On first birthday parties and remembering to breathe

The food was ready, the house as clean as it was going to get. My kids (and hubby) were napping, and I had two hours to myself before my baby's first birthday party. I wandered the house and listened to my heart pump. I ran over in my mind all of the things my guests might need, reminded myself to put toilet paper in the bathrooms. My shingles sores stung, my back tense from the pain and the anxiety. My nose burned from a(nother) sinus infection. My chest tightened and I reminded myself to breathe.

Stress management is not my strong suit these days. My brother likes to remind me that my life is pretty awesome - I have a wonderful husband, adorable kids, a good job. And he's right. But some days it feels like everybody needs me too much, like every little thing is going wrong, like my brain just can't handle all the noise and the emotions. I get all wrapped around myself, spun so tight I can't even move.

And then this morning I read - "Cast all your cares upon the Lord, because He cares for you." He cares. All these little things I'm fretting about - He cares about them. All of my health concerns, my relationships, my goals and disappointments - He cares. And if God cares, maybe I need to care a little more too. If I'm feeling stressed out all. the. time. -- something is not right. My body and brain and spirit seem to be in a constant state of emergency, and I need to respond.

My good friend at work is a former psychiatrist, and has heard about all of my illness and stress during our coffee dates. Yesterday when I told her (for the tenth time) "I just don't know what to do next"; she told me that excuse seems to be the "wall" that prevents me from moving forward, and that perhaps just gathering more information would be an empowering step. I cried when I recognized how "stuck" I've become. I'm so grateful for wise friends who aren't afraid to tell it like it is.

So. My goal to deal with stress this week is to research postpartum anxiety, sinus infections, and shingles, and to find a doctor in my area who will take a holistic look at my health and help me figure out what's going on. Sometimes I think I get stuck in this "martyr" mentality of just suffering through -- but it's been too long. I need to get back to living again.

Oh, and the party? It was a blast. Our birthday boy spent half the party snuggling with relatives and half of it hamming it up. He smashed his cupcake and devoured it with a smile. He bounced up and down over his gifts and even said "ta-da" (thank you) for some of them. The cousins played and colored, the grandparents told stories, and I enjoyed every minute. Even when grandma had to ask me where all my toilet paper was. ;)

The birthday boy - so happy about his cupcake!

Do you have any tips for managing stress/anxiety? (MN friends - any advice on good holistic doctors?)

This post is part of a series for the (in)couraging Working New Moms group. Are you a new-ish working mom? You are invited to join us here!

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