Monday, February 1, 2010

oh, the naivete of youth.

about a year before i got pregnant, i stepped on woody's tail. i was rushing around before work one morning, trying not to trip over the cat as he attempted to help me kill me before leaving the house. he yelped and leapt away, and as i tried not to spill my coffee my heart broke into a million pieces. my baby! my kitten! my little man! how careless of mommy to hurt him! i didn't do it on purpose, sweetheart. mommy loves you.

i felt horrible, as if i had sliced off my own finger. i knew in that moment that i was ready to have children. if i could feel this way about a cat, i was ready for a baby. i had enough love and patience to give a child.

now that i am an actual parent and not just a cat mommy, i know: having a cat? is nothing like raising a baby.

Friday, January 29, 2010

mommy took her happy pills today!

this is how i know the drugs are working:

this morning i woke up at 545a and laid in bed in the dark, listening to brian breathing evenly next to me. hannah cried out in her sleep and i waited for her to wake and cry more, but she didn't. just a random bad dream or something that didn't quite wake her. still, my heart ached and my stomach twisted up in knots but i tried to fight it. i got up, pulled on my sweats, and went to her room and closed the door. i lifted her out of the crib where she was dreaming, sank into the armchair, arranged some cozy blankets over us, snuggled her sleeping body into mine, and drifted off.

tell me this: who gets a perfectly quiet, SLEEPING baby out of the crib when they don't have to? who risks waking that SLEEPING child? someone who is on some damn good drugs, THAT'S WHO.

Monday, January 25, 2010

so this is what motherhood is supposed to be like.

this morning, hannah woke up at 6a crying, not going back to sleep. she has been doing this lately, waking up a bit too early for my taste, and i can tell that because of these early wakings that she's extra tired, because she naps longer during the day. i went into her room and got her out of her crib and shut the door. we curled up in the easy chair in her room and i rocked her to sleep on my chest and then dozed off myself.

i used to dread her nightwakings and early-morning-wakings. i'd wake up around 3a or 5a and just lie in bed, waiting to hear her cry, praying that she wouldn't, praying to go back to sleep so i could somehow drag myself through another day as a mother. when she would cry, i'd comfort her and rock her back to sleep and resent every moment of it, silently begging her to go back to sleep quickly so i could rest. time passes more quickly when you're asleep.

this morning i sighed resignedly when i heard her fussing, then pulled on my pajamas and went to her. i realized i didn't resent it. all things considered, i'd rather be cocooned in my nice warm bed, snuggled up against my husband, instead of rocking a fussy baby back to sleep and trying to get comfortable enough in an old armchair to sleep myself. i'd rather be in bed when she lifts her sleepy head off my chest and then lets it fall with a thud, and if i'm not careful to keep my face out of the way she'll knock a tooth or my chin. but... i don't resent this. i don't dread it anymore. in a perverse sort of way, i actually kind of look forward to rocking her to sleep, cuddled in the chair with my daughter on my chest, heavy and trusting. her hair tickles my chin and she smells so good, and it feels good to kiss her head gently while she rests.

i had worried for a bit that the medication was not working, and then suddenly i felt happy, giddy almost, happier than i have been in a long time. i'm enjoying being a wife and a mother. i look forward to my husband and my daughter instead of wanting to be left alone. hannah's happier too, probably because her mother is present now. finally, this is what normal feels like, and i think i like it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

blinded with science

yesterday hannah and i took part in a research study, and i am so ridiculously excited about this, i cannot even tell you. we signed up a couple months ago at one of the universities near us and i had been anxiously waiting for them to contact us to participate. i firmly believe in actively participating in research when i can, and the brain (and our bodies) is one of those things that juust absolutely fascinates me. when i was a baby, my mother and i participated in a study about infant massage, so i guess it's just in my genes.

brian was very concerned that i would be subjecting hannah to needles or strange drugs and things like that. i reassured him that i would never allow anything like that to happen to her, and that ethically, researchers can't do things like that to babies because they cannot give informed consent. (i think. right?)

we actually participated in two studies yesterday. the first study was testing her short-term memory. she sat on my lap in front of two computer screens with different colored dots on them. on one screen the dots were stationary, and the other the dots were moving around. in theory, she would look at both screens to see the dots, and then if she had stored them in her short-term memory, she would look at the screen with the moving dots longer because it is more interesting than the stationary dots (which were already in her memory).

the second study tested her ability to categorize objects. we sat in front of a television screen and she was shown lots of pictures of cats. big cats, little cats, fluffy cats, orange cats, white cats, you name it. this was to help her make the category "cats." then she was shown a picture of a cat and a dog. in theory, if she had made the category "cats" and was able to differentiate between cats and dogs, then she would look at the picture of the dog longer, because it was new and interesting.

they did tell me that she looked at the moving dots longer. (well, OF COURSE SHE DID. she's a genius. what else would you expect?) they did not tell me what she did on the cats and dogs test and i forgot to ask, which is really a bummer because she is currently going through the developmental stage where she realizes that things are different and the same and begins to categorize objects.

brian was very relieved when i told him how everything went and what she did at the center. we were also kindly given an age-appropriate toy for our trouble, which made it all worthwhile to him. silly man!

we are still on their list, if they need more volunteers for future studies. i really hope they do, because we had a lot of fun doing this, and it is neat to know that hannah (and me, indirectly) contributed to our understanding of how the mind develops and works. if you have a research university close to you and a young baby, i encourage you to participate in any studies they may have as well!

Monday, January 11, 2010

love letters: month eight

dear hannah,

you are eight months old today, and what a time it has been. it's a new year, sweet baby girl! you are crawling now, crawling everywhere, and starting to get into everything. you are one busy little girl.

this past month you celebrated your first christmas! it was stressful, as christmas always is, but it was wonderful as well. first grandpa and grandma ellen came up to visit and spent the weekend with us. nana and grandpa ron came over, and we all went out to dinner for nana's birthday. you were absolutely entranced with the waitress and couldn't stop looking at her each time she came to the table, and when she'd leave you'd twist around in your high chair and crane your neck to watch her as long as you could.

then grandma and aunt kerry and nana came over for christmas itself, and what a time you had. grandma brought you some presents wrapped in tissue paper, so they would be easy to unwrap, and even though the tissue paper crinkled enticingly, you couldn't figure out what it was that you were supposed to do. as we opened gifts on christmas moring, you happily jumped and played in your jumperoo, right in the middle of all the mess. later we took some pictures and you were happiest, of course, with the wrapping paper. you got some new clothes and a couple awesome toys (including bath toys, which you adore), but you loved the wrapping paper the best.

we did not end up doing anything fun for your first new year's. you slept through it anyways. we were going to visit friends, but daddy had to go in to work and had to stay late as well. i don't know how you would have liked it anyways at this age, all the loud noises and fireworks. in a couple years, you'll love it, i guarantee you. you get to stay up late and watch tv and run around in the street with the neighbors at midnight, and sometimes people even call on the telephone late at night. at least, that's what we did when i was a kid, and it was insanely out of the ordinary and exciting.

otherwise it has been a pretty quiet month for us. we have been getting a lot of stuff done around the house, trying to get into a regular schedule of chores and such so that i can keep on track of things. daddy and i took you in the spa for the first time last week, and you were not too sure of it. we thought you would love it because it would be like a giant warm bath, but i think the jets kind of threw you off at first. then you figured out splashing and then you had fun. we have been in the spa at grandma's house too, since we are in southern california right now visiting her. daddy had a business trip so we decided to take a trip too.

the other thing that happened this month is that i was diagnosed with postpartum depression and went on antidepressants. i gave it a lot of thought and did a lot of research and ultimately decided that medication was the best course of action for me, and it isn't going to harm you thankfully. we still have happy times, of course - for example, you just adore going to the grocery store, sitting in the cart and watching me put things in it and watching all the other people around you. we make faces at each other and chat and when we're done you get to hold the list, which i think might be your favorite part. a couple weeks ago you looked up at me and let out this huge burp right as a man was walking by, and it made us both laugh so hard. and you've started flirting all the time now, with everyone, including me. you bat your eyes and lay your head on your shoulder and smile, and i've bumped into people at the grocery store because we're flirting with each other instead of paying attention to where i'm pushing the shopping cart.

this has been a hard year for me, and the last eight months have been hard for me too, but they have also been the best eight months of my life. my depression is not about you, sweetheart. i don't ever want you to think that. my struggles coping are a problem with me, not anything that you have done or not done. you have been the best thing to happen to your father and me, and we love you so very much. we still marvel daily that we were able to create such the beautiful, happy, healthy miracle that is you, and i want you to always know how much you are loved, and how happy you make me.

i love you, my banana.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


i've been prescribed zoloft, because it's safe for breastfeeding. the doctor i saw for medication was actually very supportive of continuing to breastfeed, which made me very happy. he feels that breastfeeding has some effect in "warding off" or lessening the symptoms of depression, and also feels that weaning could exacerbate my depression as well. yay for support! i feel very uneasy taking a drug that will change the way i think, so we'll see how it goes. apparently this is a temporary albeit long-term solution. i'll be on it for a while.

the downside is, i can no longer donate. i called the milk bank to be sure and they said that unfortunately zoloft is a disqualifier. this is disappointing because i really liked donating. it made me feel good, like i was giving back to society or something. so i just sent off my last cooler of milk, 95 ounces that i had had in my freezer, pumped before i began taking the zoloft. that brings us to a total of approximately 825 ounces donated. wow! i am very proud of that. my boobs are not to be trifled with.

it's been... a week. lots of doctors' appointments, a couple very bad days. family visiting this weekend and all the stress that comes with that beforehand - cleaning, finishing christmas gifts, so on and so forth. we are very excited for hannah's first christmas and keeping busy helps. a fun visit with family, who was very supportive and understanding - my stepmother revealed that she also struggled with depression after her son was born. the women in my mommy group were also very supportive as a number of them are struggling with similar issues. the house is clean which always makes for a happy home. hannah had an excellent day yesterday - the happiest i think i've ever seen her. maybe the happy drugs are working on her too? or maybe it is just that she had a happier mom.

Monday, December 14, 2009


here's my dirty little secret: i am struggling with postpartum depression.

i have suspected for a while that this was the root of a lot of issues in my life lately, and last night it was confirmed. i had a major meltdown - not my first, but the worst. i ended up sobbing in front of the bathroom sink with the counter doors open - i had cleaned out the sink the other day and found all of brian's painkillers leftover from his slipped disk. i thought i had put them under the sink but realized later that they went into the hall closet with the other leftover meds. (random aside: what do you do with all that stuff anyways, since you're not supposed to throw it in the trash or flush them? sell them on the street?) hannah was screaming and i thought about people who smother their babies with pillows. i thought, if i had to chose between her and brian right then, i would chose brian in a heartbeat. i thought, i am afraid of myself. then i left hannah with brian, got in my car, and drove to the emergency room where they confirmed that yes indeed it does sound like we are dealing with postpartum depression.

i had an intake appointment with a therapist this morning who confirmed that yes indeed, postpartum depression. if we can swing the $90 co-pays, i am to be enrolled in an intensive outpatient program. either way, it is likely that i will be prescribed meds. brian is not keen on meds especially since i am still breastfeeding, and both the psychologist at the hospital last night and the intake psychologist this morning were very keen on weaning. i understand everyone's cocnerns, but the research seems to indicate that it's safe to breastfeeding while on antidepressants (with a few specific exceptions). in this aspect i am not getting a lot of support which is extremely frustrating. brian is against meds in general, but that obviously isn't working since everything is getting worse. breastfeeding is important to me and helps me bond with hannah - i feel like i am doing something good for her when she nurses. i don't want to give that up and i don't think i should have to. lots of women are on antidepressants while they are pregnant even. [exhibit a: heather armstrong.] there are so many different antidepressants out there - surely we can come up with one and tailor the dosage low enough that i can continue to breastfeed.

i was concerned about this while i was pregnant. looking back, i have probably been mildly depressed for years, and being pregnant and then having a baby likely exacerbated everything. this is one time where i wish i wasn't right.

i want to enjoy my baby. i love her, i really do. i know i wouldn't ever hurt her. it's just that i feel so removed from her and some days, i really don't want her. that makes me feel so sad (and so guilty, and so angry), especially because she is so very wonderful and because i'm lucky enough to get to stay home with her that i should at least be enjoying it. i want to enjoy my husband, and my life. brian often points out how i am living my dream, and he's right - i am married to a wonderful man, i have a beautiful happy healthy baby, we live in a lovely house, i am a stay-at-home mom for my daughter, and i am starting my own business. i have everything that i've always wanted, and now i want to enjoy it.

edited: i'm not looking for sympathy or pity or anything like that. that's not why i posted this. i posted this because on a daily basis it is overwhelming to even try to comprehend what needs to be done just to survive. i dread waking up in the morning because the entire day stretches out in front of me and it just seems endless. i'm exhausted. that's all.