Healthy Living, House to Home, Uncategorized

Grieving While Finding the Joy in Life

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This post is twofold, both thoughts on grief and on joy, neither is meant to take from the importance of the other.

I posted a few days back in a moment of grief I was feeling for my brother who has passed. April is his birthday month, April 30th his birthday. I was dreading the whole month and the reminder that he was gone. The pain had gotten to me, again, so that evening I had taken to Facebook to write out my feelings. Yesterday was April 1stand I took my four children that were at home and we went to his grave. I introduced him to my two youngest, Isaiah 18 months and, Micah 6 months (I know – my husband and I are crazy, pop one out and do it again), and sat next to the grave thinking, crying, talking, and then just feeling as for over an hour my two older kids roamed the cemetery with Isaiah, enjoying the sunshine, the hills, the wild flowers, and looking for the oldest headstones they could find. It was a painful and lovely time. The weather was perfect and I felt comfort sitting next to the headstone feeling at least a little closer to my brother. At times I find it odd how a gravesite can do that, make you feel closer to the person who’s spirit is no longer there – but I am grateful that it can. I believe in life after death, I believe I will see him again, and I hope he found joy in us spending our time with him yesterday. We brought him a balloon, a punching balloon at that because we all know they’re the best; and Isaiah wore his Batman shirt to honor the memory of an older nearly 40-year-old brother who still loved the superheroes like a little child, especially Batman. His grave is littered with Batman toys his two young sons have left for him. We wiped off the dirt and debris, set the toys back up, left a few wild flowers with our balloon, and made sure his little spot of earth looked as lovely as we could leave it. The heart longs to do something, anything, at the loss of a loved one – and sometimes just wiping away debris the wind has left does just that. The afternoon filled a painful hole for me.

We took lots of pictures while we were there. For most of my family I believe they keep their respects private (as maybe they should be) but for me pictures capture moments I may forget about, moments that mean enough that I want to share, and I wish I could take more pictures – I wish I could remember every moment that ever meant anything special to my heart. So take a lot of pictures, is just what we did. We took a million. Some I won’t share, but the best I will. Which is the second portion of this post: my health and how I look in those pictures. If you read my last health post (or saw either embarrassing YouTube video) you know it has been a life long struggle, my weight has at least – my health off and on. But a few years ago I read the book Intuitive Eating, I swore off all diets forever, I slowly lost 50 pounds I had put on (my highest ever!) and I thought I had kicked weight gain out of my life for good. I was so sure and so confident. Over the past two years I have had two babies. I never let them tell me my weight (part of Intuitive Eating is not stressing about weight) but two unknowing nurses happened to let it slip and with both babies I had a total of 15 pounds above my lowest weight on the day after giving birth, what?! That’s nothing – especially considering I was on bedrest for both pregnancies and in the hospital. I slipped back into my normal size clothing two weeks after giving birth like it was nothing. And I felt good, even pregnancy hadn’t made me gain too much weight – I thought I had changed my mind set forever, my habits forever, learned what I needed to learn, and would never again have to put thought into my weight.

And then I was metaphorically hit with a bus. Ran over. Dead. Postpartum depression hit me like a dumbbell to the face and I couldn’t function. I would have to repeat to myself, “change a diaper, make a bottle, lay them down,” it was all I could do to take care of my babies (I did not have Postpartum Psychosis – a very important distinction as with depression you still care about the babies and feel a desire to take care of your baby’s needs, with Psychosis you can want to harm you or the child). Guys, I have never felt anything like it and I have lived with depression my whole life. It was all I could do to keep my babies fed and groomed, and then hand them off the second Aaron walked in the door (he, my husband, was my life saver – I get all teary saying that because he went above and beyond, not one complaint, he did it all). I was. So. Depressed. I had to want to, want to, live. The pain was so great that at times I just wished I didn’t exist – had never existed, I would stare at my babies and wonder why God didn’t give them to someone who could love them how they deserved to be loved. It was bad. I can’t even put into words how painfully bad. I stopped talking to people I normally talk to like my Mother and Sister. I just couldn’t, I just didn’t have words because there was no desire in me to function. I didn’t understand living – I would have never hurt myself, but that is because of my deeply engrained faith…and no other reason. Ladies there is nothing like postpartum and I am sorry if you have gone through it.

So what does it have to do with my health and why is it a part of this post that started out about grief? I put on 35 pounds during the three months I suffered with this – and in saying that it’s not even the weight that’s shocking to me, it’s the fact that I made it through three months of indescribable depression; pain like I’ve never felt. I work with a Doctor who was very concerned about me and kept tabs on me through text even when I was at home. Week after week he would try new concoctions trying to come up with anything that would help me. The one pill that finally helped made me put on 20 pounds in 5 weeks, one of the most common side effects of the pill. Because even on the pill I was still dealing with the depression I asked for something else (now I had the depression of being heavy on top of it all) but when I went off of it I immediately sunk into my lowest of lows and had to go back onto the weight gaining medication in order to survive. And survive I did. I can’t say I felt myself, or even that I felt happy (there were moments), but I could function, and I could care for my babies and make dinner again for my family. And I am now 35 pounds heavier than after giving birth to two babies in two years, adding that to the 15 pounds I hadn’t yet lost – I am now a whopping 50 pounds’ overweight…again (can’t say I haven’t been here before! Just took a new route this time, slightly less scenic – maybe better described as a long dark tunnel). 

I had decided to share my getting back to health journey on my blog last month before the postpartum had even completely left me, but something happened yesterday spending a day outside with my kids, ending it at the graveside of my brother – exercising in the sun, all of it combined was like a magic potion that I needed to realize here at almost 38 years old that the weight will come off and I will feel cute in those size 2 jeans again, but I made it through hell – this weight came on because I brought a beautiful life into this world and for whatever reason I had to suffer afterwards, and I can tell you I am stronger for it. All of a sudden yesterday as I was out of breath walking a half a mile (don’t judge too harshly, two bedrests guys, two winter babies – plus, I was lazy in between – okay you can judge harshly, I’m pretty lazy), I realized getting down to wherever it is that my body wants to be can be fun. It can be fun because I can share where I am now, and I can share how I get back down to where I want to be – and where I want to be is definitely walking farther than half a mile and already winded. I want to chase my kids. I want to beat them in a race. Actually I want to start running and tell them we’re in a race when I’m far enough ahead to win regardless of how fast they run. I want to share jeans with my daughter and feel cute in them. Thinking all these things I also thought of my brother. He is gone. But when he was here he was so full of life, during the time I knew him, he was joy – random, stupid, all-boy, joy, and as I drove away from his grave I felt grateful to be alive, all 178.4 pounds of me, and all I wanted to do was enjoy every second of getting back to where my body is comfortable and to where I could put on a cape and jump out a window if I wanted to. Which I would never want to do, that would be stupid, but my brother Spencer did do that once – and the memory still makes me laugh. 

I’m posting my pictures from yesterday, and they are all beautiful – even the ones where my 50 pounds are showing in all their glory, because I am alive, I have the most beautiful children – the absolute most wonderful best friend of a husband, and life has thrown me a curve ball that I get to hold and find some creative way to throw right back. I think for the first time in my life, I have learned my weight has nothing to do with my happiness – and maybe that’s why God let me suffer so, or maybe that’s why the sun shown just right as I sat at my brothers grave, whatever the reason – I am fifty pounds overweight, and I am about to go have fun with my kids and not give it a second thought until my next post or video when I tell you a little bit more about my journey downward. A journey I’m so grateful I’m here to take.

Oh, and we’re also trying to have our last kid while I’m on this journey. We’re good at throwing wrenches in things, and getting in shape while being pregnant (heaven willing) is going to be a fun one.



My beautiful Isaiah loving Uncle Spencer’s toys.
Four of my six kids and I loving on Uncle Spencer.
Me in all of my 178.4 pound glory. Loving the moment with my kids.
Micah and I when left by everyone else who went exploring. And my brother’s amazing headstone,
My little batboy running the trails.

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  1. Debbie Simmons Noorlander says:

    I love this post Jennica! I love when the sun shines through the clouds and warmth returns. And I love you.

  2. Rachael Yerkes says:

    You look great. And a third baby? Amazing.

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