Thursday, May 28, 2009

Breathe it in.

By now you know that if I talk about products or organizations on my blog, it's because I think they are worthwhile. I only feature products/info that means something to me, and that's why I want to tell you about The Fresh Air Fund one more time.

The Fresh Air Fund provides inner-city kiddos with opportunities to spend a couple weeks in the country or the suburbs during the summer months. I think this is so stinkin' cool! We're talking about kids who would otherwise not have the opportunity to do things like skip rocks, roast marshmallows over a campfire, go fishing, pick apples, or race through a field of wildflowers. For some of these kids, it's really not even safe to play in their own yards.

Click here to read my first post about this organization - you'll also be able to read about some of my best memories of growing up in the outdoors.

I wanted to remind you about this group again because from now to June 30th every dollar donated to The Fresh Air Fund will be matched dollar for dollar by some very generous donors. For those of you who, like me, aren't so hot at math, that means if you donate 10 bucks, The Fresh Air Fund will actually get 20 bucks. If you live on the East Coast and want to open your home to an inner-city child for a couple weeks this summer, they are still in need of volunteer host families, too.

Please visit the official site for The Fresh Air Fund to see if volunteers are needed in your area, and to read about other ways you can help. Visit their website by clicking here.

So, go learn more about what you can do, and then get your booty outside and enjoy the fresh air- there's so many kids who can't!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weight just a minute now...

So, not too long ago, I decided to break up with my scale.

Nada. No more. Hasta la vista. It's done. We're over. I'm through.

It was causing too many problems. I'd step on it a couple times a day, or at least once every day. I'd freak out over fluctuations in my weight and I'd beat myself up, telling myself things like, "Yep, shouldn't have eaten all that pepperoni pizza. You need more salads!" "Well, if you would have gotten off your lazy butt and gone to the gym this probably wouldn't have happened..." And on and on and on.

Weighing myself constantly had quite the little snowball effect on me because every time I got off that scale, I found it necessary to stop and look in the mirror at critique myself from head to toe.

I'd look in the mirror, see a zit - get up closer in the mirror and notice a wrinkle, and another zit, and holy mackerel when was the last time I got my eyebrows waxed?!?!

I'd get dressed in the morning and analyze my lovely stretch marks and stand sideways to see how far my belly stuck out. I'd notice blemishes, sagging (why, WHY?!?!?), and a little extra chub a dub dub here and there.

I'd try on pants I knew were too small, and I'd get upset that I couldn't fit into them anymore. I'd tell myself I looked frumpy and tired and that I was just letting myself go.

It was exhausting, and it was a real bummer.

But, before I go any further, I must admit that this break-up was not my idea. I was inspired by Summer at Le Musings of Moi. Summer shared her own struggles with weight and body image issues, and stressed the importance of all of us women recognizing that we are beautiful, and we shouldn't let our scales tell us otherwise. She talked about getting rid of her scale because it was torturing her, too.

I thought it sounded like a good idea - I friggin' hated my scale, so why not give it a shot, right?

So, I gave up my scale cold turkey, and I haven't stepped on it since.

I can't even begin to tell you what a difference it has made all around. I mean, shoot! I know that weight fluctuates throughout the day - weighing in each day is ridiculous, and really, it doesn't even matter. I am at a healthy weight, so there was no reason to be obsessing over it. I literally had no reason I needed to be setting foot on that scale. It was almost like I just wanted to torture myself. I don't understand it.

When I ditched the scale and decided to do my very best to look for my beauty instead of my flaws, my confidence in myself changed. A lot.

I got new pants. Pants that fit. I'm not the same lady I was before I had my baby. I have fewer brain cells, a tad less of my sanity intact, and my boobs, butt, hips, thighs and everything else will never be the same again. It's the nature of motherhood.

So, instead of trying to fit into the mold of my pre-baby self (and all the pre-baby clothes that fit that particular mold), I am learning to accept this new body - sags, stretch marks, extra fluff and all. Because I'm fine. I'm fine just the way I am.

I only wear clothes that make me feel good. If it's baggy, or if it's too tight and uncomfortable, I don't wear it.

After ditching the scale, I've found myself wanting to take better care of myself. I have fun fixing up my hair and my makeup, and I can look in the mirror and smile back.

If I go a week without exercising, it's okay because I just do what I can when I can, and I do my best to stay fit. Sometimes my best is once in two weeks, and sometimes my best is three times a week. It just depends.

I let myself enjoy decadent, delicious foods that I love. I just do it in moderation, and I make sure I'm choosing healthy things as well. If I'm choosing, for the most part, to eat healthy and throwing in a few things here and there that are a bit more on the high-calorie side (translation: a bit more on the freakin' delicious side), then that's fine, and there's no reason to beat myself up for enjoying cookies, truffles and Cheetos. There are things I love that I am going to enjoy, and I'm not going to deprive myself of them out of the fear of gaining a little weight.

So scale, to be honest - I don't miss you. I don't miss your stupid numbers, your blinking sign telling me to wait, and your stupid error message when I stepped on you too soon.

I don't miss the never-ending self criticism and low confidence that you encouraged in me.

Scale - you are stupid, you are ugly, and your mother dresses you funny. So there.

(This post is a part of Mama Kat's Thursday Writer's Workshop.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

I said a hip hop, a hibbity hip hop.

Ok, ok, so...we all know that I love hip hop music, but that I couldn't actually dance to it to save my life. Well, in front of anyone, that is. I'll dance to when I'm by myself - no problem.

This video had me in stitches just laughing and laughing, with tears rolling down my face. This kid has got moves. I find it nothing short of utterly hilarious.

It's videos like this one, or the Will Ferrell landlord video with the oh-so-adorable Pearl that I go to and watch a few times when I'm having a bad day and when I need a good laugh.

So, whether you're having a great or a real crappy day, I hope this makes you laugh.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Because I'll need this reminder on the bad days.

Sometimes I feel like I'm such a sucky mom.

The baby just cries and cries some days. She could be teething, needy, tired, hungry, who knows - but on those days when there's a whole lot of crying I just get so frustrated, and I hate what I become.

I ever-so-quickly lose my patience, my negativity takes the wheel, and I basically decide right then and there that it's going to be a bad day. The thing is - it's a choice, and all to often, I intentionally make that choice.

The end of the day comes around, and I realize that an entire day has gone by that I will never get back. I know we all have bad days, I have no desire to be Supermom, and I know I can't possibly have a positive attitude 100% of the time, but when I look back on days like that, it really bums me out that I chose to be so ridiculous.

Something I struggle with all too often is spending time with my baby vs. taking care of household tasks during the day when I'm not working outside the home. I just have a hard time finding a good balance.

So, it's days like today when I'm reminded that everything else in my day may be out of my control, but my attitude is the one thing I can choose to be in control of.

At the moment, my little one is working on her first one year molar - not a fun time. She was pretty fussy this morning, but I decided it was going to be a good day. I also sent up a lot more prayers than I typically have been, so I'm sure that contributed to the better day as well.

Sometimes, I think it's really important to just step back and really take a look at my attitude, my priorities, and my current perspective on things. Because, most of the time, I need to readjust all of the above...

So, today, this is what I've learned:

Being home with my baby part-time is a privilege. Many women out there wish they could be home with their babies and their circumstances do not permit it, so I really need to appreciate each day I'm home with my baby.

She'll have some particularly clingy days, and it may get on my nerves when all she wants to do is to be held, but it means that she's coming to me for comfort and attention because she feels safe with me, she trusts me, and she loves me.

Building towers out of blocks only to have them knocked over 86 times, tickling for belly laughs, listening to the talking tea pot, the singing Leapfrog fridge DJ and the Silly Songs Countdown, along with pushing my kid around in a toy car, reading stories and dancing around the house like a fool are some of my new favorite hobbies.

I may have never-ending laundry, a checkbook that needs to be balanced, emails to answer, hair that hasn't been washed in 2 days, yogurt, bananas, spaghetti and other unidentifiable food smeared on my clothing, but my baby won't be a baby for long. When she's in school, all grown up, and eventually out of my house, I will still have laundry to do, a checkbook to balance, emails to answer, hair to wash, and the occasional food item on my clothing, but my baby won't be readily available to play with and cuddle. She'll be learning about square roots, going to dances, driving a car, and growing up. I need to enjoy her every minute that I can. Right now.


Thanks to Sassy Stephanie over at Our Piece of Quiet for regularly reminding me to really enjoy every minute with my baby while I can, even when it's a particularly rough day. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's a list. I love lists. :)

Time for another Writer's Workshop over at Mama's Losin' It. This week's prompt?

10 Things I'm Currently Sick Of

1. Adam Lambert

2. Headlines about how Kris Allen's American Idol win was an "upset." He won. Get over it, people. America likes him better, and that's that. So, just shut up already.

3. My chipped polish toenails. It's high time to cash in my pedicure gift certificate...

4. Our crazy, almost jungle like weedy front and back yards.

5. Soy milk. I got a case of it at Costco, and I'm so tired of it. I'm so tired of it, in fact, that I'm sneaking the baby's WHOLE milk instead of drinking the 2% that's also in the fridge. Naughty, naughty...

6. The lack of pictures up on my walls. I'm working on it. Hung 3 new ones yesterday, but our entryway and hallway is still barren. Soon - I shall hang more pictures up soon.

7. The never. ENDING laundry in this house. Just when I think I've done all 73 loads, then I happen to enter the nursery and notice that the baby's hamper is overflowing.

8. My hair. And that's precisely why I just got off the phone with the salon and scheduled a haircut for Saturday.

9. Not being able to find my keys. Seriously. I think it's been a month. I got HOME - they've got to be here somewhere. I think it costs $80 some bucks to replace the car key since it's got a freaking computer chip in it. Let's not even mention the 2 different work keys that also happen to be on my keychain...

10. My itchy, scratchy, watery allergy eyes. Pollen is such a biatch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 more ways than one.

Today was simply a wonderful day.

I had some Mother's Day money to burn, and oh how I love to shop. I could literally just walk around in stores all day and look at things, try them on, not try them on, imagine where cute little decorative items would go in my house. It's just something I adore.

My husband and I don't exactly rake in oodles of money with our prestigious jobs as a teacher and a social worker. So, when occasions like Christmas, my birthday, and Mother's Day come along and I get a little extra cash flow in my pocket, I get SO excited.

I'm not even joking. It's like I have to contain myself from doing little cartwheels across the room, so instead, I just do cartwheels in my head.

Shopping is great, but shopping with an infant? That's just asking for trouble. I knew if I wanted to enjoy my shopping experience, the child would have to be elsewhere.

Whenever I get a day totally to myself, it's usually because the baby has put me on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Today - well, today I just wanted to go out and have fun. By myself. Doing something I love.

Some of my experienced mom friends have ever so gently reminded me how very important it is to have time to myself, and to do the things I love to do. It's refreshing, rejuvenating, and absolutely, positively necessary in order for me to maintain some semblance of sanity.

So, this morning Kaylee and I went to our Mommy and Me exercise class (where I felt like my lungs were literally going to explode on about six different occasions), and after we walked out of the gym alive, I promptly dropped her off with her wonderful auntie.

As I walked to my car after handing over my sweet child, I began to sing..." 'Cause I'm as freeeee as a biiiiird noooowwww." I sang it in the privacy of my own head, of course. Duh.

It felt so great. No diapers. No temper tantrums. No chasing my child around on the floor trying to get her to eat. No lack of naps. No constant whining for me to pick her up. No Veggie Tales Silly Songs Countdown blaring in the background.

Just me, my wallet, and a whole day full of nothing but possibilities.

I went to a little hole-in-the-wall resale clothing shop that I keep forgetting exists, and I managed to score a pair of Lucky jeans for under $30. That in itself would have made my day, especially since I've been jonesin' for a pair of those jeans for quite some time.

I browsed in a cute specialty shoe store, stopped at home for a quick bite to eat, and then I was out on the town again. This time, I was headed back to the Land of Glory.

The mall.

I waltzed into Victoria's Secret, determined to leave with perkier boobs than when I first arrived there. After a frustrating experience not finding any bras to fit my deflated boobs the previous night, I decided I wasn't messing around anymore.

My boobs had served me well, and they deserved nothing but the best. So, I got fitted, did some trying on of the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders and left feeling like a whole new woman.

You know you found the right bra when the word "uplift" is actually in the title of the bra. They knew it would uplift more than just boobies - that magnificent bra uplifted my whole dang spirit.

Oh, happy, happy day...

Monday, May 11, 2009

You missed so much.

So, last week, I posted my five-part series about postpartum depression. I thought it was a good idea, but man oh man, there were so many things I wanted to tell you, but I didn't - because I didn't want to overload you with a bunch of posts.

Basically, I've forgotten most of what I was going to tell you, so when I tell you that you missed out on a lot of fun and crazy things from last week, please just take my word for it. I wouldn't lie to you.

Instead of sitting here and racking my brain trying to remember every funny detail of my life that you were not privy to last week, let me just tell you the tid bit that takes the cake.

Kaylee and I had a play date this past Wednesday with a friend of mine and her baby. It was at a park. With a playground - lots of grass, a walking path. It's a lovely little park. And occasionally there are some rather eccentric folks who show up.

Wednesday was no exception.

So, Kaylee and I drive up to the park, and the first thing we see is an old man rather close to the playground. Not so bad, right? Oooh, no. It was bad. Real bad.

He was standing there in his sunglasses, reading the paper, in his gray underwear briefs. And nothing else. At the PLAYGROUND.

Better believe we called the cops on his ass.

And that right there was my number one, "Ooooh! I've gotta blog about THIS one!" moment of last week.

I hope you fully appreciate the fact that it was me, and not you, that had to endure viewing such nastiness.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: The Series

Click the links below to read the five-part series I wrote about my struggle with postpartum depression.

Friday, May 8, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: part five - the final chapter

This is the last post in a five-part series about my struggle with postpartum depression. If you've missed the past 4 days, click below to catch up.

Before I get on with the conclusion, I want to thank the women who have opened up in either the comment section or in emails to me, talking about their struggles with not only postpartum depression, but postpartum OCD, anxiety, and even perinatal depression (depression that sets in when you're still pregnant). This is why I'm writing these things and putting them out there. I want you to know that you're not alone, there's no need to feel ashamed, that life does go on, and it can get better if you are willing to get help.

I welcome your comments and your emails - I would love to hear your stories if you feel like sharing them. This was by no means an all-inclusive account of everything I went through, but I hit on the major points. Here and there, I may share more, and I will definitely be including more information about resources that are out there to offer support.

Part One
Part Two

Part Three
Part Four

Deciding to forego the meds was a little bit of a scary decision. I hate failing. At anything. And I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle things without the medication.

They made a tremendous difference for me, and I was afraid of backsliding.

I guess part of what helped me make the decision was knowing that I could go back on them, and knowing that they would help quickly.

So, I ran out of my pills a week before my 6-month follow-up with my OB doctor. I called her office and they gave me the go ahead to just stop taking them, and they said it would be good timing because we should know how I would react to being off of them once that week went by.

So, 6 months after I got my diagnosis, I was back in the same room in the doctor's office, this time in a rather different state of mind.

I told my doctor I was feeling great - I was feeling like myself again. I told her I was afraid about the days when I was cranky, and that I wondered if that meant the depression was starting to take over again.

She said I needed to look at the big picture, and to allow myself room for some cranky days because everybody has cranky days. I'd gone a week without taking anything and I felt back to normal, and she said that was a good indication that she thought I'd be just fine.

It's been 4 months now since I've been off the ABPs. I feel like I'm still on guard about things - I'm still really paying attention to myself every time I lose my patience or act cranky, but I feel like it's not out of control anymore.

I laugh, crack jokes, let things roll off my shoulders without freaking out (most of the time, anyway...), and I don't feel as anxious.

So, there's a good chance this will happen next time I have a kid. And, to be honest, that bums me out. But, the plan I have with my doctor is that we'll start watching for it at the end of my next pregnancy, and I won't hesitate to get on meds right away if I know something funky's going on.

By talking about my postpartum depression, it's helped me to process what happened to me and to accept that I'm not some sort of freak. Actually, by being honest about it, I've spoken with several women who say they were either diagnosed with it, or that they suffered from it, but it went untreated.

Talking about it has opened my eyes to the fact that it is way more prevalent than the literature out there would have us believe.

So, if you're out there, and you've got it, or you think you might, don't be ashamed. Don't be embarassed. Be angry about it. Be frustrated. Be upset that you can't just enjoy your new life with your baby and that you can't adjust as easy as you expected you would. That's all part of what you might experience. And that's okay. But know you're not alone. There are so many of us out there who have been through it, or who are going through it, and we're not getting through it by trying to be all tough and braving it on our own.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: part four

This is the fourth post in five-part series about my struggle with postpartum depression. If you need to catch up, click the links below.

(*Please note: Although I mention Lexapro all throughout this series, it's important to realize that certain medications work differently for different people. If you suffer from postpartum depression and decide to use medication, you need to make an informed decision with your doctor about which one is best for you. Thanks to Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress for helping me realize that it was important to remind my readers of this. )

Part One
Part Two

Part Three

Things really started getting better once I hit the 2-week mark of being on the ABP's. I was feeling more like myself, and Dennis was feeling much better, realizing that - no, his wife hadn't left the building for good. The real me was, in fact, in there somewhere, and I was emerging yet again.

But it wasn't peachy all the time.

I'd have some days where I'd just snap at him or lose my patience with the baby a lot faster than I should, or I'd just be really cranky all day for no good reason at all.

There were days we wondered if I was getting worse. That was hard to swallow.

I didn't want to have to up my dose. I wanted to stay on my happy, teensy little 5 milligram pill and that would be that. So, when I'd have a bad day, we'd talk about it. I realized when it was happening, and - obviously- Dennis did, too. We'd agree to give it a couple days and if it wasn't better I'd call the doctor.

I began to question myself every damn time I felt irritable. I'd wonder if it was the depression, or if any other woman who didn't have postpartum depression would feel irritable in a similar situation.

Constantly questioning things was getting old.

Ultimately, when I'd get to feeling like a bizatch, it would pass, usually within a day or two, so we just let it slide. And it turned out to be okay.

When I initially started the Lexapro, my doctor said we'd do a trial for 6 months, and once I reached that point, we'd talk about what the next best thing would be. She told me that if I felt like myself again, I wouldn't need to wean off the meds since it was a small dose. I could just stop taking them.

So, as I approached that 6-month mark, I had some decisions to make. Do I keep taking the meds (and forking out over 80 bucks a month for them...) because we know they work wonders, or do I test the waters and see if I can manage to feel like myself without them?

Together, Dennis and I decided that I would attempt to kick my ABP's to the curb...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: part three

This post is the third in a five-part series about my struggle with postpartum depression. Missed the first 2 days? Click the links below to catch up.

Part One
Part Two

My doctor put me on a low dose of Lexapro - just 5 milligrams - because she said that it seemed like things weren't out of hand yet. Yet being the operative word here.

She explained how important it was to start treatment, and she said, "I'm assuming you're not suicidal, right?" That's when it hit home, and we talked about how things could progress if my postpartum depression went untreated. It scared the crap out of me, and I was so, SO glad that I was sitting there in that room taking the first step to get some help.

There was this one night, about 2 weeks after I started my meds, that Dennis and I could both tell things were on the up and up. I remember we were sitting on the couch watching TV and talking. And I was LAUGHING. It felt great, and I felt like I had a part of myself back again.

Dennis said, "I love medicine!"

That's when I replied with, "5 milligrams is all it takes!" My own little take on the Honey Bunches of Oats slogan - "One spoonful is all it takes."

At that point, we both new that things were probably going to get better. But, of course, we still had our doubts. After all, we were only 2 weeks in.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: Part Two

This post is the second in a five-part series about my struggle with postpartum depression. Click here to read Part One.

After realizing that something was definitely not going right up in my noggin, I started thinking about how it would probably be a good idea to go get checked out.

There were a couple things in particular that finally got me into my doctor's office to have a conversation with her that I never in a million years expected to be having with her.

One was realizing that Dennis had an Ice Queen for a wife the day that I cracked a joke about an old man - it was the first joke I'd cracked in I don't know how long. The next thing was the encouragement of some fellow moms, urging me to talk to my doctor about feeling so dang cranky all the time.

Add the two together, and you get me - going to my doctor's office, hoping that it was just my birth control adding extra hormones and causing my bitchiness and not the dreaded postpartum depression.

I wasn't DEPRESSED. I wasn't sad. It must have been the birth control. It had to be - right?

Certainly it must be something other than ME causing the irritability. I really wanted to be able to point the finger elsewhere.

So, my doctor started asking me questions. I started giving her answers.

Once I started giving her answers, she gave me 2 things.

A diagnosis and a prescription.

Two weeks later, Dennis got his wife back.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: part one

The ass kicking began with a fair amount of these 5 milligram beauties, otherwise known in our house as ABP's. (Click here to read why we call them ABP's, and to read my first post about postpartum depression). Technically speaking, I was taking Lexapro, but it's just so much more fun to say ABP's.

Postpartum depression looks different for everyone, and for me, it was irritability (my polite way of saying "bitchiness"). I didn't feel "depressed" - I was just pissed off as heck most of the time. I think my husband lived in constant fear of saying the wrong thing for fear that I would bite his head off.

I don't remember a lot of the things I said or did when I was the resident Ice Queen, but I'm sure it wasn't even safe for him to offer to do the dishes. The conversation probably would have gone something like this:

Dennis: Hey honey, do you want me to load the dishwasher?

Me: What do you MEAN "Do you want me to load the dishwasher?" Just what are you trying to say? You know I already think I suck at keeping this house clean. It doesn't help at all for you to rub it in my face!

Dennis: But, I wasn't...I was just -

Me: I don't CARE! You wouldn't have had to ask if I could just do my damn job and keep the dishes clean around here.

And then, before stomping off, I would probably slam a cabinet or door, or something near me that was slammable.

Poor guy...

I distinctly remember the day that I realized Dennis knew something was amiss with his once funny, bubbly, and pretty much care-free wife.

We went out for an afternoon together, just the two of us. We were getting ready to climb into the car when this old guy drives by us and gives us the ultimate stare down for reasons that I still can't figure out. He drives by, and as soon as he passes, I mutter under my breath, "What are you lookin' at, Country Club..."

Dennis uttered three words that made me stop in my tracks.

He said, "There's my Sera!"

Instantly, I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I cracked a joke.

It finally hit me that I didn't feel at all like myself. And I couldn't remember the last time that I did.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's finally time.

Back in January of this year, I sat down and started to chronicle my journey through postpartum depression. It really helped me to process what I'd been through, and it gave me some closure.

The posts have been sitting in draft mode here on my blog, ready and waiting to be published. Up until now, I've just shared little tid bits about my struggles with this lovely postpartum conundrum, but now I'm finally ready to share the whole story.

I know we're all busy people, so instead of writing one big, long post I've broken my story up into 5 parts. They're short enough to read while you have your morning cup of coffee, or while you lock yourself in your office for 5 minutes to get a timeout from the world.

So, I just wanted to let you know that things will be taking on a bit of a more serious tone around here for the next few days, but worry not, because you'll still find some humor thrown in from time to time, and we'll be back to the funny stuff before you know it.

It's just time for me to do this.