by Natalie Razavi
December 22, 2014
"I think that season of suffering (through PPD) further cemented my belief that the Lord will never leave me or forsake me-that He is with me always. I don't think my will to thrive has ever been more deeply tested."
This particular interview is close to our hearts here at Love School! The dear woman I had the privilege of talking to is none other than, Kelly Williams, the wife of Seth Williams-the mind, heart, and passion behind this site. I met Kelly for the first time, radiant in white, right after she married Seth. It was clear, Seth had found his perfect match. Kelly adores her family, and in the midst of loving Seth and being a full-time mama to the adorable Story and River, she works diligently to promote health and healing as a Young Living Essential Oils business owner. This pursuit is especially important to Kelly because of her battle with PPD/PPA (post-pardom depression/anxiety) when her first child, Story, was born. Kelly is a beautifully authentic woman who shares her trials and triumphs with honesty and candor. Enjoy reading and about this thoughtful, creative, and hard working woman! Kelly lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, Seth, and their two beautiful kids, Story and River.
Are you a coffee lover? Where is your favorite local coffee spot in Cincinnati?
I'm more of a person who loves the idea of coffee. I definitely love having a warm beverage in hand and getting together with friends at a coffeehouse to connect and engage. However, I'm a wimp when it comes to the actual taste of coffee and the like. If I do get a coffee beverage, you'd better believe it will be about 80% sweet stuff and 20% coffee. If I need caffeine, Diet Coke is my unfortunate go-to. McDonald's fountain Diet Coke, light ice.
Is Skyline a regular stop for the Williams family now that you're in the home of the famous 3-way?
Ironically, we have yet to make a trip there! Although I grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati, we never really frequented Skyline, or any of the 3-way/coney chains for that matter. It's not in my blood.
What is your current jam?
Does listening to K-LOVE on the radio count as a "current jam"(laughing)? It makes me feel a little bit lame to admit that, but it's oddly comforting since I listened to the same Christian music on the radio growing up. If I take a moment to steal some airtime from Seth's Rdio account, I've really been enjoying For King & Country's latest album "Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong." I also loved listening to Mindy Smith's Christmas album "My Holiday." It's been a favorite for years now! It was on repeat as soon as Halloween was over. When I find a song or album I love, I am a repeat offender!
Have you read anything inspiring lately?
Honestly, the last complete book I read was "The Fault in Our Stars," which was super sad. I also got sucked into The Divergent series this summer. For some reason, those teenie-bopper fiction books spark my interest, and I just fly through them. Regarding "inspiring" reading, I find that I'm more apt to soak that up through a blog post than I am through a non-fiction book. Check out coffeeandcrumbs.net, specifically the blog post titled "It's Their Day Too." Good stuff.
When you are gifted with some time to yourself, what do you do?
Oh man. That's a tough one. Typically, it's really hard for me to be still - to relax. I love to exercise, specifically run. Before I had Story, I was a fairly avid runner. It's been a challenge to incorporate it into my days since becoming a mama, especially now, with River, but I'm anxious to get back to it. A good sweat makes me feel exactly that - good. I also love to do creative things, whether I'm "crafting" something or painting a piece of old furniture. I'm also admittedly a reality-TV show junkie.
You and Seth recently celebrated 8 years of marriage, and a couple of years ago, you became "Mama" for the first time to your sweet Story Rae. What has your transition to family life been like?
It's been a lot of things: hard, beautiful, challenging, a gift. Choosing to say "yes" to Seth was not a difficult decision, but the mirror that is marriage revealed some pretty ugly stuff about who I was and the expectations I had regarding Seth's role as a husband. Ultimately, the phrase "iron sharpens iron" has never been truer as we're 8 years deep in our covenant to one another. We have been through so much transition with moving from San Diego to Cincinnati to Madison to Nashville and back to Cincinnati; with what feels like a million job changes; with starting a family. And through it all, we've laughed and cried, we've hugged, we've fought. But we've never admitted defeat. We know that the Lord has knitted us together for this journey, and we wouldn't want to walk it beside anyone else. Becoming a "mama,” that's been a different experience for me. It took us over a year to get pregnant with Story, so my pregnancy was such a sweet time of celebration. I had a relatively easy pregnancy, but her birth was a different story - pardon the pun. Mental health struggle aside, my type-A personality had an enormously difficult time transitioning into motherhood, especially that of a stay-at-home mama. I had to learn that taking care of a little human being was enough. I didn't need to fill my day with chores, errands, and projects even though there was a huge part of me that believed I needed to do those things to validate my worth - to show myself that I was indeed contributing in some small way. For some reason, I had a completely idealized version of what it would look like to be a stay-at-home mom in my head. I don't know where it came from. My perfectionism? My desire to be all and do all, all the time? Probably some of that and more. I had to learn how to be gracious with myself, and how NOT to compare myself to others, specifically other moms. Wow, that's hard. I've had to admit that I probably won't be the type of mom who gets up at 5am to hit the gym before the kiddos are ready to go for the day. I also don't cook all organic food, and I gave Story a bottle until she was 19-months-old. But that stuff doesn't matter. What matters is that I learn to love her WELL. There is so much beauty in that. And receiving love from her...now THAT is priceless.
You've been open about your battle with postpartum depression and anxiety. What was that time like and what fuels your vulnerability?
Oh man. It's honestly so difficult to capture in words, but the easiest way to describe it is to say that it was by far the darkest chapter of my entire life. I was blindsided by the intense pain that I felt while under that darkness. I wasn't prepared for it in the slightest. I had never suffered from any type of depression previously, and the feelings that I felt were crippling in all aspects. I literally felt like I was going crazy. Sleep was my only escape-as soon as I woke up, I'd immediately have a panic attack. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life by having a child; not that Story was a mistake, but that I had entered into something that I couldn't back out of, and I was terrified. I've always been an open book, so it felt quite natural for me to share my story. I know a lot of women feel a sense of shame associated with PPD/PPA, but having full disclosure with others about what I was going through and had gone through became a part of my healing process.
What did that season of suffering reveal to you about who you are and who God is?
When I was walking through PPD/PPA, I never doubted God's goodness or faithfulness; I simply didn't understand why I had to go through that darkness until I was on the other side of it. I think that season of suffering further cemented my belief that the Lord will never leave me or forsake me - that He is with me always. I don't think my will to thrive has ever been more deeply tested. I'm proud of myself for holding on, and I'm thankful for the Lord, my family, and my friends without whom that might have not been possible.
You guys had your amazing son River not long ago! In light of what you went through with PPD, was the decision to have another child a difficult one?
Surprisingly, no. I do recall telling one of my sisters in the thick of my struggle with PPD/PPA that I wasn't sure I could have more children if walking that dark road again was a possibility. However, once I was on the other side of it, I could see more clearly the joy that comes from being a mama and having a family. And coming from a big family myself - a total of 7 kids - I know how special that bond with siblings is. In fact, I've heard it said before that giving your child a sibling is one of the greatest gifts you could give them, and I couldn't agree more. We were a bit surprised when we became pregnant immediately upon trying for a second because we had the expectation that it might take a while like it did with Story, but we are thankful that they'll be close in age. We're hopeful that one day soon they'll be the best of friends!
What would you say to expectant moms about PPD? What wisdom did you gain that you could pass on?
I think awareness is KEY. I knew very little about PPD/PPA before it hit me like a ton of bricks. Even with the small amount that I had read, I naively thought that since I had never struggled with depression before, I definitely wouldn't struggle with it after I had a baby. However, PPD/PPA isn't selective. Granted, there are certain things that can be potential "red flags,” but ultimately everyone is at risk. I don't say that to scare other women, but rather to educate. I was blessed to have people around me who weren't afraid to tell me and Seth that they felt like something was wrong. This enabled me to get the help I needed quickly. There are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence because they don't realize that what's happening to them is out of their control. Which leads me to my next point - don't be silent. Don't feel ashamed. If you're suffering from PPD/PPA, it's not your fault and you're not a bad mother. Reach out to those around you who you trust and love. The sooner you start on your path to healing and wholeness, the sooner you'll get there. Let's join together to normalize PPD/PPA - let's put a face to it. You are not alone.
How has being a parent changed the way you think about/engage with God?
I think it's become more challenging to carve out the time that I need to really connect with the Lord. At the same time, I feel like I'm more aware that I rely on Him moment by moment.
You seem to have quite the entrepreneurial spirit! What has it been like for you to pursue your other interests and be full on as "Mama?"
I know I'm beyond blessed to get to stay home with my kiddos, however, I do miss working outside the home. Because I know this is such a precious and short season, my number one responsibility right now is Story and River. But, it helps my sanity to have something outside of being a mommy that I can focus on that brings me some sort of fulfillment and joy. Typically, that looks like working on emails and packaging up orders during naptime and after bedtime. The monthly paycheck I receive - while not as rewarding as the hugs and love I receive from my kiddos - does make me feel good, and I love knowing that I'm contributing to our finances in even a small way.
How did you get connected to Young Living Essential Oils? What do you love most about your work with them?
Ultimately, as a follower of Jesus, I believe that the Lord has gifted many men and women with the ability to create medicines to treat and heal us, however, because we are imperfect, it feels a great deal more comfortable to me to go the natural route to care for my mind and body. As we began trying for baby #2, I didn't feel comfortable continuing to take the anti-depressant I was prescribed during my bout with PPD/PPA, and I knew I basically couldn't once I got pregnant; however, when I reflected on my battle with PPD/PPA I wanted to make sure that I set myself up for success in case it rears its ugly head again. I had a friend who was constantly posting about these life-changing essential oils, and I decided to give them a try. Now I'm using Young Living's essential oils everyday to help balance my mood and fight disease. It's an exciting journey and I'm learning so much! My goal and hope is that as I continue to venture into this huge life-change for my family that I will in turn be used to effect change in the lives of others as well! I've already heard so many amazing testimonials from loved ones regarding their use of essential oils, and it feels so amazing to have been used to help bring about healing and wholeness!
There seems to be pressure among moms to either be 100% satisfied in your mom-calling or to find something incredible to do in addition to being a mom. How have you found your footing in that tension?
I don't know that I've found my footing just yet. Most days I feel like I'm not cut out for this "mom" gig. I'm constantly racking my brain at the end of the day, examining what I did or didn't do and how I could've done it better. I like that you called that space "tension" because that's exactly what it is. Sometimes, tension feels good; other times, not so much. As long as I continue to put the Lord first, my husband second, and my kiddos third, I think everything else will fall into place.
What does it look like for you to pursue your calling in the midst of motherhood?
It's definitely a balancing act. In fact, I would say that I'm still learning what exactly my calling is. Ultimately, I know that I am first a child of God, and then a wife and mother before all else. If my walk with the Lord is suffering, I know that I will be out of whack in other areas of my life. When I'm spending time with the Lord, and also meeting the needs of Seth and Story, I myself am filled up. I'm thankful that I'm married to a man who encourages me to chase after things I'm interested in.
You are a runner and have participated in several races over the years. What has it been like for you to fit exercise into your routine?
Before Story and getting pregnant with River, it was a no-brainer. If I didn't run at some point during the day, I felt like my day was incomplete. I'm definitely more of a night owl, but if I was able to fit my run in during the morning, it really helped set a good tone to the rest of the day. With Story, I was only able to run up until 17 weeks prego and with River, a little bit longer, however, I still did and am doing whatever exercise my body will allow me. After I had Story, I'd take her for runs in our jogging stroller or go on solo runs when I had an extra set of hands around. I simply made time for it. If something's important to you, you make time.
As you think about your growing family, what legacy do you want to leave for your children?
My prayer is that they know and love the Lord intimately and that they love others well. That's the bottom line. Sure, there are several other things that I hope they resonate with (ex. being hard workers, good and faithful stewards of their time, money, and resources, etc.), but their relationship with their Creator and with those around them far outweighs anything else.