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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

A Revival

Have you met Mrs. Spit?  If you haven’t, she’s a woman worth knowing.  She’s strong and compassionate and I  imagine her as a someone with whom not just knows her manners (as I do, honest, I know about them) but actually USES them.

She posted about happiness.

Which got me to thinking about me.

And I have been realising lately that I am happy.

Wait.

Let me try that again.

I am happy!  I am satisfied.  I am finding pleasure in things that I never thought I would.

I have always considered myself to be a bit (yes, just a bit) of a workaholic.  If I do something, I commit 110% .  If I don’t, it’s because I don’t like it.

Which leads to my current living situation.

Alex and I celebrated 10 years of marriage this year.

And finally, FINALLY, we have lived in one place for more than a few years.  In fact, we have committed to staying here in Dülmen.  And in doing so, painted.  Colors.  On walls.  Which means our half of the house is no longer stark white walls with start white tiles (standard German rental property) but is a lovely taupey with grey and blue and well, just lovely.

Even before the painting though, I realize how happy I am that Alex works in a company that provides his the challenges and financial security that make him happy and allow me to  stay home.

I have found that (gasp!) I like cleaning.  Well, not so much cleaning as having a clean house.

And stuff being organized.

Maybe someday I will get pics up of our house – with all it’s order, cleanliness and color!

We had the piano tuned today.  I still find it strange that in German, one specifies  between a piano (i.e. upright) and grand (what we have – well, a baby grand).  Alex is playing right now.

My right hand is doing very well after carpal tunnel surgery. We have agreed to wait until winter time to have the surgery on my left.

I am still knitting – but have found some things to be too hard on my right hand (like cables – which I love the look of).

And Sofia has started preschool part-time.

I plan on finding a teacher for piano.  I would like to think that I am advanced enough to learn new pieces on my own – I am.  But I require the whip.  I need the accountability.

I also have a plan to lose weight.  Well, the plan is simply to lose weight.  I’m still struggling with implementing it, but our health insurance has some good initiatives that I am hoping will help.  I am 5’1” on a very tall day. 10 years ago, I was 130 pounds.

Now, I am pretty steadily between 175-180 pounds.  I am snacking less and exercising more.  But as my neurologist said (here in Germany, you see a neurologist for depredssion and carpal tunnel stuff.  crazy, eh?) it could very well be the meds I am on for both depression and high blood pressure.

I have noticed signficant pitting edema with the new BP meds I am on and have an appointment tomorrow to have them changed.

Plans are in the works.

I am a revival in the making.

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My niece has been visiting for the past month.  We had planned on attending an opera in Münster last weekend, but the traffic back from our family reunion was horrific, so we missed the opera.

To make it up to her, I found some tickets via groupon for the Cirque Bouffon, a cirque neuveau, along the style of Cirque du Soleil.

One word.  Amazing.

It was an intimate setting, with one big tent and seats all around.  Every seat was a good seat.

I won’t tell you much about the storyline, but I will tell you that it was the most impressive performance I have seen.  Ever.

What I enjoyed the most, though, was that the entire theme surrounded around musicicians.  Not just the circus performers, but actual musicians – a bassist from the Ukraine not only performed but composed the “script”; a xylophonist who seemed to enjoy being in the background but then is coerced on stage to perform beautifully.  There was a vocalist, who’s singing abilities matched her beauty and an accordianist who, well, just wow.  Wow wow wow!

I found myself saying out loud – “no way” and “oh my!” and WOW!”

Each and every moment built upon the last and just when you think it can’t get better, it does.

A rope act, juggling, dance, acrobats, and hoop artists …

Sensual, personal, moving, and at times, sad …

I fought back tears at times and found myself wooping with the best of them at others.

I cannot thank this circus enough for bringing such a wonderful performance to my heart.

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Reoccuring Dreams

It all began just over 5 years ago, just after my dad died.

I had dreams so realistic, so emotional, I sometimes wondered if they were dreams or just memories.

Only if they were real they would be awful.

I dreamt last night that my dad was alive.  Again.

He had died.  I did his eulogy.  I led my family in planning the funeral. These things happened in real life and were a part of my past in my reoccuring dream.

But then, somehow, he was alive again.

Walking, talking, alive.  Still sick and dying, but not dead.

And then he died again.  And I am stuck dealing with all these emotions all over again.  The disbelief, the shock, the anger, then overwhelming sadness.

Even as I type, tears stream down my face.

His death was such a significant blow to my immediate family.  It destroyed each of us – my brother, my sister, my mom and I.  We each went our own way in dealing with it.

And I haven’t had to relive this (in a dream) for quite some time.

This dream was an indicator of how deep my depression was and always meant my meds needed to be adjusted.

But I am at the end of it all!  It isn’t fair or right to have this dream again.  I was done with dealing with the grief of losing my father.  How dare I have a dream of him living and dying again??

In this dream, I was surrounded by childhood friends, laughing and having fun.  Then my dad dies.  I am so angry by this that I refuse to participate in the funeral planning, much less give a eulogy.

I woke up from this dream, with the feeling that I had been sobbing for hours – the same feeling I had when my dad did die.  The feeling of sublime reality – is this what my life is to be like from now on?

I hate this dream.  I much prefer the ones where I have to go back to college to finish up a class (in spite of having a graduate degree – which is strange because I keep saying in this dream that I have a graduate degree but that I must finish one class to get my bachelor degree).  Or the classic forgetting your locker combination in high school.

 

 

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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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Frankfurt Westin

Here I am, sitting at the Westin in Frankfurt. 

It’s a girls weekend.

We did this a few months ago but up in Hamburg, but Frankfurt is nice.

I took the train – ICE (the super fast one … 215km/hour) first class.  The hotel is 5 star. It is bringing out some very strange emotions I haven’t had to face in quite some time.

I have been feeling lost.  Not just because of the depression, but that definately has a part of it.

I feel disconnected.  From what is going on in the world news, from songs on the radio, to current pop culture and to fashion.

Here I sit, in my stretchy yoga pants and a black top, but I feel well, seperate from it all. 

As an expat, living in Dülmen is quite simple.  There are no other (or none that I have met) in my city.  But come down here and all I hear are Americans.

I have learned how to adapt my cooking, eating, shopping habits to what was available at the stores.  But down here, there just aren’t that many differences between here and “there”.

I like living away from it all.  I like being so seperate from my “home” that my “home” is a foreign land.

I have always been fascinated by Ernest Hemingway.  I enjoy reading his books but have never understood the feeling of being an expat.

But this weekend is a true culmination of it.  My sense of fashion (if that’s what you call it) is lacking.  In both american and german culture.  I miss being (somewhat) fashionable.  I miss being involved in the world around me.  And it’s a good realization for me to see that this is not just a piece of my life that is missing, but also something that I want in my life. 

So I sit here, drinking my Riesling, and pondering what I will do to conquer these feelings and become the me I want to be.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the rest of my girls weekend and continue to look forward to our next one.

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