Updates

Here are a few updates.

Skin
Finally went to see my GP regarding my crazy skin rash situation, which I thought I blogged about here, but I guess I did so on my other blog. Anyhow, it turned out it’s something called seborrheic dermatitis, which I never, ever spell correctly on the first try. The doc put me on Lotrisone, which works great, but every time I discontinue use (which you’re meant to do once the rash clears), it’s back within 24 hours. She told me to switch to Lamisil, which is for Athlete’s Foot, and I feel really weird about putting foot cream on my face, but whatevs. We’ll see how it goes.

Depression
Talked to my OB and got a referral to a psych who specializes in pre- and postnatal depression and medication management. She said that most likely, the 20mg Prozac I was on was just BARELY doing the trick, and now that I am pregnant, my blood volume is increasing and has diluted the Prozac, rendering it ineffective. She bumped me up to 30mg/day, and will meet with me in a month to reevaluate. She also put me on Trazodone for sleep, which, hilariously, my previous GP took me off of during my first (failed) pregnancy and replaced with Ambien (this GP said no-no to Ambien). We’ll see how it goes, I guess. Still feeling pretty overwhelmed and stressed, but I’m trying to take it day by day.

Pregnancy
Well, this is the big one.

I have placenta previa again, which is no big deal. I had in early in my last pregnancy and it resolved itself, and even if it doesn’t resolve itself, I am planning on having a C-section anyhow, so it’s kind of irrelevant. What is more concerning is that they are worried that because the placenta is low, it may attach to the uterine scar from my previous C-section (which, for some reason, I always feel the need to clarify was an EMERGENCY C-section, like if it was planned, or if I chose it over vaginal, maybe I would deserve this? No. No one deserves this) and develop into a condition called placenta accreta, which is a lot to explain, so just Google (or Bing) it. Worst case placenta accreta scenarios involve hysterectomy and, you know, DEATH, so not so good. However, thanks to some rational and awesome ladies (Judy, Sherry, Kate) talking me down today, and a session with my therapist (good timing!) I am feeling more optimistic. I see my doctor on Thursday, so will try to get more info then.

Current worst part of placenta previa? No sex. Nothing “in my vagina” as the nurse repeatedly told me. Until at least the beginning of April. Hello, we have been pregnant three times in three years, does it sound like we have done a lot of abstaining? This is going to be an uber long two months.

I think that’s it for now. Gregory is still as awesome as ever. I assume these difficulties only mean we are having another super baby.

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My (D)irty Secret

Not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I suffer from depression. I have had it pretty much my entire life. I spent most of my teen years verging on suicidal, until in college I finally saw a psychiatrist and got medicated. Medication stopped working around the time I was 26 (conveniently, right as I was getting divorced), I was put on different medication, which didn’t work, and was eventually put back on the original medication (Prozac, if you care) at a slightly higher dosage (20 mg, up from 10mg) and have been managing my depression effectively ever since.

The reason I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this or not is because I make absolutely no secret about my struggles with mental health. My depression is both a medical condition – a disease – that is managed through medication, just like diabetes or asthma, and a large part of who I am. Since I cannot control having a disease, and I wouldn’t change who I am, by and large, I see no reason whatsoever to be ashamed of my depression or make a secret of it.

On my doctor’s recommendation, I continued to take my Prozac throughout my first pregnancy. Although I was not particularly enthusiastic about the actual pregnancy part of being pregnant, I was mentally stable and thrilled to be having a child, so it all worked out just fine.

So, I’m not ashamed of my depression, and I’m not embarrassed to admit I am medicated. Then why am I so afraid to admit that my depression during this pregnancy has deepened, and I am feeling rather low?

It’s true. I am now at nearly 15 weeks, and I feel… deflated. I am not as hooked in to this pregnancy as I was with my first. I sometimes forget altogether that I am pregnant, and then when I remember, feel vaguely morose. I have all the classic symptoms of depression – loss of interest in activities, loss of appetite, withdrawing from friends and social activities, insomnia, irritability. Yet I am afraid to tell anyone. I have confided fully in only one friend, as well as my husband. I also revealed to my family some of the extent of what I was going through when I was home. And my family’s reaction was, in some ways, exactly what I feared: Be grateful. Cheer up. This isn’t good for the baby.

I do not think of myself as either stupid or selfish, nor do I consider myself oblivious to others’ emotions. I am aware of the facts, as it were. I have a healthy child. I am having a (physically) healthy pregnancy. Many women try and fail for many years to get pregnant. We wanted more than one child, and now we will have that. We have the means and love for not just two children, but for as many as we want. For these reasons and many others, I should be happy. I should be grateful. And I should be excited. But I am not. I have tried, and I have failed.

When people learn I am pregnant, they have one of two reactions: gushing excitement or mild surprise at the rapidity with which we got pregnant again. The first leaves me speechless, as I am having a hard time mustering any enthusiasm whatsoever, and I have absolutely no idea how to reply honestly to, “You must be SO excited!” The second leaves me feeling ashamed – of what, I am not sure. Our fertility? Our sex life? Our bad planning? Neither reaction gives me an opening to say, “I am having a really tough time, actually. I’m not ready and I am scared.”

The more I try to “cheer up,” “look on the bright side,” and “be grateful,” the more inadequate and ashamed I feel. I fully realize depression is selfish, yet I am as powerless to stop it as a woman who cannot conceive is to get pregnant. Logically I know you would never say to someone with a disease that s/he should just “get over it,” yet that is what I feel like I need to do with this dark cloud. So, the harder I try to overcome it, the more I fail, and the guiltier I feel – both about my emotions, as well as the effect they are having on my unborn child.

When I had a difficult time after having my son, I was sternly chided by some (I am sure) well-meaning friends about how I was overreacting, how I was lucky to be alive and have a healthy, beautiful child, and how I should focus on the positive. I was actually eventually diagnosed with mild PTSD and underwent treatment to resolve the grief and depression associated with my birth trauma. The diagnosis and treatment in some ways validated my feelings, but the reactions from my friends dissuaded me from speaking publicly again about any less-than-happy emotions I had regarding pregnancy and/or childbirth. And that, I guess, is at the crux of what keeps me – and many other women – silent about prenatal depression. Shame, guilt, and fear that we will be judged and be found lacking – as mothers, as women, as people.

I recently read an article that said up to a third of pregnant women suffer prenatal depression, but only 10 – 20% seek help. That means 1 in 10 pregnant women are struggling silently, hating themselves and afraid to talk to anyone about what they are going through. That number is simply too high. I’m not going to be silent anymore.

I am having a hard time with this pregnancy. No, I’m not particularly excited. I am nervous, scared, and anxious. I worry all the time. Sometimes I wish something would happen to me. I am not a bad person. I am not a bad mother. I am not selfish or ungrateful. I AM DEPRESSED, AND IT’S NOT MY FAULT. And I am going to talk to my OB about it next time I see her, because I don’t deserve to feel both depressed and ashamed. That’s not fair to me or the child I am carrying.

If you or someone you love is suffering from prenatal depression, you don’t have to stay silent either. There are resources to help you. Consider talking to your doctor, therapist, OB, or midwife. If that is too daunting, you can call the PSI Warmline at 800-944-4773, option 1, or simply google “perinatal depression support” or “prenatal depression support” for a list of organizations that offer no cost, anonymous support for women going through what we are.

I am going to get over this, and I am going to have another fantastic baby and a terrific 2014. Thanks for reading, and I wish you the happiest of New Years.

Can we please. Just. Stop.

Okay, I know this is the second post I have made that isn’t exactly parenting related, but I don’t care, I’m doing it anyhow. You can skip it if you’re bored, and I apologize.

This: This is not a selfie. This is an act of war against women.

Oh, really? Is it really? And what is you posting this blog, “Bec,” talking all catty about Caroline’s body and her hair and her boobs and her presumed mothering skills or lack thereof?

Caroline didn’t post this and say, “If you don’t look this way four days after delivering a baby, you are a failure.” But YOU, Bec, DO insinuate that she is not “focusing” on the appropriate thing, that being the baby, and by doing so is failing as a mother.

I do not look like Caroline. I never have and I never will. Yet I identify far more with her than I do with you. Why? Because she is proud of taking care of herself, and focusing on her own achievement. You? You’re looking for ways to bring her down. Pathetic.

More disgusting and disturbing than “the media” and male fashion designers focusing and dwelling on the female form is other women doing so, tearing each other down and shaming each other, not for being overweight, but for NOT being overweight.

Did this make you feel bad that you didn’t look this way 4 days after you gave birth? Or are you just worried it might make other women feel bad? It didn’t make me feel bad. Not at all. Nor did it make me feel like this is an “ideal” I have to achieve. My body made a baby. I may not look like Caroline, but my husband thinks I’m sexy, and I brought a beautiful, healthy baby into this world. I know genes and laziness stand between me and EVER looking like Caroline, and I am okay with that. Caroline’s picture didn’t “make” me feel anything about myself. And it shouldn’t “make” you feel anything, either – except maybe impressed. And maybe a little jealous. If it “makes” you feel like a failure, it’s something to do with you – not an “act of war” by HER.

Can we all just stop talking about women’s bodies and women’s weight? Can we stop the petty jealousy, insecurity, fear, and anger? Can we stop talking about how women “should” look after they have a baby? Can we maybe just focus on women’s holistic health, instead?

Until everyone – and that includes bloggers with grudges – stops making women’s weight an issue, it will continue to be an issue. So be the first one. And stop.

On Being a Girly Girl

So I posted this on fb last night:

After subjecting myself to about 30 seconds of that Goldieblox “Girls” video (er, AD) that was making the rounds a week or so ago, I have something I’d like to say to my future daughter: It’s okay to like pink. It’s okay to want to be a princess. It’s okay to play with dolls. It’s also okay to play with bugs, or a chemistry set, or blocks. It’s equally okay to like green, or want to be a neurophysicist. IT’S OKAY TO BE YOURSELF. Don’t let the media or anyone else tell you that you’re less of a person either because you’re a girl OR because you’re girly. Telling girls they “shouldn’t” like pink is just as bad as telling boys they “shouldn’t” like pink. I agree that we should encourage our daughters to have broad tastes and experience everything the world has to offer, but don’t you dare make them feel like just because they might like something considered “feminine” that means they’re selling themselves short. The only way my daughter can sell herself short is by being a person someone else tells her she “should” be. And that includes GoldieBlox.

If you’re somehow not familiar, the video featured a trio of young ladies creating a Rube Goldberg-esque machine out of all their discarded pink “girly” toys. Now, that’s harmless enough, but here are the lyrics they changed to the tune of the Beastie Boys “Girls” (without the Beastie’s permission, it should be noted):

Girls, you think you know what we want
Girls, pink and pretty’s it’s girls
Just like the fifties it’s girls

You like to buy us pink toys
And everything else is for boys
And you can always get us dolls
And we’ll grow up like them, false

It’s time to change
We deserve to see a range
Cause all our toys look just the same
And we would like to use our brains

We are all more than princess maids

Girls, to build a spaceship
Girls, to code a new app
To grow up knowing
That they can engineer that

Girls, that’s all we really need is girls
To bring us up to speed, it’s girls
Our opportunity is girls
Don’t underestimate girls

Girls, girls, girls, girls, girls, girls, girls, girls, girls, girls

I think – yes, the overall message is… good? But as I mentioned above, I have some problems with the entire thing.

1. The hijacking of the Beastie Boys song is so uncool, on a very basic level. Read the article above for more details. They used it, tried to say it’s okay cause it’s a parody (even though it’s an ad), fought not to take it down, and then finally gave in in a very sour grapes way. “Oh this song was offensive anyhow so we thought we’d make it better.” No, you thought you’d get publicity, and sell toys. Shut up with your mock altruism.

2. It fosters an “us against them” attitude. This is the same thing women have (rightly) begun complaining about with regard to the “real women have curves” memes that go around. Real women are just women. They are fat, thin, athletic, busty, flat, hippy, and nowadays, sometimes even not originally born that way. Identify as a woman? You’re a woman. It’s not your curves or lack thereof. It’s the way you identify and live your life. Same goes for being a girl. Like pink? Have a vagina? You’re a girl. Like black? Have a vagina? You’re a girl. Like green? Born with a penis but think it should be a vagina? You very well may also be a girl. Do not make it engineer girls against princess girls. Do not even make it girls against boys. We are all people, and they are all kids. They should be who they want to be and be the best at whatever that is.

3. I am pretty sure the people who will watch and appreciate the message behind the video are the parents who are already encouraging their girls to be the best they can be. So that also renders it pointless.

4. Finally, as a young girl, my favorite colors were pink, purple, and turquoise. I loved unicorns and Lisa Frank. I collected stickers – my favorites were puffy ones, scratch n sniff, and the ones you could color in yourself – and played with Barbies. I also had a baseball card collection and a microscope with awesome bug specimens. I once kicked a boy for touching my lunchbox, and I thought when I grew up I’d double major in law and veterinary science. I was a girl, yet also a person. I could play more than one role, as can every human being. So yeah, I take it personally when it’s intimated that if you’re girly, you’re somehow less. No, I’m not an engineer – as Barbie notoriously said a few years back, “Math is hard!” But I managed to complete Chem 1 & 2 and Physics in high school, thanks to my FEMALE chem teacher.

I guess the point all this rambling has brought me to is this: let’s not demand our children be princesses OR engineers. Let’s instead demand they have fun, learn, grow, and enjoy their childhoods in whatever way appeals to them. With love, support, and community, some of our daughters undoubtedly WILL grow up to be brilliant engineers – and some will grow up to be homemakers, maids, secretaries, and even princesses. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either.

*sorry for any and all typos/autocorrect fails. Out of town and typing on my iPad – will review when I’m back at the trusty PC.

Effed by the Furlough

By and large, the Fed shutdown has not affected me. The first effect I have felt was yesterday when I attempted to report a telemarketer at www.donotcall.gov and was greeted by this message:

Due to the Government shutdown, we are unable to offer this website service at this time.  We will resume normal operations when the government is funded.

But I know it’s affecting a lot of people, and today a friend of mine posted that she’d been exempted from furlough and now has to work unpaid. That’s bad enough on its own, but she also has two young children who require care during the day – one of whom is under a year old. Apparently she’ll get paid when the shutdown ends, but until then, they just have to figure it out.

Does anyone else find this appalling? I am typically pretty apolitical, but this really has me angry. What if you don’t have any money put away? What is the recourse?

No really, I’m asking. Does anyone know?

Sleep: A Rant

Usually, when I explain Gregory’s daytime sleep situation to other people, they are sympathetic, understanding, and oftentimes full of advice or tips (which I always appreciate). However, I think oftentimes they don’t actually believe it’s as bad as it is until they witness it themselves. Time and again I have explained the situation to nannies and sitters, only to have them express shock when they actually spend a day with him, trying to get him to sleep. The worst part about it is the irregularity. Yesterday, he slept more or less peacefully from 9:30 until 11:45. Today, I put him down at 9:40. It’s now almost quarter past ten and he went from crying to groaning to talking to screaming, which he is currently still doing. Sometimes it truly makes me feel like I am going to lose my mind. There is no right answer with him, no rhyme or reason to his daytime sleep, and I just feel at a complete loss, helpless, and scared that everything I do is the wrong thing. I wish I could hire someone to come in every day for a month and observe him, some sort of specialist or therapist, because at this point it actually feels like a disorder.

People ask how his nighttime sleep is, and when I tell him he sleeps great at night – goes down no problem, sleeps for 11 hours – they seem satisfied, as though the naps are irrelevant as long as he’s sleeping at night. And I know some people see naps only as a “break” from the baby, time to do their own thing. But the fact of the matter is I actually enjoy hanging out with Gregory, and wouldn’t mind spending all day with him IF HE WAS PLEASANT. But he’s not pleasant when he doesn’t nap – he’s absolutely miserable. Whiny, clingy, fussy, nothing makes him happy. I pick him up, he wants to be put down. I put him down, he wants to be picked back up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. All the while, crying.

I really don’t know what to do at this point. I live for the “good” days and feel utterly bleak on the bad ones. And so far, this is a bad one.

Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher

dr. browns formula mixer

When do I have time to post? Never. What do I post about? Complaints. So when I post about a product, you best listen, because I must really think it’s awesome.

BEHOLD the Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher. Ever since I cut down to pumping three times a day, I have to supplement Gregory’s diet with formula. (I have a lot of questions about formula – like, how come my breast milk doesn’t smell but formula STINKS and he’s still okay with drinking it? – but that’s for another post that I will probably never have time to write.) Until yesterday, I have been making 8 ounces of formula at a time and mixing it with breast milk half and half, two to three times a day. This is annoying in a number of ways. One, I make it in a bottle, and as I’m scooping the formula into the bottle, I often end up spilling it on the counter. Two, I have to shake shake shake the bottle after I mix it and sometimes still end up with lumps. Three, it’s a real time suck. Etc.

NO MORE!

I can make 32 ounces of formula at one time – that’s more than a day’s worth!!! – without spillage, without shaking, without lumps, and without foaming. The top is well designed so that you can turn it to seal for mixing/storing, then turn to a notch in the lid for pouring. It looks large in the photos but is actually quite compact and takes up hardly any room in my fridge. THE WHOLE THING IS TOP RACK DISHWASHER SAFE. And? And? $13.99.

Done. If you are hassling with mixing formula numerous times a day, please just spend the $14 and invest in one of these. You can thank me later.