Tomorrow is Isaac's 4 month birthday...
I haven't made it to church today because of the snow...and as I've pottered around at home, feeding Button, chatting to Bean, tidying and such like...I've been thinking about how far we've come.
I've blogged before about how things didn't quite turn out as we expected (here) with the birth and the early days and while there is an unquencable joy now that Isaac is here and we feel complete as a family, it has definitely taken it's toll, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Being poorly over the last few weeks has given me lots of time at home...good in one sense, unhelpful too. I have a positive attitude to my days sometimes, usually at the end of a day I feel I've 'wasted', but often by the next morning I get taken over with the magnitude of the difficulties of getting out the house, looking presentable and so convince myself to do nothing, stay in, hibernate. Unhealthy yes, avoidable yes - but can I bothered to fight that feeling? At the moment, no I can't.
Isaac takes a lot out of me - he feeds 'aggressively', usually emptying me in 10-15 minutes and he feeds 7 times a day. He sleeps though, naps in the day usually morning and afternoon and that is such a blessing. We've just started dropping the dream feed at 10.30pm to see if he can go through from 7-7 and he's managed it, almost! He's such a chilled out baby, full of smiles and 'almost' laughing - I'm very lucky but I do think that the initial (and to some extent, ongoing) concerns about his weight have dented my confidence and ramped up the protective urges so that I'd rather stick with the safe and the comfortable.
As an Extrovert (ESFJ to be precise) it's intrigued me that I have so easily moved into a very introverted place where people actually tire me out. I have very rarely had that before and it's a bit upsetting. I know much of that is down to hormones and the huge rate of change we have experienced over the past few months...but it's none the less weird. I've been to a couple of baby groups in the last few weeks, but mostly they seem to have mums with only 1 child and so there's a different feel to the conversation. New, first time mums are anxious, understandably and I find it rubbing off on me. The upshot is that I haven't found going to those groups enjoyable so far. I am sure that will change but until it does I'm not going to force myself into that situation when I do have other people who are established friends, some with babies, some not and with whom I am much more relaxed.
The question for me, and I know for others who are watching out for me is "how long is it OK to go on feeling low"? Post Natal depression is a factor to consider...it looks so different in each person and I am wise to it..I know that I could do so much more to help myself, but I'm choosing not to, at the moment. We had a great day out in London last week to see my new boss Bishop consecrated but it exhausted me. A recent blip in relationship with some close friends has forced me to recognise that I don't currently have access to 100% of my emotional resources...and so incidents or unexpected issues knock me down much quicker than they used to. My juggling capacity is diminished and yet I know it will return.
Being at home, not feeling myself and all that has also been a real challenge to my faith too...we're embarking on a life which is going to see us moving from church to church over the next few years and although I know we will make friends, connect with people, grow in community, meet with People of Peace it's a very daunting prospect. For now, I believe God is speaking to me about establishing a strong family of faith, growing in prayer and worship in our own home and using our home as a space to welcome others and forge friendships in an 'extended family'. It's been a challenge up until now because of me not feeling up to regular hospitality...and frustratingly, the snow today has forced us to cancel a lunch with another family from church.
For us, the Order of Mission is very important in keeping connected, vulnerable, accountable and safe as we walk this journey in full time Christian ministry, with a role and expectations. To be connected to a Covenant Community who share the same Rule of Life, language and missional focus is a reality check in times when things are scrambled and don't make sense.
The Order of Mission is a place of challenge and I'm really grateful to those in that community who, even in my slightly fragile state at the moment, seek to help us through accountability and those tough questions.
So, 4 months in, lots has changed and I feel I am being moulded and reformed into quite a new creation - again! As a full time mummy, I get such a kick from the smallest things; when I was working it always seemed to be about bigger, better, more successful. But the mundaneness of being focused solely at home is starting to push my buttons in an unhelpful way and I'm praying for strength to gather myself together and face each day with renewed vision.
Isaiah 40:31 from the Message is the foundation I am standing on:
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.