Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Power of the Birthing Experience and Gratitude

Although I have had PPD after births where I had a really great experience, I had it the worst after the birth that I had a very hard time with emotionally. It actually all went pretty good, but there was a moment where communication was not clear and it was very important to me that communication remain clear and I remain informed. I loved the birth and thanked everyone involved, but afterward had felt violated (for lack of a better word) because my wishes had not been honored. I didn't realize it consciously, but the week following was a crucial time in which I allowed the wrong forces to influence my attitude. Satan told me, "You are a victim and should grieve for your loss." I know now that there was another angel on my shoulder who was whispering, "Your birth was so beautifully orchestrated. Pour your heart out in gratitude to God and then call your care provider and ask her to clarify what she was doing. Let her know how you felt at the time, and thank her for her goodness." This voice was not as easy to hear, though, for various reasons. It wasn't as dramatic, I had psychological things going on from events in my childhood that I hadn't worked through, and my husband was going to be gone for six weeks when the baby was only 3 months old. Satan's voice was a little easier for me to believe, even though it was the lie.

It is not uncommon for an unsatisfactory birth experience to set off or even cause Postpartum Depression. I have worked in the birthing field as a doula and childbirth educator and have learned that the birth really does matter. I have seen and learned through experience, though, that gratitude matters even more.

In The Doctrine and Covenants section 46 vs. 7 the Lord says, "...doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils."

I have learned over the years the value of praying always and also the receiving of ALL things with thanksgiving - even the MOST unpleasant ones. This goes to THE DEEPEST LEVELS! If I had prayed without ceasing and praised God and thanked him when things seemed horrible, I believe it's possible that my PPD could have turned into PPJ (postpartum joy!)

I really like the last part of the scripture because sometimes we take cultural or societal expectations and think they are commandments we must obey, when really they are just either garnishes for the meat of the meal, or distractions meant to take us away from things of the spirit.

I love the "that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits" There are plenty of times throughout the PPD years when this is what I would hear in my head.

Devil, "You're worthless. You can't even handle your own home."

Holy Ghost, "Thank them for coming over, see them to the door and then go pray your heart out first thanking God for every blessing you can think of and then asking him for his divine guidance and help in obeying his commandments with joy and love!"

When we have gratitude and are turning to God in our troubles, big and small, we will be given the power to resist temptation. Temptations can be as small as believing the wrong story.

Devil's story: She must really hate me for doing what's right

Holy Ghost's story: She must need more love in her life.

This stuff really what happens!!! People are so lost sometimes and even though you may feel like you are one of them, others still need love from you.

Devil's story: I must do it all or I'm a good-for-nothing dead-beat mom!

Holy Ghost's story: I want to do and will do what God wants me to do in this moment.

I know that in our weak moments, Satan will do all he can to take advantage of us. God awaits our prayers to him and wants to love us especially when we are weak. He WILL give us strength if we turn to Him for it.

Devil's story: Crying is bad and it means that something is wrong with you - DON'T DO IT!

Holy Ghost's story: Crying is good, it releases what is trapped inside. You can cry tears of joy or sorrow. You can cry in a prayer as you tell your Heavenly Father what it is that is so sad to you. Maybe you are sorrowing because you miss being pregnant, or because you already miss when your baby was tiny, or because of your deepest darkest secret, etc...

Did you know that there really are health benefits to crying? Here is a website I found on it.

At this time in my life, I had not fully comprehended the concept of agency. Sadly, I hadn't learned that I could choose to believe the story that the Holy Ghost was whispering so softly to me and that it would get me to far greater heights.

Fortunately I had the opportunity to go to an LDS counselor to recover from all the madness, finger-pointing, judging, and so on, that was going on for me in this PP experience. He helped me through the childhood issues that I had not dealt with yet. The Lord inspired the RS presidency to assign me a very compassionate and extremely loving sister for a visiting teacher and I experienced great joy after the healing had occurred. I learned the most from this experience and am grateful that I went through all the good, bad and the ugly, because it gave such a stark contrast when my eyes were finally opened to the immense joy Father had given me.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Remembering The Good

You know when you see images that are NOT pleasant, pure, chaste, etc... and it's hard to forget them? Well I think the same thing happens with experiences of the same nature. It's hard to forget them. HOWEVER, if thinking of these negative images and experiences can be so detrimental, then wouldn't thinking upon images and experiences that are pure, honest, pleasant, lovely, true and virtuous do the exact opposite? (Phillipians 4:8)
I would like to share an experience I had which testified to me the power of remembering. This morning, like many others, I woke up hearing one of my kids whining. Pretty much every mom does, when the kids are young, anyway. (It's pretty much the only way they know how to communicate for the first couple of years of their lives, right?) Well, this morning I found myself thinking a prayer for the coming day. Thinking prayer is not the same as feeling a prayer. I noticed this and remembered the scripture Matthew 15:8 "...draw nigh unto me with their mouth, ...but their heart is far from me." At this moment, I knew that thinking a prayer was not what I wanted, although it may have been a good first step. I wanted to have my heart in the right place for my prayer to actually be felt and heard and answered and lived.
But as I got up and started to get ready for the day, I was feeling more and more negative feelings and they were all coming from a really deep spot that had been hurt in the past. As I was feeling these feelings, I was also remembering that scripture that I thought of this morning. I started crying because I felt so helpless in casting off the negative feelings. I tried thinking back in my brain to figure out why I felt these bad feelings so strongly right now. I found that it was remembering the horrible event that brought these feelings on. I then wondered why I couldn't remember the really pleasant and happy memories, the really great spiritual experiences, just as easily. This brought on a wonderful epiphany! I thought of the Savior's admonition when he administered the sacrament; that we do it in remembrance of him. Every week I go to church and take the sacrament, that word remember is right there in the prayer that is said over the bread and water (or wine depending on your particular belief). The scriptures also tell us dozens and dozens of times to REMEMBER!
So, I'm in the shower crying, realizing the power I have to remember these big experiences - good or bad. And as I made a concentrated and focused effort to recall and pull up in my memory the really awesome and big spiritual experiences I have had or the times when I have felt forgiveness, comfort and guidance, they came. And those negative feelings cowered in their presence. I could see and feel them disintegrating. The warmth and light of the spirit of the Lord that is carried in those awesome, truly precious, and good memories healed the hurt of times past. It took away the spitfire and sting and replaced it with hope, faith and love.