Thursday, March 27, 2014


On Monday evening, I hit a wall.

We had just gotten home from vacation, so the day had been full of getting life "back in order."  Laundry, grocery shopping, picking know how that goes.  On top of that, Noah had been sick while we were on our vacation, which meant he was crabby as can be and didn't sleep well for most of the week (which meant that I myself was crabby and didn't sleep well for most of the week).  On top of that, he is learning to use the potty this month, and although I think it's going okay, it just takes a lot of consistency and energy from me, and energy is in short supply for me these days.  I'm still not feeling very good with this pregnancy: I have had chronic problems with UTIs, so the doctor recently put me on an antibiotic that I will take daily for the rest of my pregnancy; I've also had killer headaches and a wretched cough that won't seem to go away; and, at 21 weeks, I still struggle on and off with nausea.  It's not nearly as bad as it was during the first 17 weeks of my pregnancy, but I still feel moments (and sometimes hours) of nausea fairly often.

But all of that actually isn't what caused me to hit a wall on Monday evening.  I'm sure all of that contributed to my pity party, but the biggest thing that got me down is that Noah has recently been diagnosed with all sorts of allergies.  We've known for a while that he is allergic to eggs (due to some unfortunate vomiting and hives incidents, one of which resulted in a frightening trip to the ER when he was 11 months old); what we didn't know until last week is that he's also allergic to wheat (WHEAT!!!!), almost all nuts (almonds and peanuts being the worst offenders), corn, soy, strawberries...the list goes on.

The doctor wants us to eliminate all these allergens from his diet and see how his skin, appearance, and behavior changes.  Then he wants us to slowly add them back in and watch for reactions.  Monday was the first day of our attempt to eliminate allergens, and by the end of the day, I was so, so discouraged.

Now, I know this isn't the end of the world.  I know that there are mothers out there who care for children with chronic illnesses and disabilities.  Really, this trial is not something major in the grand scheme of things.  But I have always struggled with meal-planning and meal-prep.  Like, really struggled with it.  It's one of the biggest sources of daily stress in my life, which I know is ridiculous, but it's just not something that comes naturally to me.  It is HARD for me.  Plus, Noah is currently a fairly picky eater, so I feel like our options for food with him are already so limited.  I felt so overwhelmed on Monday thinking, "What am I going to feed this kid??"  "How am I going to change our family's habits and diet to help him feel better?"  "How can I manage to cook for a kid with lots of allergies when it's a huge stress for me to even get a normal dinner on the table most nights?"

Noah had several meltdowns that day when he couldn't eat his "staples," and we didn't really have much food in the house anyway due to our vacation (brilliant of me to start his allergen-elimination diet on a day that we didn't have any food, right??), so I felt utterly defeated by about 5:00 p.m.  Like I said, dramatic, I know--it was probably all of those small annoyances I mentioned earlier crashing over me at once--but whatever the reason, I sat in the car in our garage after running an errand, and I just felt sad and sorry for myself.

But this post isn't actually about allergies--or even about me feeling sorry for myself and hitting a wall--it's about what happened later that night.

At about 11:45 p.m., I dragged myself into the laundry room to fold a batch of clean clothes that was just finishing up in the dryer.  I know, I know, a tired pregnant lady should go to bed earlier, and I usually do, but I hate leaving clothes in the dryer overnight because they get all wrinkled; so even though it was the last thing I wanted to do at that moment, I decided to take a few minutes to fold before heading to bed.  As I shook out Noah's little shirts and folded his soft footy pajamas, I was suddenly overcome--I mean, completely washed over--with gratitude.  It was so unexpected.  Earlier that evening, I had been in the depths of despair, and all of the sudden I felt incredible happiness, while folding laundry of all things!, because looking at those little clothes reminded me that I have a precious, precocious little boy who wears all of them.  I think I actually smiled fondly at his little Adidas pants as I placed them on top of the pile and gave his stack of Thomas the Train undies an affectionate pat.

What the heck??  How did that happen?  How did I go from one dramatic extreme of emotions to another--and all within the same evening? I know pregnancy hormones are partially to blame (especially for the surge of affection for underpants), but I think something bigger was going on as well.

When I went to therapy for my eating disorder last year, one of my counselors told me that emotions come in waves.  Like the waves of the ocean, they cannot stay with you forever--they ebb and flow--they rush onto the shore and knock you over, and then eventually and inevitably, the tide rushes back out to sea again, and they are gone.  She said that when she was overcoming her own eating disorder, she learned to feel her emotions instead of using food to run away from them--because she learned that even the hardest, worst emotions can't last forever.  (And for that matter, neither can the happiest, best emotions.)  She told me that during her recovery she would actually lay on her floor when she felt sadness or stress threatening to overwhelm her, and she would say, "Come and get me!  You can't kill me--and you can't stay with me forever!"  I loved that image and have thought of it often.

After my (slightly insane) tender moment in the laundry room, I walked into our bedroom to put away the clean clothes, and I saw Ryan snoozing in our bed.  And it happened again--the gratitude--swelling, crashing over me.  I stood there and watched him sleeping, and I realized how lucky I am to have a husband who loves me and loves our son.  He is my partner in life and in parenting.  He is there to help me wade through potty training and allergies and pregnancy nausea.  Oh how blessed I am.

I decided to write him a note right that minute, to thank him for everything he does for me, so I walked into our office/guestroom to get a sheet of paper.  This room will soon be transformed into the baby's nursery, and I've started a little pile of baby girl stuff on the bed.  Can you guess what happened when my eyes fell on the little pink sleepers, the floral print shoes, and the fuzzy blanket, all precious gifts from family and friends who are waiting to welcome this sweet baby girl to our family? Yep, another wave.  Joy.  Peace.  Utter excitement.

I'd started the evening in a funk, and somehow, I ended it in a state of contentment.  And it was nothing I'd done consciously to try to "adjust my attitude" or snap myself out of it--it was just the waves.

(And I should add that after my initial freak out over Noah's allergy diet, it hasn't been that bad this week.  He may be subsisting on Rice Chex, Greek yogurt, and applesauce for now, but I am determined that we will expand his palate over time.)

Emotions, like trials in life and waves in the ocean, they come and they go.  I guess I've always known that, but I hope I do a better job of remembering it in the future.  I can savor the sweet waves that lift me up and wash over me, and I can hold my breath and dive deep during the ones that threaten to drown me.  I will eventually come up for air--and it's only a matter of time before a gentler wave will carry me back to shore.


  1. So much to be grateful for, that is for sure! I'm glad that rough day turned into a wonderful evening where you were really able to feel the blessings from our Heavenly Father. I love those "waves" :) And maybe the food/allergy thing is another reason we became friends when we did. I'm not saying I know it all or have all the answers (cause I don't), but I hope I can be at least some sort of resource and comfort for you during this difficulty- because it is difficult- period of figuring out Noah's new normal. Love you, friend!

  2. I love that you wrote about this. I have a binge eating disorder, and I had gone six tracked days without bingeing (wasn't counting before that) and I got phenomenally stressed last night, binged, and gained two pounds by this morning. (Which is typical for me. Even the weight of the food wasn't 2 pounds, so I have no idea why this happens, but those two pounds won't come off unless I work or diet them off. I am extremely prone to gain weight.)

    I had somehow missed your story on this issue before, but I just went back and read all of your posts. I love hearing other people talk about those issues. It very much makes me feel not alone!

    I'm so sorry about Noah's allergies. This is super going to be a challenge, but I KNOW it is doable. There are alternative flours now, and lots more options than they used to be. There are also non-nut nut butters (like sunflower butter) so he won't necessarily have to go without PB & J all this life! lol

    Thinking of you and all that's going on and both of your little ones!


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