Posted in All, Useless Opinions

How to help a new mom/pregnant lady (mostly for non-parents)

This might seem kind of obvious, but I had a lot of really useless (but well-meaning) helpers when the kids came home so I thought I’d write a bit about it. This isn’t meant to be angry or bitter…. Just informative.

I’ve always been super defiant and obnoxiously independent, even when I was pregnant. We moved into our current place when I was 7 months pregnant (and huge) and my mother-in-law basically had to guard me to make sure I wasn’t doing any moving or serious unpacking. It drove me crazy but I understood, and underneath my defiance I was grateful for the help. The last thing I needed was to go into labour early (joke was on me anyways, I went into early labour 19 days later…)

Once I had the kids my ego dropped a bit. I knew I needed help. Watching the state of my house deteriorate was frustrating but I could do fucking nothing about it. I was drowning in newborns! I was at the hospital during pretty much all waking hours for the first 6 weeks of my kids lives, then after that the real work began. We had a cleaning lady for a bit but then COVID hit and she had to bail. But even before that I’d have a few of my friends come over to “help.” It was super frustrating. Not only was my perfectionism clashing with my not giving a fuck, but I was also so overwhelmed with becoming a parent – to twins no less. I had zero brainpower. Plus I was going through some sort of nesting phase where I just didn’t want to see anyone except my husband and my babies. I think this is important to mention because before kids I was incredibly social and loved to be around my friends. I still do, but it’s different now. I get way too exhausted to catch up or visit.

Anyways, these few friends would come by – well-meaning as they were – and ask me what I needed them to do. All I could muster is “I don’t know. Just come chill and hold a baby.” What I should have said was “yes, please do the dishes. Cut the veggies in the fridge. Watch these kids while I sleep/shower/leave the house for half an hour to see what the outside world looks like.” Because that’s what I really needed. I was just too brain-shot and sleep deprived to realize it. My mind went blank when they asked. And then I got somewhat resentful because they put me in a position to ask for it. I’m awful at delegating. I am way better at just doing things myself. There was at least one time where I just got people to hold or watch the babies while I got up and cleaned (which wasn’t the worst thing ever because at least I felt like I was accomplishing something. I didn’t find the first couple months of being a parent to be that rewarding. More on that later.)

Moral of the story – if you have a pregnant friend or a new mom in your life and you want to help, here’s a few ideas to get you going.

  • Bring snacks or prepared meals -The first 1 to 3 months of being a parent is a fucking blur. It’s hard to make time to eat, let alone put a meal together. Plus it’s nice to have finger foods or snacks when you’re living one-handed and it’s too easy to eat shit food all the time.
    • Make a lasagna or a shepherd’s pie or something for the freezer. Write reheat/cooking instructions on it so no brain power is involved.
    • Bring leftovers from the meal you made the night before.
    • Bake mini-muffins. See above comment about living one-handed. Morning glory muffins are a good way to get some veggies and vitamins. And it tastes like cake.
    • Bring washed and cut veggies/fruits. Good for the brain AND the butt.
    • Bring trail mix or something
    • Fuck it, bring chips and cookies and candy. Comfort food, yo!
  • If you want to help clean – just clean
    • Don’t ask what needs to be done. You can see what’s up, just pick a task and go to it.
    • If you feel the need to ask, maybe go about it like “hey I’m gonna do the dishes, is there something else that’s been bugging you that I can do first?” I bet you dishes is going to be the number one frustration. Or garbage. Or laundry….
  • Don’t be there just to chat
    • This one is tricky, but I’ll put it on cuz it’s how I felt. Your friend probably loves you but is super overwhelmed. If they want conversation, they’ll probably talk to you. Otherwise maybe just kinda hang out. Or don’t.
  • Help with kids (if you can/she wants you to)
    • Some moms are attached enough to their kids that they won’t want anyone really helping at that point. Some kids are so attached to their moms they’ll lose their shit if anyone else holds them. But in the event that kiddo takes a shine to you, let mom go get some sleep. Or maybe she wants to go for a drive or walk or something. Offer to hang while she goes to just be her for a minute, not mom.
  • Offer to pick up groceries or something for her
  • If you can’t do any of these things, don’t bug her.
    • Feel free to send a “hey, thinking of you” message or something but don’t expect a reply right away. The few friends I’ve had that have had babies since I had mine I specify that I am not expecting a reply at all, let alone in a timely manner. Shit is exhausting and overwhelming to say the least. I still have trouble talking to people. I just want to nest.
  • DON’T buy bouquets of flowers.
    • They’re too busy to change the water and they’ll likely just sit there dead and moldy for a few weeks until they start to stink.
  • DON’T stay too long. Hour or so is plenty unless you’re cleaning or whatever.
  • DON’T show up unannounced

This list obviously comes from my experience, and everyone is gonna be different and have a different take on it. But hopefully this offers a decent guideline for non-parents to help their new parent friends. I feel like if I had no kids I’d have zero idea about most of this. I remember when my close friend from high school had a baby almost seven years ago. I didn’t hear from her until a month or two later, and I was kind of offended she didn’t tell me right away. I actually think about that a lot lately, and laugh hysterically at myself in my head. If I only fucking knew…. If you don’t – I can only tell you that it’s an inexplicable experience. No one can prepare you for the changes in your life. It’s like a train wreck of hormones, emotions and more responsibility and work than you could imagine. It’s pretty rough for that first month or two, and stays rough for a while after. So cut your pals some slack!

Have you had a similar experience? Agree or disagree with things on this list? Comment and lemme know! I’d love to hear it.

Posted in All, Musings

The crescendo and the timbits

It got bad. It got to the point of calling the crisis line and considering putting myself in the hospital for a while until I could see the light again. Dave wanted me to quit pumping. We’d had heard about women that quit breastfeeding and almost immediately had their postpartum depression or anxiety clear up. My doctor hadn’t heard of this and couldn’t find any research on it, but he was on board with quitting because then we could safely adjust my medication. It made sense, but everything in my being was telling me that wasn’t the answer.

I put up a post on one of the twin mom groups on FB to see if other moms had dealt with this issue. I think there was 16 comments, and all but two or three talked about their PPD/PPA dissolving after they stopped breastfeeding. What caught me was those two or three saying that their issues worsened after they stopped breastfeeding. I wasn’t as worried about things getting worse, but what if nothing changed and I had sacrificed my milk. My babies need that to get the best start in life. Dave and the Doc argued that the difference between breast milk and formula was negligible compared to not having a mom either through distance and complications from depression, or through having to commit myself.. Or worse… And that’s a very valid argument. I hadn’t been doing tummy time with the kids, I barely played with them… Kind of just set them up to play or sleep and watched TV or played on my phone. Then I got mad when they started fussing but knew it was because they needed attention. I couldn’t handle their crying because I couldn’t cope with the stress of it, but also because I felt guilty. Like I’d failed them and was just giving up because of it.

I felt like I was in a pit like in Silence of the Lambs. Except instead of a pervert wanting me to lotion up to make for a nicer skin jacket, I had children screaming at me. Ok so not a great analogy, but it’s what I thought of when I felt like I was in a pit. It made sense to stop breastfeeding, but like I said – every single thing inside me told me that wasn’t the answer. I could find another way.

Last night I couldn’t get the kids calm, and could feel another mental meltdown coming. I went to visit Dave on his break and then went for a quick walk on the sea wall so the kids would chill. On the way I stopped to get a coffee, and some Courtenay Crack – birthday cake timbits. Holy shit those are a huge problem for me. Anyways… I was gonna get 10 but Dave wanted me to save him some, so I got 20. And of course ate all 20 of those little bastards on my 45 minute walk. That was my dinner. I felt like absolute shit for the rest of the night, I even thought I was going to throw up. But – BUT! I was in a pretty damned good mood and actually enjoyed my kids. What an insane concept!

Every once in a while I get really tired of my own shit and decide to make a change. Those timbits were the catalyst for that change. Not only did eating all that crap make me realize how much my diet was affecting me, but that short (and very enjoyable) walk brought my mood up higher than it had been in weeks. So I looked at the last few weeks of misery.

  • My diet had gone to shit and I was eating mostly sugar. Munching like crazy, barely drinking water, and I’d almost completely forgotten what vegetables tasted like
  • I hadn’t walked at all. Not even my quick laps around the neighborhood. Basically just to my vehicle and back.
  • I’ve been smoking a bit of pot on the weekends and nights where I am really, really losing my shit – which I know to be inflammatory to the body and a total depressant.

These are all super basic things that I know will help me. Even if I get one of these three under control the results would be staggering. But it’s cycle and always has been for me. I smoke pot and it makes me hungry, so I eat a whole bunch of shit food. Plus I get all groggy the next day, especially if I munch out (which I usually do because my mother in law always makes cookies.) I feel like shit and go into denial as to why I feel like shit, then all of a sudden two or three weeks later I’m having breakdowns and trying not to put myself in the psych ward. Before I had kids it was a totally manageable cycle. Now? Between the extra tonne of stress and the hormones from breastfeeding and being a new mom, it fucks me up.

So.. Once I put this together, I decided I was done with all of the misery and decided I had to make a change. If I do all of this and STILL can’t get my mood under control, ok sure. I’ll quit breastfeeding. But I can’t do nothing to improve myself and then feel good about not giving my kids breast milk. I’m lucky enough to be able to make as much milk as I do. I only have to give them an ounce of formula each bottle. And they’re on five or six ounce bottles right now. It’s mostly breast milk. And yeah, it’s not 100% fresh cuz I could never get into breastfeeding with them but it’s still breast milk. I owe it to those amazing little bastards to give them everything I can. I owe them the best version of myself. And that version doesn’t eat an entire batch of cookies after a joint every weekend.

With all that said, I publish my current goals. Maybe it’ll make me more accountable. I dunno..

  • Walk a MINIMUM of four times a week. Aim for seven, but shit happens and it’s been raining a lot lately. (Mall walks count though…)
  • Cut the fuck down on sugar. I’m not setting a specific parameter on this because I do use it to cope a lot, and I’m not sure how to successfully do it other than to avoid it as much as possible.
  • Only smoke pot once or twice a month instead of every weekend, but aim for zero pot. Sometimes I have panic attacks and lorazepam doesn’t really chill me out like it should. Saying I only have two freebies will make me really assess if the meltdown is worth substance abuse
  • Keep up with the blog. Finish all the drafts and the instructional stuff that isn’t just a glorified diary
  • Learn scriptwriting and try to start putting my movie and TV ideas into paper. Also, finish the damned children’s book.

There. You just became my accountabili-buddy. Go team! I’ll have to keep you posted. The writing goals are obviously really long term, but I think I could probably get some cool stuff down. I think I have cool ideas, but we all think we have cool ideas lol. Time to find out for realzzzzz…