Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Four Months

Alice Pearl is four months old!

Alice... Classic second-child

We finally broke down and bought one of those plastic saucers. It was cheap, and it provides precious minutes - even hours - of entertainment. Do I feel a little guilty about it? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably.

Alice is growing so much, both physically and socially. She is becoming so much more aware. She reaches for toys, smiles at everyone, giggles and coos and screeches. Her little personality is so dear. I can't get enough of her.

We had Alice's four-month doctor visit today. She now weighs 12 lbs. 6 oz. and is 24 inches long. I wish I had a picture of her chunky leg rolls. Her rolls have rolls. 

So much for Alice being our quiet child.

Alice is so close to rolling over. Any day now, she'll have it.

We are entering a fun phase now where Alice is no longer a newborn but not quiet mobile yet. She just sits and smiles adoringly at everyone, and just generally makes you feel like you're the cat's pajamas. It's too bad about this four-month sleep regression. Otherwise, I would never want this phase to end. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Such a cheerful subject, right?

I wanted to post about this topic because postpartum depression and anxiety are super common, but for some reason, hardly anyone ever talks about it. I'm not sure why there is such a negative stigma attached to postpartum depression in our culture, or why we as women feel the need to hide our struggle with postpartum depression. A woman's body undergoes drastic changes when she has a baby; childbirth takes a huge toll on the mother, not just physically but emotionally. It seems natural to me that, just as we need to recover physically, it also takes time for our bodies to recover emotionally. 

When Lucy was born, I didn't really know anything about postpartum depression. When I went to my postnatal visit (at 6 weeks postpartum), they made me fill out a little questionnaire about my mental state. At that point, I was walking on sunshine. I had a beautiful, newborn daughter. I was basking in the glow of new motherhood. My body was still running on adrenaline and happiness. It was impossible for me to imagine that I could feel anything but sheer joy.

But just as every pregnancy is different, a woman's body recovers differently after the birth of each child. After Alice was born, I had the same overwhelming feelings of joy and elation. I remember going to my postnatal doctor visit when Alice was 6 weeks old, filling out the postpartum depression questionnaire, and feeling so good, so emotionally stable.

Well. That's because the postpartum depression / anxiety had not set in yet.

Here are some important things to know about postpartum depression and anxiety. These are things I did not know and wish I had...

- It can often take weeks, or months, for the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety to appear. Typically, healthcare providers do not follow up with you regarding your mental health after your postnatal appointment, which is usually around 6 weeks. At that point, you may not even be experiencing symptoms yet. 

- Postpartum depression looks different for everyone. For me, I have experienced crippling anxiety, which has led to insomnia, brain "fog", and an overall feeling of dread. My anxiety is not triggered by my children (Alice's crying, for instance), but rather, by things I read in the news, or random thoughts that pop into my head. I can't speak to what postpartum depression looks like for other women, but I know from talking to moms that the spectrum is VERY broad.

- There is nothing wrong with you. It is scary to feel so out of control of our bodies and minds. Usually, I feel like I have a pretty good filter for keeping dark thoughts out of my head; with postpartum anxiety, I am plagued with constant "What if?" questions. No matter how much I pray, or try to focus on positive things, or distract myself, I can't control what's going on in there. It's very easy to feel guilty, to wonder why you can't just pull yourself together. But there is nothing wrong with us. Struggling with postpartum depression does NOT mean that we do not love our babies, or that we are not happy to be moms. Don't even go there. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilt on top of everything else that you are feeling.

- We will not be like this forever. "Will I ever be normal again?" I have asked this question so many times. "Will I ever feel like myself again?" Yes, Yes, YES. Your hormones will balance out. Eventually, I'm told, the feelings of depression and/or anxiety will ebb, until they are gone for good. I do not know how long exactly it takes; I'm sure it looks different for everyone. But it is comforting to know that we will be ourselves again, that this struggle is by no means permanent. 

Obviously, this is not a medical post, and I am not a doctor. I am not attempting to tell you how to treat postpartum depression / anxiety; I just want to bring some awareness to the issue. If you feel like you might be struggling with postpartum depression, talk to your doctor immediately.

I believe that the lack of information on this topic is partially the fault of healthcare providers, but we moms also have a responsibility to share our struggles with one another. The worst thing we could do is bottle it all up, not talk about it. Other moms make great resources and even better support systems. Solidarity, ladies.

{photo cred Dan Steiner}

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Alice's Baptism

Sorry for the infrequency of my blog posts lately. I have been struggling with some postpartum anxiety, which deserves its own post - if I ever get around to it. I have been having a difficult time updating this blog because I do not want to create the illusion that everything is perfect in my life when that could not be further from the truth. Not that my life is perfect EVER. But, you know what I mean.

Today, we celebrated a very happy occasion - Miss Alice Pearl's baptism. Here are some photos: (I apologize for the poor lighting.)

Alice wore my old baptism gown, just like her big sister Lucy before her. Lucy wore, of course, one of her princess dresses.

Alice was wonderful. She had the hiccups the entire time, which was super adorable. She did not cry even once, though M and I both teared up. Baptism is such a beautiful sacrament. I believe Madeleine L'Engle says it so well:

I am glad that in the communion of my church we are baptized as infants, because this emphasizes that the gift of death to this world and birth into the Kingdom of God is, in fact, gift—it is nothing we have earned, or even, as infants, chosen. It is God’s freely bestowed love. It is as radical as that, and it is gift. Through no virtue of our own we are made dead to the old and alive in the new. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

28 Candles

I turned 28 last week. Here's how we celebrated...

On the morning of my birthday, I woke up to coffee and presents from M. We ate breakfast and then I took Lucy to school. M had class all day, but that afternoon, he called to say that we would have a babysitter coming to stay with the girls, so that we could go out for after-dinner drinks - it would be our first time going out alone since Alice was born. Needless to say, I was super excited!

When M got home from class, he cooked dinner and then presented me with my delicious birthday cake, the ice cream cake I had requested from Sweet Cow. This was a big splurge for me, as I have been taking a break from dairy.

It was delish.

After we got Lucy ready for bed, our sitter arrived. It felt so strange, walking out of the house without any children! All night, I felt like I was forgetting something!

I knew nothing about where M was taking me. Imagine my confusion when our destination turned out to be an old book store. I love books, but I had been promised a drink. Fortunately, the girl sitting behind the counter at the book store opened a door in the wall that was hidden behind one of the bookshelves, and we found ourselves in a dark, 1920's-esque speakeasy. One of the coolest bars I've ever been to!

We were home by ten (we're so old) and in bed by eleven. In my youth, I could party all night long, but now that I'm an old lady, it takes me a week to recover if I stay out too late. Besides, I have two little ones who like to get up before dawn every morning. They are my favorite gifts of all :)

Thank you, family and friends who made my birthday so special. I got so many phone calls and fun packages and cards in the mail. I love each and every one of you dearly!