Archives for the month of: April, 2013

“Something Other Than a Mom,” written and performed by Vered Ronen.

© GenBug

Hey Nina,

I’m hoping like hell that you guys are full of newborn baby bliss and that everything is going really really well. BUT, just in case it’s not – and you’re wondering if you will ever sleep again or ever not cry at the drop of a hat – I wanted to reach out to you to let you know – YOU ARE NOT ALONE and IT DOES GET BETTER!

Caleb will eventually develop a routine – he’ll eat well, sleep well, coo at you, smile. He’ll stop having problems latching, or with spitting up, reflux and gas. He’ll stop screaming for hours on end… He WILL be everything fantastic you ever imagined he would be.

Your nipples WILL stop hurting. They may go through several stages of bruising, bleeding, maybe even mastitis, but nursing does get easier.

You WILL sleep again, although not for a while. The good news is – in just a few short weeks you’ll forget what is was ever like to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time and you’ll just pop right out of bed without so much as a groan when he wants to eat. And then, before you know it, he’ll be sleeping through the night.

You WILL get your body back and your old clothes will fit even better than they did before. Your hair will stop falling out, your boobs will belong to you once again, and if you’re like me, just about then you’ll miss being pregnant and do it all over again!

Your marriage WILL survive this. It has never ceased to amaze me that just when a couple should be leaning on one another the most – through exhaustion, frustration and excitement – the stress makes you resentful, and short, and angry… On many occasion in the early weeks of each of our children Goat and I said “are we going to survive this? Will we ever be more than just our kids’ parents? Will we ever stop fighting over the smallest things because we’re so tired?” And so far, we’ve survived and those conversations have subsided… Harass Joanna to watch Caleb for a few hours so you guys can have a date night and just reconnect.

Your house WILL be clean again, the laundry WILL get done, the thank you notes written, the visitors will end… It DOES get better. So chin up, keep snuggling that precious baby boy, and if there is anything I can do to help – please say so.

Like I said, i really hope that none of this applies to you, and if it doesn’t then it is probably WAY too much of an overshare on my part… I just feel like there is so much “they” don’t tell you about having a newborn. So when you get home and you’re exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling inadequate – you think you might be the only woman in the world who ever felt that way. But you’re not. That is – if you do feel that way… .

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What I never wanted to say…

“These last two weeks have been the most miserable of my entire life”

I was holding my two week old son, swaddled up like a burrito, turned on his side, jiggling him madly as per ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’.  My husband was aghast at my words.  He looked a little disgusted.  I couldn’t look at him, I was ashamed to have said them, those horrible words, made all the more horrible by being so true.

My Postpartum Depression began instantly after the baby was born. Instantly.  And it was never depression, not in the typical sense.  I didn’t feel down, I didn’t feel detached from the baby, and thank god, I never had any urges to harm him.  It began as irritation. Really, really intense irritation.  I remember hearing the footsteps of a nurse crossing the delivery room floor just minutes after the birth and it was tantamount to fingernails on a blackboard to my ears.  I desperately wanted everyone, including the baby, to go away and leave me alone.  I chocked it up to exhaustion, and to some degree it certainly was, but something else had begun inside of me, something that has robbed so many mothers of the joy of birth and of new motherhood.  I expected sleep deprivation, I expected to feel the loss of my free-wheeling childless days.  I had been prepared for all the possible complications during pregnancy and all the possible complications of delivery.  I knew what terrible disorders and diseases could befall my baby and me, but no one told me to prepare for PPD, didn’t even mention it in my childbirth class.  I was told how difficult it might be to recover from a C- Section or an Episiotomy.  I knew that I might pee my pants for awhile, have stretch marks, a squishy belly, painful intercourse etc, etc… no one told me that I might fall into the darkest, saddest period of my life. No one really talks about it.  So I’m going to talk about it.  Heck, Gwyenth Paltrow did, and I always say, ”Whatever Gwyneth Paltrow can do, I can do”. Minus the movie career, and the rock star husband, and the tallness, the yoga toned body, the Oscar, and the cookbooks.

It began in earnest the day I left the hospital.  My sister, brother-in-law and niece had accompanied me home.  I had been excited to come home, felt happy and hopeful, but as the time of their visit began to dwindle away and I knew that they would soon be gone, I started to feel….dread?  That isn’t the best word, or the most accurate word to describe the feeling, there is no word. I had never felt it before, but for the next few weeks, it was all I felt.   Suffice to say, it was terrible and I felt very, very alone.  Soon after, the anxiety set in. Now, no one has ever mistaken me for an easygoing, laid-back kinda gal, but this was very different.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think straight, I was consumed with anxiety about the baby, about myself, about my husband.  I missed him, so badly, as if he was away at war and yet I saw him every day.  I became obsessed with the baby’s sleep schedule. Why wasn’t he sleeping longer?  When would he sleep more?  Why did he need to be held to sleep?  Would I have to hold him to sleep forever? I remember my sister saying to me, ”he’s only two weeks old, Heather”.  I could hear it in her voice, she thought I was a freak.  These might seem like standard new mother worries, but I promise you, they were far worse.  I cried hysterically when he wouldn’t take a nap, sobbing to my husband that something was wrong with him.  I called my husband at work crying every day, but I couldn’t put into words what was wrong.  I was so overwhelmed, I eagerly took weekend trips away without the baby, I was relieved to leave him with caretakers that I felt were better for him than I was.  He was the innocent recipient of my stress and it broke my heart to know I was burdening him with it.

And then, there were the visions. Every time I closed my eyes I saw my baby fall.  I tripped on the stairs and dropped him.  I slipped on the hardwood floor and dropped him.  I stood with him on our balcony, lost my balance and watched him fall into the water below and drift away from me. It was torture.  I don’t use that word lightly, it was truly unbearable.  The images were vivid.  I could see it happening so clearly.  I heard every sound.   Every time I closed my eyes, he fell, he fell, he fell.

Thanks to the interwebs, I’ve since learned that in fact, most women who suffer from PPD actually experience more anxiety or obsessive compulsive thoughts/actions, than they do depression.  It’s heartbreaking to think of all the women, throughout the world and throughout history that suffered this way.  I don’t want to get all up on a soapbox, but there is no PPD support group in our community.  There are support groups for mothers of multiples, for women breastfeeding, for parents who have lost children.  All good and necessary, no doubt about it, but not one group for PPD?  None that I can find anyway.  Why?  Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d be happy to know it.

There is medication though, and you better believe I jumped on that wagon.  I didn’t even think about going natural.  Hell no.  And it worked. That, and a part-time nanny.  My husband’s 60+ hour a week job was not helping matters. By the time my son was two months old, I was feeling pretty much back to normal.  Don’t. Wait. To. Get. Help.  Whatever kind of help you seek, get it immediately.  So much precious time is wasted otherwise.

Should I really be admitting all this, I’ve worried?  Even now, I still feel the shame. I’ve cringed at every word I’ve written.   But why shouldn’t I admit it? The fact is, it was no more in my control than morning sickness, craving ground beef or having sore boobs; all products of the hormones rising and falling and swirling around in my pregnant body.  I want to shout it out for all the women who never could, when there was no solution, no support and no name for the affliction. Talk about it.  Tell your friends about it.  And tell a new mother.

Read more from Heather at her blog: 6:30 and a Glass of Wine

Sleeping Newborn

Last night, after finally putting my baby girl to sleep (pretty much the only time I can truly relax), I proceeded to turn on a mindless romantic comedy and lay in bed. A mosquito buzzed in the movie and sounded so much alike my baby’s cry that my heart skipped a beat and I had a weird tingling sensation on my arms. I realized at this precise moment that my life as I knew it had completely changed. The fact that a mere sound can create such a visceral reaction in my body was so bizarre and real. “Me” and “my” time was no longer the same. I was now fully connected with another creature. After the tingling subsided and I realized it wasn’t her suddenly waking up for some unknown reason, I settled back into my relaxed state.

My alone time as a mother of a seven month old is so precious that sometimes I get so annoyed at even the sound of a text message. “How dare you text me while I’m laying in bed finally!!”. Is this really me? I used to be so laid back, never annoyed, never jumpy or anxious or moody. Being a mother has created new realms of feelings and thoughts in my brain, sometimes I am shocked at my own behavior. (My husband even more shocked). Having a baby has instilled some very raw maternal instincts that make me truly believe in the power of nature. I will do ANYTHING for this child, and my body reacts in such a way that is almost beyond my own control. I find this extremely fascinating and empowering; I am a mother, creator of another creature, and that is a truly awesome thing.

To be honest, there are moments where I miss the “me” time. I miss being able to waltz out the door and not know where I’m going or when I’ll be back. Now, walking out the door I think, “Do I have milk? Do I have diapers? Is she gonna need to nap?” or if I have left her with a caregiver, “Is she okay? Did she eat? Will she sleep? I need to come back soon to breastfeed!!” As the months have passed, I have begun to relax into motherhood and not worry too much. As long as we are healthy, (“we” is the key word here, mothers and their babies are a unit, a shared mechanism) we are fine.

But, as we all know, this work, this new devotion, is all so worth it. I don’t need to explain why, we all know the importance of being a mother, the gifts of having a child. The moments my daughter and I share are unlike anything anyone will ever understand. We are our own little crazy and beautiful world.

And at the end of the day, when I do finally lay down, I feel such a newfound sense of satisfaction. I lay down and sink into a sense of utter bliss. I have been giving of myself all day, making sure my little creature is perfect and happy. And since I know this, I can feel perfect and happy too. And tomorrow is a new day together…