May 22, 2007

Diagnosis Please?

Post Disclaimer: If you're one of those doggedly cheerful people who thinks weakness isn't an option, go ahead and skip this one. I know, I know, 'motherhood is a blessing.' Now go draw some pretty pictures of ponies to mail to orphans while I rave.

There are some things women aren't supposed to be honest about, but I'm a terrible liar and have to get this out. Something is wrong with me. I've been looking online for the symptoms of postpartum depression but haven't been able to find anything to describe my feelings over the past six weeks. Maybe one of you internet shrinks out there can diagnose with me something other than "failure as a mother." That one is a no-brainer. Here are a few of the common symptoms of PPD and the reasons they don't apply to my situation:

Sad mood, frequent crying
Sad? What a tepid adjective. How about "Blood Thirsty"? And I'd have to replace "frequent crying" with "hears frequent crying."

Sleep disturbance
And Godzilla was "big boned." You've got to be kidding me. If by "disturbance" they mean 10 second intervals of laying down interspersed with leaping up in response to shrieks from small, beastly children then yes, I have sleep disturbance.

Weight loss
I'd laugh, but my mouth is stuffed full of mint Oreos. That reminds me, I need to go shopping for a bigger pair of maternity pants tomorrow.

Trouble concentrating or making decisions
Okay, so this one is spot on. I can't decide whether to put my head down the toilet or the sink disposal when the kids start screaming. Choices, choices...

Decreased interest in sex
Let's change this one to "Terrified of making eye contact with spouse for fear of spontaneous conception."

Thoughts of death or suicide
These thoughts have been transferred to my telephone. Should I take my rock hammer to it when it rings or make it look like a suicide and save myself my husband's disapproval? "It was awful Spike, when I came home it was just swaying there by its cord..."

Feelings of rejection
No. My family seems to like me more than ever. My toddler follows me around giving me hugs, the baby gave me her first smile over the weekend and my husband caters to my every whim. I have friends calling, making dinners and sending care packages aplenty. You'd think with all this support I wouldn't be whining so much. What can I say? I'm a talented gal.

So there you go. Whatever it is, it's not good. I never did take Home Ec. in school. Maybe if a pony-tailed teacher had assigned me to care for a boiled egg for a week I would have realized that motherhood wasn't my forte. I probably would have eaten poor Eggbert for lunch on the first day. I'm sure he would have deserved it.


I actually captured Cher's first smile on camera this weekend. I've watched this movie about 100 times since then trying to make it through the ongoing screams today. It worked like a charm! Looks like I'll live to whine another day. Even if I can't diagnose the ailment, at least I've found the medicine.


drainey said...

Sarah, once in a while you really crack me up. Suicidal phones, mint oreos, its good stuff. I geuss I find the insanity of motherhood amusing.

You made me glad I am not "young" anymore. Somehow I am having an easier time with five kids than I was with two. Those were some hard times. But the "smile" was adorable and that counts for something, huh.

Good luck till the next nap :)

Melissa said...

First off - baby Charlotte is BEAUTIFUL!! She ALMOST makes me want another one... almost...

I don't have a diagnosis, but just wanted to let you know that you're not alone. When I was trying to adjust from one kid to two I thought I was going crazy. My second baby was pretty good, but all the sudden my first child went bananas on me. And I just felt guilty. Because I was sure that it was my fault somehow. I mean, come on... I'm the MOM. I should be able to DO THIS!! I felt helpless and kind of defeated. Not sure if that's how you're feeling or not... but, it got better. Sleepless nights got less and less. Child number one calmed down and stopped screaming for hours on end. And I decided that being a mom wasn't a huge mistake after all. Now I've got three kids and I have my days where I think "WHAT THE #$@& WAS I THINKING??" But those days are few and far between. And there's the smiles, laughs, an occasional spontaneous "I love you Mom" that sustain me through the bad. Sorry this is so long, I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone and it does get better. But, if you really are worried about post partum, I'd talk to a doc... just to be sure.


pflower10 said...

As I was reading your highly amusing blog my 2 yr old has emptied the contents of her sippycup on my bed, found her sister's toothbrush and washed the sink with it, found the economy size Eucerine Lotion and is slathering her face, feet and my carpet with it.

It's only 9:26am.....I'm in for an exciting day.

I remember all too well this stage that you are in and I wish that I had some great words of wisdom for you that didn't9 include some sort of fruity alcoholic drink or Danielle Steele novel, but I don't.

I hope the best for you and your beautiful family!

Sarah said...

Helpless? Defeated? Yes, Melissa, I'm feeling all of that. Adam and I keep looking at each other when they start screaming and saying "What have we done?"

I'm going to try and hold off on the hysterectomy for a few more weeks though in case it really is just a phase.

I'm glad to hear you went through this too.

Jenny said...

I think I'll just stick with my one kid.

FoxyJ said...

First of all, some of it is just the hormones settling down. I still remember with my first a morning at about 8 weeks post-partum when I suddenly woke up and felt like a different person. She still didn't sleep well until she was one, and I still had a hard time, but it really felt different.

With number two it hasn't been dramatic, and I don't think things got feeling really good until he was about 5 or 6 months. Seriously--I'm sorry, but it might take that long. He's turning one next week and part of me can't believe the first year went by that fast, and part of me never wants to do that again.

It was hard too, because my first was not a screamer and is still fairly mellow. Well, #2 came along and he was a big screamer for the first few months. Plus my first turned into a little monster. And my husband started working two jobs. We didn't have a fun summer last year. And even if it's no consolation now, it will pass. I'm usually a responsible parent, but I spent a lot of time last summer sitting on the couch holding an infant (the only way to keep him quiet), eating ice cream, and watching CSI with my 3 year old. I thought my life was over and things were always going to be that way. They aren't that way anymore (well, I still eat ice cream and watch CSI, but only after the kids are in bed). Neither child suffered permanent damage, and now I can blog while they play (aka, fight) in the next room.

So, my diagnosis is that adjusting to a new baby sucks for everyone in the family. The only cure is to eat more oreos and turn up the TV louder so you can't hear the screaming.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Foxy. I was feeling a little guilty about breaking the "no t.v." rule for Penny but I think this is an ox-in-the-mire type situation. And I'll have to apply that rational to pflowers' fruity alcoholic drink too. Nothing like a strawberry margarita before breakfast!

A big reason I put up this post was so you guys could do just this. I really need to hear other mom's stories about how hard it was for them. It seems like I'm surrounded by perfect parents out here in L.A. and I'm starting to wonder if it doesn't come naturally to anyone else.

Rainey - don't you ever let me hear you say you aren't young. Anyone who is hip enough to own a Roomba is young in my book. But five kids? Seriously, woman, how did you do it?

Teah said...

I don't have any amazing advice for you, but Mamie B. pointed me to your blog, and I have to say - it's the highlight of my morning, now! My little bubba is almost 8 months old...and I get terrified THINKING about the next one! Good luck!!!

AzĂșcar said...

Sarah, I hear you loud and clear.

I don't know how I would have survived if we didn't have on demand cable and a DVR stocked with Thomas the Train episodes.
Hey, I think to myself, I'm just trying to survive here. Plus, El Guille likes watching TV while I try to pull myself together enough to feed us, clothe us, and keep up on regular diaper changes. This is HARD. I didn't have PPD with the last like I did with this one, so I was totally unprepared for the complete mess I've turned into.

I still kind of feel like the living dead. I know it won't last much longer...

drainey said...

Sarah, in answer to your question "seriously, how did you do it?"

Short answer: Any way I could.

Long answer: Huge testimony of motherhood. Deep down, its real, life-changing, all-eternity stuff.

Taken together, those are my two sanity savers. The funny, flippant, let-it-go side gets me through the day, but the serious "knows its true" side is what holds the whole thing together. That and the roomba, baby.

Anyway, I know you've got grit and happier days will soon be upon you. Three weeks from now this'll seem like a bad dream. Six weeks from now you'll be back to being supermom. Twelve weeks from now the house will be silent because P and C will be speaking sign language to each other. And twelve weeks after that we will take a nice cruise. And twelve weeks after that, when we finally come back, we'll find out our parental rights were terminated while we were away. Oh well. (clicks heels)

FoxyJ said...

Oh yeah, I had a lot of angst because I've been pretty strict on limiting TV time. But when you're recovering from an emergency c-section and stuck home alone all day with a newborn and a three-year-old, you do what you have to do(and we didn't always watch CSI, just when I got tired of watching "The Tigger Movie" or DragonTales).

Sarah said...

i've been a lurker thus far, but I must contribute to say the same as everyone else. We had a very interesting time adjusting to two kiddos. Well, not so much interesting as movie filled. I really limited my daughter's tv, but once my son was born we had more than a few movie days.

my husband told me to pretend i didn't see any bad choices my daughter made - that actually worked for a while. and any time there was another adult in the house i went right to bed.

one day i woke up and everything seemed much more doable. i have no idea what changed. but it did eventually.

s'mee said...

I remember feeling as though my body had been taken over by an alien life form when I was pregnant, after they arrived I understood why animal mothers eat their young.

Seriously, I used grape flavoured Kids Triaminic. Heavy doses of the stuff. Not on the kids, I'd just drink a bottle in the morning for breakfast.

As another mom of five (and happy roomba owner - there's a law somewhere about that), I say life begins when your youngest is three AND potty trained. After that the wolves seem to be able to handle raising the little darlings without leaving too many feral markers.

good luck kid.

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

Mmmm . . . mint oreos are nummy.

Thank you for this post, Sarah. Lately I've been thinking, "Babies are so cute and sweet--it would be fun to have a second one." Your post reminded me that I almost cried when my mom left a week after Joy arrived, because the thought of having to feed myself AND the baby was too overwhelming. Strike that--EVERYTHING was overwhelming. I can only imagine what it will be like to have a newborn AND a toddler.

Though I'm still on baby number one, I can relate to what several other moms have said: Things seem hugely, impossibly, ice-cream-devouringly crazy at first, but before you know it you'll be back in the driver's seat and this will all be a vaguely unpleasant memory. You'll even start thinking you'd like another kid.

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

P.S. It's been said that if you think a family is perfect, you just don't know them well enough. I suspect the same is true for most mothers we know. We're all on our best behavior in public, but no one sees the book shredding and lotion smearing our kids do at home.

Francis said...

Sarah, *I* think you're super awesome, and there's no way I could raise one kid, much less two. I mean, come on, my cats are willfully insubordinate and ill behaved, and they have brains the size of walnuts.

I know you'll hang in there, you're the toughest chick I know.

Francis said...

Uh, the "Francis" there was me, Adrienne. Sorry, I was in the wrong account. I'm sure Francis would say the same thing if he knew you, though.

tracy m said...

Hey Sarah-

Get the heck outa dodge. Seriously.

My second baby was a crier. And I don't just mean he cried. I mean, if he was awake, no matter what, he was purple faced screaming. Period. There was no middle ground. And, it was the single. hardest. thing. I. have. ever. been. through.

I also had a two year old at the time, who didn't sleep through the night yet. Yeah, I know where you're livin' right now.

Get someone to give you a break. I know everyone says that- but call in some of those favors. Pump a bottle or two, and take her somewhere you trust. Then come home and sleep. Or wander aimlessly through the neighborhood. Do anything you can to regain a little peace. I think only mom's who have seriously had a real crier can understand...

You are not a bad mom. Sleep deprivation is a method of torture, and combine that with the dificult-to-calm (although beautiful) baby, and it's a powder keg.

My crier finally stopped at around a year- and my amnesia kicked in and I went and had another one. She, mercifully, is far easier than her brothers were. That crier, though, is still my most difficult, tempermental and high maintenance kid.

Hang in there. Get help. Get some sleep. It will pass.

Amy said...

For a while I lived my life in 10 minute intervals. I thought, "In ten minutes, my kid will still be crying. In ten minutes, I can be crying with him, or I can have showered and be feeling much better. Either way, he's still crying, but I might not be."

Rachelle said...

mmmmm..... mint oreos.....
*eyes glaze over*.......

Sarah said...

I really appreciate all these comments, guys. Amy, I love the ten minute interval idea. Sometimes I spend 3 hours trying to get Charlotte to fall asleep and freaking out when instead during those three hours I could just accept that she won't sleep, stick her in the stroller and get some exercise (and then she'd probably fall asleep anyway.) But it's just so darn hard to think rationally when they're crying. Oh well. Tomorrow, I shower!

I brought up the idea of just ignoring Penny's acting out for a day with Adam but he was pretty sure it would scar her for life. Oh well. It would have made a good blog entry if nothing else!

Sarah, even if they scream for another year, I take heart in knowing that this post successfully de-lurked another reader. I'll sleep easy tonight! Glad to have you onboard! You too, Teah!

compulsive writer said...

I have a dignosis. It's called motherhood.

But you knew that already.

Hang in there!

Lauri said...

Sarah, I have this theory I call the Mormon Cinderella Story. The short version is this. You meet Prince Charming, fall in love, get married in the temple, have a baby and live happily ever after. The End. NOT!

HELLO, it doesn't end there. You have baby number two and BAM - reality hits and it is tough (at least it was for me)! Luckily, it also doesn't end there.

Baby number two was by far the biggest, hardest adjustment for me (three is hard a different way, you only have two hands - but that's another story). It took a very long time and neither my hubby nor I could bring ourselves to even think of creating another. Kudos to my guy for holding us together through that time. Of course, the second we even broached the subject of another pregnancy, it was already a reality.

We did go on to have an even six (no other quite so difficult post-partums) and we continue to work on the happily ever after part!

Good luck and hang in there!

Jennifer B. said...

I feel compelled to comment. Sleep deprivation is a killer. It sucks up your motivation and leaves mom feeling irritable and fragile. I second the advice to let someone else give you a break and SLEEP! It WILL get better and in the meantime, I suggest doing everything you know to keep some semblance of routine and help your baby to learn how to sleep independently. (I have a lovely story of how sleep deprivation nearly drove me to insanity, but I have learned so much! Keep watching that sweet smile and hang in there.)

Rachelle said...

okay, I am feeling guilty over my last comment... really, I thought to bring a smile to your face, but probably didn't help a bit.

I only have two kids, and the second one was harder- mine were 2 1/2 years apart, and I was single by the time my second was born (looong story, but my decision was made while I was pregnant- and was the best for me and my kids safety)and remained single until she was almost 2. Crazy times.....

In 8 months you will be over the hump- that's my prediction, and that's about when I stopped pulling bald spots out of my head.

In the meantime pop on over and see the latest pics I posted- guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, for reals.

CACKEL said...

I keep thinking about how Penny wasa nonstop screamer, and then when G & G brought her to visit us in Yakima when she was about 8 months old she was the quietest, cutest, most perfect little baby I had ever seen. She honestly didn't cry even once the whole time she was there.

So better days are ahead. Keep looking at the cute pictures of Penny in the apple bin if you need a reminder.

Melinda said...

This was funny. See, your normal hilarious self is already coming back. Going from one (perfect kid, perfect mom) to two (hellion, looser mom) was HORRID for me. But look at me now... I'm a patient, spiritual, able..... wait, I have to go get Maya out from under the van.

Mrs. M said...

Lack of sleep and hormones wreak havoc. I hate that part of motherhood.

Really and truly, if you need a break you can call me and I'll come walk Charlotte around the block or take her to the park with my boys. Or wash your dishes or whatever you want me to do. Really and truly.

Jenny said...

I just have to say that I'm glad the "lots of crying" stage of the first six weeks (or longer) didn't last forever. I'm glad that the laying around not able to crawl stage didn't last forever. I'm glad that nursing didn't last forever. *ugh!* I'll be glad when my kid is potty trained and I can say that the diaper stage didn't last forever.

(Then, of course, it will be time to start all over again and that prospect is terrifying, not to mention trying to be pregnant with a toddler)

Of course there are lots of new stages to look forward to that by the end you will be sick of, but it won't last forever. That is a relief and a scary thought all at the same time. My kid doesn't cuddle anymore and I miss that, but there are lots of reasons why I don't miss the newborn stage.

I guess all I was trying to say is that it won't last forever, and then you'll miss *select parts* of having a newborn. That is if you're anything like me.

It took me a long time before I realized that I still had permission to take a shower when I wanted, to have a personality and hobbies, etc. Although I'm realizing that the next time I have a kid it will probably be totally different and everything I learned the first time around will be totally invalid and I will have to learn it all again...boy, i can't wait.