Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A post about depression (don't freak out)

Yesterday wasn't a fabulous momming day for me, or life-ing day, for that matter. Lately I've been feeling like I'm stuck in a hydraulic press or something, like my whole self is being squeezed. I'm positive I'm suffering from a little PPD or PPA, because I've been there before so why not go there again? Depression and anxiety aren't exactly strangers in my life. 

After a week of Zoë being sick, I am ridiculously behind in laundry because I spent the whole week washing sheets and blankets and towels and pyjamas that she threw up on (technically she was only throwing up for three days, but it felt like longer). Andrew was sick over the weekend, which I can't really blame him for but it meant that he wasn't present to co-parent, which felt overwhelming even if it shouldn't have been. Andrew's current contract will be over at the end of the semester and then...who even knows? It feels just a little bit like we're heading full-steam ahead to the edge of a cliff. 

Alexander hasn't been sleeping well lately. He sleeps until I go to bed and then—I don't know if it's because he can smell me or what, but—he wants to smorgasbord all night long, which is fine except, like, I'm the smorgasbord. It's been exhausting. But  then when I can sleep, all I have are nightmares of my children dying. Often it's due to a car accident (which has done wonders for my driving anxiety—ha!) but there are other ways, too. I heard Rachel's bed creaking in the middle of the night; she was probably just switching positions, but I dreamt she had hanged herself from her bed frame (she has a loft bed) and I found her in the morning when she didn't get up for school (she's usually the first one up). Just a reminder that that was a dream. It didn't actually happen. 

Benjamin, though, actual-factually started choking on a piece of meat at dinner the other night, so I went ahead and dreamed that instead of coughing it back up (as he did in real life), he died. And I kept dreaming it over and over again and every time I would try something different to save his life but every time I would end up hovering over his limp, lifeless body on the kitchen floor. 

I can usually chase that kind of thought away during the day (thoughts which I realize aren't entirely normal to be bombarded with), but I can't quite control them in my dreams. 

So sleeping is pretty much...fabulous...right now.

Anyway, yesterday I just felt like far too much was piled on anyway and then...I went to fill out this survey for Alexander's well-child check tomorrow. It's a pretty easy survey and I was flying through it.
Does your baby smile? Yes.

Does your baby get excited when s/he sees the bottle/breast? Why, yes. Yes, he does. Eating is his favourite.

Is your baby soothed by your voice? Yes.

Can your baby hold up his/her head? Yes.

Is your baby rolling over? Yes.

Does your baby hold a toy and bring it to his/her mouth? Yes.

At the end the survey, however, I found myself poised with my pencil in the air, hesitating.

Are you enjoying your baby?

Yes or no.

Yes or no.

Yes or no.


How could I be hesitating over this question?

Yes...and no?

Yes, I want to enjoy my baby. I think my baby is beautiful and he's a little ray of sunshine and delight. But also I feel swallowed up in fog. And then there's that whole hydraulic press thing. Because it would be nice to enjoy him without the fog, without the press. 

So I just haven't answered that question because some questions are too scary to answer.

But this post isn't exactly about postpartum depression/anxiety. It's about family home evening and switching bedrooms. 

Andrew took charge of family night yesterday. He began, "For family night we're going to have a bit of a..."

"Pep rally?" Miriam cut in.

"No," Andrew said, "Because that would be like, 'Rah-rah! We're awesome!' This is going to be more like, 'Stop. Stop, guys. Stop.'"

"Oh, so a lecture..." Miriam said solemnly.

So they got a lecture about "invisible nos," which they've had a few times before. Invisible nos are when you say no to something mom (or dad or grandma or grandpa) has asked you to do, but without actually saying no.

It sounds like, "I'm just..." or "After I..." or "I did that last week; it's so-and-so's turn..." or any other excuse one could muster. 

I know my children aren't responsible for my mental health, but mental health might be a tad better if I didn't have to constantly beg them to pitch in. It's not even nagging lately; it's flat out begging. 

On that note, they got a little lecture about seeing something that needs to be done and then doing it because they don't actually have to be asked to do everything. They live here and can just do things because things need doing. 

And then we decided we'd switch around the bedrooms to see if we could get Alexander to sleep a little better again. We'd been planning on putting him in with Benjamin, but if you've ever seen the two of them interact, it's pretty clear that having the two of them in a room alone together is an awful idea. So instead we moved Benjamin in with Zoë...

"Top bunk?!" he squealed. "Alright! I can jump off whenever I..." 

"No!" Andrew said. "No, you may not jump off the bed."

"But I..." 




...and moved Miriam into Benjamin's room.

"Sweet!" she squealed, dancing around the room. "I get my own room until Alexander's one!"

"Actually, you'll be sharing with the boy," Andrew corrected her.

"What boy?!" Miriam asked, panic-stricken.


"Phew," she said.

So while I helped the kids get valentines ready for their school classes (how did this holiday sneak up on us like this?!) Andrew helped the kids switch their bedding around (we left all their stuff as is for the time being).

Everyone went to bed just fine...except for me. When it actually came down to it I couldn't sleep. Even though I could still hear Alexander breathing (through the wall!) I couldn't stand the thought of him not being right next to me. Sleeping in the same room as a parent until six months reduces the risk of SIDS, you know, Anxiety reminded me. He already has an airway defect, Anxiety pointed out. He's going to die, Anxiety sang.

Anxiety said a lot of things.

"I can't sleep," I said to Andrew, on the verge of tears. "I need my baby."

"What do you want to do?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said. 

So we came up with a somewhat sloppy middle-of-the-night solution. He carried Miriam from her bed to ours, and I slept in her bed. With ear plugs in. 

I'm sure the ear plugs negate the benefits of being in the same room as a parent. But in my defence, I have been listening to him squeak all night long for four solid months, so even when he's not waking me up because he wants to eat, he's waking me up whenever he changes his breathing pattern (I'm a pretty light sleeper). I deserved a night of not listening to him, Anxiety!

He slept from 8:00ish to 11:00ish, from 11:00ish to 4:00ish, and from 4:00ish to 7:40!

I count that as a beautiful night of sleep. It's what he started doing the beginning of January. He just stopped in February for some reason and it has been slowly driving me insane. So hopefully he's back to sleeping better.

I don't know if it was that he was getting too big for his bassinet (he kept pushing his face/head into the side/top as he squirmed around in his sleep, hunting for milk) or if it was the white noise of Miriam's room (she sleeps with primary songs on, another reason for the ear plugs) or it was simply that being a little further away from me meant he didn't crave nursing as much. Who knows.

All I know is I'm hoping for another good sleep tonight.

Miriam just had a few complaints about the scenario:

"Dad snores," she said.

"I know," I said. "Just give him a big ol' poke and he'll roll over and stop."

"And he sets a million alarms!"

"I know," I said. "It's the worst."

He calls it his rumble strip. 

I call it, "just set the alarm for the time you actually plan on getting out of bed and then you'll get an extra half hour of uninterrupted sleep before you have to get up instead of spending half an hour waking up every five minutes to turn off the stupid* alarm."

This can also be solved by giving him a big ol' poke (or a series of big ol' pokes while pleading, "Please just get up because I haven't slept all night and I can't listen to your alarm go off one more time,"). 

So, to sum up:

Yesterday was awful. But I'm feeling much better today. Definitely still like I'm living in a hydraulic press, but manageable. I looked up therapists but my insurance only covers therapists for PPD in Provo and I hate driving. I also hate the medical "system" in this country because I believe that I should just be able to go to the doctor without having to hunt to find one that works with my insurance (because my insurance doesn't work very well this "far" south in Utah County, which is ridiculous considering how many BYU employees live here, just saying). But we won't get started on that. Instead I'll just keep on keeping on with daily walks in the sunshine, counting my blessings, sneaking in afternoon naps, and lots of deep breathing. 

* We don't say stupid.


  1. So sorry you are struggling. Night-time anxiety is the worst. I remember in the past, chanting to myself "God has not given me a spirit of fear ..." and that verse about "3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Only I'd say "fixed" instead of "stayed" because I forgot "stayed." Hoping you have more restful sleeps soon!

  2. What a good idea to repeat those scriptures, Susanne!

  3. I hit depression/anxiety after my fifth and it was awful. Sorry you are going through it now. I didn't realize how bad it was until I was able to get help and come out of it. The not sleeping because of all the thoughts going through my head was the worst. You have to be able to sleep! The biggest thing I have learned is that sometimes it cannot be willed away and additional help needs to be sought. Hopefully you can find a therapist you like. I really like Ali Thompson at Grandview Medical (she is in Provo). She is a psych NP which I like as she can do some counseling but can also prescribe medications. And don't worry about liking and not liking your baby. I really like my youngest now (she is 3!) :)