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Posts Tagged ‘ppd’

As a young girl, my mother always, and I mean always, insisted on using the air conditioning.  I suspect it is due to her being born and raised in the New Orleans, southern Mississippi area (yes, I did just sing M-I-S-S, I-S-S, I-P-P-I to get it right).

Moving to Germany required adjustments to many things.  For one, the weather here in NRW is far milder year-round than the weather in NE Ohio.  Every summer, it hits about 90 degrees for all of 3 days.  By the end of the third day, I am researching the costs of a room air conditioner, only to have the temperature drop back down to a lovely low- to mid-70s.

Normally, June is a month (as I remember) for the moderate weather. 

But this week, we jumped from a nice cool 68 degrees to over 90. 

It was miserable.

Hot.

(Not humid though – that was nice.)

But ridiculously hot. 

And not that kind of hot where instead of cooking at home you could grab a bite in a nice air conditioned restaurants. Nope.  Most restaurants do NOT have AC. 

There is no escaping integrating oneself into life with German weather.

And then, today, the rains came.  And they came hard and fast.  Soaked Bubba Joe and I through and through even with our umbrellas – which are a standard German attire – within a few seconds.

But the temperature is back down to what I call a June normal.

And that makes me feel human again.

But today marks a special occasion for me – it was my last therapy appointment.  I have been seeing a therapist for two years now.  We discuss mostly what is going on in life at the moment, but have addressed the issues in my past, including postpartum depression, preeclampsia, prematurity, feelings of guilt and the desire to fix the world.

I really liked my therapist.  She was open and honest and approachable (not what I had typically pictured as your stereotypical German therapist) and has helped me to become well, me again.

Turns out that I like me and that while I cannot change the world (why oh why don’t they do what I want them to do when I want them to do it) but I am making a change for the better in what I do and with whom I have contact with.

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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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Wow.  It has been two months since I have posted.

Hmm … what’s going on …

  • BJD is travelling a lot for work.  a.whole.heck.of.a.lot.  As in Monday through Thursday.  Should slow down but I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • We bought our first car here – a Mazda 5.  2 weeks after signing the papers, his company talks about offering him a company car.  Go figure.
  • Bubba Joe is undergoing major assessments for developmental/speech delays.  All of it is related to his hearing loss – oh, I didn’t tell you?  He tests at 70% hearing in his ear with the 5mm hole and 90% in the other.  What’s that you say?  Does he have a hole in his head? Uh, yeah.
  • I am taking German classes.  Semi-privately.  I am having fun.   And learning.  Can’t get much better than that.
  • The end of September marked my dad’s 5 year anniversary.  I didn’t call my family on that day (as I have in the past).  I have come to realize that it is not my responsibility to keep in contact with everyone.  Communication CAN be a two way street.  (In case you didn’t get it, that was oozing, I mean dripping, with sarcasm.)
  • I am going to start working.  Now don’t your panties all in a shuffle (he he I just wanted to see how that looks typed out – not as great as I thought) about me still taking PPD meds and trying to figure things out and numerous appointments with Bubba Joe and oh, yeah, Giant Baby is good too but we’ll get to her … where was I?  Oh.  I am going to start teaching for an hour a week – English at Home – for kids.  Very laid back, just hanging out with kids and speaking english.
  • Giant Baby is being weaned.  She is 19 months old.  She’s not happy about it.  I realize that I have been nursing for 4.5 years now.  And it’s been 5 years since I haven’t really drank or anything (and yes, my math is correct – that’s what I get for being a preemie mom).
  • A whole lot of women I know are pregnant.  I don’t know how I feel.
  • I think I am staying busy with stuff to avoid emotions.  What do you think?  Okay, that really is a rhetorical question.  Don’t answer.
  • Giant Baby is up.  Crying.  It’s 12:30 am here in Münsterland.  Gotta run.  BJD can only do so much.
  • One last comment – I am still knitting – and I am making a present for someone special to me.  (One of my blessed readers – I won’t name names and I won’t post info about what I am making until I am done.  But I wanted to make this person something for over a year – since I learned to knit – and I am finally confident enough in my abilities to gift them something because they are amazing to me.  And I think this person has been in a funk.  At least that’s what I get from their blog.)

And as usual, just when I think I  have wrapped things up, things quiet down downstairs.  That’s okay.  It’s late.  Kirmes is here this weekend – that’s a mini-festival.

Oh yeah, gotta say that I love sliding doors on cars.  And NO it is not a mini-van.  I do NOT do mini-vans.

Got it?

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I started knitting as an attempt to, cough, save money.

You see, we started cloth diapering with Bubba Joe.  After doing tons of research, my head was spinning with all the different options out there.  My LLL leader back in Ohio told me that she kept it simple – prefolds and covers.  I took it one step further and went prefolds and wool (rather than plastic pants).

Bubba Joe was CD’d (crunchy mama talk for cloth diapered – though really I don’t consider myself a crunchy mama.  I mean, how can I be crunchy with chanel makeup and a nature requirement of 4 stars before I stay somewhere?  I mean, bugs are meant to be outside, in their habitat, not inside in mine, right?)

Now where was I?

Oh yeah, knitting.  And poop.  Cause well, that’s what diapers are for.

I loved  using prefolds with Bubba Joe.  Yeah, yeah, I tried a few other types of cloth diapers (my shopping addiction has sadly not gotten any better – it only had a new direction which later changed direction yet again … but we’ll get to that).

And we started using prefolds with Giant Baby (who BTW is not really a giant baby – in fact, she’s quite petite and full of spit!  Damn that girl knows what she wants!) when she was a few months old.  The problem is I hated the fit of the plastic pants – and while they’re generally 1000 times better than what I knew as a kid (or teenager babysitting), they still felt, well, blah.

I paid beaucoup bucks to have some wool pants knit.  Then I got screwed so I decided to learn to knit. Which kicked.my.ass.  Bigtime.

I couldn’t believe that such a simple concept – two sticks and some string – could turn into something so gorgeous, or in my case, something that somewhat resembled a blob.

But with the support of BJD, I sat and sat and sat.  And for me, patience was never one of my strengths.  Sitting and trying again and again – also not a strength of mine.

You see, I have a problem (well, we know I have many but let a girl talk, okay?).  I am naturally very good at many things.

As I shared in my last post, I was a music major.  I started piano at the age of 3.5.  I taught myself the french horn (which no, you never wanted to hear me play) and the trombone – which I rocked (and now my nieces are rocking).  I also learned the cello and the organ while in college.  Music came easily for me.

As did many things.

Sports – nah.  Not so much.  But I attribute that more to the fear of breaking a finger – something that would have traumatised me and has scared me since, well, the age of 3.

Science was never a strength – until that boy I mentioned in my last post dumped me.  Then I decided to pursue a minor in geology just so I could be in the science building with him.  I surprised myself with how well I did and seriously considered a geology major – were it not for the additional years it would have added.

Back to knitting.

I am consistently surprised at myself.  At my knitting.  Not to brag (but I guess I am – I mean, this is my blog all about me) but I have proudly tested designs for designers, knit gifts for friends, knit for a charity auction and will even knit a beautiful wrap for my lovely friend who is getting married.

I am damned proud of myself.

And my depression … well, having something tangible that is not just made by me, but pretty AND usable … that seems to be working better than any medication.

BJD is on vacation for the next 2 weeks.

Let’s see how much knitting I can accomplish.

Yay!

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