Tag Archives: parenthood

Learn From Your Mother’s Mistakes

Being pregnant has given me a lot of time to reflect on all the stupid shit I did as a kid and to wonder if my daughter is going to be as poor a decision maker as I was.

For instance, one time in high school I smoked the world’s most unnecessarily large and potent amount of weed. I definitely could have stopped at one bong hit and been perfectly pleasantly stoned, but I guess I thought if one was fun, 8 would be REALLY fun, because everything fun is better when you overdo it by 7 times.

I was an honors student.

I have no explanation for this.

I was dropped off at home by a sober friend (I think/hope?) around midnight, and instead of going straight to bed, I chose to sit in the bright, incriminating lights of the kitchen and eat a tub of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream with a large wooden cooking spoon, straight from the tub. I must have been making absurdly loud slobbering noises and dropping the spoon one or 12 too many times, because at some point, my Dad wandered downstairs from his bedroom to see what was going on.

I didn’t even attempt to act like a normal human, I just proceeded to dip my big ass spoon in the tub o’ Breyers and stare at the kitchen TV, ice cream trickling down my chin, while Dad carried on what I think was supposed to be a conversation with me. To this day I have no idea what he said, but if he didn’t realize I was stoned out of my damn mind, well, that’s just sad for him.

To make matters worse, I was so high that I ended up vomiting multiple times in the middle of the night, and then oversleeping the next day, when I was supposed to be at my parents’ friends’ house babysitting their kids. I was a total no-show for the job, with essentially no excuse other than “I took 7 too many bong rips, by accident.” I lost out on a ton of money and so badly pissed off the family, who had been my steady source of income since middle school, that they never asked me to work for them again.

So all this is to say, for the love of god, I pray my kid makes better choices than I did.

I mean– Breyers vanilla?

Aim higher, baby girl. When you’re stoned as shit, you shove that oversized spoon into something worthwhile.

The world is your oyster.

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I’d Stay In There if I Were Her

Apparently our baby can now fully recognize my voice and maybe even the voices of the regular characters in my life.  Here are the thoughts I imagine she is having as she processes information from the outside world:

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  1. My mom has a lisp. Christ.
  2. My dad keeps saying he hopes I look like my mom. I guess he thinks it’s bad to be something called “prematurely bald” and have something called “stumpy Corgi-legs.” I really hope I look like Mom too, because if I do, Dad said he’s already planned a gift for me on my 16th birthday. It’s called a “rhinoplasty,” and it’s very expensive. I can’t wait to open it! I have the nicest dad.
  3. My mom’s favorite chair is the oval-shaped white one with the hole in the middle that makes a whooshing sound when she stands up. She sits on it all day. Sometimes I wonder if she has time for a job.
  4. My mom has a best friend named Sauvignon Blanc. For some reason, this friend went away. I know this because my mom talks about how much she misses her, pretty much all day every day and sometimes even in her sleep. But the exciting thing is that her best friend will be back, quote, “the second this thing (that’s me!) comes of her vagina.” She says they’ll reunite right there at the hospital bed. It’s nice that Sauvignon is coming back just in time to welcome me to the world.  She sounds like a good, dependable friend. I get why my mom relies on her so much.
  5. There’s only one other kid in my mom’s family, and they named him “The Boog.” I am fucking terrified to be named by these idiots.
  6. I don’t know what a couch is yet but it sounds like something you binge-eat and complain on.
  7. My mom isn’t thrilled about what I’m doing to her body. I know this because whenever my dad politely asks to take a picture of her, she makes a noise that’s kind of a mix between the frantic wailing sound I plan to make once I climb my way out of here, and the sound of a tortured, vomiting animal. She reassures me that she still loves me, she just wishes she had $100,000 so that she could pay for me to destroy someone else’s body and sanity, but then still get to take me home after. It’s something called a “surrogate” and she does a lot of research about it because she’d, quote, “rather manually drill holes through her eye sockets than have to go through this again.”
  8. My mom is pretty fucking dramatic.
  9. My dad’s job is to bring stuff to my mom when she points at it. Sometimes this pointing is accompanied by a whimper or a grunt, but rarely by actual words.
  10. My dad’s other job is to tell my mom about investments, 401Ks, budgeting and savings plans while my mom sits quietly. She’s so quiet while he does this, in fact, that sometimes I think she’s asleep.
  11. Mom loves to be asleep.
  12. There is someone in this family named “Uncle Jeremy.” I don’t really know who he is or what he does or where he goes, but I already understand that at some point down the line, I will be responsible for providing him with food, booze and a place to stay.
  13. Uncle Zack takes four years to say one sentence.
  14. Aunt Steph is the one whose voice never changes. She might be the happiest person in the world, or the saddest. I cannot tell.
  15. Big Steve has all the money. My mom is the best at getting that money. She will teach me, and I will be even better at it than she is.
  16. This family has a tiny pet bird with a very soft voice. Its name is Charla. Cha Cha for short.
  17. My mom has this thing called a blog, where she writes down all her thoughts and feelings and everyone in the world can read them. She seems to love to write and to share her writing but I don’t know, man….seems like this might mortify the shit out of me someday. I think that because I’m family, though, she’ll be careful about what she says, and she won’t purposely embarrass me. But the Cha Cha bird says these are “famous last words.”

 

Ebola Mom, Part 79

(Part of the Ebola Mom series )

On Monday I sent an email to all my clients letting them know I am pregnant, and giving them a heads up about my planned maternity leave in the fall. Every single one of them responded with congratulations and well-wishes, except for Ebola Mom, who did not respond at all.

And just now I received this:

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I Shouldn’t Have Led With the Word “Exciting”

Yesterday I sent an email to my clients letting them know I am pregnant so that they can plan for my time off accordingly. One Mom responded, “That’s fantastic news! Please share with [kid] at her session today, she will be SOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!”

Me: “So…your mom wanted me to share some exciting news with you…”

Kid: ms-3icPaY

Me: “I’m going to have a baby!”

Kid: 976831909.gif

Me: “A little girl!”

Kid: tenor-1.gif

Me: “Not yet, though. Not until August.”

Kid: tenor.gif

Me: “Ok, well. Your mom thought you’d be excited…”

Kid: tumblr_o6bg12XR6r1vnghdeo1_500.gif

Fair enough.

Mental Illness and Pregnancy: To Medicate or Not to Medicate? That is the Question. (…that I do not have the answer to. I’m not a doctor. But here’s my experience.)

**Disclaimer (in case the title wasn’t disclaim-y enough for you): Like literally everything else on this CLEARLY non-medical blog, the following is based on MY personal experience. It is not intended to serve as definitive medical advice for my fellow mental health sufferers. I am not telling you to go off your meds, and I’m not telling you to stay on them. I am suggesting that you thoroughly consider your options, under the close care of a doctor who knows you well, and that you advocate for yourself before making a rash, fear-based decision. Mostly I am just letting you know that no matter what you decide or what you are going through, try to go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. You are not alone. And you got this.**

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A lot of people have asked me if I’m still on my depression/anxiety meds while pregnant. This is a totally fair and welcomed question, mainly because most of you have asked in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental, just-curious way, like, “Oh, hey, what’d you end up deciding about that?” But some of you have asked in more of an accusatory “You’re not still on your meds, are you!?” way that implies some sort of moral wrongness should I be on them– and even though I know (most of) you people come from a well-meaning place, it still makes me want to light your face on fire.

So allow me to try to explain a few things. Knowdlege is power and faces are generally better not aflame.

The answer is no, I am not on my meds. But let me be VERY clear about this– I am not off them because I have some kind of holier-than-thou judgement about staying on meds while pregnant. I have absolutely NO judgement about that, and in fact encourage women to stay on them if that’s what works best for their health and situation. Obviously. I am the queen of mental health triage– you do what you gotta fucking do to keep your marbles, sista! #sanityfirst

The drug I was on, Prozac (an SSRI), is actually known to be safe for pregnancy, and I know plenty of women who have been on this drug or others like it and have given birth to perfectly healthy children. And in fact, countless medical studies show that having a depressive episode or being acutely anxious while pregnant is far more harmful to a fetus than taking medication that will effectively treat these conditions (these MEDICAL conditions, in case you needed a reminder that this shit isn’t made up hocus pocus, they are legitimate illnesses). But yes, it is true that some mental health meds are unsafe for pregnancy. As long as you are discussing family planning with your therapist ahead of time, though, he/she should be steering you clear of those particular meds while pregnant.

Soooo after reading the above regurgitation of all the fun medical facts I’ve learned during my family planning journey,  you’re probably wondering, “Ok, so if all of that is true, why DID you stop taking your meds?”

Well, in a shocking turn of events, it was for no good reason at all, really. Basically, my therapist presented it to me like this: “The optimal, ideal situation is that you are off all medications and feeling fine, aka not depressed or anxious. Should you go off them and feel anxious or depressed, then the next best situation is for you to go back on them and stay on them for pregnancy. The least optimal scenario is that you have an acute depressive episode or debilitating anxiety while pregnant.”

Ok, so obviously all I heard there was, “The optimal, most ideal situation is that you are off meds….” and then I sort of stopped listening and everything else just became giphy. After all, it was my first time getting pregnant, I had no fucking clue what to expect or what the process TRULY entailed, so yeah, I wanted to do the thing I was told is “optimal.” No-brainer here. Do the “optimal, ideal” thing, because those are strong words that sound good. And I’m gonna be a good mom, damnit!

I’m not saying that line of thinking made sense, I’m just saying it’s the line of thinking I had when I quickly declared, “Ok, off the meds we go!” with far more confidence than any medication-dependent person with a lifelong mood disorder should have. lets-do-this

This decision was made back in July, and we weren’t planning to try to get pregnant until December, so I still had some time to wean off and be completely med-free for a bit before inviting a fetus into this  shitshow of an experiment delicate situation.

A few things to note.

  1. For the previous year before going off it, I had been on a very low dose of Prozac. That was part of why I felt I could probably be ok stopping it. Had I been on a high dose, it would have been a much more difficult and lengthy weaning process and likely wouldn’t have been worth it in my mind. Going off a low dose seemed easy and low risk.
  2. That being said, the last time I was med-free (age 26), I lost my goddamn mind. Like, completely incapacitated, lost 25 pounds, moved back in with my parents, played lots of senior-living type board games and took copious lukewarm baths just to pass the interminable minutes. I was extremely sick, and it was terrifying.
  3. THAT being said, I was younger then, far more naive, and had no idea what was happening to me. I had no reliable therapist, coping skills, or treatment plan for dealing with my illness. I didn’t even remotely UNDERSTAND it as an illness, so I certainly had no way of managing it (and no faith that it would ever end). Since then, I’ve done a ton of work on myself and have learned how to manage things (to the extent that I’m able) when life gets dark.
  4. THAAAAAAT being said, I’ve always had the medication to help me.

The conclusion I made based on these four somewhat unhelpful and conflicting points? If I go off the meds and things get bad, they probably won’t get as bad as that really bad time, because things are different now, and I’m more prepared.

But let’s be real, given I’ve had the consistent help of meds for 9 years, there’s just no possible fucking way to know that.

So I took the gamble, because gambling is fun when you’re drunk in Vegas so it’ll probably also be fun when you’re sober and housing a fetus, thought no one logical ever.

And at first it was fine. The weaning went smoothly. By the time I was completely off the meds, it was late October, aka my non-optimal time of year thanks to colder, darker weather setting in, and a general life-long refusal to understand why summer ends. So I didn’t feel GREAT* (*not really my M.O. regardless) but I certainly wasn’t depressed. Plus we had the 2-week, warm-weather honeymoon to look forward to, so that kept me going.

But the second I got pregnant in early December, shit hit the fan. I alluded to a lot of this in my post In a Shocking Turn of Events, I Am No Glowing Goddess, but shied away from some of the grimmer details because a) it was my first post about the pregnancy so I didn’t want to come out Depression guns a blazin’ and b) I was genuinely excited to finally share the news. But I do now feel the responsiblity, as a mental health advocate and general blogger of honesty, to let it be known that I was NOT ok that first trimester. I was hesitant to use the word “depressed” while I was in it, because I really didn’t want to admit to needing meds, and I felt like I should “stick it out” until the second trimester. Plus, recognizing you’re depressed WHILE you’re depressed isn’t always easy– it’s part of the mind-fuck of the illness. The very symptoms of depression (self loathing, worthlessness, hopelessness) prevent you from assessing the situation as “This is medical. I am ill,” and instead twist it to “I am the worst, I am being a little bitch, and I need to grow a pair.” (but alas, you cannot grow a pair– and the harder you try, the more you hate yourself for failing. Tricky little devils, these mood disorders).

I convinced myself it was all normal first trimester stuff. And some of it definitely was. Constant nausea and exhaustion will make anyone feel like shit. But some of it was really fucking dark, and I’m not so certain that’s normal.

I cried every single day. I stared blankly a lot. I couldn’t write, and could barely read. I felt absolutely no attachment to the pregnancy, and had no ability to see how anything was going to get better, or how I was supposed to love or care for a child. I was stuck in a thought loop of “You’re going to be a terrible mom, what were you thinking? This was a huge mistake.” I could barely get out of bed and I felt horribly, utterly lonely– the kind of lonely that can’t be cured by another person comforting you, because that ironically just makes you feel all the more alone (on that note, God bless Eric. No, literally, God, PLEASE bless him with a bevy of Corgi puppies upon his eventual arrival in heaven). That self-hating loneliness was the only feeling I had– about anything else, I felt absolutely nothing at all. It was 3 long months of toggling between complete isolated self-loathing and absolute, utter detachment. I’m not sure which I prefered. Both were pretty fucking non-optimal.

But it got better, eventually. Very recently. Do I feel great now? No. But I’m not depressed, and I’m able to feel excited at times. I have some energy back. I feel more motivation to get up and go. I open the blinds. I listen to music. I’m doing my job, not just suffering through it. I walk on the treadmill. Food tastes like food again.

But please note, the second after this baby is born: tenor-1 (<— definitely what post-labor looks like, no?) I will be right back on that Prozac. That was always the plan– my risk for postpartum depression is high, and we’re not taking any chances. And when it comes to the next pregnancy, should I be lucky enough to have that happen, I will likely stay on the meds. Those 3 months were horrible, and I see no reason to make an experience that is so hard on even the average, emotionally stable woman even harder. 

So, this is just to say, if you are one of those pregnancy newbies out there, and you are presented with your options in the same way I was, please know that it’s ok to not choose the “optimal, ideal” scenario if it’s not going to work for you. It’s not optimal or ideal if you feel like a self-loathing garbage truck for three months. It doesn’t make you selfish– it makes you reasonable and responsible. There is no wrong moral choice here, and you shouldn’t feel bullied* into making a decision that might not make sense for you (*to be fair, I really wasn’t bullied by my doctor. I still completely trust her. While I wish she had worded it slightly differently, what she said was perfectly reasonable– but I heard what I chose to hear and then I proceeded to bully myself, because that’s what we depressives do best).

But how should I respond when told it’s best to try to go off the meds, even if I don’t feel that’s the best option for me, you ask?

Well, next time, I’m probably going to say this, so feel free to borrow it: “Nope nope nope! No thanks, Doctor Person Who Isn’t Me, but I am me and because of that, I know myself farily well by now, and I sure do enjoy being sane! Seems the risks of the meds are pretty low, and the risks of me losing my shit are pretty high, so I’m going to keep doing that thing where I’m lucid and functional and seeing the point in showering, because, even though I don’t know much about babies yet, I DO know it’s easier to care for them when your mind is firmly planted in reality and you don’t wake up wondering why you have to exist. Right? Babies like moms who care about living and eating and clothing themselves? I feel like I read that somewhere and it sounded accurate.”

Or something similar. There’s probably a less condescending way, I don’t know.

Bottom line, do what works for YOU. I am not advocating for either option– every mental health situation, and every person, is different. I am simply advocating for you to advocate for yourself (under the care of a doctor you trust, of course. I really hope that goes without saying), and to really think through what will work best– again, for YOU.

Did going off meds work for ME? Meh. Hard to say at this point, because now that I’m out of the darkest darkness (I hope), it’s like “Ok, I survived that and no one died or anything, so that’s good.” But should that be the standard? No one died? Probably not. I feel like it was a lot of unnecessary suffering and potential risk, and I can’t imagine ever willingly going through that again. Plus, I can only hope and pray that my struggle didn’t harm the baby. So far everything looks good in there, the heartbeat is rapid and strong (doc says “Sounds great!,” I say “Sounds like anxiety!”), and I have no tangible reason to think she’s not thriving. But who really knows. And whether on or off meds, I’d have that “who really knows” feeling regardless. So next pregnancy, pretty sure it’s gonna be tenor.

And if you’re not ok with that? That’s cool. Just express your judgement to someone else, not me. I can’t go lighting faces on fire once I’m a mom, but I can definitely teach my kid to spit in your eye and claim it’s an accident.