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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Sanity Break

I love my family but it’s been a long two weeks.

Jason had surgery last Friday (nothing major) so he had to take last weekend easy. He wasn’t able to lift the kids or walk much so I took the boys out as much as possible and kept them busy. Nights have been a bit touch and go lately but have been on the mend.

I was feeling pretty run down the past few days.

Jason offered for me to ditch the boys and go have some time to myself – and as much as I wanted to take him up on the idea, it just wasn’t possible. Sammy still nurses often and I can’t skip feeds because I’m currently detoxing from domperidone (a prescription to boost breastmilk supply) so have to nurse as often as possible to keep my supply up as I stopped abruptly due to a side effect that has been causing sun sensitivity and major hives.

So instead I loaded Sammy into my wrap and took off for the day, just the two of us.

We started our morning at Pier Park in New Westminster to chat with some awesome ladies and watch the kids play. It was a bit odd to not have to be keeping an eye on Dean, who had a special day with Daddy. After a few drops of rain we packed it in and headed to the River Market for a break. Sammy climbed around in the play corner they have, then ate and then we were off again! Our next stop was Commercial Drive – there are a few kid boutiques in the area and I wanted to take a browse through them without fearing my toddler would leave a path of destruction in his wake. We stopped at a park along the way for Sammy to roam on the grass, have a snack, nurse and then popped him back into the wrap again so he could nap. (If you’re local – check out Dilly Dally Kids on Commercial Drive. It’s a super cool store filled with lots of neat toys!) I visited with my cousin next. Her and 2/3’s of her kids (twin almost-two-year-olds), Sammy and I walked around a bit to catch up. We hit Chapters downtown to check for books. It’s closing and I love 50% off books! The line up was a bit ridiculous but well worth the $50 in savings! Sammy and I headed home for dinner after that.

It was a long day – we left at 9:30a, arrived back home at 6:30p. My back was sore from wearing Sammy all day. My feet were tired from walking all day. I was starving since I didn’t eat lunch until late. But I felt refreshed! Exhausted, but refreshed.

I needed that day of not having to worry about getting Dean to listen, having somewhere for Dean to run around, making sure we would be home for nap and keeping him entertained. Sure, Sammy still needed time to roam and needed to be fed, but it’s much different.

Dean and Jason had a fun filled day, too! They went to Crescent Beach so Dean could ride his bike, He also played in the sand and rocks. They had lunch and then visited Art Knapps. Seriously, I’m jealous. I’ve heard that Art Knapps on King George Highway in South Surrey has a fun kid area… but apparently it was always understated of how big it was! They have train rides, a play area, mini golf, model train displays and more! The boys picked up some plants for the garden and then came home for nap.

I came home to find that Jason tore up a plant that we’ve talked about taking out (but was always too much work!) and planted a blueberry bush there! I’m pretty excited – it already has berries, they just need to ripen! I planted the things he brought home tonight after the boys were in bed. Corn, lettuce, radishes and cucumber are in the garden. I have cantaloupe to plant but have to clean out their garden still. And then we also have MORE strawberry plants to plant tomorrow.

The backyard is becoming more and more homey for the summer! There are toys everywhere, water table is filled, there’s chalk marks all over and bubble wands on every possible surface. The garden is growing (albeit slowly) And the grass is growing (not so slowly – it should be cut every 5 days or so but only gets done once per week) We’ve been eyeing a trampoline for the backyard. We’re still debating putting up the pool this summer – it’s 2.5ft deep, 8ft across and destroys the grass underneath it. Also, with two little ones, I’m not sure if we want that hazard in the backyard. And I would love to get a comfortable chair or two for the patio to sit with my drink in hand while watching the boys play. Times like this that I feel like it would take a LOT of convincing to get me to move into an apartment and give up a backyard.

Tomorrow is a family day. Not sure what we are going to do just yet though.

And then in just three more sleeps, we are leaving for Whitehorse, Yukon to visit my parents for a week! I’m not sure what we will be doing up there, but I’m sure I’ll have an update when we get back.

One day, maybe once the boys are twelve and fourteen *gulp*, I will get back to some regularity with these posts and updates and such!

I want to get back to the tips and tricks and more helpful posts (vs the ones about what are happening in our life) but trying to get an update on our life every two weeks is hard enough! Especially with the summer months and all the time we spend outside. I rarely go on my computer these days!

Hope you are all enjoying your Spring (or in our case, what feels like Summer!)

Take care!

-T

Plagued and Sleep Deprived…

Last Sunday night my in-laws were over for dinner. My mother-in-law asked the age old question : “Is he sleeping through the night?”

We happily boasted about how Sammy was a great sleeper lately. He would go to bed around 9:30p and wake around 8a. It was great. It was peaceful. It was amazing.

It was jinxing it.

 

That night he woke from 2-6a, sleeping for ten minutes at a time and crying for half an hour in between collapsing into a deep sleep in my arms, only to wake before I even entertained the thought of transferring him to to the crib.

Then I was struck down with a cold. Sore throat, aches, cough, runny nose and sinus pain.

And then Tuesday night was another crummy night. And Wednesday was just as bad. And Thursday. And Friday.

Last night was a pretty good night. I brought him along to Book Club (though he decided to have a TOTAL fit upon arrival and then crashed in the ring sling for a while) so he ended up going to bed a bit later than usual. He was asleep ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

Hands Free snuggles?
Hands Free snuggles?

It was great… Except for the fact that I still had to get up in the middle of the night to pump. *sigh*

 

I’m finally starting to feel on the mend a tiny bit. My chest feels like a cow is sitting on it, rather than an elephant. And my sinus no longer feels like I took a big breath of water up my nose while swimming.

Looking forward to feeling better soon!

 

Dean and Sammy have had minor runny noses but seem to be avoiding the brunt of it. HOORAY!

 

Here’s to wishing for more sleep and better health this coming week! I’m desperate for a good nights sleep!

Juggling a Baby and Toddler

Today, I was Superwoman.

Seriously.

I folded three loads of laundry and put it all away. We got out for a walk and to the mall. I swept the house. I pumped three ounces of milk for my fridge stash for nighttime top ups. I did dishes, three times. I made dinner. I bathed both boys. I re-organized toys. I sorted through the newborn clothes that Sammy outgrew overnight. We got out for a walk after nap, sans stroller AND with the dog.

There were minimal tears (someone is teething so we couldn’t have a perfect day) and maximum fun. I even got twenty minutes of hands-free, non-nursing, quiet time to myself.

Now, where is my award?

Sammy is going through a growth spurt at the moment. On Sunday he slept most of the day. Monday was nursing most of the day. And then today has been sleeping with two or three massive cluster feeding sessions. He woke up yesterday morning in a newborn sleeper. I changed him for the day. At bedtime, I tried to put him into another newborn sleeper and realized that someone outgrew his newborn clothes… All of them. So I’ve packed them up and posted them online to sell them. (No, we’re not planning on more children – and so to help prevent any second thoughts, we are selling everything and anything he outgrows, that day, lol!)

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Dean is teething. I thought he had his two year molars back at 21 months old. But when at the dentist a couple of months ago, the dentist commented that he doesn’t have them yet. We’ve seen one of them come in since and now a second is trying to poke through the gums. He’s been sporting a snotty nose and some extra tears in the past few days, which I initially thought was a cold coming on, but seems to be teething is the real culprit.

We’ve been getting into a good routine around here now. Jason has been sneaking out early morning to hit the gym before work, so has been leaving before any of us are up for the day. Which leaves breakfast chaos for me, solo. It took a few days to figure out a way to limit the craziness but the boys and I have figured it out. Dean tends to hang out in bed after waking up, or ventures to his carpet in the bedroom to play with his trains or toys. Occasionally he will stand at the gate to his room and will call out to let me know that he’s awake. I’ll usually hang onto any last second zzzz’s I can until Sammy wakes. He’s been co-sleeping with us the past few nights, so I nurse one side before going to change his diaper and heading into D’s room. Sammy is usually content enough to be put down on the bed while I change Dean’s diaper. Then I nurse the other side while Dean and I read a book or two on his bed. Sammy gets ditched in the swing or the bouncy seat in the living room while I get breakfast ready for Dean and I. After breakfast, everyone gets dressed and we’re usually out the door about an hour after I roll out of bed.

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I rely on our morning outing for my sanity. Not only is the fresh air relaxing, but it wears out Dean so he will nap better and it causes Sammy to sleep (no baby can resist the sweet swaying of the stroller or Ergo) And sometimes, if I am really lucky, I’ll get a chance to grab a coffee – and drink it – while it’s still hot!

We’ve been venturing out to different activities to keep busy and help Dean get time to play with other kids. Now that he is out of daycare, I feel more pressure to get him out and interacting with toddlers and preschoolers. He is a social boy and can usually make friends, even if sometimes it’s a total one sided friendship. Today, while at the play area in the mall, he ran into a boy we met a few weeks ago at the park near our house. They seemed to remember each other and picked up the game they were playing nearly four weeks ago like it was yesterday. Then the three year old boy had his preschool friend show up for their play date and Dean was forgotten. But that didn’t stop him from joining in and running alongside them as the two played together. I loved watching Dean trying to keep up with the two 3-year-olds, even while being ignored, but having the time of his life. He didn’t seem to care, or even notice, that they weren’t actually running from him (“I’m chasing them, Mommy,” he called many times to where I was nursing Sammy) but that they were just running around and playing their own game.

Thanks to daylight savings time, which I know many parents loathe, we have a chance of actually getting out of the house early enough for certain activities that tend to get overly busy and crowded by 10am. Normally, wake up has been around 9am but the past few days we have been up by 7:45am at the latest.

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I’m hoping to keep up this lucky streak of seeming like I have my motherhood pants on but I’m not going to hold my breath. Why? Because soon we are starting potty training. And soon a good day will be not having to clean up poop-foot-prints from the hallway after being peed on for the sixth time, after telling Dean to not drive his hot wheels cars on his penis.

Ah, the glamorous life of a mother to two boys, barely two years apart…

Been MIA Lately…

It’s been quite dark on my page lately – Sorry folks!

I had two people I have never met message me saying they follow my page and wanting to see if everything was going okay since I have disappeared for a while. That made my day – thanks ladies!

It’s been crazy over here for the past little while. I’ve had quite a lot on my plate lately (proverbial plate that is, since morning sickness has been pretty full swing until recently)

The pregnancy is going well. I am one day into the second trimester. It’s been a totally different pregnancy this time around. With Dean, I had maybe 5 times of nausea that was quickly subsided with a few crackers and better timed prenatal pills. This time, I had about 8 weeks of nausea that wouldn’t go away with anything. For a few weeks, I was only able to eat between 2-5pm each day, and that was it. No breakfast, no dinner. And I couldn’t even drink water on it’s own. It had to be 3 parts water to 1 part juice at room temperature. Like with Dean, I never threw up and only had to deal with nausea, so for that I am thankful beyond belief. The past couple weeks, I have been able to eat throughout the day but I just don’t want to. I don’t have any cravings. Everything is an aversion. I really wanted pasta one night and cooked it… Then didn’t want it when I finally sat down to eat it. This past week, all I have wanted has been Tim Horton’s Cream of Potato Leek Soup. I’ve had it a couple times, even walking for 45 minutes to the nearest Tim Horton’s at work (that’s each way… Not including the stops at the parks we made!) last week because I just. had. to. have. it.

I am currently searching for work. The boy I was nannying was offered a full time daycare position that his parents had been hoping he would get (he was part time in a location that wasn’t that great for them but is now full time in a location more convenient) so my hours dropped at work. I am still caring for the little girl, but I am hoping to find something to fill the other days and give me equal to full time hours between the two jobs (or something full time, but I would ideally like to stay on with the family!) The search has gone slowly. I’m hoping to find something soon as I need to start paying into EI for my hours so that I can qualify for maternity leave.

Dean has been very, as daycare put it, assertive in his choices. He’s becoming independent at an early age where he isn’t quite physically and mentally capable just yet. He doesn’t want to hold hands to walk anymore, which is fine on quiet roads and when there’s a sidewalk, but on our road there isn’t sidewalks and it’s just not acceptable that he has to be carried or forced to hold hands while cars come barreling down the road next to us. This morning we had a twenty minute battle over pants. He wanted to put them on by himself. But he was getting frustrated. And we wanted to get going to the park. We finally took over as he kept asking for help but then getting mad when we’d go to help him and it was getting to the boiling point. The little rage-monster cried about his pants being on for a while after but finally got over it. Then it was a fight because he wanted to push his bike down a hill (that’s just asking for an accident to happen! He can barely control it on a flat surface, never mind a hill!) So needless to say, it was a loooong morning. But this has been happening often lately. He wants to do things that he’s just not quite capable of yet. Most times I let him try or I’ll help him to do something, but there are times it’s just not possible (like the bike on a hill) so we’ve been having a bit of acting out. And yesterday, one of us ended up walking away with teeth marks – I’ll let you guess who that one was.

It’s a fun age. But it’s also a very trying age. And being pregnant is not making it any easier as I am tired and quicker to start losing patience. I am looking to get past the terrible two’s and move onto having a threenager…. And he’s only 19 months old. Ugh. (He’s so lucky that he’s cute and I love him!)

Speaking of crying – someone is awake and demanding to be set free from his bed!
Time to run [for the hills]