in the late, late, late night.

In the late, late, late night anxiety whispers to me, it’s voice feather quiet and razor sharp.

You don’t get to keep him. He won’t stay long. He is to precious for this world. He will be leaving you soon.

This is different than the anxiety I suffered from earlier, a World War Two air raid siren screaming through my head THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN! THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN!

The baby was not in the oven. He was safe in my arms, sleeping peacefully and making the sweetest sighs and little smacky nursing noises.

But it rang through my soul with an urgency of absolute fact that it was happening. THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN! THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN!

Again, the baby was NOT in the oven.

That same baby, now seven months old is sleeping – for the moment anyway- in his crib, tucked in the next room which seems miles away. He is safe. I hear his sleepy sighs over what his big brother calls the ‘momnitor’. And I lay there with these steely whispers in my head.

You don’t get to keep him. Anxiety whispers again.  He won’t stay long. He is too precious for this world. He will leave you soon. And worst lie of all: It will be your fault.

I’m watching Law and Order in the late, late, late night. Anxiety not only whispers but it wakes and won’t let me rest. I hear the character say “He was doing so well. On his meds but then he thought he didn’t need them anymore and went off of them” An often used plot device I used to find amusing. Who would stop taking medicine that was making them so…normal? Then I realized, I haven’t taken mine in days.

I didn’t make a decision to stop taking it. I just…forgot.

It happens every so often, as I am pretty open about my struggle with postpartum anxiety, that someone will say with a heavy sigh and not a small amount of judgement “I just wish you could have tried meditation or something before you turned to those drugs.” I want to scream out, but I just try to think of Jesus. Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.

I wonder how well it would go over if I said to someone who had, say, a kidney problem “I just wish you could have tried meditation or something before you turned to drugs” or asthma “Do you REALLY need drugs for that? Can’t you just do yoga or something? Why don’t you try acupuncture, I mean do you really need those life saving drugs that let you be present for your children, participate in your life and laugh and smile again?”

Forget judgement. Screw judgement. I have postpartum anxiety, which means something in my brain is misfiring, my body is releasing adrenaline incorrectly. Our brains are our bodies, it isn’t a mental illness. It’s just an illness.

I reach over and thankfully take my pill. This little pill which let’s me be me. Then I hear the baby waken, hear his sweet mewling cry and the beginnings of speech- the mamamama. Gratefully I pull back the covers and hurry to his room, scooping him up, kissing his sleep warm cheek and stealing the heavenly scent of his freshly washed hair. We settle into the rocking chair and I tell myself he is here, he is safe, he is staying.

I thank God for him. And for Zoloft.

 

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Postpartum Progress Strong Start Day.

Today is my mother in law’s birthday. Happy Birthday Robin! It is also the day on which more babies are born than any other day of the year.

 

I’ve made no secret that I grappled, and continue to struggle with postpartum anxiety. I’ve blogged about it, written about it, and of course reported on it for ivillage. The single strongest hand I had reaching out to support me and help lead me out of the tunnel was Katherine Stone and her amazing site postpartum progress.

I don’t frequently use my blog to ask for favors, votes or money. But today I do. Today we try to raise money for postpartum progress so that they may help others like me, others like you. Over half a million women a year are diagnosed with a form of postpartum disorders. Ranging from depression to OCD. Those are just the ones who are able to vocalize what they are going through. Those who have doctors who listen. I was unable to do so, I had no idea what was crippling me was in fact a disorder and was treatable. I am forever grateful that I had a doctor who saw the warning signs and pressed me to talk about it, so many women don’t.

Postpartum Progress’s goal is to raise $30,000 implement some amazing new projects and ways to support women (and those who lovew them) through this. They’ve got a very big postpartum depression awareness campaign. I can’t help but think of the year and a half I lost to postpartum anxiety and how I might have been able to participate in my life more if only I had known what was going on.

Times are hard, believe me I know. We are still living with my mother in law the birthday girl. If you have five bucks to spare. One buck to spare. Whatever, please give. If you simply can’t, please consider tweeting or facebooking this or the post at Postpartum Progress.

Even if we can’t spread money around the way we’d like, perhaps we can spread some awareness.

You have my gratitude.

You can donate here

 

Just Sitting here on the corner of Awesome and Bombdiggity.

{via Pinterest}

Yup. Today is my birthday and  have decided that in this, my thirtieth (again) year I shall simply be awesome.

Oh, I don’t mean that suddenly my head has exploded with ego…no, no. I am still the same insecure wreck I was last year. My brain is still a constant cycle of negative self talk and anxiety. I’m telling you it is a par-tay up in cabeza de Stephania.

However on this, my thirtieth (again) birthday I declare that this year shall be spent letting GO of at least some of that self doubt. Go Dog GO!

Because listen, I am not a size zero. I am not 6 feet tall. I didn’t turn out to be a super model. But I am pretty blessed. First and foremost; my boys, my babies,are here and healthy and just for reals the bombdiggity. Second: I gots me a hubby who is a good honest man and as an added bonus he makes me laugh till my eyes water. Third: Mumsy is awesome. Forth: we live with my in-laws. I know, not normally a blessing, right? But mine are pretty cool and we get to save money to move (soon we hope) and hey! free babysitting! Fourth: I am blessed to love The Boss’ preschool. Even if he doesn’t right now. Sad panda. Fifth: I am resilient. I beat an eating disorder just before it beat me. I moved across the country away from my home and friends and have slowly made a life for myself.My once much abused body rallied and built not one, but two beautiful babies. I’ve struggled with postpartum anxiety and am winning the war. Sixth: super awesome bombdiggity friends. Dub, WWJD, Miss Katie, and all my others. I am so very lucky. I include you, my ‘make believe in the computer friends’. I am grateful for each and every one of you.

For my birthday I declare that you are awesome too. BTW you look great today! yes, you!

Helter Skelter.

When you have postpartum anxiety, as I do, you can be feeling fine, taking your meds, and using the breathing exercises you’ve been taught and then suddenly its like that scene in JAWS. You know the one where the lovely bikini clad woman is happily swimming along and then is suddenly pulled underwater by some unseen terror. That’s me this week. Apparently the trigger is duh nuh duh nuh {JAWS theme} preschool. The terror is at night, and this time it’s rearing it’s ugly head in my dreams. The dreams, oh the dreams! The nightmares.  I was unprepared for this because my first go around with Postpartum Anxiety I never slept. Ever.  Even if we could get The Boss to sleep, I was unable to rest, watching him like a hawk praying that he would make it through the night, that he would wake in the morning. It was terrifying.

This time I have an equally sweet little baby boy, but Huck? Huck sleeps. Praise sweet baby Jesus. And while he slumbers, making sweet little baby sighs and snores, I’m having nightmares. The dreams involve a circular metal elevator with no walls and a boy falls from it, becoming trapped underneath. Or The Boss being trapped in a covered turnstile almost being crushed ( I manage to free him and then steal an ergo and babywear my 40 lb 3 year-old. I don’t believe we need Freud to interpret this). Last night it involved leaving a small baby behind with a clearly unfit caregiver as The Boss and I walked away in the dark unprotected into danger. Sophie’s Choice. It doesn’t take a CSI team to solve the mystery of where these dreams are coming from or why they’re occurring. The mystery of how to let them go is harder to solve.

I thought I had a real handle on my PPA this time. Once I started having the panic that someone had put Huck in the oven I took quick action. Knowing this wasn’t a normal level of panic made it easy to recognize what was going on and get help. I would hold Huck at night and tell myself over and over ‘He is not in the oven. He is right here and safe” much the same way I would repeat “Max is safe, he is not underwater” a million times a night with The Boss. The only difference this time is knowledge. It only took me from Saturday when I first noticed my symptoms till Monday morning to call my doctor. Last time Max was 18 months old before my doctor asked the magic question and it all poured out.

But I digress.

The dreams…what to do? I wake, sweaty and in a panic; resisting the urge to race into The Boss’s room and scoop him up. That is what’s best for ME, but not what’s best for him. What’s best is for him to rest. Even at 3 sleep is still elusive for my boy, I don’t dare disturb it. He deserves a mom who is confident and never lets on that preschool is terrifying. For mommy, that is. If he were to bring something like that up then I, as mommy, need to reassure and calm him. Even if I am hysterical on the inside.

I am surprised by this panic because I do want him to go to preschool. I adore his teacher. He is more than ready – other than that pesky potty business- he wants friends. He wants to play. I make a silent promise to him every day not to let my worry prevent him from happiness. I will not infect my baby with my issues.

It’s so hard! Especially when he talks non-stop of the roundabout and wanting it to go faster and faster.

Gee. I wonder where those circular metal images in my nightmares came from?

For now breathing in and out and letting my baby go, well that will have to be enough.

That and Zoloft.

 

The one where I bare my soul…

Holding on for dear life.

I love working with iVillage.com love it. I love working with my fellow iVoices and I admit that I’ve been jealous a time or two of their brilliant reports and how funny and comfortable they are on camera. Oh, sure I’ve got hours logged on the tv, but it is much harder to be ME on film than act a character.  However, this is so important I just took a deep breath and put my postpartum swollen face and belly,my dark circled eyes and lack of makeup-ed face front and center to talk about my postpartum anxiety. I was surprised how emotional I got just talking about it. Especially talking about watching my son sleep, which didn’t make the video but that’s probably due to the tears.

Something I didn’t even know existed. I wish I had known, maybe I wouldn’t have missed enjoying so much of the first year of The Boss’s life if I had known it was a disorder and easily treatable. Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress has been an invaluable source of support and encouragement to me {And countless others} so as I was putting together my report she was the first person I thought of. And thankfully she was more than willing to share her story with me and all of iVillage. I only wish I’d gotten to GO to Atlanta and interview her properly.

Which is just an excuse to buy her lunch and hug her like a sorority sister.

Kelly Wallace brought it to my attention that my fellow iVoice Joey Fortman also went through it and she hopped on camera as well to share.

Do me a favor? Take a minute and watch? And if you’re my mother please don’t tell me I need some blush and lipstick. I know, it will never happen again.

 

http://www.ivillage.com/postpartum-depression-you-are-not-alone-ivoices/1-h-369472