Monthly Archives: August 2011

Four Teeth and Know How to Use Them

It took several tries, but the girls and I finally made it to the farmer’s market.  We didn’t bring home as much as we did last year

 But we did get apples, potatoes and cherries.

Patrice now has 4 teeth, the bottom fronts have been through for a while, the top fronts just poked through, but she is not afraid to use them.  I originally had the big bag of apples on the floor in the kitchen, but every time I turned around I found Patrice gnawing on another one.  They are now safely out of her reach, but watching her work away at an apple is crazy amounts of cute!

What I Miss Most

I often hear mamas talk about how they miss time to themselves, sleep, their pre-baby body, sleep, going out with friends, sleep…and I totally understand.  I do.  But those are not the things I miss from my life before motherhood.  Nope.  What I miss is confidence.

You go through all this preparation to have a baby or bring home a baby.  They give you your precious child with one hand and take your confidence with the other.  And nobody tells you about this slight of hand.  Until you are alone with the baby.  Suddenly you realize, you don’t know anything. 

In your former life, you might have been very accomplished in your career, even had lots of childcare experience that gives you practical wisdom, but it’s different now. This is YOUR child.  She is your responsibility.  You are the one who needs to make sure she is fed, clothed, taught.  And the crushing truth is, you don’t even know how to tighten the straps on the carseat, how are you going to do the rest?

Slowly, bit by bit, you put together some knowledge.  You get a little more comfortable with your new role.  You find the people you can turn to for advice that you find helpful and figure out who’s advice to tune out.  Life feels good.  For a couple days.  Then the bottom falls out.  Baby changes.  And this stage, has all new questions and challenges. 

So goes the cycle.

I will admit, there is a little more confidence with each child you have.  You find your family rhythm and groove a little more easily, but searching and learning is still involved.  This new baby is not the same as it’s siblings.  No matter how hard you try to get them in the mold and patterns, there are differences.  Some big, some small.

But that is not the only confidence I miss.  With the birth of Patrice, I lost a confidence I held even more dearly, my emotional confidence. 

This time, along with Patrice, I was handed my journey through postpartum depression and anxiety.  Adapting to life with a third baby was nice in that I knew what to expect in many of the baby care areas.  I knew my parenting style, what to expect sleep and nursing wise.  What I didn’t know how to navigate were the postpartum emotions. 

Emotionally I was all over the map.  I was filled with awe and joy over this new baby.  I loved the fun ages Caitlyn and Sue were in.  But I was also filled with tears and anxiety.  My emotions and energy ran too high.  I could not get control of them.

Over the last year, I have been through many hills and valleys.  I am definitely seeing an overall improvement in my moods and emotions.  And then a bad day will hit.  It feels like the bottom is dropping out.  Or something will make me nervous, and the panic that ensues feels overwhelming.  And I feel like I am back where I was a year ago, lost in my emotions and reactions.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Caitlyn is starting school next week.  I have a lot of fears and feelings about that, none of them positive.  I cried all day yesterday.  I was a ball of nerves all day.  It was difficult to focus at work, my words came too fast and my thoughts were going faster. 

I am worried about getting Caitlyn to school and the other two to daycare, and myself to work.  I am worried about not knowing where to drop Caitlyn off.  I don’t want her away from me all day.  I am afraid I won’t pack her the right snacks or lunch.  What if I pack peanut butter and there is a kid in her class deathly allergic?  What if she doesn’t have enough time at lunch to eat what she wants and needs?

You get the idea.

And as my thoughts spun and the tears fell, I became more and more concerned that I hadn’t made progress against the postpartum depression and anxiety, that I wasn’t getting better.

Thankfully I had a mental health check appointment with my midwife today.  I dumped it all out there.  How I missed trusting my emotions, how I reacted to a mama in my support network going into the hospital, reading about a mama struggling with postpartum depression killing her baby, all my fears about Caitlyn going to school. 

It felt good to get it all out there.  It felt even better to hear her say she felt the same way about sending her kids to school, how she doesn’t look forward to them being away from her,

Oh the relief I felt to hear her say she understood my feelings, how they seemed appropriate to her.  It gave me hope.  Hope that the postpartum depression and anxiety is losing it’s grip on me.  That my emotional reactions are in line. 

It gave me hope that I will one day have my emotional confidence back.  That is a good thing.  Because that is what I miss most.

My Mother of the Year Acceptance Speech

I did something today that required me to step outside of my comfort zone, all for the fun of telling my daughter yes when I would normally give her an excusue to not do something. I believe this earns me the Mother of the Year Award. So here is my acceptance speech.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are all too kind to bestow me with the Mother of the Year Award. I am so honored.”

“Why yes, I will admit, I do deserve it. I told you, my children, yes today when my inclination was to say no. I took you running with me when I really wanted to be alone. I cleaned up your room for you so you and your friend could play. I took you to the bathroom today twice, when I would have rathered finish my adult conversation without interruption.”

“Oh and yesterday was a red letter day too. I had you help me make a pie when I could have done it myself in half the time. I laughed when you covered yourself in flour instead of yelling at you for making a mess. I let you practice cutting with scissors instead of giving into my fear that you would cut yourself.”

“I took you, my oldest, school shopping when I would rather keep you home with me; keep you protected my child. I smiled as we picked the lunch bags, glue, pencils, and crayons that you will take with you when you venture far outside of my influence. I smiled when my heart was crying and raging against this new phase in your life.”

“Yes, I deserve the Mother of the Year Award. Not for my perfection, but for my mothering outside of my comfort zone for your betterment, for your benefit. I deserve it for loving you enough to put your desires and needs above my preferences, above what I desire.”

“And while there is no physical award for me to hold onto, I will hold on to the moments when you whisper ‘I love you’ or come to me for comfort. I will cherish those times you still need me. I will revel in seeing you learn and grow even when my heart aches for the baby you used to be. And my greatest reward will be when you spread your wings and embark on your life.”

“But for now, my children, please forgive your mama when she falls short, or struggles to rise above herself for your good, or when her desire to keep you safe in her arms wins for a moment. Please love your mama anyway and believe her when she tells you she loves you more than any award in the world.”

“You are my treasure. You are my Award.”

I’ve linked up with Just Be Enough, where my link helps donate a memory book to those battling cancer.

Life Lessons and Blog Posts

Life With Baby Donut
I did not do anything as cool as Rach, who went to a Crybaby Matinee, but it was quite a week.

1.  We talked about triggers during #ppdchat on Monday.  It was well timed because this week was full of them for lots of us ppd mamas.

2.  I had a big fat anxiety attack on Tuesday but I managed to persevere and not give into the terror overwhelming me.

3.  Thursday I read a news article that I shouldn’t have and ended up losing it for a little bit.  Thank you to Lauren who called me and talked me down.

4.  Once I calmed, I wrote this post about getting help for postpartum depression and having a plan.  It got featured on http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ as a Warrior Mom post.

5.  I also did a guest post over at Motherhood Unadorned about my parenting choices.

6.  I made a blueberry pie today.  That may not sound like much, but last year, when the postpartum anxiety was at it’s highest, I made a blueberry pie with my oldest.  It was a desperate attempt to survive a particularly painful day.  I cried a lot while we made that pie.  I was a little worried that making one today would flood me with too many memories, but it didn’t. It was just fun.

7.  All in all, this week was full of wins!

Won’t you come check out the fun of Life Lessons?

I’m Not a Bad Mama Guest Post

I am thrilled to be sharing my second guest blog post today.  This time I am over at Motherhood Unadorned.  She is a fellow #ppdchat mama who works to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. 
Last week she started a new blog series, “I am Not a Bad Mom (or dad)”…  This is a powerfully freeing series.  Mamas, and maybe daddy’s but I can’t really speak to that, tend to compare ourselves and our kids to others.  And I don’t know about you, but I often see myself as coming up short.  This series is a place for us to put those thoughts to rest.  To expose our comparisons to the light of day, acknowledge them for what they truly are, letting them go and moving forward. 
I am thrilled to be taking this opportunity to share some of my parenting thoughts.  Won’t you head over to to Motherhood Unadorned and see what I think about myself as a mother?

Get Help, Have a Plan

I know first hand how your thinking can twist after having a baby.  I have shared more than once how much I loved bringing home our third baby girl.  How much I loved being the mama of three kids.  And at the same time, was dealing with a lot of foreign feelings that I could not sort out.

I cried a lot.  I had a desperate need to be busy at all times.  I found the busyness helped me not cry as much.  Plus, I was trying so hard to be a good mom; to show the people who said we shouldn’t have a third baby, that I was a good mom, that I could handle all three kids. 

I kept going faster and faster.  And I knew things weren’t right.  And from the first moment I realized things were off, my mind put together a plan.  During the rough moments, I would have this one thought over and over, “I’ll take them to my midwife.  She can take home Patrice and love her.  And hubby can handle the other two and I can just run away.”  I didn’t know where I would go, but I had a safe place to take my kids.

As my anxiety grew and my thoughts got darker, I would think again and again, “I’ll take them to my midwife.  She can take home Patrice and love her and hubby can handle the other two.”  But I knew that thought wasn’t what I wanted.  I loved being with my girls, all of them.  With them is where I felt most at peace.  I had to get help.

I started medication, but it wasn’t enough.  My mind kept going at more and more of a feverished pitch.  And I would think, “I’ll take them to my midwife.  She can take home Patrice and love her and hubby can handle the other two.” 

Until one day, that was all I could think.  I sobbed it over and over to myself as I took my shower.  Then I packed a few things for the girls and we drove to the midwife’s office, just a few miles away.  From there began a whole series of events that protected my girls and got me help I needed.

The point is, I had a plan.  The plan protected me and my family.

This week a woman in California, seemingly, did not have a plan.  She was getting help but it obviously wasn’t enough or the right help.  It cost a baby his life and will likely cost the mother her freedom.

All of this leads me to beg women, if you think there are issues after you give birth, or wean a breastfed baby, get help.  Don’t hope it will just go away.  Don’t try to tough it out.  Get help.  Have a plan if things get too dark, painful or confusing.  Let others know where you are mentally.  Have someone you trust check in with you to make sure you are okay, someone who will not let you go with a simple “fine.”

I am also available to you.  You can find me here, by e-mail or on twitter @signingcharity; you can always use the hashtag #ppdchat on twitter to find a whole army.

Please have a plan.

Check out these resources:

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/

http://www.mypostpartumvoice.com/

http://www.postpartum.net/

http://www.ellieadorn.com/

http://www.ppdtojoy.com/

My Loves

Anxiety Tried to Kick My Butt Today

A large component of my postpartum depression journey hasn’t been depression at all, rather it has been postpartum anxiety. 

After Patrice was born I was filled with this nervous energy.  I could not stop moving without being overwhelmed by my feelings.  Some good, some bad.

The strongest feeling was to just stay busy.  Keep moving.  At all costs.

This was not all bad.  What better way to keep up with three kids than with a constant need to move?  To do. 

It has reached a fevered pitch several times.  Medications helped for a while.  Then they stopped.  Some other treatments were supposed to help and they did, some.  The drawback, as the anxiety eased, more depression shown through.

Now both elements are pretty controlled.  Most days are good.  And thankfully, I have learned a few tricks that make the anxious moments livable.

One is dressing Patrice.  Well, not the actual dressing.  Anybody who has been around babies knows dressing them once they get mobile is anything but relaxing.  No, it is thinking about what I am going to dress her in that matters.  When I get anxious, I picture her.  Picture what I dressed her in that morning.  I close my eyes and look at every bit of it.  I breathe in and out each piece of her outfit until I am calm.  I used to take her to daycare in her pjs.  Now I very consciously dress her every morning.  And it has worked wonders.

Today had a little twist in it.

I made a bad choice.  I saw a horrible news headline.  I should have turned away,  but I clicked on it.  And read it.  Felt my emotions go out of wack.  Then a group of co-workers started talking about how bad the economy was.  That really pushed my buttons.  Then I started thinking about Caitlyn starting school in two weeks.  And that was all she wrote.

The anxiety I work so hard at keeping at bay came crashing through.  Suddenly it was hard to breathe.  My heart was racing.  My mind was going too fast to control it.  I felt physical pain.  I almost gave into it.  But I resisted the urge.

Instead of losing myself in the feeling, I grabbed my pump and headed to my quiet space.  I sent out a call for help on twitter to the #PPDCHAT mamas.  And I began visualizing Patrice.  At first I could not remember what I had dressed her in.  My anxiety level went even higher.  But then it came to mind.  And I began to breathe it in and out.  Every stripe on the pants.  Every ruffle on the onesie.

I must admit it was not the quick fix it often is.  I added in prayer.  Turned my attention away from how fast my thoughts were moving.  Focussed on the sound of my pump.  Looked at all the pictures on my phone.  Chose to believe the tweets on my phone telling me I was handling it well.  Ignored the reminder in my head how the meeting I had to go to was the same one that had been my tipping point the second time I ended up off work due to the postpartum issues.  Pushed that thought as far away as possible.

And I made it through the meeting.  I made it to the next pumping break.  I was calmer.  But still antsy.  I put my head down on the hard table I pump at.  I fell completely asleep for a few minutes.  I woke up calm.

Tonight has had a few hiccups in it.  I don’t know why today is so full of anxious thoughts.  But I am taking them one at a time.  And Anxiety is not kicking my butt…

Why I Blog

Have you ever had someone ask you why you do something, and you just can’t answer?  I have.  Typically, the reason I can’t answer is I am too emotionally tied to the subject and get defensive rather than having a conversation.

Recently, I have been asked why I blog.  This is one of those topics I can not answer coherently.  I get too angry and hurt to put words together.  My part of the communication tends to be just glares, sighs and frowns. Helpful, huh?

Someone suggested I try to put it in words, even better, in a blog post.  Here goes nothing and everything.

I am shocked to see I have posted over 300 times since I started this blog.  In the beginning, I blogged because I had friends who did and wanted to be able to promote their blog via mine, if anyone came by to visit me.  And my kids are cute, so I wanted to share pictures and thoughts about them.  And, here’s the deep reason, I loved reading people’s blogs and most commenting places have a line for your blog address, and I felt inferior not to have one.

I took the plunge and put this blog together on blogger.  I really enjoyed sharing slices of our life.  And I loved writing again.  I have an English and Journalism degree that doesn’t get used much where I work.  Having an outlet for my words felt so good.

Then, postpartum depression hit.  With an evil vengence.  And though I actually started writing less on my blog, as I went internal to try and deal with all that was going on, I did keep sharing.  And in those posts I tried to journal fun, happy memories.  My blog forced me to search for the bright moments in my day and life.  Times I was doing okay by my girls.  It forced me to see positives when my natural bent was to tear myself down continuously.  And that was even before I had shared about the postpartum depression.

The Lord used my blog to force me to search for the good, even pushed me to do fun things with my girls so I would have positive things to blog about.  Even in my darkest time I could see Him doing that.  And He lead me to a great blog hop, Saturday Snapshots at An Ordinary Mom.  It had nothing to do with the depression, it had nothing to do with my hurting, but for some reason it grabbed my heart.  I looked forward to sharing my pictures each week in that linky.

At Christmas, it came time for me to share the journey of postpartum depression.  I was starting to see some improvement and decided I would tell my story in hopes of helping someone else.  So I put it out there.  And a friend has used some of my writing to educate other medical residents she works with about postpartum depression.  I am hoping there are other times it has helped someone, times I may never know about.

Over the last year there have been many ups and downs with postpartum depression.  I have shared as my heart is able. And I have found help and encouragement in the blogosphere.  I have also found a voice and a value in this journey of postpartum depression. 

As I heal, I have found a little more need for time with my thoughts, to sort them out, to put them out there.  I continue to be a little more pensive in my day-to-day.  I need to think, to process like never before.  My blog is that place.  It is my few moments in the day to clear my head. To sort out my thoughts, to regather energy for the other people and activities in my life.

As my header says, there are joys and challenges in every life.  This is my place to share some of that.

Welcome to the Roller Coaster

A year.  A year.  Up.  Down.  Round the bend.  Round the next bend. Up.  Down. 

Praying it’s just baby blues.

It gets a little better.

Then the darkness comes.

Start a medication.

Get a little relief.

Try an additional dose.

All relief disappears.

End up sobbing at the midwife’s office.

Find yourself in a psychiatric hospital.  Away from your family, away from all you know and trust.

Come home more despondent and hurting than you started.

Get the hope of a postpartum depression specialist.

Ahhh, the right combination of medication.

Some sweet relief.

Up.

Down.

Up.

Down.

Find other mamas on twitter @ppdchat.

Understanding.

Acceptance.

Medication stops working.

Discover new depths of dispair.

Try Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

A bit of relief.

Hope.

Down.

Down.

Down.

Wonder if there is any hope left.

Bite the bullet.  Ask for more help.

See the light again.

Support another mama.

See her make the hard, necessary choice to go to the hospital.

Memories rush in.

Down.

Get support.

Up.

Up.

Up.

*Please excuse the absence of Snapshot Saturdays.  Please head over and pray for Ali.

*Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday.