Tag Archives: toddlers

Wordless Wednesday: Imperfectly Perfect

I know this is supposed to be wordless. Given that I’m the one hosting, I feel I’ll be forgiven for a few words. The other night, in #PPDChat, @jamesandjax suggested we all snap a photo of a messy area in our homes and our smiling children to post on Wednesday. For some of us, this means finally coming out of the “closet” if you will…. shedding the guilt we carry for not living up to the impossibly high standards of June Cleaver.

After a lot of consideration, I decided to snap a photo of the top of a kitchen cart. No matter how many times I try to clean it off, it gets covered up again, like a chaos magnet. Things come and go from the top of this cart more almost as often as a MARTA train. But there’s always a gaggle of things there. I have learned to live with it. One of these days, I’m going to keep it clean. And free of things which do not belong in the kitchen. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s okay. It’s mine and I’m okay with that. All that matters is that the kids have had a day full of love and laughter.

The other picture is one of my son, right after eating a very healthy breakfast of a Mixed Berry Fruit Bar. What? Grains and fruit!

Leave the link to your post below. All comments are moderated the first time they are left here due to the sensitive nature of my blog, but rest assured, I’ll be approving them as quickly as possible today (I can do so from my phone!)

I look forward to a whole slew of imperfectly perfect and HAPPY households today!!!

P.S. I couldn’t get my son to smile. But that’s okay – we’re being real here, right? Also, if you look closely at the kitchen cart, you’ll notice the drawer is broken. It’s been that way for a long time.

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Just Talkin’ Tuesday 06.08.10: How do you talk with your kids about Postpartum Depression?

First, apologies for this being late. Summer break, a new family schedule, a blah day yesterday and then Internet connectivity issues today have all come into play. Starting next month, I’m going to work on planning a whole month’s worth of posts focused on one topic. So if there are any specific questions you’d like to have answered, send them to ppdacceptance(@)gmail.com. Maybe YOUR question will be a Just Talkin’ Tuesday post soon!

Looking back, I have realized our older daughter experienced a lot of things at 23 months old no child should ever experience. My husband and I yelling and screaming at each other because we were not communicating, Mommy collapsing in the floor as she wailed because something minor set me off, snapping at her for nothing at all, trapped in the house because we could never leave it, feeling abandoned as we went to Atlanta to be with Charlotte (don’t worry y’all – we had family members caring for her – not like we tossed her some cookies in her bed and wished her the best of luck!), and just the overall instability a Postpartum Mood Disorder drags with it into the household.

When we discovered our third pregnancy we decided things had to have a different focus. Instead of preparing things for the baby, we would need to prepare ourselves for the baby. By this time I had been doing advocacy work for just a few months and running a support group for nearly 4 months. I read, researched, picked a local OB known for his attention to women after delivery, and poured my heart and soul into the development of a personalized Postpartum Mental Health Plan.

Our girls, then nearly 4 and 2, sat in the middle of this potential storm. How could we best prepare them for the firestorm?

We waited until 8 months or so into the pregnancy. At every meal we would bring up Postpartum Mood Disorders. Yes, they got sick of hearing about it. But what we did worked well for us.

The conversation went something like this:

“Mommy wants to talk to you about something.”

Daughter 1: “Yes, mama?”

Daughter 2: plays with her food

“You know how you’re getting a new baby brother?”

Daughter 1: “Ahuh. And he’s gonna be so much fun and…”

Daughter 2: shoves food to one side of her plate.

“Well, sometimes, after mommies have babies, they get really super duper sad. And it’s not anyone’s fault.”

Daughter 1: “Sad? Why sad?”

Daughter 2: working on moving food back to the OTHER side of her plate.

“Well, no one really knows why yet. They just do. And like I said, it’s not anyone’s fault. Not the Mama’s, not the daddy’s, not the children’s fault, and not the baby’s fault. Got it?”

Daughter 1: “Got it.”

Daughter 2: is now parting her food as if it were the Red Sea.

“So who’s fault is it if a Mommy gets sad after she has a baby?”

Daughter 1: “The Mommy’s.”

*sigh* “No… it’s not anybody’s fault! It just happens.”

Daughter 1: “Oh. Not anybody’s fault?”

Daughter 2: Contemplating a spoonful of food at eye level.

“That’s right! Not anybody’s fault!!!”

“So – if that happens to Mommy and she gets sad, let’s think of some ways you can help mommy cheer up.”

Daughter 1: “Okay. I can tickle you. That will make you smile!”

Daughter 2: Attempting to eat said food. Instead creating a river of oatmeal down her chin.

“I like that! So if you see mommy sad or upset you can come tickle me, okay pumpkin?”

Daughter 1: “Really? I can? Yay!!!” cue really big goofy toddler grin.

Daughter 2: now smearing river of oatmeal on table. I’ve given up.

“So who’s fault is it?”

Daughter 1: “NOBODY’S!”

“And what are you going to do to help mommy if she gets sad?”

Daughter 1: “TICKLE YOU!”

And off we giggled into the sunset as a river of oatmeal flooded the plains.

But seriously – see what we did? We had a completely age appropriate discussion about Postpartum Depression. It really sunk in because if I looked sad after our son was born, my daughter really DID tickle me. So totally adorable.

As for the flip side – telling your children about your own experience with Postpartum Depression you had with them is a completely different ball game. Sure, I have share with them some of it but again, it’s in an age appropriate manner. They know mommy spends so much time on the computer because she helps women who are sad after they have babies. They have seen me cry when I’ve been touched by a story or a tragedy. And my oldest knows enough to know that if she ever has Postpartum Depression, she needs to talk to mommy cuz mommy knows what she’s doing. I hope and pray neither one of them experience this hell but with my experience, their risk goes up. So I feel I owe it to them to educate myself as much as possible, be as open as possible, and let them know beyond a shadow of a doubt they are NOT alone.

SO let’s get to Just Talkin’ here. Did you have older kids when you experienced your Postpartum Mood Disorder? Were you able to prepare them? If not, how did they react to your Postpartum experience? How did you talk with them about what was going on with Mommy? And here’s a doozy – will you ever tell your child the full unfiltered and uncensored story about what happened? Or will you continue to tell them in general terms about Postpartum Mood Disorders? (I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll share full details with them – if I ever write a book I suppose there’s no turning back then, right?)

I can’t wait to discuss this with y’all!

One of THOSE days

The girls tried to make themselves breakfast again this morning. Apparently cheese toast and bacon were on the menu along with Good n Plenty, Belly Flops, and some sort of strawberry candy. I have no idea what they were planning on doing with the Fondue Pot. Frankly I am not sure I want to know.

I just realized today was so hectic I forgot to take my meds but I’m still here and very calm amazingly enough.

This afternoon was wonderful. They cleaned up their room without too much prodding and even earned a snack and a movie. Then as they moved back to their room to play as I cooked dinner, silence. For those of you who have never experienced toddlers, silence is a bad thing. A very bad thing. It means they are up to no good. This time they had the sample of Snuggle that had just come in the mail and were pouring it everywhere. I herded them to the tub, rinsed them off, and put them to bed. Yes, without dinner. I do not cook meals for those who choose to disobey. Bedtime went rather smoothly with Charlotte – Alli was another story altogether. I had to get the Magic Monster Catcher (a handheld vaccuum) and catch all the Monsters in their room, assure her the very dead bug on the window was OUTSIDE and would not be coming in to get her anytime soon, and let her crawl into bed with Charlotte so she wouldn’t be all alone. Oh the things Parents do to get their kids to go to sleep.

As I sit here typing, the comforting roar of traffic echoes in the background while the fans here in the house whine and sway as they keep me cool. No sounds from the back bedroom (ok, so silence is GOOD when they’re SUPPOSED to be quiet) and no sounds from Cameron’s room. Chris is at a step meeting and I am relaxing by venting here and contemplating lying down and catching a few ZZzzzZZZZ’s before Chris gets home so I’ll be able to enjoy his company when he gets here. I may just fix myself a cup of tea and sit here instead.

Thanks for listening and sharing my journey. Please don’t forget to take care of yourselves no matter how hectic the day gets. You ARE ALWAYS worth it.

Busy Morning already!

645a – wake up, Chris leaves for work.

646a – restroom

650a – take dogs outside

7a- back inside to fix Cameron’s bottle, realize Charlotte needs to be cleaned up b/c of poopy

705a  – finish cleaning charlotte up, warm up Cameron’s bottle, go to get Cameron.

706a – Cameron is soaked in pee and full diaper includes poopy.

707 – rush Cameron to bathroom with Alli opening doors so I don’t have to touch the pee pee.

730 – finished with Cameron’s bath, new diaper, feeding him his bottle in living room as the girls watch The Upside Down Show. (TUDS)

745a – Cameron finishes his bottle and spits up. Fun. He’s particularly fussy this morning – who wouldn’t be after waking up soaked through in pee?

8a – TUDS finishes and we move to Cameron’s room. Run to get fresh sheets, make his bed, lay him down. He’s still crying but we go to fix breakfast. The girls are swarming now, I think they wanted to climb up me  or something.

830a – finally get to sit down to eat breakfast. Kashi’s Mountain Medly Granola is YUM.

9a -Finished with breakfast, girls play with play-doh and I clean up the kitchen, get laundry going, dishes started, trash bagged up.

930a – sitting down to watch Monsters, Inc. as I work on the computer.

Was supposed to walk this morning but given the unexpected turn of events, did not get a chance to do so – and now it’s nearly 80 degrees here. Planning on doing some Pilates once everyone is down for nap to make up for not walking.

Right now, I’m just grateful for the calm.

Want some irony?

I got my access back today – and you know what Alli did?

Stole my phone, tossed it in the toy chest and proceeded to lie to me about it for three entire hours whilst I ransacked the house in a frantic search for it. You see, we don’t have a home phone so my cell is my only link to the outside world via voice.

I wasn’t so much upset that she stole it.

Just that she lied to me about it for so long.

But hey, that’s life with kids.

I should know that by now, shouldn’t I?

Happy to be back!

I had an absolutely wonderful weekend and am thrilled to report that I stayed away from the internet and my computer all weekend long.

It was difficult and I really did have withdrawals – the worst being first thing in the morning when I took the dogs out – because I usually check my email on my PDA while I’m outside with them so I have a general idea of what my tasks are for the day.

I’ll post a more detailed account later as the girls are in the floor playing and I want to get down there with them.

For those of you who pledged for the weekend or are planning to donate and didn’t post, the grand total stands at $40. I probably got a total of eight hours of sleep this weekend and well, it just wouldn’t be fair to make you pay for time I was asleep and guaranteed NOT to get on the internet, now would it? After all, the hard part was while I was awake… and let me just say that I am GLAD to be out of that daggum closet. The flashlight faded pretty quickly and I ate the keyboard. ;-)

At least I didn’t spontaneously combust!

Sharing the Journey with ME!

Here’s a twist on the typical Thursday Interview fare around here.

I asked my husband to email me 10 questions. He sent 11. I figured it was only fair to allow him to interview me being that he was kind enough to do the same.

Enjoy getting to know me even better!

Tell me about the first time that you thought you might be suffering from PPD. How did you cope with it?

We were living in South Carolina and miles away from any family or support when our first daughter was born. Just a few months prior to her birth I discovered the online community at iVillage.com and became quite active there as I did not have any friends or family nearby and was practically bedridden due to severe pelvic misalignment issues. Allison’s birth was quite the traumatic experience (the doctor is very lucky I had a moment of sanity and decided NOT to kick him) and no one really seemed to offer any help after she was born. It was kind of an in and out experience, which, unfortunately, is the norm nowadays.

Once we got her home, the first thing that happened was an employee of yours stopping by the house with her son who was sick and sneezing. He proceeded to touch all of the baby stuff and I totally freaked out. At the time I did not see this as the beginning but the level of anxiety I felt that day took a very long time to dissipate. I really started to sink lower when you went back to work and remember standing over Alli’s crib and apologizing to her because I had no idea what to say to her. I thought she was judging me for not knowing how to be a good mommy. I was also very upset with myself because motherhood was what I wanted – even more than being a wife – I grew up wanting to be a mommy more than anything and here I was, finally a mom, and felt I was failing.

I realized it might be PPD through the online community at iVillage and reading things other women had posted. At three months postpartum and after some serious soul searching, I finally made an appointment with my OB. I was tired of the intrusive thoughts, the anxiety, the anger, I was tired of not being myself. So I went online, took a screening test and scored severely depressed having answered the questions about self-harm and harming my infant with a yes. I took this to my OB and he refused to acknowledge the possibility of PPD but did admit something was going on – PPD, no – because I was more than 6 weeks PP and my “hormones should be back to normal by now” Calm down now – it gets worse. Alli was screaming to be nursed as we discussed things (crying is my WORST trigger) and my OB brazenly asked how important it was to continue breastfeeding. What he said next shocked me. He refused to medicate me because I refused to quit nursing. His precise words were that I refused to stop nursing for trial therapy. I have my medical records to prove it. Because I was clean, had applied make-up, and was well-spoken, I couldn’t be depressed. Because I didn’t “look” the part, that couldn’t be what was wrong with me. He admitted something was going on but refused to admit that it was PPD. I was referred to the in-house counselor but they kept changing my appointment which made things worse so I refused to go and canceled my appointment.

Just two months later we moved back to Georgia and things started to improve because we were able to leave Alli with your parents and I started to get some time to myself. I thought I was recovered but sadly we discovered after I gave birth to Charlotte that I had not and things were worse than ever.

After giving birth to three children, how did your pregnancies differ in relation to your PPD experiences?

My first pregnancy was the easiest but I think all Moms say that – after all, you don’t have other little ones to chase around or keep up with. My first round of PPD was also mild compared to the second time around.

The second pregnancy was a bit easier physically because I knew what to expect but harder in the aspect that I had a toddler to run around after which is the last thing you feel like doing when your stomach is revolting against well, the world. The postpartum period after Charlotte’s birth was the most intense – her cleft palate, my depression and subsequent hospitalization, her multiple surgeries, Alli’s terrible two’s, your stressful and exhaustive job, pumping full time for Charlotte… you name it, there wasn’t a roadblock we didn’t face. But we made it through, clutching the bar holding us down into the roller coaster until our knuckles were transparent.

Honestly, how supportive was I when you were going through such a terrible time? What do you wish I had done differently?

Wow. Hard question. I think you were as supportive as you could be given the existential circumstances of each situation (no support system, birth defect & NICU, unexpected pregnancy), the information available to you at the time, and the irritability that you were constantly ducking from me. I am sure you probably felt as if you were walking on eggshells most of the time, not knowing if the next word out of your mouth would set off an “episode.”

Knowing what we now know as a couple about PPD, obviously there are some things we would have done differently like gone for a second opinion, pushed for better treatment, worked together instead of drifting apart into our own worlds which I think led to the path on which we found ourselves after Charlotte’s birth. I wasn’t able to be there for you and you felt as you couldn’t show any emotion when all I wanted was for you to show something – to let know that I wasn’t alone in feeling so lost about her cleft palate and the NICU stay. Of course I didn’t say this to you – I expected you to read my mind and got pissed when you didn’t. That’s just not fair at all (and is hallmark behavior of a postpartum woman)

Overall, you did a great job keeping us together as a family even if it meant putting on a show for me and for everyone else. As for having done something differently, hindsight is 20/20 and there’s nothing we can do to change our past behavior. I believe strongly that our marriage can now withstand anything anyone wishes to toss our way. We’ve certainly been through quite a bit in six short years.

You have certainly turned some very tragic events into ammunition to help other women fight PPD? How have your PPD experiences helped you help others?

I have found my inner strength, beauty, and grace as a result of the darkness of PPD. The same strength with which I battled my own PPD energizes me each and everyday to help other women who are in the same place I used to be. I will NOT let another woman suffer alone if there is anything I can do to change that for her. Each day I wake up with the goal of helping at least one woman. Small contribution but it goes back to a quote I fell in love with while in college by Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What role has your faith and belief in God played in your battles with PPD?

Raised Christian and having given my heart to the Lord at the tender age of 6, I had fallen away from the Lord and had really not been close with him for quite some time when Alli was born. I started to pray more and continued with this throughout my pregnancy with Charlotte. After Charlotte’s birth, I could feel His presence and let myself lean on Him although not as much as I should have, looking back. God knew he wasn’t done with me yet so He sent us Cameron to show me how much of a miracle He was capable of making. And He made a cute one!

When I first started helping others with PPD, I was uncomfortable talking about faith and God. Now it’s one of the easiest things to talk about. God has truly taken me into his Arms and blessed me. And I figure – if Jesus died for our sins, what a small price PPD is compared to His sacrifice. It’s taken me nearly four years of intense growth and molding to come to that conclusion and is not something I have come to believe lightly. My faith is stronger than ever and is still growing.

On the other side of the coin, have your PPD experiences affected your faith? How?

My PPD experiences have certainly brought me closer to God. I have come to realize that He has big plans for me and I have learned to quietly listen to his voice and truly lean on Him during times of need. In fact, if I start to worry now, I instantly pray rather than let it spiral out of control. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for all the growth He has allowed in my life over the past few years!

Life can be busy. Ours certainly is. You are a mother of three, homemaker, PPD advocate and wife. It almost seems impossible what you do. So I have to know, how do you do it?

I have no idea. If you figure it out, let me know.

Seriously though – I grew up watching (and helping) my mother around the house. She was a Stay at home mom too and I picked up a lot of tips from her too. I still call every day (HI MOM) well, almost every day as I’m much busier now and she gives me lots and lots of tips.

A lot of the PPD work I do is online so I can do bits and pieces here and there. I’ve also got the housework down to a science and can have that going while I’m working on PPD stuff in the living room.

One rule I’m working on is that when the girls are awake, I am all theirs unless I have to cook or clean. Even then I try to get them involved so they don’t feel left out or get them playing with play-doh at the dining room table so they’ll at least be having fun. I love my times with the girls as it’s what keeps me sane – well, along with time with you too!

What do you find most challenging about motherhood?

It never ends. My mom has a cartoon on her fridge at her house that I would LOVE to have – a census worker is at the door and a woman is standing there. She is saying, “Work? I just wake up and there it is.” I am never off – I am on call 24/7. Just today I was mother, nurse, friend, poopy cleaner, fan fixer, chef, linguist, wife, writer, brain-stormer, dishwasher, laundry lady, pie maker, dog walker, hand-holder, singer, and most importantly, ME.

What is your favorite thing about motherhood?

Bedtime.

Seriously though – I would have to go with getting the kids to laugh and have a good time. There is NOTHING more heartwarming and uplifting than allowing myself to be a total kid right along with them. I know this is not something you’ve seen terribly often but I’m working on it. At least I’m singing more in front of you more, right?

And last, but not least. What is it like being married to such a hunk and amazing man?

I’ll let you know when that happens. ;-)

It’s like the way the Earth smells right after an afternoon rain shower. No matter how many times you experience it, it’s always new, refreshing, and uplifting even though the storm that brought you there may have been the most difficult storm you’ve ever experienced.

Rainy Days

Today was one of those dreary rainy days complete with darkened gray skies, thunder, and lightning.

We arose with the intention of going to church but alas, we did not make it. Charlotte had a minor issue with diarrhea and ended up having to pop in the shower twice this morning prior to us even getting them ready. We had also run out of formula for Cameron and did not have enough to give him his morning bottle. By this time it was 9a and we would have to be out the door to go to church by 945. This would have included getting dressed, getting Cameron some formula, and Chris getting a shower. Just wasn’t going to happen. So we stayed home and listened to our pastor on the radio through the screams and squeals of toddlers and the babbles of Cameron. (Translation: We didn’t hear much!)

The rest of the day was pretty much a wash – neither Chris nor myself could keep our eyes open long enough for it to count for anything and of course, the thunderstorm started right as we would have been putting the girls down for nap. Chris and the girls curled up in the recliner in the living room as I gave Cameron a bottle. Once he was done, I put him down for a nap of his own in his crib, returning to the living room for one of my own. I curled up on the couch and quickly fell asleep only to be roused awake by Alli shouting MOMMY! at me a short while later.

It’s nearly 1030p here and I am exhausted. I also seem to have caught a nasty case of the blahs. Perhaps some serious rest will cure me. Off to bed with me….tomorrow is a new day and I intend to make it a good one.

When is too much really TOO MUCH?

I have often wondered at times, heck, even marveled at women who seem to take on the world and appear to excel in all they do. How do they do it? How on EARTH do they keep up with everything and appear so calm and suave? Even with all that I now do and have been through, I have no idea.

There are days that go just right. No one screams or fusses, no one has an potty accident, don’t have to clean up after the girls (or the dogs), and the day just flows.

Then there are days like today where from the moment that I roll out of bed, it’s all downhill. Breakfast snack wasn’t the right thing, Alli got out of her room and got the ice pops out of the freezer, proceeded to yell and scream and throw fits the entire day to the point of being put in her room and left there so I could calm down before dealing with her zillionth tantrum in two hours. Cameron bit me twice today while nursing so he didn’t nurse much today at all, Charlotte needed to go potty every 5 seconds and of course it was gray, humid, and wet from yesterday’s storms so we couldn’t go outside to play, no TV show was the right one for us to watch, the girls wanted to play with what the OTHER one had – of course! Why would it be any different? Oh, and Maggie almost pooped on the couch right next to Charlotte as we all cuddled up to watch TV that we had actually agreed on! *sighs*

I know the whole nursing/supplementing thing is getting to me. It was so hard not to blame myself. After all, I have been Cameron’s ONLY source of food since birth. How do you not blame yourself? And now that we’re weaning (even though I’ve decided to keep nursing as long as he’s interested even with the formula), I know I’ve got a whole ‘nother issue with the prolactin and hormones coming ’round. To be honest, last Monday I was pissed. Pissed because I had finally been doing really well again – had been happy, confident, cheery – more than I had been in quite some time and then WHAM! the whole issue with Cameron and POP goes my happy bubble. I felt guilty about being pissed over my happy bubble being popped. I mean, c’mon – I should be concerned about my son – and I was, I am – but instead there I was, moping about my happy bubble. Everyone kept telling me that I couldn’t blame myself that there was a myriad of reasons that he wasn’t doing well – to which I replied – Yeap, got the flow chart in my head already, you’re not telling me anything new. I almost made the flow chart. Thinking that may have been a bit over the top.  I moved through my emotions on Monday pretty quickly, or so I had thought. I am so hoping this is PMS and not PPD that’s been lying in wait, ready to pounce at the first sign of honest vulnerability. I’ve got a lot going on elsewhere too and as crazy as it sounds have been so busy that I haven’t even had time to do a to-do list. It’s on my mental to-do list to do a to-do list (try saying THAT three times fast) but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. i’ve got to otherwise this is just not going to get any better and I will become even more lost in the forest of tasks that seem to be springing up around me, especially if I keep having days like today.

I feel like a deflated clown punching bag after a state fair.

Just toss me in the corner and leave me to be covered in hay and dirt and Lord only knows what else.

I’m pissed. I’m apathetic. I’m just well – here. I don’t really want to be awake but not quite ready to go to sleep yet. I can’t think of a darn thing to cheer myself up besides coming here and just letting it all hang out in naked honesty. I need to pray. I need to go lay down and read the Bible and find my answer there.

Hey – Chris is listening to the radio on his computer and it’s my favourite uplifting song – Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. Starting to feel better already. :-)

Here’s to hoping tomorrow will be a better day. It has to be. Alli will be starting music camp so she’ll be gone from 9a – 12n every morning through Friday. I’m ready for another break.

Very Busy Weekend

I heard Cameron rustling about at 5 this morning so I rolled out of bed looking forward to some quiet nursing time with him.

Turns out the girls were awake too. I just got them down for nap and have had them to entertain since rising this morning. We did quite a bit, actually. We made Banana Nut muffins for breakfast (from a box) then they played with play-doh while I made pretzels (from scratch). We watched some TV and did some silly stuff too but hey – that’s what Saturday mornings are for, right?

My parents are in transit from VA as I type so they will be here for Cameron’s dedication tomorrow.

I’ve got homemade pizza dough doing a final rise in the oven as I am hoping to make a delicious deep dish pizza. Being a good Jersey girl at heart, I’m not too sure of the proper process so I had to do some research. Hopefully it’ll come out properly.

I’m about to take a nap as I certainly have earned it!

If we get good pictures tomorrow, I will share them with you!