Thursday, April 19, 2012

All the World's a Stage...

Yesterday, our new bedroom furniture was delivered. I let my daughter into the room to see it, and she immediately climbed up on the platform bed and started dancing, stomping, tapping, and skipping around for much longer than her toddler attention span would normally last. When my husband got home from work, she treated him to an encore performance. (And after she went to bed, as we put the mattress in place and made the bed, I felt horribly guilty for depriving her of a dance stage just because of our selfish desire for a comfortable place to sleep.)

I captured a couple of great videos, which I shared with friends and family on Facebook. Everyone says that we should sign her up for tap dance lessons, but that's just a small part of what was going through my head as I watched her dance...

To my daughter:

Adoption involves so many unknowns. In the beginning, all those unknowns can be really hard and challenging. But today, as I watched you dance, I realized that the unknowns can be beautiful and magical too.

Because your Papa and I are both engineers, I tend to assume that your little brother is predestined to grow up to be an engineer, or something similar. My family's strong German pragmatism is almost inevitable.

But you are a Mystery. We know very little about your biological family-- just some names and a little bit of medical information-- so we have no idea what you might grow up to be or to do. Your DNA is your own secret, and since we don't know your history, we can't make assumptions about your future.

So I'm simply going to assume that you have artists, and actors, and athletes, and academics inside of you. I don't know what's in your "nature" so I just hope to nurture you in anything that sparks your interest, whether that includes dance lessons, or musical instruments, or art supplies, or soccer cleats, or cooking classes, or power tools... (And of course, I promise that you will always have plenty of opportunities to go skiing.)

We've been given a magical seed. As your parents, our job is to plant you in a loving home, provide you with the things you need to grow and develop, and protect and watch over you.

You are my beautiful, funny, clever, sweet daughter. You are already so much more than I ever imagined. And my heart is overflowing with happiness because I have the incredible privilege of watching you grow and blossom. You have been, and will always be, a wonderful surprise.

Friday, January 13, 2012

And now back to the good stuff...

So in my previous post, I probably under-emphasized the fact that, after a long run of bad luck, my life has gotten much, much better in the past year and a half.

Here are the highlights:

  • In June 2010, we adopted a beautiful baby girl, who brings sunshine into our lives every single day.

  • Last May, just as we were starting the process to adopt again, I was surprised to discover that I was pregnant. We had a few scary moments along the way, but our son was born in November, healthy and perfect. He was very small (3 lbs) at birth, but he has been making good progress at catching up to the size he ought to be!

  • (That's a standard-hospital-issue pacifier in his mouth, by the way. I realize it looks a little strange because he's so tiny!)

  • I still love my job-- I get to work from home, I have a flexible schedule, and I really enjoy what I do.

Depression is a Lying Bastard

So in case you haven't noticed, it's been awhile since I've written anything here.

I could say that life has been busy, but the truth is much more complicated than that. The reason why I stopped writing is because life got very, very hard for a long, long while. And then, even after things started to get better, I felt like somehow I wasn't entitled to just pick back up where I left off without giving some sort of explanation about where I'd been.

It feels dishonest to only write about good, happy, strong stuff, while sweeping sadness and weakness under the rug. And the honest truth is that I suffered from clinical depression for about a year. It makes me uncomfortable to admit to that, because I like to think of myself as a strong person, and there is absolutely nothing that feels weaker or more worthless than Depression.

In my head, I always think of it as Depression, because it really is totally different than the "I'm feeling depressed because I hate my job" sort of thing that everyone experiences. Depression means crying every single day. It means stumbling through life in a haze. It means not being able to focus on anything. Except, of course, when you're lying awake at night, tormented by horrible, evil thoughts.

I read something recently that challenged me to see my experience with Depression in a new way:

"When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker…but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand."

This post made me realize that damaged relationships are a sort of comorbidity of Depression and that I won't be fully recovered until I repair the friendships that got injured along the way. I'm making this my New Year's Resolution.

I also need to take a moment to say that I will forever be grateful to my wonderful husband, who never, ever stopped fighting for me:

"I celebrate the fact that you may not understand the battle, but you pick up the baton dropped by someone you love until they can carry it again."

I want to believe that my Depression was an isolated event, a single episode, which only happened because I was absolutely battered by wave after wave of horrible, traumatic bad luck. I hope that's the case, because it would make me relatively lucky. Depression is more typically an illness that comes and goes throughout a person's life. And maybe mine is only in remission, and I'll experience it again someday.

I worry about that, especially in the past few months. I've been afraid that I might suffer from Postpartum Depression, and I became even more apprehensive after having an emergency c-section and delivering a tiny preemie who had to spend a couple of weeks in the NICU. When you combine physical trauma, emotional stress, hormonal fluctuations, and sleep deprivation, it creates really fertile ground for Depression to take root.

Fortunately, after several weeks spent "waiting for the other shoe to drop" I'm finally starting to breathe a little easier. It looks like I'm going to be OK.

I'm a survivor.