Mommy as a Human

Battle with PPD: Won

After I had Miss C in June 2015, I was hit by paralyzing postpartum depression. I was angry all the time, mentally and physically exhausted, and honestly didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I wanted to run away from everything and everyone and not be in charge of a superglue baby who needed me every second and a toddler girl who was feeling a bit displaced by her baby sister.

One night, I had been trying to get Miss C to bed for literally hours. She would not stop screaming and crying. She was about 7 or 8 months old, and I just hit a breaking point.

I walked out of my bedroom and handed the baby to my husband. I was sobbing. I choked out “I don’t want to be a mom anymore.”

I grabbed my keys, purse, and phone, ignored my husband’s bewildered questions, and I got in my car. I turned on some music and put the volume all the way up and hit the freeway headed south. I sobbed as I drove, feeling like a horrible mother, a horrible human being, and an awful wife.

I just drove and cried and sang along incomprehensibly to my music through my sobs.

I pulled off the freeway when I saw signs for the airport. I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t really “escape my life” by getting on a plane, but the airport is a good hour away from my house and I figured I needed to stop and regroup.

I parked in the cell phone lot and texted my best friend, who lives all the way across the country. I broke down. I confessed I had been super depressed and that I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I told her that I resented my baby because I couldn’t get any sleep and I couldn’t give my toddler the attention she needed. I told her that if I had money I would be getting on a flight to South Carolina. I told her everything. I told her I didn’t care if I died, and some days, I wanted to.

She didn’t judge me. She listened. She talked about what we would have done if I’d actually gotten on a plane and the Target run we would have had to make to buy me a toothbrush and some clothes.

As we talked, I watched planes take off and land and taxi around and people parking and then leaving as whoever they were there to pick up arrived.

She gently joked with me until she made me smile, and then she made me promise I would make an appointment with my doctor to get some help. She helped me realize that PPD was making me feel that way, and that I needed help and that I really did love my kids and things would get better for me.

She was right. I needed help, and I got it.

I was put on an antidepressant. I met with my doctor every few weeks to make sure I was doing okay. And when I unexpectedly ended up pregnant just a couple weeks after starting my antidepressant, my doctor and midwife both spoke to me about the risk of me going off my medication versus the benefit and let me make a decision and supported my decision.

I truly believe that my friend and my doctor saved my life. I do not believe I would have survived without my friend pushing me to get help, and without the help my doctor gave me. Postpartum depression is very real and can be deadly if it goes untreated.

Over the last few weeks, with help and guidance from the same doctor, I have successfully weaned off of my antidepressant. I may end up needing something for anxiety, I’m not sure. But right now, I’m doing okay.

I asked my doctor if we could try weaning me off the meds because I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight while on them – a side effect of the meds I was on was an increase in appetite, and I literally felt hungry all the time.

Now, I feel hungry until I eat and then I don’t feel hungry anymore! It’s weird after three years of literally feeling hungry all day long.

So far, me being off the meds has been going well, but I’m checking in with my doctor often to make sure all is well. I’ve actually had a bit more energy since I’m off the meds – they made me feel a bit sleepy a lot of the time. I laugh more, too, so I wonder if the antidepressants had made me feel a bit robotic or if that’s just my imagination.

Either way, I’m glad to be feeling more like myself without the assistance of medication. We will see how long this lasts.

Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out for help if you are feeling sad, depressed, or anxious. It could save your life.

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Bedtime Battles

If you had asked me before I became a mom what the most frustrating part of parenting was, I probably wouldn’t have had a good guess. Something general like, “back talk” or “not listening.”

I would have been wrong, in any case. Because in the last 5+ years, the Most Frustrating Thing Award has gone to bedtime. Every. Single. Time.

When B was 10 months old and started fighting sleep. When she was 14 months old and thought bedtime was playtime. When she was 2 and decided that she didn’t really need to stay in bed (or even her bedroom) just because we said so.

When C was born…right up until now, at three. She has always fought sleep like it was her arch nemesis.

And E…she goes back and forth between being easy and being a nightmare to get to sleep. Currently, she is sleeping in her toddler bed. It’s taken a couple of weeks to make that transition, but, fingers crossed and knock on wood, I think we’ve got it down.

B and C share a room. We don’t have a choice, and when E is old enough to hold her own with her big sisters, she’ll go in that room as well. Trying to get a 5 and a half-year old and a 3 year old to LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE, SETTLE DOWN, and JUST GO TO SLEEP is a freakin’ nightmare, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

If one wants the little lamp on, the other one screams they want it off. This role can change from day-to-day. If one wants the fan on high, the other wants it on low. If one wants the closet door shut, the other one insists on opening it. They want to share a bed tonight (for five minutes, until they change their mind), NO they DO NOT WANT THEIR SISTER IN THEIR BED EVER!

Entire toy bins get dumped on the floor. I go back and forth between their room and the couch so often, I should be tracking my steps. If the oldest gets up to go to the bathroom, the freshly potty trained 3 year old insists she has to go to. This wouldn’t be a problem if the oldest didn’t try to convince us she needs to go to the bathroom every ten to fifteen minutes all night long.

I tried putting a baby gate in their doorway to discourage so many trips to the bathroom. I figured, if they had to have us come let them out, maybe that would show them that it’s not a game.

Oy.

Biggest mistake ever.

Granted, it’s only been two nights, but now, they open the door and “whisper shout” across the apartment at us (because they know if they wake up their sister in the room next to theirs, they’re busted). “MOMMY. BATHROOM.” “MOMMY. COOKIE.” “MOMMY. WATER.”

I swear, it’s like a revolving door at Grand Central Station here.

Husband and I sat down today and figured out a solid bedtime routine that will go into effect tomorrow. We decided that we will stick to it like glue for the next three weeks and see if bedtime improves. I REALLY hope it does, because by the time they finally fall asleep (lately sometime after 11PM and hopefully before 1AM), I feel as if I’ve run a marathon and my hair is always sticking up like I’ve stuck my finger in a socket.

They know how to push all my buttons. Rawr.

So, new routine –

Dinner around 5:30.

Cleanup after dinner and put toys away.

Baths around 7:00.

Brush teeth.

Story.

Song.

In bed with lights out by 8:00.

 

Hopefully, that’ll work. Because I’m exhausted.

 

 

Mommy as a Human

I’m Doing Everything Wrong

Sometimes, I worry that I am screwing up my kids. That I’m doing everything wrong, and some day they will get a therapist and their therapist will tell them that their issues stem from me being a bad mother.

Some of that is standard mom worry, I think. But some of it…? I don’t know. I am not a great mom.

I’ve gotten bad about yelling. I ask something of them calmly two or three times, and then I get frustrated because they aren’t listening, and instead of really getting their attention and helping them focus, I explode.

I immediately feel awful, and I apologize for losing my temper. But I hate that. I hate the example I am giving them when instead of being patient with them, I yell.

I know timeouts don’t work with my kids, but I’ve been falling back into the habit of using them out of desperation. When I’m holding onto control with the bare edges of my fingertips, putting them on timeout and giving myself time to calm down seems easiest in the moment.

But really, banishing them to their room every time I get angry doesn’t accomplish anything except to make them feel frustrated and turn getting them into their room a whole other battle.

Especially Miss B. She and I are so much alike. All she wants is to feel like I hear her. And I know that. So why is it so hard when my temper is flaring to acknowledge what she is saying and reassure her that I hear her? That I’m not ignoring what she is saying, but I need her to hear me?

And Miss C is almost three and going through her “why” phase. I’m trying so hard to give her real answers, but eventually I just say “because” or “that’s just the way it is.” I don’t want to discourage her from asking questions, but I mean…how much detail can one possibly go into about why we have to go pick up her daddy from work or why her sister goes to school? I give a LOT of answers before resorting to “because.” Good grief. She’s inexhaustible.

Miss E, my one year old, has started scratching my face in addition to hitting me and biting me. I know it’s a stage that will hopefully pass quickly, but it’s making me so angry this time around and I know my reactions are exacerbating the problem. Ugh!

I think I have Burnt Out Mommy Syndrome. I’ve been trying to schedule some things for me lately, to get out and spend time with friends and do things for myself. I got my hair cut and styled a couple weeks ago and I love it. I also bought myself makeup with the help of two of my friends and started wearing it nearly every day…I’ve never done my own makeup before, and I’m about to turn 30!

So…weekly goals for this week:

1) Take at least fifteen minutes to myself every day.

2) Do not yell at the kids.

3) Use consequences that work instead of timeouts that don’t.

4) Unpack one box a day from our move.

I’ll check in and let you know how that actually works out.

In the meantime, I’m going to eat this butterscotch pudding and watch a Disney movie. 💕

Mommy as a Human

Life is Nuts

This blog has been on my mind lately. I’m not sure why, since I can’t seem to commit to writing on any sort of schedule. Maybe it’s because being a mom has been such a struggle lately.

Not because of my kids. Kids are crazy, that’s part of life. Just because I’ve got a lot going on in my brain.

I’m trying to help my five year old navigate the big emotions that come with having friends in a Pre-Kindergarten class. She is very competitive, and that’s causing her some stress with her (also competitive) friends. I’m also trying to prepare her for kindergarten in September, and keep my patience through her “that’s not fair” stage.

I’m trying to help my two year old prepare for starting preschool in the fall, and I’m trying to get the whole potty training thing going for her.

My almost 17 month old is going through a hitting/scratching/biting phase.

I’ve got a mountain of laundry. We moved in February and still aren’t unpacked. My husband injured his foot/ankle during said move and has an MRI scheduled soon to try to figure out what the heck is going on with it. He is in a walking boot and using a cane. They’ve done X-rays and it’s not broken, but a regular sprain should have healed by now. He isn’t very mobile so the household chores he would normally be helping with have fallen to me.

The girls are getting used to their uncle living with us, and he’s getting used to living with them, so adjustments on all sides.

I went back to work in October and then ended up leaving in February, for a variety of reasons. So we weren’t really adjusted to me being back and then I was home again and the kids are readjusting to that. My five year old keeps asking me in a worried voice if I “have to leave her again” to “go to work and not be home for her bedtime.”

I’ve started looking at going back to school. We are paying off debt and trying to get financially stable. I’ve started joining some committees and getting more involved with the preschool – and next year there will be two schools to be involved with, in two separate districts, since the preschool is in one and kindergarten is in another. I’m sure that will present a whole new list of challenges.

It’s just life. It’s nothing special. But when I think about it I start to feel overwhelmed and my patience grows thin and then parenting gets harder.

I’m hoping once we finally get everything unpacked and I make it through the mountain of laundry and figure out whether I’ll actually be able to go back to school and we know what’s wrong with my husband’s leg…maybe I can breathe for a minute.

I have two play dates scheduled for the kids this week, and I’m thinking about braving the Children’s Museum and the library to get the kids out of the house and doing something different.

I’ve also been thinking about doing some more work on my blog and maybe sharing recipes or fun stuff I’ve done with the kids. We shall see.

Until next time…hopefully sooner than ten months from now…

Uncategorized

A General Sort of Post

It has been almost a year since I posted a blog. Life has gotten just a little (okay, a lot) crazy since our newest little was born (on Thanksgiving!!) and I’ve let the blogging go to the back burner.

But we are l still here. So here’s a bit of an update.

Ella was born just after 11PM on November 24, 2016. She was just as beautiful and perfect as her sisters, and she fit right into our little family. She is now almost 7 months old, and is our laid back, bubbly, happy, smiley little baby. She goes with the flow and flirts with everyone in sight, and her big grins and giggles make everyone around her smile, whether they want to or not, haha.

I was very happy that, this time around, my PPD was not nearly so extreme as it was for Chelsea. The depression itself was quite mild. This time it was more postpartum anxiety that got me. A lot of panic attacks and fear of inadequacy as a parent going on to start with. But I had feared the PPD so much that I was in constant contact with my doctor and midwives, and was able to get the help that I needed with my PPA sooner rather than later. 💗 Remember: there’s no shame in asking for or accepting help!! Always reach out to a care provider if you feel like something is wrong. No one who matters will judge you for getting the help you need to be a good mom/happy human. ❤️

Chelsea turned 2 at the beginning of June, and she is my adventurous little daredevil. She has no fear, which scares the you-know-what out of me. But her bright blue eyes, mischeviois little grin, and delighted little laugh tug at my heartstrings. She is shy, and doesn’t talk much unless we are at home. But she is determined to keep up with her big sister, and loves to play and crawl into my lap for snuggles.

Briana is four and a half now. 😭 She started preschool in January, and she’s a sassy little thing. We’ve been butting heads a lot because she acts just like me. (I KNOW that’s why it gets under my skin, lol!) Bri loves school and is quite upset that we are done for the summer. She loves to learn, and is looking forward to Pre-K in the fall with her same teachers again. She wants to know the “why” and “how” of everything. She’s my budding little scientist. I’m doing my best to encourage her love of learning, and try to answer all her questions (with the help of Google at times).

Husband has a new job (yay) and is doing quite well. 

I’m still doing the editing stuff from home, which is a blast, and also selling Jamberry, which is fun.

I’m perpetually sleep deprived, and I feel like pulling my hair out most days. I’m more snappish than I want to be, and yell more than I care to admit. But at the end of the day when I get to kiss three precious girls and tell them I love them and that I hope they sleep well…it makes me realize it’s all worth it. And I do my best to not beat myself up too much about the moments when I fail to be as patient and kind as I aim to be.

I never really got the meaning of that saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” At least until I became a mom.

I’m hoping to start blogging again. I may be going back to edit all my blogs to just use the girls’ first initial. Just for privacy reasons. I’m feeling particularly paranoid lately, I guess.

At any rate…if you’re reading this, thanks for sticking around. ❤️

Uncategorized

One Step At A Time

I came into the bedroom to give Chelsea her bottle of milk. She still wakes up most nights around 1:00 to have a drink. She drank her milk and handed me her bottle, and then crawled into my lap (I had put her on my bed and sat next to her, that’s what she prefers at night).  She put her head on my shoulder, wrapped her arm around me, grabbed my shirt, and went immediately back to sleep. I’m still sitting here, ten minutes later enjoying the weight of her here on my shoulder. Smelling her sweet baby smell. Kissing her sweet little face.

I realized today that she doesn’t want to snuggle unless she’s sleepy anymore. I realized that although she wants constant reassurance that I’m still here, she’s more interested in chasing Briana around these days than cuddling with mama for very long.

She’s growing and changing so quickly. And I thought I was ready this time, that I knew how fast it would go. I was wrong. It goes so much more quickly when you have two to chase after and divide your attention between. And when you’re pregnant as well, everything goes on fast forward.

I realized that in 14 short weeks, she won’t be my youngest anymore. That I will have three babies to look after and love and chase and teach and giggle with and marvel over. That I will no longer have enough hands to keep hold of everyone when I am by myself. That someone will always be left feeling as if they are being cheated of my attention.

But earlier, Chelsea fell, and I was all the way across the apartment, and she cried out that heartbreaking “I really hurt myself” cry, and before I could get to her, Briana was there.

“It’s okay Chelsea, I’ve got you. Sissy is here. Did you get an ouchie? Do you need a Bandaid? Let me help you up.”

Chelsea stopped crying and let Bri help her up. Bri kissed her forehead and held her hand and said “Let’s be careful so you don’t fall, okay?”

And my eyes welled up a little bit as Chelsea giggled and started walking along with Briana, not even looking around to see where I had gone.

And just like that, another stage passes. Just like that, they’re a second, minute, hour older. Every time you blink. Every time you glance away. Every time you sleep, wake up, and start another long and exhausting day.

Just like that they’re one step further away from you, one step closer to independence. They’re learning to lean on each other. They’re forming a friendship, and it’s the kind only siblings can have. It’s amazing and beautiful.

And it means they need me just a little less. And that’s beautiful, too. And also a little heartbreaking. And a little scary.

Some days the thought of having another baby is completely overwhelming. I feel as if I can barely handle two. My PPD is under much better control now, but there are still days that I feel like I’m drowning.

But then, on days like today, when Bri steps in and helps her sister, even with something small. When I hear her tell Chelsea not to do something so she won’t get hurt. When she sees me getting frustrated because the kids aren’t cooperating and says “I’m sorry mama. I’m ready to listen.”

On days like today, I know I will figure it out. That David will be there to help me. That David’s parents and my family and our friends will always be willing to reach out and jump in with extra hands when I need them.

On days like today, I know I will be okay. On days like today, I hold onto the fact that all my babies are still little, and still need me, but that their growing independence will be what helps us transition from a family of four to a family of five.

One step at a time. For them, and for me. For all of us.

Uncategorized

Success

Sometimes, I let life get to me. The struggle of keeping my head above water on days when my PTSD and PPD make just getting out of bed hard, and I have two little people who need me to do nearly everything for them. And it’s not just the struggle to get up and take care of them, but the struggle to be present for them in the way they deserve.

Today, there was a big mix of failures and successes. I am learning that just because I failed at some parts of the day does not mean the whole day was a waste, or that I’m a failure. I’m learning, slowly, to move past the rough moments and enjoy the good ones, even on the days when there are more rough moments than good.

If you had asked me a month ago if I succeeded or failed at a day like today, I would have said, without hesitation, that I failed. I raised my voice more than once. I lost patience many times. There were timeouts and there were a couple yelling matches with my three year old when I forgot to be the adult.

But I also fed the kids three real meals and two non-packaged snacks today. And we had a mini-dance party in my room after I changed the baby’s diaper. Briana and I spent twenty minutes looking at a Mickey Mouse book that is similar to a “Where’s Waldo” book…a find it sort of book, and the look on her face the first time she found something in the sea of objects on the page without my help was pure magic. We used straws for magic wands and had a “magic fight” that mostly involved a lot of giggling and saying “hex, hex, unhex!” Bri went through three outfits today before settling on the perfect dress. The baby shared her graham cracker with me, and giggled like crazy with every bite I took.

I used to feel like all the moments I stumbled as a parent far outweighed the moments when I got it right. But at the end of the day, after I rock my snugly, sleepy, happy 1 year old baby to sleep and get her settled into her crib, and walk across the apartment to my 3 and a half year old’s room to say goodnight, she doesn’t want to talk about the moments we slipped up. She wants to snuggle up to me while I play a song for her on my phone and we sing about taking on the world. She wants me to read her a story and give her a kiss and “Please, Mommy, lay with me just a little bit longer? I need your attention. Your attention makes me happy. How about we read a story?”

Kids are great at moving past the negative and holding onto the good stuff. Somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to do that. My kids are reminding me how. Every day.

Something happened at my nephew’s birthday party on Sunday with Briana that keeps making me smile, because it shows me that, even though I may forget how to “bounce back” myself sometimes, I’m doing an okay job at teaching her how to handle her emotions in a more healthy and constructive way than I do.

Her cousin got a cool ride-in truck for his birthday, but was a little leery of getting in. So they had Bri jump in…well…she’s three. So of course she didn’t want to jump out! I went over and lifted her up out of the truck and told her it was someone else’s turn and set her down in the dining room. She was facing away from me, so I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell from my mom’s face that it was a sad one, and before I could get her turned around to talk to her, she had taken off for her cousin’s room.

I followed her and found her face down on the floor, hands covering her little eyes, crying. I sat down next to her and scooped her into my lap and she put her head on my shoulder and I asked her to tell me what was wrong. Between big sobs, she said that she wanted the truck, and she was sad that it wasn’t her turn. She was sad that it wasn’t her birthday.

I reminded her of her own birthday party, when she got lots of presents, and asked her how she would have felt if someone took one of her presents and wouldn’t let her have a turn. Her crying got quieter, and she said “I wouldn’t like that. And that’s his truck, huh? And I had a turn and now it’s his turn?” I agreed with her. She still sounded pretty teary, but she wiped her eyes and said in a trembling sort of voice, “Mommy, will you just play with me for a minute? I feel sad.”

So we sat there on the floor and played with some of her cousin’s toys, for maybe three minutes. She jabbered at me about this toy and that toy, and how they were her cousin’s toys but we could take a turn since he wasn’t using them. And then she popped to her feet and said “I feel a little better now. Thanks, Mommy.” And just like that, the rough moment was a distant memory, and she was ready to fly off and play with her cousins again, while I trailed along after her down the hall.

My three year old is better at moving past things than I am…my kids are going to teach me through me teaching them. How crazy is that? Life is crazy. But life is also good. And today, I succeeded at life.

One step, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. And each success matters, and the moments I mess up don’t take away from the moments I get it right.

I’m learning. Slower than my three year old maybe, but I’m learning.