Brighter and Brighter

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It seems appropriate to do a January 1st blog since my last post was a whole year ago.  I was correct in seeing a brighter 2015, and its gotten better since this Christmas was the first one that was thoroughly enjoyable.  The kids are not babies anymore and I am relieved.  (Understatement of 2015)

I want to focus on the topic of depression and anxiety as a parent. I’ve learned even more about myself in hindsight, looking over my past posts, talking to friends, and I’ve finally accepted the fact that depression in my case is partially chemical.  The melancholy, the tears, and the excessive need for sleep (more than the typical parent) has shown me that the last four years did not have to be so desperately hard.  I stand by the fact that the kids were challenging babies, but my inability to bounce back was the factor that kept me drowning.  I encourage any momma with a history of anxiety or depression to consider medication, even if you have never taken it before.  That being said, I’m on a very low dose of a anti-depressant and it makes a huge difference in my ability to get perspective.  And sometimes that’s all you need in stressful situations is some accurate perspective on what’s true.

I think growing up in the church has been a factor in keeping me from seeking medication.  Plus my own personality of course! For a long time, I believed if I could just “do it right” and be a good christian–to trust God fully–I wouldn’t feel so awful.  I could be a better person–a better mom–a better wife.  If only.  Now, that being said, I also believe nothing is too big for God to heal, and this includes any form of mental illness.  But I also know that God has allowed Satan’s dominion on this earth to throw a wrench in the works of God’s grace. We are born in a broken world as broken people.  The lie is that we believe we can “do it right”, but we will never “arrive”.  Not until we meet Jesus in the next life.  All we can do is pray that God transforms us into his likeness, as close as our imperfections will allow.  Every day, over and over.  For me, its a daily choice deciding who will be glorified on this day.  In this moment and in the next.  And when you’re drowning so often, you can’t see what God is showing you, it might be time for some help–prayer, counseling, medication, whatever.  The lie that God is judging your imperfection creates a gulf between you and God that Jesus already bridged.  That’s a big lie you don’t have to live in.

From my perspective, the church is slowly becoming more accepting of medication for mild mental illness.  But I do understand the hesitation as medication is overused or abused in other situations.  That’s an entirely different topic.  I just hope I can encourage others to be ok asking for help.  Its ok! 

As for 2016, I expect big things.  Vi is starting kindergarten in the fall and I cannot believe it.  Malcolm is hilarious and fun.  Our little family is such a HUGE blessing and I’m thankful! The kids are close friends and we are sooooo rich in the stuff that matters.  Cheers to 2016!

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2015 looking bright

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It was this time last year I was telling 2013 it can eff off. Pardon the language, but that is simply where I was at. And Eric too.
Malcolm’s entrance into the world was an amazing experience and it rocked our world every since…good and bad. I’d like to say that 2014 proved better, but…no. It was just awfully hard.
But as I watch Malcolm play and laugh and giggle and yell “yaaay!” every time he builds a tower, my heart is so full it could burst. It took a year and a half until I can officially say that I don’t feel like I’m drowning, and that feels really great. The only unfortunate side of this positive turn of events is that it makes me open to having more babies. But now that we’ve made the permanent choice of stopping, there’s little I can do but wait for those moments to pass. Nevertheless, 2015 is starting out very different than it’s predecessor and I welcome it with all my heart.
Cheers!  

Some Refreshing Perspective

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Not sure where to start, as it has been many moons since my last post.  I think the majority of my posts have been centered on accepting the normality of an unhappy baby.  The unhappy baby has since turned into a cuddly, silly, adorable, yet temperamental toddler.  Eric and I are grateful that he has evened out, although often it feels as if we haven’t achieved “normalcy”.  I know, I know, what’s “normal”, right?  I guess having a kid like Malcolm is like having a kid that acts like he’s teething most days–resists sleep, very sensitive, volatile even.  He is old enough to “discipline” in the most rudimentary ways which was helping me feel like I had some control, but there were times he could not breath without screaming, and during those times, I felt completely alone and depressed.

In fact, I got really depressed for a few weeks in October leading up to our big San Diego trip.  I wasn’t sure why at first since nothing had technically changed.  But after some reflection, it was clear that the reason I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning for a month was how utterly powerless I felt in my own home at the mercy of a very emotional kid.  And a sassy preschooler on top of that when the mood struck her.  And the results of it were super ugly.  I was angry and nasty to my kids and I hated myself for it.  I’ve never really had much “mom guilt” in the past.  I have always been honest about how tough it is raising little kids and I’m doing the best I can at meeting their needs.  Then all of a sudden the ugliest parts of me are being spewed all over my children and it wasn’t pretty.  I was officially entering “bad mom” territory and to make it worse, I was medicating with food and alcohol.

Earlier this year I lost nearly 20 pounds, and now I have gained it all back, and then some.  The scale continued to climb along with my anger and depression.  I would wake up ungodly early with my kids and have no pants that fit me, even the new ones I recently bought in a larger size would not even zip.  Afternoons were the hardest, as Mal would cry from the moment he got up from his nap to dinner time.  I would throw back a few glasses of wine to ease the afternoon, but it just stuffed down my anxiety for the moment.

The trip to see my sister was a nice change for us and provided some refreshing distance from the daily grind.  Now that I know the source of my anxiety (lack of control), it has been easier to tackle.  Prayer is frequent, food and drink less frequent, and I am down four pounds in the last week.  Because of God’s provision with our housing, I can afford a gym membership along with childcare, which has been a priceless gift.  For the first time in months, I want to be with my kids instead of trying to run from everything or completely check out.  Malcolm has been having a great week, which helps, but I also think my renewed perspective has made things a bit brighter too.  I’m hoping I can seek God first instead of running from difficulty and I know that will be a lifelong challenge.  For now, this is a great Christmas gift and I’m looking forward to the coming months.

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Non medicated

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Hey all, I am non medicated.  You know, with things you need an RX for.  Its been a roller-coaster day and its really ok because I do miss feeling things.  My friend Roxy came over with her kids, and she was here a mere five minutes before I burst into tears in front of her for the first time.  And its ok.  

Eric and I went back to the Marine Corps Museum last weekend and I was surprised to find I was extremely moved.  And it felt great!  I have since had a dream about being in boot camp and it has stayed with me.  Of course I called my marine corps sister and we bonded.

I started on Zoloft when Malcolm weaned himself at 10 months.  It was devastating…beyond words.  So I’ll leave it at that.  I’m so very thankful to have been on it for a few months when I needed it, but things have become more manageable in comparison.  I am in love with this silly little boy that makes me crazy and I am convinced once again why they make babies so darn cute.  Lucky for him.

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What a year

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Malcolm is turning one tomorrow.  Wow.  Wow wow wow.  Our mantra for the past year has been, “Just get through the first year, get through the first year…”.  And here we are.

Yes, things are better.  He is better, we are better.  The mantra has proven useful.  At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, being medicated has helped.  A bunch.

It turns out that Malcolm’s nursing strike was not a strike at all, but yet another big fat middle finger to my expectations and sanity.  The weeks following his supposed “strike” was an anxiety ridden cluster%$#@ of screaming, by both him and me.  How do I feed an infant who has rejected his primary source of his nutrition?  A child who doesn’t crawl, feed himself, or take in hydration of any sort.  You can imagine.

Today I can say that he is on his way to crawling and also drinks from a sippy cup.  Thank God.  And he has the most infectious sweet little smile.  And even though he is often a punk, I still wonder what I would do without that smile, those cankles, and his belly laugh.  The paradox of feeling at the end of myself one moment, then the next moment feeling like my heart is so full it might burst.  Its bizarre.  And lovely.  I look forward to the next year with my littles.Image

 

Life Settling

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Its been sixteen days since I cried and for someone who knows me, that would sounds unusual.  After Malcolm suddenly stopped nursing right before he turned ten months old, I think that finally broke me. In my last blog I tried to convey the feelings of rejection and despair I felt, trying to pacify an infant that seemed to now hate everything.  He resisted every other means of hydration, and continues to get virtually all his hydration from baby purees.

I decided to start taking an anti-depression/anxiety medication to see if it could help me manage my days better and I think it has.  Although I feel more even-keeled, it also feels like I’m more two-dimensional.  Lately I don’t really miss the three-dimensional depth of feeling, as it was mostly negative.  I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of being on medication, but I plan to stop as soon as things even out around here.

We had a good week.  Nothing seemed too overwhelming and I think we have adjusted to the new normal around here, as well as Malcolm’s new feeding pattern.  He still does not get any formula or breast milk, but I plan to try and get him some home-made formula in small quantities when he’ll tolerate it.  He eats constantly, so I just try to keep up with it and try not to let him get constipated.  My milk supply is now gone and I feel the familiar tug in my gut that aches for the connection he and I had, but its like I can’t access that part of myself fully anymore.  Crying was always so cathartic for me, but for now I suppose it will have to wait until life settles.

 

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Nursing Strike

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Its hard to sum up what has unfolded the past week since Malcolm began a nursing strike.  I’m not in the mood to detail the whole situation, as I am exhausted in more ways than I thought possible, and I’d like to go to bed. In short, Malcolm hasn’t nursed in five days and does not take a bottle, drink from a sippy cup, and resists open cup feeding and syringe feeding.  The only hydration he gets is from watered down purees and the occasional forced teaspoon syringe feeding.  He’s not sick.  He is just going through something that I hope will pass and happens to some kids around his age.

Its difficult to describe how I’m feeling in words.  Anxious. Devastated.  I never thought I’d feel “devastated” by something like this, but its like I’m looking at my baby through a glass window and watching him scream and cry and I can’t help him.  Except there’s no glass.  He is in my arms and still crying.  And he wants nothing to do with me.

I spend all day trying to give him some solid food, but terrified of constipating him. Trying to give him watered down purees but it doesn’t seem to be enough.  I feel like most things Eric and I have done since he was born for hasn’t quite been enough, and that has been difficult by itself.  One of the only things he liked was nursing.  I’m considering seeing a doctor about anti-anxiety medication, or something that can help me manage better.  After ten months, this has finally broken me.  

He’s too little to wean yet, and at the very least his hydration is minimal. I feel devastated not only because of his rejection of me, but that was our quiet, bonding time.  No screaming, no carrying around a 20 lb baby until my back ached.  Just quiet time to be together and I would know his tummy was full.  And now I don’t know.  Our pediatrician is keeping close tabs for the next few days, but we are all just waiting to see if he will change his mind and start nursing again.  Meanwhile, my milk supply is drastically reduced and I don’t know how much longer it will keep up.  

The past few days I feel like I’m unraveling. Like my insides are being twisted and wrenched every time Malcolm looks at me and screams, like he needs something I’m withholding.  Its the worst feeling.Image