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 
 Photo courtesy of Katherine Stone, PPI. You can read her original reaction to this event here:

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