Thursday, September 29, 2011

Where Is Mommy C now? Part 2

If you didn't see yesterday's post, I suggest starting there.  Where Is Mommy C now? Part 1

I was talking with a friend yesterday about my struggles with writing all of this down.  Some of my thoughts are pretty scary for me and I worry that I will putting thoughts into other people's heads by writing about it.  She reminded me that other people have come forward and talked about their struggles with PPD and PPA and it helped others not feel alone.  Isn't that my goal? To share with all of you my struggles so that we don't feel alone? Exactly.  She also reminded me that my blog title is "being mom now" and this is where I am right now.  I guess I can't really hide from it any more so here we go.

If I had to boil down my anxiety, I would have to say that anything that makes me feel like I am not in control can cause an anxiety attack.

Bridges are full of anxiety for me.  I am not worried that I will drive off the bridge, I am worried that someone will hit me and send me off the bridge (=no control).  When I am approaching a bridge I begin to think about what might happen, how will I respond, how can I best ensure that we all make it out alive.  I am so anxious by the time I reach the bridge that getting across requires me to say to myself (out loud), "just keep driving" and "you can do this" and "no one will hit you" and "just keep driving" over and over and over again.   Busy roads, in general, will also do this to me when I am already in a heightened state of anxiety.  However, I have an easier time "talking myself down" because getting into a regular car accident doesn't involve figuring out how to get my two small children out of their carseats and to safety, all while underwater.   (just writing this has given me heart palpitations)

Being home is another struggle for me, on multiple levels.  First is the anxiety that someone will break in and I won't be able to defend myself and protect my children (despite having two large dogs to help protect us).   Again, I tend to play these movies in my head of how I will respond, how will I call 911, where I can hid my children so they won't be hurt, thinking about pretending that we are all asleep so they might leave us alone.  It is particularly hard for me when I am upstairs and can't hear the doors open. 

The second issue with being at home is a much more complicated issue that is can be summed up with, "I am afraid to stay home." I wrote about it yesterday, but what I didn't mention was that I am fighting off anxiety attacks no matter what I choose to do.  If I stay home, I am anxious that I should be leaving, that this will become a pattern, that I will never be able to leave my house again.  If I am leaving, I am anxious that something will bad happen while we are out or that it will make me too tired to make it through the day or that I am not prepared for all that might happen.  Because of this, when I leave the house, I leave with everything (including the kitchen sink).  I have more snacks, diapers, wipes, clothes, drinks, and toys than I will need for 3 days out, not just the couple hours we expect to be gone.  If for some reason we leave without "enough" of any of these things, I will undoubtedly have an anxiety attack and spend much of the time gone figuring out what we will do if we run out of something we need. (This is a particular difficult thing when it is my husband and I getting ready to leave for somewhere.  He usually packs "just enough" or doesn't think certain things are crucial to bring.  I disagree and it causes tension.  I don't think I have been able to explain how it makes me feel to be "under prepared" till now.  I really wish I could be more like him.)

Time makes me anxious.  Actually time makes me anxious always.  I hate being late.  I hate being on time. I want to be early.  If I am cutting it close and will only be about 5 minutes early, I will have an anxiety attack. I try and avoid this by being earlier, but then I end up there really early and get frustrated with my need to be early. 

I feel like I could go on and on about my worries.  Seriously, I feel like I am being held captive by my worry, by my fears, by my anxiety.  I hate that it controls me because really I just want to have control over my life. I feel like everyone must think I am a bit insane.  I hate it.  If I could be rid of this depression and anxiety forever, I would do anything to make it happen.  I suppose that is what I am doing right now with the meds, the therapy, and the activities that I do at home.  Although I am doubtful they will all just go away any time soon, I do trust that I will get better.  I have to believe that I will get better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where is Mommy C now? (Part 1)

Perspective.  Can you have perspective on an issue when you are in the middle of it?  I have struggled with the answer to this for several weeks.  This is why I haven't posted.  I kept hoping I would emerge and then I could look back and discuss with all of you how it was.  But, sadly, I am still stuck. 

Where am I stuck you ask?  Somewhere between a fabulously productive mom of two under two and a depressed and anxiety filled woman struggling to keep it all together.  I am almost 3 months postpartum and it is clear that this isn't just going to "go away". 

I am working on it though.  I am seeing a therapist, a psychiatrist, and doing some daily work at home.  But these are the details that don't seem right to share right now.  What if the work I am doing now doesn't help?  What if someone reads this post and thinks this is the right way to go about dealing with depression and anxiety and really I am way off base?  (I don't think I am, but I hope you understand my concern.)

So what should I write about then?  Do I put on a happy face and write about all the cool things that Superman and Mr. T are doing?  Sure, I think this would be good for me.  I have almost posted so many things on my Facebook wall, but then think, "This isn't me.  This doesn't represent who I am right now."   It all just seems fake.

Fake.  I am a faker.  That saying, "fake it till you make it" seems really appropriate for me right now.  The people that I am around most of the time would have no idea that I am suffering if I hadn't told them (and the people I hardly know certainly don't know anything is wrong).  I put on a smile and go on with my life.  I am productive.  I am finding joy in life.  I am living.  But it takes everything I have to make it through the day. 

So maybe the best, most helpful thing to write about would be how I feel right now

This depression threw me for a loop.  I was expecting the postpartum anxiety because I had it postpartum with Superman.   I was not expecting to be so exhausted that I wanted to sleep or lie on the couch all the time.  I was not expecting to be so short-tempered and impatient that I felt like I was going to lose it if I didn't step away.  I began to believe that my toddler was intentionally making my life difficult.  That he was getting back at me for leaving him with my mom or sending him to daycare or just not being there for him.  It wasn't till I started attaching these very grown-up actions and emotions to him that I realized that maybe something else was going on. 

I just want to pause here and say that (believe it or not), my past depression came in handy here.  I was able to recognize that my toddler can't have these adult emotions and that I was attaching this emotion to him AND it wasn't real. 

As I found myself wanting/needing a lot more sleep than might be expected, I began to worry that if I gave into that sleep, I would start falling into a deeper depression.  To be honest, I suppose I still feel this way. 

In order to stop myself from "slipping" I forced myself to get out of the house.  We had something to do outside of the house every morning.  We would go to the grocery store a lot.  We had more play dates than we used to.  We'd do anything I could think of to avoid spending any extended time at the house.  The more I did this though, the bigger the fear became that if I stay home, my world as I know it would crumble away.  I would lose it all. 

Then one day, about 2 weeks ago, Superman woke up from his nap and we went into the playroom to play while I fed Mr. T.  He began playing independently and the next thing I knew it was almost dinner time. We had survived.  The next several days were the same.  We played at the house and I stopped feeling the strong urge to run from the house as soon as the boys were awake. 

Problem solved, right?  Nope.  Now I hate leaving the house.  I just don't have the energy to deal with it all.  It is so much work and I am worried that the kids are going to lose it in the middle of the store or that I am going not be able to meet their needs out and about.  It all feels too overwhelming.  In fact I have needed to get to the store for a week and I keep making up excuses for why I haven't gone.  I can't even blame the kids.  My in-laws were here this past week and I still only ran part of the errands I needed to run because I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't get out the door. 

I think a lot of people think depression is all about not stop crying and hopelessness.  For many, this may be exactly what it is.  But for me, I have moments of clarity where I can see things somewhat logically, almost as if I am looking in on the situation from the outside.  Sometimes, I do have enough perspective to see the whole picture.  Because of this, I don't feel hopeless most of the time.  Sure sometimes I feel like I will never pull myself together and get passed this, but I know that this is not the case.  History tells me that this is not the case. (Part of my therapy is about challenging my beliefs by looking at what history tells me.  Does history support my fear?  Do I have evidence that this will happen?)

As far as the crying goes, well I envy those that can cry.  I am so afraid that if I start crying that I might never stop (sure I will stop, I know that I will, but I am still fearful of it).  I am afraid that I will be viewed as weak, as incompetent, as unable to take care of my children.  I am afraid that I will have to go on  stronger meds and not be able to breastfeed.  I am afraid that my life as I know it will be taken from me against my will.  I am working on reminding myself that I am not anywhere close to having any of these things happen.  I tell myself that it is okay to be afraid, but history shows me that these things aren't likely.  So I have begun to let the tears sneak out.  I figure the more times I cry and then stop crying, the more reinforcement I will have that I will be okay. 

In the beginning, as I became more aware of my depression, I was grateful that I had been spared the postpartum anxiety.  Unfortunately, aspects of my depression lent themselves to cause my anxiety to reemerge (being afraid of leaving the home and crying as two examples).  In part 2 I will talk about the anxiety that I am dealing with. 

Note: I hope this helpful to someone.  I hope that someone reads this and says, "hey, someone else feels like this too?" and knows that they are not alone.  If you know someone that might be suffering, reach out to them, not in judgement, but in love.  Help them understand that not only is there a great support system out there for people dealing with depression and anxiety, but it will not last forever.  Thank you.

Postpartum Support International

Six Things You Should Avoid If You Have Postpartum Depression or Anxiety

Six Stages of Postpartum Depression
(The webpage associated with the last two links seems to have some great articles that are worth reading.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Memorable Moments

Mr. T is two months old and I am over due on a post about how things are going.  So without further ado...

  • Two month stats: 
    • weight: 13 pounds, 11 ounces (89th percentile)
    • height: 24.25 inches (89th percentile) 
  • Nursing seems to be going well and he is certainly gaining weight.  Every so often we have a tough time, but that usually has to do with my fast let down.  I pump once a day and get about 7-9 ounces each morning.  When I counted on Friday, I had 83 bags (of 3oz each) of breast milk in my freezer! I have so much that I am going to start giving Superman a sippy cup with about 3oz each day to boost his immunities.
  • Mr. T is starting to "wake up".  He seems to really focus on things now and loves watching the leaves outside or the ceiling fan inside. He has even begun to smile and giggle with increasing frequency.  He still doesn't hold onto toys yet, but his hands are slowly opening up more and more. 
  • That being said, he is a great sleeper!  A nap routine has started to show itself to us. He takes 3-4 naps each day, with the most consistent ones being around 9am and noonish.  I start his bedtime routine around 7pm and is usually asleep by 8pm.  My husband wakes him up for a bottle around 11pm and then he doesn't wake up again till about 4am.  Then he goes back to sleep (usually quickly) and I wake him up around 7:30am (because of our schedule). 
  • He seems to really enjoy spending time with his brother.  They cuddle together after naps and while he is doing tummy time.  I can tell they are going to have so much fun together as they get older. 
  • Speaking of tummy time, about 2-3 weeks ago his acid reflux seemed to get worse and every time he was on his tummy, he spit up.  He spends a lot of time upright so I hoped that he would be okay without tummy time, but I was still worried about it.  Then I was reminded of using a bolster under his chest to lift him up.  This takes the pressure off his belly and now he rarely spits up during tummy time.  
  • On August 24, when he was 6.5 weeks old, Mr. T rolled over on his own!  We were so shocked that my husband put him back on his tummy to see if he would do it again.  Sure enough, he rolled over again!  Obviously, because of the spitting up, he didn't have a lot of opportunity to do it again.  However, when I was taking his 2 month pictures I put him on his stomach and he did roll over again.  He is so strong!
  • Despite his tracheomalacia and acid reflux, he continues to sleep in his crib without an incline.  I am so glad that his medicine is working well enough that we don't have to worry about this. 
  • He likes to sleep on his side in his woombie (a type of swaddle).  I put him on his back, but each time I check on him, he has rolled over to one side, pulled his knees up, and is attempting to suck on his fist. 
 A few things about Superman
  • He is an amazing big brother.  He loves to give Mr. T hugs and kisses.  He might wake up cranky from a nap, but all I have to do is ask him if he wants to see T and his mood changes. 
  • He is no longer doing a full day of daycare once a week.  He has been dealing with some separation anxiety and not only struggling when we drop him off, but screaming at nap time.  Since the child care is in the teacher's home, he was waking other children up.  So he goes for a half day and I pick him up after lunch.  It seems to be working better, but I do hope that at some point he can go back to full day. 
  • We bought him a balance bike called a Strider bike and he loves it!  So far he has gotten really good at walking with the bike and steering.  He still doesn't sit on the bike seat, but I think that is normal at first.  The only problem so far has been that he wants one of us to walk our bike with him.  This has made riding bikes impossible if only one person is home (since someone needs to hold Mr. T or walk with him in the stroller).  Most of the time it is my husband that walks with him and I think it is the highlight of S's day.  
At some point I will update you all on me, but that is way more than I am ready to write about right now.  The only thing that got me to finally update with this was that I was worried I wouldn't remember all of these things when it came to make Mr. T's baby book.  I hope you all understand.