Baby Blues After the Non-Baby Blues

Postpartum Progress, that fantastically wonderful Nobel Prize-worthy site about post-partum depression, asked on Facebook yesterday for stories from ladies who had post-partum depression after infertility.  No arm-twisting required here. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass and I’ll tell you about what I consider to be one of the more nasty secrets about infertility: the shame of having post-partum depression after you’ve worked for five years to have the baby.

I’ve written before that while I was trying to have a baby, I was very focused on actually having the baby.  I was not concerned with what happened once the baby arrived. Either I didn’t believe that there would be a baby or I didn’t want to jinx the run of good luck that got me pregnant and cooking said baby.   So, no thought whatsoever was given to the post-partum period of life.

And then, I had the baby, the wailing, lung-strong, hungry, tired baby.  The (very normal) baby who woke us in the middle of the night with his fire alarm screams, who spit up on every non-washable surface, who was like the crazy roommate that you question your sanity for inviting into the house.  I felt like I had the world’s worst case of buyer’s remorse but I couldn’t tell anyone about it because I had done just about everything possible to (literally) buy this bundle of joy.

There were many times in those first few months when I wanted to give him back – back to whom I couldn’t articulate. I just wanted to return him, say “Sorry, made a mistake, lost the receipt, please take him back, he’ll be so much more happy elsewhere,” and we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming.   I would feel terrible for having these thoughts, and then feel doubly terrible because I had wanted this experience so badly. Talk about a vicious cycle.  Bad thought, bad thought for having the bad thought, rinse and repeat.

It never occurred to me at that time that having been through infertility I would be more prone to having post-partum depression.  If I even began to think about having PPD, I quickly concluded that I wasn’t allowed to have post-partum depression after infertility.  Yes, I wasn’t allowed because I had begged to be a mother.  Rex wasn’t an oops or even a timely planned baby.  He was way overdue by the time he did arrive so much that I was afraid he wasn’t going to show at all.  So how on earth could I then have the feelings that I was having?  This could not be a rational world where I was allowed to have these thoughts and not be utterly ungrateful.

It took me a  long time to recognize that I wasn’t ungrateful for having Rex.  I was normal.  I was a normal new first time mom who had been through the wringer for longer than recommended and was still trying to find that new comfort zone.  And, I had PPD.  And the PPD was treatable.

I’m so much better now.  There were so many moms who told me that it would get better and I thought, “maybe for you!” but they were right.  It got so much better.  I really enjoy being a mom now and I think I’m pretty darned good at it, too.

Grace in Small Things 3/14/2011

Happy Pi Day!

  1. Rex went down like a champ last night at his usual bed time despite the one hour difference in time.  He packed a lot of baby activities into the day so he was ready to go to the land of nod, at least for an evening.  He was still snoozing when Mr. X came in to get him to go to school.  Too soon I fear his little body will adjust and we’ll be back to 6:30am wake ups, but for now I will savor the trickery.
  2. Mr. X and are rather bereft that there is one episode of Big Love left forever.  We spent a not insignificant amount of time last night determining how the ends would be wrapped up considering that there are quite a few and not many of them are prone to a neat conclusion.  It’s been such an entertaining show!
  3. Mah Jongg returns this evening. Let’s hope I remember my strategy.  We’re playing a my friend’s house whose husband always watches his DVR’d shows while we play.  It’s kind of hard to concentrate on the tiles when there is a documentary about pot going on in the background.  It was particularly awkward when we were all silent contemplating our hands and the narrator, in a great deep-narrator voice said, “Pete lights the bong and takes a hit.”  Maybe he’ll watch something a little less distracting tonight.
  4. I managed to conquer my bad mood this morning that seemed to dictate me getting annoyed at very small things.  I think the Chick-Fil-A I had for lunch helped.
  5. I’m getting very excited for Rex’s birthday party on Saturday!  Both sets of grandparents, some family friends and a child digging his hands into a cupcake with green icing = a very good time.

Onwards and upwards, always.

Grace in Small Things 3/13/2011

  1. Rex sang before going down for both of his naps today.  “Singing” for him is making all kinds of vocalizations up and down the scale punctuated by a few yells, whoops, etc.  If this child doesn’t have musical ability when he’s older, I will be very surprised.
  2. I did a good deed and indulged Mr. X’s sudden craving for ice cream, but not before asking him if he was pregnant.  He assured me that he was not.  He also shared his new found bounty with Rex who is now an ice cream addict.  This child lurves him some ice cream.
  3. I went and looked at paint chips at Lowe’s for possible colors in the kitchen.  For as long as I wanted Rex, I have also wanted to paint my kitchen.  I’m glad that Rex came first, but now I want a yellow kitchen with new countertops that don’t stain from a single drop of strawberry juice or wine (yes, seriously, they do) and white painted cabinets.  I don’t even mind the awful tile in there, just please, please let me have a bright, freshly painted kitchen.  Pretty please?
  4. This was that one morning in the year that the animals were not bugging us for food when we woke up because of daylight savings time.  It is so pleasant to awaken without the assistance of a cat jumping on my ribs or shuffling papers or eating papers or knocking shit off the nightstand or meowing in my face or walking on my face.
  5. I got some great pictures of Rex after he got up from his morning nap and was in the most fabulous mood.

Onwards and upwards, always.

2010: A Baby Odyssey

Ok, so we’re already 8 days into the near year and I’m only now getting around to posting my thoughts about 2010, but whatevs. Yes, I used that word.  Yes, I’m over 30.  Yes, everytime someone over 30 uses that word I’m sure a kitten cries.  Whatevs.

By AltoExyl via Flickr Creative Commons

If I could sum up 2010 in word it would be …  hard.  Not as in it’s hard to sum up 2010 in one word but that 2010 was hard.   It was hard in the extremely obvious ways that having your first child is hard and it was also hard in random, why is this even a category of hard ways such as getting rear ended in my one-month old car.  Yes, it happened.   No one was close to be injured (except my bumper which sported the imprint of the dude’s license plate) and we were both – small miracle – insured.  Still, total PITA.  Yes, I used an acronym for pain in the ass.  Again, whatevs.  May the wrath of the blogging/writing/grammar/punctuation Gods rain down on me like frogs from heaven.  Not that I believe in Gods or raining frogs or heaven. You get the pernt, as my father would say.

So, back to 2010 and its hardness.  It was sharp and poked me on numerous occasions in uncomfortable places like my love of routine and predictability.  It upended my days numerous times.  It generated copious dishes, rinse cycles and dryer loads.  In short, it made me grow up, get out of comfort zone and completely change how I live. I swear my heart grew three sizes.  I fell in love with my son and fell in even more love with my husband.

I also know that I made things harder than they needed to be sometimes.  Even after I had Rex, the baby that I wanted so badly for so long, I still found myself succumbing to the greener grass syndrome.  It was then that I finally understood what so many people had told me.  Having Rex was not going to make me happy.  It helped with the jealousy of pregnant ladies and the feeling of being out of the club, but I still was not happy.  This caused even more guilt because I had wanted this so much and now didn’t seem to want it at all.  So, I made several executive decisions.  I banished guilt.  I would no longer feel guilty, I would forgive myself and move on.  I would not worry what others thought of me.  And, I would try, as best as possible, to just enjoy things.

This was how I finished 2010 and so far, it’s been working very well.  I worry less, get frustrated less and laugh more.  I feel more like me.  For the first time in a long time, I am excited about the new year and what is to come.  And I recognize what a gift that is.

Of Anniversaries

Such a confluence of events today.  Three years ago today I hit “publish” for the very first time on this blog.  Three years later, it still brings me a great deal of comfort and peace.

Six months ago today, we met Rex for the very first time when he was placed on my chest after an easy 12+ hours of blissfully epiduraled labor and 2.5 hours of pushing.

If you had told me that three years to the day after I started my blog that I would be serenading my six-month old with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, I would have never believed you.

Wonders will never cease.

My One and Only

Back in those heady days of first trying to conceive, before we knew what epic problems and failures lied ahead of us, Mr. X and I were both comfortable with the idea of having two children.  It seemed so complimentary, so even, so symmetrical.  I am an only child so the thought of having a child with a sibling appealed to me, even though I never wanted a sibling growing up (I think my precise words to my dad when he asked if I wanted a sibling was, “And what? Have to share?”).  They could grow up together, love each other, blah, blah, blah.

Within 24 hours of having Rex, I knew pretty much unequivocally that I was done.  Six months later, I’m still pretty much unequivocal about being done with one.   The main reason is that I don’t want to do the baby thing again. Ever again.

I’ve taken to motherhood like a fish to a bicycle, that is to say, I’ve adapted, but very slowly and painfully.  This has nothing to do with Rex, either. He is a WONDERFUL baby.  We know how fabulously lucky we are that he inherited most of his daddy’s laid back temperment with a pinch of his momma’s fiesty-ness.

It’s that I now realize that in my fantasizing about being a mom, I never had dreams of holding babies and playing with infants.  My dreams were always of taking a three year old to the zoo, talking to an earnest 6 year old and reading books to him.  It was never about changing diapers and preparing bottles for me.

These past few weeks have cemented this – Rex has been home with us due to illness and weekends and while I’m managing just fine, I am 99.9% certain that one infant in my lifetime is enough.

That is how it is that I turned to Mr. X at lunch the other day and told him out of the blue, “I can’t do this again.”  He knew exactly what I was talking about and gave me one of his gorgeous smiles.  He said he understood and accepted my decision, even though I know that he was interested in giving Rex a sibling.  I have never loved him so much as I did when he accepted my wish with such grace and ease.

This decision also allows me to avoid the angst of secondary infertility – and there would be angst, even though we both decided that we would not take any heroic measures to have number two that we took to have Rex.  I know myself well enough that it would be very possible that I would spiral right back into the pain of infertility non-gratification that would get worse and worse each month. I gave five years of my life to it and I really regret that now.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my 30s like that. I want to enjoy Rex at all of his stages both because of him and because I would know unequivocally that this was it.

image: thelouishe

If Looks Could Kill

As much as one can have a routine with an infant, we have one at dinner/night time for Rex.  Mr. X gives Rex his bottle, gets him swaddled for nighty-night time and then hands him off to me for the final deliverance to Mr. Sandman (basically, rocking with a little binkie action, if so required).

For the past two nights, Mr. X has followed this routine and handed off to me a swaddled, full and seemingly content infant who would appear to be sleep putty in my gentle, maternal hands.  On both nights, within thirty seconds of this handoff, Rex has started his wind up to scream – the brow furrows, then the mouth puckers, the binkie is forcibly ejected and air is sucked in for maximum shriekage.  And, then he lets loose requiring me to use extraordinary measures to not only calm him but get him to sleep.

In these situations, I know the exact culprit for this drama.  My baby has gas.  Bad, bad gas.

Now, Mr. X is getting really good at this baby thing.  But, the burping is still an elusive success.  He scales the burps he gets from Rex from small to really big.  At the handoff, he informed me that he got a ‘medium’ burp out of the babe but I wasn’t too concerned because said child looked to be extremely peaceful and content, two things he is most certainly not if he has bothersome gas.  If there is one thing that this child appears to love, however, it is proving me wrong.  Within what felt like seconds of me settling into the rocker with him in my arms, he started screeching.  I sat him up, which was not easy considering that he was swaddled like a little baby mummy, and did the pat, rub, pat routine on his back.  I got nothing except continued crying.

It was also about this time that my only view of Mr. X was his back as he headed out of the nursery to what I was sure was greener (and quieter) pastures.  I wasn’t feeling particularly magnanimous towards my husband at that moment.  In fact, I was pretty convinced that he had deliberately done a poor job feeding Rex and belching him leaving me to deal with the aftermath. Intellectually, I knew that this wasn’t true.  I knew that he did his best, but dammit, I was still left holding the bag screeching infant.  If looks could kill, the one I gave his back would have been a mortal wound.

I finally managed to calm the beast into a fitful slumber.  But, when he woke up (very uncharacteristically) 45 minutes later, it was Mr. X who came to the rescue and got Rex calmed down and back to sleep.  It was a good thing that looks can’t kill after all.

Slip, Tumble, Plop

We’ve had an unusually rainy winter.  The rain has created a lovely slippery moss-like consistency on our back porch flagstones.  How do I know it was slippery? First hand experience, that’s how.

Last Monday, I went out the back door to let out the dog.  He scampered into the yard and I waddled strolled toward the unexposed portion of the deck.  My right foot went down the step, but I got no traction.  In a split second, my tuckus met flagstone and my back hit step.  I fell like Charlie Brown (without the dramatic run up).  My first concern was Little B. The good news is that I fell completely backwards and the  belly was untouched.  The bad news is that flagstone is pretty unforgiving with absolutely no give.  Luckily, my butt has grown like the state fair – bigger and better each trimester – so I had some pretty good padding to soften the blow.

I was able to get up and went back into the house to let Mr. X know what had happened.  Other than a sore back, I felt fine and I could feel Little B doing his wiggle thing.  But I knew that this had to be reported to the doctor.  Sure enough, the instructions were to head to labor and delivery for monitoring.  Five hours later, four of which were spent being monitored and ultrasounded, we were sent home with the knowledge that Little B was just fine.

We did manage to have a good dry run for the hospital check-in.  Mr. X learned the valuable lesson of what he wants to bring with him and I got a better idea of how the monitoring worked (for example, it’s ok that the nurse doesn’t come in to look at the print out – she has a little monitor at the station).  We became intimately familiar with all of the various beeps and noises.

We also learned that I was 80% effaced and still 1 cm.  Unfortunately, either the nurse had very short fingers or my cervix was playing hide and go seek because it felt like she was digging a tunnel to China to assess me.

Since I am now 39 weeks, we are officially on Labor Watch.  I am surprisingly not anxious about this.  Every one else, though, is going a little stir crazy.  I think it has something to do with the whole “she can blow at any minute!” aspect of the situation.  Apparently, I’ve become a little volcano.  Unfortunately for them, Mr. X and I are both of the opinion that Little B will be a little tardy in his entrance, so we find all of this talk rather amusing.  I’m still resisting the idea of a betting pool on his arrival date, but we can always use the money.

image: lunita lu