Saturday, October 27, 2012

No sequins for you!

Here is my daughter:
Please note how she is the cutest thing that ever cuted.
OhmyGod.  She is so cute.
Please also note that she is not wearing sparkles, nor is she wearing anything made of tulle, and she is quite far from having flowing locks of blonde curls, and yet, she remains not only a girl, but an astonishingly adorable and happy little nodule of perfect cutitude.
Everyone can agree on this, right?

Now bear witness to the monstrosity that is gendered Halloween costumes.

I mean, are you kidding me?  We have to force our little girls to be pretty-pretty-princesses even when they are Muppets?

What IS this?!  And more importantly, how am I supposed to hide my daughter from it?

It's not that I hate dresses, or fancy shoes or glitter, (Well, actually, I do hate glitter but that's because it is impossible to ever clean up, not because I think that it holds some inherent misogynist bias).  But it is like we are suffocating them.  It is like there are two options: be a frilly, delicate flower (and apparently freeze you hiney off while trick-or-treating) - or be "alternative", a "tom-boy", a political statement.    Is it any wonder that little girls think that sexy = popular?
I mean, I am a big fan of this image, but it really only serves to prove my point:
She looks adorable, but people are mostly into this image because she is not fitting in with our cultural expectations.  She is rising above what we as a culture know we teach little girls to value about themselves: primarily their bodies: their hair, their make-up coated faces, their delicately poised hands, and their pointed little toes.
And what happens when these little girls get older and, as all children do, start discovering and asserting their own power?  Well, they use the assets they have been taught to value, of course.
And that's when it really gets ugly.
Have you heard of the twelve-year-old- slut meme?  It's totally a thing.  Using the word "meme" makes it sound like it is a new thing, but it is really not.  We have been shaming girls for using their sexuality since the Old Testament when most women were stoned for exhibiting signs of sexual awareness.  With the rise of social media and cyber bullying, the public reaction to girls asserting their sexuality has changed, it is more of a lateral move
These girls, experimenting with their own sexuality and immersed in a world where society has dictated as their strongest features are their bodies, are then publicly humiliated for experimenting with the only tools they have to gain approval and status.  It is sickening to me how our culture is both obsessed and terrified of teenage girls.  From Pretty Little Liars, and all the movies with those sexy evil girls, and every female pop star...ever: I mean, talk about mixed messages.  Because in our world there are two types of girls: submissive virgins, or manipulative whores.
How do I stop this?  How do I protect my playful, talkative, curious little spark from all this...terror that seems to be waiting for her in every toy store?
I am really beginning to see Rapunzel's mom's angle.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You watch; everyone will be doing it next season.

     Every now and then I try out a new hobby, and decide that I am cool-new-hobby girl. (Yes, very much like a twelve year old. I am secure in that.)
     Anyway, so I start my new hobby and suddenly I get this idea that I am a newer, awesomer me: like I am cool, fun, brews-her-own-beer chick, or super organized and diligently clean I-just-got-a new-Martha-Stewart-book lady.  Never mind that brew-her-own-beer chick flooded the kitchen in half an inch of unfermented stout, or that Martha-Stewart-lady may or may not have eaten an entire box of Kellogg's Corn Pops for dinner; this does nothing to dampen my excitement when I embark upon my next project which I am always sure will somehow make me amazing.
     Most recently I imagined myself sexy, strong, going-to-run-a-Tough-Mudder Girl.
Knee brace?  Acceptable.  Diapers?  Not so much.
     Tough-Mudder Girl is strong and fun and generally kick-ass.  She runs, and climbs and gets dirty and wrestles alligators.
     You know what Tough-Mudder Girl does not do?
     Tough-Mudder Girl does not PEE HERSELF while running, jumping, and being generally awesome.  Nowhere does incontinence fit into the Tough-Mudder Girl persona, and no one has ever suggested Depends as a solution to ANY of the challenges Tough-Mudder Girl faces.

What.  The.  Hell.

     Why does no one mention this before you have a baby?  People tell you about the pain during delivery, and the no-sleep with a baby, but no one mentions, "Oh, yeah, and, from now on, try not to jump, laugh or breath in public".  You think someone might have brought that up.
     So now I am in physical therapy.  For peeing my pants.  It's an actual thing, and I participate in it.  Superb.
     I am looking into my diet, and of course kegels, lots and lots of kegels.
     In the meantime, I have decided to go with it, ya know?  What else can I do?  From now on, just call me super chill and free-spirited Not-Restricted-Indoor-Plumbing woman.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Friendly Fire During Postpartum Warfare

One of the most challenging parts of postpartum depression is the civilian casualties.  Of course the depression, irritability and fatigue are hard on me, but my poor, sweet long suffering husband, and cute little girl are just innocent bystanders, and really shouldn't have to deal with my insanity when I meltdown over an overgrown law, or become wrought with emotion during the ending of Men in Black 3.
I think doctors too often overlook the family when working through finding proper treatment.
"Some aggression is normal with this as your body adjusts." They say.  (Don't you love their euphemisms?  "Aggression" is code for unholy rage-fests.)  "Give this three weeks or so, and if you are still experiencing irritability, we will consider lowering the dose."
Yeah.  Three weeks.  We'll just dig trenches in the living room and LO and Erik can duck and cover when the sirens go off.   Easy-peasy.
I am not sure what the answer is.  There is no magic pill that will just *puff* make you better, but all this experimentation takes a toll on my family.  I wrote an article that my friend Kaitlin published on her blog at Psych Central.  Check it out and let me know if you agree.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Medication and your authentic self

My friend Kaitlyn recently published this post from a guest blogger on her site.  It has to do with medication and whether or not it makes you your "true" self, another version of yourself, or someone else completely.  This is a question that I know a lot of people wrestle with.  After all, everyone wrestles with their identity to some degree, and when you are taking medications that fundamentally change your brain chemistry, identity issues are bound to pop up.  In the blogger's article, she tries to determine whether she *is* the woman she becomes when suffering from her ADHD , or if she *is* the woman she manifests when on medication.
Personally, I do not believe that I am the nasty, ill-tempered, dark human being I become when I go off my medication.  Depression is a disorder: not a personality trait.  Science has determined that depression is due to a chemical imbalance; so I think it would be inappropriate to say that my true self is the manifestation of that imbalance.  I wouldn't say that a person with epilepsy is most truly him/herself  when having a seizure.  I wouldn't say my father is most truly himself when have a schizophrenic episode.  I wouldn't even say that a person is most truly him/herself when they are really tired.  I guess I like to think that a person is his or her true self is his or her optimal self: who they are under the best conditions, not the worst.That is not to say that I do not believe that I am a complete and total nutcase.  I definitely understand that that cranky, misanthrope I become when I am depressed is me, it is just not most authentically me.
Additionally, I think that if your medication makes you feel anything other than the most authentic version of yourself, then you need to change medication.  There are a ton of medications out there, and if you feel stifled, or wired, or just inauthentic, there is probably a medication that can get you to a better place.  Medication should help you manage your day to day affairs, and help you accomplish the goals that your disorder is stopping you from achieving.  If anything else is happening, there is something wrong.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lovely Poem by Walt Whitman

There Was a Child Went Forth

poem from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

There was a child went forth every day,
and the first object he look'd upon that object he became
and that object became part of him for a day, 
or a certain part of the day,
or for many years, 
or for stretching cycles of years.

We feed the cat first

I just read this article on Babble about second kids getting the shaft.  As my mother's second child, I really don't feel that this is true, but as the mother, I can totally see it happening.  So, I am being proactive and in treating both my children equally by being as lazy as humanly possible with my first child.
It's cool.  She needs the fiber.
  • Almost all LO's clothes come from consignment shops or Goodwill.
  • I consider eight hours a fine amount of time to wear a diaper.
  • The 5 second rule for dropped pacifiers has been extended to a five day rule, as long as I pick off all visible dirt before putting it in her mouth.  Not that it matters because ....
  • LO considers the carpet in our living room an all you can eat buffet.
  • We have two baby books.  Both are completely blank that way all the children can share them.
Any confessions about your "forward thinking" in treating your children equally?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Father the Star Wrangler

     So this week is national Schizophrenia awareness week. This hits particularly close to home foe me because, as a lot of people are well aware, my father is schizophrenic. For those of you who were not aware, that my father is schizophrenic, well, happy Schizophrenia Awareness Week. Consider your self aware.
 That's probably what one does for Schizophrenia Awareness, right? Become aware of someone who is schizophrenic, and maybe send them a basket of cheeses and cured meats? That's what I send my dad for Christmas and he really likes it.
     I can give you his address.
    Oh. Erik just pointed out that it is Schizophrenia Awareness, not Schizophrenia Appreciation Week.
    Guess I better make with the aware-i-fying.
      The whole awareness thing is good. It's relatively new, and it is good to be able to mention to people that there are schizophrenics out there who are not homeless or in prison. When we were kids, we were not allowed to tell anyone about my father's illness, which was fine with me, because I really had no idea what anyone was talking about when they said my dad was sick. He did not seem sick. I suppose he did things that I didn't understand, but adults were always doing things that I did not understand, and I never troubled my self with comparing adults inexplicable behaviors. My dad did talk to himself, but so did I; I still do actually, so there was nothing even remotely strange about that.      On the contrary. I have fond memories of falling asleep to the sounds of my mother working at her sewing machine and my father quietly mumbling to himself, and feeling as though everything was right with the world.

     I do remember the first time I was aware that my father was having a break down. My mother had gone to a family wedding in Texas and we children were left with my father, who was behaving in a very silly manner, shouting at the TV, marching around the house singing, praying at the top of his lungs. I wasn't scared. On the contrary, I think all of us kids were very excited to see my dad in such a fervor. We shouted along with him, danced in parade behind him and happily acted as a sounding board for some of his more precarious ideas.
     "What about this apple, Doll? You think this is good for eating?"
     "No Dad, that's a ceramic apple." I remember giggling, "You can't eat that."
      "No? That's not a good idea?" I laughed. I knew he was genuinely asking me, and I was delighted to be able to care for my father who very often was stoic and intimidating. "No, you can't eat that. Do you want a real apple?"
     I remember my father's face lighting up and him grinning ear to ear. "Yeah, that'd be great!"
     I was so happy to be helping, that my father's illness was more an opportunity to play and be close to him, than anything I ever would have considered a disorder. In fact, it feels strange even now to think of it that way.
      "My father's schizophrenia is a disorder."
      Yeah. That seems weird.

      As an adult, I have come to understand what schizophrenia is indeed a disorder. I know that it can be a terrifying disorder that can torture both the patient and their family. My father's path through his mental illness has been horrific at times, as it has been for my other loved ones who suffer from a similar disorders. I don't mean to make light of any of their suffering. Right now my father is working to promote awareness of the humanity of the schizophrenic. Isn't it sad that we need to remind people that though schizophrenics may behave a bit differently than the majority of society, they are still human? But it's true. Too often when we see a homeless person speaking fervently on the street, or when we hear of disturbed people committing crimes for what are clearly delusional motivations, we forget that these people are humans who are not only disabled, but who are suffering. We need to have sympathy for them.
(The sound gets better in the video after a minute or two)
Did you watch it?  Isn't my dad awesome?  Don't you want to watch the whole talk now.
Ah, then my job here is done.
Thanks Dad!  I love you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to experience pregnancy without getting pregnant in four easy steps

I love this post on Jezebel about how you are not even close to being ready to have a baby.  It is so true, and hilarious, and so full of things that for some of the more ridiculous reasons people think they are ready to have a baby, most of which I completely subscribed to.  The best part of the article is wherein she suggests ways to prepare for having a baby.  My favorites include:
  • Wake up every two hours at night, punch yourself in the face, walk around for 28 minutes pleading in jibberish. Go back to "sleep." Repeat.
  • Stand around a tennis court and catch fly balls with one hand for two hours a day while also preparing a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Practice wrestling aforementioned large, slippery fish, then dress it in seasonally appropriate outfit, including hat and/or jacket. Then go back, remove all clothing, and apply sunscreen. Re-dress fish.

These exercises only prepare you for the child.  I am making a list of things that will prepare you for pregnancy and child birth.   It's a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.
  • Take a laxative and Ipocack at the same time.  Go to work.  Encourage coworkers to say how excited they are for you.
  • Fill a basketball with water.  Just before bed, put on elastic-waist pants and insert the basketball.  Leave it there for four months.
  • Gain 20 pounds.  Allow strangers to enthusiastically comment on how large you are.
  • Poo out a seven pound terd surrounded by all your loved ones and several strangers.
Any others you can think of?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Define "Improvement"

     I am the most pathetic mom ever.  Children are going to read about me in their history books as the most ridiculous mother who ever mothered, and shake their heads in pity for me.
This is how I look now when I put LO down for a nap.
     "But teacher," one little girl will ask hopefully, "Didn't she ever bathe at all."
     "Not for days and days, Sarah. And she only buttoned up her pants if she went grocery shopping, but even then she unbuttoned as soon as she got back in the car.  It was a very sad and sorry state of affairs."
     Sigh.  I don't know how other woman do it.  I read their very clean and proper parenting blogs about their beautiful children of whom they take gorgeous sunlit photos, wherein they wax poetic about how to grow your own kale for baby food, and how refurbish an old dresser so that it can be used as a credenza.  I'll bet they have never discussed with their husbands the possibility of training a pack of dogs to raise a baby.
     Truthfully though, things aren't that bad (not that things not being bad actually changes any of my aforementioned behaviors, it just means I feel better about them).  Thanks to Ferber, LO is sleeping in five hour chunks, which is a massive improvement from two weeks ago when she was waking us up every 20 minutes.  The first night she cried for an hour at least three times during the night, but she was actually kind of doing that before Ferber, so that isn't that bad.  No, the hardest part of Ferber is definitely the heart wrenching guilt.  I still have to wear noise dampeners to put her down for a nap, even though she only cries for about five minutes.  It is really hard not just run into her bedroom and hold her to my chest.  When she is awake I am always searching her face for signs of resentment.  Poor little girl.  I know it is silly, but I can't help feel like this is ultimately going to affect which nursing home I end up in.
     I am also working through a medication change right now, which stinks.  My friend Kaitlin just had her book published (which has me in it and totally makes me famous. You should totally buy it right now!  Buy it!  Buy it!) about how antidepressants are a solution, but not in the way one might hope.  For example, when LO wasn't sleeping, I was getting super depressed and I had to raise my Cymbalta.  Unfortunately, the Cymbalta makes it really hard for me to sleep.  Now that LO is sleeping, I am not.  So they added risperidone, which definitely helps my mood, but makes me gain weight like it is my job- so not that good for my mood from a a certain perspective.
     Oh, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to throw up.  That doesn't really help my mood either.
     All in all, things are getting a little better.  Medications are tricky and you just have to keep working at it I guess.
Or find a very reliable pack of dogs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Where's Claire Huxtable when you need her?

Recently Kelly Kapowski has been giving me a lot of parenting advice.
     Like tonight, we are on the first night of implementing the Ferber method with LO, and Kelly is all "I don't know; she's just a baby.  You've come this far without getting more than two consecutive hours of sleep.  you can go a few more months.  She's just a scared, and wants to be with you."
     And then Jesse chimes in, "She needs to learn to fall asleep by herself.  This is important for both of you!  Be a strong, responsible parent"
     Don't give me that look.
     Oh, like you don't have nineties heartthrob giving you parenting advice.
     You know what I have to say to that?  Liar: that's what I have to say to that, because everybody has the cast of Saved by The Bell in their head, and don't even try to deny it.  Well, maybe not the entire cast of Saved by the Bell, but that's not the point.  The point is that everybody has those little archetypes that they measure themselves against running through their head.  The shoulder angel metaphor didn't come from no where.
     Fine, you may think I am just sleep deprived now, but sooner or later, you are going to realize that the one voice in your head that is telling you to pack a lunch is really Mrs. Cunningham from Happy Days, and you'll be all like, OOOOHHHHH.....

     Anyway, whenever Kelly becomes the dominant voice in my head, I start thinking I need a boost of confidence.  For being head cheerleader at Bayside, Kelly was not really all that self assured.

Oh my God, I watch too much television.

     Anyway, it seems to me that a major component of depression is self doubt; well, it is a major component of   my personality, and I have always chalked it up to depression, so let's just go with that.  For example, I just spent about eight minutes, reading and rereading that last sentence because I couldn't be sure that self doubt was a symptom of depression.  I ended up looking it up.  It is.
     Or with this Ferber thing.  It's a method of teaching your baby to sleep without your help but allowing them to cry themselves to sleep at night and only checking on them at gradually increasing intervals.  It's hard to implement for any parent, but we are completely at the end of our rope.  LO hasn't been sleeping for more than three hours consecutively since December. My depression has come back, my husband has started sleeping on the couch, and I am a zombie during the day.  I know letting her learn to sleep on her own is best for both of us, but I haven't been able to commit to anything, because I am constantly seeking reassurance.  I have read five different books on sleep, seen three different specialists for help, (all who tell me she is perfectly healthy and I don't "need to worry".  Super helpful.), I have read forums, and asked friends, but I keep second guessing, and postponing my decision util I am "sure" about what to do.
     Meanwhile, there is a very high likelihood that I may fall asleep at the wheel and drive us both off a cliff.
     Or just send her "perfectly healthy" little butt to a Russian orphanage for sleep training.
     I've got to start listening to myself more, because honestly, I know her better than any one.  I gotta pull myself together and go with what I believe is best without second guessing myself all the time.  Of course, I don't know how to do that exactly.....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back in the Matrix

So, yeah... I guess I have been pretty depressed lately.  It's hard to get perspective when you are in the middle of it, but just from reading those last few blog posts...whew!  I totally went emo for a while there didn't I?  The funny thing is, I am not sure that I feel any of it is untrue, I just feel more okay about it.  Do you ever get that?  Adjust your meds, and then suddenly you feel more okay about stuff?  I still have the same opinion of my situation, but just I just kind of feel alright about it.  As in, "This sucks, and I'm okay with that".
Meds are like that.   I have a bi-polar friend who resists medication because when he is unmedicated he sees "the real world".  He's right of course. There is actually such a thing as a "positive illusion" that affects "normal" people more than those with depression.  In other words, "normal" people kinda live in a happy little Matrix-world, and people with depression are all the people outside the Matrix who wear really bland colors and have to eat that gross food, and know that humanity is imprisoned by robots.
Only we're not the cool people outside the Matrix who can bend it to our will and stuff; I think those are the manic depressives.  It's no wonder we're depressed really.
Anyway, in that movie, as in actual life, I never understood why people wanted to live outside the Matrix.  Maybe on medication I don't live in the "real world", but so what?  Yes, inside the Matrix you are living an illusion and robots are sucking source or something... but are illusions really that bad?  In the Matrix there is good food, and television, and carpeting.  Yes, it has its problems, but at least we aren't constantly being hunted by giant octopus-shaped killing machines.
In my friend's case, I think he just doesn't want to give up the sexy dance parties.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baby: Queen of the Night

     I do not even know.  This kid thing man; the benefits are seriously debatable.  I love my daughter; she is amazing and cute and awesome: but the mom thing, possibly not my gig.  First of all, it is HARD.  Like hella hard.  Harder than anything I could have imagined doing in a way I could have never imagined it.  Now, apparently my child is not a piece of cake: she has reflux, so partially-digested milk regularly jettisons out of her mouth like a lawn sprinkler. She is six months and wakes up every two hours, when a lot of babies sleep through the night at 3 months.  She doesn't nap for longer than 20 minutes.  She doesn't cry as much as some babies, but she definitely cries and, MOTHEROFGOD, when this child cries it is as though she is summoning demons of darkness.
 And I am so tired.
     Before having a baby I was already kind of pathologically tired.  I have, on more than one occasion, fallen asleep while talking to someone... in person.  Not even kidding.  I used to have to pull over to the side of the road during the hour and a half drive to and from college because I would literally pinching myself to stay awake.  And its not as though I am don't sleep if given the opportunity.  I could easily sleep any span from 5-17 hours a day, and still need a nap.  So, generally speaking, I am very used to being in need of sleep.  That is kind of the space I live: Sleepyville.  I am the mayor.  Naturally therefore, my child is Wakey Wakerstein from Fussy-facelandia.  As result, I stumble through my life, confused, cranky and covered in grime, like a zombie from Night of the Living Dead that accidentally ended up on the Muppet Babies.
     Being so tired is trying on any one's mental faculties, but having depression and no sleep is just killer.   I would not say I am suicidal, but dark thoughts have definitely come back in full force.   There have been times when I believed that LO would be better off without me.  I often feel trapped, like she is a shackle that I have placed upon myself that will imprison me the rest of my life.
     I don't understand: I don't understand how moms do it.  How have we survived as a species?  How was it that the first mom did not just leave her screeching, gooey parasites by the side of the road?  Where does the strength to carry on come from? 
From her I suppose.  Because she is cute, and funny and she needs me.  Plus, you know, God forbid she beckon her demons.