Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why I Won't Feel Bad About That Glass of Wine

It was recently brought to my attention that being a mother and having a drink is irresponsible and offensive. This information came to me from a complete stranger and I was so taken aback by her need to share this information with me and point out what a horrible mother I was, that I couldn't even find the words to defend myself. Is enjoying a drink a bad thing? No. Is enjoying 12 drinks? Probably. Mostly when you have a baby at home. But the thing is is that glass of wine is MINE!

For 9 months I shared my body with P so she could grow and be healthy before coming into this world. I now share her little life with Hubs, and every member of my family that can't stop holding and kissing her. My lap is always full with a baby or a clingy dog, my kitchen cupboards have been taken over by bottles and formula, and my bathroom cabinet is now filled with Johnson&Johnson baby soap and rubber duckys....but this glass of wine I don't have to share with anyone. It's mine. 

As P grows older I realize more and more of my home will be taken over by her and less and less will be mine to do as I please. Soon, I will lose all control over my organized entertainment center and spic and span kitchen cupboards filled with pots and pans. Clothes will soon be torn from dresser drawers and strewn across the room, little hands will reach for the dog food in the bowl and little feet will start to run across the floor with mine not too far behind trying to catch up. So while I still have the chance, can't I enjoy the one thing I don't have to share or forfeit in the near future? Am I allowed one moment to relax and savor the quietness of my home late at night in the dark with a glass of moscato? To reflect over the day's events and count my blessings before my life becomes too exhausting with a toddler that I could care less what my blessings are?

So let me have this moment. It's mine. I don't have to share it with anyone and I never will. I am still me. I am still a wife, friend, daughter, sister....but I am not all these things every second of my day. I am still a mom. But sometimes I need just a few minutes at the end of the day to be me, and I'll be damned if someone should make me feel bad about that. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Running in Place Part II

I have a tendency to run from things when they get a little too tough for me. In high school if I was mad at my friends I would ignore them and hang out with a different group for awhile. When things got difficult at a job, I would quit. In college, if guys showed the slightest bit of interest in me, I would start talking to someone else. And when I turned 21 and did bad on a test or fight with my room mates, I would have a beer...or four. I was always running and avoiding anything that might turn into a difficult situation.

Then I met Hubs. I began running towards something for once. I ran towards spending time with him, a future with him. I ran towards working more and more so we could afford a life together. I ran to the alter to devote my life to him and start a family with him. And from the day I told him I loved him until this very moment, I have always done everything I could to make him happy and show him how much I appreciate him being in my life (but I don't think I'll ever stop running towards that).

Through my recovery I realized I stopped doing a lot of the things that made me happy. That made me who I was. And over the last few weeks I have slowly started to gain some of that control back. For instance, I have always enjoyed cooking for my husband and trying new healthy recipes. I love cleaning and organizing, and most importantly I love running and working out. I've got the cooking and cleaning under control now, but it was time to get my run back. It was around 9:30am today I decided I was going to go running after work, something I had only done a few times since P was born. So there the clock turned 5:00 and I raced to daycare to get P and raced home (safely, of course) to play with her and cuddle her before putting her down for a nap. I got dressed, put my headphones in and jumped on the treadmill and just started running. And I couldn't stop. My legs started burning and my breathing started becoming shallow, but I could not stop running. I needed to keep going. And I started thinking about how happy I was running, and how it was funny that in the past I was always running away or towards something, yet here in this moment I wasn't going anywhere. I was running in place. I was accomplishing and going no where, but I was so content with that. I smiled. And I smiled through the pain I was feeling in my legs and my lungs and kept going.

It's funny how we can find symbolism in anything if we really look for it, but here I am once again, running in place. I stayed here long enough to find me again and now that I'm back I think I'll stay awhile. I think I'll keep running in place because after all this I am finding I kind of like it here afterall.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Being Me

Recovered. Do not confuse this word with 'cured.' But I can confidently say now that I have recovered from post-partum depression.

Recovery is happiness. Recovery makes me feel normal. Like I belong with everyone else out in the real world again. Maybe going back to work helped. Maybe not. Maybe I just happened to find the perfect dosage of medication. Who cares. I am me again and I have never been happier.

Everyday I sit at work thinking about P and what she's doing, if she's napping, or crying, or playing with the other babies. And as soon as that clock hits 5:00 I run out of there to go pick my little girl up so we can get home and play together. She is simply amazing. I have finally understood what other moms are talking about when they say how in love with their babies they are and how amazing and blessed being a parent is....I get it now. And I'm motivated to make our house a home for P. The laundry no longer sits in the basket for weeks before I cave and decide to put it away. Dishes are washed as soon as they're dirty. My bathroom is sparkling. My cupboards are stocked. Healthy meals are on the table. The dogs are running around outside and that fancy stroller we bought is finally getting some use. And yes, I have become that lady at the office that goes around showing people pictures of her baby without even being asked. AND I DON'T CARE! I'm happy. And she's adorable. No need to thank me.

I think back to how I felt in the beginning and feel like on some level I robbed P of the person I really am. I robbed her of cuddles, soothing tones, songs, being read to, making silly faces at her. I robbed her of my smile and head scratches. I robbed her of her mommy. I try not to dwell on it and know there was nothing I could do at the time based on the information I had. I didn't know what was wrong with me and felt so wrong for feeling that way that I couldn't get help. I felt ashamed that I might need help and didn't want to admit it. Had I admitted it right away, perhaps my daughter wouldn't have been robbed of my love the first month of her life. But all I can do now is move forward, continue in my recovery and doing everything I can to show her how much she means to me and how much I love her. All I can do is hope that I can teach her there is no shame in asking for help, that I love her more than anything and that she is my world.

I am still me (see previous post). But now I am a mom. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Am Not A Mom

I am not about changing diapers, preparing bottles, cute little onesies and strange rashes. It is another step to my day, but it is not who I am. I think people forget that women are still the same woman they were before they had a baby, just more awesome, but they are not just a mom.

I am a friend.
A wife.
A sister.
A daughter.
A co-worker.
I'm fun.
I'm funny.
I love my furbabies.
I enjoy working.
I'm a runner.
I love herbalife.
I'm addicted to Starbucks.
I love thunderstorms.
I love weekends at the lake.
A glass of wine.
A night out with friends.
Investigation Discovery.
Weekends with Netflix and popcorn.
I want to help others.
Change a life.
Make a difference.
Reach out.

I am still me. I am still all these things, just someone calls me mom now.
I am still here under the dirty diapers and pukey shirts.
Don't forget that.

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

After 12 weeks away from my desk, 11 weeks home with a baby, I finally went back to work. This day was needed and I probably should have gone back much sooner had I been mentally able to. But the time has come and P has officially started day care. Unlike most moms, I didn't cry when I left my baby there for the first time and I didn't call to check on her throughout the day; I trust the people I am paying bagillions a month to are being responsible and kind to her.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Of course I thought about P throughout the day, but not to the point where I couldn't focus on my work. I printed out the most adorable picture of her for my desk so I can still stare at her beautiful little face all day, minus the crying and smelly butt. But by the time 5 p.m. came around I was itching to run out of that place, jump in the car and drive like a mad woman to get to my baby so I could kiss her and cuddle her and play with her. And I did just that. Of course she was mad at me when I arrived and cried the whole way home, but having that baby girl back in my arms was the most happy I had felt in months. Now, I have considered that by this point my medication has just kicked in to full force and I am finally me again, but I would like to think that I am finally accepting and adjusting to my new life and am genuinely happy again. My baby is my anti-depressant.

Her second day was better, and I missed her even more. I thought about her constantly at work, but I still didn't call to check up on her. I knew she was okay. Or she was crying. Either way, I didn't want to bother her. She was busy. I wondered if she was being held and if she liked the toys there. Were the other babies being nice to her? Was she being nice to them? Was she having fun? I wonder how her naps were going....but it was pure bliss the moment I saw her little face at the end of my day and was able to scoop her up and kiss it. I am finally understanding what all these 'other women' are talking about when they describe how in love they are with their babies. I may have taken the bumpiest road to get there, but I cannot believe how much this angel means to me. My heart is full when she's around. My life has meaning again. My days are eventful with thoughts of her and the experiences we are having together.

I can only imagine how wonderful day three is going to be....

Tribute to Daddy's

It seems pretty obvious the sacrifices that women make to bring children into this world: 40 weeks (or more, God forbid) of pregnancy, labor, child birth, recovery, permanent body changes, sleep...but what about daddy?

During pregnancy, everyone flocks to the mommy and is constantly asking her how she is doing, how she's feeling, if everything in the nursery is ready, if she's nervous and prepared, and when baby is finally born everyone again asks mommy how she is doing and feeling, if she's sleeping and eating enough...but what about daddy?

I would like to think I am not the only one that has an amazing and supportive husband, therefore I wanted to take the time to dedicate one post to the amazing daddy's of the world, but more specifically, the daddy of my own little one.

We met five years ago in a dark bar on a Tuesday. He was unlike any other guy I had met before and we instantly connected. Throughout our five years together we have encountered ups and downs just like any couple, but Hubs was always willing to talk to me about anything and there was never anything I couldn't go to him with. He never gave up on me after many others did. Always wanting to be a daddy, he was beyond ecstatic when I got pregnant. I wasn't a hormonal, crazy pregnant lady, but maybe that's because Hubs always made sure every need was met. Before I could demand, he would ask me if he could get me anything...even if that meant driving to Taco Bell at 10pm for chalupas. Almost every night he would rub my back without one complaint, and towards the end of my pregnancy would even rub my feet. He listened to all my irrational worries and nodded along as I told him about what I had learned about baby sleep, diapers and day cares. He.Was.A.Godsend.

When P was born, he was extremely supportive in the hospital. He spent three nights on the couch in my hospital room and changed many diapers. He sat by my bedside and talked to me and made beef jerky runs (man I missed that!). And when we brought P home and I silently suffered from PPD, he took care of our daughter. He changed her, fed her, rocked her, stayed up all night with her. Who says a daddy doesn't do just as much as a mommy does?

So here is a simple salute to the amazing husband and daddy in my life. He has never complained about this little life we live together and never forgets to tell me he loves me. He is willing and supportive and not a day goes by I am not grateful for God bringing him into my life (or that random Tuesday we both decided to go out drinking). He is my rock, and I only hope that one day my little P will find a man that treats her as good as her daddy treats me.

My soulmate. <3

Friday, March 13, 2015

My Hope For You

Since the beginning I have struggled to accept my honest feelings towards motherhood. I struggled to find others that were like me because surely I could not be the only one that has ever felt this way before. I struggled to find peace in my new life. I struggled to forgive myself once I started treatment. And now I struggle to remember what that time in my life used to be like.

The memories of the beginning of my depression seem so far away now. Although I am beyond ecstatic that that dark chapter in my life has finally ended, it shaped the parent and wife I am today. My recovery plan has been a blessing in disguise. On one hand, I wish I would have never had to experience what depression was like, but on the other hand I have become a better person because of it. Each day I find a new thing that brings me joy; my daughters smile, my husbands thoughtfulness, conversations with my mother, a text from a friend....the list of simple things is neverending and blissful. I would like to think that I no longer take these moments for granted. I am finding happiness in each day and working on making myself a better person.

Last night I went out for happy hour with seven women I have never met before. I connected with them through a local moms group and put myself in the vulnerable position to meet them. The evening was overwhelming, but the time spent with women who were home all day with little ones just like me was refreshing. I love my friends and I know they will be there for me when I need them, but sometimes you just need the support from others that are having the same experiences as you at the same time.

My hope for you Reader, is that if you are experiencing post partum depression, or any depression, to seek help and utilize every resource you can. And for those of you that aren't, make yourself available to those in your life that might be, and even if you aren't sure, be there anyways. Don't take any moment or any person in your life for granted. Don't forget about the struggles you've overcome to be the amazing person you are today, and don't fear the unknown.

"Don't mistake God's patience for his absence. His timing is perfect and is constant. He's always with you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Friday, March 6, 2015

Forgiving God

I'm not one to preach my beliefs to others, much less devote an entire blog post to God, but right now in my life I feel like it is more than necessary to seek God and pray.

Growing up we went to church every Sunday. I went to Sunday school, received my first communion and became confirmed. After that however, my faith stopped growing. When I was 18 and went to college I made friends with the girl across the hall from me in the dorms. We had many differences, but genuinely enjoyed each others company. She was extremely devoted in her faith while I was anything but, and wasn't afraid to let people know it. Finally one day she asked me 'Are you sure you don't believe in God, or are you just mad at him?' Wow. I never thought of that. I was raised Christian and thought I believed in God, but over time began to have doubts. But it wasn't until this moment of my life that I ever thought that it was maybe because I was just mad. This new chick was on to something. And so it began....I started reading the bible again and attended church a few times; I even prayed when I felt I needed it the most. I was becoming Christian again and I was excited. 

Flash forward a few or so baby girl is sound asleep in her swing and I'm on the shower floor bawling my eyes out. I am so miserable. I'm sad all the time. I've ruined my marriage. I've lost my freedom. How can this be happening to me? How could God let this happen to me? I prayed every night to him to please make these feelings go away so I could be happy and enjoy my daughter and love her, but my prayers remained unanswered. God, I am so mad at you!!

I knew I needed my faith now more than ever and if I could just pull myself together for a minute and realize that this is in His hands and I need to be still and listen that everything would be okay. God loves. God forgives. God gives. God heals. I need to remember that last part.

Some days I still get mad at God. I don't understand why I was chosen for this journey, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I pray to God every day. I pray he gives me strength to handle my depression, patience to love my daughter, happiness so I can please my husband and normalcy so I can feel like me again and make all those other things possible. I figure it's okay to get mad at Him sometimes; I'm sure he gets mad at me too, like all those years that I doubted Him. Just like it takes time to recover from depression, it takes time to overcome my anger and accept the challenges that God has laid out before me. 

Oh, and that girl from my dorm? To this day she's one of my best friends. I can't imagine my life without her, and I'm not sure I want to imagine what my life would have turned out like had she not come into it. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Learning to Love Baby

Tonight I spent four hours obsessively reading another blog about someone's struggle into parenthood. Although our struggles are different, she was so inspiring (a word I can't say I ever use to describe another person) that I actually cried reading some of her posts. As I scrolled through the many pages (June 2013-present day) I couldn't help but think how selfish I was. Amongst selfishness, I felt two other emotions:

Heartache. For an undisclosed amount of time, Hubs and I tried to conceive a child with two chemical pregnancies (what I believe is the cruelest thing the human body is capable of) before successfully conceiving our daughter. In that time we were trying, each month came with disappointment. I invested a ridiculous amount of money in ovulation tests, thermometers, pregnancy tests and any other gimic I could find online on how to conceive a child, and often found myself crying each month over my failure. Yes, I felt like a failure. I knew how badly Hubs wanted a baby (as did I) and I was incapable of doing the one thing I was biologically put on this planet to do. In April 2014 we learned that I, indeed, was not a failure. The news of her arrival into our family came at a hard time for us. Hubs had just lost his grandfather who he loved dearly. It was because of this that I truly believed this child was a gift from God. God may have taken a loved one from our life, but he was blessing us with another.

Guilt (y'know, my new bestie).  I felt so guilty because amidst my own selfishness and depression, it never once occurred to me how lucky I was. I blatantly disregarded the most common saying, Count Your Blessings. Apparently, I had forgotten the pain I felt myself when each month I read a negative pregnancy test. I never once stopped to think about all the women who have lost a child, couldn't conceive children, had given up children...sooo guilty.

On Christmas night my water broke, once again affirming this baby was a gift from God, but I knew right away that something was wrong. I didn't feel excited, scared, nervous, happy....all I could think about was how am I going to get off this toilet and find my husband? I had been so happy and excited throughout my entire pregnancy, but it was like when my water broke, all of my emotions left my body. By the time I got to triage at the hospital I just wanted it to be over with. When P was born, I didn't hold her. She laid on my stomach for a few seconds before she was whisked away again, and I did not hold her for probably another 45 minutes and I didn't. even. care. When we were in the hospital I held her and fed her a couple times, but I was really okay with other people holding her and Hubs changed a lot of her dirty diapers. At night, she went to the nursery. I worried about her while she was away from me and if she was breathing okay and eating enough and if she was being held if she was crying, but I didn't care enough to ask someone to bring her back to me so I could personally supervise her wellbeing.

So here I am, overwhelmed with heartache and guilt, ungrateful for the gift I was given knowing there are others out there who yearn for a child more than anything else.

Post-partum depression is a daily struggle. Although now medicated and finally reaching out for support from others going through the same thing, I am in no way cured. I sometimes wonder when the day will come where I can finally say I'm not sad anymore, but another part of me knows that day is a ways down the road. Every day I spend with my daughter I am getting to know her. And when she looks at me and coos and smiles...I melt. I really do. When she's really happy and cooing up a storm I question if I even have depression, or if it's just something I've made up in my head because I am just that happy to be staring at her while she explores the world around her. I really do love this smelly, wiggly, crying, puking, clingy little person.

If you are one of those women who instantly is overcome with this abundance of love the second you lay your eyes on your child, lucky you. But I don't believe in love at first sight and my maternal instinct certainly didn't either. But just as my baby is getting to know me and love me, I too am still learning who she is and little by little falling in love....

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me

The moment we announced our pregnancy, the warnings and unwanted advice came from everyone:

Sleep now, once that baby comes you'll never sleep again. 
You'll be doing laundry everyday. 
Forget working out, you won't have time with a baby!
The moment you see your baby you'll fall in love. 
The time goes by so fast. 
Don't worry, everything will naturally come to you. 

There are easily 473 more things people told me about, but those are probably the ones I heard the most. Uff da! Honestly, everyone had me slightly fearing parenthood and that I was going to spend my days covered in puke with a crying baby trying to find the time to wash my underwear all after only getting maybe two hours of sleep. Thanks.For.Nothing. The truth is, everything everyone told me was pure crap. Not one warning or piece of advice that was shoved down my throat have I once thought 'Whew, glad I knew about this ahead of time!' Um. No. So here is a little list of real advice I wish someone had told me: 

You might not love your baby the moment you see her, and that's OK! Society has it crammed down our throats that motherhood is amazing. The best experience you can ever go through! The most fulfilling thing you can do with your life. There is so much pressure on women to feel and embrace motherhood with nothing but pure joy and the occasional sleepless night. But this is not the truth. The truth is labor takes a toll on you and you are going to feel like you got hit by a car for awhile. It is going to hurt to sit, sneeze, and God forbid you laugh too hard...ugh. And after you put your body through all that you are expected to be head over heels in love with the tiny person that did that to you. If you're one of those women lucky enough to fall in love the moment you lay eyes on your beloved newborn, count your blessings. But if you don't, it's OK. It comes with time and soon you'll spend hours staring at your baby and crying because you are so in love with her. 

Stock up on formula (if you're planning on formula feeding. If you're breastfeeding, please skip to the next point). I knew babies went through tons of diapers and wipes (and really not that many wipes), but I was not prepared for how much formula they drank! I was literally running to the store 1-2 times a week for the biggest cannister I could find. Had I known that, I would have been buying these suckers while I was pregnant when they went on sale). Also, I had no idea how much babies were suppose to eat. In the hospital, P would eat 10ml and we would be so proud of her, only come to find out she should have been drinking 30-35ml those first few days of life, which quickly turned into 60, then 90, then 120...

You are going to look at your husband differently. This is a good thing. I have never felt more connected to a person before until Hubs and I brought P into the world. He was my best friend before, but now he was so much more than that. In a matter of minutes he turned into my rock, my support, my everything. The mere thought of ever having to go a day without him in my life scared the shit out of me and I became overwhelmed with this new feeling to do everything I could to be the best wife and life partner to him. I had this new devotion to my husband who had gone through just as much of a life change as I had. The first month of P's life when I struggled to get off the couch most days only reinforced these feelings and my love for him continues to grow everyday. 

No one cares about you anymore. Everyone was so excited for us while I was pregnant, what with their unwarranted advice and their happiness for our growing family. When she was born, people came to the hospital to visit P and hold her, and those visits continued at home with people showering her with cute little outfits and us with compliments on how cute she was. But after a few days the excitement wore down and people didn't seem to care anymore. No one asked how I was doing or if we needed anything or offered to come over so I could do a load of laundry (I probably wouldn't have been able to do it anyways because of my crippling depression, but still). Call me selfish, but I really thought we would have more support. I was unfortunately under the impression that everyone flocked to babies and wanted to hold them whenever they could. It took me a long to accept that people have their own lives and that they might not necessarily revolve around me or my baby, but in the beginning it was a very difficult thing to accept. 

Swaddle. Swaddle. Swaddle. Those people that say their baby hated swaddling so they didn't do it? Load of crap. Babies, not just mine, love to be swaddled. In those first few weeks at home, P cried all night, most of the times with me crying right along with her. I just got to my wits end and decided to read a baby book. I always thought they were filled with a bunch of malarkey, but I was desperate. I chose to read The Happiest Baby on the Block and it seriously saved our lives. Swaddling was the best thing we could have done for our baby. If you're going to read any book, read that one. You won't be sorry, and you won't have a crying baby (you're welcome).

Oh gosh, there are tons more pieces of useful advice I wish I could share with you, but these stick with me as the most important. Although all the advice and warnings from friends and family were appreciated, they haven't quite come in handy yet. It's the raw, honest, crap-you-don't-want-to-hear advice that people really need to start sharing.