Monthly Archives: November 2010

Just Talking Tuesday: Wrangling the Guilt Monster Postpartum built

“I’m a bad mom because I have Postpartum.”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that since I started reaching out to other new moms struggling with Postpartum, I swear I would be richer than Donald Trump.

Thing is, we are NOT bad moms because we have Postpartum.

Postpartum is not like a breakfast cereal. It’s not like we woke up one day, went to the cabinet and chose the Postpartum Flakes with Insomnia nuggets sprinkled with a bit of Anxiety for good measure.

HELL NO.

It chose us.

That bastard came trouncing into our homes, jumped into our beds with glee and announced it had no immediate plans for departure, grinning all the while, daring us to do something about it’s very presence.

Some may spring into action immediately. Others wait to see if it will disappear on it’s own. Still others wait to see if things will get worse before seeking out help.

We may hold our babies closer. We may push them away. We may yell. We may crawl into bed with Postpartum and cuddle close.

Rest assured though that Postpartum mamas are NOT BAD MOMS.

In fact, Postpartum Mamas are some of the most ferociously protective and strong mothers on the face of this planet.

Before our children are one, we have fought to protect them, to keep them safe. We beat ourselves up for yelling at them at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, whenever it was we lost our minds and could not tolerate another second of motherhood because we were literally unable to do so. We defend our relationship with them, redefine our relationship with them – our bond with them, however fragile or deconstructed has truly been born of fire and forged iron strong. We may not see it that first year. In fact, it may be the second, third, or fourth year before we realize just how strong our bond is with our Postpartum child.

More than anything, the lingering monster with which we wrangle on a daily basis is the Guilt Monster. He’s a slippery little devil.

We wrestle with him when our children cry. We wrestle with him when we leave our children, when our children misbehave and we discipline them. We wonder if our Postpartum affected our ability to parent. Are we bad parents because we had Postpartum? Are we harming our children because we can’t “snap out of it”? Guilt asks these questions. Guilt makes us second guess every decision. Guilt is the last monster to leave the nest. Frankly, guilt stays around in some aspect or another as long as we are parents. What changes is how we cope with the questions guilt attempts to force in our direction.

Spill your confessions here. Has Guilt sabotaged your recovery? Your parenting? Your relationship with others? Your job? Your decision to stay home as a parent?

Let’s get to just talkin!

Whatever Wednesday: In which I rant about: NYPD, Allegheny County Jail System, and the TSA

I love Wednesdays. Why? Because I get to write about something other than Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. I love writing my regular blog posts. But Wednesday is a breath of fresh air – kind of like a rest stop on a road trip, if you will.

Today, I’m taking on some rather touchy topics. I need to get it out of my system. I may just curse. Consider yourself warned.

If you’re still fragile, you may want to skip this post all together. The Alleghany County and Amazon stories may be triggering for some.

New York City Police Department

Image by scoutnurse via Flickr

First, the NYPD. Sure, the boys in blue up there in New York City are charged with keeping the city safe. And yes, like any other human organization, they fuck up from time to time. Okay, so maybe a lot. But this most recent situation? SO very inappropriate. A definite abuse of power. NYPD of the 34th Precinct recently arrested and charged 7 chess players with “failure to Comply With Directions of Police Officers, Urban Park Rangers, Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers, or Other Department Employees, or Park Signs.”

Really, NYPD?

According to recent NYPD crime statistics, murder and injury via gunfire is up by 13.2% over last year. In Manhattan alone, where the 34th Precinct is located, murder is up by 12.2%.

But what the NYPD would have you believe is that a few men, sitting at chess tables behind a fence, closed off from the remainder of the park, drinking tea and eating muffins, are more dangerous than a thug with a gun.

Here’s a crazy idea, New York: MOVE THE TABLES.

But I suppose that would cost too much money. Or is it that it would decrease income for the city? If the tables are left where they are, people will come to play. You will arrest them, earning a measly $50 off of each offender. But is the cost really worth it?

The arrested chess players have no current plans to return to their tables. Why? Because they’re not criminals.

 

This next rant may prove triggering for some. It’s about Allegheny County’s Jail System. Scroll down if you want to read about the TSA instead.

 

Recently, Amy Lynn Gillespie, a woman in Allegheny County became pregnant.

So what?

Well, she was jailed for becoming pregnant. Turns out she had been arrested for shoplifting and later for prostitution. As a condition of her work-release probation, she was told not to get pregnant. I do not know if remaining celibate was also part of her probation order.

When she did become pregnant? Allegheny County threw her in jail.

She developed bacterial pneumonia and despite several requests to receive medical attention, she was denied care.

By the time she finally received care, it was too late.

Both she and her 18 week fetus died due to the negligence of Allegheny County Jail System.

What the efff.

Regardless of Amy’s crimes, her unborn infant did not deserve to pay the price. She did not deserve to die in jail. She should never have been jailed in the first place. I’m absolutely disgusted that this happened in my country.

Amy’s mother is suing Allegheny County for the death of her daughter. The hospital at which she received care is not named in the suit. If Amy had been seen sooner, she (and her little one) would still be with us.

Something is not right when a citizen cannot shoplift but a government agency can categorically justify withholding medical attention to a pregnant woman.

 

Speaking of pregnant women and children, the TSA is all over them these days. All over everyone, actually.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you know all about the controversy regarding Scanners, Pat-downs, and TSA Agents. Scanners are believed to infuse an unhealthy amount of radiation into your body. So a pat-down is preferable to walking into an x-ray machine for most, especially frequent fliers and cancer survivors. But the pat-down has become much more aggressive with TSA workers now allowed to use the front of their hand instead of the backs. Videos have surfaced of toddlers, children, being torturously patted down by TSA Agents who seem oblivious to the plight of the little one.

Here’s the thing, TSA. I have talked with my kids about good touch v. bad touch. So now, if I choose to fly with my kids, I need to have the TSA Pat-down touch talk with them too. I’m grateful I don’t fly often or I would be even more upset. My husband and I had talked about the possibility of flying the whole family to next year’s PSI Conference. If things continue the way they are going these days, I won’t let my kids anywhere near an airport anytime soon.

How would I explain the TSA pat-down to my kids?

I imagine it would go something like this:

Me: So, we’re going to get on a plane and fly in a few days. But first we have to go through security.

Kid: What’s that?

Me: Well, there were some bad people who did some really bad things to our country with planes before you were born. So now we have to all bend over and let the government sniff our arses before we get on a plane.

Kid: Realllly?

Me: Well, no, but it might be easier to just do that instead.

Kid: So what DO They do?

Me: They feel all over your body including in your private spot.

Kid: Whaaaaaaa? Why?

Me: A bad person tried to sneak a bomb on a plane in his underwear.

Kid: Well that’s just stupid. What if it had exploded in his underwear? Wouldn’t that have hurt?

Me: Yes, honey, it would have. But he was caught and now the TSA gets to touch everyone in their private spot and all over.

Kid: Well that’s just stupid. I don’t want to blow up a plane.

Me: I know, honey. Neither do I. But the TSA thinks you do until proven otherwise.

 

Thanks, TSA, for forcing parents everywhere to have to talk with their kids about terrorists, bombs, and how to handle genital groping before they’re even old enough to go to school. You totally rock my world.

 

This year, I am thankful our forefathers are not here to see the mess we seem to have made of our country. Pretty damned sure they wouldn’t be happy about the current state of affairs. We’ve gone from bold and brazen to scared and huddling masses. Shame on us for getting here.

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Just Talking Tuesday 11.23.10: Husbands, Wives & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Oh My

"Argue" by jk+too @flickr

“I wish my husband understood that I’m not just trying to get out of Motherhood.”

“How can I admit to struggling when he seems so happy? I’d hate to rain on his parade.”

“He doesn’t believe in mental illness. Neither does his family. So I fake it.”

“I can’t take medication. He won’t let me.”

“My wife won’t admit she is struggling. What can I do?”

“Everything I do is wrong. I’m scared I’ll lose my wife and my child.”

“She’s awesome with the baby. Me? I suck. I’m failing at fatherhood.”

“I’m the Dad. I have to be the rock. I can’t be depressed.”

“I drink/do drugs to hide/numb just how bad I’m feeling from her.”

Every single one of these statements are real things parents who have reached out to me have expressed. These statements are extremely telling. What do they tell, you ask? They tell just how much communication has broken down within the relationship. The breakdown may have occurred before baby. Or it may be a new thing. Until now, everything within their relationship may have been picture perfect. They were the perfect couple. Never had to work hard at their relationship. They may have been “THAT” couple. But now that everything is dashed to hell, smashed to pieces by an innocent new life, their relationship struggles to stay afloat. Everything they thought they knew about each other is also up in the air. They wait with bated breath for it all to crash back down, hopefully back into the right place.

We did just that six years ago.

Things are still falling back into place.

We met at work. Yes, we were like Pam & Jim. We met the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2000 after our Supervisors relocated us to adjoining cubicles. Our first date? A flirtatious invite to a non-existent steak dinner as I bragged to him about my evening. I dashed like a mad woman to the grocery store to turn this imaginary meal into a reality. We’ve been inseparable ever since. In 2002, we got married.

In 2003, we got pregnant.

In 2004, we officially became parents and I went off the deep end.

Suddenly he couldn’t do anything right. I knew everything, he knew nothing. I snapped at him because, well, I could. He got frustrated. We stopped talking. If he did talk or get upset about something, it was automatically my fault. My self-esteem took a nose-dive. I did not think I was verbally abusive, irritable, angry, or crazy. Turns out I was. This continued well into my second pregnancy.

Then our second daughter was born. She spent time in the NICU. I was hospitalized 56 days postpartum after a near-psychotic break. Think we weren’t communicating before? Now we really weren’t on the same page. He had been medicating with marijuana along with the same anti-depressant I ended up on after my hospitalization. We yelled. We screamed, we fought, I cried, I begged him to tell me he wasn’t okay about all of this – that he was hurting too. He lied and said he was fine because that’s what he thought he was supposed to do – he was the man. The rock. He was supposed to be okay.

Turns out he wasn’t okay after all.

After the birth of our third child, I was involved in a car accident at just 3 months postpartum. I went to jail. Why? Because my husband had been spending money on marijuana instead of on important things like vehicle registration and car insurance. Again, failure to communicate.

He’ll be 3 years into recovery this coming March. So will I. Wait – did you say¬† – I did. I’m no longer a co-dependent. I’m no longer enabling his habit. Believe me, you didn’t want to be in this house the day after my accident. It was not pretty.

Our fallout from PMAD’s and Paternal Postnatal Depression took nearly four years to explode. It’s taken close to seven years to claw our way back to where we are now – a place very closely resembling normal and healthy. Even here though we have our issues. I suspect we always will. To assume perfection is to ignore the flaws in front of you. Flaws are not always a bad thing. Sometimes they are just what we need to learn and move forward.

We have mistakes in our past. We have learned from them. Moved on. Trusting in God and His enduring support as we grow to trust in Him for everything. Our journey has been full of hell. But it’s also been obviously filled with grace and tenacity. On our part and on God’s part.

There are times within the past almost seven years at which I could have walked away and no one would have faulted me. I chose to stay and fight. Certainly not the easiest path but definitely the right path – especially as I sit here in the glow of a Christmas tree, a fireplace, and my husband beside me.

For us, our brush with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders ripped the band-aids off situations we may not have otherwise faced head-on. We were thrust headlong into trauma, grief, mental illness, and forced to decide how to move forward. I am thankful we clung to each other and made the decision to move forward together. I know many other couples who are not as fortunate for whatever reason. Each situation, each person, each Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder is different. Therefore, the results will be assuredly different as well.

What challenges have you faced as part of your PMAD? Has your husband axed certain avenues of treatment? Has that affected your recovery? Your marriage? Did your PMAD ultimately lead to divorce? Or is your marriage stronger as a result of coming through the fiery storm that is a PMAD?

Let’s get to just talking about Husbands, Wives, and Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Oh My.

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