Monthly Archives: September 2011

Whatever Wednesday: Learning to breathe

When we’re born, everyone waits for our first scream. Ironically, it’s the only scream for which most parents are grateful. The rest of them are more like nails on a chalkboard. A siren in the middle of the night, a replacement for the alarm clock, a signal which demands immediate attention.

But that first scream – it’s when we first prove our worth, our life, the functioning of our lungs. Every breath after that is involuntary. Heck, even that first one is but it’s translated as on purpose by those surrounding us on our original birthday.

So, why then, would we need to learn to breathe again if it’s something our body just does?

Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Trauma. Happiness. Joy. Surprise.  Life. Things which temporarily steal our breath. Moments during which our intake lasts longer and we must consciously remind our lungs to exhale and inhale. You know them – moments in which everything around you stops, slows down, swirls about you as if you’re stuck mercilessly in some sort of vortex.

For many, those moments are few and far between. For many, it may not happen at all. But for those of us who know these moments all too well whether they be for good or bad, learning how to breathe again can be an exhausting task. We learn how to breathe deeply in the face of adversity. To take in the air in front of us slowly and exhale it slowly. To take poisoned angry air and exhale it with joy. It’s not about literally breathing. It’s about forcing ourselves to continue to move forward with our lives even when all we really want to do is inhale and never exhale again because that next breath? Will be the hardest damn inhale we’ve ever had to take in our entire lives. Shattered, broken, crumpled, exhausted, breathing is last on our list of things to do. We flail, shudder, convulse, everything but gasp for air. Gasp for survival. We run away from it. The pain awaiting us with that next breath overwhelms us and we run. Even though we KNOW it’s not what we should do – that we should run headlong into that fear, toward it like a linebacker toward a quarterback about to throw a game winning touchdown. Tackling that quarterback is going to hurt like hell. But it will feel good. That quarterback? Is fear. Is anxiety. Is stress. Is trauma. We can’t let it win the game. Ever.

Run toward the quarterback. Knock him flat on his back. Scream at him the whole way. Fight for it. Don’t let him win the game. Because you? You know how to breathe. You’re worth it. And you? Have got this game in the bag.

A simple wish for @yaelsaar

Every so often, you meet someone. Not necessarily in person in this day and age, but still. You meet them. You get to know them. They’re full of passion, fun, love, compassion, drive, intelligence, wit, and everything else which makes other people awesome. Pretty soon they’re a part of your life. How or why you met fades into the background. Their presence is something for which you are grateful on a daily basis. If you’re lucky, you also get to see this person make a lasting difference in the lives of others because they’re also not afraid to dive into the deep end when others are struggling regardless of what’s going on with them in their own personal lives. Yet, even though they do this, they also keep themselves in the forefront, somehow miraculously balancing self-care with care for others.

A person like this is someone you NEVER TAKE FOR GRANTED.

I met someone exactly like this about a year ago, I think. (Remember, I said how or why you met fades into the background? That applies here.)

Her name is Yael. And she is quite possibly one of the most amazing and beautiful souls I have ever had the pleasure to meet. We’ve not met in person but I know one day we will and it will be awesome.

You see, Yael has this heart. This heart which carries her through every day and never quits. This heart which truly loves everyone in her life more than she could ever possibly tell you. And she lets her love spill out of her into you without hesitation. Through her website. Through her calls. Through her tweets. Through HER. Yael is an angel on Earth sent to bless the rest of us with light and love. There really are no words to explain properly the magnitude of her effect on the mothers she helps. On those to whom she reaches out on a daily basis.

Yael, I hope today, your 40th birthday, is filled with as much joy, light, and love as you bring to those of us who are fortunate to call you friend. You deserve nothing less, my dear dear friend.

Whatever Wednesday: Welcome to hell, courtesy of Facebook

Last night, I curled up in bed with a bilingual copy of Pablo Neruda. Snuggled under a wool blanket, two quilts, propped up with several comfy pillows, I read until I passed out. (Which took all of 5 minutes but I digress.) Point is, I fell asleep happy. Comfortable. Safe. A sense of order and bliss surrounding me.

This morning?

Ripped away from me in mere milliseconds after typing in http://www.facebook.com.

Oh.MAH.GAWD.

There’s some scrolling status update thing in the corner ABOVE the already annoying sidebar chat list.

And there’s no choice in what you see on your News Update now. It auto-updates. With what it THINKS you want to see the most.

Don’t get me started on the lists. Because really. Automatically added to lists via location or who FB thinks my closest friends are? Wow. Although this one hit me a few days ago, I’m still working my head around it.

I immediately set off to the Twitter. For help. For support. For… OW. Mah head. I may be blind. I may… there… but… wha?

Tech Crunch offered a solution. Change your language to English (UK) in your Account Settings. Didn’t work for me. It’s like I tripped overnight and fell into some massive rabbit hole which then landed me in one of Dante’s circles of Hell which then flew me via Oceanic Flight 815 over to the island with the boys from Lord of the Flies. GET ME THE EFF OUTTA HERE. PLEASE.

Ever seen Nothing to Lose with Martin Lawrence and Tim Robbins? No? The clip below sums up perfectly how I feel about the changes at FB this morning.

“You’re driving on the sidewalk … people got to walk there!”

“I’m blind! I cant.SEE.SHIT!”

Thanks Zuckerburg. Thanks for the massive ass migraine. You’ll be getting a bill.

Dear Abby downplays potential Antepartum depression

Yesterday, a letter to Dear Abby from a woman seven months pregnant received an alarming response. This mom-to-be states she never wanted to be pregnant. She goes on to share her inability to find any websites for women like her – only websites filled with women cooing over their bellies, etc. Her husband reacted negatively when she shared with him her emotions regarding the pregnancy. Mom-to-be is frustrated, doesn’t want to be pregnant, and flat out asks Dear Abby if there is something wrong with her.

Dear Abby responds:

“No, there’s nothing “wrong” with you. You’re just not particularly maternal.”

Um.

What?

Now, I realize all women are not maternal. It’s okay to not be maternal. However. There’s a difference between non-maternal and a mood disorder. There’s also great potential for this situation to not resolve itself without solid professional help.

To Abby’s credit, she does recommend the mom discuss her emotions with her OB to ensure she’s not suffering from pre-partum depression. But then she goes on to share something very alarming with this new mother. “When your baby arrives, I’m sure you will fall in love with him or her as many other women have.”

Sighs.

Oh Abby.

Not familiar with the research showing Ante-partum depression as a risk factor for Postpartum Mood Disorders?

What about the risk factor of unplanned pregnancies on Ante-partum and Postpartum Mood Disorders?

Not familiar with mothers who do NOT connect with their infants at birth or months afterward?

I’m all for providing hope. But to be unrealistic about it is downright irresponsible. Perhaps this mother will fall in love with her infant. But she may not. And now she, along with millions of other mothers in her situation who read this piece, are pinning their hopes on a potential unrealistic outcome which will only cause their guilt and shame to increase when they DON’T fall in love with their infants. No resources were provided. Nothing other than “Talk to your OB.” What if her OB is an idiot? What if he/she dismisses this mother’s concerns just as you have? This mother, and MILLIONS others like her are now left with only your words and those annoying cooing websites for cheery moms.

Postpartum Support International is a great place to turn to for support for Ante-partum depression. There are also several blogs with invaluable posts and insight into ante-partum depression. There’s also #PPDChat on Twitter for instant support regardless of where you’re at in your pregnancy or postpartum.

Thankfully, we’re talking more and more about this. Not nearly as much as we need to but it’s a burgeoning topic. Pregnancy does not always equal a glowing mama. Sometimes it equals a sad/anxious mama. It’s okay. You’re not alone. There is hope. There is help. If only Dear Abby had been responsible enough to provide some for this mom. Instead, she jots off a quick unresearched response which leaves her out in the cold.

Way to go, Abby. Way to go.

Whatever Wednesday: Love Thyself

Today? Better spent stuck in an episode of Fawlty Towers. Specifically the one about the construction workers and the ever changing door. Because wow. It’s nearly 5pm and I thought staying in bed was a better option at 9am. Turns out I was right.

But enough about focusing on what went WRONG today. Time to focus on some positive.

That’s where John from Daddy Runs A lot comes in handy. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I digress.

Two days ago, John posted a Link-up in which he challenges you to list things you love about yourself.

I knew I wanted to write for it as soon as I read it.

Today is a good day to finally write. I could use the ego-boosting. Even if it’s self-inflicted. Yes. I know that makes me narcissistic but hell. Aren’t we all to a certain degree? Besides. It’s really more of an exercise in getting my brain out of the negative rut in which it’s so flawlessly stuck itself today.

Here goes.

(Note: These are in no particular order)

1. My sarcasm. I adore my fluency in sarcasm. I do. It’s allowed me to view the world in a lighter manner, to find the humor in the dark, and then inappropriately remark upon it to others. It’s my second language. It’s allowed me to make some really hilarious friends on Twitter too. Snark, anyone?

2. My eyes. Hazel and flecked with gold as they slide from green to blue to grey, my eyes are quite possibly one of my most favorite things about myself. I’ve been told they’re deep, gorgeous, beautiful, full of soul and heart, seductive, and trance-inducing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them in this list.

3. My hair. I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair since the birth of my second daughter when brushing it became part of my Postpartum OCD. I chopped it off then but have finally grown it back. It’s halfway down my back, chestnut brown with lots of natural auburn and gold highlights. It’s also annoyingly straight and silky. Seriously. My hair? Belongs in a Pantene commercial. It’s that gorgeous. I like how it feels on my back when I’m wearing a tank top and how it slides over my shoulders too. It’s comforting now instead of anxiety inducing. Plus it frames my eyes nicely. 😉

4. My writing. I’ve been writing since I was 6. My first short story was 11 pages long. One of my other first pieces was a two page piece about Organisms (you totally read that wrong, didn’t you? Shame.) I attended Duke Young Writer’s Camp in HS instead of going to Disney World with my brothers and grandfather. Okay, so they decided to go after I was accepted to Duke for the second summer in a row. Still. That’s dedication. I have a degree in English. Without writing, I would perish. Writing is my outlet, my peace, my soul. It’s what I do. Yanno, when I’m not doing the postpartum thing. I’ve been told I’m a natural by several people. Asked how I do it so well. Um. I’m horribly unorganized in this department and just write when the mood strikes, pouring everything out in five-ten minutes or less. SO there you go. No trick.

5. My big heart. Again, this one is a love/hate relationship but my heart has taken me some really amazing places, especially this summer. Sure it’s hurt like hell sometimes but there are no regrets. I refuse to look back and be sad because things are over but will instead smile because they happened (thank u, Dr. Seuss!) I believe my big heart has allowed me to see the world differently than most, to be open to embracing everything with love and compassion. I can’t imagine living any other way, despite the pain to which this opens me to as I glide through life.

6. My free spirit. I’m happiest when surrounded by nature. Kind of like a wood nymph. I adore that I can sit in the middle of a forest and be filled with peace immediately. Or stare at the ocean. Or sit by a lake. Or.. you get the drift. I adore that I am able to just “be” when necessary. Float off into the middle of peace and stay there for a bit. I know this is a gift and I am beyond blessed. For this, I am grateful. I totally love this about me.

 

So there you have it. Six things I love about myself right now.

You should go over to John’s place and link up too, by the way.

#PPDChat Short Video Request

Dear #PPDChat Mamas:

This Saturday, a presentation focusing on #PPDChat will be provided to the Postpartum Support International Conference in Seattle. Originally I was to present in person but some last minute travel issues have prevented me from traveling to Seattle. Instead of presenting in person, I am providing a video presentation. I would love to have a few short snippets from participants of #PPDChat. You can talk for a couple of minutes about what it means to you or simply record yourself saying “I am PPDChat.” Either way, I’d love to get these intertwined with the video presentation because without you, #PPDChat would mean nothing.

The videos need to be submitted no later than tomorrow morning at 9am ET. Email them to mypostpartumvoice AT gmail DOT com.

Please share this with anyone you know who has participated in #PPDChat. Thank you!

Let’s rock this!

Thank you, South Carolina

This past Sunday.

We all know what the day meant. What it marked. How we spent it.

I spent it in my car, driving to Georgia.

I had decided not to blog about the day after a brief conversation with a friend on Twitter. To spend the day in solemn remembrance and thought about the events of 10 years ago.

At 840am, I turned off my music and turned on NPR. They were covering the ceremonies of the day. The first moment of silence at Ground Zero at 846am. The second moment of silence. A third moment of silence at the Pentagon. Shanksville, PA.

A few tears slid down my face as I listened to the silence. As I listened to the names being read aloud.

And then.

Oh and then.

As my car zoomed at 70+ mph down 85 in Spartanburg, SC, the tears streamed down my face as I rounded a bend and headed toward the first of one of several overpasses in the “metro” area. I wish I could have snapped a photo but given the speed at which I was traveling, I was unable to do so. (I was also unable to safely pull off to the side to get a photo as well – traffic was not amenable to this)

This overpass, covered in huge American flags, filled with Americans, waving, and remembering the tragic events which occurred 10 years ago, dug deep into my soul and heart.

Not the silence in NYC. Not the names read aloud. Not the description of a man who was the only one of 5 to survive at the Pentagon near where the plan struck the building. But this.

Real Americans. Patriotic Americans dedicated to not forgetting.

Sure, those in NY are real Americans. But I wasn’t there. I wasn’t part of their event. I was removed. But this, this in your face dedication and remembrance, I was part of this.

And now, this memory, this beautiful remembrance, has joined the memories I hold in my head as many of us do, of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. While still unfathomably tragic, the memories in my head now have a bookend of beauty and of perseverance.

Thank you, Spartanburg, SC, for giving me this beautiful memory to add to such a dark time in our nation’s history.