Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections and Goodbyes

I cannot express how extremely happy I am that we are in the final hours of 2015. This past year has brought me life changes, tears, heartache, hopelessness, selfishness, a joy and love I never thought I could feel towards another person, amazing new friends and a diagnosis that I never expected.

But let's talk about all that bad stuff for a minute. I spent the first couple months of 2015 in tears. Every moment of everyday that someone could not see me, I was in tears. At times, hysterical tears. I once sat on my daughters bedroom floor while she napped in her crib bawling so hard I lost track of time, and before I knew it two hours had passed and she was awake. Yep, let's leave that in 2015.

Not only did 2015 start off in full blown tear sessions, but I felt hopeless. I never thought I would be happy. I didn't think I would ever find who I was in the new role I was given as a mother. I was scared I would live the rest of my life feeling uncertain and miserable. It physically hurt to smile, to laugh, to talk to someone about my baby when they asked....

And then came the extraordinary relief of validation. Validation that it was okay the I felt the way I was feeling. Validation that I wasn't alone. Validation that I wasn't the only one who had ever felt this way. Validation that there was a way out and that I would be able to feel good again.

I sit and write this to you, my wonderful readers, from the same couch I broke down on and told Hubs how I felt. The same couch I could barely move from the first two months of my daughters life. The same couch that I rested on to make that phone call to see my doctor. And now, here we are 10 months after that phone call was made, on this couch, the same one I sat on and read to my daughter this morning before day care, and the same one that tonight I cuddled her on before saying goodnight and putting her to bed.

Why, yes, 2015 has brought it's shares of struggles. But there was good stuff too.

I met this amazing group of women (my Tribe) that I talk to daily. I gained this ridiculous sense of self confidence and motivation. I became a Warrior Mom with Postpartum Progress and connected with other recovering and recovered mamas. I learned what unconditional love was through my recovery; my heart no longer hurts when I look at my daughter, but swells up with immense happiness and love for her. Because of her, I have found peace in the events that have happened over the course of the year and learned that it is not always about forgiving others, but about forgiving yourself and relieving the burden we tend to carry with us.

I don't have any goals for 2016. I don't think I need to make any. I don't think a date on a calendar should set the precedent for change to be a better person. I'm pretty sure no year could be more challenging or trying than this one, and I am ready to put that behind me. There are days I still struggle. I consider myself recovered now, but I am not cured. I am determined to focus on me, my family and my career, instead of living up to some unrealistic goal for myself that I must achieve within 365 days or else I will have failed the whole year. No.

What I can promise you though, is that I will never again let something rob me of the time I have here in the way that PPD did. I will not take for granted the people in my life I care about. I will never suffer in silence again, refusing to ask for help because of fear. I will trust that those I am closest to in my life have my best interest in mind and will not judge me. I will experience everything I can, take chances, and make a difference. I will be thankful for my recovery and strive to feel joy in each day.

And with that, I am not just saying goodbye to 2015, but I am bidding farewell to PPD: your place is in 2015, and in 2015 you shall stay.

My readers, thank you for sticking with me all year (seriously, huge props to those that have stuck with me since the first post). I am so excited for the coming year and the BIG things that are happening. I cannot wait to share all of these exciting happenings with you as they come. Happy New Year, and I'll see you next year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why I Won't Teach My Daughter to Share

We've heard it our whole life: Share. You share with kids in schools and you share your toys when friends come over to your house and you share what you have with others because it's just nice and makes you a nice person, right?

I don't know about you, but after middle school I stopped 'sharing' things with people. Usually, they lost them or broke them. Typically, they 'forgot' to give it back and probably still have it to this day or pawned it for cigarette money. So I'm over sharing, and I refuse to teach my children to take part of this barbaric tradition we teach kids.

I think my passion stemmed from a story Hubs told me. He was doing pick up at daycare and P was sitting in the toddler room, which was pretty typical for that late in the day, and she was playing with a toy phone when a toddler came up to her and ripped it from her hands. Luckily, P is pretty chill and just rolled with it. Upon hearing this story, I got super Mama Bear. I asked Hubs if he yelled at the kid (I would have) and he explained that he just stared at him (trying not to push him over, I would assume). I asked him if any of the teachers yelled at him (they didn't). Umm what the hell. This, my readers, is not sharing. This is being an asshole. But the situation itself is not uncommon. How many times do we see a child cry because they want the toy someone else has? And more often than not, we tell the child to hand it over to the whiny one because it's 'nice to share.' Admit it, because we're all guilty of it. And we were all wrong.

I believe there is a difference in sharing (total bullshit) and playing nice. I want P to play nice with other kids, but not be told she has to give up a toy she is playing with and 'share' it with someone else just because they want it. I want a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure that if I cry every day about the Mercedes I wouldn't mind driving, that no one is going to just give it to me. P is not always going to get her way. P won't always get what someone else has, and in no way am I going to raise her to think that she is owed something just because someone else has it and she wants it too.

Maybe my toddler story isn't fair. Maybe a teacher didn't see him do it. Maybe they didn't think it was a big deal because Hubs was there to take her home anyways and obviously she had to be done with the toy because she was leaving. Maybe that kid really is just an asshole and thinks it's okay to rip toys from a baby's hands, but it stirred something in me. As much as I don't want P thinking if she asks nicely or cries enough for something that someone else has to give it to her, I also don't want her to think that if someone else asks or cries at her that she needs to give up what she has. That's not how the world will work for most of her life, so that is not how her life should work as a small child.

Now don't get me wrong, P won't be running around hoarding toys yelling 'MINE MINE MINE.' No, she will be raised to play nice. Play with others and play nice. Don't feel like you need to give something up if you're not done with it. You have just as much right to an object as the next person. Under no circumstance should you feel like you need to give something to someone for no reason simply because they wanted it too. Don't take from others. Wait your turn. Don't be an asshole.

It's simple, right? Stop sharing. (Unless you own that Mercedes and are looking to give it away, in which case, I'll take that).

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Working Mommy

It recently occurred to me that I started this blog to share my experience as a new mom in the midst of postpartum depression recovery, and working full time, yet I have yet to really talk about what a typical day is like in my full time life. So, here I am again (in case you missed me) forfeiting some details about my life as a full time mom, full time wife, full time furmommy and full time working lady.

My day technically starts at 6:30am. I don't start my day until about 6:45am. I get P ready in the morning and finally start working on myself. I try to hurry and have everything ready the night before, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. I'm usually late to work. 8:02 a.m. Never fails. Some days I'm early. 7:58 a.m.....yessss.

I work for a great company. I spend 9 hours a day there and sometimes I'm not ready to leave at 5. Sometimes I wish I could stay longer, not because I don't want to go home to my baby, but because I'm really into what I'm doing and wish I could keep working on it. I get a sincere sense of enjoyment and fulfillment from my job. Not every day at work is a great day, but I've never truly felt a sense of dread when I walk into the office on a Monday morning.

I think working full time and wanting to work full time throws a lot of people for a loop, especially stay at home moms. I've been asked if I don't get a sense of enjoyment from my baby if I'm needing to find it in my work at the office. These two things, family and work, are not the same thing. It is not the same feeling. I am a mom, but I am also me. When I became a mother I added another being in my life for me to love, but it did not replace the love I have for other things. Becoming a mom did not take away the passion I have for other endeavors. It added to it. I work because I want my family to have the best health care. I work so my family can have the income to send our children to the best day care. I work so my family can live in a nice home, take vacations, support two hungry furbabies and have opportunities we might otherwise have to go without. I want P to go to college. I want P to not have to worry about how she will go to college. I might never be able to afford to pay for her entire college experience, but when the time comes I want to be able to tell her I tried, I am trying, and we're going to make it work. I want P to grow up in a place where she can take advantage of every opportunity she wants, not just the ones I can fit into my budget. I work and give up time during the day with her so I can provide her with life long advantages, not just short term ones.

After work I am overjoyed to pick up P from daycare. We go home and I let the dogs out and feed them their supper. Then her and I play, she helps me make dinner, watches me fold laundry and unload the dishwasher. On a rare occasion we might have to run an errand. We eat dinner together and clean up the house, then Hubs comes home and gives her a bath and puts her to bed. I keep cleaning and doing laundry, letting the dogs out, prepping meals and snacks for the next day and making grocery lists. I might pay a bill or answer some emails. I'm constantly moving. Sometimes I go to the gym or make a late grocery store run. By 8 p.m. I am almost always settled in on the couch with a glass of wine and Words With Friends.

My day ends at 10 p.m. I'm exhausted. But sometimes I am enjoying this time with Hubs so much that I just can't bring myself to close my eyes. I enjoy his company. I enjoy having conversations with him and laughing with him after a long day without the distractions of a little person tugging on my pant leg or crying because a dog licked her face. Sometimes my day ends at 11 p.m. Sometimes later.

My days are busy, crazy, non-stop, and rarely involve a break. I am constantly multi-tasking and constantly wishing coffee stayed warmer longer. There are days I feel like saying screw it and letting the house get messy and grabbing a pizza for dinner instead of cooking, but my mom never did that. My mom never stopped working, moving and giving. Whether I like it or not, P is watching me. P is studying and learning from everything I'm doing. If I give up, if I say screw it, if I let myself stop living these crazy days, what will she think of me? What will she think of our family? Of herself? Of her future? Maybe I'm over thinking it.

Of course I miss her! I have her picture on my desk. I have her artwork on my walls. I think about her almost all day. I talk about her to my co-workers and show them funny pictures of her on my phone. I don't think about the time I'm missing out on with her because I'm too busy planning all the things we're going to do together in the time we do have. I don't worry about milestones she's making without me, but I hope if she does start walking that daycare keeps their mouths shut and lets me think she's doing it for the first time with me. I leave P every day with people who keep her safe and meet her needs, who play with her and provide her with way cooler toys than what I can. I leave her with people she loves and reaches for when we drop her off every morning, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

At the end of the day I love being a working mom. I take pride in the fact that I work my 45 hours a week, can come home and still take care of my family, the household, my two Ferrel dogs, and keep everyone happy. That's why I work. That's why I won't be a stay at home mom. That's why I won't ever feel guilty for putting P in daycare so I can go to work. And that's why I'm grateful for the opportunities I have and that I'm able to provide my family with. And one day, I hope P will be grateful too.

My two adorable furbabies. 

**Disclaimer: this post is a reflection of our everyday life post-recovery from PPD.  This is not a representation of what life was like before seeking help and starting a treatment plan. I also want to make it clear that I in no way feel superior to stay at home parents. Two, full time working parents is what works for our family at this moment in our lives. For those who do stay home with their children, it truly does take a tremendous amount of strength and integrity and I admire you for those qualities.**

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stigmas, Lies and the Government - Oh My!!

Disclaimer: This post may contain triggers. This is your warning.

Alrighty then.

Please raise your hand if you think mental health stigmas in this country no longer exist. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Why didn't you raise your hand? Oh, that's right, because that was really dumb of me to ask. OF COURSE we still have stigmas around mental health. If we didn't, why did you struggle for so long to ask for help? It's hard! We're afraid of what a doctor will tell us, what our families and friends will think and that recovery won't work.

Next question won't be so difficult. I'll make it multiple choice.

What is the #1 killer of infants and children in America? A - SIDS, B - Birth Defects, C - the hands of parents........don't worry, I'll wait.

If you guessed B, you're correct. If you guessed C, you are highly misinformed. Here, let me help you.

Being diagnosed with a perinatal mood disorder does not mean you will hurt your child. It does not mean you are at risk of hurting yourself or others. It means you need help, and with the right help you can recover and live a fulfilling life of joy and happiness with your friends and family. It means you're struggling more than others, that you need someone to listen more than before, that you need to be taken care of and that you need time to heal. It does not mean you are crazy. It does not mean you don't love your children or your spouse.

Last night, the March of Dimes hosted a Twitter chat about postpartum depression in new moms in the NICU (bravo to them for starting the conversation, by the way). Throughout this conversation a comment (not made by the March of Dimes) was made that not only shocked me, but it hurt me. It hit home for me. It stated that postpartum depression was the leading cause of death in infants in our country. Well, the good news is that, according to these people, stigmas on mental health no longer exist. Thank goodness. Because now I have been classified as a number one suspect for murdering my child, but I no longer need to fear asking for help or seeking help. Pardon my language, but only a true idiot could make a statement such as this.

It's hard to write about this. It's hard to even think about. It angers me beyond belief. Through my own recovery I have met countless recovered moms who adore their children. I have met women that are currently struggling and counseled them, helped them find help, and assure them things will be okay. They're scared and they want to know what to expect, what the doctor will say, what to do if their doctor doesn't believe them, and there are times when I struggle to convince them IT WILL BE OKAY! It will be okay. But as long as statements like these are made, women (and men) are only instilled with more fear. Fear that now the life of their child is at risk. I'm not naive, I know not every person recovers and there are times when it ends in tragedy, but I also know better than to think that every woman is putting the life of her child in danger because she isn't happy anymore.

I am asking you to help. I am asking you to reach out to the Office of Women's Health and ask them for their help. We need to keep the conversation going, but more importantly, we need to keep the conversation going in the right direction. We need to make strides forward, not backwards.


Postpartum Depression Stigma Still Exists, Even in the Federal Government -postpartumprogress.com 
 Photo courtesy of Katherine Stone, PPI. You can read her original reaction to this event here: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-depression-stigma

Friday, November 13, 2015

PSA: I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

Going into motherhood I had the typical image in my head: home dishelved, dishes piling high, take out bags scattered about, my hair a mess and the thought of wearing jeans is just a distant memory. And as my pregnancy progressed I accepted that my home was going to change and began to prepare for the tornado that was about to strike. But things turned out a bit differently. Most days end with the satisfaction of knowing I worked a full day, hit the gym, did laundry, cooked dinner and took care of my family to the best of my ability. Maybe even ran an errand or two. I call those my Super Woman Days. And they happen a lot. *toot toot*

Some days are harder than others, I admit. There are days when the laundry basket sits for four days full of clean clothes because I just really don't want to put them away. Sometimes we eat off paper plates. There are nights when P just won't stay asleep and one of us (Hubs) ends up sleeping in the recliner cuddling with her half the night. The dogs run away, we forget it's garbage day and trash bags pile up, and the cupboards become empty and we're stuck with frozen pizza for dinner again. But for the most part we got this.

I am happy. Hubs is happy. P is happy. The dogs are probably happy, but who can really tell. We go on family walks and eat dinner together. We take trips, laugh and play, tickle tiny baby feet and take turns changing diapers. We read books to P and play silly games together. We try really hard to make sure she has everything she needs to have a happy childhood and a successful future, but want to know the secret to it all? I have no idea what I'm doing.

The internet is filled with forums and parenting blogs confusing and panicking parents into an all out frenzy if they're making the right decision, and if you don't you are potentially psychologically damaging your child for life. {Because we weren't already terrified enough as parents.}

I'm not immune to these same worries. I Google just about everything, but I try not to stress about what I read, nor do I choose to believe everything I read, regardless of who the source is. I choose to believe that the decision I feel is beneficial for my baby is, despite what the mom of 7 kids who has 'seen it all' says on that forum.

We gave P cereal at 4 months. We gave her puree's at 5 months. She slept in a rock and play until 8 weeks old and was then left completely alone in her own crib in her own room in complete darkness and has been there ever since. I stopped trying to force her to look away from the TV at 6 weeks old. We've let her suck on a lemon that was in our glass of beer without rinsing it off. We used the Cry It Out method (and it worked, and it's been awesome). P doesn't wear shoes. In fact, sometimes we even let her teethe on shoes. She's had two colds and both times we gave her baby cold medicine, switched on the humidifier and let it run it's course (which took forever, by the way). She's sat in jumpers and exersaucers longer than the allowed 15 minutes. She sleeps with a blanky. I don't check on her in the middle of the night. Sometimes she wears boy clothes. I didn't really care to be anywhere near her the first 6 weeks of her life and y'know what? She doesn't even hold it against me. She still climbs on my lap and smiles and cuddles and reaches out for me when I walk by.

I have no idea if any of these decisions we've made for P are going to damage her in the long term. I actually highly doubt any of them will. She appears to be healthy. She's happy. She likes being around us (usually). Why as parents do we feel the need to ask, to Google search, to reach for answers from every stranger on the internet if what our baby is doing or isn't doing is normal? If it's okay to take them outside when it's 30 degrees out (it is, and it's called a coat)? I once saw a mom ask Facebook if it was okay that her baby didn't want a pacifier and if she should be concerned.

I may not know what I'm doing, but you need to trust yourself. Listen to your baby. Trust your baby and trust your instincts. Don't take your baby outside in -50 and a blizzard, but don't be afraid of a little fresh air. Your baby probably needs to go to a doctor if they haven't eaten in two days, but they're probably okay if they just don't want that pacifier in their mouth all the time.

Someone once told me I made parenting look easy. Maybe I'm naive because P is only 11 months old and the worst is yet to come, but it really is easy. There is no secret. I try not to stress about the things I can't control and I make sure P doesn't fall down the stairs or eat an electrical cord, and as long as she isn't doing those things and is laughing with a belly full of food, why do I need to be concerned?

You'd be surprised how much easier life can be when you stop worrying and just start flying by the seat of your pants. You end up in some great places. <3

Saturday, October 17, 2015

An Open Letter to Everyone Else

To Whom It May Concern,

My daughter is pretty awesome. And I'm not just saying that because she's mine. She's happy. She smiles and laughs....sometimes, when you tickle under her chin, she does this deep belly laugh that seriously melts your heart. She scowls, she waves, she claps....she dances to rap music and falls asleep to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. See, she's pretty cool. 
 

She has a best friend (whose a boy, but he's a gentleman, so we're not getting too protective yet). She loves long stroller rides and falls asleep during car trips. She really doesn't care much for TV, but can't take her eyes off the screen during crime shows and Resident Evil. She sweetly says dada when she's happy, and yells mama when she's mad. She walks now too, did you know that? Probably not. She still needs to be holding on to something, but otherwise she pretty much has the walking thing down. She loves her puppies and forgives everyone. Lucky for you. However, her mama ain't quite so laid back.

Her mama is one big protective bear.

Unlike my innocent 10 month old, I have life experience. I know what you're doing. It's too much work for you now. You have your own life, your own family, your own stuff to do. I get it, and I understand. Things come up, people get busy and sometimes it just doesn't always work out to visit. That's okay. But if you do choose to be a part of my daughter's life, it cannot be later. As her mama bear, I took the oath the day she was born to protect her and teach her and make sure I do the right thing to ensure she grows up strong and successful. Please don't think for a second I will make an exception to that oath for you. No, no. I will protect her from the heartbreak of the revolving door of people that claim to care about her. She's 10 months old. She's not new. The door is slowly closing and pretty soon you'll need to get through me to get to her. 

This isn't personal. It isn't mean or malicious or comes with some type of personal agenda. It's a mama bear, with life experience, refusing to let her cub get hurt.
 


I have volunteered this delicate information about my daughter to you. You have not asked. You don't stop by. You weren't there to lend a listening ear when we were dealing with the very real case that our awesome daughter could potentially have a hearing disability (she's fine, by the way). You've never changed a diaper or pushed her in a swing at the park. You haven't taken her on a walk or tried to soothe her cries. Luckily, other people have. People I have not had to ask, people who I have known for mere moments of time....and I encourage you to remember this if the day shall come where you decide to accuse me of purposely keeping my child from you for my own personal gain.

You have met her less than a handful of times, if you've even met her at all. The only pictures you have are ones you've seen on Facebook. This will be all you will ever have. So enjoy it. Soak it all in and accept it. We'll be okay here; we're not missing you at all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Thank You Note

Christmas 2014 was one of the most eventful days of my life thus far. My parents were visiting since I was days away from my due date and couldn't travel, and we were celebrating Christmas in a small apartment, playing games, eating food (and more food) and spending the last few moments together before a new little baby would join us. My water broke on this day. Luckily, we were able to open presents before this happened. I can't recall one thing I received as a gift last year, but I do remember that well over half the gifts stacked in the corner of that apartment living room were for a person that hadn't even been born yet. Amongst her many gifts was a sweater. This adorable, hand-knit, baby pink sweater that my grandma's friend (whom I'd never met) had made for P. It was a little big, it wouldn't fit her until the next winter, but it was absolutely adorable and mostly unexpected.

The day after we got home from the hospital my parents brought the many, many Christmas gifts over to our house. As we went through them putting everything away my mom found that sweater. Tucked inside of it was a letter from my grandma telling me about her friend that made it, along with her address so I could send her a thank you note. I hung the sweater in P's closet and put the note on the kitchen counter as a reminder to send a thank you. My mom reminded me not to forget to send that thank you.

About two weeks later my mom saw the letter on my counter still and reminded me to send a thank you. Yeah, yeah, I'll get to it. I have a newborn, I don't have time for a thank you, I'll send it soon.

Two more weeks went by and my mom again asked me if I had sent that thank you. I hadn't. The letter was still on my counter, completely untouched.

I stared at that letter for two months before giving up and throwing it away. Every day I would look at it and tell myself to send the thank you. It wasn't that hard. I had blank thank you notes in a kitchen drawer, stamps and return address stickers....literally all I had to do was write Thank You on a card and mail it out. But I couldn't. The act of writing something down and mailing it out just seemed so crippling. I was physically incapable of doing a simple task that would take me less than a minute to accomplish. When I finally threw that letter away I felt so much relief. It was like this burden had been lifted off my shoulders because I finally didn't have to worry about sending out a thank you note anymore. If I couldn't see the reminder to do something then I didn't have to do it, right?

Here's my point: PPD is not in your head. It is not something to 'get over.' It is not overreacting. It does not mean you are weak or lazy. PPD is serious, in some cases severe and fatal, and can make even the most simple task, like a Thank You note, become daunting and impossible.

The sweater fits P now. She wears it to day care on chilly days and on long car rides for extra warmth. It looks adorable on her too. It was the first thing anyone had ever made, just for her, and by hand. And the most meaningful part is that it was made by a complete stranger who was also waiting and preparing for her arrival just as much as her parents and family. I don't have the note anymore, I don't remember the ladies name, and I will probably never thank her, but what I am left with is the reminder of how crippling PPD was in my life and how far myself and my family have come. And one super cute girl in one adorable little sweater.


Friday, September 25, 2015

How Running Saved My Life

I'm a runner.

If you know me, you probably just laughed a little bit. And you probably laughed a little bit because a runner can't be fat. And me? Well I might be a few pounds overweight. But wanna know something? Being overweight does not mean you can't run. And running saved my life.

It started a couple years ago. A close friend of mine had started running and she made it seem so easy! She would just get up, run a few miles, and get on with her life. Well. I could certainly do that. Then, in January 2014, that same friend told me about a weight loss challenge she was joining and invited me to participate with her. This was exactly what I needed! I jumped at the chance and the next week the challenge started. I wanted to do well. I wanted to lose weight and be healthier, prettier, and thinner. I bought a treadmill. And woke up the next day and started running. I ran 4-5 days a week during that challenge. I felt strong. And each week at weigh in I would slowly see the weight melt off. Like, super slowly. But I was getting healthier. I felt better. I felt like how I wished I'd felt my entire life.

I didn't win the challenge (my friend did though - go her!) but I fell in love with running. And when the challenge ended, that's when my love turned unconditional. Within weeks of the challenge ending I found out I was pregnant (thank you weight loss), but I didn't want that to hold me back. I had been overweight my whole life and I didn't want pregnancy to negate all the hard work I had put in. I kept running, I kept working out and I kept eating right, until morning sickness took over and I lost all lung capacity. So I took a few months off and didn't run again until getting the OK from my doctor after P was born (and yes, I am going to brag about how I only gained 12 pounds my entire pregnancy because dammit, do you know how hard it is to watch every thing you eat when you are pregnant? It was hard work and I am damn proud of it. Brag over). I was already deep into my depression at this point, but I knew that running could help me.

I had just started anti-depressants, but needed them to work quicker. I couldn't wait 30 days for the full effects. When was the last time I was really happy? What was I doing? Running!! Hubs would come home on his lunch break and I would hand him the baby and go running on my treadmill and damn, I felt great! As I was running I would feel so happy, so fulfilled, so me and normal again. I really felt like I had this mothering thing under control because while I was running, I really had my shit together. But then Hubs' lunch break would end and I would be sitting there again, sweaty and hungry and holding this tiny baby that made me cry for no reason. And as quickly as those feelings of being super mom had come, they would leave. Just.like.that.

Running gave me hope. I was depressed, I was as low as I could possibly get, but then I would have these moments of happiness. Those moments only happened when I was running. So I was capable of being happy again and feeling normal and being me and knowing I could get my shit together. There were days of sadness, but there were moments of happiness hidden in between the glimpses of darkness.

I don't run anymore to lose weight, although it is a bonus. I run because it makes me happy. I run because I feel strong. I run because I feel like I am accomplishing something that myself (and many others) didn't think I could. I run because I want to challenge myself to be a better person. I run so I can fit into smaller jeans. I run because I freaking want to and I freaking like it. So you can go ahead and chuckle all you want when you look at me and think this is what a runner shouldn't look like, and you can tell me running is too hard or you don't understand it, and that's okay. I don't run for you anyways.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Success Disguised as a Failure

I try to be strong. I'm a mom. And I'm a supporter. I aid women overcoming perinatal mood disorders in an online support group; I take on their struggles and feelings and doubts and reassure them relief is near and recovery is possible. I preach it all day long to anyone willing to listen. But I have bad days too. Lately, I've had a lot. And after awhile it gets really hard to disguise them. My true colors are shining through. And I hate it.

How can I support all these other women when there are times I barely am holding my own shit together? How can I tell them it gets better when I am in fear that I myself am relapsing? How can I assure you that you will eventually feel like yourself again when I'm not entirely sure which role I should play anymore?

I still consider myself recovered as I find joy in each day, absolutely adore my daughter, I eat regular meals (at one point I stopped eating altogether), I sleep all night every night (usually), I look forward to things, I laugh with friends and mean it, and most of all am living a medicated free life (this is by far a huge accomplishment). I am recovered. But since I was a child I have always been plagued by the What Ifs. And I often think of the poem WhatIf by Shel Silverstein, a favorite of mine as a kid, and the part that goes:

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song.

Unfortunately, that WhatIf bug has been hanging out all.damn.day. So I appear a little needier. I'm a bit more irritated, more easily annoyed, a little more on edge....

I have recovered. I know that relief is possible and recovery is too. I know these things. I have felt these things. I AM these things. So why on Earth would I feel like I am taking steps backwards? I have been thinking about this for a couple weeks now in silence for fear that I have relapsed. For fear that I need to go back to the doctor. And I have honestly been waiting for Hubs to tell me he's had enough and to go back and tell the doctor I'm not better, but he hasn't. Because now that I've been thinking about it these last couple weeks, I realize that I am not relapsing. I am still learning. I don't fully understand PPD, so I continue to educate myself, and it is through that education I am re-living those early times of P's life. I remember those feelings so vividly it feels as though they could have happened yesterday. I think it's important to remember those feelings if I ever want to help someone else. 

I am human, afterall, who has life experiences and feelings and recovery means not forgetting that. If I forget, if I don't stay relevant, then my advice and support to those currently experiencing PPD/A/P will become robotic. My words will be monotone and my heart won't be in it anymore and if my heart isn't in it anymore, well then, that torture I experienced and that misery I felt would have all been for nothing.

 So yes, I might be a little irritable some days. I might get annoyed by the way you tap the steering wheel when you drive or the way you're chewing your food, but it's those WhatIfs...they're there, and we're working on finding them a new home, but if you could just bare with me for a moment while I try to get my shit together and work through it, I promise I'll do something good with it. I promise to keep moving forward and to keep helping others. I'm only human. I need a bad day here and there. And I promise that if you let me have one, I'll let you have one too.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

The New Guide to Mamahood

#1 Have mama friends (if you're not sure exactly what this means, see previous post). You need mama friends, but the best part is they need you too. When that baby pukes in your hair right after you finally styled it for the first time in weeks, your mama friends will feel the pain with you. And if you pump 8 ounces of breastmilk in a single session, your mama friends are so ecstatic for you that you would think they were the ones accomplishing this feat. Yes, you need mama friends. Go get some.

#2 Always have a bottle of wine on hand, in case of emergencies. So after that baby pukes in your freshly styled hair and you end up wearing a pony tail all day, which is then too tight and gives you a headache so you end up sick at work and unable to drink your coffee until 4 p.m. when you suddenly realize you've had no coffee at all today (dear God, the horror), and you get home and the dishes have piled up and your crockpot dinner burned....oh yes mama, open that bottle of wine! The only thing that will make that day worse is to have to go back out the door to the liquor store and deal with the general population to get that bottle of wine. So save yourself the trouble and just always have a few bottles on hand.

#3 Tell your mama friends everything. Tell them the funny shit. The sad shit. The embarrassing shit. They're not going to judge you. They are going to embrace you. They will be brutally honest with you because they had two hours of sleep last night and a baby hanging off their boob the last 3 days; they don't have time to be nice to you. They will laugh with you and encourage you. Do not fear their judgement, for it barely, if ever, exists.

#4 Cut your hair. Or don't. But if you want to, do it. You gotta feel good about yourself, be happy, feel confident. Do what you gotta do it and just do it. And if you regret it? Refer to rule #3. 

#5 Stop enjoying every moment because not every moment is enjoyable. I really hate when people tell me to love every minute with P. Sorry, but I don't. I don't love when she pulls my hair out and screams and kicks me in the stomach. I don't love the car rides where shes wailing in the backseat for 45 minutes. I don't care for the nights she wakes up 3,017 times just to say hello. I don't find peace in her screaming because I clipped a nail too short. I am not happy when I am stressing over the fact she stopped taking a bottle from me. So no, I will not enjoy every moment and you should feel ashamed for making me feel like I should. Dear parents, you're allowed to not enjoy every damn minute of your time with your children.

#6 Be selfish. Sometimes. You deserve time for you too. You deserve to treat yourself and feel good about. Don't let anyone guilt you because you went out dancing for the first time in two years, or the fact you spent $60 on coloring your hair, or that $40 Express sweater you've been eyeing all Fall...do you girl, and do it well!

#7 Don't take shit from anyone. Really, who the hell has time for that? Sorry people of the world, but I do not have time to deal with your crap. I have enough crap of my own to deal with. Unless you're one of those mama's.....I can squeeze you into my day anytime.

#8 Embrace mommyhood. Don't be ashamed that you can't do the things you used to or that you prefer the Cartwheel app over Instagram now. Don't let anyone make you feel bad that 10 p.m. is late and past your bed time (ahem, rule #7), because you're the one getting up with a baby the next morning, not them. Be whatever mommy you want. Breastfeed, formula feed, wear your baby, don't wear your baby, baptize, don't baptize, let your baby teethe on a shoe, or not. But whatever methods you choose to raise your children with, embrace them. Embrace the new you. Embrace the early bed time and quiet weekend evenings. Embrace the mom car.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Get It Out

I recently started reading this amazing book by Sandra Poulin called The Mother to Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book; an entire book filled with real stories from women who experienced this disease first hand. I wish I had something like this 8 months ago when P was born so know that I wasn't alone. Reading these womens' stories brought me back to the day that P joined our world, because through recovery, PPD just feels like a distant memory. It does not feel like something I went through. Being sad, being broken, is not who I am. I am strong. I am tough. I am independent. PPD caught me off guard. And while I read these women's stories I found myself crying. Their stories are sad, they are scary and they are honest. I wasn't crying because I was sad, but because I was so happy that I recovered. I know I am not alone in what I went through, I run an online PPD support group, but somehow seeing that someone else was able to put down on paper how I felt and the things I thought in the midst of my PPD, shook me to my core. And it made me realize that I did not want to lose those memories. They are scary, they are sad, some are horrible, but I am so proud of the progress P and I have made together that I can only thank PPD for shaping me into the loving mommy I am today. And so these stories inspired me. I think I have been sugar coating this too much throughout my blog. So hang on, let's get real for a minute.

Let's start from the beginning. I knew with a new baby I wouldn't sleep. Babies are up at all hours, crying, needing, clinging, flailing...I expected no sleep. What I didn't expect was that while my baby slept the night away in her bassinet in the hospital, that I would be sitting up in bed staring at her making sure she was still breathing. I was terrified she would die of SIDS right there in the hospital. I watched her sleep all the time. I couldn't let her out of my sight, because if she stopped breathing and I wasn't looking then I wouldn't be able to save her. (This continued at home, too. I slept about 6 inches away from her face and would often lay there making sure I could hear her breathing and resting my hand on her chest to ensure it was still moving up and down).

Then we took her home. Right after we got home we were set to go to my parents house to introduce P to some family members. Right when we got home P spit up on her outfit so we had to change her. Then she spit up on me. I hadn't been home for days. The laundry wasn't done, and now we had just gone through half the clean clothes left in the house and we were running late. I was so frustrated that I was already yelling at everyone in sight. This baby, this life, was already an inconvenience.

The next week we were back at my parents visiting. P was crying and nothing was settling her. She was just out of control. To this day, I can still remember saying to Hubs 'Can you just help out for once?" while I tried to calm our screaming child. I still feel bad about that. Hubs was nothing but helpful when P was born. And I still haven't apologized. Hubs, sensing my frustration, took P from my arms and walked around the house with her. I sat down on the couch trying to hide my tears. I wanted to break down. This baby that I didn't even want anymore was tearing me apart. My mom sat on the couch next to me and told me everything would be okay. I remember fighting back tears as hard as I could and thinking 'No it wont. I am so miserable. How could this ever get better? I hate being a mom and I don't want this baby anymore.' But instead I nodded and said 'I know.' I didn't know!!!! Everything was an unknown at this point. Everything was new, everything was scary....I had just changed my very first diaper ever the week before....how am I suppose to know that it will all be okay?!

Clearly from the beginning I struggled. From the beginning I was ashamed of how I felt and didn't feel like I had anyone I could turn to. No one could understand. I was too afraid of how everyone else felt that I didn't care one ounce about myself. Everyone loved this baby so much more than I did that I didn't want to hurt their feelings to reveal that I, her own mother, did not. I didn't want to stir up bad memories someone might have, like death or infertility or miscarriage, or make anyone feel uncomfortable, yet I was uncomfortable everyday.

I tried. I really did. I googled things to do with P even though she was only a few weeks old. I would lay her on her changing pad and make sounds and faces at her because the internet said she would like that, but as she laid there staring up at me I would burst into tears and bawl uncontrollably for an hour. After awhile, I was crying because I was crying, and I was crying because I couldn't figure out why I was crying in the first place. It would just happen and I couldn't get it to stop and I never felt better. (The first time P ever napped in her crib, I was sitting on the floor next to it crying so hard I could barely breathe....for two hours straight). I would kiss her and hold her little hand, I would show her toys and play her music, but none of it made me feel better. It was emotionally painful to be near her. I was afraid to leave the house with her. I was too afraid to go more than a mile or two from the house if I ever did muster up the courage to leave. I was a prisoner in my own home. I couldn't eat. Eating was painful. I would go a week without changing out of my pajamas because I just didn't care. I rarely showered. I just didn't have the energy. And when I did muster up the energy to shower I usually threw up from the stress. I lost 20 pounds in the first 2 weeks after P was born. I tried pumping, but I just couldn't. I did it three times before completely throwing in the towel. Mentally I was unable to function, yet physically I was on auto-pilot, going through the motions without really having control over them. There were times I would leave P in her crib or her rock and play and sit in the bathroom with the door closed, because I knew if I had to look at her any longer I might do something I might regret. I didn't want to hurt her; I had to protect her from myself. This self that wasn't really me, but the new self that took over when she was born. I was nervous driving so I didn't want to do it. I felt like I was doing it wrong when she was in the car with me, like I wasn't remembering correctly how to signal or how the wipers work; I'm pretty sure I didn't drive over 23 mph the first few months of her life.

But relief. Relief came when I realized I wasn't alone. Relief came when I stumbled upon my online support group that I ended up becoming so active in I was asked to help run it. Relief came when I met more women, in person, that had been where I had been. Relief came when I discovered a local mom group and networked with other young moms. Relief came when I stopped feeling ashamed. Relief came when I read this book.

Relief comes when you stop being afraid of how everyone else will feel and put your own health first. Recovery happens in those moments. And recovery is beautiful.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

New Mommy Rule

Rule #1. Get yourself some mama friends.

Real mama friends. Not mom friends, mama friends.

What's the difference?

Mom friends are friends you have with school aged children. These moms 'remember' that having a young child was hard at times and challenging, but they don't remember exactly why. They don't still feel that frustration, feeling that tired, feel tied down, feel weighed down by the weight of little hands....mom friends don't even always have their kids with them because their kids are old enough to stay home or go to a friend's house. Because of these, mom friends don't always want to do something with other peoples young kids, forgetting that you really don't have a choice but to bring them with because hello, they're 100% dependent on you. But don't neglect these friends. You need them too. They are the ones that are experiencing everything before you, so when that first day of kindergarten comes around they can fully prep you, they give you potty training trips, they comfort you on those nights when your teen comes home way past curfew. Yes, these friends are important too.

But right now, you need mama friends.

Mama friends are friends with children under the age of 2. They are in the here and now and they are in it with you. They were up just as late as you were last night, maybe they didn't sleep at all, they have puke in their hair and boogers on their shirt. Their back hurts from carrying around a 30 pound child all day and they too can eat a steaming hot meal within 35 seconds without it even phasing them. Mama friends are passionate about their kids still, not to say that mom friends aren't, but mama friends are still excited. It's still new. They take their kids to the park, the zoo, playdates....they understand meeting up for drinks on a weeknight after the kids have gone to bed, even if they do have to work the next morning. Mama friends encourage you to ask for help and advice. Mama friends make you wanna be a better parent because you're all comparing your own parenting style; you pick up on things, take in new ideas, and maybe even learn some do's and dont's. You can ask and share anything with no fear of judgement because they probably felt that same way yesterday and if they didn't then they know they will tomorrow.

So do yourself a favor. Stop being afraid. Stop being afraid of meeting new people. Put yourself out there. Get some mama friends. No one else will understand you more than those women. No one else is willing to hear your complaints and take your side through it all like a mama friend. You need them. Your kids need them. And your husband needs you to have them. Your mama friends are you tribe.


Dedicated to all my mama friends, because it seriously takes a village to raise these little minions and you have all helped me more than I could ever explain.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Pampers Moment

You know that irritating Pampers commercial? You've seen it. The one where the perfectly put together mom is swaying peacefully in the middle of the night with her newborn singing 'Hush Little Baby,' making everyone who has never actually had a baby smile and wish they did? Yep. I hate that commercial. I hate that actress. I hate you, Pampers.


This lady has her shit together. It's the middle of the night and her baby is awake (not screaming),her hair is done, she's happy (not exhausted), and she even had time to throw on a robe before tending to her little one. What am I missing? Am I doing something wrong? I sure as hell resemble nothing even kind of close to that in the middle of the night. No, I look like some haggard lady that just ran 14 miles and can't see straight. And never once have I felt like singing in the middle of the night. Sorry. I'm just not in the mood at that time of day to sing.

How deceiving can we be? We're all the same. We all have babies, they all cry and poop and keep us up all night. They all fight sleep and wake up 10 seconds after we lay them down, they all puke on us the second we get dressed into our nice work clothes and pull our favorite necklace off and throw beads all over the floor. But why do some of you really have your shit together???

It's deceiving. The commercial, the actress, that quiet little baby, and even your friend that just had her own baby. We are all faking it. Some of us fake it better than others. Don't get me wrong, I do have my days where it really feels like all my ducks are in a row: the baby is happy, the dogs are happy, a healthy home-cooked meal is on the table, dishes and laundry are caught up, the house is picked up, the lawn is mowed....damn, we're pretty good at this whole parenting thing. I like those days. But then there are days when the dogs are happy and the house is clean and the laundry and dishes are done, but that baby is so pissed off for no apparent reason and just brings down the illusion of a perfect home right in front of me. Those days are frustrating. I've cried on those days before, not because I am sad or regretful, but because I feel like I am losing my shit, and I'm just not about that.

Today kind of felt like one of those days. It started off with P diving head first off the couch onto the hardwood floors and me crying because I am such a horrible mother that I let that happen to her. Then, the dog took a huge crap in the middle of the kitchen floor, I ran out of clean bottles, my A/C just isn't working right and I am seriously sweating balls, and to top it off I never got to finish that hot cup of coffee I made myself this morning. I was really looking forward to that cup of coffee, too. P stayed up two hours past her bedtime and was bitching and complaining the whole time about it and dear Lord, I am sick of this. I am over today. I am so fed up with this overly tired and cranky baby. I turned all the lights off in the house. I turned off the TV. I aimed a fan towards the rocking chair to try to find some relief, grabbed that baby, shoved the pacifier in her mouth and played some Israel Kamakawiwo'ole on the good ol' YouTube on my phone and started rocking her slowly, back and forth, brushing back her (three) hairs and quietly shushing. That's when it happened. The clouds parted and there it was....The Pampers Moment.

There I was, peacefully rocking my baby girl to sleep with nothing but a cool breeze, smooth swaying motions, relaxing music and the faint light from the fish tank illuminating behind us. Her eyes closed and she was out within minutes. The world was quiet and we were the only two people in it. I didn't want to let go of this moment even though for the last two hours I wanted nothing more than for her to be asleep and in her crib. But this moment could last forever. Unfortunately, I could only stretch it out for about 40 minutes before my hands fell asleep and I had to go lay her down, but in that 40 minutes an entire days worth of crap was fixed. In that 40 minutes I realized that yes, some days will be a struggle, but you know what? I really do have my shit together. Maybe I don't always feel like I have my shit together, but at the end of the day I really do. Parenting isn't easy, and it certainly isn't filled with Pampers moments, but P went to bed tonight happy and healthy, and I still have enough energy left to lay on my couch and watch TV so I can get up tomorrow and do it all over again, and if that isn't the definition of having your shit together, then I don't know what is.



Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear Daughter

There are so many things I want P to know, but I know the day will come when she will go out of her way to not listen to me. I'm waiting for this day, I'm prepared, but I am still dreading it. There are so many things I want to teach her and to tell her, but when the time comes I know she will not want to listen to what her mom has to say. I get it. So maybe, if I'm a little proactive, I can get all my advice out to her in writing beforehand, and then maybe one day she'll see it and listen to me. Maybe....


Dearest P,
I want you to know that growing up seems like the hardest time of your life, but trust me, it isn't. This is the easiest time. You have no responsibilities except for your own future. Do not worry about anything else, for I am taking on those worries for you. Let me stay up late at night tossing and turning, wondering if the kids at school are being nice to you, whether or not we can afford to pay that speeding ticket you got, if you're going to do great on your SATs (you will), if that boy that made you cry will get what's coming to him....please, let me.

And P, let me tell you that not everyone you meet growing up will matter to you as an adult. Those bullies at school and mean girls that taunted you, you will be better than them and you will forget their names and faces over time. The teacher that marked up your paper with red ink will be proven wrong. The friends that didn't invite you and hung out with you behind your back will be replaced by true friends that will literally drop everything to bring you a bottle of wine because you had a bad day. And the long days at that shitty part time job you're working will seem so distant when you're putting in hours at a job that brings you a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

And P, not everything will work how you want it to. The boy you thought you were going to marry will break your heart. You might fail your driving test the first time around and your best friend will stab you in the back. You will spend nights crying, but you will spend even more staying up late laughing. You are going to struggle in school and moral dilemmas. You will lie, you will stretch the truth, you will hide things from me, at times you might be too honest with me, you will hurt feelings and regret decisions you made, you will make me cry and tell me how much you hate me, but P....it's okay.

I will love you more than anyone could ever think they could love you, and my love will stay unconditional no matter how hard your adolescent self tries to break that, and I will hug you and hold you as long as you let me. And if the time comes when you feel you no longer need me, know that I will still be here, waiting for you, supporting you and loving you, and giving you advice even when you no longer want it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fading

The memories are fading. Each day they seem further and further away.

At the time, the depression seemed to hold me so tight I knew it would never let me go and I would be stuck like that forever. Time stood still. Food had no taste. It hurt to smile. I cringed when I had to hold my daughter. I feared sleeping because I knew it wouldn't last. Everything felt unnatural. In that moment, those feelings were real. They were raw and they were my life. Now, those memories, those feelings, feel so far away. Sometimes when I think about them, it doesn't even seem like that really happened to me and I wonder if maybe I made it all up. Was life really that bad?

I know it was. I was there. Hubs was there; I'm sure he remembers too. And P...surely at the time she felt that her mother wanted nothing to do with her. I am lucky P will never remember those feelings I gave to her, but I feel burdened that I am beginning to forget. I don't want to forget those dark days, because in those days I was weaker than I had ever been. I was lower than I could have ever imagined and was convinced that was my life now. And then I recovered. The memories of those days are all I have to remember how strong I am, how much I overcame, and basically how kick ass I am.

I am a warrior mama. I earned that shit. And I don't want to forget why.

So it makes me sad that those memories are fading and those feelings from months ago aren't as vivid. I grieve that strong mama I was because I know I will never overcome something so extremely difficult again. I will never accomplish something so heavy, something that had the potential to take away everything, ever again. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to re-live those days or feel those feels ever again, but I want to remember how strong I am, how brave I am and how I got to the place I am today. I'm proud of who I am now. I'm proud of P and the progress we've made together.

I was once told that we are chemically wired to forget the true pain and agony of childbirth so that we are willing to go through it again, because if we didn't no one would keep having babies. I laughed at the time. Surely no woman would forget the feeling of a knife being plunged into her gut and wiggled around and then being ripped in half and having to learn to walk and create a bowel movement again. Nope. Not buying it. Who can forget that???

But I don't laugh anymore. It's freaking true!!! I remember it was painful and it sucked and I was uncomfortable and for a week after P was born I feared sneezing or coughing or sitting or walking or standing or inhaling or exhaling.....and maybe that's why my memories of PPD are fading away, for if I held on to them too tightly I would never be willing to risk that challenge again. I remember it sucked, but I honestly can't remember why I ever thought life was so bad, but at the time, life was more painful than childbirth.

So maybe there's nothing I can do but to keep writing, keep positive and keep helping other mamas. There is nothing else I can do. I am chemically wired to forget so that I can move on.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being A Good Parent

What makes you a good parent?

Is there an online quiz you take somewhere? Who do you ask? Where is the checklist for me to run through to find out if I meet the criteria?

Is being a good parent measured in how many hours a day I spend with my baby? How many hours we spend as a family? How many kisses I give? How much my baby smiles and laughs? The fat rolls on her legs? The words I use to speak with her? The amount of time I spend reading to her a week?

I just don't know.

And I struggle with this. I don't know if I'm a good mom or not. P seems okay with it, so I should too, right? She laughs, she smiles, she giggles, she babbles, she has rolls upon rolls so I know she's healthy...but what makes me a good mom?

I take care of my baby. I hold her when she cries, feed her when she's hungry, lather her in sunscreen when she goes outside...but is that what really makes someone a good parent?

There must be a list of criteria out there one would need to meet in order to earn the title of Good Parent.

It bothers me I can't find this list.

I compare myself to others; it's human nature. I see what other moms do with their kids and wonder if I am doing that enough with my own. I hear how other parents talk to their children and wonder if my words are as kind, or if I hold P enough compared to other babies...how would I know? Who would tell me?

There are times at the end of the day when I sit down and think damn, I did good today. But then there are other days where I second guess everything I did. Did I hold her enough? Did we play enough? Did I talk to her enough? Oh my God...did I tell her I loved her?????

I hate those days. Those days make me question everything. Those days make me feel like a really shitty parent and there is no one to validate those feelings. It's just me. It's only me that can decide if I'm good enough, so on the days when I don't think I am, those are really hard days. And I hear from other people from time to time how great of a mom I am, but really, whose going to tell someone point blank they're a shitty parent? It's hard to know who to believe.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dear Working Mom

Hey there fellow Working Mom, how was your day? I know, you just got home from work 9.5 hours, you're tired, your feet hurt, your eyes are burning and your head is pounding. Dinner is burning in the oven because you had to drop everything to feed the dogs and change the baby. And there are probably days where you think it would be so much easier if you didn't have to work and could just stay home with that little baby and cuddle and play all day long, right?

Hey Working Mom, have you ever met a stay at home mom?

I remember my maternity days (a little too fondly) and thinking how bored I was. I felt useless. I was taking care of a baby all day, but what did I really accomplish? I sat on the couch, washed dishes, changed diapers, went to appointments, did laundry....but I never felt a sense of fulfillment. My work, however, did bring me this. Sound familiar? No? Good for you. Yes? High five.

Yes, I am exhausted at the end of my days sometimes and all I really want to do is sit on a patio with an ice cold beer and talk shit about my day with someone, and even though I can't do that, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Those maternity leave days were rough.

But hey there Stay At Home Mom, how's your day been? You've been puked on 7 times, got pee on your clean floors, stared at that pile of clean laundry on your couch that will never get folded for the last 2 weeks, listened to a toddler scream for three hours straight, have been holding in that poop for the last day and a half because you can't get some alone time? How the heck do you manage???? Props to you. I'm pretty sure you work harder than all of us. Your days are longer and typically filled with tiny people physically and emotionally tugging at you all day. You wipe boogers and go without showering, sometimes even forgetting to eat until dinner, and your last few moments before you pass out at night are spent scrubbing magic marker off the dining room table. Seriously, how are you doing this??

Us working moms tend to think because we leave our children all day for an office and then come home to take care of our families that we work twice as hard. This might shock some of you, but we don't. The stay at home mom is seriously made of steel. She has to be. She never gets a moment to bend or break. She has to stay strong all day. She can't take the day off and send the kids to day care just to get a few hours to be herself or run errands....she gets no PTO. She doesn't get a non-sticky, non-smelly work place....she doesn't get adult conversation (although sometimes mundane) all day long. She doesn't sit on the couch. She doesn't get to watch her favorite soap opera. Now that's not to say us working moms have it easy, either. We're away from our kids all day. Sometimes we miss milestones because they happen at daycare. We miss those babies. We don't always want to put that laundry away at the end of the day either. But we are not better than you. We do not work harder.

Stay at home or working in the field, we're all superwoman. We're not super human, but I'd like to think that some days we can get pretty damn close, and dammit, we ALL deserve recognition for that.

The ugly truth of PPD

I would like to warn you before reading this post that it is filled with raw honesty. It is vulnerable. It is honest in the sense that the ugly truth of PPD is about to become exposed. The following is a place of acceptance, not judgement, and a place where women who have suffered should be able to come and know they are safe. So here we go...

PPD is a cruel bitch. It doesn't care what makes you a good parent or a bad parent, what makes you caring or hateful, it only cares about itself. It cares about where it's going and where it's been, not where it needs to be. PPD could care less about you.

Like any parent, I was paranoid. I was worried. I was anxious, and I checked on my baby. A lot. And I read a little too much about what can go wrong. I read a lot about SIDS. I was paranoid of SIDS. In the hospital, I barely slept, lying there wondering if my baby was still breathing in the nursery, and when she slept in her bassinet next to me I laid there and watched her, making sure she kept taking breaths. Then we went home. She slept in a Rock N Play next to our bed for the first 8 weeks; until my medication was fully enforced, I should say. I watched her like a hawk. I was always making sure she was breathing. Sometimes I would blow in her face just to make sure she would react; I didn't care if that woke her up. But why did I care so much? PPD made me so numb to affection, to love, to giving a shit....that honestly, in that moment, I did not care if P succumbed to SIDS. Never once did I think of harming my baby, but the thought did creep up that if something out of my control happened to her that took her away from me, maybe that would be okay. It would be a relief, really. I could get back to my normal life. I would have Hubs to myself. I could be me again. I liked her, but I didn't really love her. I knew I could live without her.

What a horrible parent I was!!! What a horrible excuse for a human being! Well, no.....I wasn't. But I was letting the PPD win. I am a giving person. I genuinely care about others and always have, but I had never been so depressed before where I didn't care about myself or anyone else around me, except Hubs (yeah, believe it or not, his happiness and feelings were the only thing I cared about that kept me going). But my horrible parenting didn't end there.....there were times when maybe I burped P a little too hard, when I picked her up to soothe her just a little too roughly, when I set her down just a little too rigidly....there were times when I should have picked up the phone and called someone. There were times I should have put P in her car seat and just driven to the ER. I don't think I would have ever hurt P, or myself, but I was also able to get help after just 2 months post-partum. PPD escalates. It does not go away on it's own (trust me, I tried). I don't even want to imagine how much worse things could have gotten....it saddens me to think I even let it get as bad as it did. But it happened. And it's okay. P is happy. She's healthy. I'm happy. I'm healthy. We love eachother. We play. We cuddle. We go out on the town. We go shopping. We travel. We're besties.

But I am lucky. PPD/A/P does not always stop there, at thoughts or mild actions. Sometimes it goes so far as to self harm, or much worse, death. And I want to tell you about the organization Jenny's Light. Jenny gave birth to a little boy in November 2007 and just 6 weeks later (the exact amount of time it took for me to confess to Hubs what I was really going through) her and her son lost their battle to PPD. Her story breaks my heart. But her story should inspire you. Their story should inspire you to stop the stigmas that follow PPD. Their story should bring you hope that you do not need to wait it out, or hope, that things get better. Their story should teach you that seeking help, going to counseling or being prescribed medication, is the best thing you can do as a parent. It makes you a strong person. It makes you a warrior mom.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Do Over

Before I got engaged, everyone asked me when Hubs and I would get married. Well, I dunno, I suppose sometime after he asks. Then the day came where we finally vowed I Do forever, and shortly after that celebration came the never ending question: When are you going to start a family? Well little did you all know, we wanted one right away! And right away we tried. And 8 months into our marriage our trying paid off. We were going to have baby P. Then, the day came when P was finally here. My PPD was already working its way full force through my system even before she arrived. In fact, it was working so fast I didn't even have time to fully realize that what I was experiencing was far from normal. And as soon as we left the hospital, before I could even soak in what I had just been through, the questions started all over again....when are you going to have the next one?

Are you freaking kidding me people? I just had the first one. I'm traumatized!!! I'm miserable, and cry, all day every day. I regret every second of my life from the last 9 months and you want to know when I am going to go through this hell again? What. The. Hell.

But seriously, when do the questions stop?

But here we are. P is 6 months old. Hold on to your seats folks, but I am actually ready to have the next one. Not right now of course, but I am openly talking about it. I am ready, in a few years, to go through this again. I'm prepared. I know I'll be okay. And I want to do this again.

One of the women in my support group brought up the fact that she will never have another baby because of her experience with PPD was so horrific that she could never risk going through it again, and she was wondering if anyone else felt the same way. I explained to her that yes, this was a deep feeling of mine. I was passionate about never having another baby. I knew better than to put myself through this again, but then I recovered.

I want to do this again. I can never get these times back with P, but I can get these times with the next one. I don't want to have to force myself to remember my baby as a newborn. I don't want to have to feel like I'm carrying a 500 pound weight as I pick up my camera to take a picture of my newborn...I want photos of me and my newborn, of my new family, in the hospital, and smiling. I want videos of my tiny, little, new, wrinkly, red, squishy baby lying peacefully in their bassinet. I want to rock them in the middle of the night and feel peace, not resentment. I want to nap during the day when I should, and appreciate those little fingers wrapped around my thumb. See, I didn't get any of that with P. I was robbed. PPD robbed me of those memories, of those feelings, with P. And I know I can never make that up to her. I know I can never get those pictures and videos of her as a fresh, new person ever again, but I can of the next one. And I am determined to do so.

But please stop asking me when I am going to reproduce again. I am recovered, but I am still in the midst of recovery. I am still medicated. I still work, very hard, everyday, to enjoy P. I love her, do not ever doubt the love I have for this baby, but some days we work to feel that love between us, and not just to feel it, but to show it towards one another. But our family is hopeful for the future, and our family is excited to meet the next member and take another journey into the depths of parenthood and what it has to offer. Our family is patient for the day that brings us to our Do Over.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Warrior Moms

Five months ago I was in the darkest place I had ever been. I was in a hole so deep that I never thought I could get out of it. I was miserable, sad, bitter....I barely ate and was essentially numb. I didn't care about anything. anyone, and less about myself. But here we are. We made it, P. We're survivors. I know P didn't have PPD, but she is still a survivor by proxy. Too often, children are also victims of PPD and too often these cases can be prevented.

This past Saturday marked the day. This past Saturday was the day I met up with other local women who have been where I was, have felt what I felt, and eventually had to seek recovery to be where they are today. I looked around at the women that attended The Climb for Post Partum Progress and for the first time since my diagnosis I felt safe. I felt safe in my company. These women, their children, their husbands, their friends, were complete strangers to me the day before, but now, here I stand, next to them, with a bond that (it seems) few people can understand, much less talk about. We walked along the trails of the Falls, climbing out of the darkness if you will, and talked about our jobs and our children....we shared our diagnosis and recovery stories....it was uplifting. I talk about PPD/A, I advocate for it, I help run an online support group for it, yet no one had ever really asked me questions about my own experience. And no one felt shame. It was as normal for us to talk about what had happened to us as it was for most people to talk about the movie they saw last weekend. But we did not dwell on this. Instead, we enjoyed the walk, the scenery, the river....we played with the kids and laughed with them.....we were people. We were normal people. And I can't tell you how long it has been since I really felt normal with the people I was.

PPD feels like a secret. It feels like shame, even in recovery. It feels like something that you can't bring up because you don't want anyone to look at you differently, or to think you're still sick after you've recovered. It feels like a sensitive subject that you don't want to bring up to anyone just in case they had their own experience; you don't want to stir up any bad memories.

Stigmas.

We need to talk about it. We need to get over it and not be so afraid of it. 1 in 7 women suffer from some type of perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, yet just 5.5% of the population is unemployed, and as a society we have no problem offering them resources nor discussing the issue. Why is mental health swept under the rug? Why is it so hush hush?

I wish I could change everyone's minds. I wish I could make everyone understand, and I wish I could help every new mom and dad that is suffering feel okay again. It hurts me to think that there are others out there suffering and are too afraid to seek help. It makes me feel guilty that I was able to get the help I needed, and so many are not. And it makes me feel even worse that I might not be able to make as big of a difference as I had hoped. There is no conclusion to this, but I have to keep trying. Know there are others around you that are suffering. They might look okay, they might look happy, but don't be afraid to start the conversation about mental illness.

Here is my local team for The Climb this past weekend. Check out www.postpartumprogress.org to find yours!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#7Days

Helping others with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is something that is now near and dear to me. It is my motivation. It is my drive to keep going and to keep bettering myself, and through this, I have become less selfish and more empathetic to people from all situations.

That being said, I have also found myself deeply emerged in the organization Post Partum Progress, specifically their upcoming event, The Climb. I have talked about this briefly before, but it is the world's largest event in raising awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It is a great cause and an amazing fundraiser. I want to do what I can to help the cause not only monetarily, but also to network and be around other survivors, and maybe even those that are still suffering so that I can share with them my story. My success story. However, it looks like I'll be doing the climb alone.

To tell the truth, I legitimately don't know who I would ask to join me. I could bring P, but Hubs will probably stay home with her so I don't have to worry about weather or caring for her during the event. So...now what? My two biggest supporters will stay home, and I will go. Alone? What.

I was talking to Hubs this evening about this and how I wish there was someone I could ask to go with me, but no one knows about my PPD (except him and my parents, of course). I never opened up to a friend, nor admitted after the fact that I had struggled and am still undergoing recovery. I haven't told anyone about my deep involvement with the PPD community or why I've been flooding their Facebook news feeds lately with requests for donations to the organization. And the crazier part? No one has asked either.

But it got me thinking...why haven't I told anyone? I am not ashamed. I don't feel guilt anymore. So what's the big deal? Here I am, advocating for a cause and I can't even bring myself to share my story to those closest to me, but have no problem in doing so with strangers (you), apparently. Am I just as bad as everyone else? Am I ashamed? Do I feel guilty? I suggested that maybe I haven't told anyone is because I don't want their pity; it's too late for that. Hubs agreed. If I tell them, will they look at me differently? Will they treat me differently? Will they feel bad for me? I don't want any of that. But I do want their help in raising awareness. I need their help in eliminating the stigma that society has on new mothers, and that new mothers clearly have about themselves. I also need the help in overcoming my own stupid insecurities that I may not be accepted as the person they thought I was anymore. And who needs rejection?

The Climb is in 7 days. Empowerment, pride, encouragement, courage, bravery and strength will come in 7 days. In 7 days I will have no excuse to feel fear or judgement from others because I will have met, spoken and connected with others who have been exactly where I have been. In 7 days I will know I am not alone and that together we can make a difference.

Please help the cause and help be a part of the solution: https://www.crowdrise.com/eliciaweber-COTD2015/fundraiser/sarahm2


Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Feel Ya, Mama

There I was. 22, single, no kids, college, part-time job, partying every weekend, doing a regular shopping trip to Target. There they were....mom in yoga pants, hair in a pony tail, baby in a carseat and screaming three year old riding shotgun. Thanks for ruining my day, annoying little kid. And really, you can't get your kid to shut up? Can you not HEAR them screaming????

This is when my foot goes in my mouth. I hear ya mama. I feel ya. You do what you gotta do. See, I didn't get it until now. I may not have my own screaming toddler to accompany my baby, but I do see where you're coming from.

Parents cannot hear their own childs' whining. Yes, that parent in Target is perfectly aware their kid is screaming at the top of their lungs for a toy, and no, they are not just going to give it to them to shut them up. See, the parent has tuned them out. They have one thing on their mind: getting the shit on the list and getting out of there in one piece. Oh, that sound bothers you? Tough shit. You only have to listen to it during your shopping trip, but as a parent, we get to listen to it all fricking day. And no, buying them that toy will not soothe them. Get over it.

Baby on Board. I used to be really annoyed by those little Baby on Board signs hanging in car windows. Yeah, we get it, you have a baby, rub it in my face. Actually, these little signs are to let EMT's know that in case of emergency there is a child in the car. Sorry adults, but kids and babies are a priority (if you're a parent, you're already okay with this). So the only way for help to know to help those that can't help themselves, is by seeing these little indicator signs.

Sweatpants in public. I am still against this, but hey, I get it. You work your ass off all day, sometimes all night too. You juggle kids, a job, the house and a husband, and sometimes you just don't give a shit and want to enjoy yourself, and as a busy mom, yourself enjoys wearing sweatpants. Sometimes even in public. Go for it mama! Power to ya! Because I'm sure as soon as you get home your work pants will go on and you won't get another second to relax again.

Parents who drink. Before P, I thought parents who enjoyed a drink or two when their babies were around were bad parents. What kind of message are you sending? Uhh, how about a relaxing message? It's legal, it's moderated and it's delicious. Who is this hurting? I am not condoning getting drunk around your kids, but enjoying a drink here and there? Hey, whatever keeps you happy and sane. Go for it. Have one. Have two. And enjoy it.

Those parents must be so embarrassed. Nope. Not even a little bit. I once had to change P''s leaky, poopy diaper on the floor of a restaurant. Did I feel bad? Hell no. Sorry folks, but you were a baby once too. I am helping keep the Earth populated and I possibly just birthed the person that will find the cure to cancer, so back off while I wipe her butt. And let me tell you, that after you give birth, few things embarrass you and even fewer things will bring you shame. So no, those parents don't feel embarrassed. It's life. They're doing what they have to do and they really don't care what you think about it.

That car tapping it's brakes at a stoplight. Tapping your brakes will not make the light turn green, but it will soothe a crying baby. On occasion I have had the jerk in front of me at a light that sits there rocking their brakes until it turns green, and then I realized I am now that jerk. P doesn't like the car. She has to be in the right mood to want to be in there, and if she is not in the right mood it is a killer riding with her, but somehow fast speeds, turns, bumps, and rocking those brakes seem to help the situation.

Stay at home moms are lazy. Well this couldn't be further from the truth. Maternity leave was boring. So boring. I sat there and watched TV all day, took care of P, load of laundry here and there, but it was pretty boring. I was also severely depressed. Now that I have networked with other moms in the area, many of whom are stay at home moms, I could not be further from the truth. I don't know how they do it! They are running errands, taking care of their kids, sometimes eachothers kids so they can go to an appointment or the store, etc, and they are literally keeping their entire families lives together by making sure all is running smoothly. And on top of that, they are home all day with crying, whining, sticky, cranky kids. I don't know about you, but I am not that strong. I get frustrated, I get irritated, and there is no way I could be around that all day. Props to in-home day care mamas too; all you ladies are warriors!!!

I can admit when I'm wrong. This is one of those times. I spent pretty much my whole life judging other parents, sharing my 'wisdom' on what I thought was right, and then I actually had a child. I have officially earned the right to judge you, fellow parents, but I won't because I get it. It is what it is. You don't care what I think anyways. Honestly, I don't care what you think either. But none of us were given a manual on what to do, so we're all just trying the best we can in the best ways we know how, and whatever method you're using, use it with all your might. You're doing great.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stigmas

stigma n. An association of disgrace or public disapproval with something, such as an action or condition.

Motherhood comes with a crap load of stigmas. If you don't fall in love with your baby the second you lay eyes on them, if you're not happy every second of the day with a newborn....and don't get me started on how society views you if you're not the happy-go-lucky-mama that loves every minute of every day with an annoying smile on her face. And God forbid you can't juggle said newborn, and a full time job, plus cooking dinner, shopping, laundry, cleaning and taking care of the dogs that demand just as much of your time as the baby. Oofda!

Well. F U society.

Sorry, but becoming a mother did not magically turn me into Superwoman. I am human. I am a person. I am the same person I was before, except now I give a few less shits about your opinion and am slightly less grossed out by bodily fluids.

I honestly do not understand why these stigmas are placed on new moms. I also don't understand how if you have a good father in your life to help you (uh, be a parent?) with baby, that it's shocking. Like people expect the dad to never get up in the middle of the night or change a diaper. What's up with that people??? I know it's been awhile but last time I checked, it took two people to make that little baby that blessed our lives.; it only makes sense that both parties take equal responsibility in making sure it's happy and alive. Stop being so shocked when this is the case.

Anyways....it has literally kept me up at night before wondering where these stigmas came from. (A man, probably). Because everyone else, even mothers themselves, think they're perfect, therefore they naturally feel the need to pass judgement on other people? PPD/PPA holds such a stigma in our society that many women, most women, who suffer from it fear it. Dear mama, do not fear. These are normal feelings. Your entire life just changed. Some people at a hospital just sent you home with a complete stranger and told you to keep them alive and healthy and you have no.idea.what.you're.doing. But be happy about. I call bullshit. It's HARD! So yes, emotions, anxieties, fears and terror will come over you. These feelings might stay for a little while, or they might linger around for days and weeks and months.....but you do not need to fear this. You are not alone. Society is the one with the problem. And trust me mama, I wish I knew why they had such a stick up their butt towards new mothers, but I don't. But what I can tell you is that if we come together and raise awareness, come together and stop the fear, maybe we can end the stigma. Let's talk about it. Let's make people so uncomfortable with the topic that they have no choice but to become comfortable with it. Being happy with a newborn should be just as normal as being miserable, because you know what? It is!

You can help. You can make a difference. Visit Post Partum Progress to learn more about raising awareness and ending the stigmas that follow perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. And don't forget to support the cause for the June 20th Climb, the largest international event for raising this awareness.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Face of Depression

The other day I was chatting with some coworkers about Facebook and the things that people tend to share with others through the bravery that is social media. My one co-worker shared that one of her close friends, a neighbor, recently posted about how she has been battling depression the last few years, some days so bad she can barely get out of bed, and that she just wanted everyone to know. My co-worker continued about how shocked she was that not only did her friend share this information on Facebook, but that she suffered at all. She explained that by looking at her, you never would have guessed she was depressed.

So what does depression look like?

Depression looks like your best friend, your sister, your mother, your co-worker. Depression looks happy and cool. Depression looks interested, but too busy to interact with you. Depression carries itself through each day carrying on conversations with you just like it always has, returning a text, commenting on your Facebook status......depression can look just like you.

Depression does not come with a list of features a person must portray in order to be diagnosed. You cannot always tell by talking to someone. You can not always tell by being near someone. You can not tell by asking, because a person with depression will not tell you.

So if there is no sure way to know what it looks like, how can we help the loved ones in our lives that are suffering? How do we know they need our help? Well, the easiest way would be to stop being an asshole. Be a little less selfish. Just be a friend to everyone, even on the days you really don't feel like it. But the realistic answer is that you can't. You need to hope that you've created a bridge of trust that if a person in your life was suffering, that they can confide in you and seek help in your shelter. Depression will not call you on the phone and invite you over to hear about it's day, but it will sit and stay awhile if you genuinely want to hear what it has to say. Depression doesn't want to be judged or told to get over it, or that it's just a phase and this too shall pass; depression is suffering and doesn't need to be negated into something less than it thinks it already is.

Depression is the opposite of everything you thought it was. It does not have a face. It does not have a stereotype. It does not judge and can find a home in anyone. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Be Brave

Today it came. My bravelet. A bracelet with the engraving of be brave. Inside the bag it came in was this quote:

Promise me you'll always remember, you're braver than you believe, 
stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most 
important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you.

--Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

It means a lot to me to receive this today. I EARNED it. I struggled, I fought, I refused to give up, and I beat PPD. I didn't let it take away any more time than it needed to. I got my life back and the road to get there was not easy. Days were filled with crying, emotions I'd never felt before, regret, sadness, pure misery and not knowing what I was going to do the rest of my life. Unbearable feelings. But I did it. I won. And if you're struggling, know you can too. Help exists. Treatment options are available. Recovery is possible. And it is beautiful.


To receive your very own bravelet, visit www.bravelets.com

And don't forget to help support The Climb, happening June 20, to bring awareness and resources to women all over the world suffering from PPD/PPA/PPP, supported by the Post-Partum Progress organization. Please help me reach my personal goal of $500. Together, we can make a difference and end the stigma that goes with post-partum anxiety and depression disorders so that all women can get the help they need.