Tag Archives: postpartum OCD

We’re Pretty Good, Sure As You’re Born

Where, oh where, have I been?

Well to tell the truth I’ve been hiding under my covers waiting for spring. Okay maybe that’s not the truth, but the days are getting colder and the blankets are oh so inviting. Especially since a certain little baby isn’t sleeping all that great right now. Cordelia’s currently working on her 7th tooth. Or is it 8th? I’m not sure – I’ll wait until she bites me next and I’ll count the indents to be sure.

8 Months already. Where has the time gone? We now have a stander. She pulls herself up onto everything and cruises around the room, but that isn’t enough. She also lets go and stands. Yep no hands. Besides standing she also climbs. Its her favourite game. I set her down and she crawls as fast as possible for the stairs, while I sit at the computer. She climbs and I pretend not to see her until she’s at the third step. Then I say “I’m watching you.” She looks over her shoulder, grins, and climbs faster. By that point I need to go over because our stairs curve. She has a tough time with the curve and’s more likely to fall. But it’s been weeks since she actually fell. Well that’s if you don’t count today when she laughed so hard she couldn’t support herself and slid down the stairs on her belly. It was pretty funny to watch. No babies were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Cordelia’s also eating everything in site. In fact she eats more than her big sisters in a day (and that’s both of them – combined). I can just see her grabbing her tummy and saying “In Greece, we eat a lot” much as a waiter did on our honeymoon when Ryan didn’t finish his meal.

She’s talking. Her favourite word is “Dada” followed by “Yesh” (yes). She also says all of our names, banana, avocado, ouch, I know there’re others – oh yes “Hi” and “bye” and even a couple of times a couple two-word combos – “Hi dada” – “more dada” “Ouch Eya (Ella)” lol the important ones. Though right now there are only about 6 words that everyone can recognize other than just us.

Agatha’s decided she doesn’t like swim lessons as much as dance and ridding lessons. So come winter there’ll be one fewer class. Ella’s cutting theatre from her class line-up but that’s mostly due to me wanting to cut back. She’d happily continue all her classes, and more. But she does love the marathon play-dates where we go to a friend’s house once a week or so and play for 4-6 hours straight. lol Even then, she pleads not to leave so soon.

Agatha’s firmly in need of mommy right now. I have to put her to bed, and help her with everything. Time at the computer only happens after she’s in bed, and time in the kitchen means time with her. Though things are improving. Yesterday she allowed me to go out for a couple of hours to a meeting. And Ryan’s been permitted to get her a glass of milk once or twice. She also has a tough time when we leave the house too many times in a week. That’s the number one reason we’re cutting back on classes. We had a play-date one day and she was hitting, and refused to share. Those aren’t normal behaviours for her so I knew something was bothering her. As we’ve cut back on things, she’s become happier again.

Ella thrives on being out and about doing things. Especially if it’s something different everyday of the week. But we have to balance out her needs/desires with everyone else’s. So we try for one play-date a week (two if one’s home) and between her and Agatha we leave home 3 times a week for classes. All in all it’s not too bad.

We’ve hit a turning point with Ella, she’s so close to figuring out the whole reading thing. Everyday she’s asking us to spell new words for her. She’s playing with words, sounds, and letters all the time. There are a few games we play on the computer that allow her to type messages, so she does. Her favourite word to spell right now is ‘Boo’ in favour of a certain holiday coming up. We’ve brought a couple early readers home from the library that she’s read cover to cover on her own with only minimal help. She was so proud of herself. She read the books to everyone who’d stop and listen. Her stuffies had no choice but to stay put and listen to the story over and over again every night before bed.

She’s also finally hit a turning point and has been using the potty for the past 2 days. (But that’s a story for another post in a day or two).

Ryan’s working. All the time. We’re really looking forward to his vacation in November. We’ll be off to the Happiest Place on Earth. I can hardly wait.

I’m tired and grumpy. I’ve been adjusting my thyroid meds hoping to find a balance, but things are pretty precarious and even the slightest bit off on either one leaves me foggy and unable to cope with even the smallest things.

Luckily I seem to have found a bit of balance right now. Which is part of why I’m able to write tonight. Stringing words and sentences together when I can barely think is almost impossible. It’s still pretty difficult. The screen is a sea of red and blue right now. The computer’s either changed all my words, or can’t figure out what I mean. My words are ending up jumbled, letters swapping places. But that seems to happen a lot when my head gets foggy. It takes more effort to write so I just don’t do it. The good news is that at 8 mos postpartum we’re closer to the point of finding actual balance that lasts more than a week or two.

In other news Ryan is doing a dairy challenge, that means less cheese in the house for the rest of us. Otherwise I add cheese to everything. And he’s apt to eat it by the brick (yuck). We’ve also confirmed that corn really is a big deal for Cordelia. So I’m gluten-free, corn-free and Ryan’s gluten-free, dairy-free. So food is quite the adventure around here. For our trip we’ll stick to just gluten-free; we have to sacrifice so many yummy treats already, we don’t want to lose anymore while we’re in the land of Mickey Ice Cream Bars and Dole Whips.

What’s new with you?

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I Won’t Settle For Mud

Someone stirs. Light blinds me as my eyes crack open. Time doesn’t matter – it’s too early. Anytime is too early. One child or another woke up multiple times over the night. I need more sleep, or want it. Somedays I’m not sure. In the moment before my eyes open for the day, I crave it. But there’s nothing to be done, the girls are hungry. I already feel guilty that I say ‘wait’ more often than I care to admit. Just so I can climb out of bed slower.

I pick the baby up and walk down the hall toward the stairs. I envision myself tripping over… something. I switch her to my left hip. Farther from the railing. One. Two. Three. Down the stairs. I’m careful to step to the left side of the curve, I don’t want to fall. We survive the walk down the stairs and I place the baby on the floor. Double check to be sure there are no small bits in a three foot radius around her, I give her a toy, check to be sure here are no loose bits or broken pieces. I walk to the kitchen. I can’t quite see her hands, so I go back and re-adjust. I need to see her hands and face. I Don’t want her to inadvertantly grab something she shouldn’t have.

I wash the table and wish there were no bugs in the house. But the girls love them so I cringe and wash the table, and counters, again. A crumb drops on the floor, I sweep it up, but the broom was sticky and now the floor is likely sticky. Ella asks for breakfast. I tell her ‘just a minute’ I grab the cloth and wipe the floor. Rinse the cloth, ring, and hang it. Just so. Nothing should touch the counter, or risk getting the cloth wet. Bacteria will grow. I wash my hands and grab clean bowls from the dish washer. Pour the cereal and let the girls pour their own milk. Nothing spills. We’re all good.

I wash my hands.

I take my pills. While the girls eat, I clean. I can see where the bacteria grows. I can smell it. Our compost bin’s in dire need of washing. It’s been two days since I last washed it. With biodegradable soap. The girls ask for more food.

I wash my hands. We’ve been awake for roughly fifteen minutes.

I wash the fruit, cut the fruit, place it on clean plates. Then before bringing it to the table, I wash the table. Rinse the cloth, wring it, hang it. Just so. Wash my hands. The cloth wasn’t clean enough for me to handle food after touching t. The fruit is placed on the table.I take the dish cloths to the dirty clothes. Wash my hands. Get clean cloths.

The girls run off to play, food drops from their laps leaving a trail of crumbs behind them as they dash away from me. I clean. I want to bake some muffins. But I know the girls will want to help. I can’t handle raw egg, salmonella, on their hands today. I don’t want them to mix. Flour could get on the counter. There’d be a lot of cleaning. I’d get stressed, and grumpy. I can’t do it. Not today.I wash my hands. They’re probably dirty.

I cut up cheese, fruit, and veggies, and place some crackers on a plate. There’s plenty of food they can have, without stressing about germs or diseases.

I load the dishwasher. Just so. The water needs to cycle around the machine, get the dishes – just right, or they won’t be clean enough.

The girls bring  toys down to the livingroom. I cringe and try not to tell them to take them back upstairs. They just want to play, and be close to Mommy. They drop the toys and lay down on the floor next to Cordelia. They kiss her and cuddle her. They pull her arms this way and that. She smiles and coos. She loves them. But then something happens. Agatha grabs her and hugs her extra hard, then lets her head flop to the floor. She cries.

I dash over and pick her up. Agatha tries to comfort her, but her hugs only make things worse. The look on her face lets me know she’s upset and didn’t mean to hurt Cordelia. But I can’t bite back my words. “You hurt her, step away.” I turn away from her while I cuddle Cordelia. Agatha cries heartbreaking tears. I get angry. I’m angry at her, I’m angry at myself. I’m tired and I can’t stop myself. But I should be able to stop it. I shouldn’t snap. I should foster the love the girls have for each other, instead I push them apart.

I feed Cordelia and the girls ask for shows. I turn the T.V. on and am thankful for the break. It’s 8 O’clock in the morning and I’m already thankful for a break. Luckily we aren’t going anywhere, otherwise I’d also need to get everyone dressed, and snacks packed, but then there’d be no T.V. otherwise we’d never get out the door.

The phone rings, I get up, Cordelia bites me. I wince as I hurry to grab the phone before it completely wakes her up. I step on a wooden block. I scream at the girls to pick them up or there’ll be no more shows.Ella says, “Soprry Mommy.” as she dashes to comply.

The day continues much like that, until Ryan gets home or wakes up. If he’s on nights the evening is a bit smoother, but once the girls are asleep all kinds of thoughts enter my head. I need to double, triple check the doors and windows. The alarm needs to be on. Upstairs Ella’s window and the playroom windows need to be closed. In case someone with a large ladder decided to break into our home and climb in from the garage roof. As I lay in bed willing myself to sleep I think of what I’d do if the house caught fire. How I’d get all three girls out – in less than three minutes. I figure out what I’d do if someone broke in. A baseball bat can do a decent amount of damage, so can a knife, but then so could that metal framed baby chair. Hmm which would give us enough time to get out of there? What if one of those hares that hop around outside tuned out to be a killer bunnie. What if it decided to eat us? Okay, I might not really think about that one, but now that it’s in my head – who knows.

Not everyday is like this. In fact right now I’m doing pretty good. Since becoming aware of these thought patterns, I’m better able to stop and calm down before I let them get the better of me. I still wash my hands.

For me, I have to let go of the clean home. If I begin cleaning, I contine cleaning. If I’m cleaning, they can’t pull out more toys. We fight. They cry and I feel horrible.

Somedays it takes a lot of effort. Other days those toys come down the stairs, I leave the room. I take a few minutes in an orderly space and talk myself through the mess. Tell myself what it means to them. Remind myself that toys on the floor are okay, smiles on little faces are more important. Most days I succeed and we move on without the girls knowing what went through my mind. Other days, when my blood work is off (thyroid) or I’m excessively sleepy, it takes a lot more effort to stay in control of myself. On those days I can only handle so much before I snap. On those days I try to arrange our day to allow me as much time as possible to adjust my thoughts. If we’re out, I take lots of time getting places, and getting home. I wait until they’re ready to go before herding them to the van – if they’re not fighting, I’m not fighting and vice versa. When home I try to set them up with an activity that’ll keep them occupied without infringing on my warped space.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what most of my triggers are, to allow myself the freedom to have  a messy house. To know that htose thoughts aren’t ‘me’ and to get passed them. I know things are heading in the right direction when everyone in our home smiles more than they frow, and laughs more than they cry.

Some days I parent like this. Somedays I can’t stop myself, but those aren’t my ideal. Those aren’t even the most common. But they happen, and I try to learn from them. But mostly I try to survive them. I know they won’t last forever, I know my girls will recover. It’s important to me that Ryan points out when I’m out of line. It’s even more important that both Ella and Agatha tell me. Most recently they’ve began telling me to stand on my head when I’m grumpy. It works. By the time I’m on my head I’m over being grumpy. It also provides an opportunity to reconnect with them, despite harsh words. But they shouldn’t need to regulate me, they shouldn’t feel responsible for my moods. They should be free to love, laugh, play, make messes. One day they will be. For now I shelter them, and myself, from others who see nothing wrong with the things I say or do when I’m upset. It’s hard enough to parent without others telling me to settle for less than I aim for.

Sure, if I aim for the stars, I may not get them, but I certainly won’t settle for mud.

 

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The Life of Mamadandelion

Life is busy, as always. The exterior of our house is almost done. Once it is, the rough grade can be completed, the final grade, and GRASS! In the meantime we have clay sprinkled with rusty nails. Ella is unimpressed, to say the least. She wants to roll in the dirt. She wants to dig, she wants the freedom to do as she pleases. Unfortunately, her paranoid mommy insists she must wait until we get topsoil. At the rate we’re going that’ll be sometime in August.

While we wait for the builder to finish their work, I’m planning. Decking, fencing, patio, trees, shrubs, shed, planting area. I’ve drawn out my plan a few times and think I’ve figured most of it out. Of course it’ll take several years to get it all done, but I’m excited.

We’re also slowly getting our house in order. Ryan’s home for a few days and plans to clean out our garage enough to determine if my van will fit or not.

Ella has two more sportball classes to attend, she’ll be so sad when it’s over. On a brighter note she just started swim lessons and loves them. Our little girl willingly gets her hair wet, and puts her face in the water. This summer she has a couple camps to attend – a fairy one and groovy girls.

Pulling Homemade Taffy

Agatha’s class will be over shortly as well, though I think she’ll be much more upset than Ella is about hers. She’s loved her weekly ‘class’ where she goes off on her own to play with other kids, sing, do crafts (or at least do exactly what someone else tells her to do with the medium of choice), and run around. After her birthday she does have a couple other camps as well. A bike riding camp and a playground camp. She’s excited about them.

Mommy, Take My Picture Please.

Little miss Cordelia is wiggling everywhere and cooing up a storm. I’ve seen her roll. Nice, slow, controlled. No startling involved, however, she’s only done it twice. When on her tummy she gets her knees and elbows working and crosses the room – at least until her sisters block the way. Oh and she’ll have her first (and likely second, third, and fourth) tooth soon. Her gums are widening with the little red spots on top that indicate a tooth is just below the surface. The amount of drool coming out of this baby is amazing!

Ryan’s painting up his armies to play Warhammer, but mostly he’s working.

I’m irritable, tired, cranky. And most days feel miserable. I’ve given up all pretense of having a clean house. Instead I focus on spending happy time with the girls, or taking the time to have a tea or coffee. I’m having a tough time being present for the girl’s but we are truly blessed with little girls who know they can tell me when I’m out of line – and they do. We’re working on finding balance and I’m sure all the ladies in our new neighbourhood must think I’m nuts, but that’s okay. All my friends already know I am.

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Postpartum Disorders

There are many things I wish I knew before having children. How difficult it would be, how wonderful, how rewarding, how humbling. But most importantly I wish I’d known about Postpartum/Perinatal Mood Disorders.

Oh sure, I’d heard of baby blues. I think most women have. It starts shortly after birth, you feel miserable for two weeks, then things get better. (Please note: I’m not trying to be flippant or belittle the way a woman experiencing this feels). I’d even heard of postpartum depression. It can start up to a year after the birth of baby, it lasts longer than baby blues and the symptoms are more severe. Then there’s postpartum psychosis. You know what that is – it’s when moms kill themselves or the ones they love. (I’m referring to the cases we tend to hear about – the most severe form).

Honestly, even as a nurse, I didn’t really know much more than that. In our area, when a woman has a baby they screen for postpartum depression (PPD) at every appointment for either mom or baby. During the first few months as a new mommy I had one nurse suggest I had PPD. So I took the screening again. Each time I took the screening things came back normal, not borderline, but normal.

At the time I didn’t know there were other forms of postpartum disorders. I certainly didn’t know the screening tool used isn’t capable of screening for those disorders.

Which disorders do I mean? Postpartum Anxiety Disorder, Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Panic Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It wasn’t until after the birth of our second baby that I discovered these existed.

It was a cold winter day. We were stuck in the house. I needed to wash the floors, I needed to clean. I don’t remember much more than that. I do recall that if I told Ella to stop something, she’d do it more. If I said sit, she’d jump. And the more upset I got, the more she laughed at me. Ryan was at work. I was exhausted, the house was a mess, and I wanted so badly to make my little girl stop smiling. I wanted her to feel as miserable as I felt. However, my saving grace was that I knew doing that was wrong. I knew that even a little swat would be a bad idea. I had no idea what to do. I had no one. So I called the crisis line. I thought if I  talked to someone for five minutes ‘d calm down and they could give me some ideas on how to get through the day. I needed the support of someone that agreed hitting my child was wrong.

What I needed and what I got were two different things. First, they called my husband to come home from work, sent the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to my house until he could get there. The person on the the phone told me everyone had bad days, and I should suck it up!  She also told me I likely had PPD. Before Ryan got home I was also told that until a psychological profile could be done and a home visist follow up completed I needed to have someone with me at all times, or my children would be removed from my home.

I was devastated. I’d had a bad day. I asked for help. I never hit my children. Not even a small little smack. Despite the thoughts in my head, I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t do it. I asked for help, to make it so I wasn’t thinking like that. Because I called I could loose my precious girls. Yet the people around the corner frequently hit their children and they also get approved to foster? Would my girls end up in a home like that? My entire world crumbled around me.

Ryan stayed home, we saw the nurse, I passed the screening, again. The follow-up completed and we were apologized too and told I did the right thing to call and please call if I ever feel like that again. Even on my worst days I’,d lock myself behind a door, but I wouldn’t ask for help again. (I later found out the person I talked to wasn’t actually part of the support team, she over-stepped her job description, she was supposed to forward my call to someone else, but choose not to. Please do call for help if you need it).

However things really didn’t get better for me. For us. I needed to clean constantly. But only certain things. I had a crawling baby – the floor had to be clean enough for her to eat off of. And heaven help anyone that attempted to load my dishwasher for me. It had to be done just so – or else. Each night I checked the doors and windows several times, and if Ryan was home, I often made him check them as well. I slept with a baseball bat close at hand – for protection. I don’t even want to mention the thoughts that went through  my head when I went to the mall. I was a nervous wreck – and it effected my family.

It really wasn’t like me – but by then I’d been like that for over three years. It started after we lost our first baby, and the longer I went untreated the worse it became.

Shortly after that I saw a naturopath. I discovered I had under-treated Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s I started taking cytomel as well as increasing my synthroid. Things improved. Drastically. I also discovered I have celiac’s disease. As I cut gluten out of my diet things continued to improve.

I looked online for information. Read blogs. What I found made me angry. Thyroid disorders are very common during and after pregnancy and account for a lot of mood fluctuations. I also discovered all those other postpartum disorders.

Realizing that I controlled my thoughts, not the other way around, helped immensely. It wasn’t easy, but I’d manage to leave the floors unswept for an extra two hours each day. I’d let Ryan load the dishwasher, and I wouldn’t rearrange (much). I made a point of getting back outside, walking, breathing deeply. I still needed to keep the buggy enclosed so the girls didn’t get dirty or cold, but I was able to open the side vents without cringing. Things improved.

Then one day they got a whole lot worse.

It was one of the worst days of my life. I have no idea what triggered it, but I couldn’t handle anything anymore. I banged my head on the wall, I wanted so bad to hurt someone, anyone. I paced liked a tiger in a cage. I knew hitting was wrong. I knew it only made things worse, but that was all I could think of that might help release the way I felt. I wanted to hit something. I threw stuff. Anything out of place got thrown. Things broke. I tried to calm down, but everytime I’d start to calm down something else happened to trigger an outburst.

My thyroid was off again. I adjusted my medication doses and things improved again. It took a few episodes like that to discover the subtle warning signs.

As of right now I feel more and more like my old self again. I’m able to go to bed without checking the doors and windows a million times. The girls can have craft time without me warning them not to make a mess. I even help make the mess. Ryan loads the dishwasher, and the only time I need to rearrange is when something really is in the wrong spot (i.e. covering the water spout).

It’s been a long road. A scary road. A road we don’t want to find ourselves traveling again.

Ryan hasn’t said anything, but I think he’s nervous it’ll happen again. Right now I cling to the knowledge that we have; we know what triggered it in the past. We can treat it so much faster this time around.

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