Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't call me a liar

     Ugh!  I take it all back.  Months ago I wrote a response to an article regarding medication and the authentic self: it was all a lie.
     Okay, it wasn't a lie exactly; I still stand by what I said about your authentic self being the best version of yourself, even if that means your medicated-self.  And you definitely should look for a medication that makes you good because no one should have to feel drugged just to manage their daily lives.  There are way too many drugs out there that for anyone to have to suffer.  That's what I said and I really do believe it.
     Here's what I didn't say though: finding the right medication sucks.
     Right now I am on 90mg of Cymbalta and my mood is fantastic.  It is completely responsible for pulling me out of depression: a feat which Risperdol, nor Abilify nor Serequil could manage.  But it is not perfect.  Most notably, it gives me a really bad stomach ache about an hour after I take it.  I've tried taking it with food, I've tried taking it at night: nothing works.  So, each day we have a one hour period where I stalk around with the stance, temperament and vocalization pattern of a mountain gorilla, all while LO presumably licks the bottom of the dishwasher or something.
     If I were to follow my own advice I would be harassing my doctor to come up with something that did not force me to channel Animal Planet, and yet, the pattern continues.
     Experimenting with medication means wrestling with all kinds of potential side effects including weight gain and mood swings, and headaches, and muscle tension, or insomnia, or exhaustion, ontop of which the darm medication probably will not work as well.  I mean, I have been trying to find the perfect medication since I was ELEVEN and this one works good enough, so...
I mean, if in three years LO begins beating her chest to warn her nursery school classmates that she feels threatened, then I suppose I'll look into what my other options are.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Postpartum Recovery

     Have you found Postpartum Progress yet?  If not, you definitely need to go check it out: it is a fantastic resource for all things PPD.  Recently they posted a really thought provoking article about how things are better with your second child after postpartum depression.  Now, the truth is that if you had PPD with your first child, you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it again with your second (as opposed to a one in ten chance if you have never experienced PPD before), but as this article points out, there are a lot of things that make PPD easier the second time around.
     One of the best parts for me was at the very end of the article:
"If you’re having another baby, or thinking about it, chances are you’ve recovered from your first experience with postpartum depression."
     I read that and I thought to myself, "Oh my Gosh, I have recovered from postpartum depression.  How fun!"
     And it is fun.
     I love having LO around; she is so cute and funny and she grows so fast.
     Granted, it is also boring, and lonely, and obnoxious, and sort of mind-numbing, but thankfully I am no longer haunted by these thoughts that I am trapped, or that I made this horrible mistake by having a child.  I don't think that we should give her up for adoption.  I don't have horrific visions of her death.  I am sad when Erik leaves for work, but I don't panic anymore.  I have friends I can call and places I can go to get some company.
     So, if you found this article and are suffering with raising your baby: hang in there.  Things really do get better.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

They're all just little grouches

     Just after graduating from college, I worked as a development volunteer for a nonprofit in Kitwe, Zambia that worked with orphans affected by HIV or AIDS. Essentially I was just a token white person that lent legitimacy to the organization, which- tragic as it may be- is a major qualification for a lot of non-profits in developing countries.
Nyuma is the little girl in pigtails all the way to the left.  So cute!
     I loved living in Zambia.  "It was amazing experience", and all the ubiquitous ululation people who have traveled abroad spout: mind expanding, humbling, learning experience..blah, blah.  All true, but not what I want to write about right now.
     What I want to write about is how, now that I am a parent, my perspective on my stay in Zambia is changing, simply because I am learning more and more about kids. Not Zambian kids, or American kids; just kids in general.
   A lot of the most moving exchanges from my time in Zambia occurred between me and my little friend Nyuma.  Nyuma was seven when I worked at Ubumi, and she did not speak very much English, but she was very, very sweet, and just absolutely gorgeous.  So in this particular exchange I had brought a few empty plastic bottles from my apartment for the kids to play with. The Center for the children did not have many toys. so the kids mostly played with blankets, empty cornmeal sacks, oil jugs, and other remnants from the kitchen.  They would arrange them out in the sand into imaginary homes, or roadways, or costumes.  Empty bottles were highly prized commodity.  Most people in Zambia do not buy things that come in a disposable container: most food is purchased unpackaged, they used bar soap; their soda comes in glass bottles; they don't use ketchup or salad dressing.  So plastic bottles were rare, but since I only had one or two bottles and all the children at the Center wanted one, they had to share.

Playing house in the backyard shed.  
     Nyuma was looking lustily at the empty bottle of shampoo that her friends were admiring.  They were passing the between them, taking deep inhalations from the top, and posing like the blonde woman on the front and giggling.
     "Today we must share the bottles, Auntie." Nyuma looked at me wistfully  "But when you go to the U.S., you will send us back bottles each one-one?"
     My heart almost broke.  I thought of all the children back in the States surrounded by toys, and these poor children cheerfully played with garbage, wishing for nothing more than a more a simple plastic bottle they didn't have to share with their friends.
     I must have told that story to a hundred people when I got home.  How sweet and humble the children are.  It was such a testament to the materialism corrupting the United States.
     Let me show you something....
Call her Oscar.
     You see that?
    You see what she is doing?
     The child has $800 worth of toys and you know what she wants more than anything?  Empty bottles, plastic fruit containers, paper towels.  any empty bottle all her own that she doesn't have to share.
     There may be truth that consumerism is corrupting American society, but that story of Nyuma and her bottles, is nothing more than a testament to how much children around the world just frickin' love trash.  This should seriously effect my purchasing decisions from now on.
     "Yes, I could buy you a super deluxe playhouse, darling, but look, this package came with bubble wrap!"
     "Look, Honey.  I've finished the grocery shopping AND all got all Amani's Christmas gifts!"
     I'm telling you, if it weren't for the raised eyebrows at play dates, our toy box would look a lot different from here on out.