Monthly Archives: September 2012

My Postpartum Voice of the Week badge

Postpartum Voice of the Week: The Monster Within

Every so often, I read a blog post which takes me right back into the darkness. Right back into the days spent in the middle of the vortex with the Wicked Witch flying right past my window.

This is one of those posts.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time ruminating or introducing the post.

I will say that if you’re vulnerable, you may want to avoid it. There’s a lot of showing instead of telling, raw honesty, and power in this post.

It’s why this post by Kimberly at Reflections of Now is my pick for Postpartum Voice of the Week.

Go. Read. Love.

the rack

Whatever Wednesday: My Mom’s New Rack

On Monday, my mother was practically bursting with excitement. The following is how the conversation proceeded. Sort of. Mostly. Mmmk, I’m getting older, my mind is slipping, and I have a twisted sense of humour. If you’re drinking something, put it down. No seriously. Put.IT.DOWN. And swallow that sip still in your mouth.

“Guess what I ordered?”

“A Capuchin monkey that’ll scratch your head while you play Angry Birds on your iPad?”

“No, silly! Something with much more oomph than a Capuchin monkey. Jeez.”

“What, then? J-Lo’s ass?”

“Lauren!”

“Well… you gotta admit, J-Lo’s ass has FAR more oomph than a Capuchin monkey. Although a Capuchin monkey would fit much better into a Fiat than J-Lo’s ass – I’ve digressed. What’d ya get?”

“It’s a curvy, sleek, stylish, auto-draining stainless steel dish rack. It sits up on four rubber nubs, and has curved stainless steel prongs, and the angle is such that it doesn’t collect water but instead keeps the water running straight into the sink!”

“So…what you’re saying here is that you got a busty new rack for your dishes?”

“Yes, and it’s simply fantastic. It’ll gleam in the soft light of the kitchen lights as the dishes drip dry rested atop silver rods.”

“Sounds like you’ll have some extremely happy dishes soon, Mom.”

“Oh, I will. I will.”

“I’m gonna leave you and your new rack all alone then, mmmmk? My Capuchin monkey is signalling to me that lunch is ready. And when the Capuchin says jump, by GOD, you jump. Because it just gets ugly when they fling poo.”

 

 

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression – Again

A recent research article, posted by The Postpartum Stress Center on Facebook, looks into the relationship between postpartum depression and breastfeeding.

The findings? Women who breastfeed are less likely to experience postpartum depression.

Here’s what The Postpartum Stress Center had to say about the study on Facebook:

“Uh-oh. Here we go… research shows reciprocal relationship between PPD and breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed were more likely to have PPD and women with PPD were less likely to breastfeed. Now, that being said – this is NOT what I see in my clinical practice. In fact, we see more evidence of women feeling BETTER when they stop breastfeeding. For a number of reasons that vary from woman to woman. This is why it continues to be important that we read the studies, but not jump to conclusions that may not relate to each individual woman.”

Here’s my reaction:

Caveats:

  • Small study – only 137 women
  • Mentions employed mothers who were formula feeding but the abstract makes no mention of employed breastfeeding/pumping mothers.

As a blogger focused primarily on Postpartum Mood Disorders and emotional health for moms, this study raises my hackles.

I’ve blogged about the whole breastfeeding v. not-breastfeeding thing during a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder thing before – several times- and each time, I conclude the same thing.

YOU have to do what is BEST FOR YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it doesn’t matter what the research says, it doesn’t matter what is best for baby food-wise. What matters here, the most, is that you are addressing your needs, healing, and doing so in a manner which alleviates the most stress and anxiety for you.

Your motherhood journey is just that – yours.

The only thing which matters is that you, your baby, and your family, are thriving. If your path includes breastfeeding, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too. When you struggle with a mental illness, your emotional health absolutely comes before everything else –at least in my book it does.

If you wanted to breastfeed but find it’s too stressful because of your Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, talk it over with your care-provider. Let them help you make your decision but don’t let them pressure you into continuing simply because the research claims breastfeeding is “protective” against PPD. Guess what? You’re already struggling. So unless breastfeeding is the ONE thing to which you’re clinging and the ONE thing which helps you heal, helps you feel like you matter, it’s OKAY to stop.

It’s okay to use formula.

Frankly, it’s sad we have to give ourselves permission not to breastfeed in this day and age. Moms use formula for a variety of reasons –as long as baby is growing, healthy, happy, and loved, it shouldn’t matter what form of nutrition is used.

So go. Do what feels best for you, for your family, and for your sanity –and don’t let anyone judge you for it.

My Postpartum Voice of the Week badge

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @jenrenpody’s Horror Show in My Mind

I have a special place in my heart for women who struggle with Intrusive Thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I have a place in my heart for all women who struggle with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, but Intrusive Thoughts plagued me during both of my episodes. They are insidious tenacious monsters hell-bent on tearing your mind and soul apart.

When I come across a post mentioning Intrusive Thoughts, I read it with a heavy heart. I know how she felt when those thoughts attacked her. The burning fear, the anxiety, the repulsion of “Oh my GOD why am I thinking like this?!?!” which catapults itself through her brain as the monster takes hold in her mind.

This particular blogger, Jen, a proud member of #ppdchat, writes a heart-rendering (and potentially triggering) post about her journey with Intrusive Thoughts. She’s revisiting this time in her life as a result of a tragic event in her area this past weekend. It’s difficult, as women who have been through this, not to flash back when something terrible happens in a family near us – or even harder yet, a family we know personally. We internalize our thoughts, our fears, and everything comes flooding back, threatening to pull us under.

My absolute favourite part of this past is this paragraph:

I knew that these intrusive thoughts were not real and that they were not rational.  I could not stop them from replaying over and over in my head.  It took me months of therapy to realize that I had suffered from these thoughts.  In order to protect myself, I stuffed those thoughts way down deep.  I could not bear to bring them to the light of the day because they were just too horrible to contemplate.

Jen deals with these emotions in a powerful post which you absolutely should read. As stated earlier, however, it may be possibly triggering if you’re still struggling and on fragile ground. So read her post, “Horror Show in My Mind: Intrusive Thoughts,” with a mindful consciousness and an open heart. Then show her some love, will you? She needs it this week.

Rain Tears

Here Comes the Rain Again

Yesterday, as we hustled out the door to head to the gym at 5:00am (seriously – who does this?), we were surprised by the downpour just outside our door. It was a soft, quiet downpour in our neck of the woods but by the time we arrived at the gym, the rain fell harder and drifted sideways somewhat, thanks to the growing winds associated with the storms heading our way.

We went inside, I changed, and hopped in the pool. I swam for 40 minutes, engaged with focusing on my stroke instead of the rain just outside the massive windows next to the pool. Once in the hot tub though, I could see the rain, illuminated by the parking lot lights. It still fell quite heavily, according to a fellow soaker.

The rain didn’t stop until last night.

Throughout the day, it wavered between insanely driven to soft and quiet. People in the apartment complex ran to and fro, many covering their heads as they dared to venture into the uncovered spaces. I heard a few giggles from children and witnessed just a couple of adults use their regular strides as they headed to their cars.

Then it hit me.

Rain feeds the vegetation around us. Without it, we wouldn’t have ancient oak trees, green grass, gorgeous flowers, delicious vegetables or fruit. We wouldn’t have the oceans, lakes, ponds, creeks, fish, and all the other flora and fauna which depends upon the very vitality the rain provides as it falls.

Even though many of us don’t like the rain, it provides the means for our planet to thrive.

Boom.

Each of us is different. Each of us reacts to crying in our own way, just as each of us protects ourselves differently when it rains. Some of us run. Some of us use umbrellas. Some of us cover our heads with our hands or a magazine or newspaper. Some of us meander through the rain, not caring if we get soaked and enjoying the feel of every drop on our skin.

Bottom line – we all cope with the rain differently.

Tears are a part of processing emotion. Some of us cry at the drop of a hat or an overtly emotional commercial. Then there are those of us who hold our tears in until they burst through all our carefully constructed barriers, causing a flood as our emotions tied to those tears release. Then there are those of us who just don’t cry at all.

There is no right way to process emotion. There are unhealthy ways to process emotion, yes, but there are so many variants on the healthy ways to process emotions. Just like a walk in the rain – we all do what feels right for US.

Rain allows our planet to grow and thrive.

Tears allow us to grow and thrive.

It’s okay to let go and cry, it’s okay to breathe deeply and open the floodgates.

It’s not okay to pretend everything is okay when it’s not, to keep things to yourself if you’re hurting. What’s important is to remember you’re not alone – no matter where you live – (in a flood plain, a rainforest, a desert…) just because how you process things looks different than how someone else processes them doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

It just means you are human and an individual.

award quote

Take Your Award and SHOVE IT

I received an email this morning informing me my blog had been chosen, after careful review by a panel of expert judges, for “excellence due to the contribution its top editorial offers the depression world.”

I’m already skeptical because well, I don’t know the sender.

Then, the second paragraph begins and it gets better. Oh yes, it does.

The award comes from none other than an online pharmaceutical company.

RIGHT. Like I’m gonna link to an online pharmaceutical company from THIS blog because yanno, I have no ethics and it’s clear this is now a marketing ploy to gain more consumers and yadda yadda yadda.

But then, oh then, I decide to go check out the website with my “award” on it. It’s there I find this lovely little nugget once I get to the listing of my blog:

First of all, and correct me if I’m wrong but…when you’re giving someone an award (unless it’s a Roast on Comedy Central), it’s a bit “off-putting” to insult the person to whom you’re giving the award, yes?

Also, there’s a reason my blog is plain visually, thank you very much. It’s because here? Here the WORDS are what matter. Not the graphics, not the bling, not the whatever the hell else this person obviously requires of a blog in order for it not to be “off-putting.” For the record, that header up there? I designed it myself, as is the case with most of the graphics you find throughout my site. And no, I’m not a professional, don’t claim to be but I have been paid for graphics in the past and frankly, am of the school of “less is more.” Clearly this person is of the school which thinks “more is never enough.”

I don’t care if your website has been featured in a zillion places with a zillion readers and endorsed by organizations with a ton of credibility. You clearly don’t give a flying eff about anyone but yourself and increasing your bottom line. Also? You didn’t read much of my blog because if you had, you would know I call people out for this crap – marketing ploys which prey on those with mental health issues ALL.THE.TIME.

So no, I don’t want your stinking award. I don’t want the insults associated with it and I am quite comfortable with the appearance of my blog right now. Yeah, it *could* be organized a smidge better and I am working on that but hey, let’s not get ugly.

My blog has ALWAYS been plain and ALWAYS will be thus. I’m not here to showcase bling. I’m here to provide a safe space for women who feel like I did after I had my girls. To welcome them and let them know they are absolutely not alone. There is nothing off-putting about that, thank you very much.

Johns Hopkins Study Says Moms with Depression have Shorter Kids

A friend of mine on FB commented on an article at MSN Now this morning. The title of the article? “Study links mother’s depression with shorter kids.”

Um. ‘Scuse me?

Apparently, researchers at Johns Hopkins, clearly with nothing better to do, filled their time  reviewing up to 6500 mother/child dyads to discover that children of mothers with depression of the postpartum variety were 40% more likely to have children of shorter stature. Their grand conclusion? “We don’t know why the hell this happens, it clears up by the time the kid’s 5, and well, moms with Postpartum Depression need support.”

Can we just file this under “Shit I didn’t need to worry about and well, DUH?”

Because.

Sighs.

Dear Researchers – if you’re going to bother to study something associated with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders? PLEASE make sure it matters and serves a purpose other than to make us worry about something that, well, frankly, isn’t worrisome. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with kids of a shorter stature and to blame it on depression is just an anxiety attack waiting to happen because yanno what? When you have Postpartum Mood Disorders, you worry about the stupid stuff like this. So thanks. No, really, thanks.

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On finding peace, solitude, and solidarity at the 9/11 Memorial

I began blogging well after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. Even though the focus of my blog is Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, I have always tried to post something in remembrance of this day each year. It’s a day which will always replay in my mind, a day which replays in all of our minds. A day on which, we all came together as Americans swallowed whole by grief and yet spurred forward filled with intense renewed resolve not to allow our country to falter in the dreams of our forefathers.

Sure I know where I was that day. As do we all. I don’t want to rehash where I was, what I was doing, how I watched the second tower hit live on TV, the first tower fall, and then the second tower. We all know where we were with intense detail. What I want to share with you today are two separate events – one involves a road trip last September 11, the other involves my visit this past December to the Memorial Site in NYC.

———–

I’ve already blogged about the road trip because frankly, it took my breath away. But I’ll rehash it here. I was on my way to Georgia to visit with my kids. I had NPR on because they were broadcasting the services from NYC and then from the Pentagon. As I listened to this coverage, the requisite moments of silence, I drove. Not a tear. Not until Spartanburg, SC.

In Spartanburg, SC, patriots gathered on the first overpass over I-85 with all the American flags and then some they could find. They stood on that overpass, waving their flags at all the passing traffic, covering it on either side with the symbol of America’s enduring freedom.

I lost it. Tears poured forth at this raw yet powerful show of patriotism, a stark reminder that when it comes down to it, we are ALL AMERICANS.

Then, as I turned off the interstate, I pulled off to the side of the road for a motorcade of motorcycles riding in memory of 9/11. I stayed there for a good 10 minutes, out of respect for their ride and the day at hand even as other vehicles raced past me. I sat there, blinkers on, quietly respectful.

———-

This past December, while visiting a friend in Northern NJ, we planned a day of sightseeing in NYC. He advised me to think about what I wanted to see while there so we could plan our travels across the city. As I thought, long and hard, I realized there was nothing I wanted to see more than the WTC Memorial site. How could I be in NYC and *not* visit?

Once I decided to visit the site, I braced myself. You see, I have this knack for sensing emotions and feelings when I visit places. Given that this was a site of such tragedy, such heartbreak, such…..darkness, I had no idea what to expect so I began to steel myself against the barrage of what I was sure would be negative emotion as early as I could.

We arrived at Penn Station early in the morning, ate breakfast across the street at Europa then booked over to the site. We walked by and he, assuming I’d be like everyone else he’d taken there, thought we were done. I said, no, I want to go in. So we stood in line to get our tickets. (They’re free, by the way, donation suggested but free.) Then we killed some time until the first available “tour.”

Walking into the site is a somber, somber experience. Everyone is quiet. Sure, some people are talking, but their tones are respectful. We move toward the entrance to the site. There are no less than 4 security checkpoints, one which is Airport grade, requiring you to remove jackets, bags, etc. You have to keep your ticket out at all times to prove you are supposed to be there.

Once we got into the site, we walked quietly for the most part, talking a bit here and there. I was taken aback completely. Not by the beauty of the monument, but by the sense of peace and beauty filling the space. I prepared myself for an onslaught of anger, frustration, sadness, and god knows what other negative emotions. But instead, there was peace, love, acceptance, solitude and solidarity, completely blowing me away.

You can search for names at kiosks on the far side of the memorial. We walked around both towers. I couldn’t help but reach out and trace some of the names etched into the memorial. Families milled about, people by themselves, friends, etc. In that space, just as on September 11, 2011, we were all Americans paying respect to lives lost in what my generation and those not alive for Pearl Harbor will remember as one of the most atrocious attacks on American Soil in our lifetime.

I am glad I went. My friend thanked me for wanting to go inside as he’d never been even though he lived just 30 minutes away via train.

New York has done right by the victims of 9/11 with the memorial. Sure, there are people who argue they haven’t or will criticize other issues surrounding 9/11 from a political standpoint. But the enduring peace and solidarity I felt inside that memorial space is all that matters to this American.

Thank you to the first responders who rushed toward the towers as they burned. Prayers and thoughts to the families and loved ones of the victims lost that day, to those who survived the day. Thank you to those who rushed to sign up to fight for our great nation and defend her honour. Thank you to those who worked tirelessly to clear the rubble after the towers fell. Thank you to those who worked endlessly to ensure the memorial site was a respectful one, as you succeeded.

May God bless America as we continue to heal from this tragedy. May we never, ever forget and always, not just today, but every day, be grateful for the freedoms we hold dear in this country and always be ready to fight to keep them.