Finding Sunshine Through the Fog

Imagine this :  you’re wandering around aimlessly while you’re trying to find an address in a city you don’t know, where street numbers are jumbled up and don’t follow any particular order so you just walk around until it feels normal for nothing to make sense. You’ve become accustomed to 6 coming after 3 but before 1. But then one day, it’s all jumbled up again and you have to figure out the new order, the new normal. And it becomes so routine that you don’t realize that it’s all mixed up… Until you do. And then you wonder how you’ve lived so long in such a state of fog and confusion and frustration.

 

That basically sums up the last two years.

I’ve cut through the fog and am starting to realize that life doesn’t have to be like that. That it’s not normal. That I shouldn’t just accept that being the usual.

 

A month ago I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

For those of you doing the math… That’s 22 months after I had a baby. Approximately 90 weeks. Somewhere over 600 days.

Yeah, apparently it can linger that long. Who knew…

 

I noticed I was getting impatient with my oldest during the pregnancy but I chalked that up to being tired, pregnant and working while trying to still fit in quality time with my oldest. I felt like I didn’t have the effort for things like crafts, sensory projects and simple things that I’ve loved doing during my years as a nanny.

After baby was born, I had just grew to believe that was my new normal. That my patience levels had dropped. It happens. People change as they grow older. It wasn’t anything severe, it was little changes at a time. I was still patient on many levels and to a decent degree. But *my* old normal was much more patient.

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With two young children that are 25 months apart, you expect a certain about of crazy. But I handled it well. I felt like those first 4 months were a breeze… And then the four month sleep regression hit. And now, after 18 months of it, we’ve only started to see the end of it. S went from a wonderful sleeper who would put himself to bed without fussing, to being a raving maniac who would wake and freak out every other hour. If we were lucky to get that long of breaks. It was gruelling. But it became our normal. Husband and I would take turns doing the dreaded nightshift and we’d try to catch up on sleep the next night. We waited for the long nights to end but, while it improved to only 4-5 wakings and an hour to get to sleep each night, it still didn’t end.

I felt like a zombie. An emotional, exhausted, grumpy zombie… Which I guess isn’t a good description for a zombie since they don’t need sleep or have emotions. But you get the point.

It became the new norm, up from just being short on patience.

Sometimes I yelled at my kids. And then I would cry because I yelled at them. I don’t generally yell. I will raise my voice at times (you know, “Put down the sharp knife!” and “Don’t jump on your baby brother!” just don’t have the same effect when you whisper them) but I’m not one to yell.

I went to my family doctor around 7 months postpartum, asking if this could be PPD. She assured me it was normal for having two young kids.

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About six weeks ago I started to get even more emotional and tired and found myself getting angry about things that really shouldn’t matter. I felt like I was on the verge of tears, if not crying, for the better part of a week. I talked to two friends who have PPD and both of them said that it sounded like PPD and that I should get a second opinion since my doctor wrote it off the last time, 15 months prior. I decided to go to my family doctor again and ask for blood tests to check iron. At least if I could write that off, I could get closer to a diagnosis. Those results came back fine. So I booked a follow up appointment and told her about my emotions and frustrations and how I felt like I wasn’t me anymore. And that I wasn’t the mother I wanted to be because of it.

I left with a prescription in hand. I felt like there was some weight off my shoulders… And I hadn’t even started taking the medication.

 

It’s been a month of taking the medication now and I feel so different. It’s like night and day. I look back and wonder how I hadn’t realized it before. And wonder why I hadn’t fought the first brush off of the idea of PPD.

 

Postpartum depression is something not enough people talk about. Not enough mothers are willing to put themselves out there and say, yes, this is common. It’s real. And it’s something that needs to be addressed as soon as you can. I never got to a point that I thought of self harm or hurting my children but I can only imagine how people – mothers and fathers, both can get PPD – can slowly get to that level and assume it’s the normal for them. That it’s what they do. PPD plays awful tricks on your mind and your heart.

I’m writing this for moms, who like me, dismissed their feelings as tired or stressed out or just general “mom feelings” to look into it more. Knowing that I’ve spent the past year and a half, likely even more, suffering from PPD and knowing I could have been less annoyed, less snappy, less angry at times kind of hurts. I could have been better than I have been. I could have enjoyed more. I could have enjoyed my children and my husband and my family more.

But I have to remember I’m only human. And I still have a ton of time to slow down and enjoy my children as they grow. There’s many more years for that, now that I am me again.

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If you, or someone you know, may be suffering from postpartum depression, talk to someone. Anyone. Even just a spouse or a friend. Even an anonymous forum.

Until recently, I never really talked about it. Because “I didn’t have it” and it was “just how I am” – but it wasn’t. I felt like I was surviving so there was no way I could have PPD. But that’s the problem, I was just surviving, I wasn’t living to my full potential. I was just going through the motions.

Lately I’ve been talking about it with my village. A few close friends, my husband and a moms group that has many of my “mom friends” (and many more strangers except as an online entity)  who I felt comfortable sharing my new diagnosis with. And I am shocked by how many people have had some kind of mental illness after having a baby. I knew it was more common than society lets on… But I had no idea that it was *this* common.

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If you’re local to the Lower Mainland (Vancouver, BC) here are some recommended-to-me  places that can be of help to you :

 

One in six women and one in ten men have some sort of anxiety or depression after having a child enter their lives via birth or adoption. You are not alone. Let’s end this stigmatism about postpartum mental illnesses – be it depression, anxiety, OCD or others.

 

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When You’re Always Go-Go-Go But Your Back Screams STOP!

I hate sitting still.

Anyone who knows me, knows this.

 

My days off would be spent going on an adventure with Dean to the Aquarium or Science World or to at least three different parks.

In the evening, I do tend to settle on the couch for a bit, but sometimes even that is too much downtime for me.

 

For the past two months, I have barely done any baby-prep around the house, as I was going to take a month off before baby was due to spend time with Dean and get things ready. I figured I had plenty of time and lots of energy for it. I was feeling great (as awesome as an eight month pregnant woman can feel when suffering from acid reflux, insomnia and a slew of other symptoms, that is)

Then, two days into maternity leave (technically, it was still the long weekend so really maternity leave wasn’t even started yet!) I tripped while bringing in a basket full of laundry. It hurt and the pain lingered. But I didn’t think much of it.

Two days after that, I had back pain that only really bothered me when I was taking the first few steps then it would just be more of a discomfort.

The day after that? I could barely walk without cringing from pain. And it only got worse as the day went on. I spent most of the day on the couch. I even let my son watch his first full movie… I just couldn’t move without stabbing pain in my back/pelvic area.

A call to Medeo ended with a “soft diagnoses” (they couldn’t quite diagnose it over the app, but the doctor felt confident that was the answer) that it’s sciatica, which is essentially a herniated lumbar disc.

Friday morning I went to the chiropractor and walked out with a bit of relief. I have tried to keep walking and lifting to a minimum since then, spending most of my day on the couch or the rocker outside while Dean gets some fresh air. He’s been watching Planes every day since Friday as we need something to fill in our day that doesn’t require too much effort from me. While I feel terrible for letting him watch so much TV, I’ve also been trying to give myself a break and accept that it is some much needed downtime. He has viral bronchitis so he is benefiting from the rest as well. We still do plenty of reading, building and other play. And it’s not like he’s begging to watch movies all day, from the moment he wakes up. To be honest, we made it until 5pm today before *I* suggested we go relax with a movie. Haha!

I’ve gone three times to the chiropractor and my pelvis and back are definitely feeling better. I’ve got limited range of motion though. And walking is still painful. Stairs or single steps up and down and not possible without flinching from the pain.

It’s making it hard to prepare for baby. I still have plenty of things on my to-do lists. But I’ve had to accept that they won’t all get done. We’re basically ready for baby, in the essentials department, though I have more things around the house that I wanted to get organized and sorted and cleaned before baby came. I may still have time to get them done, as I am not due for another three weeks and hope this pain won’t be sticking around that long.

I’ve been on self-appointed (well, actually, husband-demanded) bed rest for a week now. I still walk to appointments (slowly and painfully) and do a bit around the house, but I’ve been taking it very easy. And it’s driving me crazy.

I can’t wait until this pain subsides and the injury heals. I need to do things. I need to get Dean to the park. I need to get off my butt and vacuum the house (Dean did a decent job last week when I put him to work, but with a dog, husband and toddler, it’s needing to be done again)

While I definitely won’t be jumping into overdoing it once I’m feeling better, I will definitely be taking a slow stroll to the park with Dean, maybe grabbing a coffee on the way!

A Trip to the Dietitian

I’ve always been curious about going to a dietitian. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. Sure, I drink more Starbucks than I should. And my husband is a bad influence and I have no willpower. But when looking at calories in vs calories out, it just doesn’t make sense.

With the midwifery program I attend at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Centre in Surrey, I get free access to a dietitian and a doula (both of which are not covered by MSP and can cost quite a bit to visit) With my weight loss of 20lbs since January 1st (10lbs intentional before learning I was pregnant, 10lbs from morning sickness) my midwife thought it would be good to go see her. While I stopped trying to lose weight after finding out I was pregnant, I have been hoping that I can keep weight gain to a minimum and not end up 50lbs heavier at the end of the pregnancy, like with my first.

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Yesterday was my first visit. We discussed my current eating habits (and I even admitted that yes, we eat out more than we should and yes, I have been indulging in more junk food than I should be) and she asked for some example meal days. I wrote out a few days worth of examples and she right away noticed that I am lacking about 2/3 of the recommended dairy each day and also missing a LOT of my meat and meat alternatives. I typically get the proper amount of grains and close to recommended veggies and fruits. But I really need to increase my dairy and the meat and meat alternatives.

She gave me some tips on things I could change in my diet so that I can get these requirements. And also suggested taking Omega 3 and 6, along with Vitamin D pills.

I’m not allowed to lose anymore weight, especially as I am nearing the 20 week mark. However, as baby gains weight, I am allowed to keep our overall weight the same. So I can maintain our overall weight at 195lbs right up until the day I deliver, as baby will be growing but I can lose a bit. I have to weigh myself weekly at home now. If I drop more to 190lbs, I will need to go back in. She also wants me to keep a food diary over the next month (not everyday but a few days per week) and go back for another visit in a months time.

I’m going to start doing smoothies in the morning for Dean and I (and I suppose the husband if he wants them) and try planning my meals better so they are more rounded and include more things.

And I’ll try to cut out the junk food… Though chocolate has been off the menu for the past few months – even hot chocolate makes me feel sick now. I’m pretty sure the baby is a girl, I’m actually quite set on the fact that it’s a girl (May 20th is our ultrasound and we will find out then!) but then there’s the moments that I feel sick from eating two mini eggs. And I have to ask myself, how can it be a girl when it doesn’t like chocolate?!

The Plague Hath Cometh…

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Resting on the couch, watching Elmo
Last Wednesday Dean woke up cranky and irritable. He wanted up in my arms, and I wanted out the door to get to work on time. He felt a bit warm but he cooled down shortly after some morning snuggles with Daddy and he went off to daycare.On Thursday, after feeling warm but not quite feverish throughout the night, he (and Dad) slept until nearly 9am. Dean went to daycare again, but was picked up early as a fever struck during nap time.

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Curled up on Mommy’s feet, sleeping
With a flight in less than a week, I wanted to check that it wasn’t an ear infection. And if it was, I wanted to make sure that if he did have an ear infection we got him on antibiotics as soon as possible. Thankfully, when I brought him into the doctors on Friday, she found that his ears were clear – but he had a chest infection.It was a long weekend of fever spikes of anywhere from 38.5 – 40.2C, tears, phlegm, snot, exhaustion, fits of rage (from all of us, not just him) and overly drugging our child with Advil and Tylenol every three hours. We survived though. Dean was fever-free on Monday – YES! – and has been in a better mood since. He’s been back to his normal self, running around and climbing on the tables, hanging from the oven handle, chasing Lilo and taking every. single. toy. out of his toy box.

It was quite the brutal illness. He didn’t want to play and he didn’t want to eat. All he wanted to do was cry because he didn’t want to be held but he didn’t want to be put down. Dean got very spoiled with the TV. He rarely gets to watch the TV, or clips on YouTube even, but we needed a distraction so I put on Elmo. And then after ten minutes of playing, he would start begging for Elmo and refuse to play. It was hard to tell him no, I couldn’t blame him for not wanting to play. I feel the same when I am sick!

Half a bottle of Advil, one third of a bottle of Tylenol and four days of Amoxicillin, he was finally on the mend! PHEW!

Unfortunately, Jason and I now have the plague. And we leave tomorrow night… (So glad it’s only a 2.5h flight to visit my mom and not a 6h flight to Hawaii where we are all stuck sick in bed! Grandma can babysit while we recover!)

PS : Thanks Dean for sleeping in until nearly noon on the day that I was supposed to get up early with you. 😉


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Up to his goofy antics again