31 December 2012

Goodbye 2012

Every year I tell myself that I'm going to write one of those fabulous newsletters about family happenings and include it with a photo card of our family. Would you care to guess how many times I've actually accomplished that? If you guessed zero, you'd guess correctly. This year, I'm telling myself that I'm taking a step in the right direction and doing a "blogletter".

2012 started off with all sorts of excitement. I was struck with inspiration to compete in the Mrs. California America beauty pageant to raise awareness for Postpartum Depression. As soon as I decided to do this and started getting Facebook and fundraising pages up, I got the surprise of my life in the form of a positive pregnancy test that I had taken on a whim. I canceled my plans to compete in Mrs. California and stopped packing up the maternity clothes I had just been able to stop wearing from when I had a baby 9 months prior. I had no idea when I was due or even whether I was in my first or second trimester due to being on birth control and still nursing my baby. A trip to the doctor said that we'd be welcoming a new member of the family in September. Well, at least I managed to "skip" the first half of the first trimester...

It took quite some time to adjust to the idea that I was having a baby again already. It was quite the emotional roller coaster. In April, while the kids and I were visiting my family, my godmother did an ultrasound at the pregnancy resource center she volunteers at and quite unintentionally we found out that we were expecting a boy. There wasn't really any doubt whatsoever; he wasn't the LEAST bit shy about letting us know. I think if he'd been wearing pants he would have pulled them down and gone "Look look look!!! See that? I'm a boy!!!". Every time my godmother tried to look at his face or his feet or anything, he'd flip over and wiggle his rump at us again. Crazy baby.

Over the summer, we moved to a new house. We live in military housing and the new baby qualified us for a move to a 4-bedroom house. The new house is much nicer and much bigger and as soon as we moved in, Yumyum (at the time the youngest, now the middle baby) started walking without holding on to anything. I'd like to go on record as saying that being stubborn and trying to move by yourself without getting anyone to help you with furniture is a really bad idea, as my husband learned the hard way twice during this process, both times being instances where I was fully justified in saying "I told you so!".

At 35 weeks, we realized that I was showing some symptoms of antenatal depression and I started taking Zoloft in hopes of keeping it from getting bad. The Zoloft did the trick and my mood swings evened out. I didn't really think that I would make it to my due date but Little Mister had other ideas. Not only did I make it to my due date, I went 10 days past! Go figure that my first 2 came on time and my third is the one who dragged things out... good things come to those who wait and as soon as I scheduled an induction for the next week. he decided I meant business and he'd better come on his own. He's worth every day of that pregnancy and I love him to pieces.

I really didn't mean for this to be all about pregnancy and having a new baby but it makes sense that that's how it turned out. It feels like this whole year has revolved around it. In the next year, I have no idea what challenges and happy occasions I'll face but as I face them, I can do so with the knowledge that this year has made me stronger. I survived pregnancy, pregnancy while breastfeeding, moving with small children and pets while pregnant, drug-free childbirth, and the lamest apocalypse ever (good thing I never bought in to the Mayan calendar). I face the new year with friends new and old.

Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013.


26 December 2012

No more Nuva Ring for me

At my 6 week postpartum checkup, my OB went ahead and got me started on the Nuva Ring. I wasn't particularly fond of the idea of using the mini-pill or another similar "lite" form of birth control since that's what I was on when I got pregnant this last time around. Don't get me wrong, I love my son. Just as my daughters do, he makes my world a little brighter and more full and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. However, I really need a little longer than 3 months before I get pregnant again.

IUD's aren't an option I'm willing to consider because I've known too many women who got pregnant on them and then had to hold their breath waiting for the doctor to remove the IUD and hope that neither the wait nor the removal would hurt the baby or the mom. If I'm going to end up pregnant on birth control, I'd rather it be a method that I can discontinue as soon as I find out I'm pregnant. I wanted something convenient and easy, that I wouldn't have to worry about whether I took it at exactly the right time, etc. This pretty much left my options at Nuva Ring or the Patch. I've used the Path before and had good success with it but the doctor wanted to try the Ring first instead.

At the end of the cycle, I said "That's it, I'm done.". It made me WAY too tired. I was having trouble getting off the couch before noon (literally) and had no energy the rest of the day. My mood swings were a little worse, all sorts of fun stuff. Finally I decided that I couldn't go on like that and when the day came that I was supposed to switch it out (the doctor had said to just do it back to back) I just didn't put another one in.It didn't take long before I started to have more energy and notice that my moods were not quite as volatile.

Here's where this ties in with PPMD though: my intrusive thoughts (symptomatic of Postpartum OCD) got a LOT better. I still occasionally have some trouble with them but nothing like they were before I took out the Ring. It makes me reluctant to try another hormonal method of birth control because I don't want to risk having more issues crop up. I need to talk to my doctor about it and see what she recommends but for now, I'm just happy to be feeling better.


05 December 2012

You just don't realize how lucky you are

As I've said before, a question that I hear a lot is "What can I do to help?" or "What should I say to my friend who's struggling with *insert PPMD here*?". I've written about things that can help; today, I'd like to discuss what NOT to say.

One of the things that irritates me to no end is when people say things like "Well you just don't know how lucky you are that your baby is healthy" or "You're luckier than you realize". That type of statement can get me seeing red and breathing fire in about the same amount of time it takes my dog to jump up on the chair to pull a plate of food off of the middle of the dining room table, which is to say, pretty darned fast. My feelings about that genre of statement are complex and I doubt that I can adequately express why I feel the way I do (or even the extent of how I feel) but I'm going to give it a shot.

Whether or not the person spouting this pearl of wisdom realizes it, this type of statement assigns blame to the mother for feeling the things she feels, for fighting the battle she's fighting. The message is that if you would just REALIZE how lucky you are, your troubles would disappear. For one thing, we're not stupid. For those of us with healthy babies, we know we're lucky. I think mos - if not all - of us know at least one person whose baby had to stay in the NICU with health problems, was stillborn, died after birth, etc. We KNOW how easily it could be us watching our baby fight to survive. For some women, they have been there before, You're not telling us anything we don't know and you're not giving us some great key to unlock the door that will magically release us from whatever battle we're fighting.

If it were as easy as realizing how lucky we were, don't you think that the number of women suffering from PPMD would be significantly lower, if not completely erased? One of the things that made it so hard for me to seek help the first time around was knowing how lucky I was and feeling guilty for not being "more appreciative and grateful for that".

If you say or have said this, you probably didn't even realize that it can (and often does) come across like this. But now that you do know, please don't say it to us any more. Regardless of whether we're dealing with baby blues in the first few weeks postpartum, or a more serious PPMD such as Postpartum Depression, we don't need to hear that we "just need to realize how lucky [we] are". We already know; it doesn't help.


04 December 2012

Goodbye Monterey's Rose

In 1997, I remember getting the news that Diana, Princess of Wales had been in a car crash and had passed away. The news stunned more than just England, it stunned the entire world. "Princess Di" was an extraordinary person with a reputation for having a passion for helping people. It seemed to me, as a teenager, that the entire world mourned her loss.

Last week, a friend of mine passed away. Lisa's passing was a shock to our entire community. Everyone said what a wonderful person she was and how much she would be missed. I was one of those and still am. Her funeral was today and I had planned to go but the girls were in complete meltdown mode and Aaron seemed like he wasn't feeling well and was spitting up more than normal so I decided it would be better to stay home. Words can't express how sad I was to have to miss her service, so I thought I'd write a little bit as my own way to deal with her loss.

You may be reading this and going "What does any of this have to do with Princess Diana?". Well, Lisa reminded me a lot of the good qualities that were so well publicized about the Princess of Wales. In fact, when I was looking for a song to listen to while writing this, something that summed up my feelings about Lisa, I found Elton John's "Candle In The Wind" (his rewrite in 1997 for Diana's funeral) and if you change "England" to "Monterey", I think it fits Lisa perfectly.

And it seems to me that you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind.
Never fading with the sunset when the rain set in
And our footsteps will always fall here 
Along Monterey's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend ever will.

She was one of the most helpful people here in Monterey. She was the epitome of what a military spouse should be. She never hesitated to jump in and help other people or find the information someone needed. She was both gentle and strong, fire-y and kind. I always enjoyed talking to her. She had a fantastic sense of humor and could make people go from crying to laughing with just a few well-chosen words. She could sweet-talk anybody into doing anything, even if they started out digging their heels in more stubbornly than a mule who doesn't want to be led.

It still seems unreal to me that she's gone. It seems so wrong. She wasn't someone who should have passed away now, she should have lived on forever. She was one of those people who seemed immortal. I still find myself wanting to send her a pm or tag her in a picture or status. I keep thinking reality has set in and then I change my mind. There's such a sense of wrong-ness about her passing (and please don't comment with "It's all part of God's plan, that doesn't ever help me feel better about losing someone I love) that it makes it harder to accept. But then, I've never been very good at accepting loss, denial has usually been my preferred method of "coping"...

Goodbye, Lisa. You will always be remembered by the many people you helped and inspired. Even those of us who only knew you from the local military spouse groups will never forget you. You made more of a difference than you probably ever knew, more of a difference than any words I could ever write or say would be capable of expressing. You were beautiful inside and out and your loss leaves a void in our community. We'll miss you. I'll miss you. Thank you for being you. You will always be in our hearts and our memories.