Friday, June 30, 2017

five on friday

After sharing that post about some of the really bad postpartum depression thoughts I had yesterday, I figured we are overdue for something a bit more lighthearted.

 {1} I picked this up at Aldi yesterday and it is so good. Jon may be vegan now but I could never in a million years give up cheese.

 {2} On my way into work this morning I was greeted with the mother of all rainbows (and it's little brother). I could see the full arch and the colors were so vibrant. I've never been a person who feels like God is speaking to me directly (I always question if it's my thoughts or God's voice), but I couldn't help but see the symbolism and feel really connected to Him in that moment. I'm weathering this PPD storm and He has provided for us during it in the most humbling of ways.

 {3} This guy. He loves to draw and would go through a ream of paper in a day if we let him. He drew this picture of Etta for Aunt Jacqui. He also drew a picture of a bear that was actually really freaking good, especially since he wasn't looking at anything for reference and neither of us have shown him how to draw a bear. Jon thinks Elden will be an author/illustrator when he grows up. Elden tells us he's going to be a Power Ranger. :)

{4} Jon took the kids berry picking at our favorite local farm for red and black raspberries. Now Jon wants to get a black raspberry bush for our yard. I'm more than okay with that!

{5} I somehow managed to snag my company's suite at the Lake Erie Crushers stadium on the fourth of July. It comes with 12 tickets and a food credit, so we are going with our families! I'm so excited to do something different (that is free!) and doesn't require me to clean my house before or after a big gathering. 

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

postpartum depression: an ugly peek inside my brain

I have had a handful of women thank / commend me for my transparency about my postpartum depression. When they reached out to me, though, I felt a little guilty because I haven't been 100% transparent about the thoughts that I was having or what led me to where I am now. I can't speak to others' experience, but this is what postpartum depression looks like for me. Let me tell you right now: I felt like a total monster. The reason I want to share this is to give a glimpse into what postpartum depression can do to a person. If you have any thoughts like what I share below, please seek help. I know how awful these thoughts make you feel; you don't need to suffer. With medication and a great therapist you can get better.

--

One friend was impressed by how self aware I was that I knew to get help right away. There are two factors to this. First, I suffered from depression as a teenager, which is what threw up the first red flag; when I am depressed, all I want to do is sleep. The second is that I literally went from being a functional person with pretty normal thoughts on a Friday to wanting to drive off a bridge Saturday.

As for my thoughts, here are some of the big ones:
-I did not want to be alive anymore because I was so miserable, both physically and mentally. The only thing keeping me from planning my suicide was the knowledge that Jon wouldn't get any life insurance money and therefore he (and the kids) would have a lifetime of struggle. What scared me the most was the thought of the kids growing up without me--a thought that wrecks me when I'm healthy--didn't even register. I was totally unphased by the notion. The last two days I had work before I took time off, I prayed my entire commute that a semi would hit my car so I could stop suffering and Jon could be set financially. This was why I was so fearful my OB would send me straight to the hospital to be admitted--because even though the life insurance thing was a good enough reason not to do anything that day, who's to say it would be enough of a reason the next?
-Normally the kids cuddle with me in the morning for a few minutes before we start our day. At my worst, I wanted nothing to do with that part of our routine. I just wanted to be alone. This was when I felt the most like a monster.
-I genuinely believed I would never be 'me' again. The overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and darkness of that belief is one I will never be able to adequately convey. It was the worst feeling I've ever felt.
-For lack of a better term, the first few days after I restarted my antidepressant, I had moments of lucidity where I felt totally normal. However, as the medication would wear off I could physically feel the anxiety building up within me. The lucidity and the anxiety came in waves and I never knew what I would be feeling at any given moment.
-The bigness of the rest of my life was the biggest source of my anxiety. The notion of having to work every day for the next 40-odd years, child rearing (plus a lifetime of worrying about the kids) the next 18 years, debt the next 28 years... cue panic attack. As soon as I would redirect my thought away from that, something else would pop into my head and overwhelm me. It was crippling. That's a big part of why I slept so much - I was wholly exhausted.

--

I'm a little bit nervous to hit publish on this post. I know I need to lay it all out there because if it helps one mom know she isn't alone and she doesn't have to suffer anymore, my concerns about others' perceptions of me mean nothing. Before this experience, I never could fathom how a mother suffering PPD could take her life--not from a place of judgment, but because I had never experienced it before and I truly just couldn't understand. Now that I've been in that place, I totally get it. Please don't suffer in silence. Reach out to someone, get help. You can come back from this with the right support and resources.

Linking up with AnnieNatalie, and Julie.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

etta (32 weeks old)

Postpartum depression means I totally failed to take Etta's weekly picture for about a month, but I am learning I need to show myself some grace, especially in this department. Etta is 7.5 months old now. She isn't crawling but will roll to get places. She can sit up mostly unassisted, but she also thinks it's a super fun game to fall back onto you and have you put her upright again. Etta is primarily in 9-12 month clothing. Eating is her happy place and she often kicks her feet excitedly and does a little wiggle from side to side (we call this her happy dance) in her high chair. Etta is pretty consistently sleeping through the night now and we lay her down awake and she drifts off on her own, which is a huge blessing and a major departure from the rock-her-to-sleep-then-ninja-away routine we used to follow. Etta's favorite food seems to be sweet potato and she's liked everything she's tried with the exception of avocado. If you do not get spoon to mouth quickly enough you are sure to be informed of her displeasure in the form of pterodactyl shrieks. Etta loves to be outside so when she gets really cranky we will usually go for a walk to calm her down. She has no teeth which is hugely shocking to us since Elden and Edith both had several by this point. Etta also loves toys and will get bored so we've been switching it up and giving her the older kids' toys to look at and play with. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

monday thoughts

I'm returning to work on Wednesday and I am a nervous wreck. I've been trying to identify why I'm so anxious and a lot of it is a fear that I will go back to the dark place I was in two weeks ago. I'll have three days of work this week then a four day weekend for the holiday, so I am hoping the short weeks will help ease me back into my daily routine.

--
This weekend two of my best friends from college drove in from Chicago to visit. They brought with them chicken salsa and Giordano's and so much love. We had a bonfire in my back yard on Friday and went downtown Cleveland Saturday night, but just doing my daily tasks with their company was the highlight of the weekend for me. Angela and Kaycee, thank you for loving me (and my brood!) so well, especially at a time that has been filled with struggle for me.

--
I managed to get the big kids out the door by myself and to a parade last week. Grateful for friends who we met up with and who played with my kiddos while we waited for it to start.

--

Our church community has played an integral part in my postpartum depression journey. Every day I received texts, cards, and phone calls checking on me, encouraging me, and offering to bring us meals. Our small group generously provided us with gift cards to grocery stores, Target, etc. - helping to alleviate the financial burden of me taking time off work to get better. The support of our church family has helped me tremendously. I am so thankful for them.

--
Every day is a different struggle. Things have gotten much better than they were two weeks ago, but I'm learning that I probably won't be consistently 100% "normal" for a while. When I feel the anxiety welling up, I try really hard to focus on a task at a time, but it's not always manageable and I have to get into bed for a little bit. I continue to be so grateful for Jon and our families--as well as my work--during this period of my life. Knowing I even have a job to go back to is huge. Mental illness is a very real thing and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are also suffering from any form of it. Life is too short to want to spend your days wasting away in bed; if you are suffering from any form of depression / postpartum depression, please seek help. I know how hopeless that pit is and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

one foot in front of the other

Things are much better today than on Wednesday. Mornings are still the hardest for me - I have to psych myself up for the day to get out of bed. This morning, I ended up back in bed at 8 for about an hour and a half because I was so tired and overwhelmed. I've been up and at 'em since, though.

The therapist thinks untreated anxiety led to postpartum depression (in addition to all the hormonal changes I've been going through). Considering I've always been very anxious, I think she hit the nail on the head. I loved her and really connected with her--something I struggled to do with previous therapists--and I left the session feeling so much better. I go back Tuesday and I'm looking forward to working on some techniques for when my anxiety starts to get away from me.

I'll probably take at least this entire week off work. Even though every day has seemed a little better, I felt nauseous at the idea of going back next week. I don't want to jump in too fast and end up back in the place I was on Monday. In the back of my mind is a little fear that I'll never be able to hold it together and hold a job down again. I know that's probably not true, but the biggest fear in all of this is that I'll never be 'me' again. A very qualified friend reassured me that thoughts like that are the depression talking and to try my best not to let it get to me. 

I got the labs back from my OB. I was vitamin D deficient and my thyroid was "low normal" - I'm not sure what that means but I go back to see her Monday. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my OB office? I still drive down to Akron (35 min away) to go to that practice because I am so happy there. It's actually the nurse practitioner I've been seeing (for simplicity I call her my OB because too lazy) and she personally called me on Thursday to check in. She also called me in a script for vitamin D.

The kids have obviously noticed something is up. Elden asked me why I'm in bed all the time (luckily not so much the last two days). We initially just told them mommy was sick in case it resulted in a hospitalization and as the days have gone on I've explained a little to Elden that mommy just worries a lot and that makes me tired, but the doctors are helping me be less worried. Elden shows signs of anxiety too--even Jon has started to pick up on it--so I want him to understand that there's nothing embarrassing about mental illness and there's help available if you need it. Parenthood is a weird balance of wanting to be open and honest with our kids but not tell them too much that could upset them.

So that's where we're at. I try to take it a day at a time, one foot in front of the other. I have some moments where I feel great (I took both big kids by myself to Aldi! And there was an unexpected bathroom trip and van refueling in there that I didn't anticipate! And I survived!) and there are moments where my mind starts to race again and my stomach hurts while I think about all the responsibilities I have and the things that could go wrong. I'm trying not to lose sight of the big picture and I'm doing everything I can to be well. I want to be the healthiest I can be for Jon and the kids 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

when you need help

Things spiraled out of control this weekend.

I couldn't get out of bed. My entire body ached. My mind was racing at all times. I only wanted to sleep. I felt nauseous. I couldn't eat more than a few bites. I weigh ten pounds less than I started last week. Sunday morning I could barely get out of bed. I cried all of church. I cried all evening.

Monday wasn't any better. I somehow dragged myself into work, where I proceeded to cry and be useless. I emailed my OB. I requested a Zoloft refill.

Around lunch I received an alert my meds were ready. My boss graciously let me leave to get them and work from home the rest of the day. Monday night, I felt like me. It was probably placebo, but for the first time I felt free. Like 800 pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. Tuesday, I was a mess when I woke up (although I had stopped crying, which was almost more alarming) and dragged myself into work. Once again, my boss let me work remotely when I could barely hold it together. I worked from my bed, where I remained all day. My mom had to come and help Jon with the kids in the evening because I was desolate. I would get up but felt like I was going to collapse. I also made an appointment with my OB at her urging based on the email I had sent her updating what was happening.

The littlest things overwhelmed me. It's not even something big that caused me to spiral. If I had to guess, it's a combination of things - the underlying PPD obviously contributed. But on Friday I stopped taking the medication that can cause depression but is also supposed to boost my milk supply cold turkey. On Sunday, I stopped breastfeeding because I just couldn't wrap my mind around holding Etta to nurse her. My hormones have probably gone AWOL.

Today I went to the OB with Jon. I cried. My blood pressure was high when I arrived from the anxiety - when I typically hover in the 90/60 range. We talked through the things I had been thinking and feeling and made a mutual decision that I was not an immediate danger to myself, so thankfully I will not have to be admitted (a grave fear I had, and yet another source of anxiety). I am seeing a therapist later today. My medication dose was increased. Blood was drawn to make sure my thyroid is functioning properly. I have FMLA paperwork to take a little time off of work.

The things that caught me most off guard with all of this is how fast the episode came on (and how bad it got in such a short amount of time) and how it comes in waves. I have moments of total peace and clarity where I can think rationally (like Monday night and right now) but then within a few hours I'm back to feeling like the entire world is collapsing around me. Last night I was at my lowest. I felt like I would never surface again. I've never been more afraid that I had lost myself entirely.

I am so grateful for the love and support of those around us. To Jon, for carrying my weight and being the loving encouragement I needed to eat and survive. For loving me relentlessly through this. For our families, for helping with the kids, helping us financially, and giving me the chance to get the treatment I so desperately need. For our friends, who have offered meals and prayers and encouragement and babysitting. To my work, who has told me life is more important than work and to take the time I need to be well. Without this vast support network, I don't know that I would be here to write this update.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

postpartum depression sucks.

I thought I had beaten postpartum depression. I had been doing so well that I even tapered my medications. Then life happened and I have quickly spiraled downward. I keep telling Jon it feels like I'm drowning because I can't think of a better adjective for what I'm feeling. I want to scream and thrash and run away. There is a physical aspect to all of this--a pit in my stomach, pressure on my lungs. I spent most of church crying today. The morning started out hard and with prayer I felt peace - and the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness quickly came to mind. It was insane how different I felt. Unfortunately, the peace and relief was fleeting and I was overcome. The tears have had no shortage and the guilt I feel at wishing motherhood away is staggering. I love my kids and I know what a gift they are, but right now I don't recognize it for what it is. I try to tell myself that this is a season--albeit a hard as f%#* season--and it will get better. But then my thoughts get away from me and all the worst case scenarios continue to pile onto my chest and the pressure increases.

It gets easier right? I'll eventually regain some freedom? I won't feel like I've lost myself entirely forever?

All this to say: I'm struggling. PPD apparently doesn't just disappear. When I feel like I can't think lower thoughts than I was already, I surprise myself. I have a refill request into my pharmacy. If I don't start seeing some improvements in my thoughts after a few weeks I'm going to need to meet with my doctor to see about increasing the dose. If that doesn't work I'm going to have to find time (and money, because we live in a society where mental health isn't considered imperative to our physical health) to see a therapist. I want to be the best partner I can be for Jon, and I want to be the best mom I can be to my kids. Right now - I am not in a place where I can be either of those things.

Friday, June 9, 2017

friday photos

Things are looking up. In the last week:

-Jon found out he will have an interview with a local grocery store this Friday.
-I realized the medication I had been taking had been causing some pretty hefty depression in me and decided to stop taking it today, which makes me hopeful that I will stop losing weight (down 10 pounds now) and stop feeling so tired.
-We discovered Etta has FPIES to cow's milk and switched her to Aldi's soy formula - which she has been handling really well.
-Edith had her last dance class and Elden had his last preschool class for the summer.

We are hopeful to have lots of fun family time this summer, including a company-sponsored trip to Cedar Point. Otherwise we will do what we can to stick close to home (or the zoo, with our membership) to save money!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

last day of preschool

Oh, my heart. Elden has grown so much in this past year. We love his preschool and are so glad he gets to return in the fall. He will miss his best friends who are graduating to kindergarten, so we are a bit worried about his transition in the fall. Nonetheless, this was a great year for him and we couldn't be more proud of the little man he is turning into.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

amazing grace | undeserving

My faith has been pretty stagnant lately. I believe in God. I believe He moves mountains. (or do I?) I believe He loves me and made the ultimate sacrifice for me so that I could truly live.

Except I don't really live my life in a way that would make you think that.

As of late, I've probably been more of a moralist than a Christian. God has been an after thought.

Then my world came crashing around me. Cars needed fixed. Savings dwindled. We decided we needed to sell the house because our lives weren't sustainable despite the fact that we had trimmed virtually all fat from our budget. Student loans threatened to swallow us whole. Visions of bankruptcy and losing everything ran through my head on a vicious rapid repeat. We crunched the numbers what felt like eight million times. Even downsizing our house significantly - the numbers just didn't add up. Every choice we made up until this moment seemed like it had been an awful mistake. I spiraled.  I found my mind racing to thoughts like if I died in a car accident, it might be for the best because then Jon would have my life insurance money to dig out of this mess I created for us. As if money could replace the hole I'd leave in my family's lives. It has been a dark few weeks.

Yet--it's been just a few weeks. We would never be homeless because both our parents offered to take us in. We have our health. Our problems were all material. I would have moments of peace and clarity, but those moments were few and far between. I wanted to try to claw my way up from rock bottom, but any and all attempts felt futile. I cried. I slept. I lost weight. I lost sight of the sovereignty of the God I claimed to know intimately.

We began cranking out house projects so it would be showing ready. We found a realtor. We even had a "coming soon" sign put in our front yard.

Then we had a heart to heart with wise counsel. We made some tough decisions, and were handed redemption. Unworthy, undeserving, unexpected redemption.

We don't have to move, at least not right now. Jon is actively applying for part time work. Our lives are going to look much different, but we will get to stay in what was supposed to be our forever-home. I can't remember the last time I felt so unworthy of something.

a thousand times i've failed
still your mercy remains
should i stumble again
still i'm caught in your grace
everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame

Monday, June 5, 2017

the copper anniversary

Seven years ago I promised to love you in good times and in bad. It's felt like more bad than good lately as life did everything in its power to stress us out. You are the calm, collected one and I am the DEFCON level 1, world is ending one. Suffice to say, you are the necessary yin to my yang. These past seven years have molded me into a better person and made me grow in ways I didn't think possible. I am comfortable with you in a wonderful way. I am so grateful you chose to love me and ask me to be your wife. I'm sorry our anniversary celebration looks so different this year, but I'm not even an ounce sorry that you're the person it's different with. I love you, JP. Happy anniversary.

Friday, June 2, 2017

etta (27 and 28 weeks old)

At 27/28 weeks old, Etta is all about food. She loves eating and is probably our best baby-led weaner of the three. Sweet potatoes are her current favorite but we have also been supplementing with pureed prunes to help keep things moving, which she enjoys greatly. Her sleep has improved but she still has occasional rough nights. Etta is breaking out of her swaddle consistently so it's about time for us to take it away. She cracks up at Elden and Edith. She also recently discovered Marsala and is a big fan. This little peanut brings us so much joy.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

long time, no blog

Since I last updated, things have been bleak. The stress of our situation has all but consumed me. I've lost my appetite. I am forcing myself to eat, but even so I am down about 7 pounds in two weeks.

We probably can't get the house listed for about 10 more days, which is perfectly fine by me because I am exhausted and all I seem to do is sleep (did I mention that when I get depressed, sleep is my escape? So I literally fall down as soon as I cross the threshold. Been a great mom lately.) and I can't keep doing things. Jon, as usual, picks up every single area that I've been slacking on. We already have people calling our realtor asking to see our house (it's listed as 'coming soon') which is great but also terrifying and pressure-inducing.

We have no plan. We don't know where we'll end up.We went to one of our top areas yesterday and the houses in our price range--which we expected to be a disaster--actually weren't that bad, so that gave us hope. The only problem is they would make for a tedious commute for me. The other areas that wouldn't be as bad of a commute are far from church and/or have very few available and/or have not as great schools.

We are trying to decide if we can make a three bedroom work because four's in our price range seem like unicorns.

We are trying not to lose our minds.

It is not going well.