My Second Pregnancy And Postpartum Anxiety

second-pregnancy-postpartumI tried to come up with a clever title for this article, but I just could not seem to fit the words together in a rhythmic way. I want to share with you how I am feeling about enduring my second pregnancy and how I am feeling about postpartum anxiety.

My first child will be turning two in November. Being a mother is incredible and every bit rewarding. I love watching my son master new skills and gain a wider vocabulary. The joy I have received from mothering is indescribable. However, despite the joy that has swirled around in my heart, I have also battled a force I was not prepared for: postpartum anxiety. For nearly 9 months following the birth of my son I experienced the worse case of anxiety I have ever dealt with. It was dark, it was dreary, it was horrible.

I had prepared myself for depression and what some call the “baby blues,” but I had no idea that some women can experience postpartum anxiety. I was paranoid about everything, I feared everything, and I lost more sleep than the normal new parent, because I thought death was impending. This problem negatively affected my marriage relationship because I didn’t fully comprehend all that was going on with my body. That uncertainty made it very difficult for me to think about my husband’s needs, and it also made difficult my ability to keep my attitude in check. We fought often.

After a few doctor visits I finally found out that my thyroid played a huge role in the anxiety I was experiencing. {I talk about that in an article titled: Living With Thyroid Problems.} I praise God that my body finally balanced itself out, with only a few lingering effects that still rise up from time to time.

What I endured through those first 9 months of postpartum was enough to keep me far from ever thinking about having another child. But then, as time went on, a desire in my heart for another child grew wildly. I tried to push it away, in fear of experiencing another rough recovery, but God kept bringing it back with a gentle reminder that He wants me to trust Him with every aspect of my life.

Well, in August I found out that my husband and I are expecting our second child. We both are over the moon for the opportunity to extend our family. Although I have joyfully embraced this second pregnancy, the thought of postpartum anxiety has definitely crossed my mind more than a few times. And each time I have to remind myself that God is in control and that I need to trust in Him. My fears are based on “what if’s,” circumstances that might happen but are not guaranteed. What I need to have is faith, confidence that no matter what happens God is going to help me through it.

I also wrangled up a friend who is going to walk through my pregnancy and postpartum recovery with me. Someone who I can talk to about all that I experience so that I do not get sucked back into the darkness that is anxiety. I am also very blessed to have a husband who is willing to be patient and share encouraging words with me, also reminding me to trust in God every step of the way.

I am curious to know if you ever experienced postpartum anxiety or depression and how you felt going into a second or more pregnancy? Let us all learn from each other’s experiences, please share in the comments!  


– Jennifer Smith   Unveiledwife.com

How The Environment May Be Hurting Your Marriage

environment

My husband and I could not wait to get married. Our hearts were anxious to fully express our love for each other and we looked forward to the day we would be united as one.

Our expectations of married life were shattered as we faced our first hardship as husband and wife on our wedding night. As we pursued sexual intimacy, pain inflamed my body. We tried to laugh off the disappointment, as if we needed time to figure out what we were trying to do and do it right. We both thought it might take a few days to get use to.

However, weeks turned into years, and we were still struggling. Our lack of sexual intimacy became a catalyst for bad attitudes, intensifying other marital stressors.

Over three years time my marriage broke down and we were on the verge of divorce. But God was not willing to abandon us! He saved our marriage from ruin and He showed us something quite incredible, something I believe everyone should be aware of.

One day my husband was inspired to think about the environment. A conversation with a friend of ours about a woman with PCOS sparked the investigation which you can read HERE. My husband wondered if there was something in the environment that was affecting my body and causing the pain I experienced during sex.

Sure enough my husband came across ingredients he found in my face wash – which I had been using for about five years - that were called “parabens” and after some internet research found them to be endocrine disruptors. He urged me to stop using this product and any other personal care products that had parabens, and within a weeks time my body was healed, our sexlife was healed!

I know this might sound crazy, but this discovery has radically impacted my life in a positive way. I cannot help but wonder how many other issues married couples are facing that can be attributed to the environment.

God built our bodies with an intelligent design. We have so many different parts working together to help us function properly. The enemy on the other hand, is working tirelessly to destroy what God has created. I believe over the years, he has used people to taint the environment in such a way, parts of it are affecting us in negative ways.

If you, your husband or even your children seem to be suffering because of a dysfunction in the body, and no one knows why, I urge you to take a closer look at the environment. Investigate what ingredients you are exposed to through putting something on your skin or what you are putting in your mouth. Pay attention to the details and consider how your body may be sensitive to certain ingredients.

I think it is extremely important for every person to understand how our bodies can be affected by our environment. You will be your greatest advocate!

I shared about this topic a few Mondays ago in an online marriage retreat that I would love to invite you to check out! If you are interested visit Embrace Your Marriage!

– Jennifer Smith

UnveiledWife.com

What I Did When My Husband Confronted My Parenting

confronted

My husband sat across from me over breakfast. Our son sat in his highchair playing and eating. It was over this morning meal my husband confronted me about my parenting.

He gently and respectfully asked,

“Honey, what has changed with you when it comes to feeding our son? We use to be on the same page, but lately I feel like you have thrown out things we have agreed on. You give him whatever you want to and disregard what I think is appropriate.”

I immediately wanted to defend my parenting abilities. I wanted to justify why I give my child portions of things that are not nutritionally valuable including: I don’t want him to miss out, he is over one so its ok, and a little won’t hurt him. I heard these excuses jump out of my mouth before I could soundly consider them. None of which answered my husband’s question as to why I decided to deviate from the plan without his consideration. I wanted to fight for what I had done, for the choices I’d advocated for our son, and for the example I lead in my own eating habits, but as I was confronted, God showed me the best thing I could do was apologize.

I wasn’t able to apologize right away because my flesh always gets in the way of that! We got hung up on a few frustrating arguments surrounded around he said/she said, what was generally said and exactly mentioned. Then finally I came around…

“I am so sorry. I am aware that I lack self-control when it comes to my eating habits and I am sure that a part of me that justifies poor eating for me, also does the same thing with our son. I am also sorry for choosing to disregard decisions we made as a family to offer him healthy food over junk food. That was disrespectful of me. I want to be on the same page with you as we parent together.”

Those words took a little more effort to blurt out than the ones that seem so confident about justifying poor behavior. But once said, I realized how much they were truly needed.

My husband is a patient man. Although he had made small comments here and there over the last few months to encourage healthy eating, I pushed his words and his intentions to parent a specific way aside, pridefully believing that it would be ok.

The truth is that I neglected to follow through on goals we made together to feed our son in a healthy way. Although my son receives some of the best nutritional food on the market, I was sneaking him ice cream bites, cookies, crackers, fries and many more types of foods that are not as nutritional all under the banner of acceptability. I told myself a little won’t hurt him, in fact he will love it!

If my actions were never confronted by my husband, I could have been a catalyst for poor eating throughout my child’s life. If I am not careful, I still can be. The choices I make for my son will influence how he makes decisions as an adult. I am helping shape him.

Parenting also affects marriage. If my parenting disrespects my husband the contention from that will cause strife and bitterness. It is vital that I am aware of the choices I make in parenting and consider how they will affect my marriage.  All of which I should be submitting to God.

I believe it is important for husbands and wives to parent on the same page and give each other room to confront each other. We are our children’s greatest advocates and there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that, there nutrition being a big part. After being confronted, I was humbled and then I was inspired to make changes to better the quality of life my family experiences. I want to respect the goals my husband and I make together and I want to help advocate for good clean eating, as well as so much more.

If any of you have been confronted as a parent, especially if your spouse confronted you, I urge you to grip the defense that wants to fight and prayerfully consider if God wants to use that confrontation to show you how you can be better!

– Jennifer Smith   Unveiledwife.com 

Why Your Husband May Not Be The Problem…

nottheproblemAhhhhhh! I walked into the bathroom and slammed the door behind me! I was confident my dramatic outburst would show my husband just how much he was hurting me. I desired reconciliation, but more so I wanted him to understand my perspective. I wanted him to admit that he was wrong and validate my feelings through a sincere apology. Until then I would camp out in the bathroom and withhold my heart from him.

With my back against the wall, I refused to look at the situation from a different point of view. My convictions were powerful, convincing me I did not need to reassess in any way. Motivated by fear, I could not comprehend, nor receive or extend grace for my behavior or his. I just didn’t know how to let go of the emotions swirling inside my heart and mind.

In the early years of my marriage, my husband and I fought daily. I often thought to myself, who is this guy? My husband was not living up to my expectations of a husband and I doubted the love we had. With every contention that boiled between us I stewed in my frustration desiring nothing more than my husband to surrender.

I was convinced that he was the problem for our marital misfortune.

I even prayed to God and asked him to change my husband. I could not stop believing that he was the reason we fought and hurt so much. I also told my husband how he was the problem and how changing his ways would heal everything.

The real problem was me.

I failed to recognize how I was contributing to our marital fights. Living in denial, I was not willing to accept the truth that my character was flawed, that I had sin that was affecting my husband, that I was imperfect.

It took a few years, but God finally got through to me. He unveiled me and helped me get to know the real me. I experienced God’s amazing grace and it felt so good. I grasped an understanding I never had before, that it was ok I failed and that God loved me no matter what, that I had the opportunity to extend grace to my husband, and that grace is a gift that can be given at any moment not necessarily after an apology.

Grace is bigger than fear!

God showed me areas of my life in need of transformation. He also transformed those areas and behold many of my marital fights dissipated. I learned how receiving grace and extending grace could transform marriage!

God also taught me that it is good to pray for my husband and it was necessary. However, it was all the more crucial that I pray for myself and allow God room to move in my heart.

For those of you who may be in the midst of a marital battle or believing that your husband is wholly responsible for your unhappiness, I want to share this simple truth with you today. Your husband may not be the problem! I know this sounds harsh, and I don’t want it to hurt you. I just want you to be aware that marriage is affected by both you AND your husband. I am not saying your husband is not influencing how certain situations erupt, I am simply addressing that you play a very vital role as an influencer as well. The point is not whether your husband is at fault, he very well may be, the point is that no matter who is at fault, you are responsible for you! Only you can make a heart change in your heart, and that ability is invaluable to marriage.

I wish as a new wife that I had recognized how powerful my actions affected our marriage. I wish that someone had urged me not to blame my husband for everything. I wish someone was firm with me and shook me out of my selfish way of thinking. I wish I had always known grace. Yet, I know now and I share it with you now!

I urge you to pray and ask God to unveil you. Ask God to show you areas of your life that need to be transformed and then ask Him to renew you! Receive grace from God for your past and ask God to help you extend grace to your husband. God will honor your humility and your marriage will benefit greatly as God molds your heart. And don’t stop praying for your husband too! Ask God to speak truth into your husband’s life and to transform him as well.

Marriage can either be a tug-of-war led by pride or it can be a river running in one direction guided by the banks of humility.

Have you ever been convinced that your husband is the problem with disregard to your behavior?

– Jennifer Smith    UnveiledWife.com

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