Up and Down

I turned in my application to the Birthingway College of Midwifery today.  But for some reason I feel pretty blah about it.  There was no rush of excitement or happiness that came over me, just a slight feeling of panic.  Like Oh shit, I’m actually doing this.

I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that since I fully weaned off the Zoloft on Friday, I haven’t been feeling great.  In fact, I’ve been feeling so crappy that I saw a doctor on Tuesday and I am now on Wellbutrin.

It was the right time to get off the Zoloft to rid myself of certain side effects, but I’m not ready to be on my own, so to speak.  There are too many big real life stressors swirling around right now and I need to be on my A game for me and for my family.

Since Tuesday I’ve been feeling pretty up and down, having highs and lows.  The fact that I also got a prescription for prednisone doesn’t help that (Prednisone can make you feel a little crazy.  Because I need more crazy in my life right now, clearly).  I got prednisone because my eczema is raging all over my face and my face is essentially falling off.  I look like an alligator with scales and blisters and it is downright awful.  The eczema is also attacking my right hand which I can’t fully stretch open or close because my skin is so dry and cracked, it’s just too painful.  The eczema tends to breakout along with emotional breakdowns, so hooray for that!  Because every girl who is already feeling shitty about life needs to look like a scale-y blistered reptile right?  Since seeing the doctor my face is clearing up quite nicely (THANK THE GODS), but my hand.  It’s a mess.

Now if I could only get a pill to fix all the other things….I’m going to give myself a couple of weeks to start feeling “normal” again (But seriously, I don’t even know what my normal is anymore.) because that’s when the new meds should kick in.  Until then, bear with me on this seemingly never ending pity party.


Ditching the Zoloft for real feelings.

I’m almost done weaning myself off of Zoloft and in the process of doing so I’m rediscovering old feelings that haven’t been dealt with.  Mainly  surrounding those first few months after Max was born, among many other things.

I went on Zoloft, and Ativan as needed, just shy of two weeks after Max was born for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  I had made the decision later on to go off of it after Max had weaned from breastfeeding, because I was afraid with all the hormonal changes I would be going through, that the PPD/PPA would come back.  The last 5 months or so of taking it I’ve really felt the side effects: memory loss, loss of sexual desire, and the inability to really feel any emotion.  All of which made me all the more eager to get this shit out of my system.

When I started it, I needed it to get through each day.  I felt alone, scared that something was going to happen to the baby while it was just me and him home alone.  I wouldn’t let myself sleep during the day when he slept because I was so afraid something would happen to him.  I couldn’t eat because I was literally sick with worry and sadness over how he was born.  Nothing felt right.  My own house didn’t feel like home.  I was so uncomfortable being there.  I felt better being in the hospital and I remember thinking over and over how badly I wished we were still in the hospital.

I remember getting up in the mornings and making myself open the curtains to let the sun shine in, and making oatmeal that would sit on the coffee table for most of the day without being touched.  What I don’t remember?  Snuggling with my new baby, memorizing every little inch of his tiny body, actually enjoying my new life, because it never happened.  I was more depressed than I had been since the infamous high school days.  I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing.  I thought I had just made the biggest mistake of my entire life.  I never had thoughts of killing or hurting myself or the baby, but I had thoughts of running away, or “returning the baby” (whatever that meant).  I kept thinking about how great life was just two weeks prior when I was still pregnant, and can’t we just go back to that time and have a redo?

Big, bad, dark thoughts.  That’s all I had.

A week after Max was born I finally got the courage to call Katrina, who had moved to Texas for grad school just weeks after finding out I was pregnant.  I hadn’t spoken to her about his birth yet.  I hadn’t even called my best friend.  I couldn’t call her, it just hurt too much to admit it all.  It was so fucking hard to tell her about it.  It hurts still to even remember making that phone call.  At that point I knew something was very, very wrong.

It shouldn’t have been like that.  I kept thinking It’s not supposed to be like this.  This isn’t fair.  And it wasn’t fair, and fuck no it shouldn’t have been like that.  But it was and I can’t change it.  What I can change is how I feel about it now.  And I certainly do feel differently.

I have been so moved by my own experience that I’m thinking of getting into the birth education field or becoming a postpartum doula.  It’s taken me a long time to realize that this is what I want to do, and I’ve never felt like this before.  I want to help women realize the power of their own bodies and know their rights in giving birth in a hospital, birthing center or even at home.  I want to be the one telling the new mom that it’s ok for her to feel the way she does and it’s ok to ask for help and be there for her when she needs comforting in those early days of new motherhood.  I’ve been there and now I’m on the other side.  I’m not saying I know everything, because there’s no such thing as knowing everything in the game of parenting.  I’m saying I want to take what I know and put it to good use.  Now I just need to get the courage to actually go to the school I’m looking into, and enroll.

I’m absolutely terrified of, and incredibly excited about all the changes happening in my life, but mostly terrified.

(This photo is completely irrelevant to this post, but I wanted to share it.)

Feeling it All

It’s so funny to think about what I was doing, and what I was feeling just one year ago.  Packing hospital bags, preparing the nursery, cleaning every nook and cranny in the house.  All the pregnancy pains and emotions surrounding our family that was going to become one person larger, and the sadness of leaving my old life behind.

It’s a year later and I’m feeling like I’m about to burst with emotion.  I’m just a mixed bag right now.  I’m still so upset with how the labor and delivery went and how I spent those first 6 weeks or so after Max was born, but I’m also just so damn happy with this little person I’m watching grow up.

I feel like I was robbed of a lot of bonding time with him.  I don’t really have any memory of what he was like as a newborn, except from what I see in photos and videos.  I didn’t hold him a lot because I was afraid of him (yep, I was afraid of my baby), I didn’t take any photos in the first few weeks(thankfully my mom did) because I couldn’t even bring myself to pick up my camera, unheard of I tell you.

This has been the hardest year of my life, hands down.  None of this came easy.  Not that I was expecting to jump right into parenting and know exactly what I was doing, but I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was.  A lot of parents say it Oh, it was love at first sight for us!  It wasn’t at all.  We were strangers to each other.  Over time I fell head over heals in love with this guy, but it definitely took a lot of getting to know each other.

Part of me feels like I failed him (please know, that I know, I didn’t fail him).  I wasn’t able to be there for him when he really needed me, all of me.  Yeah, I was physically there and I was feeding him and changing his diapers but I wasn’t in the right state of mind.  I felt like I couldn’t take care of him.  I felt like something was going to happen if I was left alone with him.  Of course nothing did happen, but that feeling is one I hope I never ever feel again.

This was our second day home.  He’s still tan from the billi lights from the jaundice, and sleeping on me which was/is a rare occurrence.

When I think about all of the hurdles he’s jumped in his one year here, I can’t help but think about how if my labor went as I had hoped it would and he was brought into this world in a less traumatic way, he wouldn’t have had torticollis or plagiocephaly, and he never would have had to go to physical therapy or wear a corrective helmet.  And I also can’t help but think that in his first few months of life when he would scream and cry for hours and hours it was because he was in pain.  His head and neck were sooooo messed up, and I had no idea.  There’s a little mommy guilt for ya.  I wish I knew.  Every parent wishes they knew what was wrong with their child.  Neither of us had it easy.  No parent has it easy.

I was so fogged by crippling depression and anxiety, I couldn’t function on my own.  I felt like I couldn’t be by myself.  I had this feeling of impending doom.  I remember one night Rob had a meeting he had to go to and my mom was working so she couldn’t come be with me.  I was absolutely hysterical when Rob left.  Sobbing, and telling him I was afraid.  He left, I cried some more.  I called my mom, she talked me down.  And then my friend Jenny called, who is a nurse practitioner and has two boys of her own.  I don’t remember what she said but I just remember that she called just to check on me and she listened and was there.

If I could rewind and get a redo on the first few months of Max’s life I just might.  I know everything happens for a reason and all that jazz, but damn sometimes I wish we had a different start.

Right now, what Max and I have, is the stuff I dreamed of.  He’s my sidekick, my pal, my most favorite thing in the whole world.  I seriously could not have imagined a better life than I have now.  And I know it wouldn’t be this way had I not gone through what I did.

Things I Said I’d Never Do

When becoming a parent certain scenarios play out in your head and you imagine how to handle them.  For instance, say the baby is hysterical in the middle of the night.  You think I’ll never just let my baby “cry it out”.  I’m going to comfort him until he feels better.  Well, things change.  Opinions change and our minds change.  Below is a list of things I’ve learned to come around on.  All things I scoffed at, and said I’d never do.  Guess what?  I’ve done them all.

Have a C-Section

While it certainly wasn’t my first choice in the way I gave birth, it was the right choice and the safest for my baby.  When I was pregnant I thought I would never, ever have a c-section so why would I do any reading about the procedure, and the side effects of it?  No one imagines their birth going the complete opposite of what they thought it would be. We discussed it a bit in our class.  The effects of not being able to have those first moments with baby, longer recovery time, and breast feeding issues that could arise, which I did sort of experience.  My milk didn’t come in for a week and I do believe that was due to the surgery.  I never knew that my abdomen would be numb for some time (it’s still numb and I don’t know when I’ll be able to feel it again).  I didn’t know how out of my mind loopy I’d be from all the drugs I was given, or that I would have such a hard time bonding with my baby.  There’s a lot more to this one, but for now this is it.  I never thought this would happen and it did.

Have postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety

Ok, this one was kind of out of my control like the c-section.  I thought that since I had such a stellar pregnancy and was so insanely happy that I wouldn’t suffer with these.  Exactly a week after I had Max it all hit.  My hormones were going crazy wreaking havoc on my mental state.  I was terrified of my baby, scared to be alone with him, crying all the time, wondering why this was happening to me and mourning my dream birth.  It.  Was.  Miserable.  I knew exactly what was happening and I took action.  I called and made appointments with my therapist, my midwife and my acupuncturist.  I was so upset that I was feeling this way.  I was supposed to be enjoying my baby, not sitting there sobbing feeling like death.  Soooo not how I thought I’d be spending those first few weeks.  At about the 6 week mark I was finally feeling like myself again.  I’m still pretty sad that those first weeks were so awful.  I feel like mine and Max’s bonding was put on hold.  He’ll never be that small again (well, he never was too small to begin with I guess),

Use a pacifier

Now this one is a stretch.  I was concerned about using pacifiers and nipple confusion.  When exclusively breast feeding, it is encouraged to not use pacifiers and bottles because the baby can take well to a bottle but not to the breast.  We had pacifiers on hand in case we wanted to use them.  He took it in the hospital, but we never really pushed it at home.  Now, nearly four months in I would pay someone to get this kid to take a pacifier.  You see, he took to sucking on our fingers and now my right index and middle fingers are dry and cracked and peeling because they are his pacifier.  And he won’t take a bottle for that matter either.

Take my baby to a chiropractor

In our birthing class we had couples come in and talk about their birth experiences.  One couple mentioned that they were taking their baby to the chiropractor for general adjustments, the result of a traumatic birth.  My firs thought was seriously?

During labor when I was pushing and Max’s head was presenting itself but not moving it started to swell.  This is one of the reasons he was born via c-section.  That part of his head that was presenting itself was a pocket of fluid for weeks, then it calcified and formed into a large bump on the back of his head on the left.  It became a speed bump that he couldn’t get over.  Meaning whenever he would be laying down, or in his car seat he wouldn’t be able to turn his head to the left.  He was favoring his right side.  Well, we took him to a chiropractor, but not just any chiropractor.  A chiropractor that also practices craniosacral work.  Literally the day after our first appointment Max was turning his head to the left and laying it flat.  Something he had never done before.  The day after our second appointment he rolled over for the first time.  To the left.

I now think all babies should have this work done after birth.  All births are traumatic for the baby.  Think about it.  A tiny human being is being squeezed through this incredibly small space for a (usually) long amount of time.  The body is going to experience some amount of trauma.

Let my baby “Cry It Out”

This was an extremely hard decision to make.  I never realized what an issue sleep could be with babies.

From the beginning we’ve pretty much been the attachment parent type.  Answering to his every beck and call, nursing on demand and nursing him to sleep, holding him rather than placing him in a chair or swing.  When it comes to sleep we’ve hit a road block.  We swaddled the guy well into his third month of life.  At which point he wasn’t sleeping well because he was being swaddled and was breaking out of it multiple times a night.  He now sleeps un-swaddled, yay!  We’ve rocked or bounced him, or let him suck on our finger until he’s asleep since birth.  Well, this has all come back to bite us in the ass.  He can’t put himself to sleep.

The last month or so has been especially hard.  Since Rob works nights, it’s up to me to put the kid to bed and take care of middle of the night feedings and putting him back down.  He hasn’t been napping, which in turn makes putting him to bed for the night so much harder.  It is nothing short of a struggle and I am more exhausted now than when he was first born.

Last night I was at my wits end.  He wouldn’t go to sleep.  He wouldn’t be rocked or bounced.  He wouldn’t take my finger.  There was nothing I could do and all he would do is scream, but as soon as I picked him up he was fine.  It was obvious he just wanted me.  He wasn’t in pain.  He just wanted his mom to hold him.  I argued with Rob about letting him cry it out.  To me it was nearly inhumane and a horrible thing to put a child through.  I called my mom in tears.  After talking with her I had decided to give it a try.

I nursed him, told him I loved him and I laid him down and walked away.  He started crying immediately and it didn’t take long for him to start screaming.  I sat at the top of the stairs crying myself.  I felt awful.  All he wanted was for me to hold him and comfort him and I made a decision to not do that.  I stayed in the room because I didn’t want him to be alone.  I know he doesn’t know I was there, and I know he won’t ever remember screaming his adorable little head off, but I needed to be there for me.   It took exactly 30 minutes for him to go to sleep.  I felt much better as soon as he was asleep.  Today he wasn’t fussy like he has been for the last few weeks and he was much more attentive.

Tonight it took only 13 minutes.

I feel guilty every time I let him sit their and cry like that.  But when I see the well rested baby smile and be happy all day I know I made the right decision.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a parent is to not be too quick to judge.  I’m notorious for that.  This parenting thing is hard and the last thing a parent needs is someone judging their every move.  I’m going to make an honest effort to be more open minded and accepting of the way other’s do things.

I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be one of those parents that constantly posts photos of their baby online.  Well guess what?  I am most certainly that parent.  I love taking photos of him.  We had a little photo shoot today.  Here are some of my favorite shots:

He’s just so damn cute I can’t help but rub in your face.