So now you're engaged and needing to plan for the rest of your life. Now what? If you already feel overwhelmed by all the wedding planning that you need to do, don't fret. The wedding is just one day. Go beyond that and start thinking about your future of what's really important.
Here are 5 Steps to Take before You Say "I Do"
1.) Pre-martial counseling-
You might you could just skip out on not meeting with another couple, but it's not recommended. What's hard about receiving counsel from others is the fact that they keep you accountable. They tell you things that sting. But just as the Lord disciples those He loves, so do the people who love and support us. If you aren't connected with a church or don't even believe in God, but want counsel from others. Look for a couple that you trust. That models marriage the way you want to live out your life. I love my single friends but this is an area where you don't want their advice. They don't know what they're talking about since they are not married. Seeing marriage and being married is day and night. If you don't have a couple that you trust or look up to, ask people if they would recommend anyone for marriage counseling.
Speaking of being held accountable, now that you're engaged, your boundaries will be tested now more than ever. Setting up boundaries with your future spouse is critical. You are not only trying to keep your standards high, but you are setting the stage for what your marriage life will look like. After establishing the dos and don't within your relationship, tell someone and ask them to meet with you once a week or whatever works with your schedule. You don't want to walk down the aisle with regrets or be full of shame. You want to walk in the freedom that you are loved by many and will make countless mistakes but have a willing heart to make things right.
Not the planning type that's ok cause that's not what I mean when I say "planning". You should talk with your marriage counselors and sit down with your spouse and ask the hard hitting questions. What are our 10 year goals? What are the expectations regarding taking care of the home? Do you both want kids? Etc. These are questions that you shoujld already be talking about but if you haven't you should start.You might be surprised by what your future spouse will say. The goal is to be on the same page. Even if you disagree you can work it out.
4.) Inner Healing and Deliverance-
Yes you heard right. I remember going through a handful of marriage classes with my husband and also taking inner healing courses. This has helped our marriage so much because I knew I was a mess and I didn't want to bring in all my crap into this marriage. Of course I brought some into it, but since my husband knew what I was getting myself into, he would pray for me, talk with me, listen to me. It strengthened our relationship so much because we were able to go deep and process issues together.
5.) Relax and have fun-
Even though I just gave you a pretty hefty list of things to consider before you say "I do". In the end, all your crap is going to come up and you'l need to deal with it one way or another. Have fun with your person. Continue to go out on dates while working up a storm and saving up for your wedding. It's important to still kindle the flame before you get married.
I pray your marriage is successful and firey. I hope that you will continue to love each other no matter what happens. Continue to stick to one another when the other is being such a jerk and wants to leave you. Run toward them not away. Trust me they still love you, they are just so hurt and confused that they just need to know that you will still be there for them. Through all the brokness of a human being they need to know that you still want them, that you'll still stand by there side. That's what marriage is truly for. Your friendship being tested to the core.
Blessings on your journey with your best friend
Breastfeeding. Women have been using their boobies to feed their children for thousands of years. But what people lack to tell you is how freaking hard it is!
You've probably heard that babies naturally latch onto your breast when they lay your baby on your chest for the first time. Ya that's like the 1% buddy! I don't know a single person who has had an easy, breezy, beautiful Covergirl breastfeeding experience. All of you who have. I seriously give you mad props. I am truly happy that you didn't have to experience hardship when it came to breastfeeding.
But for the 99.9% of women I know who have had cracked nipples. mastisis, yeast infections, thrush, lip/tongue ties, teeth biting off nipples. You know, #thestruggleisreal
Don't get me wrong I do enjoy and appriecate the fact that my body can produce milk for my baby and give him all the vitamins and nutrients he needs. But if you are a first time mom or soon will be, please please please find a breastfeeding support group. Find friends or family that know how to breastfeed and ask for help. Having these two things are so important and critical for you to have a successful breastfeeding experience.
So here are some tips to have a good experience while breastfeeding. Whether you're a working mom or stay at home mommy, you can do it and don't give up! It's hard but you've got this ;-)
1.) Find a local breastfeeding support group
I can't emphasize enough how much this saved my life. When you are home on maternity leave and you are struggling at the house, you really need encouragement and support from others. My friend (who was pregnant at the same time as me) told me about this breastfeeding support group that the hospital does on specific days. I went and it was so encouraging to me that I wasn't alone in the struggle, and even better was seeing moms who had older babies than mine that were still having issues. As your baby grows and changes so does breastfeeding, there's different stages that you go through that I didn't know about.
2.) Nursing bras
Dude. You need to invest in some serious nursing bras. Yes I know they are expensive but you will not regret it. Plus you can always give it a shot for like a week or so and if it's not working out for you make your husband take it back! Duh! Some of the brands that seem to be super popular and also that I like wearing are the following...Bravado, Motherhood Maternity, Target, Walmart. Try a bunch of different ones and see what works for you. If you tend to leak a lot I would recommend getting a few day time bras and then getting a nighttime bra from like Target.
3.) Disposable nursing pads vs. Clothe
Honestly I use both. The best disposable nursing pads I've found are Johnson and Johnson. They are comfortable, stay in place and soak up a lot of milk if you get engorged and are leaking like a fountain. Clothe I use during the day which keeps me fairly dry and the disposable I use at night. They work great for me and you should try both to see which is most comfortable and conveint for you.
4.) Be patient and give grace
Patience is not one of my strong giftings. I struggle with it everyday to not be critical of others and of myself. I tend to have high expectations for myself and project that unto others. So regardless of what people have said about the baby naturally latching unto your breast which is true in some but rare cases, your baby has no idea what it's doing. Just like you have no idea what you're doing with this creature you just made for the past 9 months. You must, must, must give your baby grace and just as importantly give yourself grace. You just delivered a baby, your life will now be forever changed with screams, cries, hugs and laughter forever. The times when you get super frustrated with yourself or your baby, take a deep breath and try again. If you are still struggling to get your baby to latch or whatever, ask your spouse (if they are there) to take the baby for a minute. Put a binky in there mouth or your finger and they will quiet down for a minute for you to gather your thoughts and calm down.
5.) Spouse support
Your spouse can't breastfeed your baby but he can help you with the baby. You can pump and have dad feed the baby while you go take a nap. When the baby is screaming and you are about to lose your cool he can stick he's finger in the baby's mouth and they will suck on that for awhile for comfort. He can encourage you or if you need to vent you can ask him to listen to you and hold you while you cry it out with how hard it's going. Your spouse can do a lot more than you think. Trust me. All the above I've been through it. I seriously would have given up if my husband didn't encourage me, comfort me or support me with breastfeeding. Even though it's primarliry a mom and child experience, your spouse can and should be very involved with the process. Our nightly routine is Jared gets Liam ready for bed while I get ready for bed and he gets me water, gets me my iPad (I like to play games on it or Pinterest everything) hands me the baby as I get situate for our last feeding of the night and we're good to go. This process has been so helpful after a long day of work and taking care of everyone else, he takes care of the baby and helps me out even for a few mins.
Again you can do this! It's hard but you will be so happy you stuck with it. I promise you. I don't know a mom who has ever regretted breastfeeding her baby. #gohardorgohome
That thing that no one talks about. The shame, the guilt, the sadness, the anger, the rage, the random hurtful thoughts. It's overwhelming and consuming. This is something that can not be dealt with alone. So let's talk about it.
What is PPD? Here is a definition from Wikipedia.
Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect women after childbirth. Symptoms may include sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced desire for sex, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. While many women experience self-limited, mild symptoms postpartum, postpartum depression should be suspected when symptoms are severe and have lasted over two weeks.
Symptoms of PPD can occur any time in the first year postpartum. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Low self-esteem
- A feeling of being overwhelmed
- Sleep and eating disturbances
- Inability to be comforted
- Inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable
- Social withdrawal
- Low or no energy
- Becoming easily frustrated
- Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
- Decreased sex drive
- Occasional or frequent anxiety
Are you a mother going through these mental, emotional and physical changes? You are not alone my friend. I was diagnosed with PPD shortly after having my beautiful baby boy. I was constantly frustrated with breastfeeding, not getting enough sleep, having no appetite to eat or drink anything, and having no interest in anything or anybody for that matter. I was severely depressed. Guess what, I am still going through this.
I thank God that He gave my husband the wisdom, discernment, and courage to confront me about it. I had not idea what was going on with me. Why I was only feeling intense sadness and anger toward everything and everybody. I had no interest in life anymore. I even considered ending my life. These thoughts bombarded me everyday. Sometimes I still face these lies, that this, me being mentally and emotionally unstable is my fault. That I'm a bad mother. That if I can't do everything, then you're worthless.
My husband approached me one night and told me he was looking up postpartum depression and he thought I had it. I wasn't offended at all.. I think I was too tired honestly to care. I just sat there for a minute and said, "well... ok then, what do we do?". He suggested we go see the doctor to confirm it was indeed a problem. She encouraged me and of course gave me some meds that might help. So far they have worked to a degree, but I think honestly the best thing for me has been to face it and talk about it. I sought out council and have been meeting with a mom (who now has three kids), but went through it with one child. Honestly, talking about it, hearing her talk about her experience and feelings has really opened up my heart to not only be honest with her, but to be honest with myself. Of course I still have my ups and downs, but I quickly recognize it now, or my husband will pursue me and take time to sit and talk with me about what is going on.
At first, I felt so embarrassed that I had to deal with this... thing that I had no control over. It's literally a chemical imbalance in your brain, and all you can do is walk through the trenches. It sucks because you keep getting stuck in the mud and trying to get your leg to break free and sometimes you do and sometimes you fall flat on your face in the mud. But a solider is never alone. There's always someone there to help get you back on your feet and to keep plowing through.
Listen, Postpartum depression is a very real thing and a real issue in our society. If you don't have a support system. Please go see your doctor. They can refer you to a professional counselor. But get support! Whether that's a good friend, counselor, another moms, your spouse, whoever. You need to talk with someone, and you don't have to go through this alone. We need to make this issue more aware to women and men! I bless you if you've never had to go through this, but if you know of someone who is going through this, or is showing the symptoms listed above, please, please have the courage to talk to them. Although, be warned, you might get yelled at, just being real. A lot of women will be in denial about this and it takes them a long time to realize they are going through PPD. So be gentle and have grace for them. Be a support for them.
I want to take just one more minute of your time and just show all the difference between PDD and Maternity Blues and/or Baby Blues. This is something ALL woman go through. The major difference is you only should have the Baby Blues for a few weeks and be getting better as time goes on. With PPD, you tend to get worse and worse as time goes on. Being disconnected to everyone, feeling angry, disappointed etc. Listed below are the symptoms of Maternity Blues.
- Weepiness and bursting into tears.
- Sudden mood swings.
- Anxiousness and hypersensitivity to criticism.
- Low spirits and irritability.
- Poor concentration and indecisiveness.
- Feeling 'unbonded' with baby.
- Restless insomnia.
Again, you are not alone. There are people who want to help you. And guess what, you will get better. Trust me. It does get better. I know you're thinking everyone says that about having a baby, when you go through stuff it's hard but worht it, but it's really true. Just like you didn't stay pregnant forever, you won't have PPD forever. You can do this.
As a wonderful 2-year-old girl said in a little ol' movie called The Help. You's kind, you's smart, you's important.