, understanding and sensitive husband is, too. I am blessed—I know!

I also have to realize that Bellamy is her own person. She wasn’t created to fulfill me as an individual. She can have preferences and opinions that may make me feel inadequate or inferior. It’s obviously not what I hope for, but I have to remind myself she will continue to grow in her identity, and I have to keep mine in check, too. As infants, it’s so easy to immediately identify as this tiny baby’s everything. The moment they start to exercise independence can also act as a heart-check for moms. I can’t be offended. I just have to have grace with myself and try to be better next time. There is no “best parent” award given to the parent the child chooses in the moment, and my goal is to constantly build Matt up and celebrate with him in his relationship and bond he builds with her!

This past week has prompted me to make a few changes. I started utilizing my commute to work to help start my day on a good note, no matter what traffic looks like or how I am feeling. I began listing to audiobooks to feel I am incorporating knowledge of something new into my day. I also started praying and meditating to achieve some clarity each morning and not start my day in a reactive mode. I don’t check social media accounts until these things are done, and I am slowly cutting out caffeine in hopes of eliminating any excess stress-inducers. It may sound silly, but it helps me to feel I am taking control over a problem instead of being victimized by it.

As I am nearing the weekend, I know it will just be me and Bellamy! Her dad works weekends, and I am really looking forward to that time with her. I miss her, and I want to spend some time connecting with her again. Life can get so busy, and someone of us wear it on the outside. But every night while attempting to sleep, I thank God over and over for the health of my family and that they both are sleeping soundly next to me (B’s crib is only a few feet away). I remind myself I have everything I need—something Matt tells himself every day on the way to work. I hope I can get a grip on these moments of stress and turn them into mini-victories in my day. That would be something I would love for my children to see in me … someone who takes ownership over their mood and learns to really live in the moment-to-moment of every experience.

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