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Archive for April, 2011

As I continue to write about my experience with PPD I am amazed at how many women feel the same as I do, or have.

To me, the worst part of PPD was not how it destroyed every last bit of me that once knew. No, it was that not every day (or every moment depending on the day) was a bad day.

The hardest part for me was in fact when I had a good day. When Henry didn’t scream so much. When Sofia’s belly wasn’t so full of air. When I actually took a shower, including shaving my pits (and giving them a good scrubbing in hopes to get rid of that funk).

Those were good days.

And they felt so rewarding.

Sometimes, it felt as thought a lightbulb went off and “click” this, I mean this was what it was supposed to feel like to be a mom.

Capable.

Confident.

Maybe not the prettiest, or sexiest. But definitely stronger than weak.

And then something, any one thing would go wrong.

And I was a failure all over again.

I used to think of depression as sitting around, moping and crying and just feeling sorry for myself.

Now, for me, that was definitely a part of my PPD, but I was angry, irritated and sick and tired of feeling miserable. It took so much energy to find joy.

I can honestly say that I did not enjoy that first laughter from either of my children.

I didn’t rejoice in their first teeth or first crawl, or the first time they ate food.

Sure, you can find pictures that I took documenting those occasions, but I did not, deep in my heart, have that feeling that *I* as a mom, was proud.

But to tell you the truth, I don’t regret my lack of pride in those occasions.

For me, Sofia eating solids was more about her belly learning to fill up and digest something other than my milk. I wanted, no, I needed to nurse her as the only thing I alone could do.

But I also needed a break every now and then.

I have begun to celebrate things that my children do.

Henry deciding to ride his bike, WITHOUT training wheels. I actually jumped up and down and screamed in joy and excitement (rather than the screaming I have done at him in the past – I write that with shame).

It never helped me in the depths of my PPD to know that others found a way to the end – all it did was piss me off. Where was my end? When would I feel bettter?

and then eventually, fearfully asking, would I ever feel normal? What if I hate the new normal?

I don’t have answers yet, because I am not yet through.

But I can tell you I have more ups than downs.

And I am learning that the downs do not have to be the end of an up.

Let me interface this – I hate roller coasters. I mean hate. I like to think of PPD as a roller coaster. One of those great ones that people stand in 2-3 hour lines in 90-degree high humidity heat at Cedar Point.

And I guess that’s why normalcy, with all its boringness and simplicity is so appealing at this point.

Normal.

That’s all I want.

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As I reflect upon my journey through motherhood, I realiize that many of the issues I have had to deal with are the same issues I had problems with prior to becoming a mom – expectations.

I have often been told My mom has often  told me that my expectations of others is too high.  My boss has said the same.  It is a constant throughout my life – this notion of my expectations being too high.

When I first became pregnant with Henry, it felt wrong.  Alex and I had been trying (or rather, not preventing) for over a year and nothing had happened.  Then my dad died.  The same week he was buried, I conceived.  It just felt, well, as I said before, wrong.

I find myself often disappointed in others – family, friends, co-workers.

I am very hard on myself.  Having PPD just made it worse.

No one could do anything to help me.  There was no fix for my constant feeling of being let down.  My dad was gone.  Each member of my family was grieving in their own way – and none was even remotely similar to another.

Not only was I alone but I was alone and resentful.

I expected that my pregnancy would be normal.  It wasn’t.

I expected that I would return to work before the 12-week postpartum I was allowed.  I didn’t.

I expected that I would easily find balance between working in the office, losing myself in my work (as I had done before) and the obligation I felt as a mom (pumping for Henry while at work).

I expected that since my sister had gone through preeclampsia and a preemie, she would be more understanding/hold my hand/carry me through it all.

Every one of my expectations was unrealistic and unmet.

And I was so angry for so long because of that.

And an angry Alice, much less one dealing with all I was dealing with – well, let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.

I distinctly remember at one point after Henry’s birth taking a bath.  I started sobbing because I was just so angry at everything.  I raised my fist to God and blamed Him for everything.

I was done.

Soon after, I took a leave of absence from work.

I stopped functioning.

The weight of the world, no, the weight of a day, was so heavy.  The thought of it was unbearable.

I began seeing a therapist three times a week.

I was too tired to take Henry to daycare, so he stayed with me.

I felt guilty about everything.

And, somehow, I expected my life to be different.  I expected that even though my pregnancy, delivery and baby were not what I considered “normal”, that I could just deal with it.  That I would just suck it up, get on with my life and live.

At the age of 3, I started taking piano lessons.  I continued them throughout college, majoring in music.  But Henry hated me playing – it was too much stimulation.

I am learning to try to set realistic expectations.  I expect my husband to be honest and fair and gently and kind.  I expect the same of myself in return to him.

I expect that one day, I will figure out this hausfrau business – until then, I expect to get up daily, get dressed in non-stretchy pants (unless of course, I am giving myself a lazy day), brush my teeth, keep laundry going, take care of the dogs and the kiddoes and remember to feed us all as healthily as I can.

I expect that my faith, while being tested, will continue to remain and will, in fact, grow stronger.

I expect that I will continue to set unrealistic expectations but will learn to deal with them better than I have in the past.

Sofia’s up!  Got to go … I expect we’ll be going for a bike ride soon.

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Since my last post, I find myself in a weird emotional state.  In general, I feel more me than I have in a long time.

So good, in fact, that I am considering attempting another mutter-kind-kur (mother-child cure – a 3-week long intense therapy/health retreat).

But of course, in looking at this, it brings back the memories of the last time I attempted a mutter-kind-kur.  Sofia was 7 months old, Henry only 3.  It was horrible.  I just couldn’t deal with being a mom all.the.time with no break whatsoever.

Which, of course, only accentuated my feeling of failure.

I had already failed in providing both of my children a safe haven in my womb (thank you preeclampsia).  Wasn’t taking care of them 24/7 supposed to be just, easy?  I mean, I had children to hold and love on every day.  There are many women who don’t.  Couldn’t I just be grateful for what I had?  and what is it, anyway, that I want as a mother?

See.

These are the feelings that are now going through my mind.  The memories of how bad it was and when I realized that I was going through it a second time.

With Henry, I tried so hard to be the career woman I had been.   I mean, come on,  I had worked full-time (plus some) AND gone to grad school.

A long standing conversation between Alex and I was that I thoroughly believed that you could in fact, have it all.  It was merely up to you to decide what that meant.  Then go for it.

Well, that is all the past now.

I couldn’t have it all.  I could not work, be a wife, and a mom, and find peace and harmony and flowers and songs and sunshine in it all.

Nope.

Instead, I felt this increasing pressure in my core being.  A suffocation of everything that I am, everything I once believed in was in question and doubt.

The only connection I felt to Henry was that of guilt.  Guilt because I didn’t feel any connection.  Sure, I breastfed him.  But he was a sick baby.  And he had a milk-protein allergy on top of reflux and colic.  Breastfeeding was the only thing I figured that he needed me for – everything else he could get from somewhere else.

And THAT made me feel worse!

One day, I picked Henry up in his hoity-toity daycare (specialized in babies and only took children up to the age of 18 months), came home and sat.

I don’t remember if he was asleep  in the carseat or not.

I don’t remember much of anything from that moment on.

I simply remember sitting.

and stopping.

Alex came home to find me unable to function.

I completely shut down.

And short of breastfeeding, I had no connection to Henry.

OTHER – than when he was sick.  There was this strange connection I have had with my son since he was born.  I know instinctively when something is wrong, when medical intervention is necessary.  I have heard about a mother’s instincts.  They are very real.

And now, as I try to decide whether to really do a 3-week kur, I am just not sure how ready I am for intense therapy and really looking at what I continue to avoid.

 

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As I am nearing the end of my battle with PPD (postpartum depression) it is only now that I am truly able to see who I really was during the past 4 years (2 years for Henry, 2 for Sofia).

Just like when Henry turned 2, I am now starting to feel like a cloud of grey has been lifted from my shoulders.

I can go on and  on about how I see things today about today, but I want to write about what it felt like to have postpartum depression.

It feels alone.  Isolating.  No one understands.

Yes, the feelings are all there for “normal” moms (i.e. those who don’t have ppd) but they’re very intense.

And debilitating.

I read on facebook of a friend who recently had her third – she was proud of her successfully going to the grocery store with all 3.

Now maybe that sounds trivial.  But to me, I read that and think wow!  I still haven’t done that with my 2.

I have felt more alone and lonely in the past 4 years than I have before.  And that loneliness wasn’t able to be filled by anything – except feeling poorly about myself and my abilities.

I couldn’t do anything.  And when I did – you know, that ONE thing I might accomplish – I had no more energy, no more desire, to do anything else.

After Henry, it was hard enough to shower, much less function.  My therapist gave me the goal of doing one thing each day.  That one thing could be as simple as taking a shower, loading the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher (each was its own task) or so on …

Life was just hard.  And on top of that, I had this whole other person I was responsible for.

Guilt like I had never known.  Guilt because I had a preemie, because he/she was sick, guilt because of my dad’s death … not being a good wife, being sick … guilt for not keeping a decently clean house.  I could find anything to make me feel bad about myself.

And it’s not like I was looking to feel bad.  I just couldn’t see things any other way.

As a woman, postpartum depression has really forced me to figure out who I am and who I want to be.  Whatever the outcome is, I will know that it is because I did it myself.  Yes, I have the support of my wonderful husband, friends and family, but the bottom line comes down to what I want to be.

Women do not talk about their feelings when they are going through postpartum depression.  And when they do, they talk about “big” things, like I just did.

I hope to come back and write more about actual situations that relate specifically to my progress through this illness.  And I hope that instead of laying in bed at night, dreaming of the posts, I will actually remember what it is I want to write and write it when I am awake.  😉

And most importantly, I hope.

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Life Lessons

Last year, we bought Henry a bike.  He had been doing so well on his balance bike that we thought he’d like a big boy bike.

He did.

That is, to look at.

He insisted the bike be built to look like the picture on the box – with training wheels.

No matter how hard we tried, he simply lacked the confidence to ride it without.  And the training wheels weren’t fully on the ground, which made it a rocky ride.

So he reverted to his balance bike.

Yesterday, he asked Alex to remove the training wheels and hold his bike, but just for a little bit.  So BJD removed the wheels.

Henry started peddling with Alex holding on.  About 5 feet into it, Henry said let go daddy and off he went.

I am so proud of my little man!

And one more video of Sofia.  She enjoys the Wiggles and has taken to this song, which she calls Ai, yai, yai … (or however you spell it)

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