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Postpartum

I really didn’t think postpartum depression would be an issue for me – mainly because I’m already depressed. How could you have two forms of depression? Well, it turns out, you can. Postpartum, it seems, is much more physical. Or perhaps that’s just because it’s anxiety? Really, I don’t even know how to write about this because I don’t even know how to feel about it. Frankly, I don’t understand how to even feel it, let alone analyze or describe it. It’s new, and different. And with my history of depression and anxiety, I wasn’t expecting that. I was completely sidelined.

People keep saying to me that I’m just being too hard on myself and expecting perfection and having two kids is supposed to be hard. I know that it is. But, even though the boy is in Kita, I still can’t seem to function. Even though the girl sleeps pretty well at night, I still don’t seem rested and up to the task of caring for them. My nerves are on edge. Just a little whine or cry sets me off and I am horrified to find myself thinking about shaking her or throwing her or punching him or just leaving them on the train platform and walking away. Now, scary as that may sound (and believe me, it scares me), I know that I’m still “together” enough not to actually do those things. But it is still pretty scary. And horrible. I look at their little faces and my heart breaks because I love them so much that I just can’t.

I wake up and try to prepare myself to have a good day. After all, I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the wild child to school every morning so that I can sleep in with the baby. I have a cleaner that comes once a week. My husband will also pick up the slack in the evenings: he makes dinner, he cleans the kitchen, and takes over caring for the boy. Literally ALL I have to do is get out of the house around midday to pick up the boy, get home, put him down for a nap and put on a movie when he wakes up (or better yet, actually play with him, but that’s another level entirely). That’s it. I should be able to handle that. And some days I can. Occasionally I can even do it without breaking down and crying.

But most days, she doesn’t cooperate. Or he doesn’t. She would usually fall asleep on the way to pick him up – Great! Then, there is something about his school that wakes her up. Always. So I try to put his coat on and get him out the door as quickly as possible so that the movement of the stroller/carrier (I’m willing to try anything) will lull her back to sleep quickly so that I can give some attention to poor little boy who I love so much I start crying just thinking about it. However, said beautiful little boy rarely cooperated. He would lag. He would stop to look at sticks. He would try and run in puddles. It would be raining and of course he won’t carry his umbrella or keep his hood up. It would end in her screaming and then him screaming as well, seemingly trying to match her in volume, all to get my attention.

I bought a double stroller. That solved the problem with him, yet she still wakes up and cries and then he cries. And then I cry. On the train. In public. In the rain.

Often, she falls asleep again before we get home and I put him to bed fine and honestly, the rest of the day could proceed well. But it doesn’t. Because that in and of itself is enough to completely destroy me. I’m shattered for the rest of the day. So that when, during our movie (AKA my minimal parenting time), she wakes up and I have to feed her, I sob when he looks at her and moves slightly away. Then of course, he starts crying and saying, “Stop, mommy. Stop. It’s OK. Stop, mommy.”, which just makes me cry all the more.

Those are good days. When she sleeps. When it isn’t raining or snowing so much that taking her out isn’t just ridiculous.

I’m so tired. My body feels slack, like there is nothing holding my shoulders up above my back and head up on my neck. I have actually body aches like flu symptoms and searing headaches.The instant the baby cries, I start having a panic attack. Yet I try my best to smile at my boy and tell him it’ll be fine and that his baby sister just cries sometimes and that that is OK. And it is in that trying that I lose it. It is somehow that trying that is too much for my heart.

Apparently my husband, who doesn’t understand at all and who is getting more and more frustrated with me and with whom I have resorted to communicating with in either passive aggressive or defensive snaps and snarls, was worried enough to call my mom. So she flew out. Which helps, in that I now have time to sit here and drink tea and write this while someone else tries to put my two beautiful children to sleep. And I’m eating much better. But I’m still crying. And I the baby crying or fussing still makes me so anxious, my stomach hurts. And my little boy’s face still breaks my heart.

I have called my midwife and emailed a therapist. I am going to call my doctor tomorrow, but I don’t have a lot of hope that this will be cleared up. And I really worry about what it’s doing to my marriage.

But then, I worry about everything.

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Progress, of a Sort…

I have not followed through with the Abundant Mama Rise & Shine Challenge, regarding which I think I already acknowledged that it would take me much longer than ten days. Perhaps if I were the sort of person who didn’t need some (very nice, I’m sure) lady online telling me how to be a better person/mother, I would be fine within the confines of those days – Hell, maybe I’d even beat her ten days and double down on some of the challenges. However, I am what I am. Part of me accepting this challenge for myself is figuring out how to (finally) accept that, and not just with half-joking regret, but in full and complete understand and empathy of my own struggle and my own dance through life.

That said, I am still fully planning on completing the challenge; it, along with many other things in my life, has made me realize that there is a whole lot of stuff that I need to let go of in order to “rise and shine” at any time of the day. There were some rituals in one of the emails (I don’t even know what day I’m on anymore, but does it really matter?) that got me thinking of intention and how I intend to live my life. I realized, I don’t. I think about shoulds quite a bit: even this blog started out as a should. In fact, I don’t really live. I am alive, of course: I breathe, I laugh, I cry, I love, I feel, I embrace, I fear. But I don’t actually live. And to be honest, I fear far too much.

On days like today – a Thursday, where my beautiful little boy is happily looked after by other people, I wake feeling wonderful, filled with my plans for the day, which are usually a mixture of yoga/blogging/me time, cleaning, and relaxing/doing nothing. I lay in bed reading for sometimes up to an hour (depending on how hungry this little girl gets) and then I get up and make myself breakfast (a prospect made far less enjoyable now that I am gluten and dairy free) and while I eat, I put on the TV. Then I’m hooked and I don’t stop. Suddenly, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth or barely moved from the sofa. All I’ve done is watch TV and play games on my phone. Today is different, obviously, as it’s currently 12:30 and I’ve already tidied the living room, cleaned the kitchen, done the laundry, read and had breakfast and lunch. Woo-hoo! Go, me!

However, the former is all too familiar. If it isn’t a Tuesday or a Thursday, the instant that little boy’s head hits his pillow and I say, “Sweet dreams” and walk out of his room for his nap, the TV goes on and my phone or iPad comes out. Numb. I am numbing myself. From what, I’m not entirely sure, because my life is pretty awesome. Sure, we live in a country where things are difficult and we don’t want to be here and there are a lot of things I struggle with here. Sure, I have a very independent, outspoken, stubborn toddler and am also currently growing a baby. But those problems in and of themselves are pretty great problems to have. I know this. I am grateful for this. Daily. And yet…

I’ve been doing it for so long, I have no idea how to stop. Ever since I stopped doing drugs, I’ve been doing it with food and TV (which, let me tell you, leads to a far more coherent me, but is much less fun). That means since high school. I’ve not been fully living my life since high school. That’s over half my life (Eek! I’m old!). I’ve had moments, of course, some lasting months even, but something always happened to shatter that bubble and bring me back into my reality. I don’t want that anymore. I know, and have always been aware, that my depression means that I’ll always have days where I question, where I fear too much, where I cry for no reason and every reason, where I feel absolutely useless and heartbroken over everything and nothing. I know that, and I’m okay with that. Right now, though, it’s too close to the surface. It’s too much of a reality. My lack of living has allowed me to become that person always. I am defined by my depression, by my fears. I don’t want that anymore.

I want to change my reality. I want those days just to be those days – where maybe I don’t get the house cleaned that day, maybe I have to get takeout for dinner and maybe I need to lay on the sofa and read an entire book to escape whatever it is I’m feeling. But I want to wake the following day without it holding me back from returning to my reality. I want to go back to yoga, go back to smiling and meaning it, go back to whatever glorious future I will have with my amazing children and husband. I don’t want to be held back by this fear any longer.

How does one change their reality? I suppose it’s a combination of a lot of little changes – a lot of little moments that take a lot of will power to make different choices. In search of more answers, I’ve downloaded an audiobook by Pema Chödrön, hoping that just be surrounding myself with uplifting ideas and sounds, versus the TV, it will become easier and easier to make those different choices in the little things, and perhaps the bigger things will become that much clearer as I go along.

Now, back to this challenge, which obviously plays a key part in my new reality. I’ve worked through a bit of my ideal mornings and what I want to get from my nights – I have my nightly checklist (which I need to transfer to my notebook because while I love the ease of writing my journal/blog online, I am not a person who functions online: I still have a wall calendar and an actual paper to do list) and I’m still working on my bigger rituals and also on IMPLEMENTING these things, as that is key… and I, obviously, have yet to do that.

To encourage my intentional mornings (beyond the bigger picture of figuring out how to start living and change my reality), I need to actually plan for the little moments because, let’s face it, I am NOT a morning person and as I have a husband who is and a two-year old who most definitely is, I can’t imagine myself getting up hours before them in order to accommodate my desire to do yoga, have a long, lovely shower, linger over breakfast and coffee with a good book and then also get all the cleaning, laundry, etc done in order to set myself up for the day. When would I have to wake up? 3:00 AM? Not going to happen.

So, what can I really do in the mornings? Well, I’ve been thinking that the most important thing is banning electronics for the first hour or so. The instant I wake up, I turn on my phone, check my email and Facebook. Seriously. Who do I think I am? Out of the maybe twelve emails I get every morning, maybe one of them is actually for me and even that is never urgent. And Facebook? Ugh. So. Wake up and wake up. Perhaps I should get a coffee machine and have it go off in the morning so I can have coffee – decaf, though, because I’m pregnant and get jittery if I drink coffee before I eat anything. Or perhaps I should train myself to jump in the shower. I’m not sure yet, but I know I need to get up and USE that time, otherwise any time I give myself will fall directly into the Internet void, and that’s is a routine that NO ONE wants.

What I would like is to be ready (physically: face-washed, tea/coffee in hand, dressed) when the boy wakes. That way when he is up, I can put my energy into him and his day and what we are going to do together. So, I suppose, that is as simple as it is: I need to get up, pull some clothes on, wash my face and make some tea or coffee. Perhaps this would be a good time to listen to my audiobooks for the present and in future, when I’m further along in my progress, to do some yoga/meditation (those things are fine to do with tea in hand, right?!?!).

So, my task for the day: copy my nightly check-list and my morning goals into my notebook. Yes, it does seem simple enough for me to remember to wash my face in the morning without having to write it in my notebook and keep that notebook by the side of my bed. As I said, if I were that type of person…