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Planting Love

February 12, 2011

I love free things.

I also love people who donate free things.

I also love people who donate free things for a really good cause.

What I don’t love is coming across stories of families who have lost children way, way, way before it’s time. But I do read them because something about those stories sticks with me. Those stories leave a heavy spot in my chest – a physical sensation that’s really hard to get rid of.

One thing that helps get rid of it is seeing people rally around those families and doing something to help. So I’m joining the rally cry to help one family whose story has really touched me.

Sarah at Yes, Teacher! is hosting the Planting Love Giveaway this week to help the Hillis family. I don’t know Amy and I don’t know her family. But I’ve been reading her story for a couple of weeks and when I came across this opportunity I didn’t have to think twice. I donated without even going through all the prizes in detail.

Because free stuff is nice. But love is even better.

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What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?

February 12, 2011

For my Secret Mommyhood Confession Saturday post I bring you this, my confession: I’m starting to lose sight of what my story is.

When I started this blog about six weeks ago, I had no preconceived ideas about what it would become. I had no real goals for it. I just wanted to get it out there. Tell the truth about my experience and hope that somewhere, some time, it would help someone.

Well, it helped me. I truly feel like a totally different person than I did six weeks ago. Oh, I know I’m not “better” – whatever that may mean now – but I’m better than I was and that’s partly due to writing about it.

I’ve also discovered that I like this – this telling of the story, this ability to frame my life in a certain way, this opportunity to be part of a different community. I really like it.

I’m still thinking through some stuff, but what happens if I don’t have this PPD story to tell anymore? What if it’s not so central to my daily life? I can’t just go back over the last two years and tell all the little, seemingly insignificant stories – the day I yelled, the day all I did was cry, the day I called my parents and told them to come and pick him up RIGHT NOW. Can I? Who wants to read that? Do I want to write that? Do I need to?

I don’t know.

But I don’t know what this blog is about without it. I don’t want to be just another mommy blogger. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I want to have a purpose for all these dots and dashes I’m contributing to the wilds of cyberspace. And I want it to be more than self-indulgent self reflection.

I guess for now my story is still defining itself. And I guess for now I’m all right with that.

Bright Lights

February 10, 2011

This post is in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club, which is to write a piece that begins with, “I could never have imagined” and ends with, “Then the whole world shifted.”

——

I could never have imagined I’d end up on anti-depressants. I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it happening like this.

The doctor’s office is bright the way doctor’s offices are. Fluorescent lights burn overhead, hiding nothing. I’m waiting.

It was the second time I’d initiated this conversation. For someone who was extraordinarily resistant to the idea of medication as an answer to my problem, this seems odd to me now.

Now, waiting, I am dreading the conversation. What if she says, “You don’t need medication.” This is my last resort. If I don’t try it, if it doesn’t work, I’m in real trouble.

That was not at all my point of view the first time medication was suggested to me. That time it was by the counsellor I was seeing, the one who figured out my problem long before I was willing to consider it. I didn’t listen to her.

From the examination room, I can hear sounds in the hall. Doctor’s office sounds. People coming and going. The receptionist on the phone just outside the door. I ‘d had to tell her why I needed the appointment. “I need to talk to someone about anti-depressants,” I’d confessed. She, who I’ve known for a while, who loves my son and always talks about how happy he is, didn’t treat me any differently when I came in. As I sit here in this brightly lit room, I wonder what she’s thinking.

The second time was at one of my son’s well baby visits. At the “anything else?” point in the conversation, I broached the topic with the doctor – a locum I had never seen before and probably wouldn’t see again. During that conversation, I was tentative, exploring: “I’m not feeling like I’m doing very well,” I offered while inside thinking, “I’m feeling awful, actually, but I don’t know if that’s normal. I’m sort of afraid it is.” Made it sound as though it was the usual sort of stuff: “But, you know, he really doesn’t sleep that much. How much not sleeping is normal, anyway?!”

Different sounds now. Appointment-finishing sounds. Thank-yous and goodbyes. I figure that means I’m next, and the butterflies return full force. This is a different doctor – one I’ve never seen before – and I’ve heard rumours that she doesn’t have a great bedside manner. I jiggle my foot the way I do when I’m nervous or distracted and wait for the door to open.

I don’t blame either of those people for the outcomes of the first conversations. They could have pushed, I suppose, or probed further. But in order for the outcome to have been different I’d have had to be willing to listen. To be honest about how not okay I was.

The door opens and she comes in. Any fantasy I had about a dignified conversation rapidly disappears as I break down in tears upon the telling of my story. I’m not a dignified crier, but in this moment I don’t even worry about the blotches on my face or the fact that I need to blow my nose. I’m just focused on finding something that will help because if I don’t I know I’m going to lose my family. She gives me her usual “I don’t usually turn to anti-depressants as the first solution” speech but it’s just part of the routine. She knows I need them. I know I need them.

That night, I look at the bottle of little pills. It feels significant what I’m about to do. It is significant.

I pop one in my mouth and wash it down with some water. Then the whole world shifted.

Wordless Wednesday: Swing

February 9, 2011

Last night, I admitted something.

This morning, the sun is shining.

I’m reminded of the first time we put Connor in a swing. He loved it.

Happy.

Window

February 8, 2011

It’s funny the way the brain works. Usually when I think back to some of my worst moments when Connor was small and I wasn’t coping I think, “Yeah, that was awful. It was so hard.”

But you know what? That doesn’t even begin to sum it up.

This blog is a little over a month old. Only that. I’ve shared a lot, even some of the moments that would seem as though they would fall into the “worst” category. But they don’t. The worst moments are much, much worse.

I’ve recently been re-introduced to Catherine Connors, aka Her Bad Mother. Catherine’s son, Jasper (her second child) is about a month older than my Connor. I was reading her blog quite regularly after Connor was born, and distinctly remember her posts from when Jasper was around six months old and didn’t tend to sleep much. But for reasons  I no longer remember (but that probably have something to do with wanting to be a “good” mother and play with my son more instead of spending so much time reading various things online) I stopped reading her blog shortly after that. The irony in that? It was right after that when the sleep deprivation got to me. Right after that when I lost my mind.

So what’s the point of telling you this? Tonight I read this guest post of Catherine’s on another blog – a post called The Monster in the Closet. On Depression, Shame and Fighting Both. Go ahead. Read it. Even if you only read the first six paragraphs. It’s important.

It’s important because remove the specific details – night, bed, nursing – and that’s my story.

We’re heading into really honest territory here, people. What she has described (“I didn’t have an urge to drop the baby. I had an urge to throw him“) – what she admitted in that post that she didn’t admit in her original post about that night – that’s my story.

I’ll admit something else: I only just realized that – the extent to which that’s true for me as well. The implications of that being my experience. I’ve only just realized it right now. Tonight.

You’re probably wondering how that’s possible. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve read the books and the websites. I’ve heard the stories. One of the symptoms of acute postpartum depression is this same fleeting urge to do something like that. To hurt your baby. Except that I haven’t felt as though any of the other descriptions or stories I’ve read really reflect my experience. I interpret these stories as being about anxiety – worry that you might hurt your baby. And for me it wasn’t anxiety. It was that flash of anger – of rage – that Catherine describes. Except for me it happened more than once.

In those moments, I didn’t want to throw myself out the window. I wanted to throw him out the window. And I said this on several occasions. Voiced it aloud. I remember one day in particular that’s burned in my brain. I can’t remember what came before or what came after, but in that moment Connor was refusing to nap. He just cried and cried and cried. Nothing I did helped, and I couldn’t take it. I needed a break.

In that moment, I reached out to a friend. Crying. Sobbing. “I want to throw him out the window,” I said. I called her because I needed to talk to someone sane who could say, “I know. I understand how you feel.” I think she thought I was kidding. I think I thought I was kidding.

But I wasn’t.

We’ve referenced this conversation a few times since, she and I. Recently she’s admitted it worried her.

In writing this down, it doesn’t worry me, because I wouldn’t have thrown him out the window. I didn’t throw him out the window. Or anything of the sort.

It also doesn’t make me feel ashamed. Oh sure, I wonder what my mother is going to think when she reads this. I wonder if my husband knows I felt like this. That this – this horrible experience – is what my worst was actually like. But I’m not ashamed.

This surprises me, frankly – the fact that I’m not ashamed to admit this and to write about it here where the world can see. But the whole point of sharing my story – the bits and pieces of it, in whatever order they come – is to say this: my experience – and Catherine’s experience, and the experiences of countless other women – is way more common than you’d think. I didn’t realize this, even when it was happening to me. But I realize it now. And it has to be okay to say, “Yes, that was my experience.” And, “This is how I got through it.” And, “It’s okay, you’re not alone.”

In writing this down, what I do feel is overwhelmed. I think my brain needs to process this some more, and think about what it means. And in thinking about that I will no doubt unearth other stories from the recesses of my brain. And I’ll tell those stories too.

When I started writing this post, I looked up at the line at the top of my blog. “Finding the words to tell my story about being a mom and struggling with postpartum depression.” When I started writing this post, I had no words. Only tears. It’s overwhelming to think about this as having been my experience. And not to have realized it. It took me way longer than one night to ask for help.

But in writing this down, the words have come and the tears have gone away. For now.

Not Quite Better

February 7, 2011

This past weekend was good. Not perfect, still, but so much better. And yesterday was great. Had a nice play with the kid in the morning, went for a run in the rain with my dog, went to friends’ to watch the Superbowl eat chips and follow the snarky comments on Twitter about the Black Eyed Peas. We had a really good time. Kids played well together and ours was practically an angel. No pushing, no throwing. He even ate most of his dinner. It was one of those days that was exactly what I thought being a mom would feel like.

At bedtime, I did the usual things – brush teeth, wash face, etc. etc. One of those et ceteras was taking a little green and white pill. I just do it as part of my routine and so did it without even thinking about it. Little pill in, water chaser, dive right in under my fluffy duvet.

Happily settled, I began thinking about what a great weekend that was. What a great week last week was (even with the ridiculous work schedule that, by Wednesday, was starting to feel like it might be trying to kill me). I thought about what it feels like to have had a series of great weeks that had their bad moments but overall were just so much better.

The thought crept in, timidly at first.

“I think I’m better.”

… “Really?”

The thought got stronger. Took hold.

“Really. Think about it for a minute.”

I’ve been feeling really great lately. Better and better and better until it dawned upon me this past weekend that I felt normal. Like, really normal. More normal than the “normal” I’ve felt since starting meds. I felt like me.

It was exhilarating.

My happy little brain continued to browse the interwebs, reading this, commenting on that and generally feeling pretty happy with its lot in life.

And then I read Miranda’s blog post from Friday about refilling her anti-depressant prescription. And it hit me. I’m not better. I’m still on meds.

For some reason, it’s as though I had forgotten. Not for long – a day, maybe less. I had forgotten even though I take it every day. Had just taken it, in fact. The little green and white pill hadn’t even begun to work its daily dose of magic and there I was thinking, “Woo hoo! I’m all better!”

But the thing is, I’m still better than I was. A couple of months ago the thought of being on medication was in itself a horrible thing. “You’re on psychiatric medication,” my mind would whisper. I was desperate to get off it for no really legitimate reason (other than the 20 lbs that seem to have come with those little green and white pills, but hey! I’ll fit my maternity pants that much sooner the next time, right?).

But last night instead of panicking that same mind simply called a halt to the over-enthusiastic celebration and just took a moment to think, “Well that sucks.” It was a downer, to be sure. But it is what it is.

As I think about this today, my mind tends more towards wondering. Wondering if I can come off. Wondering how that would go.

To be honest, it scares the crap out of me. I resisted medication for a really long time – a story I still need to tell, because it will help someone somewhere – but when I finally started taking something, things improved. Dramatically. And quickly. Much more quickly than they’re supposed to. Which makes me wonder if I’ll feel the effects of coming off quickly as well. (Anyone have any experience with this?)

Did I mention this scares the crap out of me?

Two months ago, I had planned to go off medication in the new year. A month ago I knew I wasn’t ready. Now I feel like maybe, just maybe, it’s worth thinking about. Maybe the the normal me – the new, normal me – is close by after all.

Signs

February 6, 2011

Thurs., June 12, 2008

The last day… I should know by now that things don’t turn out as planned. We went in today for the version and after IVs and ultrasounds [the OB] decided fluid levels were too low and wouldn’t do it – baby probably needs to come out. We almost had this baby today but the hospital was really busy so we opted to come home and go back tomorrow.

I’ve been expecting a scheduled c-section for a while but it’s strange that it’s here. Part of me really wants to meet this bean and part of me wants more time. I’m not sure I’d ever really be ready though. These last few weeks have not at all been what I expected. I finally stop hating being pregnant and now it’s over.

I’m nervous about the surgery, though trying to believe the people who say it’s not so bad.

I’m also nervous about the fact that our lives are about to change in this major way that I can’t even begin to anticipate. All my reservations about doing this are coming to the surface, which I hope (and suspect) is just a night-before thing. I’m sure in a few days I’ll read this and have a bit of a laugh about how I had no idea about this amazing thing that was coming.

For now this is my last night as the me I have been so far.

This isn’t how I expected to be feeling. I’m not sure where it’s coming from (or why I’m writing it down…)

—————–

Hello, self? Why were you surprised that you ended up with postpartum depression?

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