Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

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Late Night Ramblings of an Upset Parent

October 18, 2009

I’ve realized a couple of times lately (but haven’t said anything to anyone), I am now older than my mom. Sound weird? My mom committed suicide when she was 5 months past her 28th birthday. She will never be older than that, but I will continue to age, hopefull WELL past there. I am now 28 and a half. The last 2 years or so I’ve lived with a completely irrational fear that something would happen to me while I was 28 where I would commit suicide too. There’s no evidence that would make me think that, hence ‘irrational’ fear. I just thought it would happen because it happened to my mom. I know some of you who read this will be able to understand why I would think that, just as some would be ready to call the police thinking I am suicidal. I’m not. I don’t want to end my life, I haven’t thought about it, haven’t dreamt of doing it. There is absolutely no reason in my life to want to.

But thinking about my mom, that fear creeps in. And when I realize my mom just didn’t have those maternal instincts, I start to wonder if I’m not the same as her in other ways too. See, my mom realized when I was quite young that she just didn’t have it in her to be a mom. Or not a full time mom anyway. She knew, somewhere inside her. So after letting my dad have custody of me, she got pregnant again when I was 6. Rather than deluding herself, she knew right off the bat that she was going to give my sister up for adoption. Long story short, my sister’s aunt and uncle adopted her and we’re still in contact now. But knowing that she couldn’t be, or didn’t want to be a mom, makes me wonder now.

I’ve always wanted children. Way back when I was 17, I wanted a baby SO bad. I wasn’t stupid enough to get knocked up, but I wanted one. I’ve always thought I’m meant to be a mom – both in physical aspects and mentally. So how is it that one little 20 pounder with the cutest little vampire teeth and most infectious smile can make me doubt myself, doubt what I’ve wanted for so long?

In the last month we’ve been having such horrible sleep problems. Just when I think I’ve figured something out, Penny switches up how she’s screwing with her sleep patterns. Whatever. She has sleep problems. And I’m trying to fix everything. But missing even one nap throws us into this painful spiral of tears and frustration. I can’t stay cooped up at home all day, every day in fear of missing one of her naps! But I’ll tell you, I can’t go on with life the way it is at the moment either. Something’s gotta give, and I don’t know what.

This isn’t the ramblings of a sleep deprived parent. I’m frustrated beyond belief. Between Penny going for half hour ‘naps’, being awake for 5 or 6 hours at a time, back arching, refusing to be held yet screaming when you put her down, constant nipple pain from breastfeeding, a desire to see my family, a wish that I had a backbone to tell my family to stuff it, and an utter lack of sex (sorry if that’s TMI for you. It’s a fact, and it plays into my frustration too) I’m really starting to wonder if I’m cut out to be a mom.

Just when I think we’ve put Penny down for the night successfully, half an hour later she’s crying and standing up in her crib. Half an hour is enough to keep her going for another 4 hours. When she’s standing it means she’s awake. It’s not as simple as putting her soother back in to get her back to sleep. She won’t let me cradle her to rock and walk her, she won’t lay down, carrying her upright facing me just makes her straight-arm away from me. She throws herself backwards, she arches her back. She cries and whines and grumps, and spits out her soother. And it all makes me want to run away, as far as I can and as fast as I can. Court has moved beyond patience with a hint of annoyance, so full blown frustration as well. And I can’t be bothered to soothe him anymore. When he gets upset, I just get this feeling of ‘about time you had to deal with her’ and an overwhelming urge to leave the house and just make him figure it out.

Penny wakes up happy in the morning, and when she’s happy Court and I just look at each other and say “she’s so cute!” Then she gets tired and my entire day just goes downhill from there. I can’t deal with these sleep problems. I can’t deal with Court’s frustration – I’m trying to get a handle on my own. I can’t deal with the criticism advice that’s dished out to us. I can’t tell anymore when Penny’s teething, or if she’s just tired. I can’t snuggle her, but I can’t get away from her.

I just don’t know what to do anymore. I no longer feel like a proud parent. I’m sick of rocking and shushing. I want to give up on breastfeeding because I can’t deal with the pain anymore. I just want to give up on all of it and walk away.

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Removing the Mask

September 2, 2009

For lack of a better title, I will borrow that from The Smiling Mask.

What is The Smiling Mask? It’s a book about postpartum depression and parenting. I can’t say too much more than that as I’m just waiting for my copy to get here for me to read it. More importantly, the smiling mask is what you do when you are faced with postpartum depression, or any depression for that matter. You put on a smile and keep pushing through your day, no matter what is thrown at you. Even if people around you know you are affected by depression, you put on your mask just to be able to function. If you don’t put your smiling mask on in the morning, getting out of bed would be just about the hardest thing you’ve ever done. And if you have a family, a spouse and children, who are depending on you, that mask takes on Atlas-heavy proportions.

Notice I said ‘spouse?’ Postpartum depression doesn’t just affect women. Moms may have hormones trying to do them in, but dads have many of the same issues as moms do after a baby is born. The huge change in lifestyle, the sleeplessness, the dependency of the baby and even the dependency of mom contribute to dad’s irritability, lack of sense of humor, anxiety, or insomnia – just to name a few effects. The Journal of Advanced Nursing published a study in 2004 that found that

During the first postpartum year, the incidence of paternal depression ranged from 1.2% to 25.5% in community samples, and from 24% to 50% among men whose partners were experiencing postpartum depression. Maternal depression was identified as the strongest predictor of paternal depression during the postpartum period.1

So now that we’ve established that both men and women can have postpartum depression, what does it mean, and what do we do about it? PPD is scary. I don’t mean the “call protective services” kind of scary – although that is a possibility and does happen in some cases. And it’s not “call suicide intervention” kind of scary – again a possibility and a reality. But your personal mental state is altered. Thoughts and feelings are in your mind that you don’t recognize. You don’t understand where they’re coming from or why you feel the way you do. It’s like you don’t know yourself anymore. If you don’t know yourself, how is your spouse expected to follow this “change” in you and to keep up, and cover for you or take care of you. And what kind of parent thinks these kinds of thoughts? And why can’t I just make them STOP! See? It’s scary.

Instead of facing scary, we put on our smiling mask and go about our day. Inside, we’re sitting in a corner crying. But on the outside we’re greeting friends, and tying kids’ shoelaces, and packing spouses’ lunches and kissing them goodbye. And no one ever understands what we’re going through behind that mask.

Why don’t we take off the mask and show them? Why don’t we just tell everyone what’s going on inside us? Wouldn’t that be the obvious solution? But we don’t want to be ridiculed or scorned. We don’t want it to be blown off and belittled. And if I hear “Suck it up, princess” one more time…

PPD and all other types of depression are so much more prevalent than any study could find. There are people like me who think they can just deal with it themselves. There are people who try to get help and just can’t find access to it. Sometimes the help doesn’t come fast enough. Mostly though, people who are depressed just get blown off. They are told it’s not bad enough, they’re “mildly” depressed, it’s just the baby blues, or countless other variations of these.

Personally, I think those scorecards need to change. The surveys that you get asked at every well-baby visit, on every anti-depressant’s website, in your Cosmo magazine. They’ve set the depression bar too high, and it needs to be brought back down. It doesn’t matter if you’re slightly depressed or in a major depressive episode. Your ability to cope with it should be all that matters. If you are overwhelmed by depression, it means you can’t handle it yourself anymore. The kind of help you get can vary from person to person. But being overwhelmed means you need help.

Maybe if medical professionals started treating all forms of depression as a debilitating illness, there would be less stigma attached to it. Maybe if they said they could help with the baby blues instead of just telling you to get more support from family and friends. Maybe if dads weren’t laughed at for having postpartum depression. Maybe if moms with a little bit of depression weren’t shooed out the door to make way for someone else with something else “more important.” So many maybe’s.

Next time someone tells you they’re a little down, a little sad, a little depressed – ask them if you can hold their mask for a little while. Give them a hug. Tell them you love them. And ask them what you can do.

1. Paternal postpartum depression, its relationship to maternal postpartum depression, and implications for family health from the Journal of Advanced Nursing

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Me Time – It’s All The Rage

July 29, 2009

I don’t get any Me Time. Why is that?

I am not overly controlling when it comes to Penny. I’ve accepted that Court puts her diapers on differently than I do. I know when he changes her clothes, chances are they won’t be a matching outfit. I know his version of “getting up with Penny on the weekend” entails Penny falling back asleep in her bouncer chair while Daddy plays Wii. And I know that when he feeds her, not one drop hits her bib, and the dishes are empty when they’re done. I’m ok with all of that, because I know to stress out about any of it will just drain me more than I already am drained. I do admit though, I let him swaddle her to go to sleep, and I let him do it his way. But after 3 or 4 attempts where she just won’t go to sleep, I’ll go and swaddle her my way. It works – most of the time.

I don’t have too much of an issue leaving Penny with babysitters either (babysitters being Nana and Grampa or her other Grandpa or Grandma). I don’t feel the need to leave them with 600 instructions, although I might leave a few. I’ll point out if she has a diaper rash, or let them know where the food is. I don’t try to tell them how to feed her. I don’t panic when we come home while she’s eating and – heaven forbid – doesn’t have a bib on. They’ve all done this before. Court and I both survived, so that has to stand for something.

So if Court can handle being alone with Penny, why don’t I get any Me Time. And if we can handle leaving Penny with grandparents, why don’t we get any Us Time?

I know why I don’t get any Me Time. But I don’t understand why. Why is it that I feel like I need to be SuperMom? I have this obsession with proving to everyone (who everyone is, I’m not sure) that I can do it. I can hack being a parent. I can take Penny and do groceries without any help. I can do all the running around that needs to get done. I can do the housework… oh who am I kidding? I don’t do housework. I do some laundry – when it gets hard to climb Mount Laundrynus to get into the bedroom, or when the lack of clean underthings becomes an issue. But why do I need to prove this to everyone? No one has ever said anything to me to the contrary. I’ve never felt awash by someone’s doubt that I can be a good mom.

Because I need to be SuperMom – I need to carry Penny in my mei tai, and have 16 grocery bags on my arm, and the dog on the leash, and that 20-foot high ball of laundry from the commercial is chasing me down – I don’t get Me Time.

I want to go swimming, just for something to do. Actually it’s one of very few things that I can envision myself doing sans baby or husband. I honestly don’t know what else I would do without them. Maybe I’d consider taking some classes at the University and start on a degree in HR. It’s hard to justify that though when the classes are in the $400 range EACH and you need like 30 of them for the degree. We’re building a house right now, people! $400 is 1/3 of a mortgage payment! The only other thing I could see myself doing alone is shopping. Ah, Retail Therapy. Nothing can beat spending money, especially on wants, not needs. Although if it’s needs we need, then by all means therapy away! But then again, we’re building a house here, people! Hmm, not so much retail therapy then.

Going for a walk by myself is not a Me Time option. I feel bad because the dog could be walking with me. If I take the dog, Court feels guilty for not taking her for a walk, and then he has to come too. And if the dog and Court come with me, well… Penny has to come too. Strange how that works.

I know I need Me Time. And after 6 months of not having any Me Time, I sort of need it desperately. I just don’t know how to get it or what to do with it when I do have it.

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Never Good Enough

July 14, 2009

Have you ever had one of those days? One of those days called Mon-day? Or how about Mon-day the 13th? AKA a bad day… (for the record, I don’t believe 13 is an unlucky number, and I don’t think black cats are bad luck – I had 2… at the same time…)

I’m having one of those days. Nothing happened that was particularly bad, or should make me grumpy, but there it is – I am. The phone woke me up, but it was 10:30 so I can’t complain. The optician’s office – where I was going to take Penny to get her glasses adjusted this morning anyway, so I didn’t answer it. Ended up not taking her, but that’s life.

About 10.2 seconds after I got back into bed, the phone rang again. My dad, with information about step-by-step instructions for feeding Penny solid foods. I’ll get into that in another post, since it’s something I want more information on.

The cable/TV/phone provider was scheduled to come between 12 and 5 because my internet connection keeps going up and down. When they checked from their end, they said yup, my modem is shot. Tech came last Friday, replaced some amplifier part and left. It didn’t fix the problem, so we rescheduled for this afternoon. This tech came and basically said he couldn’t do anything because of the thunderstorm we had. They’re going to run a brand new line from the pole out in the alley, separate from our neighbours because we’re in a duplex, but a different department needs to call and schedule that with me.

A couple of times in the last few days I’ve seen people reacting rather quickly and to be honest, a little rudely. Happened again this afternoon. It hasn’t affected me directly, but just watching the exchanges between other people riles me up sometimes. I want to remind people about the immediacy and permanency of everything you say on social networking sites. The old adage comes to mind “Think before you speak.”

But more than all of this, I repeatedly find myself wondering if I’m good enough. Am I a good enough mom and parent, a good enough wife? I recently applied for a job and asked for a certain amount for compensation. And I’ve spent the last 2 days wondering if I’m good enough to make that amount of money. I’m constantly wondering “Am I good enough”, and in my mind, I’m not. Last week I said “You know when you were a JR in HS and think the SRs are so smart and cool? That’s how I feel about some of the moms on here.” I read what these moms have to say, and I feel like I can’t even begin to approach the league they are in. They use language that is well beyond the average grade 6 level. So even when I am interested in something they have to say, I read it and I feel like I understand maybe every 3rd word. I feel like I am playing pretend at being a parent when you put me beside one of them. They just know everything, and I can’t hope to have the knowledge even after 50 years of being a mother.

There’s more too. I realize my family thinks they know everything, and I of course, know nothing. So they give me “advice” and I’m expected to follow it. Like being told months ago that my siblings were only breastfed till they were 9 months because babies shouldn’t be breastfed any longer than that. Well, Penny’s 6 months old. So I’m pretty sure in another 2 or 3 months I’ll start getting pressured to wean. And I don’t want to. I want to be strong enough to stand up to what they say to me, but for some damn reason I feel like I’m not good enough for them if I don’t do what they say. I don’t know why what they think means so much to me, and why I’m always seeking approval from them. But it’s approval I never get, and has left me in tears on many, many occasions. Things like being told I shouldn’t work from home because Penny needs to be socialized so she doesn’t end up anti-social like her parents. Then I go to a play date, and get asked well why would I do that? I’ll be honest. I would really like to spend time with my family, but when we do I feel like I never live up to any of their expectations, and that they have to go out of their way to accommodate us visiting. So rather than willingly spending time with them, I force us to visit so that they can have time with Penny. I put up with the criticism and snide remarks, then go home either fuming or crying.

What else? Right, I’m not a good enough blogger. One of the magazines I read is looking for mommy bloggers to blog for them. I’d love to do that! But seriously? What do I have to say that’s interesting to anyone else? I’m a new mom, but I’m doing the same thing every other mom is right now. I don’t have any particular bits of wisdom to impart (refer to the pretend-mom paragraph above). I’m not a reviewer (I thought MakesMomHappy.com was the greatest blog ever, and then I found out there’s about 672 other review/giveaway blogs out there). But I SO wish that I had something to say that people wanted to listen to. Something that brought people to my blog regularly, and could start discussions, and could make people think.

Oh, and one last thing? Why do I feel like being a breastfeeding mom has to go hand-in-hand with co-sleeping and babywearing and attachment parenting and cloth diapering and eco-consciousness? Can’t you do one without being expected to do all the others?

So yeah, that’s how my day is going. How about yours?

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Drifting

June 18, 2009

The last few weeks have been… odd for me. I feel down and a bit depressed.

I’m not getting any work done around the house (not like I did much before, but now I’m not even doing the laundry and that was MY Thursday thing).

I want the elliptical moved out the garage because it was $60 and it doesn’t have an even stride on it. I love ellipticals. I thought great, I can get on there when Penny’s playing, and lose some of my baby weight (still 20 lbs to go). NOT! I want to clean out Penny’s room – she doesn’t use the swing, and now that she’s a rolling machine she doesn’t need the bouncer. There’s excess crap in there that needs to be either moved downstairs or gotten rid of to make it a little girl’s room.

I want the crap cleaned off the kitchen table. I mean, it’s not like we use it, but it has seriously become a catch-all for everything that doesn’t have its own place. Toaster, wine glasses, 3 dish towels, vase of flowers my wonderful husband brought me because he thought I was down, tupperware containers, a bowl set that I want to get rid of, a basket full of bottles and pump parts. Not to mention the box underneath the table with food for the food bank and a bag of old washcloths that I’m getting rid of.

The bathroom needs to be cleaned. Our room needs to be vacuumed. The runner is still sitting on the front step from when I swept. The front garden bed has grass growing into our bedroom window (not literally but it’s about 3 feet tall), the dog can’t find a place to do her thing in the backyard because THAT grass is so tall. I had been making an effort to go through our stuff downstairs and get rid of garbage and junk and repack (neatly) the stuff that we still need to keep. Then I go downstairs yesterday and it looks like someone dropped a bomb in the basement. The lawnmower and weed-whacker are down there (because our landlord has yet to get the previous tenant’s shit out of the garage). My computer is in pieces down there. There’s boxes of crap, there’s rubbermaid buckets of crap. Oh crap, there’s my all-season tires which should be on my car. It’s June and 30 degrees and I have winter tires on still. Then again, it took me until December 10th to get the winter’s put on.

I just look at everything that needs to be done around here and I feel like shutting down. I can’t do it all myself, and I’m not even expected to. Court’s a big help. He’s been doing laundry the last couple of weeks (even though our definitions of “doing laundry” differ). Court cleans the kitchen… it’s his domain, and if I even dare wash one sink of dishes or put clean ones away, he goes into a tailspin thinking he’s not good enough for me and doesn’t do enough around the house for me. He remembered to take the diapers out before the garbagemen came this morning – for which I’m thankful. He does extra work for people on the weekends to make some extra money (which I am oh so good at spending). He’s a great husband! He cooks, he cleans, he treats me like a queen. If he’s getting up, do I need anything. If he’s sitting down with me, do I need anything. Can he get me a drink, do I want my feet rubbed, do I want to change the channel? He’s supportive of everything I do, and everything I could want to do. He’s supportive of me. He loves me and is very vocal (sometimes a little too vocal) about it. And he likes to show me he loves me too. He’s perfect for me, we’re perfect for each other.

So when he asked me last night why it feels like everything he does is wrong, and things don’t feel right between us, I adamantly said no, nothing’s wrong. But something IS wrong. I’m reminded of the movie Juno. “I feel like something has come between us,” she says, with a very pregnant belly in between them as they try to hug. Something has come between us, and her name is Penny. We both love her very much. We both devote our time and energy to her. It hasn’t left much for us, individually or as a couple.

I know we’re not the first parents to be affected by having a baby. By the way, have you noticed that I really hate when people tritely say “You’re not the first woman/parent/mom/couple/person to be go through __________”? I don’t care how many people have gone through it before me. They are not me. They don’t have my life experiences to know how to respond to any given situation the way I need to respond to it.

Anyway, back to drifting apart. I can go to all the parenting websites and read about making sure we have a date night just for us. The articles I read though just seem so impersonal and fact based, and don’t take into account what’s actually happening in different people’s lives. For example, I am exclusively breastfeeding. I have been unable to pump any significant amounts of milk (hence my email to Stacey at OneTinySuitcase.ca to come get the pump I rented). Penny refuses to eat formula (SMART GIRL!), and refuses to drink from a bottle. She doesn’t eat enough solids yet to base a meal solely on that. And she still eats every 2 hours during the day (day being when I get up to when I go to sleep). So tell me, how are we supposed to go out for dinner without her? How are we supposed to go to a movie without her? Penny goes everywhere with me. At this point, I am her supplier of all things food related, and I don’t see that changing overnight.

Maybe that’s what’s bothering me. We’ve been experimenting with solids – some pureed, some solid food like cantaloupe and cucumber. The solids don’t make a full meal for her yet. But maybe I’m depressed by the realization that soon they will be, and I’m mourning the nursing sessions that solid food will replace. I also have no idea how to transition to solids. Sometimes she’ll eat something, then nurse after. Sometimes she’ll eat a full meal of solids, but then that will leave me engorged. Or this is what happens in my mind – we haven’t actually tried yet.

Has anyone gone through this stage (and by that I mean lots of moms have gone through it, but are you willing to talk to me about it) of drifting apart from their significant other? And feeling useless and like you could be doing better as a mom but just don’t know how? What did you do that helped?

I go to playdates (which is bizarre for me because I’m normally an anti-social person). I had post-partum depression (I think I did, the docs did nothing and it did go away, so maybe baby blues). I’ve asked for help and been blown off so I think it’s pointless. I have no faith in our health region – they’ve failed me 3 times now since Penny was born. I had retained products of conception (fancy term for piece of placenta still inside me), that took 5 months to get out. I was depressed and they kept sending me to the emergency room for it, and nothing got done. And my milk supply had decreased and the public health nurses that I saw said “We’ll save you the trip to the breastfeeding clinic. Just feed her whenever’s she’s hungry.” Gee thanks. I never thought of doing that. She had only gained a pound in a month and a half prior to that. I went to the breastfeeding clinic (against the public health nurses’ advice), started domperidone, and Penny has since gained 2 pounds in 3 weeks. So to me, the Calgary Health Region (now Alberta Health Region I believe) equals FAIL in my mind. Why are they making it so hard to ask for help, only to be blown off when you do?

I am now rambling. I think I need to get up and do something. So I will put on a load of laundry before my little princess wakes up hungry. And then I think us girls, Hershey included, will go for a mei tai walk. I need the snuggles.