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Saturday, 9 March 2013

I'm Okay, Really I am.



Well, the demon that is postpartum depression has reared its ugly head again. I've been debating with myself over the last week whether or not to write this post. On the one hand it is very embarrassing and depressing for me to talk about my struggle. But on the other hand I know that there are other people out there going through similar hells and I am finding that most people just don't really understand what it is that we are really going through. I get a lot of the "if it makes you feel any better my baby didn't __________ (insert crappy thing about baby here)". Let me get this really clear: the only thing that would make me feel better while going through an acute depressive event is a frontal lobotomy. Or 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep. Neither of which, we know, is going to happen.

I'm still not sure what really happened. Things were going pretty well for about 4 months. Sure, I had a couple of days here and there where I was exhausted and weepy and generally miserable (i.e. baby blues) but nothing that I would classify as depressed. Then the Baby hit month 4, he started waking up more at night, and he started napping worse during the day. You know, normal baby stuff. The thing is though, is that my trigger is sleep, or the lack thereof. I need consolidated sleep, at least 6 hours, to feel somewhat normal. So no, sleeping when the baby sleeps is not an option (thank you very much to whoever that asshole was who came up with that phrase). Napping during the day just meant that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep at night. And when I did fall asleep, just to wake up 3 hours later to feed the beast, it would take me at least an hour to fall back asleep. And no, drinking lots of wine did not help. So one night of sleep deprivation morphed into 3 weeks and I was losing my mind.

Definition of me losing my mind: me wanting to kill myself. Please note, this is quite different than the slang phrase of "I just wanted to die". This is me thinking that my children and my husband would be better off without me being around, because my inability to cope (and in my mind parent)was going to turn my children into crack heads and make my husband have an affair. This is me thinking that the best thing for my family would be if I checked out in the form of a closed garage, a running vehicle, and some nice carbon monoxide.

Pretty fucking sad.

Hitting rock bottom for me meant saying the ugliest thing you could ever imagine to the 4 year old Kiddo and seeing in her eyes the amount of pain that I had caused. How do you teach your kids to be good people when you can't control the things that come out of your mouth? My husband tried to help, he really did. But he's an engineer (nothing against the profession of course but they are lacking in certain aspects). When he knows I'm suicidal he just wants to fix me, and this isn't something that you can fix with a protractor and a calculus equation.

The first time this happened with the Kiddo it was my family doc that saved me. So I called her office. I asked if I could get into to see her on an urgent basis. I explained my predicament, i.e. tears and the words depression, to the receptionist. Nope, my doc was not available today. And I could only get in to see another doc tomorrow. Would this work for me? Did I need the number for Healthlink? Here folks is the major reason why primary care has failed for the mental health community. In nursing school there was a huge buzzword in our classes: rapport. What this means to me is that I need to 1. trust the person I am talking to, and 2. not have to repeat my story to every doc and nurse that I meet. Is calling Healthlink going to help? I highly doubt it. I am absolutely convinced that if I called Healthlink and told them that I was suicidal that I would end up in the psych rooms at the local emerg, brought in on a mental health form, and shot up with Versed and Ativan. May not be true, but I don't know those nurses on the phone. I want to see the same person that helped me last time, and I want to see them right away. If that receptionist had gotten up, found my doc, explained that I just needed 5 minutes of her time to make sure that I was still alive tomorrow, I am sure she would have fit me in.

Instead I saw a new doctor and had to explain my whole story from the beginning. And fill out a really horrible survey that made me cry because of my answers. Which we didn't even talk about during the appoitment. Were my thoughts of suicide fleeting or did I have a plan? Because there's a fucking difference? Is it worse if I have a plan? Why do we even ask this question? Her first recommendation: talking to someone. Is that not what I was doing? Look, I tried that before. I met a really nice counsellor that explained to me how to take deep breaths and all that shit and it doesn't fucking work for me. I never take deep breaths. I don't do yoga. I hate that shit. Next option was meeting with a support group. Yes, that's exactly what I want. To spend an hour sitting in a circle with a bunch of other losers talking about how sad they are and how much having a baby sucks. No thank you. I get enough whining out of the Kiddo. I don't need to hear grownups whine too. Finally, she suggested what I knew that I needed: more serotonin. Up my meds. While in retrospect I'm sure that I could have easily done this on my own, I was a bit leery because of the breastfeeding etc.

Fortunately, either due to an actual increase in circulating serotonin or a placebo effect, I started feeling better in just a few days. And currently I am doing great. So please, do not try to stage an intervention. I will very angry. More angry than my normal baseline.

So the real question is, how do we help? What do you, or I, do when we know someone is suffering like this? And the answer is: I don't know. I know what worked for me. But I don't know if it works that way for everyone. I think more importantly to know is that it is best to just listen rather than to try to console. We all know that this will pass, that they won't be babies forever, and that someday we will sleep again. But the sickness tells us that this is our forever, and that we are worthless pieces of shit. And the sickness is triple Venti latte while our common sense is a herbal tea. If you haven't been there before, don't say "I understand" because you don't. Until you've thought about jumping off of the Stoney Trail bridge (not really the best plan in the world because it's frigging cold outside and a really long walk to a proper height) to spare your children the suffering of growing up with you as a mother you actually don't understand.


Instead, just nod and smile and maybe offer a hug. Because in this case, I'd be okay to hug it out. And you know when I'm okay with a hug, it must be serious.

Next time I promise not to be such a whiny loser.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

"I Know What I Want But I Just Don't Know"

Recent conversation at the midwife clinic I am attending:

Really nice and well meaning midwife: so how are you managing with your depression?

Me: seems like everything is ok. Like, I haven't had any freak outs or wanted to actually kill anyone or anything. And I haven't had to adjust my meds at all. And my husband doesn't seem to be scared to be around me. You know, so it's pretty good.

Midwife: that's really fantastic. You know, some mothers have found that they are able to manage their postpartum depression very well by consuming dehydrated placenta.

Silence...

Me: you want me to dehydrate my placenta?

Midwife: oh no, we have a mother here who offers that service to all clients.

Silence...

Me: you want me to eat my placenta?

Midwife: it could be considered an alternative to taking medication.

Me: uh, well I guess I can think about it.

-----

With my due date about 7 weeks away there are a few things that worry me. Is my ass going to stay this size? Is my daughter going to hate me forever for altering our very nice family dynamic? But the thing that is foremost on my mind is whether or not I am going to be able manage NOT losing my mind this time around.

4 years ago I gave birth to a great little girl. And then promptly spent the next 6 months hating myself and everything around me. At first I thought that it was completely normal to cry. All. The. Time. Why? Because everyone told me it was normal to cry all the time. That this was a part of having the "baby blues" and that it was just my hormones going wacko. The thing is, no one asked me why I was crying all of the time. Because if they did they would have hid all of the razor blades. I don't know about everyone else, but having thoughts of either offing yourself with carbon monoxide or packing up everything you own and abandoning your husband and baby isn't really a normal part of being postpartum.

Having these suicidal ideations didn't really push me to find help on my own. I had just come off of spending the last 6 years of my life working in an emergency department. To qualify as crazy and in need of help you really had to be gone. My perspective was marred by images of patients ejaculating into their mashed potatoes and them smearing the mixture on the wall all the while proclaiming "I'm creating life, mother fuckers!".

I kept thinking that if only I could get some sleep, maybe things would be a lot better. The only problem with that was that my baby wasn't sleeping, and even if I was given the chance to sleep I had the worst case of insomnia. Every time someone would mention "you just sleep when the baby sleeps" I would imagine how good it would feel to pull off one of their arms and beat them over the head with it.

Finally, my family doctor managed to drag out of me that I was sick enough to empathize with those mothers who take off and disappear on their families. She put me on a SSRI. It only took me 1 week to start feeling better and 2 weeks to be back to normal. It seems pretty amazing that a small little pill that allows some serotonin to float around in my brain can fix my crazy. And maybe that's why I am so leery about the whole placenta thing. Not only is that pretty gross, but it doesn't make any sense to me to fix something that is being managed really well.

I know there are people out there who think that everyone and their dog is on an anti-depressant and that this is an artificial way of coping with life's stressors. But guess what? Those people can go fuck themselves. Awesome for you that everything in your life is rainbows and unicorn kisses. Maybe ground-up, dehydrated blood may help some people but I'll stick with my small happy pill thank you very much.

Oh, and I checked: the placenta does not have serotonin in it. But it is Latin for cake. Fitting, no?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Little Bit of Pee Pee, A Little Bit of Poo Poo


It always, always comes down to poo. No one can escape it, and if you try you just end up with one hell of a stomach ache. I wish though, boy do I wish, that I was only ever responsible for my own poo. Because, let’s face it, dealing with other people’s poo just stinks.

The Kiddo and I were recent guests at a good friend’s house for a playdate. I was having a pretty good time. Drinking tea, catching up, talking about other people and judging. You know, the usual fare for a playdate. My conversation about the Real Housewives of Vancouver was just getting rolling, but I could not concentrate because somewhere, someone’s child was screaming bloody murder. This child was carrying on like she was being made to watch the McLaughlin group on repeat. You know that whole Darwin hoopla about survival of the fittest? Well, I failed. I am not the fittest. My genome is going absolutely fucking nowhere. Because while that child was screaming all I could think about was why one of the other mothers’ didn’t go attend to her child. I seemed to have missed the class in prenatal education where they tell you about how mothers are able to recognize the cries of their own child. Yes, it was The Kiddo, MY Kiddo, who was screaming.

I go downstairs into the basement expecting blood. But there was no blood. There was poo. There was poo on the bathroom floor and the Kiddo was standing there screaming at the poo. I cleaned up the poo. Easy. Simple. No sweat. But no, this poo was not just a floor poo. It was a back of the pants, back of the underwear 100 wiper poo.  There was poo on the princess dress the Kiddo was wearing. My daughter shit on another little girl’s princess dress. There was poo on the socks. There was, surprisingly, poo in the toilet. Now, I’m no stranger to cleaning up other people’s excrement, and not just because I am a mom. In my other life I am a nurse, and as any nurse will tell you, poo is a part of the job. I have cleaned up a patient who hadn’t shit for a week and then exploded one night at 1am. I have scraped poo-encrusted socks off of a patient. You can guess what the rest of him was like. Here’s the thing though: in the hospital you are equipped with many an anti-poo tool.

  1. Gloves
  2. Warm wipes
  3. Clove oil to block the smell
  4. Scissors to cut off poo clothes
  5. Help
  6. Face mask
  7. Monetary compensation (i.e. not hugs and unconditional love)

And if it’s really bad you just bundle everything up, blankets and all and throw it in the garbage for housekeeping to burn.

I start in on the Kiddo. I manage to get the dress off but in the process smear crap all the way up her back to her shoulder blades. I try stepping her towards the bath but every step she takes more poo falls onto the floor which results in more screaming. Because apparently the worse part of this is that the floor is getting dirty. I wrap the raped princess dress into a ball of shame and look around for some cleaning supplies. I have half a roll of 1-ply toilet paper, a box of tissue, and a low flow toilet. Stupid, dumb, fucking environmentally friendly toilets. Stupid David Suzuki. That thing was just daring me to clog it. So into the bath the Kiddo went. I looked around for a wash cloth. There were tons. All white. Fuck. So I used my hand. I used my clean, bare hand to wipe the poo from my daughter’s butt. Finally she stopped screaming to point out to me that “there’s lots of poo floating mommy”. Yes, my Kiddo was clean but the tub was not. I herded the delinquent poo particles to the drain, again with my bare hands.

Everything finally looked clean. I checked for a towel. There were tons. And they were all fucking white. Fuckidy fuck fuck fuck. Poo is sneaky. The chances of getting that white towel dirty were pretty high. But I had had enough. I wrapped the 10 000 count Egyptian Snow White Cotton towel around the Kiddo and hoped for the best. We went upstairs where I kindly explained to my friend that I would be taking the princess dress home to “repair” some “damages” and asked if I could borrow a full set of clothing. Because what good mother goes out of the house without a change of clothes?

On the way home the Kiddo went on and on about how much fun she had at her friend’s house. Apparently, shitting on the floor and having someone else clean it up is her idea of a good time. Seriously. My life is an episode of Jackass, minus everything except the poo.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

"Little Kids Look Stupid On Skis. I Look Stupid On Skis"

In a moment of deluded grandeur I decided that my husband and I would take our daughter to the mountains and try out skiing for Family Day Weekend. Yep, Americans have President's day and (some) Canadians have Family Day. I feel that this day off in February is similar in reasoning for university "spring break" in February. The weather sucks, we probably have 2 1/2 more months of Winter left and the only motivation I have is to find the top of a really tall building to jump off of. To make matters worse, I just ended a sentence with a preposition.

Anyway, why would I feel the need to drive for three hours to take a three year old skiing? Guilt. Somedays I am okay with the fact that the only thing my daughter learned was the hot dog dance and that Mommy really, really, really wants to be left alone when she's pooping. Other days I am quite anxious about the fact that my daughter may grow up having no skills because she spent her entire youth watching TV and going grocery shopping.

For $92 I had my kiddo spend 1 hour outside on skis, either crying because her boots hurt, crying because she had fallen over while the instructor was busy with the other skiing retarded kids, or crying because her coat was zipped the wrong way. This fee also allowed my daughter to sit in the snack room crying because she just wanted to go to the daycare side and play with the dolls. All in all, a great way to spend Family Day. I cut my losses, moved her over to the daycare, found my husband and tried to put to use the snowboard boots I have worn once since buying them in 2008.

Instead of repeating the crying on Sunday we opted to do our own lessons. For the record, I have not skied since 1995.

We get on all of our gear and headed for the magic carpet-a truly genius piece of engineering. I'm sure all of you who remember your arm being torn out of the shoulder socket by the rope toe would agree with me. I was already sweating and I hadn't even gone vertical yet. We go up the carpet. The kiddo is having fun. We get off the carpet, the kiddo is not having fun. She cries. I try the mean mom approach "if you don't stop crying we are going to go home". Kiddo: "okay, let's go home". Fuck, I hate it when threats backfire. I try the understanding compassionate mom approach...ha, doesn't exist. Instead I push her across the hill and then position her between my skies and start down. All the time yelling "stand up, stand up! Lean forward, pizza, pizza, PIZZA!". We get to the bottom and she says "AGAIN!".

I can feel sweat trickling down my knees. And down my back. My touque is making my head itch so bad I want to vomit. All the other parents are staring at me because I'm not wearing a helmet. Believe me, a head injury might have been better than how I was feeling at that point. But I'm doing this for my kid. Up the magic carpet we go again. She's having fun. We get off the magic carpet, she starts crying. For the love of some god, I cannot win. We go down the hill. She laughs, and wants to go again. So we go again. And again. It now feels like we should be sitting in a bar for happy hour, but it's only 1130 am. I look at my husband. He also looks like he needs a drink and he's just been standing there taking photos for the last 2 hours.

The kiddo cries almost all the way back to the rental place. I do too.

I think TV as a bad habit is completely over-rated. Fuck outdoor activities. Next year we are going mall walking.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Would You Like Some Peanut Butter with Your Peanut Butter?

You know how if you eat too many carrots you can turn orange from the beta carotene?  I'm just wondering if the same thing happens if you eat too many goldfish crackers.  I'm also not entirely sure how someone can actually live on goldfish as their main source of nutrition.

You know your kid's eating is bad when she decides to eat some white rice and you're so happy you almost start crying. Okay, I did start crying.

Even though I'm convinced that her terrible eating habits are my fault, I'm pretty sure she was born with this. As a matter of fact I am currently conducting research on mice genomes to isolate the gene combination for food pickyness. Unfortunately it looks like these genes may be closely linked with the genes that give you super cuteness. I'm screwed.

I get loads a great advice on how to manage this problem.  The most helpful was when someone told me that she thinks my kid doesn't eat meat because of the gaps between her cute lil' old baby teeth.  Seriously? What the fuck am I supposed to do about that?! She would actually have to put a piece of meat in her mouth for it to get stuck in her teeth, but thanks, I'm pretty sure I know where to file that info.

When my brother was 4 (so less than a year older than my kiddo) he ate oysters. A lot of oysters.  I'm pretty sure that he didn't graduate to oysters from goldfish crackers. And I'm pretty sure that he ate the oysters because he liked the taste and not because he wanted to get busy with the hot 2 year old drooling all over her sippy cup at the next table.

She's never been one for putting anything new in her mouth. All the other babies would be sucking on all sorts of choking hazards and she was quite content to keep her little mouth shut.  In search for finding the positive in every situation-even though we all know I'm no douche bag optimist-it may come in handy later on in her life to be adverse to putting new items in her mouth. I told my husband this and I think he starting hoping for a lesbian as a daughter. 

Better than being a vegetarian.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

"Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?"

Well, it's December, and that can only mean one thing.  Christmas card season.  This is the only time of year where opening the mail can be an exercise in awkwardness akin to watching a sex scene on TV with your mother and father.  Card only? Great.  Photo card only? Also great.  Family newsletter?  Uh oh, prepare to be judged.  I know, I know, there are plenty of people out there who write perfectly decent updates that I quite enjoy.  I am not talking about those people.  Whom I'm referring to is the group of people that take this time of year to make sure we know how awesome their lives are, and therefore, how much our own lives must suck.  No, I don't care about the 5 star resort you stayed at.  No, I don't care about how awesome your job is or how Stacy made it into Julliard after studying the violin for only 5 days.  Because I know, we all know, that your life isn't really like that.  Everyone's poop stinks, get over it.

So here's my version. Enjoy.

Dear family, friends and people who I send cards to that I don't know very well anymore, but keep sending cards to me so I keep sending back to them,

Well, it's been a great year.  Scratch that, it's been an okay year.  After spending most of last Christmas driving all over the fucking province it was nice to do nothing in January. Well, it was actually pretty hard to do anything because it was so goddamn cold outside.  February was also cold.  Just like every year.  My wonderful husband went on an all boys cat skiing trip to the mountains while I travelled with a 2 year old and a pregnant sister to Kamloops to visit a friend.  And people wonder why I'm often angry.
You know how they refer to March as "in like a lion, out like a lamb"? Well, that's bullshit. It was cold and gray and gross. Just like every year.
In April the family travelled to Vancouver island to get an idea of what it's like to be a hippie.  FYI, it's pretty nice.  Oddly enough, I don't remember May or June. I must have been wasted the whole time.
July is usually my favourite month, but this year it was the month where I lost my mind, or what was left of my mind.  Reason one: spending a week with someones in-laws in a 500 square foot cabin building a boat garage for a boat we never use.  Reason 2:  babies, lots and lots of babies, none of which were mine.  Er, let's move on before I actually evoke some sort of pity emotion.
Oh wait, speaking of babies, my twin sister decided to finally try to pass along her neuroses and had a baby girl.  I was there for the labour.  It was bad.  Vaginas are gross. 
In August I decided to see how often I could do the drive between Calgary and Edmonton (3 hours, dead-straight road) before I wanted to drive head-on into a semi. Decision: 2 times.
In September I read this great book called "How to Potty Train Your Wonderful, Smart, Precocious Child in under 1 hour".  It really should have been called "How to Potty Train Your Child and Divorce Your Husband All at the Same Time".  My husband and I reconciled, and my daughter is diaper free, except for a most memorable moment where she completely emptied her bladder in the France Pavilion at Epcot. In front of 50 people. 
October was a blur. Must have been wasted again. 
November brought some more arguments, I mean discussions, with my husband.  All involving me being right and him not wanting to admit to me being right.  We also went to Las Vegas.  And Orlando. And in two weeks we are headed to Maui.

Oh crap, I'm one of those people I hate.  That must be the reason that I've started to walk and text at the same time. But that's a discussion for next time.