Sunday, July 23, 2006

Point Me In The Direction Of...

Yes, I know...the Partridge Family sang "Point Me In The Direction of Albuquerque". But we are leaving sunny Albuquerque before the sun even rises tomorrow morning for the mountains of Colorado. Anja will be the fourth generation of my family to grace the steps of our small cabin. It is the most peaceful place I know...the mountain air which grows somewhat cold at night, the smell after an afternoon rain, the view of snow on nearby peaks...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Vacation.

Anyway, I'll be without internet access for a couple of weeks, unless the nearby Starbucks has wireless access. We'll see. The sperm donor and I may just take time wandering the mountains, Anja in tow in her Baby Bjorn.

While I'm gone, you can check out some Foamy.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Nice Little Self-Esteem Boost

Your Power Level is: 67%

You're a very powerful person, and you know that all of your power comes from within.

Keep on doing what you're doing, and you'll reach your goals.

via zombieswan

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Last week, I visited a psychiatrist to be evaluated for postpartum depression. I am normally a really private person so for me to be out in the open about this may come as a surprise to some. I figure I don't have a huge following on this blog: if I know you then it doesn't matter to me if you know about this, and if I don't know you then please realize that postpartum depression is a really common problem and I think it's OK to put my story about there.

First, a few facts about my mental state...

1. I'm lonely. I mean really lonely. I spend most of my day interacting with a 3-month-old. The loneliness started when I quit my job. If you suddenly quit a position in which you spent 8 hours a day talking to others, then you too would be amazed how lonely it is to be at home alone. The sperm donor was home the first couple of weeks after Anja's birth, but the loneliness really kicked in after he returned to work. The loneliness was especially bad the first month of Anja's life; she was just this little newborn whose life consisted of eating and sleeping. I feel a little better since she has started smiling; we are capable of interacting with each other in her own way. I know I don't have to feel like this. I could call all of the friends who said they were going to come over to the house after Anja was born, bring lunch, and hang out but never did, but, quite frankly, I have neither the interest nor the motivation to do so.

2. I'm exhausted. I used to work an emotionally draining 8-to-5 job; now I work 24-7, without weekends or holidays.

3. I worry. I worry constantly. I worried my whole pregnancy, starting with that damn triple screen which indicated my child was at elevated risk for having Down's Syndrome. I worry about Anja all the time. Initially, I worried about breastfeeding. Then I worried about her sleep. Then I managed to convince myself that she was having these abnormal movements; I even managed to score an urgent appointment at the pediatrician's office for that, and the doctor said she would evaluate Anja for reflux, I think just to ease my nervous mind. Anja doesn't have reflux; the last time she spit up was last weekend. Luckily I came to my senses and cancelled the x-ray. I worry at night, my little ear glued to the baby monitor no matter how low I turn down the volume. So I don't sleep a whole lot either.

4. Being a new mom is so overwhelming. I thought about hiring a doula after Anja was born and I decided against it; now I wish I had. We had no help after we all came home from the hospital and neither the sperm donor nor I had a whole lot of experience with babies. And despite all of the baby care classes we were completely naive to how to soothe her, how to keep her awake while she ate, how to swaddle her, etc. etc. I had never felt more incompetent and inadequate than I did when she was a newborn. There are very few people who tell me I am doing a good job, and I'm unable to tell myself. Things are much less overwhelming now: I know what fussy hungry looks like and how it is different from fussy tired. I know what is in that diaper before I even open up (and sometimes, I don't want to open it!). I know how to hold her attention. I've learned a lot in the past three months, but sometimes I still feel really overwhelmed.

It was after the wacky visit to the pediatrician's office that I called my therapist. That was the point I realized that I was having many more anxious moments with Anja than enjoyable ones. I have been seeing a therapist for a few years, but I had not seen her since Anja was born. I know now that I should have started seeing her again the minute after Anja was born. That night, I sobbed in her office for nearly two hours. She said that she knew I was the worrying type, but clearly things had gone overboard, and that something needed to be done. As luck would have it, her husband is a psychiatrist and she made arrangements for me to meet him. He was quite jolly and didn't wear any shoes. He explained the risks and benefits of getting treatment and explained how I could take medication and still breastfeed without affecting Anja very much. I walked out of his office with a prescription for a tiny dose of Zoloft. I have taken it for about a week and I'm not sure I have noticed any effects, especially now that we are on vacation and I have the sperm donor and lots of family around.

According to the Postpartum Resource Center of Texas, approximately 10 percent of women will experience postpartum depression at some point within a year after delivery. That is on reported cases, so please realize that this number is probably higher. Postpartum depression is NOT the baby blues. Generalized anxiety disorder occurs with the same incidence. I think it is unfortunate that the only public exposure that postpartum depression receives is from cases such as Andrea Yates. I was given a list of counseling resources at both my first prenatal visit and my postnatal visit, but no one ever told me what to look for. I work as a mental health professional, and yet, I was in complete denial about what was happening to me. Some may oppose my decision to pursue a pharmacologic solution in addition to my therapy, and that is fine. I feel the effects of my depression and anxiety on Anja's development could be far more devastating than a little bit of Zoloft.

As I said earlier, we are on vacation now. I am getting some extra sleep and it helps me relax more. Anja is enjoying meeting her relatives, studying their faces with great interest. The true test will be after we return home in a couple of weeks and the sperm donor returns to work. I am hopeful.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I Can't Understand You With Your Hand In Your Mouth!

Anja has started talking. A lot. I'm not entirely sure what she is saying but it must be terribly important. And I said a few posts ago that I would not suppress the creation and expression of independent thought, so I just let her talk on. She tells everybody, and she now has a big audience because she is meeting all of her new relatives. She is a bit rude though, because I try to talk back to her and she interrupts me.

I just hope that before she embarks on her career in public speaking that she takes her hand out of her mouth.

The thumb appears to be reserved for nighttime, but the rest of the hand is fair game during the day. It could be just one finger, it could be an attempt to stick the whole hand in there. Sometimes she sticks too much hand in there and she gags a little, which really cracks me up. Sometimes she inverts her hand and sucks on her pinkie finger, a la Dr. Evil (I'm sure she is saying "I think I'll call her mommy."). But most of the time her hand is in her mouth, she is also talking. A lot. I took of picture of her talking, one hand in her mouth and the other holding her little foot.

Adventures In Breastfeeding

After two days in the car, we are in sunny Albuquerque. Anja did great in the car. Breastfeeding does present a bit of a challenge on the road though. After two moderately successful nursing sessions in the car in which we were a little cramped for space, we stopped at a McDonalds in Muleshoe, Texas. There were several people in the restaurant, so I chose a booth in the corner. There were a couple of older ladies with a little boy in the booth behind me.

Here are the musings in Muleshoe...

"Look! What a precious baby! I think her mommy is going to feed her. That's called breastfeeding. Your mother breastfed you."


It's no wonder why moms don't always care to nurse in public. The ladies did come to our table to admire Anja, which I thought was nice considering they didn't have the decency to KEEP THEIR VOICES DOWN WHILE TALKING ABOUT ME.

Our next adventure came the following day. We were maybe 50 miles from Albuquerque when Anja started fussing to eat. I had not pumped any milk, so I had no bottles. Stopping would take a minimum of twenty minutes, and we were all eager to get out of the car. So what did this acrobatic new mom do? I took off my seat belt, sat on my little nursing pillow to elevate myself, and plopped my boob into the car seat. I sat in the most uncomfortable position possible for fifteen minutes while my darling daughter nursed happily away. She promptly fell asleep and stayed that way until arriving at her grandmother's house.

I'm amazed how much I take for granted the comforts of home...the nice rocking chair, the ottoman my feet often share with the cats, the radio with a remote control, the little lamp I use to nurse her at night. She is far better than I at adapting to our new environment and I am thankful. As long as I can provide her with what she wants, she stays happy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The List Continues

I am always irritated at the sight of parents in a parking lot or in the grocery store (or anywhere), hand in hand with their toddler, walking at their own adult pace, with the poor toddler running behind with his or her short legs, almost struggling to keep up. I always feel a little sad for that toddler, because it is clear to me that the parent is more preoccupied with where they are going than where they are or who they are with. I imagine it is probably clear to the toddler as well.

So the list of things I will strive to never do as a parents continues...

When I am walking somewhere, with my daughter's hand in mine, I will travel at her speed. I will not make her run desperately behind me (unless, of course, it is raining, in which case I will probably pick her up and run). May her speed teach me that I should slow down and appreciate the world around me as she learns about the world around her.

I had more to say, but the cat sitting next to me just made some wierd barfy noise. The job of parenting never ends, even with the felines.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mommy, How Do You Spell Puny?

pu·ny: slight or inferior in power, size, or importance

Anja and I like to watch the baby shows on TV. All of those shows like "Bringing Home Baby," "Runway Moms," and "Maternity Ward." I avoided watching those types of shows during my pregnancy because headlines like "Mary has gestational diabetes and her baby may have two heads" convinced me that Anja may have two heads. These shows are actually more interesting to me now that I know a thing or two about pregnancy and childbirth (and even though I had a c-section, I did attend approximately 12 hours of childbirth education). What Anja and I especially like is when the birth weight of the baby is disclosed. Anja was 9 pounds 11 ounces at birth, placing her at the 95th percentile. What this means is that 95% of babies weighed less than Anja at birth. We refer to these other babies as "puny." So, when the baby's weight is disclosed on television, Anja and I say, in unison:

"Puny baby."

We do not refer to premies as puny. That would just be rude. We also do not refer to babies who are ill at birth as puny. That would just be mean and heartless. And twins: certainly it is hard to reach your maximum potential when you have to share a room. But healthy babies are pretty much fair game. On one show, a nurse stated excitedly that the infant boy who had just been born was so big that he would have to go directly to a size 1 diaper. He weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces.

Everybody together now:

Puny baby.

A few days ago, I was mulling over the posts on the La Leche League message boards and stumbled on one from a new mom who had questions about nursing her son who was large at birth. She was having problems getting him to latch on correctly. She was also concerned because a lactation consultant told her that nursing her son would be like nursing twins, and she did not know if she could maintain enough milk for him. His weight at birth? That little boy, born the day after Anja, weighed...

12 pounds 10 ounces.


Seems the table had turned.

I didn't tell Anja that she was now the puny baby. I figure I don't need to start giving her reasons to go to therapy when she is an adult just yet. But I did respond to this mom and we emailed a couple of times about how fun it is to have large babies and how most advice you receive from a lactation consultant can be thrown in the garbage.

I suppose the moral of this story is that what comes around goes around. This is an important life lesson for Anja to learn. However, until she is old enough to comprehend this important lesson, the two of us will continue in our search for...

puny babies.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Baby Store - For Anja By Mommy

(To be loosely sung to the tune of "The Big Rock Candy Mountain")

Well Mommy went to the baby store
She said "Man, I want me a baby!
With big blue eyes
Dark brown hair
Little fuzzy ears
And moonman toes
Yes, I want me a baby like that."

And the man at the baby store
Said "We don't sell any babies
With big blue eyes
Dark brown hair
Little fuzzy ears
And moonman toes
You have to make a baby like that."

So Mommy went home to Daddy
And said "Daddy make me a baby
With big blue eyes
Dark brown hair
Little fuzzy ears
And moonman toes
I want to make that baby!"

And Daddy said "OKAY!!!!!!!!!!!"

And then just a few months later
Mommy got herself a baby
With big blue eyes
Dark brown hair
Little fuzzy ears
And moonman toes
Mommy finally got her a baby!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Blue Jean Baby And Porn Star? Oh - They're Still Sleeping

The sperm donor was sweet enough last night to give Anja a bottle at midnight, giving me the opportunity for some extra sleep. For me, however, this nice gift meant that I missed the opportunity to feed her. Therefore, I continued to make milk and store it in my expanding boobs. Sometimes I think to myself that I should use the handy breast pump before I go to bed, but usually I'm so tired that I just don't care. So when I got up to pee at about 5 a.m., I looked like I had just purchased a mighty fine boob job. Or better yet, I looked like a porn star. A porn star who was in some pain it seemed, so I sleepily proceeded to the kitchen, assembled the handy breast pump, and went about my business. Anja was starting to smack on her thumb about that time. I am beginning to realize that chomping on one of her own body parts may mean that she is hungry. I offered her the other side, and, a half hour later, I was no longer my porn star persona. I had become the woman you see in Africa on the National Geographic specials, with her breasts sagging down to her knees. Anja appeared to have gone back to sleep, but her eyes bounced open the second I set her in the crib. So I took ahold of her, her blanket, and her pacifier, and headed towards my bedroom.

Shortly before Anja was born, the sperm donor bought us a new king size bed and an awesome Tempur-Pedic mattress. I have visions of a small dark-haired girl with giant blue eyes, just old enough to crawl out of her own bed, who walks into my room and says "Mommy, can I sleep in your bed?" At which point, I will scoop her up and plop her in the middle of my awesome Tempur-Pedic mattress, right in between the sperm donor and me. But I don't put her in bed with me very often now. I am all for co-sleeping with your infant; my close friend does it with her twins all the time. But I just fear blankets and sheets and pillows and a new mom who really enjoys sleeping without up to nine pounds of baby inside of her. But, this morning, with the sperm donor out on his Saturday morning bike ride, I figured I could get Anja back to sleep in the big bed. And I did, shortly before 7 a.m. I awoke to the sound of poop filling her diaper. Lovely. It was 10 a.m.

I can't remember the last time I slept until 10 a.m. Extra lovely.

We got up, cleaned her diaper. She ate, and then I dressed her in her very first pair of jeans. I got me a little blue jean baby. They are a little bit big, but as I always tell Anja: when you are a baby, you can grow into your clothes but when you are an adult you can only grow out of them.