Monday, December 30, 2013

One Year and Counting!!!

Tomorrow, my baby turns ONE!!!

One year ago tonight, David made me a delicious and healthy dinner while I sat on the birthing ball and breathed through early pressure waves.  We watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares (you know, nice, relaxing prebirth stuff. hehe) as my waves intensified.  Then I texted my doula and that’s when shit got real. :)

One year ago tomorrow, I got in the birthing tub at 3 am, and by 5:45 we had a little red-faced, red-haired baby in our arms.  And that’s when shit REALLY got real!  ...especially when she pooped in her Daddy’s lap. hah.

This year has been a long but short, hard but amazing, exciting but sometimes sad.  I never realized that having a baby meant saying goodbye every second of every minute of everyday.  But it also means saying hello to all of the new things that come along.  Babies change faster than I ever could have imagined, and the time has just flown!

In one year, Ebba has gone from a little curly creature who could barely move her arms voluntarily to an almost-walking little kid who can say “doll” and “byebye” and “duck” (as well as “butt” as I learned this morning, when she smacked her bare bum and said “butt!  butt!” hah).  Now, she has preferences and thoughts and jokes.  She doesn’t want this book, she wants that.  She likes this song but not that one.  She doesn’t like boiled eggs, but she’ll eat them with caviar on top (seriously!)

I’m really excited about this one-year milestone (and not just because she gets cake and we get champagne. hehe.)  I don’t think I’ve had so much change in such a short period of time ever before.  In addition to looking back on Ebba’s development, it’s been nice to look back through all of the pictures and writings I’ve done over the past year and see the change in myself as well.  After a year of massive ups and downs, I feel amazingly strong and confident.  Perhaps it’s because I had been so low that I can really see how far I have come.

On December 31, 2012, I said “I’m a mom?”  On December 31, 2013, I will say “I am a mom.”

...oh, and I’ll also say Happy Birthday of course. :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Be Good for Goodness' Sake

I had an epiphany today, and it’s one I hope I can hold onto because I think it’s important, especially this season.  Though I know I won’t because I’m a true child of the consumerist, spoiled-brat culture, and it’s damn hard to let go of that.

But anyway, my epiphany was this:  You give what you give and you get what you get.

Not “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  Not “you get what you give.”  Both of these old adages are rooted in comparison, quantification, measuring up.  What about just doing things to do them?  And what about receiving favors and really receiving them, and feeling gratitude.

What if instead of do unto others as you would have others do unto you, we just did “do unto others.” full stop.  And “others do unto you.” full stop.  Separate things that exist without the burden of comparing them and making sure it was an even exchange.

This morning, I had to ask a friend to sit for Ebba, as my mother in law (the usual sitter of choice! :) ) was ill.  After my friend drove through the rain to my house, entertained the munchkin for over two hours, AND took ME out to lunch, I said, “I’ll definitely have to return the favor soon!”

To which he scoffed and said, “If it had been a favor, okay, but this wasn’t a favor.”

Oh...right.  Wait, what?  I had to ponder this a moment.

It wasn’t a favor.  It wasn’t something he did to get something back.  He just...did it.  Because it was helpful and because it was fun.  And gee, I think we’ve lost sight of it, but isn’t that what friends are meant to do?  Our lives have become a series of exchanged favours.  I’ll take you out for drinks because you took me out last week.  You walked my dog, so I’ll bring you a bottle of wine.  I owe you a coffee because you got the tip last time we were out.  Hell, even Santa requires you to be on the "nice" list before he'll bring you a gift.

It’s one thing to show gratitude, and I’m not advocating for doing away with all of the give and take (like, I’m sure your dog walking friend appreciated that bottle of wine! :) )  But, here’s the thing, the constant trade of items and favors takes some of the savor out of the whole process.  For example, before my friend said to me “It wasn’t a favor,” I felt a little beholden.  Grateful, yes, but also a little like “how can I make this up.”  I wasn’t fully immersed in gratitude for the kindness, as I should have been.  Half my mind was thinking of what I should do, could do, have to do next.  Would a bottle of wine be equal enough?  Would paying him be too much?  Would watching his kid in exchange be too little?

Instead, his words stopped me in my tracks.  It wasn’t a favor.  It was kindness.  And I was grateful for that and told him so.  And I’m sure in the future I will show him a kindness...and it won’t be because I felt I had to.  It will be because I felt like it, because I like my friend, and because it’s nice to do nice things.

In this season of gift exchanging and consumerist frenzy, I think we should all take a step back and look at when we’re actually being kind for being kind’s sake.  Are you doing something in exchange for something else, or because you want a favor in the future?  (Okay, I really hope I’m not the only person who does this, or I’ll be a little embarrassed. hehe.)  Or are you doing something because it feels good to make others feel good.  Because that motivation has a richness in itself, no exchange needed.

I’m going to really work on doing things for others without expecting something back or tallying up what I get in return.  And I’m also going to try and be more sincerely grateful to those who do nice things for me.

So, thanks, friend.  Not only did you help me out this morning when I was in a bind and then take me out for lunch, you also inadvertently taught me a major life lesson.  Feel free to remind me of it regularly. :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How I Realized that I'm Perfect

I am the perfect mum.  No, really, it’s true.

Over the past 10 months, I have spent a lot of time lamenting the fact that I’m not perfectly perfect, and attempting to quantify my exact perfection percentage.  On days when E naps well and I bake cookies and take her to the park and change her nasty poopy cloth diapers without even saying “ew,” I get 90%; 10% docked for not breastfeeding, of course.  On days when neither of us has slept well and we’re both cranky and I forget to bring E’s bottle with us to the park and she cries and gives me a cleavage hicky all the way home - 5%; only more than 0 because I’m not physically abusive, of course.

Is it??[The blog where I got this is just one of many glimpses of perfection, as I see it.]

And, I’m not alone.  There appear to be a lot of blog posts about the “futile” effort most of us mums make to be perfect.  I’ve written about this numerous times, on some occasions blaming other mums, sometimes blaming “society” for putting all this pressure on us new mums.  And sometimes blaming my own guilt.

But, I had a profound moment while contemplating this last week.  I was looking at my amazing daughter as she crawled around our livingroom drooling soggy apple pieces that I thought she’d swallowed during lunch (where are these hidden pockets where she keeps food for hours??) and I realized - Holy Shit, I AM the perfect mum!

We all are.  

(You know, barring any abuse, neglect, etc, but knowing most of my readers, I’m sure I don’t have to specify that.)

But, really, I think this is the thing we all need to realize -- not that “perfection is unattainable” or that “we should resign ourselves to our own mediocrity."  No, what we need to start telling ourselves is that we already are perfect.  We already are achieving the highest level of our abilities.  We already are the way we need to be.  Now, we just need to sit back and enjoy it, bask in our, and our babies’, perfection...because it is fucking amazing!!!

The problem with the old “perfection is unattainable” adage that’s supposed to make us feel better is that, well, it doesn’t make us feel better.  It acknowledges that there is some ideal out there that we will never measure up to.  How fucking depressing is that?  I haven’t heard anything so depressing since I was a child who, because of a crush on a boy (hah), joined a Baptist youth group where they told me we all were born sinners and had to spend our whole lives trying and trying and trying to be like Jesus -- even though we all knew we never could.  I didn’t believe that, right off the bat.  And I was just a kid!  So, why then, do I accept this similar argument about motherhood (“here is maternal perfection, but you’ll never achieve it, so suck it up accept your mediocrity”) without even questioning it?  I mean, what if mediocrity is perfection?  Has anyone asked that question?

When we believe that there is a formula out there for the “perfect mother,” then whether we like it or not, our own mothering gets contrasted against that perfection (the Jesus character of mothers, if you will).  Therefore, everything we do as a mum ends up falling short, being painted in the negative.  Like, 

“I use cloth diapers most of the time, but we use sposies at night.  Don’t tell anyone.”  Or, 

“I tried to breastfeed, but had to supplement with formula.  So not perfect.”  Or, 

“I wanted to hold and cuddle my baby all the time, but my back gave out and now I frequently use the stroller.”  Or 

“I wanted to love every minute of motherhood, but sometimes, like when my toddler has just eaten an ant and spat it back out and eaten it again and then spat it in my hand, or when my baby decided to spray-shit all over the bathtub, or when my 10 month old is up from 3-6am for no reason except an apparent hatred for me, I swear under my breath and wish I were a kidless 30-something gallivanting around the world and living in a cheap roach-infested flat because it ‘has great light’ and I can paint nude portraits of hot young college students there while sipping endless bottles of wine and smoking cigarillos.”

But, you know what?  We need to shed this whole comparison to perfection thing.  Because it’s doing us no favors, as I’ve pointed out.  We need to reclaim motherhood, real motherhood as perfection.  We don’t need to make excuses for not breastfeeding or for using disposable diapers or for sometimes letting our child cry.  Or even for sometimes wishing we weren’t parents or that we had more freedom and less responsibility.

Not only are all of these things mothers do, they are things perfect mothers do. We don’t need to apologize for them.  Why should we apologize for perfection?

So, mommies, go forth and own it.  OWN your perfection.  Stop saying “I was gonna, but...” or “I wish I could..., but...”  Say, “I did this, and it was perfect.”  There’s no need to compare yourself to anyone else or, worse, to any mythical ideal.  Perfection needs neither comparison nor excuse.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Postpartum Depression Series: Part 2 Getting Better

As a follow-up to my post on postpartum depression last month (ugh does it really take me this long to write a blog post! :) ), I promised to write more about my own recovery, and the supports that I found so helpful.  Though I again have the words “Postpartum Depression” in the title, it should be noted that all mums (notice, I didn’t say just new mums) need support of some kind, regardless of their mood.  Therefore, I’m going to talk about all levels of support I received, and also supports I know about that I didn’t myself experience.

It’s kind of like a video-game.  You complete all the tasks in the level, and if the mum still is feeling down, then you “level up!”  Eventually, you get to save the princess.  :)

Level One: (defeat the Goombas)
There are a few things every new mum needs.  This is my short-list of things I received that I probably could not have done without:
  • a hug
  • some space
  • a bath
  • a hot meal
  • to be able to drink my tea hot at least once a week
  • fresh flowers on my table
  • snacks, everywhere
  • honest support (but not advice!) from other mums who have “been there.”
  • ...and maybe someone to clean the bathroom every once in awhile. :)

Level Two: (defeat the koopa paratroopers)
After all of the congratulations, wonderful kindness, and hugs that were showered on me, I still felt very stretched thin and still pretty sad.  (This might have something to do with the fact that I was attached to a breast-pump 8-12 times a day...That would stretch anyone thin!)  At this point, hot meals and a bit of space alone weren’t cutting it for me.  I needed more.  These are some things that helped me at that stage in the game:
  • I continued to lean on my great friends for support.  Sometimes, being able to email them whatever and whenever I wanted was even more of a help than talking face to face. 
  • Getting out -- I got out a bit on my own, but it was always nice to have another mommy friend to come out with me, or a non-kidded-up friend to come and actually help me out! :)  It was always easier to get out the door on time if I had more hands to ready us.  Sometimes even going for a walk with my husband and the baby at the end of the day was enough to lift my mood.
  • Meditation -- I didn’t do this nearly as much as I should have, and even still I only set aside time for it like once a month, which is not enough.  Sometimes people need help meditating (like me!!).  Since we had used Hypnobabies for our birthing, I downloaded the Hypnobabies “Relax and Feel Confident” script (and a few others I think?  I can’t remember :) ) and started listening to it.  While this is called “hypnosis” and not “meditation,” I found it to be pretty much the same thing.  There are also a bunch of free guided meditation podcasts on iTunes that are great for this!  (As well as some free 10-15 minute yoga sessions, which are great for some nap time namaste!!)

Level Three: (the princess is still in captivity! Kill another boring False Bowser)
Well, at this point, I was getting out, I was having friends over.  Hell, I even took my 6 week old swimming.  I was sleeping relatively well, eating well, and doing all of the things they tell you to do to combat PPD: take baths, get a massage, have a break, snuggle your squish.  But I felt lifeless as I did these things.  I needed more still.

My first step was to tell a friend.  Somehow, that alone lightened the load.  I mean, I was talking with friends before then, but I never actually mentioned the depression or anxiety by name.  Once I did that, it made it feel more real.  However, rather than that real-ness feeling even more overwhelming, it suddenly felt manageable.  I could see it and touch it and hear it and talk about it, which also meant I could finally do something about it.

So, my second step was to tell my doctor.  It was a regular check up for the little squishy-pants, and at the end I just sort of mentioned, “I’m not really dealing so well with this feeding thing.”  And my doctor, bless her heart (yes, I actually did just use that phrase), stepped back into the room with me, closed the door behind her, and sat down again as though she had all the time in the world.  She asked me to tell her more and I just started crying.  She calmly told me that she would refer me to Reproductive Mental Health, and she told me “everything will be fine” -- not in a hollow, hush-yourself kind of way, but in a way that made me feel she really knew and believed that.  And it made me believe it too.

When I got the call, two weeks later, from Reproductive Mental Health, they told me that there was an almost 2-month waiting list.  My heart sank -- could I wait that long!?  But, at the same time, the fact that there was such a wait meant there was a big need...which also meant that I wasn’t alone.  And oddly enough, that made me feel a little bit better.  Hundreds of women all over Vancouver were sobbing into their cold tea behind their baby’s backs!  What a comforting thought!  Hah.

Since I had to wait so long, the next step I took was to google support groups.  As I said above, I was getting out and doing things with the little bunny at this point, but that sometimes actually made things worse.  There’s nothing like going to a playgroup or baby-yoga class when you feel like absolute shiznit inside, and then seeing some other mums with same-aged babies bringing in their home-baked goods or showing off the new striped sweater they just knitted their 8 week old.  I was like “Who the fuck are these super-moms!?!?”  Then I’d leave feeling even worse.  I desperately wanted to surround myself with other moms like myself.  (Mediocre, normal, non-supermums who also had bags under their eyes and couldn't remember how long it had been since they'd last showered. haha)  Moms who could understand my struggle because they were there too.  (sidenote: a lot of the women in my PPD support group also had hand-made some of their kids' clothes and were way into baking or tending their flower plot or whatever awesomeness they did.  We're all actually super-moms...even if we are mediocre. hehe)  In my previous entry, I mentioned that I called Pacific Postpartum Support Services at this point.  I spoke to Hollie Hall, who I cannot say enough fantastic things about.  She spent about 45 minutes on the phone with me, just patiently listening and understanding.  She placed me in a group and I think I started that following week.  Apart from confiding in friends, calling PPPSS was probably the single best thing I did to combat my depression.  Pacific Postpartum has a variety of services, including phone support, support groups, and I believe they also do some occasional seminars.  If you’re feeling blue after a baby, these are definitely the people to talk to!

After a month, I finally got in at Reproductive Mental Health as well.  There, I saw a psychiatrist 3 times.  I was learning so much from the other mums in my support group that I was doing much better by the time I saw the psych.  However, Repro. Mental Health also has some great services worth mentioning.  In addition to their psychiatrists, they have counsellors who do talk therapy, and, more importantly, they put on a bazillion groups all the time.  Things from anger management all the way to meditation and mindfulness are covered.  Unfortunately, I was so busy by that time that I didn’t end up making it to any of the groups, but I have heard fantastic things about them!  The other thing that Repro. Mental Health provides are some free resources for self-study.  I would link to them, but they're redoing the site, so the resources are temporarily down!!

Level Four: (Kill that damned Bowser once and for all and take the princess home!!  Nevermind, she saves herself!)
I didn’t reach level 4 (of my arbitrary level system. hah) in my journey.  I got to save the princess after level 3.  But some don’t, and they still need more help and that’s okay.  Before going through this whole experience, I felt that there was no need for psychiatric medication ever.  I was very against it.  And, still, probably 80% of the time I am, as I feel that psych meds are vastly overprescribed these days.  However, now that I have been at my lowest, I can see that sometimes there is a need for medication.  If I had not been able to pull myself out of the dark with therapy and friends alone, I would have taken medication.  No one should stay feeling like that forever when they don’t have to.  Many of the women in my support group were taking or had taken anxiety or depression medication, and they said it made a world of difference for them.  As my doctor had told me when we discussed medication, it’s great to have strategies, but sometimes you need help to even get to the point where you can use your strategies.  For some people, this is definitely true.

So, there you have it.  My "road to recovery" as it's called.  I tried to include as much general info as possible, but feel free to add on in the comments!

There is one thing I can’t stress the importance of enough.  That is friendships and social connections.  Someone probably could battle baby blues or postpartum depression in a vacuum, but -- well, no, actually I’m just going to go out there and say that you can’t.  You can’t combat depression in a social vacuum.  It feeds off of your alone-ness and grows.  And it’s like an abusive boyfriend, depression wants you to be alone, so it makes it harder for you to go out and be social.  Fight it! :)  And, for those of you who aren’t new mums but know some, go visit, bring flowers for her table and snacks to put everywhere.  Take the baby while she drinks a hot tea.  Tell her about the newest meditation podcast you found on iTunes.  Give her a hug.  (then leave and let her sleep.  haha)

A small (and super important!) piece of my support network :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Postpartum Depression Series - A Look Back at the Beginning

(not the most creative post title, but it's getting late! :) )

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll write about my turbulent journey into motherhood and experience with postpartum depression.  It’s my hope that by being honest about my own situation, I can help other mothers get help when they might not have otherwise.

Most of the time, I felt hollow.  A bone without marrow, brittle and empty, ready to splinter under my own weight.  I desperately wanted time to myself, fantasized about it like water in a desert, but when I finally got it, it felt wrong.  A mirage of an oasis on a distant hill -- I reached it only to have a mouth full of sand.  I felt a tether attached to my heart; the organ was ripped from my chest every time I closed the door between me and my baby.  I would think “Finally, a moment of peace,” only to realize that I was even more stressed than before.  My mind raced, “What if she needs me?  What if my milk is drying up even more because I’m away from her?  What if she wakes up in ten minutes and I’m actually sacrificing time I could have been sleeping?”

When I did get time to myself, rather than relaxing, I obsessively completed “chores” that I held to be all-important.  I spent hours folding cloth diapers just so, even though there were going to be opened up and shat on again within 12 hours.  I organized the bottles and nipples and other crappy bottle-feeding accouterment with autistic precision onto the drying rack.  (bottles on the left over the sink, nipples in a row each in line with a bottle, nipple rings after that, then the blue “airflow” attachment standing up next, followed by the beige nozzle that fitted into the blue part on the far right)

It wasn’t normal.  I wasn’t myself.

I didn’t recognize it though, not for a long time.  It was hidden behind lack of sleep, behind feeding problems, behind lingering exhaustion from the birth, and behind the grey and cold winter weather.  And, I mean, is any new mum herself ever again?  Having a child changes your world forever, whether you end up with depression or not.  It is the biggest change one can have in life, I’d say, bigger than marriage or career or home-ownership, or a move across the country or around the world.  Those things don’t change who you are.  But having a child does.  You become “Mom.”  It’s the first time you live for someone else before yourself.  Sure, when I got married, I started to consider my husband’s life in my decisions, but we could discuss things.  He wasn’t wholly dependent on me, helpless without me.

It was terrifying.  

Of course, there were other emotions: wonder at my beautiful daughter’s already expansive repertoire of facial expressions, heart-wrenching bliss every time she fell (forehead-thudding) asleep against my chest in her carrier, excitement when she reached every new tiny milestone (“She has eyelashes now!  She has a voice!  She’s unclenching her hands now!”)  But, there was also terror, and a deep, deep sadness that it took me a long time to see behind all the other happy-new-mom feelings.  I always thought that postpartum depression would be a sort of catatonic-state turn-your-back-on-motherhood kind of thing.  I didn’t realize it could be both things.  It almost made it worse, like “If I’m so happy to be a mom, how can this sadness even be real?

I was afraid not just that something would happen to Ebba, but also about what would happen to me.  Would I ever be human again?  Was I absolutely horrible for even having that worry?  Was it unmomly to miss myself?  Because, I did.  I missed myself terribly.  I missed the way I would spontaneously break into dance in the livingroom, the way I accelerated uncontrollably if there were no cars in front of me, the way I snuggled into David in the night.  I missed my irresponsibility, I missed my youth, I missed my freaking hair; why the fuck did it keep falling out!?

I’m not sure what the worst part was, if it was the confusion over my situation, or the thought that I was all alone, that no one could possibly identify with me (though I had plenty of friends who said they did!  I just assumed they had no friggin’ idea), or if it was the fact that I looked ahead and for the first time in my life I saw no light at the end of the tunnel.  

Actually, I think the worst part was thinking that I had failed.  I had an image of how I would be as a mum, and the word depressed was nowhere in that image.  I thought of (and still do, sometimes) all the moments I had probably missed, all the activities I didn’t do: more baby yoga, mom meetups, babytime, babywearing groups, Mothers Unfolding, La Leche League.  The thought that these early moments as a new mum will never be offered to me again devastated me.  Even if I have another child, I will never be that fresh-out-of-the-shell new mummy, laughing and crying and commiserating with the other new mummies.  (the fact that I actually did do a lot of these things was beside the point! hehe)

Though I have had friends who went through depression before, it was still difficult for me to admit that that is what was happening in my own life.  I never really consciously thought, “I’m better than that,” before, but suddenly that’s what was running through my head.  “It’s not depression, because I’m better than that.”  It took one morning when all I did was cry to make me realize that I needed help.  I finally, after four months of this, reached out to a friend and started making the calls I needed to make.  I told my doctor, in a breaking voice (followed by a hurricane of tears), that I was “not dealing so well with the whole feeding thing,” and she jumped into action and got me connected with all the referrals I could possibly need.  I found myself on the (incredibly long) waiting list for Reproductive Mental Health at BC Women’s hospital, and I googled support groups to try and get help sooner.  Quickly, I found Hollie Hall at Pacific Postpartum Support and I attended my first support group two weeks later.

Once I acknowledged my problem and admitted it to people, there was an avalanche of support.  It’s out there, if you ask.  And, though at the time I didn’t think it would, it has helped immensely.  My only big regret is not getting this help sooner.  I enjoy life as a mom so, so much more now, and I wish I could have pushed that enjoyment earlier in Ebba’s first year, to when she was 2 or even 1 month, instead of 4 or 5.

My baby is going on 9 months now, and this milestone marks, in some way, my return to reality.  I’m starting to go back to work, and, more importantly, I have ended most of my postpartum depression supports.  On September 17, I attended my last support group, and on September 20, I met with the psychiatrist one last time.

As those who saw me the weekend after that know, I am not “fixed.”  A few days of bad sleep and a few too many hours of the Facebook comparison game rendered me a blubbering idiot once more.  But at least I am a blubbering idiot with strategies now, which (though it might not look like it while I’m crying into my tea at a cafe) makes a big difference.  Because, really, this is nothing compared to how I was in the beginning.

I won’t go into the story behind those early days, or even my theories on why I descended into depression.  It might have been the feeding stress, but many women have postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety (my diagnosis) without any such catalyst.  Maybe it would have happened to me anyway.  The causes don’t matter so much.  What matters is realizing that so many women struggle with new motherhood, whether it be a tiny hiccup or a huge hurdle, but it is possible to get better.  All you have to do is ask for help (again, whether it just be leaning on a friend over coffee, or talk therapy, or groups, or even medication.)

I am dedicating this post to expecting and new mums everywhere, whether you hit bottom as hard as I did, or just are struggling a bit with the hormonally low baby blues.  It’s dedicated to the moms like me who thought, “that happens to other women, ones who don’t plan properly.”  (Oh how wrong I was.)  It’s dedicated to the expectant moms who are already worried that it might happen to them.  It’s dedicated to the moms who wake up crying most mornings and don’t know why -- because they love their new baby so much, how could they be depressed?  To the mums who think it’s a passing phase.  And, you know, it’s even dedicated to the mamas who are totally blissed out, it’s dedicated to the bad days that even you have sometimes.  No one is perfect, and no one should try to be.

But this is also dedicated to me, to my experience and to the strength that I have tried to muster over these past few months.  And it’s dedicated to Ebba, for being so supremely awesome and helping me to overcome this without even trying.

I’ll write more soon with more specific information about my (continual) recovery process, so stay tuned and feel free to forward this to any new mums you know out there.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cleaning Out the Activity Closet

Well, here we are with another blog post in just under one month (tomorrow it would be exactly 1 month from my last post...)  Getting slightly better at least!

Anyway, for those who are looking for the Ebba and Mummy updates, Ebba is now just over 8 months old!  Wow!  Time has flown by like a jet fighter, and yet somehow has also flowed as slow and sweet as honey.  Her birth feels like yesterday, and yet it's beginning to feel like she has always been here.

She's babbling now, and almost crawling!  (Time to get those outlet covers!!)  She's had her first long trip, to the Oregon Coast, and dipped her feet in the Pacific for the first time.  She's such a water baby, David had to restrain her from diving right in.  In two days, she'll take her first flight and visit the city where I grew up (well, one of them anyway).

Things are finally coming into a bit of order.  She naps somewhat regularly -- though yesterday she decided to skip her evening nap, which was not as terrible as I thought it would be -- and I have a lot less anxiety about her eating and sleeping and just living in general these days, which is fantastic.  (I'm planning to devote some blog posts to those darker days, though, as I feel like not many people share those stories.  But that's for another time and another post.)  Now, though, I'm just focusing on digging out of my clutter, both physical and mental.

According to Gretchin Rubin, a great way to restore happiness is to declutter the physical space.  So I've begun to clean out my closets and drawers and storage and cupboards.  Another Gretchin-Rubinism is to do a little bit each day, rather than waiting for a huge chunk of time to tackle a big project.  And, I hate to say it (mostly because I am not a huge Gretchin Rubin fan), but taking a few moments each day to whittle away at a large task is really working for me so far.

Let me take a moment now and answer the question I know you're asking: Who the hell is Gretchin Rubin?  She is the privileged, Upper East Side author of The Happiness Project, a book I picked up at Powell's books on our way home from the Oregon Coast.  (I've linked Powell's books because it's my idea of heaven.  If you can click only one of the links in the previous sentence, click that one.  The Happiness Project is lame.  More on that in another post.)

Despite my annoyance with The Happiness Project, reading it has, as you can see, motivated me to de-clutter and reevaluate my own happiness.  As I mentioned above, I've been working on getting more organization in my physical life.  In addition, I've been looking at what in my life makes me happy and what makes me less-than-happy.  

Figuring out which activities in life make me happy has been more similar to deciding whether to toss or keep that old Guns-and-Roses T-shirt than I thought it would.  Unconsciously, I think we all believe at some point or another that our clothes define who we are.  When we want to feel smart, we buy smart clothes.  When we want to feel cool, we buy cool clothes.  But, eventually, we realize that no matter what the shell, we're still just ourselves underneath.  Similarly, people say we are what we do.  Or that actions define a person.  To some extent, I still hold this to be true, but I also see that sometimes we pick certain activities just like we pick clothing.  In the same way I might see a girl looking free and awesome and happy in a neon pink mini-dress and then go buy the same dress for myself only to find it constricting and uncomfortable, I could also see someone having a blast...windsurfing, for example, and convince myself that windsurfing is for me, when it clearly isn't.

I realized I could decide which activities in my life to keep or toss based on which I liked best and used most often.  Lately, in addition to feeling buried under a bunch of outfits I never wear, I've also been feeling pressured to "do all my hobbies!"  Now that Ebba is here, I probably say "I don't have enough time for anything anymore!" about 20 times a week.  But part of the problem with that is that I have activities on my 'want to do' list that I don't even want to do!  This might sound stupidly simple, but it was a revelation to me.  I blame Facebook in part for this issue ("Oh look, so'n'so has taken up spear-fishing!  We've got to try that!"), but I think I had the problem way before Facebook.  It's so easy to see someone else enjoying themselves and think, "hey, that could be me."  I guess that's what the whole ad industry discovered ages ago.  I'm a little slower on the uptake. :)

Some activities I was convinced I wanted to try (or keep doing or do more regularly) include backpacking around the world, taking up lap-swimming, sailing, going on a cruise, owning a house, gardening, baking, scrapbooking, and sewing.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't refuse most of these things if given the chance.  For example, I do love sailing (when I don't have to do the work! :) ). But I was honestly feeling pressure to incorporate most of these things more into my life.  Every time I thought about my awesome sewing machine sitting in our storage locker I felt sad.  I felt overwhelmed with regret for not having lived out of a backpack for a whole year when I had the chance (ie: pre-Ebba).  I feel bad that I don't bake breakfast muffins or dessert cookies or home-made bread at least once a week.  

Why was I clinging to these "should-do" activities?  I don't know -- maybe they were like that lacy top I bought one year when I thought I should wear more Parisian chic; I wanted to change Me.  I had a fantastic visit from a very old friend a few weeks back.  She's a sort of free, bohemian hippie type who goes where her dreams take her and the universe always appears to have a path for her at just the right time.  (She also has a composting toilet.  Rad.)  Sometimes I'm envious of her.  However, over a fantastic dinner and a few beers (at Six Acres, one of my favourite restaurants) it came out that she was sometimes envious of people like me, all settled-down and kidded-up.  And we realized, seemingly simultaneously, that "we can't do everything."  She loved her life and I loved mine, but that didn't stop us from looking at the other and wondering, "what if?"  What if that were me?  What if I were the free, bohemian spirit?  Or what if I were that woman in the souped up BMW that drove by?  Or what if I were that artist on the street?  What if I were that shop owner?  What if I were that movie-star?  What if I lived there?  What if I did that?

It's impossible (and probably unhealthy) to not ask myself these questions sometimes.  But to add things to my to-do list just because I felt I had to try and be all the "Me's" I could imagine was just not serving me.  The days are short with a baby!

I went through this same kind of existentialist dilemma over a decade ago in high school, or maybe it was even middle school (okay, almost TWO decades ago.  Sheesh!).  I was frequently feeling paralyzed by decision making (you know, the paralyzing grade-school decisions of where to sit at lunch and which boy to dance with at the school dance...), when I finally told myself that every time I made a decision, there was another Me out there somewhere in a parallel universe who decided the opposite.  So, I should never regret deciding what I did because I was always somewhere out there doing the other thing as well.  The best of both worlds.  

So, today I'm reminding myself that somewhere out there, I'm sailing around the world with nothing but a backpack, I'm baking homemade bread everyday, and I'm wearing that Parisian chic top.  No need to add more hobbies to my already-packed life, because somewhere out there, I'm already doing all the hobbies I could ever dream of. :)

Now, to go do what this Amanda likes to do: eat Peanut butter toast and do some writing!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Support You

Well, as I predicted, the blog hasn't been updated in a long, long time.  Not since I quit my middle-of-the-night breast-pump and blogging sessions.  But I've found a good reason to resurrect it!

It's National Breastfeeding Week this week, and most of you who know my story will wonder why on Earth that is inspiring me to write.  And, you're right.  When I heard that this week was all in celebration of breastfeeding, I did want to crawl under a rock and plug my ears until it was over.  But, then I saw this article in Huffington Post.  Three bloggers have teamed up to create the I Support You event to encourage us all to support each other, regardless of how we feed our children.  The bloggers involved span the spectrum of feeding methods, the Fearless Formula Feeder at one end and Jamie Lynne Grumet (of Time Magazine Fame) on the other, with Kim Simon, who has formula fed one child and breastfed her second, in the middle.

I think it's wonderful that people are beginning to talk openly about the difficulties of feeding (bottle or breast!) and that we're moving towards more support, rather than judgment.  Cause y'all know how much I love mom-judgement and mom-competition.

So, to get involved, I've decided to interview a friend of mine who took a different feeding path, despite some fairly extreme early difficulties.  I was happy to support her in her early feeding days, and still support her feeding choices, even on days when she wavers. ;)  And she, in return, has supported me whole heartedly through all of my pumping and massaging and tears and marathon breastfeedings and formula mixing and donor milk dethawing and mastitis and...well through everything. :)  In fact, it was a lot of her own milk that fed little Ebba in the early days, and for that I will be ever thankful.

So, enough babbling on (but, hey, the site IS called Babble Fluff...) and without further ado, I'd like to introduce Candace, my best friend and breastfeeding mum of two gorgeous and healthy twin girls.

Mother's Day 2012, when the girls were just over 2 months!!

So, Candace, could you share a brief summary of your feeding experience.

Sorry...this isnt very brief at all!

Our feeding experience was INTENSE but all the work eventually paid off.

My goal was to EBF and when the birth didnt go anywhere near as we had hoped, I was desperate to be able to syccessfully breastfeed the twins. I had spent several weeks prior to their birth painstakingly hand expressing colostrum and collectig the tiny golden drops in syringes (this was suggestd to me by our midwives, as we were having twins we were considered "higher-risk" and if I wanted to avoid/reduce formula/ bottle feeding after birth, I could collect and freze my own colostrum so it was available for them). I am glad I did! I had an emergency c section and the babies were with their dad and our doula and midwives after their birth was i was in recovery. Their first feed was finger-fed colustrum from a syringe by their daddy and a nurse...that made me happy, but, the pressure was on!

I began tandem nursing as soon as I could, and started pumping right away. every nurse had a different suggestion about how to hold them, how to latch them, how to hand express, etc. It was frustrating and exhausting  The babies cried. A LOT. They were hungry. I couldn't make enough fast enough. They were getting jaundice and losing weight, I refused to formula feed over and over, until we passed the recommended 10% weight loss. Then we gave them formula, which was again finger fed using a tube by their dad and a nurse (I couldn't get out of bed). I felt horrible. I felt like a failure. I pumped like a fiend.

When we got home, we developed a routine where I breastfed  fed any and all expressed breastmilk, then gave donor milk and then formula if needed. (The donor milk was a good option and we used it for a couple of weeks until one time when Frank called to see if he could get some and was told there wasn't that much and they needed to keep it for the preemies,....we realized at that point that there were other people who were in greater need than us). I pumped after every feed. For weeks they just drank what i pumped, but slowly once in a while, their wold be an ounce or two left over. If someone came to me and said, "There's no more milk....I would burst into tears.: I nursed, and pumped and pumped, and took fenugreek and pumped some more. I couldn't nurse them on my own as they were too little. I always needed help and then would be trapped behind my enormous breastfeeding pillow, holding their tiny heads, scrutinizing their latch, back aching, thirsty, exhausted. 

Over time, my supply increased and they needed less and less formula; by 9 weeks, they were exclusively breastfed...then I had oversupply....and recurrent plugged ducts...and they would choke on the milk that sprayed out too fast. We soon had milk stored in the fridge and then in the freezer. I was almost obsessed  I was so scared of "running out of milk" I just couldn't stop....I continued pumping after every feed, even at night, for months and months.. 

In the end, I relaxed. I got over the thought that giving them formula was bad and meant I was a failure. I enjoyed feeding them I stopped pumping. :) And now, we are still nursing at 17 months....:) 

I have to say, everyone who was around me was very supportive and helpful. Almost all the pressure was from me. And some from society.:)

I guess you already touched on this, but could you summarize your original plan for feeding your children, and how that compared to what you ultimately ended up doing?

Our original plan was to EBF, and that was what we ended up doing, thankfully! We talked about how we would likely have to supplement with formula, but when it came to doing it, it was brutal for me....I felt like if I have the formula, they wouldn't want my milk, and my supply would go down, and then we would start a viscous cycle that would ruin our plan. 

What was the best part about how you fed your girls?  What was the worst?

At the beginning.....I am not sure...losing weight!? I think for me, just feeling successful, and like by BF I was making up for not having the vaginal delivery that I should have had that made me a "real woman." I know...that sounds f*cked. :) The worst was feeling trapped and helpless and like I was solely responsible  and if I took a break or chose to sleep or go for a walk, I was being a bad mom. "What if they need me!!??"

What myths about how you fed your child were the most hurtful?  What is your "truth" that counteracts those myths?

Hmmm....that they would get nipple confusion and not want to breastfeed (I dont know if that is a myth, but I was told there was no empirical evidence to support that...). That they would prefer formula over milk and refuse to nurse. My truths: It is my job to take care of my babies, and if they are hungry, I am obliged and entitled to feed them...whatever way I can. 

What would help you (or would have helped you) to feel supported/understood in your choices?

More general and widespread acceptance of supplemental feeding. I felt like if I couldn't do it instantaneously, I was a fraud and a failure. I would like to think I would have put less pressure on myself and accepted more help. We would have all been happier.

I totally agree with that!  I think a lot of non-mums and mothers who didn't have trouble with supply when they began breastfeeding don't realize that it's not as easy for everyone.  It's not their fault, though, as I feel there's a lot of information out there really hammering away that breast is the most natural and easiest way to feed.  When it works, it is, but when it doesn't, all that information just makes mum feel like they've failed!

But anyway, back to the interview. :)  Think ten, twenty years into the future.  If you could give your grown child one message about how you chose to feed him/her, what would it be?

I would tell them that I wanted what I felt was the very best I could give them and I worked very very hard to do so, but that I wish I had been more relaxed about it and patient and kind to myself, and that I was lucky that my efforts paid off, but I could have done things in a gentler way. 

What could I have done to better support you in your feeding journey? 

Honestly, I don't know that anybody could have done anything differently for me, except to constantly remind me that In was doing a great job and my babies were heatlhy and happy. :)

Your babies ARE happy and healthy and you ARE doing a great job!  :)  Thanks, Candace!

I know it's kind of funny because in those early days (or even still, for me, now at 7 months) sometimes no matter how much people remind you how amazingly awesome your baby is and tell you you're doing a wonderful job as a mum, it's hard to really internalize that.  And I think that's why this "I Support You" project is so important.  Because we, as mums, are hard enough on ourselves.  It makes it quadruply difficult when there's all sorts of judgement out there even from (or especially from?) other mums.  

So, I hope now that this discussion is coming out, that we can all work to support each other!  Because, as all of us mums now know, motherhood is hard...too hard to go it alone.  So, to Candace, and to all you other mothers out there, I Support You!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mummy Lunches

Now that I'm a new(ish) mum and I hang out with other new mums, a disturbing phenomenon has come to my attention.  This is worse than all of the mom-comparing and sleep deprivation I've talked about in previous posts.  Worse even than all of my feeding drama.  There is something awful going on here and I'm going to expose it!

New mums are VERY bad at eating lunch.

There you have it, the disturbing and hidden truth.  In a random sampling of new mums (okay, not so random, they might all be my friends), I found the following lunch fare to be common:

  • Nothing at all (by far, the most common)
  • Half a bag of pretzels (I might be guilty of this one)
  • Vegan muffin from JJ Bean ("It's healthy if it's vegan, right?")
  • An Apple (okay that's not so bad...but still not a whole lunch)
  • Cookies ("I didn't sleep last night; fuck off.")
  • The rest of their toddler's lunches ("They weren't gonna eat it!  And I cooked it, damnit!")
  • Coffee (repeat: "I didn't sleep last night; fuck off.")
Mmmm a complete and balanced meal!!
photo credit

But do not fear, fellow bad-lunching mummies.  For I am going to give a whole host of solutions.  Now, you're probably wondering, "What makes you qualified to suggest healthy lunch options to me??"  And the answer to that is, nothing.  I'm actually a terrible cook, AND I did just admit above to the exclusively pretzel lunch.  So you can choose to read on for a bunch of easy and relatively edible ideas for how mums can get a lunch in or you can just say "I didn't sleep last night; fuck off," and close the browser window. :)  I know which I'd do!

Anyway, let's get started.

1) Leftovers!  This is by far the best way to get a good lunch.  Yesterday I had leftovers that didn't even need to be heated up!  It took me 5 minutes flat to prepare and eat this lunch (and I am a VERY slow eater), so it can easily be done during naps or even play time.

Some good ideas for leftovers include:

  • bean salads (no need to warm them!  You can even eat them in the park while your baby slumbers in the stroller!)
  • pizza (who doesn't love leftover pizza???  And, come on, admit it, after a particularly rough day, you've totally splurged for a pizza dinner at least once.)
  • pasta (bowties or fusili are the easiest to eat 1 handed while jiggling a baby in your other arm.  Opt for a drier pasta dish, rather than a saucier kind.  Oil and parmesan is a nice option!)
2) Pre-prepared foods  I don't know about you guys, but part of my problem with lunches (and dinner, actually :) ) is that when I'm ready to eat lunch, there's no time to make it!  It seems like lunchtime and dinner time are high-needs for baby time too.  It's like she knows!  So, a solution to that would be to take the time you've got.  If baby sleeps from 8-9 am, obviously you aren't going to eat lunch then, but you can certainly whip up a sandwich to keep in the fridge or chop up some veggies to go with hummus.  Okay, that last one actually sounds more time intensive than I'd go for.  Anything with the word "chop" in it doesn't really work for me, but, hey, it might for you!! ;)

You can also pre-prepare things way in advance.  Like, on Sunday when you might have your partner or someone else around to entertain baby, you can make a few cheese and coldcut wraps to stick in the fridge.  Then, at lunchtime, all you have to do is heat them up (or just eat them cold!) and manga manga.

3) Get help (and I don't mean the mental kind)  I feel a little sheepish doing this these days, since Ebba is so old, but in the early days, I certainly had no shame in asking friends to bring over lunch!  "You wanna see my bebe?  Great!  Bring over some food and I'll let you in the house!"  It helps if you have friends who are good cooks! :)

4) Don't be afraid to outsource  I have a mental list of a few nearby restaurants that are baby-cry friendly and have delicious food.  For you local folk, Cafe Deux Soleils and Deserts Cafe on Commercial Drive both have really yummy veggie lunch food, and are relatively low-key so if baby throws a hissy fit, it's no big deal.  (Actually, Ebba sleeps through my lunches at both of these places 9 times out of 10!)  The best thing about getting out and having a professional cook your meal (apart from knowing it will taste good) is that you can meet up with friends and get some much-needed out-of-the-house time with your baby.

5) When All Else Fails...  Sometimes, there is no avoiding the pretzel lunch.  But when you must do the inevitable, it's nice to still think about the food groups.  Add some peanut butter for protein (and YUM factor!) and eat it with a few baby carrots so you can tell your mum, "Yes, I'm still eating my vegetables," without actually lying.  

And, since she's a mum too, you can add, "What did you have for lunch today?"  Hopefully the answer won't be nothing!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Mompetition and Momparison Game

As anyone who has read this blog knows, I have spent the last three and a half months agonizing and probably (definitely) overreacting over my feeding issues with Ebba.  A lot of the overreaction probably had to do with hormones and my possible PPD, but some of it does stem from all the messages out there about how if you don't breastfeed, you aren't doing enough for your baby.  

I talked about this a bit before, but it has come up again after a conversation I had with a close friend of mine.  I had read an article in Mothering Magazine about cosleeping (I would link, but it's from a 2009 edition from a stack someone gave me when E. was born. :) ).  The first line of the article was, 

"Although every human female is different, there is no doubt that her body is endowed with a unique capacity to breastfeed, should she choose to do so."
I was a bit miffed over this, because I was expecting an article about sleep!  I was reading and relaxing to get my mind off of the whole feeding kerfuffle, and here it was thrown back in my face.  I skimmed through a few other articles, all with a similar message, whether the article was meant to be about feeding or not.

Anyway, I brought up this quote with said friend, who responded:

"[All this bombardment about the benefits of breastfeeding] isn't to make women like you, women who have struggled, and fought, and sacrificed, and, unfortunately, been unable to breastfeed feel bad.  It is dual purpose, I think.  First, to encourage and educate women about breastfeeding, because, as we know, there are women out there who do not want to breastfeed, or choose not to [...]due to lack of knowledge or confidence etc.  And, the second purpose is to make those women, like me, who have been blessed and lucky enough to successfully breastfeed, feel good about it...  Basically, so we can toot our horns, and feel good.   Unfortunately, that makes women who cannot, feel like shit. :("

The last two lines resonated with me.  Not just about the breastfeeding issue, but about all things surrounding pregnancy and birth and parenthood.  It seems we're all ticking boxes: blissful pregnancy? Check.  Natural labour?  Check.  Breastfeeding?  Check.  Cloth diapers?  Check.  Baby yoga?  Check.  Infant massage?  Check.  Babywearing?  Check.  All organic?  Check.  Etc, etc.

What my friend said made me think back to my own birth, which I still think was fantastic and totally what I wanted, but that isn't why I'm proud of it.  I'm proud of it because I carried and grew a child for 9+ months and then brought her into the world.  It was icing on the cake that it was a natural and fairly peaceful birth at home.  But the real reason I'm happy it was natural and at home was because I'm a coward!  I'm terrified of hospitals and the thought of a needle in my back (as for an epidural) just makes my skin crawl.  If I had had to do my birth differently, I'm not sure I would have made it.

And, that's why I am becoming so impressed by women who do go a different.  Women who have had to be induced and endure long and painful contractions; women who have been in labor for over a day, or two or three!  Women who have had to have their babies surgically removed from them because of complications.  Those women are strong.  They have encountered the unthinkable and the certainly unexpected and have survived and even thrived.  They are just as much birthing heroes as the women who birth naturally.

All of these ticked boxes above are awesome, but not ticking one of these boxes doesn't make anyone a bad mum!  There are many reasons for some of those boxes to be unchecked.  Some are good reasons and some are not so good.  But as long as a woman is educated and supported, she has the right to make whatever choice she wants, and we all should be pretty okay with that.  And, if she's educated and supported and she is still unable to make the choice that she wants (as in my case with breastfeeding, or in the case of someone needing an emergency C-section, for example), then we should be more than okay with that.  We should look at that mum and say, "Wow, you must be so strong."  Because, getting what you want and what you planned for doesn't make you strong.  Not getting those things and still moving forward is what takes the real strength, as I am learning.

So, let me try and get back to my point.  What was the point of this post again?  Sorry, it's after 9 pm so my brain has gone to sleep.

Oh!  Right.  My point (which I've said before, so sorry for the redundant post) is that all this mummy comparing and mummy competition isn't helpful for anyone.  We shouldn't be putting other mums down because it makes us feel better and more secure in our own choices.  We should support each other no matter what.  And we should feel strong enough in our own role as a mum that we don't count ticked boxes to make sure we're doing things right.

I'm not trying to be all high and mighty.  I'm a ticked-box counter too!  Truth be told, that's why I started reading that article about cosleeping -- I thought to myself, "Well, I might not be breastfeeding exclusively, but I do cosleep, so that means I'm still an okay mum, right?  Surely better than all those people who don't cosleep."  But that first line snapped me right out of my box-ticking ways.

My mum chose to stop breastfeeding me before 4 months.  She couldn't wait.  My husband's mum didn't cosleep with any of her children.  My best friend was born by C-section.  As far as I can tell, we've all turned out okay.  So, while on a large scale I'm sure a lot of these things matter, on a small scale, what really matters is just relaxing into motherhood and loving your kids.  So, let's stop competing and comparing with each other and just give each other and ourselves hugs for taking on parenthood and succeeding.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bliss and Blues

It's been awhile since I've written in the blog.

Thank you, Captain Obvious!  Any other enlightening tidbits for us?

Well, yes.  How about some brutal honesty?  Here goes.  I had every intention of making my blog a mix of humour and information, steering clear of the journal-like 'woe-is-me'-isms that probably have no business in a public forum.  But, the truth is, I haven't felt particularly humorous or informative recently.  I have, however, felt pretty full of 'woe-is-me.'  So rather than let my blog suffer any more neglect waiting for something funny to pop into my head, I figured I might as well just write about what's in my head now.  And, hey, maybe it will be informative for someone.  I don't know.

A week or so ago, I made the decision to stop trying to breastfeed Ebba.  Granted, I still do sometimes, especially at night or whenever she's willing.  But I'm no longer on a crazy crusade to increase my supply or breastfeed exclusively...because I had to admit to myself that that probably will never happen.

This was a difficult decision for me, but ultimately I had to realize what my crazy obsession was doing to myself, and to my family.  I hardly had time to appreciate the amazingness that is my daughter because I was so filled with self-loathing and stress about "not being able to feed her properly."  I attributed every little problem to our feeding issues.  As I wrote to a family member:

So, here we are, sad about life, with an awesome husband and a beautiful baby in a fabulous city.  I can't really get more irrational than this.  It's like people say, "look on the bright side," and I do...I try to.  But it's like through a cloud.  A cloud of "buts" (no, not butTs! :))  This is what I do: "Ebba is amazing BUT she might be healthier if she were breastfed."  "My life is awesome BUT I'd have more time to spend with my daughter if I weren't always mixing formula."  "Ebba and I totally rock getting out of the house BUT it would be so much easier if I didn't have to lug bottles everywhere I went, or cut outings short because I didn't bring enough food for the baby."  "I checked out all those 'breastfeeding-is-tha-shit' studies and they aren't really all that convincing, BUT when I breastfeed Ebba seems happier and it just FEELS more natural." "David is the best Dad and husband ever, BUT I hardly get to enjoy him because I'm always mixing formula...or crying...or crying while I mix formula."

But, my empty boobs aren't really what I wanted to write about right now.  I wanted to write about what I've found to be the paradox of becoming a new mum, how it's possible to be a blissed out mama-goddess on one hand and a bluesed (sure, that's a word!) out mummy on the other.  I wanted to write about how I probably have postpartum depression, along with about 25% of other mummies.  And I wanted to write that that fact doesn't make me (or any of us) less of a blissed out mamma goddess.  (And that maybe some of those blissed out mamma goddesses that we're sitting here envying also cry several times a week at home with their baby.)

Here's the thing, becoming a new mum (or, I'd imagine, even a second time mum) is not an easy thing.  It's a wonderful thing, but not easy.  There is no real way to prepare completely for it as far as I can tell.  You can nanny, read all the baby books, spend time with your friends' new babies, practice waking up 8 times a night for a few months...bring a stuffed animal and a tape-recording of crying with you to every shower and bathroom know.  But none of this will really prepare you for the love and stress and bliss and terror and excitement and exhaustion that your baby will bring you.  And none of this can prepare you for the crazy flux of hormones that goes on after birth.

You might think I'm about to talk about the crazy flux of hormones now, but I really have no specific idea of what it is and I'm a new mum, so I am not going to research it right now.  But I'm sure a quick google search will enlighten you, should you not be a new mum and actually have the luxury of time for frivolous google searches. :)

Anyway, with this mystery hormone stew, coupled with the radical change in lifestyle, it's no wonder new parents (I say parents because some dads get it as well!) can get the blues.  The thing is, no parent plans to get it, and I think that's what makes it so difficult.  I personally skipped over the postpartum depression chapter in all my baby books because I thought, "Oh I'm having a mamma-goddess natural birth; what could possibly go wrong?"

I'll never know if my feeding troubles are what caused my sadness, or if something else would have triggered it anyway; just as I'll never know if my feeding issues were caused by something I did or didn't do, or if they would have happened anyway.  The only thing I can do is move on and spend my energy on adoring my beautiful daughter, who makes it easier to recover everyday.  If "recover" is even the right word.  See, the thing that I have come to realize is this (as I mentioned above): the baby blues or even postpartum depression doesn't make the bliss of motherhood any less, unless you let it.

I think it is hard for a lot of women to admit, or even realize, that they have PPD because they feel like it makes them less of a mum, or that it takes out the bliss they had envisioned becoming a mum would bring.  I certainly hadn't put that label on my bummed out mama feelings because I unconsciously thought those words, Postpartum depression, would minimize my whole experience.  But, bliss and blues are not mutually exclusive, as far as I can see now.

After I accepted this label, I was still a bit sad.  As I told someone: GI Joe was wrong; knowing is not half the battle.  But, a week later, I realize that knowing (accepting the label) really did help me come to terms with things and deal.  So, I hope by my admitting my own battles with PPD, other mums come out of the dark, look at how they feel, and get help if they need it.

Since then, I have taken E. on her first road trip, gone swimming, gone on picnics, threw our first bash at home, and had a whole week of feedings (boob and bottle) that didn't involve tears.  I have just thoroughly enjoyed my life as a mum and my life with Ebba.

Other new mummies, how did/do you feel?  Bluesy? Blissy?  Both?  How did you deal?