sunny day

Yesterday I hit a new low. I was driving alone, coming home from Walmart. I reached for my cell phone to call Jennifer, my midwife. Ring, ring, ring. No answer. I hung up and began to cry. Seconds later the phone rang and it was her. I tried to say hello in a chipper tone, through the tears. Why do I do that? Jennifer's calm voice asked if I'd like to come see her. It was the question I wanted to hear.

Three hours later I was in her home office; a bedroom/bathroom on the first floor of her 100 year old home in Fayetteville. The bedroom windows were up, and the simple sheet curtians billowed every few seconds. I sat in an oversized rocker and attempted to smile. I began talking. The conversation lasted a hour and a half even though she had a pregnant patient waiting in the living room for the last thirty minutes. I asked a lot of questions about my birth.

Are all births as intense and painful as mine?
What was I like in the midst of it?
How do women decide to have another unmedicated birth after such a traumatizing experience? (She has done it three times.)

She mainly listened to me, cried a little herself, told me her own stories, and gave me hope. I am still not ready to blog the whole birth story, but I can say that I feel I was tricked. I read many natural birth stories that gave me the impression that if I did the right exercises, ate the right foods, prepared with Chad, breathed enough, and had positive thoughts, my labor would be easy. This was not the case. It was hard. It hurt a lot. I thought my legs were going to twist off during the second stage contractions. I was NOT able to relax like I thought I "should" be. The first tme I held Melody I felt no joy or miracle. I only felt intense relief. The biggest relief I've ever known. It was over. That is all I cared about. These feelings blind-sided me. What happened to the "beautiful experience" I had heard and read so much about? Where were the wonderful feelings? In the following week I'd look at Melody's head and cry at the memory of pushing her out. People would say, "She is so little!" and I would think, "You are crazy. She is HUGE."

Yesterday Jennifer helped me understand that my experience and feelings are common and normal. She said only 3 births out of the 170 she has delivered have been "easy" for the mother. Hearing these things makes me feel like the books I read and the lessons I was taught were largely propaganda. How dare they tell me it was going to be easy!!

Another thing we talked about was my weight and my body. I have been tall and thin my whole life. I gained 55 pounds during the pregnancy and am still 25 pounds above the pre-pregnancy weight. I've only lost 10 pounds in the past 10 weeks! Jennifer didn't give me answers about the weight-loss. She did something better. She told me I was beautiful right now. I drove to her house thinking 2005 was going to be my "fat year." I left her house feeling GOOD about the way I looked!! The belly pooch, the round butt, the gimormous boobs.... it didn't bother me anymore. Instead I held my head high and told myself, "You just had a baby and you are a beautiful mommy."

I feel lighter today than I have in two weeks.


another week

I floated through another weekend feeling odd.

My 18-year-old sister-in-law visited from Illinois. She's quiet, helpful, observant, perceptive, intuitive, and honest. I have always enjoyed her company. She loves babies and is wonderful with Melody. She's a natural. For some reason, each time she visits us I flip out. Last time she was here I was pregnant. I ended up bursting into tears at the grocery store when Chad asked me what we were having for supper. Then yesterday I lost it again in the car. I was in the backseat with Melody. She was screaming her tiny head off and driving me crazy. I ended up in tears as well. I barked at Chad, "Can you drive faster?"

I wonder what my sis-in-law thinks when I break down?

When I was younger I was hard on others. I thought I had life figured out. One of my good friends got married 4 years before me. I was inwardly critical of the way she and her husband interacted. Now I'm married and I realize their behavior wasn't that big of a deal. It was normal; unlike the utopian view of marriage I possessed at the time.

This week my mother-in-law and other sis-in-law will be here. I am at a loss. Do I tell them I'm depressed? Or do I act like nothing is the matter? I'm sure they'll notice before the five days is up. How do others deal with depression and family members?


the plan

Today was better. My mom was here again. This morning she watched the baby and I went to the gym. I did 35 minutes of cardio, some stretching, and light arm weights. It felt so good to get out of the house and focus on working hard. After that mom, Melody and I ate lunch today at a small local Italian cafe. We talked about the depression. She says she can see it in my eyes. In the course of the conversation Melody's birth was mentioned. The topic brought instant tears to my eyes. I haven't blogged about the labor/delivery yet. I'll save that for another day. For now I'll just say I feel traumatized by the experience.

After lunch mom and I parted and I spent time in Fayetteville. It is the neighboring city; about 20 minutes from our house. I love Fayetteville. It has hills, history, artistic buildings, local restaurants, interesting people, lots of trees, great coffee, and nice parks. I went to my favorite coffee shop, Arsagas. It was Melody's first time there. I held her on my lap while I drank a decaf, skim mocha and journaled about the past few days. It felt good to write.

I recalled spending time in the same coffee shop five years ago. I lived and worked in Fayetteville at that point. Most mornings I'd stop in for coffee. I was single at the time. I'd watch the other career people and observe their lives. Working moms would often come in with their preschoolers. The kids would be blurry eyes at the pre-eight-o'clock hour. The moms would say, "Do you want a scone or a muffin today?" The kids could never eat a fourth of the huge bakery items. They were probably wishing for Trix or Lucky Charms instead.

Chad and I have a plan. We decided we're both eating too much sugar these days. We decided we'll eat one serving of sugar (ie: dessert and cokes) for each two times we exercise. The past two days have been difficult as I was eating chocolate and other sweets every day before. I am hoping the plan will motivate me to exercise as well as help me loose weight. I am still 30+ pounds above my pre-pregnancy number. I also hope a smaller intake of sugar will result in feeling better emotionally and physcially.

In the meantime I will try to go to my favorite places in Fayetteville more often.


more fog and teething

Today was also difficult. My mom came over for a few hours which helped immensely. She served me potato soup, brought me water, and helped with the baby. We talked about depression. She has experienced it on and off throughout my life and recently decided to give Prozac a try. This decision is a huge deal for her because she's always opted for the natural methods of treatment in the past. They have helped some, but not enough. I'm curious and hopeful to see what happens for her.

Back to me.

I wonder about taking an anti-depressant myself. I am also more comfortable with the natural methods and now I am double hestitant because I'm breast-feeding. A few years ago I saw a couselor for about a year. The decision to see her the first time was extremely difficult even though I knew it was necessary. It took me months to gather the courage for the first appointment. After the first session it was easy to go back for more help. That year was full of change, challenge, growth and learning.

I wonder if the step of deciding to take an anti-depressant is similar?


On a different subject, I think Melody is teething! She turned three months old today. Babies rarely get teeth this early, but I'm fairly sure she the two bottom ones are coming in. She woke up from her morning nap earlier than usual. She was fussy and refused to latch on when I tried to feed her. This has never happened before! She is always eager to eat, even if she's not super hungry. She screamed with her head tilted back in pain. She hasn't cried that way since she was brand new and tiny. It was so sad! I called a friend who has six kids and explained the symptoms. Drooling, sucking fingers, crying, refusing to eat, etc. She said to look at the gums. I did this and I saw tiny white ridges! I think. I gave her some infant tylenol and that helped her somewhat. Even when she is horribly fussy, I love her so much. I hope the teething pain is short lived. And most of all, I hope she doesn't bite me when I feed her. Ow.


i think i am depressed

I am trying to figure out if I'm dealing with baby blues or true post partum depression. Melody will be three months old this week. I am starting to wonder if it's true depression. The books say the baby blues are short lived in the immediate days following birth. I'm still struggling.

This past weekend we went to Dallas to visit friends. The purpose of the trip was to go to the Botanical Gardens to see the daffodils and tulips. I love tulips and the outting was my idea. Five friends accomodated me in this adventure, each paying $8 to see the flowers. As we strolled through the spectacular fields I felt strangely empty. I forced myself to smile with the others and to put on a happy face for the camera. Feeling sad with these friends was evidence of my true state. These are the people I can laugh with even when things suck. They are the ones I am comfortable with when I'm having the hardest of days. Yet I was still sad and heavy in their company.

I wonder if my heaviness is due to the hormone prolactin. This hormone is sometimes referred to as the "mothering hormone." It is released when breast-feeding and produces feelings of calmness, attachment and protectiveness toward the baby. My midwife told me that sometimes this hormone is connected with a mild depression that can be described as a cloud hanging over the mom during her months of breast-feeding.

It is very difficult for me to admit that I am depressed. I have everything I've been dreaming of for the past three years. My baby girl sleeps through the night so I am rested. Chad is supportive of me staying home with her. My mom loves Melody to pieces and supports me continually. I don't understand why I am sad. I have tried taking natural supplements such as B-Complex, Wild Mexican Yam Pills, Omega 3-6-9, and St John's Wort tea. Sometimes I think they help, but I'm obviously still struggling.

For several weeks I have been attributing the depression to drastic changes in my life -- having the baby, quitting my job, adjusting to being home, meeting new people, and becoming a mother. When I think of these things individualy I am not phased by them. They are all wonderful actually. There is not a logical reason for feeling sad, weepy, and overly sensetive. I have to wonder if I am truly depressed. What should I do?


finding my place

Each day I wonder what I should write about. The morning slips by, then the afternoon, and before I know it I have given up trying to think of something interesting to say. Today I will write more freely. I will simply tell of what I'm dealing with. It may not be coherent or interesting, but I am determined to share it.

I'm trying to figure out where I belong in mom-land. Some days I venture to the mall. I see other moms with their strollered babies in the baby Gap, Gymboree and other baby stores. These moms are put together. They have highlights in their hair, cell phones in their pockets, and name brand clothes on their kids and themselves. In this environment I touch my wispy lopsided ponytail and sigh.

Other days I join moms at the local Le Leche League meetings and Attachment Parenting play groups. Some are the home-schooling type of poeple. Others are funky hippie types. Their kids run around with unmatching hand-me-down clothes and hair that has never seen a hair-dresser's chair. One three year old boy was wearing black boots embossed with flowers. I can only assume they once belonged to his older sister. When I go to these gatherings I feel sightly self-concious if Melody is wearing one of her sweet Gap outfits. I feel like she would fit in better if she had on a Goodwill outfit.

I feel more comfortable with the latter group of women because they seem less judgemental. They aren't freaking out about schedules or benchmarks of development. I also like it that they can teach me things about healthy living and economical tricks. For instance, I recently learned how to make my own baby wipes out of paper towels, baby oil, and baby wash. And yet when I'm with this group I also feel out of place.

I guess I forgot how difficult it is to make new friends. People who accept and receive. I keep thinking there have to be other moms out there who feel the same way I do. For this reason I stay friendly, open, and warm when interacting with my new acquaintances. I'm dying for a kindred spirit to say, "YES! I'd love to walk with you on a weekly basis." So far I'm still smiling, nodding, and hoping for progress, whether it comes from the mall world or the garden world. Either one would be fine with me.


home remedies

This morning was a struggle. I slept until 10:00am after a hard night with the baby including a 5:00am feeding. I do better when I'm able to start my day early. When I sleep late I struggle with sadness. Add a cloudy day to the equation and I was in tears by noon.

I watched more television coverage about Martha Stewart. She was speaking to her 600 employees in Manhattan. She talked about their creativity and talent. I was mesmerized even though the things she said weren't all that intersting. I scanned the group of employees sitting behind her. I looked at their hair, clothing, etc and wondered what their lives were like in NYC.

I'm trying to adjust to this staying-at-home-mom thing. I know it is what I want, but I'm scared and unsure. I tell myself that taking good care of a baby is one of the most productive things on earth. But I feel lost. I guess I'm afriad I won't be worth as much without a career. At the same time I'm incredibly grateful and elated for the opportunity to be home with Melody. Everytime she smiles at me I melt with awe and joy.

I pondered these things while sitting on the couch with wet hair from my shower an hour before. I decided maybe it would help if I "looked" better. I've made a point to take a shower everyday, but beyond that I don't do much unless I'm going somewhere. I fixed my hair (pigtails) and put on makeup. I pulled out some sparkly silver eyeliner and went kinda crazy. Then I made myself a homemade mocha. It was surprisingly close to the real-$4-thing. I read a few verses and asked God for purpose, understanding and help.

I feel quite a bit better. Thankfully Melody has slept in her swing for the past several hours, giving me opportunity to do all these things. Soon she'll wake up hungry. I'll feed her and try to remember that taking care of her is the most important thing I can be doing these days.


thoughts on martha

I just watched a television biography about Martha Stewart. I am impressed with her story. The success and creative ingenuity are inspiring to me. People talk about how difficult she is. They speak of her driven nature and insane work ethics. I don't doubt that any of this is true. But there is something about her that makes me feel good. As a designer I'm impressed with her magazine. As a creative homeowner I soak up her ideas for home and living. As a woman I am impressed with her success.

One of my long lost dreams is to live in Manhattan and work as a designer for her magazine. After watching her story on tv I can't help but think that if she were me, she'd go after this lost dream and make it come true.

Here I sit in my Arkansas residence, typing on a makeshift desk. I just put the baby to sleep. My goals for tomorrow are to do laundry, take a walk, make a new recipe, and try a new breast pump. I don't see the New York dream coming true. Unless I apply to be on her up and coming Apprentice reality tv show. Hmm, that's a thought. They say the winner will get a job that pays $250,000 a year.


the basics

Hello again. We now have internet access at home! Now I can blog and email again. I have so much to say here to catch up. For today I will stick with some basics. In the coming days I hope to expound.

Melody Raine was born on December 22. She arrived three weeks before the due date. We were very surprised. Her weight of 7 pounds, 14 ounces coupled with her reflexes told us she was a full term baby. We were unsure of the due date. I am glad she came before and not after the due date of January 9th.

Being at home with Melody has been challenging and wonderful. She caught onto breastfeeding without too many difficulties. By week three she was a little pro. She's gaining weight at a nice pace. She is now ten weeks old and weighs around 9 lbs, 4 oz. She has grown 2.5 inches. I am happy she is staying little -- she is still in her 0-3 month clothes. I didn't want her to grow too fast! I love this cuddly tiny stage.

I quit my job. (!!!) It was an agonizing decision to make. I was hesitant to close that chapter of my life. My four years as a greeting card designer were amazing. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. My peers were cool people. We laughed together at the office everyday. We went out to lunch often. I went on fun trips at least once a year. (New York City and Vancouver, Cannada were the highlight trips.) But once I made the decision I felt waves of relief. I will start a new chapter. Sometimes I get pensive and sad about quitting work, but most of the time my heart is light with the prospects of the near future.

I am excited to pursue new hobbies and goals. I want to cook more. I subscribed to a new magazine called Everyday Food. It's a Martha Stewart publication even though her name is not on the cover. I love the photography, design, and concepts in it. Also, the recipes appear to be just the right level of difficulty.

Loosing my pregnancy weight is one of my biggest goals. I gained 50 pounds. I still need to loose about 30 in order to be at my pre-pregnancy weight. Everyday I either wear maternity pants and massive overalls. I stare at my smaller size 10 clothes and think, "Wow. I have fun stuff here." I can't wait to wear it all again. It will be like having all new cloths!

I am having a couple moms over in less than two hours. They are new acquaintances who both happen to be beginners at knitting. They are going to teach me the basics. One of them has a toddler so I need to get busy picking up the living room. The darts on the coffee table and the digital camera in the corner are not the best toy options for her.

I am very happy to be back in internet-land. I hope to blog often... but I cannot promise that it will be more than humdrum mom stuff from here on out!