the one that’s hard to write

It’s taken me a while to write this post, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to write it. But as a writer, this is how we heal. Writing, in a weird sense, gives permission to move forward. So here I am, writing this post, in a place where moving forward seems hopeful and happy.

Postpartum depression is a real thing, happening to around 3 million moms each year, some may even be reading this right now. When my son was born, I found myself in unknown territory that went beyond the baby blues. The feelings of being inadequate, hopeless, sad, resentful and even selfish overwhelmed my already stressed out mind.

I knew something wasn’t right early on. I had plenty of help, my baby was sleeping well, and although I was recovering from a c-section and my toddler was adjusting to a new situation, she handled not being the center of attention better than expected. Yet with all of that, I was sad all the time. I wasn’t connecting with my son while also feeling an aching need to spend more time with my daughter. When I had the opportunity to do either of those things, I wanted to crawl under the thickest blanket and hibernate instead. I constantly reached out to friends and family to see how their life was going in order to give me some kind of normalcy to the whirlwind I was inhabiting.

The many questions of the unknown would constantly travel to a negative, dark place and grow branches at warp speed. My daughter and I had found our groove as a twosome. Having a newborn on top of an active toddler seemed so daunting that I was afraid I would never leave the house again or have fun with my kids. For the first time since becoming a mom, the idea of going back to work in an office and leaving my kids with someone other than me seemed interesting, almost exciting, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the struggles of caring for two children on my own. I stopped doing things with my toddler even though my mom was there to watch my son, because I was just too tired, too sad and felt hopeless.

At first the depression centered around my daughter. Not being there for her, not being able to hang with her and do fun things at the drop of a hat because of my son. My husband and I always wanted more kids, and we were certain that adding to our kid quota was the best thing we could do for our family. In all of that certainty, I wasn’t able to shake off the sadness with enough vigor to look at anything in a positive light. As the depression continued, I started to feel selfish about those feelings. I remember one evening my husband took my daughter outside to play while I held my sleeping son on my chest, my favorite baby thing in the whole world. In a matter of seconds I was sobbing, feeling every emotion I possibly could in relation to my son. I felt selfish. Selfish for having negative feelings. Selfish for wanting to spend time with my daughter, selfish for not taking the time to rock him to sleep or spend every waking minute of my day with my new human. After all, this world is big and bright and loud and as his number one protector, I couldn’t give him my undivided attention. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

I ended up seeing a therapist that specialized in postpartum depression. I appreciated her stance on not wanting to put me on drugs right away (a lot of them wanted to do that at our first meeting) and listened to my plea for help on sorting through these feelings so that I could be the strong mom my kids needed me to be and the strong woman that I needed me to be. She urged me to be present in every moment with both of them, no matter what the context and no matter what feelings they would conjure up. After a couple of sessions and a crap load of money later, I was starting to feel like myself again.

Being a mom of two kids is already tough, and I still have feelings of not being enough for both kids and asking for help. Both demand my full attention in completely different capacities, and that’s hard. I struggle with splitting my time when I’m outnumbered on the daily, but we are finding a groove that works for all of us. After 3 months I finally ventured outside the neighborhood by myself with both kids. I needed to do that on my own, at my own pace, in order to move forward.

My family and friends have been super supportive and non-judgmental throughout this whole ordeal and I owe them so much gratitude for that. They loved me until I was me again. The topic of postpartum depression is being discussed more and more without the stigma of weakness or mental illness. It’s more common than we think, and the best thing that can be offered is a listening ear while walking through the fog.

My kids won’t remember this rough time in their lives, but I will. I still struggle with the daily demands of a newborn and active toddler and being enough, but I look forward to the memories we will build as a family and the friendship they will form as brother and sister. I make time to spend with my son and daughter individually so I feel like they are getting just me for a while, something that I think helps both of our souls.

One day at a time.

photo credit: Rosie Parket Photography

pregnant with a toddler- the struggle is real

I know pregnancy makes you tired, especially in the last month, but I was not prepared for how tired I’d feel this time around. My daughter had issues with me as her nutrition host and was a tiny, pre-term 3 lb. baby who just made me sick all the way up to delivery. But I could take a nap on demand (when I wasn’t nauseous), and plan her arrival calmly.

This time is so different. While in hindsight I appreciate the fact that my daughter kept me just distracted enough to not have the luxury of feeling sick all day (the DayQuil commercials come to mind when the mom goes into her kids room and asks to take a sick day), as time has gone by and my belly gets bigger, it’s harder for me to keep up with her. I’m tired all day, not sleeping, and chasing a toddler with the energy of a hopping Energizer bunny.

I wasn’t prepared to be this exhausted 24/7 with a toddler running around and an unborn son who thankfully is on target and using my body and thriving. All this while trying to wrap my head around all the things that need to get done to get a house ready to accommodate two little ones with completely different needs.

I struggle with trying to fit in so many things that I want to do with my daughter as we come to a close as a twosome, with the reality that my body just can’t do it. While zoo trips and beach days sound awesome, I’m slowly caving into the fact that movie afternoons are where it needs to be at. Queue up Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid.

So while I’d love to hear any thoughts out there from other moms who have have dealt with this exact situation, I know that I’m not alone and that I’ll be fine. My mom did this exact thing and my sisters and I came out just fine (or so she keeps telling us). Still- any advice on how to survive this last month of pregnancy with an active toddler would be much appreciated!

it’s really happening (baby #2): 3rd trimester

Home stretch! Jesus I can’t believe I’m starting my 3rd trimester. At the latest, in 11 weeks we’ll be welcoming a new baby into the world. A little brother for Liv, a son for Justin and another baby to keep this crazy family of ours interesting and full of love. It’s all incredibly overwhelming, but keeping a list of shit that needs to get done before that time comes has actually helped. Lord help us.

Oh, and this is an accurate picture of what my bladder feels like 24/7. Even if I JUST pee’d 5 seconds ago.

Here’s how I’m doing this time around:

1. How big is the baby?

Baby is the size of a Barbie convertible, or an acorn squash (if you’re better with food- cue Julia Roberts line from My Best Friends Wedding). He’s super active and kicking all the time, especially at night when I’m the most chill (a.k.a toddler is sleeping). 

2. Foods I Love…

Let the sour trend continue! Rueben sandwiches are my weakness. The pickles, thousand island dressing, pastrami and cheese are just heaven to my tastebuds. Skip the coleslaw or sauerkraut this time around. I have been really cautious about eating deli meat, but rueben sandwiches are heated and after getting the OK from the doc, I’m all up in that. 

3. Foods I Hate…

Anything string-y or chopped that will make my throat and GERD flare up. I curse the coleslaws, chopped salads, chopped nuts, granola, oatmeal and seeds of the world right now. I’ll welcome them back once this baby is out, but as of now, be gone or there will be consequences. 

4. How I’m Feeling…

Aside from not sleeping due to restless leg syndrome, insomnia and typical I-cant-find-a-good-position-to-sleep-with-pregnant-belly issues, I’m feeling ok. I get tired a lot during the day and need to take a nap while my toddler naps or else I’m beat before my husband can get home (there was a moment last week when a nap did not happen and as I’m trying my best to stay awake, my toddler is going around in circles singing “walking, walking, walking!!”). Picking up toys and things that fall on the floor are given a long pause in deciding whether or not to bend down and get them, which I have now left to my husband. It’s just too much work to pick them up and my organs don’t seem to appreciate being folded in half while I pick up the Elmo figurine for the 10th time. Since I am feeling better overall, I’ve taken a bit of excitement in dressing this new bump. I didn’t have much of one with Liv because of all the issues, and my attire consisted of sweatpants and tops just to make it through each day, so pregnancy dresses have been fun to try on and buy. 

5. Looking Forward To…

Baby sprinkles and showers! Justin and I don’t need much aside from essentials we borrowed the first time around and slobbered on teethers and bottle nipples, but it’s fun to celebrate a little boy joining our family. It’ll be exciting to celebrate with the color BLUE this time 🙂 

6. Scared About…

Problems that arose with the first pregnancy coming back for seconds. Also the big to-do list I keep adding to and fear of not getting done. The last delivery was out of the blue, rushed and nothing was ready (including a new house and baby stuff) so I like that I can at least figure out what I’m packing in my hospital bag and organizing baby stuff BEFORE baby comes (at least that’s the idea). 

7. Things I’ve Learned…

That millions of moms do this 2 kid thing everyday. The internal mind struggles, fear of the unknown and the how-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-this thoughts are calmed by the fact that my mom and my mother-in-law have done this exact thing. I’m grateful that Justin is my teammate in this transition and an active father. I’m learned that we are a true team when it comes to our kids, and adding one more will just make that team stronger, with more laughs and less sleep 🙂