Monthly Archives: February 2011

I’ll be here

(Husbands… need a cheat sheet on what to say to your wife? PRINT & MEMORIZE THIS POST.)

When you feel as if you have nowhere to turn…. I’ll be here.

When you’re all alone and lost…. I’ll be here.

When you can’t breathe because anxiety has stolen your breath… I’ll be here.

When scary thoughts dive into your head…. I’ll be here.

When you don’t want to sleep because you’re afraid of what might come… I’ll be here.

When you sleep all day because you can’t bear to get out of bed… I’ll be here.

When you’re filled with fear and can’t move… I’ll be here.

When you need to wail and scream and punch… I’ll be here.

When you need to be held close forever because nowhere else feels safe… I’ll be here.

When you need someone to just listen… I’ll be here.

When you need a break from your screaming child… I’ll be here.

When you need to feel love… I’ll be here.

When you need to just be… I’ll be here.

I love you.

I know, somewhere, deep within, you still love me too.

This is me. Here. Waiting for you.

To come back.

Waiting. For as long as it takes.

I’ll be here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Every little thing

I am beyond thrilled to introduce to you the very first regular contributor to My Postpartum Voice. Miranda and I met via Twitter and #PPDChat. She blogs regularly over at Not Super Just Mom in addition to hanging out on Twitter, teaching, being a Mom and a wife. I hope y’all will enjoy reading Miranda’s voice as much as I have. Welcome aboard, Miranda!

I spent the first year of my diagnosis alone and hurting, partly because I was too stubborn to reach out and partly because I didn’t know there were so many people to whom I could reach out. My only two sources of support were my mom and my husband, and neither had much experience in dealing with postpartum. (By “much experience” I mean “none experience.”)

And then I found Twitter. And Twitter brought me people like Lauren. And Lauren has given me the opportunity to help her help you.

Wow.

So here I am, nearly two years out. And the cool thing about this is that PPD/A isn’t a war I’ve lost. If anything, I’d say I’ve pretty well conquered my main demon—anxiety. I have WAY more good days than bad lately. I find myself rolling through toddler tantrums like a seasoned professional, despite the fact that he’s not two yet and the fun hasn’t really even begun (or so I hear).

But the relative goodness of my life right now doesn’t mean that I’m scott-free and that I never have to worry about anxiety. There are setbacks. I still fight battles. And those battles still frustrate me. And if I’m not careful, that frustration leads to nastiness and anger and guilt and ::insert your negative emotions here::.

As I write this, we’re on our first full day of a long-weekend getaway with friends. No internet. No cell phones. No noise. It’s quiet here. Peaceful. Relaxing. Or at least it should be.

We are WAY outside our normal routine, y’all. Way.

And that’s when things get hairy for me.

Joshua fought me on his nap yesterday. We spent the morning traveling, practically throwing Joshua in the car the minute he woke up. We arrived and he explored our cabin and then it was time for a nap. Dan and his friend were gone to the grocery store to get supplies. My friend was upstairs tending to her toddler. And Joshua and I were downstairs in our bedroom with me quickly spiraling into a case of Mama Fail because he wouldn’t settle down and take a nap, despite the fact that we both knew he needed to sleep.

He cried. I put a pillow over my head. He cried harder. I felt my throat clench up. I got up and patted his butt in the pack-n-play. He settled. My throat unclenched. I turned to go back to the bed. He cried again. My spine stiffened and my mind started racing. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! Wash. Rinse. Repeat. For nearly 45 minutes. And there was no one here to help me through it. There was just me and Joshua, figuring this out like we’ve done time and time again.

I can’t stand to let Joshua cry. It’s one of my triggers. Colic and reflux made sure that he spent the early months of his life screaming his little baby lungs out. And the early months of his life were, by far, my worst. When he screams, I go into fight or flight mode just like I did two years ago. I get irrational. And cranky. And angry. And hurt.

Why can’t I fix this!? What is wrong with me!? Why does he hate me!? WHY ME??

Do you see what’s wrong with those questions? 

The questions are completely irrational, folks.

I can’t fix anything about this situation unless I never leave my house again or never break our usual, customary routine.

Nothing is wrong with me. I am not broken.

My son does NOT hate me. He’s too little to even know what hate is. And if I have it my way, he won’t know what hate is. It’s certainly not something I plan to teach him.

There is nothing I’ve done or not done to deserve this. Nothing. This is punishment for any wrongdoing in this or any other life I may have lived.

It’s times like this that I have to remind myself that I am a mother. A mother with postpartum anxiety and depression, yes, but a mother. I am not postpartum depression and anxiety first and a mother second.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a sippy of milk and brought Joshua to bed with me. I got him settled down and he eventually flipped over onto his stomach, head on my shoulder, and I sang to him the song I always sing to him when he’s crying.

“Don’t worry…about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright.”

And it was.

We napped together, Mama and son, curled up on the same pillow, for two hours. And when we woke up and he smiled, my soul smiled back.

It is.

I know that I have what it takes to cope with setbacks in my progress. I know that setbacks are going to happen. I never expected to just wake up one morning and POOF! no more postpartum. That’s unrealistic. But I also know that everything? Is pretty alright most of the time. And “most of the time” gives me the strength I need for the times when things aren’t okay.

It will be.

This may have been the past two years of my life. This may be my now from time to time. But postpartum is not my forever. It’s not yours either.

Every little thing is going to be alright.

Miranda is a wife, mother, teacher, daughter, friend, and NOT a super mom. At best, and worst, she’s average. But with a cape and tiara? She could probably save the world. She blogs about life as a mom and wife and PPD/A survivor at the blog Not Super…Just Mom.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Faith & Motherhood: Power, Love, and Self-Discipline

When I first experienced Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, my relationship with God was not what it should have been. I still prayed. Occasionally. I did not fear reading bible verses. I knew God was out there. Somewhere. But I was not actively seeking Him. I was not running from Him either. We had become roommates, God and I. Drifters in the night, one of us (me) barely acknowledging the other. Little did I know that my life would begin to change so drastically as I spiraled downward.

We lived in rural South Carolina during the my pregnancy and through the first five months of our oldest daughter’s life. No family nearby, no social support, no friends, no real knowledge of Postpartum Mood Disorders, an existence of ignorance of PMD’s within the local community – you see where I am going with this. Everything was right for me to experience a PMD. This is not to say that every woman who has these factors surrounding her will struggle but they do increase her risk.

With this perfect storm surrounding me, I succumbed to it’s power.

I worked at first to deal with everything on my own. I failed spectacularly for three glorious months. Then I sought help. My doctor denied my Postpartum and refused to help me. He did refer me to the in-house therapist but they kept rescheduling. At the time, I got angry. I felt so alone. Abandoned. Betrayed. Hurt. I had nowhere to turn.

If only I had opened my eyes then.

We moved back to Georgia, near my husband’s family, when our daughter was 5 months old. At first I was grateful for the help. But even then, I was not able to be fully appreciative. Relaxing? Hah. Totally out of the question. I lived filled with fear and anxiety triggered by my intrusive thoughts. Then we got pregnant again. My emotions continued to worsen through my pregnancy. Our second daughter was born with a cleft palate and spent a month in the NICU. Once again, a perfect storm slammed onto my shores.

During our daughter’s NICU stay, the first few verses of James became stuck in my head. In particular, verse 2 & 3. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I finally opened to hearing the Word of God. We had begun to attend church a bit more regularly and leaned harder on our Church family as we struggled to come to grips with our daughter’s NICU stay and all the issues which lay ahead of us.

I know you may feel lost right now. I felt lost too. Completely lost.

God did not build us that way. Yes, we must get lost sometimes in order to find ourselves – even Jesus wandered in the wilderness. In order to walk strongly in faith, love, and have a strong sense of self-discipline, we must first be taught how to have faith, how to love, and how to practice self-discipline. I questioned my faith. I questioned why I had been left to wander in this wilderness. Now that I am a little over four years beyond my last brush with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, I see why I had to wander. I wandered so that my faith would be made strong, my ability to love myself and others grew immensely, and my ability to practice self-discipline toward myself and others also matured. For this, I am grateful. Yet still, I would not wish a PMD on my worst enemy. My faith, love, and self-discipline continues to grow, and I am re-assured on a daily basis by God that He will never forsake me. Faith, just as healing, takes time. If you feel you have lost your faith, please do not despair. You may not feel Him there but He is there, waiting for you to call for Him to carry you.

For Sale: One jeweled box, cheap

This week’s Red Dress post involved an assignment in which we had to write a Craigslist ad for something an ex had left behind. This is my submission.

For Sale:

A bejeweled box left behind by an ungrateful and anxiety ridden house guest.

Dating back to the 18th century, this box is pure silver. At first, the silver had a horrible tint to it and was covered by a dark grunge. The jewels, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies, all lay hidden beneath the same coating of scum. A quick swipe with silver cleaner shined the box right up. So much so that I felt comfortable opening the box.

Opening the box is quite simple. All you have to do is drop it and it pops open. Closing it, however, is a whole different story. In order to close the box, you have to complete a puzzle on each of the four sides and then finally complete a rather complicated puzzle in order to seal the box tight. It can also be costly because if one of the puzzles won’t close, you have to purchase an entirely new box along with a cheat set of keys. Even then you’re not guaranteed to be able to close the box.

I finally opened the box.

This box appears to be completely empty.

So why the hell am I here?

Rest assured this bedazzled box was once filled with horrid things like beating yourself up for your chosen type of motherhood, your decision to have children, your need for bonding in your relationship. Also in this box is a black veil. Even when you wear it out in public, you’re painfully aware of every stare, every whispered word, every single second of ever single day. Every step in front of others is excruciating. Why not just brand you with the letters P P D and get it over with??

If you manage to get the box closed without it affecting you, chances are you may drop it again. When you do, make sure you have others to help you close the frustrating little bastard.

For the bargain price of just $0.50, this box can be yours. I make no guarantees nor promises regarding the satisfaction or functionability of this box. No instructions will be sold with this box as no instructions came with this box. I’ll be available for support or chat if you need it after purchasing the box. No one should own this box alone.

Please do not purchase for children, infants, elderly people, new moms and husbands. Also do not purchase for gifts. In fact, unless you really reallllly don’t like them, and even then, don’t purchase this. I know, I know, what kind of salesman tells someone NOT to buy something? This one. This box is one twisted puppy.

To be purchased for your own personal use only, either as display or to destroy. We recommend burial instead of burning. Say prayers over this box before you get up .

Must sell QUICKLY. As in yesterday.

It is not okay to contact poster about any other issue here. I’ll only be talking about this evil, horrible trinket in hand.

Purchase with caution.

Whatever Wednesday: My kids got sick and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

 

t-shirt photo sourced from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1185427 Text added by Lauren Hale

 

Our family does not believe in visiting the pediatrician once in awhile.

No, we like to clump all our visits together. When I say together, I mean one right after another. We have visited the pediatrician’s office three times in one week, one appointment per kid.

Why can’t they get sick together??

Since the beginning of February we have all had some sort of ickiness. Our youngest was diagnosed with the flu. Our daughters both had the ickiness plus an ear infection a piece.

Oh, and then there’s the broken middle finger.

Our daughters were sick together. I took them to the pediatrician. As we got out of the car, my middle daughter wrapped her hand around the middle column of the car doors. I slammed my door shut. On her fingers. She immediately began to scream. Tears flooded her face. I asked what was wrong. She couldn’t tell me. Finally she pointed to her hand. Barely sticking out were her fingertips. My heart caught in my throat as I reached in to unlock the door. I fumbled and finally pulled the button upward. Grabbing the handle, I flung the door open and freed my poor daughter’s hand.

We got inside and I asked for ice.

Keep in mind that this poor girl is ALREADY SICK. Fever, sore throat, absolutely miserable thing.

We were sent for x-ray after her appointment.

I got a call the following day telling me that her middle finger was broken. The nearest orthopedist? 30 minutes away. Our appointment was in the morning. I had to get x-rays to take with me and make it to the appointment by 10am.

The orthopedist said the finger was barely broken, just a hairline fracture. We could buddy tape it for comfort if we wanted. Taping lasted a day and a half as our four year old kept pulling it off.

This past Monday I took her back to check healing progress. She’s just fine, I’m happy to report. I know my heart will soon heal but for days I felt horrible guilt for having broken a bone in my precious daughter’s body. It’s our responsibility to keep our children safe. I failed. I beat myself up royally for a few days. My husband assured me he had even warned our daughter to keep her hands out of that space in the car prior to my accident. I’m making peace with the fact that accidents happen. Certainly doesn’t make it hurt less but it helps. She’s been a trooper through all of this – bragging that her finger doesn’t even hurt.

And no, I didn’t really get a t-shirt. But I totally should have.

Faith & Motherhood: Lean Hard

Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee.

~Psalms 55:22~

Not too long ago, as I was cleaning out a closet, I came across a Bible I used as a child. I had not seen this Bible in a very long time. Flipping through it undiscovered a further treasure. A handwritten note by my Grandmother Jane, who passed away several years ago.

The note is entitled “Lean Hard” and begins with the above verse. Turns out it is a poem written by May Prentiss Smith.

Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child, I shaped it;
Poised it in My own hand, made no proportion
in its weight to thine unaided strength;
For even as I laid it on, I said
I shall be near, and while he leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not his;
So shall I keep My child within the circling
arms of My own love.
Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a
shoulder which upholds the government of
worlds.
Yet closer come; thou art not near enough;
I would embrace thy care so I might feel My
child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not then;
But, loving Me, Lean Hard.”
~May Prentiss Smith~

As Mothers, we are often the ones to whom our children rely upon when they are scared, upset, or need comforting. Once within the safety of our arms, our children will often nestle their heads on our chests. They find solace with us, instinctively. So it should be in our relationship with the Lord.

Whenever I find myself struggling in my faith for the Lord, I think of my children. When they hurt, are scared, or need comforting, they run to me without question. Inside my arms are where they feel safe. Therefore, when I am scared, hurt, or need comforting, I should also seek comfort within the arms of the Lord just as simply as my children do with me.

Despite my experience with Postpartum Depression which is supposed to interfere with bonding, my children still seek solace in my arms. Even though we have faced challenges together, we still cling to each other and to the Lord. We have learned to lean hard in our times of need. At first it was a hard action for me to learn. Gradually it was easier and easier until eventually leaning hard was a reflex instead of an afterthought.

Just as with any other habit – it takes time to develop. Many research says it takes a minimum of 21 days to develop a new routine or habit. For the next 21 days, make it a habit to pray and give to God anything which worries you or makes you anxious. Ask Him to help you lean hard upon him in your time of need as well as in your time of cheer. Eventually, you’ll be doing this without even thinking about it. He will carry you through your storms. He wants to carry you through your storms. It’s up to you to let Him carry you as you carry your child when they need you most. Take a deep breath and fall into His breast. Let His arms encircle you. Feel the warmth of His love build within your heart and soul. The change trusting in the Lord will make in your life is immeasurable.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday Sundries 02.19.11: Talking with your kids about Postpartum Mood Disorders

Hey y’all!  This will be a short yet important post. I’m in the car on my way to the circus in Atlanta with the family. I planned to blog last night but fell asleep on the couch after watching Grey’s.  Woke up long enough to crawl into bed. So here I am. Blogging from my phone at 70mph. Don’t worry. I’m not driving.

Some of you may have older children in the home when Postpartum strikes. They already have a lot to deal with when a baby joins the family. Their role in the family may change from only child to oldest child from youngest to middle child and so on. Issues of jealousy may enter the picture as a result.

Then Postpartum strikes.

Older children may react in one of two primary ways:

  • Self-blame for parental depression
  • Projected blame onto their new sibling for the cause of parental depression

The most important thing kids need to hear is that a parent’s depression is NOT their fault.

I know that’s hard to do when you’re in the midst of hell. We did not talk with our oldest before my Postpartum experience with our second. I had Postpartum with our oldest as well.

We did talk to our daughters about what might happen with Mommy after she had their brother though.  We drove home that it was not anyone’s fault…. not theirs, not their brother’s,  not daddy’s,  not mommy’s. Then, as a family, we brainstormed ways they could help Mommy if she got sad or angry after baby arrived. My oldest planned to tickle Postpartum Depression into oblivion.

Thankfully I did not have Postpartum after the birth of our son. But our daughters knew how to help mommy and would even ask how I was feeling. I think they were looking for an excuse to tickle me!!!

Bottom line: Talk to your kids. Use language appropriate for their age. Answer their questions in an age appropriate manner. Reinforce that Postpartum is not anyone’s fault. Reassure them that Mommy or Daddy will get well. Recruit family members to take older siblings out to do activities and keep their schedule as normal as possible.

Depression affects the entire family but with careful planning your family can come through with flying colors.