Diva went on a nursing strike

Photo credit: io9

Photo credit: io9 in 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin is the Most Amazing Molecule in the World

Things had been going pretty wonderfully in my life, and I thought I no longer needed this blog as an emotional crutch, and then the diva went on a nursing strike and I quickly redacted that conclusion.

I was pretty sure that I had staved off postpartum depression with my other two babies because the feel-good breastfeeding hormone oxytocin was my steady drip line.

This belief was confirmed when my third child, my 9.5 month-old, went from 8 feedings a day down to absolutely nothing for 36 hours. If you don’t know about the miracle of oxytocin, you’re missing out. And read this Huffington Pos article on the correlation between weaning and depression.

Having had this miracle drug ripped away, I felt like someone pulled the rug out from under me. I went into oxytocin withdrawal. I was a sobbing, soppy mess. My poor husband witnessed it all and quite honestly didn’t know what to do with me.

I was so desperate to get those feel-good hormones back I even crawled into baby’s crib while she was sleeping to try to nurse her. Twice. And both attempts were unsuccessful. That was my low point.

I’m an oxytocin junkie.

The great news is that this stubborn baby came around and started nursing again. So my free drugs are back, thank God.

Photo on 6-5-14 at 3.01 PM #2

Oxytocin drugs are back: note how I don’t care that my living room is a mess

 

Mama B*tch

imagesLast night I was at the mall when I ran into someone who looked so familiar. We made eye contact and said, “I know you from somewhere.” [Pause, head cocked, brow furrowed.]

I got it! She was the girl who got pissed at me at the front desk of the YMCA when she mistakenly took me for the person who snaked her precious parking spot.

That episode happened about a year ago, and with arms full of kids, being in the first trimester, and feeling like I had to regain control of my life somewhere, I started with that girl who wrongfully told me off and I retaliated.

No b*tch slap. No yelling either. But there was swearing. And then there was crying.

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This week as we were waiting for preschool to start, a gaggle of 4-year-olds (mine included) were running little circles at top-4-year-old-speed. I wasn’t bothered, because it was zero f*cking degrees outside and I figured they had to get the wiggles out somehow.

Just when I was admiring the giggly bunch, another mama yelled loud and at length at the kids to stop running. Her kid must have been angelically sitting on her carpet square waiting for class to commence. I can’t recall.

However, being the recipient of a foreign and harsh disciplinary action, my kid lost it. He ran to me crying, clinging to my legs, saying he didn’t like school anymore. I had to run out the door, leaving an anxious kid in the arms of the preschool teacher, disappointed that this happened.

When I picked him up from school a couple hours later, that yeller-mama asked if my kid cheered up about school, and I replied with a heavy dose of condescension, “He was shocked and hurt that you yelled at him to stop running. That’s not how we do it in our family.”

What I almost said was, “Do you even know how much self-control it takes me to not yell at this kid?!? And then you go and waste a good yell on a little ring-around-the-rosie?!? B*tch, please.”

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This Mama B*tch is getting harder and harder to contain.

New art – like meds for the soul

It’s no secret that I suffer from the winter blues, which means that in the Pacific Northwest, from late November through late May, I’m about as worthless as a turtle. Or more like a turtle in the snow. Well, actually like a turtle upside-down in the snow. With a hawk circling overhead.

Pretty grim.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I came across these wall murals from West Elm. The perfect thing to brighten up an otherwise gloomy day.

Each one is 12′ wide by 8′ high. You can put them up on a blank wall and envision you are enjoying a beautiful scene outdoors. At only $399 each, that’s probably less than one month of therapy and meds.

Maybe if I’m enjoying snow from a living room set to the tune of 70 degrees, I could bear it. While I’m at it, I’ll point you in the direction of some of my current favorite sunny West Elm wall art pieces.

Setting myself up for success, one wall at a time.

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West Elm’s Snow Drift Wall Mural

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West Elm’s Enchanted Forest Wall Mural

Minted for West Elm - Sunset

Minted for West Elm – Sunset

Minted for West Elm - Forest for the Trees

Minted for West Elm – Forest for the Trees

Minted for West Elm - Candy Coated

Minted for West Elm – Candy Coated

 

 

On therapy

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Therapy always struck me as a first world solution, even after I was well-immersed in it. I mean, what impoverished person in a developing country can justify spending 10x the minimum wage for an hour to talk about one’s own unhealthy thought patterns or unfortunate past?

But I felt thankful for that luxury, thankful that my insurance and my therapist went along with it, with me, while I unpacked some heavy stuff.

So it is with mixed feelings that I announce that my therapist discharged me this week. She says I’m no longer clinically depressed and since that is what my insurance covers, that’s the end of the road for my free first-world-ticket to sanity. There is reason to celebrate, right?

Instead I went into a panic. I wanted to somehow prove to her right there in her office that I was still insane. Or depressed. Or anything.

Oh yeah. Would a sane person do this?

Instead I cried.

Now I’m reflecting on being given the stamp of sanity – or at least more stability than I laid at her feet just a few months ago. I’m starting to feel I ought to deliver an acceptance speech for this award.

I would like to thank all my loving friends and family members and my concerned husband who helped make this possible.

Perhaps placebo, perhaps well-deserved. I’m already feeling better.

6 simple rules to keep me sane

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Now that the winter has lifted, I feel like Wonder Woman.

But at the time of my dark depression not too long ago, I felt like I had been buried alive.

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I had no idea how long it would last or how I was going to get out of it. But I didn’t want it to get worse.

In an effort to stop myself from spiraling downward, I implemented the following simple rules:

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1) No listening to Bright Eyes or Elliott Smith.

I don’t care how connected I felt to them during the dark months; I didn’t need to make it worse.

 

Painting by Al Burian

Painting by Al Burian

2) Exercise daily.

When this funk lifted from my emotions, I wanted to be strong enough, physically and emotionally, to handle life. Plus I didn’t want to come back to life and then find my body worse off than I remembered it. Even if it meant crying at the YMCA (I did that!) I have to get there.

 

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Remember the Christmas Story?

3) Get outside everyday.

Though the frigid Spokane air froze me to the core, so badly that my depression seemed worse just from going outside, I had to get out.

There was that time that my 3 year-old slipped and fell on the ice as we were getting into the frozen car and he was crying, asking why it has to be this cold, and I started crying too.

But gold stars for getting out that day.

 

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Copyright Hyperbole and a Half

4) Try real hard to put on non-sweats everyday.

It started feeling like the sweats were the halfway point to crying, so if I could just put on jeans everyday I had a head start.

 

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Thy Polar Life

5) Drink more coffee dammit.

Top 10 pregnancy design flaws

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Photo copyright Suzy Q Homemaker

10) Humans are given 9 long months to stress and worry about the baby before it comes out. Cats get 60 days.

9) The poor woman can gain a scary amount of weight without much pleasure involved.

8) Morning sickness comes in the beginning of the pregnancy, before she can publicly use the pregnancy as an excuse.

7) There is little sleep for the gestating mother. Anyone who says this is prepping the woman for the all-nighters ahead is sadistic and undereducated – haven’t they heard of sleep debt?

6) The most immediate reward for sacrificing mind, body, and self-respect is saggy skin and extra fat.

5) There is no equal-opportunity gestating. I would love it if I could have sex and then look at my partner starry-eyed and say, “Golly, I wonder which of us will be pregnant.”

4) Sex drive often increases during pregnancy, which makes absolutely no sense, considering size, shape, and emotional volatility of the woman.

3) The brain of the woman is overcome by a thick haze keeping her from thinking straight. This haze doesn’t lift for years postpartum. F*cking years.

2) There is no damn reason behind who is entrusted with this job of gestating. Let me serve as exhibit A.

1) What the hell is this postpartum depression sh*t?

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Illustration copyright Hyperbole and a Half.

 

Like pica on crack

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A glimpse of the pican feast in my backyard.

Pica is an interesting phenomenon that can occur sometimes in pregnant women where they really, really want to eat things likerocks, grout, dirt, clay, paint – some intense sh*t. Check out BabyRabies in Water on the Rocks, A Pica Lust Story.

I experienced similar attraction to large concrete walls, like pica on crack.

No f*cking joke. I would pass by cinderblock buildings and want to stop right then and there. Pull over. Jump out of the car. The wall was like a siren, calling me, luring me.

But I had no desire to lick it.

Instead, the temptation was to bang my head against it over and over. And over. And over.

These feelings were pretty frequent in the first trimester of this surprise bundle of, er, joy. Nowadays it only happens every once in a while.

I won’t let my yard get me down

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Since becoming a homeowner with our 1st home 4 years ago, I’ve proved I am more than a serial plant killer. Josh and I worked together to make it a really beautiful yard.

But the state of our new yard is daunting enough to send me through an emotional tailspin. It’s literally a large gravel/dirt/concrete pit back there. Every time I catch a glimpse of the yard, I get a little anxious.

I need a new kind of medicinal grass.

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It makes sense that I feel this anxiety when I see that mess. I read about how people heal better with flowers in The Mental Health Benefits of Flowers. Flowers can actually help patients recover faster and with less medication, and can change the mood of people. And the new wave of horticultural therapy is based on findings that gardening reduces stress and calms nerves.

These studies totally support my approach to exercising my mental health funk by changing my environment. And since we only get 6-8 months of gardening weather in Spokane, I want to make it a glorious garden when it does bloom.

Armed with this research, I am setting out to redesign our yard, front, side and back, with my trusty pencil and graph paper approach.

Here are my goals:

  • Create beautiful garden spaces for how we want to live and also how I want to think. We want a place to read and write, a place to dine, a place to let the kids play, a fire pit for simple evenings with our family and friends, and we want to savor the beauty.
  • I want it to feel like an English garden that has been given a good amount of natural liberty.
  • Be budget-friendly. We’ll both be doing most of the work ourselves to contribute to the cause.

Here are some inspiration photos that already make me feel at ease.

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We’ve ambitiously set the goal of landscaping completion for June. Stay tuned.

RIP my mental state

Before: speechless

Before: speechless

Ever heard about how when laborers died while working on the Great Wall of China, they were just buried right there within the wall? I think I can relate. My mind is buried in the bathroom we just completed. I acted as our general contractor without any experience, so it’s a wonder I didn’t lose more than my mind.

Some of you are asking about our unexpected construction, so here’s the story. We were putting in a pocket door in the bathroom and found the previous owners lied in the disclosure statement about some major HVAC, plumbing, and electrical issues which were exposed when we opened up that wall. So out went the issues, along with 6 months of our lives. We gutted the walls, ceilings, studs, framing, we even had to jack-hammer out the concrete floor. And then we had to decide how to put it all back together. Here’s a photo of the new framing, plumbing, and electrical.

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During: New framing, plumbing, & electrical

Like I mentioned in my post How to go crazy in 6 months or less, I am cursed with unrealistically good taste (read: expensive), all things considered, and also serious indecision, both of which were major factors in lengthening this reconstruction process.

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Keeping in theme with our 1931 Tudor home, I took inspiration from Apartment Therapy’s A Nod to Old-School Classics dream bathroom design board and then tried to decide how to make that work in our space and budget.

There were many a sleepless nights spent anguishing over the pros and cons of different grout color (I went with delorean grey), high-end or budget tile (I went with high-end SoHo basketweave on the floor and budget Home Depot subway on the walls) and paint (I went with Benjamin Moore Aura in 75% Soft Chamois).

Though my husband tried to assure me I was putting too much pressure on myself, I wanted it done impossibly perfect. This post was really helpful: Buyer’s Remorse? Purchaser’s Paralysis? from Young House Love.

We salvaged the cute pedestal sink that was in there before,

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but other than that there was nothing we could keep. It took a lot of time to remove debris, insulate pipes and walls, coordinate framers, window installer, plumbers, electricians, tiler, and paint and trim. And at each stage we had to wait until we could either learn how to do it ourself or save up to hire it out.

We laughed. We cried (a lot). We conquered. Here are the after photos.

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