Archive | December, 2009

Leaving 2009 behind

31 Dec

The new year is just around the corner, and as I wrap up preparations for our family get-together, I’m trying to get my head around the fact that it will be 2010. Seems like yesterday that I was in Mexico preparing for the millennium. Which makes me realize that this year is a significant one. Tomorrow we not only ring in a new year — we also ring in a new decade. If the birth of a new year is a natural time for us to pause and consider both past and future, this year is especially so. So I’ve been on the hunt for a new (to me) ritual to mark this occasion.

We always spend New Years with my sig-o’s family. We have blended a few traditions into a set of rituals we perform each year. The in-laws always buy us red undies or socks that we have to wear to ensure lots of love in the new year (their ritual). At the strike of midnight, we down twelve grapes to represent prosperity in the new year (also theirs). And before midnight we take our money out of the house and hide it and bring it all back in just after midnight, also to represent prosperity (my ritual). But this year I’m looking for something more profound, something that allows me to connect with the universe on a different level. I’ve decided on a burning bowl ceremony, a ritual practiced in different ways across cultures. Mine is a morph version, with pieces pulled together that best fit me:

First, light a candle and call the universe, your teacher guide, and your higher self to join you. On three pieces of paper, write the following: 1) a list of things you are grateful for from the past year, 2) a list of things you want to release and leave behind as the new year begins, and 3) a list of things you welcome into your life and wish to manifest. Take time to reflect on each, thank the universe for all of its gifts, and then create a mantra that epitomizes the list of things you welcome into your life. Then burn the first two pieces of paper and save the third in a place where you can periodically look at it as a reminder.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to actually to do this because I need some time to reflect on it all before I do it. Which stresses me because I’d like to do it New Year’s Eve but doubt I’ll be ready. But that’s ok, I guess. It’s more about the process than the exact timing. The universe is forgiving, and after all, it’s my own damn ritual and I can do whatever I want! I’ll share what it ends up looking like, though.

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Is it just me or does it smell like family in here?

27 Dec

Ahhh, the holidays. The lights, the sounds, the food. The family.

We all know that the holidays are really just a stage for our dysfunctions to mingle and blow up like a high-school chemistry experiment gone bad. Sometime it’s comical and sometimes it’s too much, but it’s always there. Lately I’ve noticed that with age has come a sliver of perspective, and I learn about my own dysfunctions just by seeing them play out in others. So maybe that’s what the holidays are really about. A chance for us to learn a little, grow a little, and hopefully still love the whole gang when it’s over.

So what have I learned this holiday season? Where to begin…

It’s ok to say NO — No, I don’t want to go to church. No, you can’t take my baby to church without me. I don’t know if I didn’t get much push-back because they were in the “walking on eggshells mode,” fearing how I would react, or if it just really worked. I felt better regardless.

Even when you don’t get exactly what you want, it’s better to at least ask — I put it out there. It didn’t work. I was still bothered, but not at myself. Usually I would have been more upset with myself than anyone else. I won’t be doing that anymore if I can help it…

Sometimes you just need a break — I’ve managed to take a walk every day. Even if it’s just a short jaunt around the neighborhood, it’s been great to get out of the house and away from who or whatever is overwhelming me. You need a break, danygrl, so stand up and take it!

Not every decision is life and death — Whoa there horsey… there really are very few decisions in this life that should require the amount of stress we create over unimportant matters. And there’s enough drama in life already, so why make more? Better to save your energy for the big issues and the things we love in life.

Create your happiness today and live it— It’s never too late. Do it. Why wait? You don’t want to wake up in fifty years after fulfilling a long list of perceived obligations and responsibilities and then say, “Whew, ok, now I’m ready to do what makes me happy.” Life really is too damn short.

There may have been some others, but these are enough for me to work on right now. So to my family, I guess I should say, “Thank you for your splendid display of dysfunction this holiday season. I still love you!”

What I really want for Christmas

24 Dec

Dear Santa,

What I really want for Christmas is to feel normal again. I know that’s probably not fair, because there is no normal, but that’s what I want anyways. Oh, and to not have to work. Too much? Never hurts to ask. I’ve been feeling pretty ok but then had a day when everything felt like it was crushing me again. Can you just get rid of that for me?

Believing in you, danygrl

What do they need to know?

19 Dec

The holidays are upon us and the baby and I skipped town a few days early to have a few extra days to visit with family (sig-o joining us early next week). It’s one thing to be hundreds of miles away from family and not have to tell them what’s going on… but it’s another story when they’re right there with you. So what do they need to know?

Probably nothing. And this isn’t exactly the easiest thing to share. Three years ago when I had my miscarriage, we were very open about it. Some were uneasy about this, questioning whether or not we should be so open. Even now, though, I have no regrets — we needed help and support then and no one could have given it to us if they hadn’t known what was going on. So isn’t this the same kind of situation? I clearly need support now. But how do you tell family that you have postpartum depression without them immediately jumping to the conclusion that you’re a danger to your baby?

But how much does family ever really need to know about our lives? A little is reasonable, but full disclosure is rarely the route to go. The disclosure isn’t actually the hard part here…it’s the follow-up questions. I recently told my step-mother and the barrage of questions was overwhelming. Granted, she’s known for mind-numbing probing, but it was particularly painful this time. So I have to give credit to my sig-o — he literally stepped in and told her that if she had questions she could direct them to him because he didn’t want to cause me more stress by having to talk more about it. Wow. I must say it felt soooooooo good to have him swat her away like that.

So I think the question isn’t, “What do they need to know?” Instead it’s, “How do you tell them?” The answer — don’t do it alone.

What tipped the scales?

18 Dec

In a previous post I mentioned that I resisted getting treatment for the postpartum depression for several months, primarily due to breastfeeding. So what tipped the scales and sent me running to the doc?

At some point I started thinking, “Things would be so much better if I could just disappear for a while to regroup. But not until I wean.”

Then it went to, “Things would be so much better if I could just disappear forever. But not until I wean.”

Then, “Things would be so much better for everyone if I just didn’t exist. But not until I wean.”

Then, “If the train by my house derailed and hit me, that would be ok. But not until I wean.”

Then, “What if I just accidently drove my car into the train? But not until I wean.”

Then one day without warning (um, that I could put together at that time, at least), “I’m ready to just be gone now. And I don’t have it in me to hold out until after I wean.”

Now, I always thought I would be the pill type. I don’t like blood, or pain, or guns. I just wanted to go to sleep. But when it came right down to it, I found myself… lusting after ledges. I would walk over a bridge on campus at work and walk a little slower while I contemplated the height and it’s possibilities. I identified prime candidates, like balconies and stairs. The irony here is that much of my anxiety recently has been about balconies and ledges! I’ve been terrified that the baby will fall off of one.

So I’ve been thinking about this chicken and egg scenario: was I leaning towards ledges (literally) because I was already convinced something bad was going to happen at one, or was I obsessing over them in the first place because a part of me already knew I was thinking about ending my own life with one?

Again, another question I’ll probably never know the answer to, and I’m ok with that. I’m happy — genuinely happy — to say that I haven’t had these thoughts for a few weeks now. They didn’t last long, because as soon as they surfaced, I got help. It scared the ever-loving crap out of me. Deep down I really didn’t want to do anything so drastic…but things were so dark and I could feel myself slowly grinding to a halt. For the first time I understood mothers that you read about in the news — jumping off bridges, driving into things. I needed a huge time-out, and sometimes that just seemed like the quickest way to get it.

But perhaps what helped most of all was a dear friend and my sister who both listened to me process a lot of the loca in my head and recognized it for what it was. So to them, I say, “Thank you.”

A minute inside my head

17 Dec

A minute inside my head… not an exaggeration. This could be an excerpt of most any day at work. This is a hard post for me, but maybe it will help someone else see they’re not the only one with thoughts like these.

What was I doing? Oh yeah, looking at the data. So what’s interesting about this data? Where’s the baby? Was that the baby? Did the baby fall? What if the baby fell? What would I do? If he fell off the balcony of our stairs, would I jump after him? Any chance he’d survive a fall like that? Probably not. Then I would definitely jump. Did the baby fall? Images suddenly flash through my head of me getting cut by knives, or I cut myself while cooking. These images are disturbing, to say the least. They jolt me away from the images of my baby falling off the balcony. But then I have to bite my tongue or cheek or hit my foot against something hard to break away from the knife scenarios. What was I doing? Oh yeah, writing a manuscript. No, looking at the data. Right. So what’s interesting about this data? My god, I can’t concentrate on anything. I’m so going to lose my job. It’s not even that I don’t want to work, I can’t. I can’t do anything. What is wrong with me? I’m making a list of everything I have to do. The 15th version of this list. But I’m sure it has changed since the last time. Or maybe it hasn’t but I don’t have it with me so I need to make another one. Where’s my pen? I don’t have paper either? Damn. I forgot to pump. I’ll never get into the lactation room now. Why did they have to start a schedule for the room? What makes them so special that they need a schedule? Heart racing now from anger. I hate them. I do. No, I don’t. I don’t really hate anyone because I’d just be asking to be struck down by the universe. Maybe that would be better, anyways. Did I say that out loud? Geez, I might have. Could anyone hear me? Is my cellphone locked? Did I accidently call someone and they can hear everything right now? Where’s the baby? I wonder if he has eaten anything today? Is he crying? I swear I hear him crying. What was I doing? Oh yeah, looking at the data…

Doing what vacas do best…

16 Dec

When it came time to decide Halloween costumes this year, there was only one choice for me, really. A vaca. Because that’s pretty much what I feel like most days…a cow. A dairy cow to be specific. I couldn’t get my act together enough to actually make the costume and dress up, but I was a vaca in spirit, nevertheless.

So a bit of commentary on breastfeeding. My little z-baby is 9 months now, almost 10. I exclusively breastfed him for 6 months. He barely takes bottles and is a reverse cycler — he waits on me all day long to get home from work and then he eats all evening and night long. Tiring? I can’t lie…it sometimes wears me out. But breastfeeding has honestly been the bright spot in my days for months now and is what has kept me going. We’ve had no major problems so far. No latch problems, no mastitis, no plugged ducts, no yeast, no low supply (in fact, I was donating a gallon a week to a friend for several months). I can’t stress it enough — I just love breastfeeding my baby. We’ve introduced solids but he could care less. He’s still a breast man and just occasionally nibbles on what food we offer.

I had been on an antidepressant before I was pregnant and stayed on for the first 3 months of the pregnancy (until I got past the week that I lost my first baby). My ob agreed I could go off but put me back on it as soon as I delivered. I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but knew I was at risk for postpartum depression so I did it. But at about 6 months postpartum when things started getting darker for me, I resisted getting help because I didn’t want to add more meds into the mix. I increased my therapy sessions and kept on truckin’. But I was crashing and knew I couldn’t go on much longer. I found a practice that specializes only in women during and immediately after pregnancy, and I trusted that they, more than anyone else, get the breastfeeding issues for women in this situation.

I told them up front that weaning was just not an option for me, which they respected completely. After much discussion and contemplation, I decided to try a different medication.  I know this is a controversial decision for many women, but we each make our own and this was mine. I believe the benefit for the baby and for me outweighs the risk. I ask the universe every day for this not to affect z-baby. Is this the right decision? I may never know, but this vaca isn’t giving it up just yet.