Friday, April 25, 2014


 Last Saturday we celebrated the life of Grandpa Smith. It was a wonderful service meeting. I am so grateful to him for all he did and the family he raised and the example he was to Brett his whole life.

We are so glad that we got to fly out there a few months before to see him. We had a great time. Since Brett works in Irvine every nw and again, he got to see grandpa a few times during his last few days. I know that meant a lot to Brett. Grandpa will be missed.
Brett and Grandpa on the Beach

Judson and Papa Smith
3 days later Me and my sisters and mom drove to Idaho to celebrate the life of my Aunt Kendra. She died suddenly of a heart attack. When my dad passed away, Kendra was the only one who made an effort to keep us involved in the Merrell Family. She was always so kind and loving to me and I will always remember her for that. I know there was a wonderful reunion in heaven with her, my dad and grandpa Merrell.
Kendra and my Dad


Sunday, April 20, 2014

New family pictures

I love our new family pictures!!


Easter 2014

Easter dresses

Cousins having an egg hunt at Papa's house


Friday, April 11, 2014

7 months

 Judson is 7 months!!! He is the happiest baby in the world!! He is eating vegatble and fruit baby food, moved to size 3 diapers last week, loves his Nana and his sisters. Not quite sitting up on his own but we are working on it. He rolls over both ways and scoots himself all over his crib. He loves his dog!!  Time is going way too fast.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Living with depression

This is not a topic that I usually talk about or put out there for everyone to know about but I recently read a friends blog and I found myself bawling and I knew that I had to come to terms with what was real in my life. Her thoughts helped me. And maybe mine will help someone else.

"Post Adoption Depression" (yes it is very real)

Almost 3 years ago, I was given 3 beautiful, wonderful little girls. It had been my dream for years to be a mother and since I had struggled with infertility for almost 6 years, I knew this was the way I was going to fulfill my dream. I had only heard of postpartum depression when it came to giving birth to a newborn, I had no idea that it would hit me like a truck while fostering my girls. But this was my dream... And I loved them so much. What was wrong with me? Being a mom was the biggest dream in my heart, how could I possibly struggle with this?

Perhaps the pressure of infertility had already left me feeling inadequate or judged? Perhaps a few false starts in the fostering process has left me with tough skin that these new children had to break through? Maybe the deep and horrible fear that I could and probably would lose them was constantly pressing on my heart?

I  was completely freaked out about my new role and lifestyle change. I put on a brave face but I suffered daily growing pains, cried to my husband and wondered if we had made a mistake. Nothing had prepared me for motherhood. I didn't know where to place the blame when it came to the depression.... Was it because these kids had a whole history that I didn't know about? Was it because they were so developmentally messed up that it was like I was given three 1 year olds and I was feeling bad for them? Was it the inability to communicate with them? Was it me grieving for the losses and hard life that they had been dealt?

Yes, they had a lot to learn and overcome but the fault did not lie with them in any way. It must have  been my fault. I carried blame and guilt with me everyday, everywhere.  They had never had a mother to treat them like they should be treated. They deserved so much more than me. My guilt turned to anger. Because of them, I was proving to be a bad mother. I felt so alone. Some days I felt trapped, some days I felt hopeless. And some days were ok. Or at least parts of the days were ok. One day I found myself sobbing on the kitchen floor, broken and feeling terribly alone while the kids played in the next room. Not because anything particular had happened that day but I was overwhelmed and depressed.

The truth is 65%  of adoptive mothers go through postpartum depression. I had no idea that is what it was while it was happening to me. I honestly thought i was going crazy and that maybe I was not meant to be a mother. Maybe that was the reason God didn't give me children of my own.

 I now know that it was nothing that I asked for or deserved, nothing that I had done wrong. The blame did not lie with me either. It was just a dark experience I went through. I had a lot of help from my family. They were very supportive and understood that it was an extemely difficult transition for me. But I did mask the dark, sad feelings. I realize now that there was nothing to be ashamed about. It doesn't mean I didn't love my children or that I was a terrible mother. The fact that I was suffering was not something I needed to hide in shame. Our darkness does not make us weaker.

It didn't take me long at all to realize that I needed help and fast. I wanted to be better for my kids. I needed to feel that I was good enough for them. So I saw a psychiatrist. After finding the right medication and dosage, I was able to find balance. I'm not saying I never dealt with depression again but it was far less frequent.

"Prenatal Depression" (again, yes it is real)

Last year when I saw those two little lines on the pregnancy test at the doctors office and my doctor told me that I was going to have a baby, I was thrilled and nervous at the same time. This is something I thought would never happen for me and I was so happy. But I knew that I was going to be prone to postpartum depression and that made me nervous.

The first trimester was very hard. My doctor pulled me off all my meds cold turkey because we found out about the pregnancy so late. I was sick everyday. There were days that I didn't leave the couch. The kids would just do all their activities in that area. I did not attribute all of this to depression although that was very much going on. Although I had waited 8 years to experience this and I should have been overly grateful for every moment, I found myself hating my life and the whole experience, even wishing I wasn't pregnant, which looking back, was totally my depression talking with horrible nausea as the cherry on top.

My second trimester was wonderful. I embraced being pregnant, I was not sick, there were no problems, I didn't even notice the effects of being off my medications. It was great. I was so excited for my future with my baby. I was rarely afraid that I wasn't going to be able to do it.

As soon as the third trimester hit, I was taken into what felt like an alternate universe. It was very strange how quickly and dramatically everything changed. Neither my psychiatrist or my OB mentioned prenatal depression. In fact, I had never heard the term before until I plunged into Google with cries for help. I entered many variations of the term "pregnancy depression" and "pregnancy can't stop crying" and discovered that prenatal depression is just as common as Postpardum depression and that it affects between 10-15% of pregnant women.

Around this time, I went back in to see my psychiatrist who is wonderful. He brought up the possibility of going back on an antidepressant (a different, safer one)  but I was resistant at first. He gave me a prescription anyways and told me to think about it and that he felt it was the best choice and a low risk.

The next day, I called a family member. I was trying to convey how awful I felt through hysterical tears. I was still thinking that maybe my freak outs might be on the spectrum of normal reaction to pregnancy hormones. She listened to my barely understandable sobs and told me, as kindly as she could, that I was out of my mind.
Her words made me realize that no, this is not normal, I was not having normal reactions. I got off the phone and didn't sleep well that night. I decided that I would fill the prescription for Zoloft the next morning. I had never been on that particular drug before but I was assured it was the safest one to try. What made it easier to go back on was knowing what could happen if I stayed miserable. Untreated depression and stress and anxiety can sometimes be just as bad for the fetus as a very small dose of Zoloft. Plus I was also doing it for the sanity of my husband and for the sake of my poor children who once again had to live with an unstable mother. Things were not perfect but they were better.

"Postpardum Depression"

 Judson was in the. NICU for the first 19 days of his life. I hated that he had to stay there. I was lonely and longed for him to be home with me. My biggest feelings of depression were that I was robbed of a full term pregnancy. I only got to 7 1/2 months. This was to be my only biological child and I didn't get to have that experience and also that I was robbed of the birth that I wanted to have. I had taken hypnotherapy classed early in the pregnancy, I had practiced and prepared, I had everything planned, a doula that was paid for, I pictured it a thousand times in my head. Even after they told me they needed to induce me at 34 weeks, I thought I could still have my plan. I absolutely never wanted a cesarean. It wasn't even thought about. It was not an option for me. I was going to have a normal natural birth and experience all that it had to offer and I was robbed of that too. I felt guilty for even thinking these things while my baby lay there  in a little box in the NICU, but I did. I was still on the low dose of Zoloft because I was pumping milk for him while he was in the hospital. Things were a bit low but miles above where I knew I could be and where I had been. Then I began to blame the Zoloft for all my problems, even though I was told that is was in no way related to that. I blamed myself that my baby was living in a hospital without his parents. Why didn't I grow a healthy placenta? why did my body refuse to give my baby the  nutrients and blood that my baby needed to grow? My body failed me.  What could I have done differently? I could have eaten better or exercised more. Somedays I forgot to take my prenatal pill.... Was that why? It seemed endless and the thoughts ran through my mind every night laying in bed and every time I sat there in the hospital with my baby. I couldn't stop them.

When Judson came home, a lot of those feelings went away for the most part and I learned that it was normal to feel cheated out of not having a full pregnancy or a "normal" birth. Those were just things I would have to come to terms with and those things resulted in a healthy baby that was finally home where he should be. I stopped pumping and attempting to breast feed a few weeks after he came home. At that point I was able to heighten my dosage to where I was able to get back to a normal level.  Living with severe depression, a normal level feels like heaven.

It has now been 6 months since my baby was born. I am doing well. I am back on the regimen of medications that works best for me and making the most of my life. Very rarely do I have a perfect day... in fact, I can't remember the last time it happened. But all I can do is try my best to be the better version of myself for them and for me. Being able to be happy is not always a choice with someone with depression, but the choice to try to make the most out of each day helps bring the happy times around a lot more often.

 Perhaps strength doesn't reside in never being broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places.