Posts Tagged ‘feelings’

Sunshiny Days

Friday, September 7th, 2012

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I stopped taking my Zoloft back in June simply because I ran out. I kept meaning to make a follow up appointment to talk to my doctor about a refill, but as each day went by I felt better and warmer and happier and decided it was as good a time as any to stop. It wasn’t necessarily a smart, well thought out, medically advised decision. There was just so much going on – so many adventures, so many trips, so much SUNSHINE – that I forgot to make the appointment and before I knew it I was too busy to feel sad and frustrated and angry all the time.

It wasn’t an act of God or a miracle that I felt better. My anxiety reached an all-time high when Caroline was about 15 months old, which was exactly when we began weaning. A few people reached out to tell me they had experienced the same crazy hormone fluctuations and depression when they had stopped breastfeeding. It turns out it’s an actual thing, although not something that’s extremely well known.

The Zoloft got me through weaning and over that hormonal bump that made me feel like I was losing my mind. It was like a key and a sliver of light under the door I was banging my head against, trying to figure out how to escape my frustration.

Besides the medication, I think the light (sunshine, brightness, longer days) made a huge difference. I used to roll my eyes at people who claimed Seasonal Affective Disorder with their sunlamps and their dread of winter. How can that be a real thing?

My apologies to everyone who I ever secretly thought was making it up, since there is no doubt in my mind that the short dark days played a huge part in my anxiety.

Maybe it’s an actual vitamin D deficiency or maybe it’s a feeling-the-sunshine-on-my-skin-makes-me-happy deficiency, but when the days warm up and we spend more time outside I am always better. A better mom, a better wife, a better person. The lightness makes me lighter.

With Labor Day weekend behind us the evenings getting shorter by the day and I’m starting to worry a little bit. September and October are beautiful, fun-filled months for us in New England. There’s still plenty of time to spend outside, plenty of apples to be picked, the perfect pumpkins to find for jack-o-lanterns, hay mazes to explore.

But beyond that, there’s winter. Cold. Dark. The stress of the holidays. Although December might be my very favorite month now (Caroline’s birthday AND Christmas!) there’s no doubt trying to split up family time and E’s crazy work schedule and weather-related delays and cancellations and ruined travel plans can crush my festive spirit pretty quickly. I’m feeling a little stressed just thinking about it. And the heating bill. And the snow. And now my eye is twitching.

I’m thinking I should probably go ahead and make an appointment now to talk to my doctor, rather than waiting until I get overwhelmed and the thought of adding one more thing to my plate makes me want to just curl up under the covers and cry. I don’t necessarily want to restart the Zoloft (or anything else) now. I’d like to be prescription free when we start trying for baby #3 if possible, although I’m also a little worried pregnancy could do what weaning did and things might get out of control again quickly. But I think it’s a good door to have open.

So for now I’m floating through the end of summer, mindful of what’s coming but not letting it overshadow these beautiful days. This weekend is the best weekend of the year around here (Greek Festival and Italian Food Festival within walking distance, town fair in our old town) and my biggest problem is we have too many friends to hang out with. It’s a pleasant kind of busy-ness, rather than the overwhelming kind. Let’s hope I can recognize the difference if and when it comes and know enough to ask for help.

I feel like this cat knows everything I wish I did about life.

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Privilege and Guilt and Tomatoes

Friday, May 11th, 2012

I’m writing this while willfully ignoring my children, who are running in circles throwing raisins at each other and vying for the title of “Loudest Noise Ever Made By Someone Who Weighs Less Than 35 Pounds”.  I am torn between feeling extremely guilty for not being a more active parent at this moment and knowing my sanity cannot take another minute of being used as a human jungle gym.

Evan and Caroline are going through a phase in their relationship – God, I HOPE it’s only a phase – where they are constantly trying to kill each other. Evan sits on Caroline’s head, Caroline shoves Evan off the couch, they both attempt to stand up on the ride-on fire truck. And when I shout at them to KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY they hug and make up…although the hug turns into a squeeze and then into a pushing match and then they’re rolling on the floor squealing again. I don’t think any of it is meant with malice, but damn is it exhausting. I need to record myself saying “Use your words” and “Hands are for hugs and high fives” and “Be gentle” and “Make wise choices!” so I can just play it on an endless loop.

It’s been one of those weeks where being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t really feel like a privilege anymore. It feels like an endless, hopeless, pointless chore that is destined to drive me over the edge long before these kids become fully self-sufficient. We had an incredibly fun playdate on Monday with one of my very favorite mom friends and we started talking about preschools. We got a little giddy thinking about how next year we could both be child-free a few hours a week if we sent our youngest to under-2 programs, but then she said “I kind of feel bad though. I mean, this is why I stayed home – to be home with them.” And that is SO TRUE – although slightly less true for me (who quit working in a real estate office) than her (who had a really fancy job working to cure cancer). But I am home because I want to spend these years with the kids. Evan is more than half way to kindergarten. Kindergarten is full time school! He will take a bus! I will have hours and hours five days a week without him! And Caroline is only 20 months behind him. I’ll have 13 years of free time during the day to go to Target or unload the dishwasher or weed the garden or eat bonbons and read blogs.

But it’s hard to see beyond the next day of full time momming when my kids are hungry and cranky and sunburned and screaming and my husband calls to say he won’t be home before 9 pm. And it’s hard to stay positive when it rains for four days straight and I go to bed and wake up with a headache. And it’s hard to remember how lucky I am when Caroline smashes me in the face so hard with her head I see stars. And it’s really really hard not to beat myself up when I use my shouty voice practically every time I open my mouth even though I KNOW I’m using my shouty voice and I hate my shouty voice. I bet good moms who really appreciate how privileged they are to be home with their kids don’t even HAVE a shouty voice. I feel even though I recognized I was struggling and did what I was supposed to do and got help and I take my pill like a good 1950’s housewife I still fail, daily, to be the mother my kids deserve.

I know I am not the only mom who feels like this. Probably. I just have to remember that one bad afternoon (or day or week) doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be better. Or hell, today can be better. After nap time we braved the crazy New England weather – rain! sunshine! wind! heat! cold! all at once! – and worked in the garden. Evan thought planting seeds was the most amazing thing ever and he can’t wait until we have a bean stalk that goes all the way up to the sky. Caroline carried her little pink watering can around like a baby. We talked about how our tomatoes need sun and water and food so they can grow and I forced the metaphor down my own throat so hard I practically choked. But I needed that moment in the dirt to remind me WHY I am so lucky to be here, even if Caroline did just throw a plastic cell phone at her brother’s head while he tried to ride the cat.

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Much Better

Friday, April 13th, 2012

My blog has a serious case of whiplash this week, with the insane direction changing – epic party with professional photos! sponsored post! deep feelings! – but my LIFE feels like it has a serious case of whiplash recently so it makes sense. To me, anyways. I probably owe you some extra strength Motrin and a glass of wine.

It’s been a while now since I decided leaving supportive comments on blog posts about depression and anxiety was nice and all, but wasn’t really the same as doing something about my own anxiety. Then I did something, and IMMEDIATELY felt better. So immediately better, in fact, that I started to doubt the medication had anything to do with my feelings and maybe I was placebo-ing myself into believing all my brain-crazy was fixed. Which made me feel even crazier, so then I felt like the medication wasn’t helping AT ALL. Good times!

My doctor made me schedule a follow up when she wrote my first prescription, and when I went back in I tried to explain my worries. She told me I was probably right about BOTH things – Zoloft doesn’t usually work quite so fast, but it could be helping enough that I had noticed, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to stop, but we could always switch to something else if I wanted. We decided since I was almost done breastfeeding we would try a slightly higher dose of Zoloft and I could come back in either when I felt I needed a change or I ran out of pills.

And then I sort of…forgot about it. Life kept happening and I kept dealing with it, only with less screaming and fewer moments where I felt like I was the worst mother in the world. Caroline weaned (which I think had a LOT to do with reaching my absolute worst point). I got a lot more sleep. I managed to go on vacation and truly enjoy myself (besides one teeny tiny panic attack) and came back feeling like a totally new person. And then yesterday, despite a really challenging day with Evan (man, 3 year olds have a LOT of emotions), I got to 7 pm without even once considering getting in my car and driving away. I joked with E about doing shots after bedtime but didn’t really mean it. And after both kids fell asleep I snuck into their rooms to kiss them one more time because I missed them.

My friend Brandy wrote about her experience with PPD this week and although my experience isn’t exactly the same, the way she writes – so straight forward and matter of fact – REALLY resonated with me. Because even as I was reacting in totally irrational ways I could SEE myself being totally irrational and recognized it wasn’t normal. I just couldn’t STOP it. Now I feel less overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done and more like I am CHOOSING not to bother with those dishes in the sink. But now it’s because I’m too busy playing trains or having tea parties, instead of because I feel like nothing matters. It’s much, much better.

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Efforts

Friday, July 1st, 2011

You know those people who have amazing personal style and do crazy things with makeup and ride vintage bicycles to local farmer’s markets where they make 5 new friends and eat jicama salads with hand-shaved Parmesan and triple chocolate cake but still lose 5 pounds while homeschooling their kids and writing an incredibly successful blog and then do some long division just for fun?

I am not one of those people.

Almost nothing comes naturally to me. The last time I was just plain GOOD at something without really trying was dance class when I was 11. My teacher said I had perfect feet and fantastic arches. If you knew how often I thought about that compliment even now 18 years later you would laugh at me.

Most of the time it seems like everything takes so much EFFORT. Nothing is effortless – it is in fact, effort-FUL – and it all feels sort of overwhelming. Sleepless nights, raising a toddler, feeding my family, keep the house from devolving into TOTAL chaos, buying clothes that fit, making sure I don’t have mascara running down my face (I usually do), maintaining friendships, running, providing fun and educational learning experiences for my children…They all seem hard to me, especially when I think of them all at once. Thank God there’s no long division.

So last night I added one more thing that’s going to take some effort, but hopefully in the long run it will make a lot of things easier. I went to a Weight Watchers meeting and signed up.

Despite my skepticism and my determination to find SOMETHING to roll my eyes at, I liked the meeting. I like the plan. I like the fact that I get to eat more because I’m nursing. I feel very hopeful that even though it’s going to take some work, I’ll be able to finally get back to a happy place where I don’t cringe every time I look in a mirror. Because although “eat less and move more” sounds easy enough (perhaps even effortless for some people) it is not enough for me. I’m going nowhere without trying harder and I feel like until I can be happier with MYSELF I have no chance at being happier with my life in general. And who has time to be unhappy with themselves when there are vintage bicycles to ride?

p.s. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a weight loss blog and I’m not being sponsored in any way. I’ve just heard good things and seen friends and family have a lot of success, so when my friend Cheri asked if I wanted to come with her I decided I had nothing to lose. Besides 50 pounds. So, yeah.

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Monday, January 24th, 2011

I feel like I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations recently about choosing – or not choosing – to have a second child. On the one hand, first babies are a big deal and nothing changes your life more than having one. Going from childless to being parent may be the biggest adjustment a person can make. I mean, it’s not like you get to try dating a bunch of babies to find the right one or do a trial run by living together first before you decide to make it permanent. Even if you stole rented borrowed a baby from someone else it’s totally different when you know they’re yours to keep. You gotta make sure you don’t screw those suckers up because you’re the one who’s going to be dealing with the aftermath for the next 60+ years.

So in the grand scheme of things, adding another baby shouldn’t be such a big deal. You’ve already got the stuff. You’ve got a little hands-on experience. You’ve figured out what works for you and what doesn’t. And yet somehow adding 1 new baby to 1 toddler-sized baby = 5x as much laundry. 5x as much crying. 5x as many sleepless nights. 5x as many bad days. It takes 5x as much time to leave the house or take a shower or make dinner. Things you really enjoyed with one baby – like grocery shopping – are suddenly impossible. With a toddler in the seat, where does the baby go?! Do you take them out of the bucket and wear them? Even if they’re sleeping at it’s 4 degrees outside and it means standing next to the car shoving them into the Moby while the toddler screeches? Do you put the bucket in the cart and only buy as many groceries as you can fit around them and then face the wrath of the bagger at checkout? (So far, my solution is to only shop when I can take one kid – or no kids – but that’s not going to last forever.)

Of course, you also get 5x as much love, which totally makes up for that other stuff. Most days.

You get to see how big and smart and grown up your older baby is and you can’t believe it. All those milestones that you breezed by months ago are suddenly seem new again – the walking, the talking, the feeding himself. The presence of a brand new baby lump makes everything a toddler does so much MORE. More fun, more amazing, more exciting, more louder (I know it’s not a word, but it is MORE LOUDER).  He’s not a baby anymore and yet he is YOUR baby and you want him to stay small and grow up all at the same time because the growing is so much fun to watch and experience but how can you stand the thought that one day he won’t need you at all??

Then there’s the baby, the teeny tiny fresh baked baby to nurse and change and rock and nurse and change and rock again. There are no socks on the planet tiny and stretchy enough to stay on her feet. She doesn’t smile at you or laugh at you yet but she sleeps best tucked into your armpit and the warmth of her body is practically the same as hearing her say “I love you mama”. You get to look forward to all the milestones again and you can’t wait for them to get here but you also want her to stay a tiny lump forever because all the growing is just too much for your heart to handle and maybe too much for your body to handle too. What happens when they can BOTH run away?

Because now she’s crying from the bedroom and you have shampoo in your hair and the toddler just pulled off his diaper and the washing machine is buzzing and you forgot to buy milk and oh no does that mean you HAVE to take them both to the grocery store? Hurry hurry better get going no time to slow down grab some breakfast throw some peanut butter at the toddler and oh crap the baby needs to be fed.

So you sit down and relax and snuggle the little baby and start to enjoy the moment. Then the bigger baby wiggles up next to you and lays his head on your shoulder and sighs and your heart EXPLODES into a million zillion pieces you stop wondering how you’re going to handle two babies and wonder instead how you ever lived without them.

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