I’ll Start With Goodbye

This’ll be the first in our “Turnback Tuesday” series (my version of “throwback thursday”, because…today is Tuesday!)! We’ll see how it goes. The idea is to post an old blog, pictures, or reminisces from years past, especially if they relate to the theme of the unconventional village. Enjoy, and comment below regarding how you feel about saying “goodbye”.

I wrote this in 2015 during our first stateside assignment (furlough) home from Japan. It was the first post in my attempt (failed) to start blogging again.

I’ve felt compelled to start writing about our journey for a while, but haven’t. For the same reasons I don’t do a lot of things – too busy, too tired, not good enough, don’t know where to start, etc. But today I figured out where to start, and I know that if I have the time and energy to watch Netflix and browse Facebook, I can do this. I’ll start with goodbye.

Continue reading “I’ll Start With Goodbye”

The Cost Continues

I wrote this post after some “freak out” moments related to re-entry struggles. Even though it’s been more than 5 months since returning, it’s still hard. I don’t want to sound self-pitying, but I do want others in similar situations to know they’re not alone. And I want people who are in any way relating to those in a situation like ours to be able to have a better understanding of the continuing cost.

As a young couple, we excitedly “counted the cost” of leaving our friends, family, and comfort of our home country to go to the foreign mission field. We had a 1-year-old and I was pregnant when we left; exciting as it may have been, the cost was real and it was hard.

Continue reading “The Cost Continues”

I’d Do It Again in a Heartbeat

Micah’s birth story really should start a few weeks before he was actually born. Since his older siblings were born at 36, 37, and 38 weeks of pregnancy, it wasn’t unreasonable for me to be looking for signs of labor several weeks before his due date, which was January 16th. And when I found out I was already 3 cm dilated at my 37 weeks appointment, I definitely thought he’d be here any day!

Continue reading “I’d Do It Again in a Heartbeat”

From, A Mama

Dear Mama,

I’m not sure what stage of motherhood you’re in right now. Maybe you just found out you’re pregnant. Maybe you just had your first newborn, or maybe you had your fifth. Maybe your kids are getting older – all in school, maybe some graduated, or maybe all are adults.

Today I started my prayer journal entry with, “Lord, this is hard.” I’m home alone, trying to do some form of homeschooling with my four older children (all ages 7 and below) while also caring for my 1-month-old son. It’s so hard.

Whatever stage you’re in, I bet it’s hard for you, too. “It’s just a stage” can seem a bit laughable sometimes, can’t it? It may just be a stage, but there’s another “stage” coming up right behind it. Being a mama isn’t easy, from that first moment you see those two pink lines all the way through to having adult children. It’s hard.

It’s not that there isn’t a lot of joy, too. There’s so much joy. And it’s not that there are never easy moments, where all seems right in your world. There are…but they usually are just moments, and then there’s another crisis-that’s-not-really-a-crisis to deal with. Or maybe it is really a crisis.

It’s not all hard. But a lot of it is. Yet we chose to be mamas anyways. Did we not know it was going to be this hard? Did no one tell us? Or did we go into it eyes wide open, but knowing it was going to be worth it anyway?

Because it is, isn’t it? It’s so hard…but so worth it.

I just wanted to tell you that I’m in it with you. You’re not alone, and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone either. I wish it wasn’t this hard, but going through it with you makes it a just tiny bit easier. Let’s not forget to share our real-life struggles with each other, ok? I might not be able to answer the phone all the time, but I’ll do my best to text you back, even if it’s just “I totally get it” or “That’s so hard…want to grab coffee this weekend?”.

Let’s do the hard parts together.

From,

A Mama

Where is My Village?

Thank you to my sister, Caley, for gracing us with a guest blog. She lives in Switzerland with her husband, Tom, and my sweet niece and nephew. As difficult as the post was for me to read (I want to hop on a plane and be with her every day!), I know it resonates with me and how I felt as a young mother in a foreign country; I imagine that it will resonate with others, as well. I hope that through this post and others on this blog, you’ll find encouragement to find your own “unconventional village”.

DSCF1497

My grandfather’s hand’s shake a little. He says he’s almost deaf and almost blind. He forgets things like whether he was stationed in Germany or Afghanistan. His good days are just not as bad as others. Yet when I set my three-month-old son on his lap, his hands knew just how to hold him. His knee started bouncing and tiny fingers grasped a larger one. My grandfather seemed to light up with his great-grandson and namesake in his arms. It was such a true picture of the typical ‘village.’ It was a glimpse into a different life for us, because days later we were on a ten-hour flight from Florida back home to Switzerland.

It’s not a sacrifice to live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We have great healthcare, unbelievable scenery, a stable economy, top-notch public transport, I’m fluent in German and six months after my daughter was born, I got a part-time job teaching English. We live in a lovely quiet neighborhood and most days my husband can come home from work for lunch. I’ve built a beautiful life here. Yet, I talk to my friends who have close family nearby and my heart twists.

I got unexpectedly pregnant just a few months after marrying and moving to this part of Switzerland. The first few months were so isolating. I spent my days craving adult conversation and feeling like a mediocre mother for being bored with my sweet baby. Things got better as time went by. I built a nice social circle of other moms and tried my best to maintain friendships from the ‘before.’  Unexpected child number 2 arrived last November and with two under two life became more overwhelming than I imagined. Even the deepest friendships feel superficial when you just wish your mom was there to take care of you.

IMG_20180314_200123_896

We’ve experienced a depressing saga of challenges and sickness; I was in the hospital with pre-term labor caused by Salmonella, then on bed rest until my son came. Bed rest was a joke with a toddler running around and a husband at work. A week after delivery I got the flu. My daughter got a superinfection around that time and had a rash that kept me up at night. We got cold after cold. My newborn son got RSV in January and we spent six days in the hospital. Simultaneously, I got mastitis and needed IV antibiotics to fight the infection. Both kids got stomach bugs with throwing up and diarrhea.  We had high fevers, coughs, runny noses, earaches… Everything the sickness season could throw at us, it did.

My daughter hasn’t handled having a sibling well.  She definitely needed more than 20 months of total attention. I’m not sure if 20 years would have been enough for her though. She has been extremely jealous from the beginning. She hits, scratches, bites, pushes and kicks him. I have had to be on guard every second of every day. Watching one baby I love to hurt the other baby I love is emotionally vicious. Every strategy I’ve tried to improve things has failed. She is finally starting to accept him after nearly five months, but that doesn’t mean I can watch her any less. She now headbutts him while trying to cuddle and attempts to pick him up by herself.

There were days my husband would come home for lunch and find me in tears, Youtube children’s songs on, and the house a wreck. I would sob that I can’t do this. Everyone else can do this, but somehow it’s too much for me.

The amount of guilt I’ve felt these last months has been crushing. I’ve had both children laying on my chest screaming at the same time and I am helpless to calm them because there’s only one of me. Sleepless nights, and sickness, and jealousy have become my perfect storm.

Where is my village? My mom would take a crying infant in a heartbeat. My dad could swing my daughter over his head until she screamed with laughter. Any of my siblings, my grandparents, or my aunts would be there for me if they could be. Even just to be an extra pair of arms because mine just aren’t enough.

I’m an independent person. I’m an adaptable person. I was built to live abroad. That’s what I thought until I had kids. The me from five years ago would have never believed that I could be forced to question my life-choices by a sniffling one-year-old and whimpering infant.

This is the dark night of motherhood. Yet, I do see the light every now and then. My unconventional village is my friends who have visited me in the hospital and friends who dote on my babies like aunties. My village is my 75-year-old neighbor who keeps my orchid alive, hangs my laundry on bad days, and scolds me for not wearing socks in the stairwell. My village is the group of moms I meet with on Mondays who all have their own story like mine. My village is my husband’s cousin’s wife, who lives hours away, but sent her kids’ hand-me-downs for us to use.

I’m not always optimistic. ‘It’s just a phase’ is my cruel, teasing, mantra. But when I feel that there are people who care, although we don’t share a last name or ancestry, I think that maybe I didn’t make the wrong choices after all.

Birth Story: “I’d Do It Again in a Heartbeat”

Micah’s birth story really should start a few weeks before he was actually born. Since his older siblings were born at 36, 37, and 38 weeks of pregnancy, it wasn’t unreasonable for me to be looking for signs of labor several weeks before his due date, which was January 16th. And when I found out I was already 3 cm dilated at my 37 weeks appointment, I definitely thought he’d be here any day!

Continue reading “Birth Story: “I’d Do It Again in a Heartbeat””

Desperate: Overcoming Postpartum Depression while Overseas

In February of 2013 I wrote a post that you can find here. It was about how impactful the book ‘Desperate: Hope for Moms Who Need to Breathe’ was on my life. This post is based on that post.

I had had a hard winter. In a future post, I’ll write more about the whys of that, but it culminated with me crying in our bathroom for an hour and deciding I needed to go to the doctor because I just didn’t feel right or like myself. I was having more bad days than good, and even the good ones weren’t great. I was always tired. I had lost too much weight unintentionally. I was starting to resent my kids. I was desperate. Continue reading “Desperate: Overcoming Postpartum Depression while Overseas”

Just Different: Hospital Stay After Birth in Japan

Originally posted in June of 2012 in the Sharicks In Tokyo blog and titled “Postpartum in Japan”.

In Japan, it’s really common for a pregnant wife to go home to her mother about a month before her due date, have her baby there, and then stay for another month or two before coming home to her husband. Her husband may or may not visit during that time. There are several different reasons for this, an obvious one being that when they come home, there’s work to be done! A husband and kid/kids to take care of…why not stay with Mom where they’re taken care of and can rest? Continue reading “Just Different: Hospital Stay After Birth in Japan”