I haaaate being on meds. I’ve tried my fair share in my lifelong struggle with depression. I was off of them for 6 or 8 years and did my best to find my own way through the muck. And honestly, it kinda worked. I don’t think I’ve posted my story yet, I’ve been working on my history so one can catch a glimpse into the history of this crazy broad whose blog they’re reading. But long story short, I traveled after a bad breakup and found myself. Came here to find my man and my kids – which worked, obviously. Then once I had the kids, my mental health took a U-turn and went back to the shit swamp it crawled out of.
The kids were in the NICU for 6 weeks. By week 3 I had my doctor monitoring my state to see if I needed drugs. By week 5 we determined that I did. My issue was that I fucking hate being on brain meds. I think there is a time and a place for most things, there are some people who experience some incredible changes on medication. Personally, it just makes me feel out of touch with myself and unable to enjoy things like I usually do so I end up in this really slow bipolar state. I’m an excitable person. I like to be excited. I also find some pretty low lows.
So doc and Dave both think the meds are a good idea. I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea but the kids are coming out of the hospital soon. Do I really need them? Won’t everything be ok once they’re home? I’m just stressed out cuz they’re in the hospital!
I’m really glad I started the citalopram when I did. The kids got out a week later, and that first two to four weeks were the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced. Our time in the NICU became more of a crash course than anything. I’m really glad we had certain routines established cuz holy crap. There’s no way to really explain it until you do it, so if you’re a mom you know what I mean. And I hate being the person who says that, I hate doomsday mom stories. But this is just how it goes. I will forever be grateful to my mother-in-law and her husband for how much they’ve done for us and the kids. They’re amazing.
Anyways, I had the citalopram. It saved me from bottoming out. It did its job, and I survived that first year. But lately I’ve just been feeling off. Really it’s been since I quit pumping in October. I’ve noticed a lot of changes, really. I had a really bad bottom out after I put down the pump, full on breakdown. It was not great but I got through it. Since then I do not feel like myself. I am paranoid, quick to react.. I can’t control the spirals anymore. I feel disconnected and uncomfortable all the time. It’s different. My hormones shifted after I stopped the milk flow and I can’t get used to the drugs. And honestly, if it’s just me and not the drugs, I’d rather go back to trying to fix it on my own. Lots of walking and being outside, eating well, drinking lots of water, singing, and just generally being happy Court. I have to get used to being happy Mama Court now, but I can do it.
So I’m on day 5 of a two week taper off the meds. I spent the last two days in the throes of a migraine. Today sucks but not nearly as bad, I just feel sore and the headache kind of phases in an out. Hopefully it’ll be gone by tomorrow! I’m guessing it has something to do with fading out the meds but we’ll see. I feel pretty fucking low today though, folks. Dave is my amazing rock who keeps me sane in everything, understands I’m just going bananas and takes great care of me, and it’s nice to be surrounded with family. But my mood is pretty heavy. I knew it was gonna suck coming off the meds, that’s why I’m doing it before I have to go back to work. I need some time to fix up!
I’ll try to keep up with this journey a bit, but as I always say – two babies is a lot of babies! Peace out, MadMoms.
So I’ve been trying to ween off pumping, and apparently going far too fast. I’ve got this big ol’ blocked duct under my areola. I think there might be some other little ones around cuz DAMN Lahey hurts. (My tits are named Lahey and Randy.) It sucks too cuz the block is right under where the pump horn sits so it’s hard to massage out without losing suction and getting a titty fart.
I’m guessing people know what I’m talking about. Pumpers, at least.
I think the important discussion here is, I finally agreed to stop pumping. It seems a weird time to do so, we’ve just gotten them sleep trained and they’re still not really into solid food. (This week we’re gonna try some stuff other than rice cereal. I’d heard the grain cereals were the way to go, but since I fed them that stuff I’m hearing literally everything else. Tomorrow we’re gonna try mashed banana and titty milk.) Plus with the sleep training, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of my mental health back. So why the cut?
Cuz I’m selfish. I want my tits back. I want my time back. And it still makes me really anxious while I’m pumping, especially when I pump at night for some reason. It’s like the last remaining source of intense anxiety I have left. And it’s weird, because I hadn’t really gotten pumping anxiety for a while. It kinda came back with the sleep training so I figure I was so anxious and mentally unwell that I just didn’t notice the anxiety when it came. Like it was just a pebble in a rock slide or something. Then once I started feeling better sleeping properly again, the pumping anxiety became more intense in contrast.
I get anxious when I think about not pumping anymore too. I’d always been of the mind that you should give babies breast milk until they’re about two, at least that’s what I learned in high school Biology. Not that I’d planned to have a toddler hanging off my chest…. But basically my plan was to breastfeed until 6 or 8 months, get them onto a bottle by a year and then bottle/sippy cup feed them until 2. Of course, this was before kids. Once I had the twins and we realized breastfeeding was a pipe dream cuz of the bottle feeds in the NICU. But the plan was still to pump until 18 months or 2 years, then came the question of whether it was causing or worsening my postpartum issues. I was really resistant to stopping, cuz I want my kids to have the best start especially cuz they were premature. They’ve caught up tremendously! They’re doing amazing. They haven’t looked premature since they were like 3 months old, and they learn insanely fast. Knowing that they’re pretty well caught up, I’m a little more comfortable with not breastfeeding anymore.
So I figure, I’ll very slowly stop. I’m guessing I have that (those) blockage(s) because I’ve slowed down too fast. I went from 25 to 30 minutes to 20 minutes in like a week. I was still getting similar volume though, so that’s interesting. As I wrote the first half of this post I did a full 30 minutes (31 actually) to get rid of the blocks, and it seemed to work but I guess I’ll find out as the day goes on. My tit doesn’t hurt as much as it did when I started writing this so it’s a win either way!
Anyways, the NEW plan is basically to cut two or three minutes off each week. So it’ll take me 12 to 15 weeks to really cut’er down, and that gives me tons of time to get the kids eating all kinds of tasty food. Plus my crazy milky flow doesn’t get all stopped up and cause me the pains. I had the beginnings of mastitis once a few months ago and it was fucking brutal. I thought I had COVID I felt so bad. I was in intense body pain, felt like I was gonna throw up and couldn’t really eat, I was so tired – and this was before sleep training so for me to have said I was way more tired at that point? I figure you get the idea. (At this point it’s also probably important for me to note that I’m a notorious hypochondriac…) Needless to say I didn’t have the COVID. Not long after I made the appointment to get the test it dawned on me that I might be getting mastitis, cuz my tits really hurt too. So I did a major pump, lots of massaging and I went for quite a while. I felt way better almost immediately. Still got the test cuz… You never know!!! What if it’s cancer?!?! Google said it was!!
So yeah. I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress I’m sure. Maybe I’ll chicken out of quitting cuz my mood has been great, and I really do want to give them the good stuff as long as I can. I’ve mentioned that I’m a recovering conspiracy theorist, and you don’t really need to be a conspiracy theorist to not trust Nestle or large food production companies. I don’t really want my kids on formula, and I’m lucky enough to have a strong milk supply. I never had to take meds for that or rely entirely on formula and I’m grateful for that. I lost one of my dearest friends to Domperidone (actually that’s who we named Birdy after.) Scary shit! She left behind a seven month old baby – my babies are just over seven months now. Just… Didn’t wake up one morning. Her husband found her slumped over the edge of the bed like she was trying to turn on the lamp or something. She and many other women accidentally gave their lives to feed their babies breast milk. It makes me feel a little guilty that I’m just calling it quits because I feel like it. And I get the whole “you have to do what’s best for you and your family” but this seems like something I won’t know is a mistake until long after. Or maybe it’ll be fine and I’m worrying for nothing. I dunno. Life is bonkers.
For now I’ll keep pumping, less and less until I’m out of milk. And of course, worry on and off the whole time that I’m not doing the right thing. But hey, I guess that’s why I have a blog. To talk this shit out with myself in a public forum!
Thanks for listening. And now to post this without reading it, just like almost all of my posts.
So yesterday I rambled a lot about the amazing highs I’ve been feeling this week. And let’s be clear – I’m still feeling them. But maybe its time to talk about the downsides and the lows I’m feeling too. Especially because today the emotional pendulum has begun to swing the other way. I have definitely not reached the misery levels I’ve hit in the last several months, but you know. Feelin’ it.
So first off, I think I talked about this yesterday (I talk about a lot of things on this blog and in my real life that I will likely repeat. Repetition is the repetition is the repetition is the best way to learn things. For me, anyways… Ok but yeah. The one thing I notice I’m missing – and now on a more hormonal level, I think – sleeping with my babies. I feel like it’s hard to get snuggle time now. Snuggles make them sleepy, and we’re still in the phase of trying to teach them when to sleep and when to be awake. We get our snuggles in here and there, especially when we’re really struggling to keep them awake and holding them to keep them calm. Then they get their soothers and tend to just flop down on us for snuggles. It’s heartshattering that we can’t just take them to bed for a nap. Before we started sleep training, I was missing Dave even though I saw him every day. Now that that is balanced I find I’m missing the kids in the same way. Go figure!
I am super, super cranky these last two days. I’ve thought a lot about it, and I’ve kind of noticed it’s because I can’t seem to get the hang of the sleep training myself. The kids are doing great but it’s like I’ve decided we’re ready to schedule things and we’re not. I keep guessing on their naps and I’m screwing it up every time. The other day we went for a walk for their catnap and I thought I had everything ready and set up to go, but we got there at like 4:15 or something and didn’t leave until an hour or so later. They ended up in bed at 7:30 instead of 6:30 because I just didn’t have my shit together. As I type that, I’m wondering if the sleep consultant is going to remind me not to speak so negatively. Sorry Jessica. But… I’m cranky. So nyeehhh.
Anyways, I just feel like I’m getting too caught up in the math. Dave was getting frustrated with me this morning because I’m overcomplicating this like I do everything. “Ok, they went down at 8:30 which means they’ll probably be up around 10 or 10:30, which means they’ll go down at noon or 12:30 and wake up again at…” I’m already frustrating myself. Being the imperfect perfectionist I am, I’m always looking to schedule things. I like working off of lists and at least a loose idea of how my day is going to go. One of the things I was so overjoyed about is that I can plan my day now, and get things done. But I’m finding a clash between trying to do that and work the kids’ schedules. One or the other is getting sacrificed and it’s starting to make me anxious. I’m feeling out of control again. I need to feel like I have some kind of control over my life or I start to go crazy. Funny how it took me like 30 years to realize what a control freak I am. At least I kind of knew it before I had kids!
The anxiety is also back. It’s probably another by-product of feeling out of control. I’m irritable and silly things are happening in my head. I remember when the kids were in the hospital and my anxiety started getting out of control, I’d picture horrible shit like people dropping them or their monitor becoming unscrewed from the wall and falling on them, or the milk having been out too long and making them sick… Just unreasonable things to be concerned about. That kind of stuff is happening again, and not quite at the frequency it was happening then. I’m trying to think of an example but I can’t. Just nervous about unreasonable shit.
I’m irritable as hell too. Oh fuck. Am I pregnant…? Let’s put that horrible concern away for a minute… Fuck… Period is in two weeks. Cross your fingers for me.
Anyways… I’m irritable as hell. Dave broke my Anchor 2-cup measuring cup yesterday and I snapped on him. And he says it’s not a big deal, and I’m sure it isn’t. But 1) I’m not really the type of person to get mad about an accident, 2) I’m not the type of person to be mean when I’m mad and 3) I’m clumsy as fuck and that totally could have been me. Dave and I have broken like 5 glasses between us in the last like 3 months and it’s disappointing to lose our favourite glasses, or my new measuring cup, or whatever. But it is not an issue. We can get another Tofino Brewing glass. We can DEFINITELY get another measuring cup.
So that was a fairly bad example because I have a reason to be legitimately irritated, but it’s even in little things. Dave tried to kiss me while I was doing something yesterday and I just got so annoyed with him. I stopped myself and kissed him back, because I realized I was just being a bitch, and I don’t think he really noticed I got shitty about it in my head. (He never really does, he’s such a chill person that other people’s moods don’t really affect him. I’m forever jealous of that trait and hope he passes that on to our kids.) I also got frustrated making too much dinner and I couldn’t mix the sauce, the veggies and the chicken properly so I made him do it. Then I wouldn’t even eat right away. I went for a walk.
All of this to say – the mood swing has swung. I still wouldn’t give up the progress we’ve made for any of this, and there’s a really good chance this is just hormones. My period came back a few weeks ago and I’ve noticed some wonky shit going on in my body, maybe all this is just a byproduct of getting back into Shark Week. I’ve also decided it’s time to slowly ween off pumping now that the kids are going to be getting into real food soon. I’m sure that has to have SOME affect on my hormones and likely my mood.
But I repeat – I would still not give up the progress we’ve made with the kids, and as a family over the last week. Sleep training has been amazing. I will find a way to get over my shit and go back to being crazy in a good way.
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…
Damn, man. I started this blog and I was all gung ho to start blogging all the time. Then I got caught up on a post that I kept having to rewrite and just kind stopped. Funny how that happens. Plus, for some reason I have zero time to myself lately. Oh right! I’m a mom.
Had another good dip into the depths of postpartum misery. It’s intense! I know I’ve said this before but it’s amazing how quickly it comes over me. One minute I’m playing peekaboo, the next minute I’m in the fetal position on the bathroom floor with the fan on and my hands over my ears. I didn’t want to be a mom for like three days. And that made me feel like an intense failure, which made me want to be a mom even less because I felt like I didn’t deserve it.
I had some time to think about the misery because (as usual) Dave stepped up and took care of the kids while I laid down and chilled out. I mostly spent that time kicking myself. Kicking myself for not being able to do my job. For putting so much on Dave when he already works full time for us. For not giving those gorgeous kids the mom they deserve. For thinking I was ready for this intense responsibility when I wasn’t. Mostly I kicked myself for kicking myself. That’s a funny thing about misery, and I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone.. But I feel so much shame when I get depressed because my life is actually pretty fantastic. So I go into this silly shame spiral because I can’t climb out.
My sister is visiting, and we talked about it. One of the things we discussed is how I’m worried than when things even out and I’m not depressed anymore that I’ll still not want to be a mom. I don’t necessarily feel that way right this second, as I’m in a pretty good mood. But I feel that way a lot. There are days I love being a mom but it seems like as soon as things get too hard, I fall back into depression and feel like I can’t do it. Maybe it’s not every time there’s a bad day… I know there are a few days I can take it. But it really seems like I just can’t handle it when things get hard. She told me that it’s really obvious how much I love my kids, and I don’t remember exactly how she said it but it was the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.
I have to find a way to make amends with these feelings. All this shame and frustration. Like I said, one of the things I’ve been struggling with is putting all that emotional weight on Dave. He’s such an amazing partner. Anytime I start feeling overwhelmed he steps up – no questions asked. He listens to me crying about the same old “I can’t do this” shit, holds me really tight, and then takes on both babies until I’ve had a chance to calm down. He acts like it’s all good but I know it weighs on him. It’s a lot. He works shitty hours at a monotonous job, then comes home and helps me with the kids. He really doesn’t get a lot of rest or fun time. I try to send him out to visit friends and stuff as much as possible but he says he loves to be around us. I wish I could keep it together for the kids, but more for him. He does so much for us. He’s an amazing dad and husband. I love him so much!
I guess all I can do is keep truckin’. Do everything I can to keep myself together so I can do everything I can for my family. They deserve it. Those kids are amazing, and Dave is the absolute best. I find when I have gone for walks a few days in a row my mood is great. The weather has been kind of shitty but the mall is open. I could strap on a mask, put blankets over the baby seats and just mall walk for an hour or two. I like the rain, and walking in it isn’t so bad. I just don’t have a proper way to keep the babies dry. Lately I’ve been arranging to walk with some friends. Only gotten one walk together… But the plans are there. It helps.
And back to the issue of food. I eat like such an asshole. An asshole that’s never seen a vegetable in her life. So much sugar… I am so aware of how much sugar fucks up the brain but it’s like I can’t stop eating it. It’s the only substance I can really abuse right now. Not that I’m a cokehead, but I’ve been known to have some drinks when feeling down. Maybe smoke one… Sure, not the healthiest way to cope but it works when I need it to. That was one of the hardest things to deal with when I was pregnant and having a hard time. Trying to figure out how to cope using only my brain. Still haven’t gotten a great handle on that obviously, as I still like to have a few drinks here and there. Especially when it’s been a rough week.
These are the things I need to do to keep it together. And shower, cuz I feel like a homeless bag of shit half the time… But that’s another issue.
I doubt this would help anyone with Postpartum, unless they just need someone to commiserate with. And if that’s the case, I’ve got you.
Today seems to be one of those days where postpartum depression is creeping back in. I’m not sure if it’s following my cycle or not, I haven’t gotten my period back yet but from what I understand it’s still going strong behind the scenes. It’s funny how quickly it hits – I’ll be in a great mood, things are awesome and the kids are being chill. Then bam. Downward spiral.
Its hard to parent on days like this. I get no joy from it, but I also don’t want my babies to see the scowl on my face that would be there if I wasn’t trying so hard to hide it. Back when the kids were first born, I was told by my obstetrician that research showed that babies of moms suffering from postpartum depression showed signs of mental health issues later in life. I don’t remember specifically but it was something about seeing their moms sad all the time and they mimicked the facial expressions, which created brain pathways or something. Basically when moms are sad, their babies get sad too. I have such happy babies – I work really hard to mask my shitty moods when I have them but sometimes I get frustrated. So less smiling at them on the change table, or snuggling them, or doing tummy time or playing or anything. Then it creates a cycle because they’re bored so they get cranky, and their crying makes me more stressed and unhappy, and so on.
I always seem to forget the stroller in the truck after the weekends at Grandma’s. Now would be an ideal time to go for a walk. If nothing else, it quiets the kids for a bit so I can think and calm down. Plus theres that whole ‘exercise makes your brain happy’ thing. And I’m vain so my weight has been bringing me down too. I should call a counselor or something but I just don’t know what to say, or moreso, what they would say. I was seeing one a while back that was a total cheerleader. Useless as an actual therapist but she was very validating. At times it helped but other times it was really patronizing. Like… Yeah, I know I have the right to be hormonal and sad and hungry. What can you help me do about it. She doesn’t work at that clinic anymore and I haven’t met the new lady, but I figure I’ll get more of the same ‘you’re doing amazing’ shit that I guess I already know but doesn’t help.
I’ve heard a bit a out how pregnant and breastfeeding moms lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients, and it’s hard to keep up with the loss. I take a daily, but I was recommended by a psychiatrist doing a postpartum assessment to take some omegas as well. I keep forgetting to buy some. I also remember a friend of mine’s sister was going to school to be a nutritionist several years back. She was talking about the link between proper nutrition and mental health. Niacin specifically is something that people can often be really low on and it means your brain isn’t doing its job properly. I also had a friend going to med school and we were talking about how potassium and sodium are what makes your cells actually function. So if you don’t have the right amount of those things, again – brain no worky. I know. I’m basically a doctor.
On a more experienced note, there were two main things I put into effect when I first lost a bunch of weight and got my mental shit together. One was hydration. It seems super obvious – our bodies are a mostly water. It’s like the fuel that keeps us running. It flushes out your toxins and keeps your brain floating in the jar that is your skull. I’m not gonna pretend I know the exact science behind it, but your body and brain work best when you’re really hydrated. I was drinking at least two litres of water a day. I’d have at least a half a litre as soon as I woke up in the morning, which helped get me started on hydration and helped wake me up. I’m awful for lazing around hitting a snooze button for an hour (or… Was, until I had babies…) even though I know the day goes way easier when you get up right away. I used to follow a thirty second rule, meaning I had 30 seconds to get out of bed after I opened my eyes. It didn’t last long but at least even if I was late it was only a few minutes. Not 30 or 40 minutes like it used to be.
The other thing I learned at a Workers Comp stress workshop when I hurt myself at work. Basically we use the top half of our lungs more than the bottom half, especially when we’re stressed out. You can feel your stress in your stomach and shoulders, right? Well when you’re breathing deeply and into your entire lungs, you stretch out your whole torso. I noticed when I was breathing deeper, my digestion was better. Almost like my lungs and diaphragm were massaging my intestines and helping me get everything back out more efficiently. It helped me with my weight loss. Another aspect of stress vs. weight loss was that when you stress out your body makes Cortisol. Cortisol makes your body store fat. So if you’re dealing with your stress, your cortisol levels go down and your body can process your food better. Or something like that. Over 2016 and 2017 I lost about 120 lbs. Mostly 2017 because I was walking around NYC for the first 4 months of it and then just kept roaming. My stress was non-existent so my cortisol levels were low, and I was broke so I was drinking a ton of water to reduce my hunger. I lost weight so fast I couldn’t keep up with my clothes. By the time I got back to Canada my clothes were hanging off of me, it was awesome. I’ve never looked so good in my life. More importantly, I’ve never felt so good in my life.
The problem is that even though you can know all of this, if you don’t have the motivation to change your habits it won’t happen. And I assume I’m not the only one who’s self sabotage mechanism kicks in when they’re depressed. It’s hard to care for yourself when you just don’t give a fuck. All of my fucks are being reserved for my kids and my fiance. It’s hard to find more motivation. The medication is doing its job but I’m not sure there’s anything that can completely wipe out bad moods. My doctor says it’s not worth adding more medication just to buffer the bad days because they are few and usually come every few weeks. Just have to bite the pillow and deal with it. Keep smiling at the kids and cooking dinner for my amazing man.
Dave is home now and we’re watching TV as I finish writing this (I started like 8 hours ago.) I feel a bit better. We had some dinner, went and had a quick bedroom session, and now we’re just chillin’ with the kids. Sex is important for both of our mental health. I know we’re not the only ones. We both miss the days when we could just be together and enjoy. Not even just sex, but the closeness. The intimacy. Now we exist to work and take care of kids. We even miss each other when we’re in the same bed. Our quickies are the only times that bring us a tiny bit of intimacy. Even though it only happens every week or two, it’s really held our relationship and individual self-esteem together. And most of the time I don’t feel like having sex until we’re doing it. It’s crazy how quickly I forget what it does for me. We’ll not have sex for a while and then once we’re done, all of a sudden I want it a few hours later. And the next day. And then for maybe another day before I’m back to existing without it, and forgetting what the hormones and exercise does for both of us. So… Don’t neglect your sexy time. Even if you’re depressed. It will make you happy. Science told me.
I’d like to mention that I have no medical research to quote for any of what I’ve said, it’s just a bunch of things I’ve learned or deduced over the years. I’d be happy to be corrected, or if I’m right have my logic explained in the comments. As you can imagine, I have no time for research lol. I just want people to know what I know so maybe it can help someone. At the very least, maybe it will help me just having recanted all of this. But like I said – it’s one thing to know it, quite another to do it. Tomorrow’s another day. Hopefully I can make it a good one.
One of the reasons I started doing this blog is to work past my postpartum issues. I got hit HARD with that shit. And I mean shit, in every sense of the word. I spent a long time working on my mental health issues before I got pregnant, too. I felt immune to Postpartum, which was probably one of the reasons it caught me so off guard.
After writing like a thousand words on my mental health journey I decided to keep it separate and just talk about postpartum. Stay in one lane, you know? But if you do want to know about all that, it’s in another post I’ll put in a newly created My Story section. Fill ya boots!
Pre- and Post-Pregnancy
I did NOT enjoy pregnancy. I didn’t really get depressed or anything but I was sore, barely slept through the night but was always incredibly tired… Plus I cried at EVERYTHING. I hate crying, but I couldn’t control it. It was so frustrating. I wouldn’t even be sad or overly emotional. Just.. Crying.
People warned me about Postpartum Depression. My doctor especially, because he knew my history and wanted me to be prepared. I was pretty cocky about it. “I’ve already dealt with all of my mental health issues.” “I’ve been through so many groups and therapy sessions, I’ll be fine.” It didn’t even enter in my mind that it would be a problem. And at first, it wasn’t.
The kids were in the NICU for six weeks, and I’m not sure when all the mood shit started. It was definitely more anxiety at first; in my head I’d see them choking on their food or spit up, their IV’s popping out and them losing a lot of blood… If someone was holding them, including my mother who raised four kids, I’d be picturing her dropping them.. Even when I was holding them I’d be abnormally concerned about hurting them, or holding them too tight and suffocating them. It was really insane shit, even as I was worrying about it I knew it was absurd but that just made me even more anxious because I knew I was going crazy. The depression started around three or four weeks in, but I figured it was just the stress of having the twins in the NICU. And fair cuz it was super stressful. They used to pull their feeding tubes out, and I couldn’t handle when the nurses put them back in. It was a pretty simple process and the kids didn’t fuss that long once it was done, but I’d cry like a child. I watched maybe twice and then I’d start leaving the room until they were done. Birdy was the first one to have to go under the bili-light for jaundice. They put this blindfold on her, and I just couldn’t fucking handle it. I really don’t like not being able to see (who does) and it bothered me so much that her eyes had to be covered and we couldn’t explain to her what was going on. She hated it too, poor thing. It was when they were like four days old, and it was only for like a day. When they’re so young, a day feels like an eternity. It broke me. Anyways.. Everything really wore on me. Dave and I both had PTSD from the beeps on the monitors. They were always fine, but it was just a lot to deal with.
I started taking Citalopram about four days before we were let out of the hospital. I waited so long because I really didn’t want to be on meds and I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing postpartum anxiety/depression or if I was just really burnt out from being at the hospital for at least 8 hours a day every single day for the past six weeks. I decided it wasn’t worth waiting to find out, so I started the drugs. They were going to take a couple weeks to really kick in anyways, so I might as well prepare for the worst.
Anyone who’s had kids knows that first few months with a newborn is fucking excruciating. Especially those first few weeks. We had NO idea what we were doing, and we had two of the little demons. And we’d just spent the last six weeks part-time parenting so you’d think we’d have had an idea of what we were in for. Nope! My friends – there were tears. So many tears. I’d have panic attacks just about every time they’d start crying… I think for he first two weeks I’d cry every time they cried. I had Dave home for a whole month and it was still so much to deal with. And the breakdowns… Oh man.. Every night I’d be bawling to Dave about feeling inadaquate, not knowing what I was doing, feeling super overwhelmed. God bless that man, because I know he was feeling a lot of that too but he was holding it together for me and the kids. He’d hold me as I was sobbing about the kids, and then sobbing even more about the fact that I was sobbing about what felt like nothing. I hate crying.
The day Dave went back to work was one of the worst of my entire life. My wonderful mother-in-law took two weeks off so she could come and help me. Then she got sick. And this was when all of the COVID social distancing and isolation started. She didn’t have COVID, thank god. But still. I think Dave went back for two or three days before we decided I wasn’t ready for him to be back at work. Every day he’d come home to three crying babies, one of them fully grown and looking like someone died. So he took another week off, maybe two. Its kind of a blur. After that I knew we couldn’t afford for him to be off work any longer and I had to deal with it. The meds were starting to really kick in, and I’d upped my dosage so I felt like I at least had feet to stand on. But still.. The first month or so of him being back at work was so intense. Most nights I’d have to go for a drive and just decompress for a half hour or so. Cry it out, maybe smoke a little bit of pot to take down the panic attack. Or take an ativan.. Either way. I couldn’t handle it.
I didn’t see the end. I felt like I was drowning in sludge, and none of the therapy or tools I’d learned over the years were working. Dave was doing his part and then some; he works full time, he kept up on dishes and made dinner most nights PLUS helped me feed and take care of the kids when he wasn’t sleeping. (I seriously lucked out, he is the most amazing man in the world.) Him being a superhero made me feel even worse about how little I could handle being a mom. There were more panic attacks and breakdowns.
Eventually my mother in law was able to work from home, or maybe she took a bit more time off. I can’t remember. But she started to come by for a few hours a day so I could get some sleep. I was getting like four or five hours a night between pumping and feeding, so an extra few hours a day made a world of difference. One weekend she invited us to her house for a night. She offered to watch the kids while we slept, and then during the day the next day while we went and had a date. Since then, it’s become the norm on weekends. We pack up half the house, roll down island to ma’s place, have a nice dinner and a few drinks and then a wicked sleep. Then Dave and I will usually go for a nice long country drive the next day and just spend some time together. We’re best friends and we’re always together, but we’re also always either working or taking care of babies. We miss each other even when we’re in the same bed because we never get to hang out.
Lately things have been pretty good, but I still have rough days. I am raising newborn twins in a pandemic, shit is really hard! I had so many offers for help that I can’t accept because we’re not allowed to be around anyone. MIL and her husband are being pretty good about isolating as much as possible so we aren’t upping the risk for anyone, I mean if anything Dave is the problem because he works with the public. We’re not trying to spread the virus, we just really need some help. Without my MIL and her husband, I think I’d (or we’d) still be in the depths of misery. Between their amazing help, the medication leveling out, and just the passage of time I’ve found my way out of the mire. Things are still hard – as I always say, two babies is a lot of babies! Usually on Sunday when we’re heading back home from the in-laws’ place I have a serious pout as I ride in the back seat of the truck with the babies. Sometimes I even still have minor panic attacks about the week ahead. Actually, quite often. But I’m finally at a point where I think I can do it, and I can recognize that it gets easier every day.
I never thought I’d understand those moms that up and bail on their families. I’d be lying if the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. Sometimes I was even so miserable that I could relate to those moms that drown their kids in the bathtub. I never EVER had any inclination to do that myself, but I understood how it was possible for things to get that far. The misery is so intense. SO intense. I’d hit some pretty intense lows in the depression of my 20’s but that was just a rainy day compared to the hormonal typhoon that was Postpartum Depression. There was no control. Nothing I could do to abate the instant mood swing that had me from OK and stable to a tense and sobbing mess in less than two minutes. And it was that fast. I really understood the whole ‘triggered’ thing, because it would be all of a sudden and seemingly for no reason. We’d watch a movie and some sad music would start, bam. Dave would make a lame but obvious joke, bam. I’d miss a spot on one of the dishes I’d washed, bam. Pumping also set me off, I got (and sometimes still get) really claustrophobic when I pump. Getting a pumping bra was a total game-changer for me – I could read or screw with my phone while I double pumped. Anyways… Postpartum was really different than anything I’d ever dealt with. It was very much a hormonal issue, and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. It scared me. I still don’t feel super in control of myself and my life, but again. At least now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and broken like I was, please know the storm will subside. I know damn well how it feels when every day takes a year, like there’s no end to the misery or the insanely hard work you’re doing. There is an end. If you care enough about your baby/babies to be this concerned and upset about it, you’re a much better parent than you think. You’re probably crushing it. There’s a reason people call the first few months a survival phase – this shit is INTENSE! You’re trying to keep a tiny, fragile little creature alive that can’t express to you what it needs other than crying and shrieking at you. You don’t know any of the queues, there’s no hope of establishing a routine… It’s like running through a maze in the dark at full speed. You just keep hitting walls. No one has it figured out right away, even if it’s their second child. Every baby is different. Every situation is different. And even if people knew what was going on and how to do this right off the bat, it’s still incredibly overwhelming.
As hard as it is, try to give yourself some credit. Just a little bit at a time. Feed a kid? Give yourself some credit. Change a diaper? Give yourself some credit. Do the dishes? Holy shit, you need some credit. Do literally anything other than those three things (or really the first two) you’re a fucking superhero. Give yourself some credit. Mom is the absolute hardest job in the world especially when the kids are babies. Please don’t hate yourself and make it any harder.
I was really, really not into taking antidepressants. I had bad experiences on them in the early/mid-twenties. Plus I did all that work on my mental health, it made me feel like a total failure. Now that it’s working and keeping me afloat, I honestly don’t know how I would be getting through this insane time without it. If you’re being obstinate about it – take the pills. If not for you, for your babies. Like I said, being a new mom is hard enough without adding extra pressure on yourself.
Last thing I want to say, is that if it gets really bad – PLEASE seek out emergency help. Call your doctor. Call your midwife. Call the crisis line. Go to the emergency department at your local hospital. My city has a Community Outreach Response team that will come to your house and assess your state and give you some options, maybe there’s something like that where you are. It’s way to easy to think there’s no end to the misery when you feel like this, and when you feel that helpless you’re not likely to make good decisions. It’s a good idea to have some contingency plans in place. Seek help. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you responsible.
You are a super mom. You are doing amazing. This too shall pass.