Saturday, April 5, 2014

An Honest Reflection

One year ago, I was admitted to the ER. Head trauma? Broken bone? Bleeding profusely? No, not any of these things. An illness of a different sort.

One year ago, I drove myself to the ER for postpartum anxiety/depression. I cried on the phone with my doctor. I cried the whole way to the hospital. I cried the entire time I was there. And I cried the whole drive home. I probably cried that whole day for all I know, maybe that whole week.

Why was I crying? Was it because I was scared? Sad? Was it because I had been fighting my greatest demon and had come out on bottom? Yes, it was all those things. But on top of that, I was relieved. Relieved to look at someone and say, "I've done everything I can on my own. I need help. I need help, please help me."

And even more than all that, I was ashamed. Guilty. Embarrassed.

I knew everything there was to know about postpartum depression. I knew all the symptoms, all the possible feelings, all the risk factors. I definitely knew that it was not the mother's fault, it was hormones, it was chemicals, it was things firing in the brain at all the wrong times.

And yet, when I was at my worst, the things I knew were not to be found.  They were buried so deeply that I could not remember. If someone told them to me, I could not believe them. My mind was turning and churning with a million other thoughts. What kind of mother am I to think those things? What kind of horrible person am I? What a worthless waste of a person. Worthless, horrible, lazy, unaccomplished...... Am I in control? What if I hurt someone? What if I'm not depressed, what if this is who I really am? What if I go to sleep, and I wake up, and Kallan suffocated in the night or was kidnapped? What if I go to sleep and the fan falls on Kallan and squishes her? What if I go to sleep, and I wake up to find out that I have killed her in the night? Am I crazy? I am. I am crazy. This is me, I'm a bad person. I'm a horrible mother for having these feelings. Horrible.  Monstrous. I should be ashamed, embarrassed. No other moms feel this way. I should be loving every minute with my baby.  I should be happy! I have everything I ever wanted.  How dare I think those things? No one but a sick, evil human could possibly think those things.

I had been battling postpartum anxiety/depression for months and months. Entirely due to weeks of encouragement from Erik, I finally called my OB to come in and have a chat about it. I owe everything to him!

But still, after getting help, I was still convinced that I could get rid of it on my own. I was sad, I was anxious, but if I changed my lifestyle, things would get better. It would go away. But no, depression is a bigger monster than that. As soon as I thought things started getting a little better, they would suddenly be about ten times worse.

Then, enter "intrusive thoughts." It was about three days after I saw my therapist and told her how much better I'd been feeling lately.  I will always remember when it first happened. I was sitting on the couch with Erik, and he was bouncing Kallan on his lap. She was laughing, smiling. We all were. And then out of nowhere, in my mind I'm throwing her against the wall, on the ground. I burst into tears, I ran to the bathroom and sobbed.  I remember feeling afraid to tell Erik. What would he think of me? Even after that, I had such a hard time just calling the doctor because I knew what I would say, and I was ashamed.  I think it took me several hours to make the call, and I think it would've taken a lot longer if Erik hadn't been at home.

"I'm having thoughts about hurting my baby." I could barely say the words, but I did. And it saved me. Not right away, but things got better.

You might wonder why I'm writing this post. I've been seeing so many of my peers becoming moms. I know what it feels like to be a new parent, the pressure and the anxiety that comes from sleepless nights and endless parenting decisions.  And I've been thinking about my depression. I've only recently told anyone besides my parents and in-laws about it. Because even now, a year later, it is hard to talk about.

But I want to help. I want to help any mom out there who has PPD and is writing it off as "baby blues" or avoiding calling the doctor out of shame, guilt, nervousness... anything. If you break your leg, it's obvious to head to the doctor right away.  But when it comes to mental health, why is it so hard to call someone and ask for help? Even when the pain is great, even when the need is clearly there, why is there such a hesitation? Why is there this fear of being judged?

So I guess this is a message to all the parents out there, and I'm just saying, I've been there. There is nothing to be ashamed of. And you're a great, amazing, wonderful, loving (etc.) mom!! Don't hesitate to get help, and you'll hear this a million times from your OB, but don't forget it! Reach out, lean on your support, ask for help. . And take care of yourself. My OB once told me that the best thing I can do for my baby is be happy myself. That is advice I won't forget.

And most importantly, you are not alone. I know you are probably on facebook and instagram stalking all the other moms and noticing how happy they seem to be. You might feel alone, but I am taking this time to let you know that you are not. Even if it's just you and me, you are not alone!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 5, 2014

Boy, am I glad to cross this day off my calendar, along with the big, bold letters, "KALLAN'S SURGERY." This day has been looming over our heads for so long. Even before the surgery was scheduled, the possibility was always there, the potential for any day to be THE day.

We arrived in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, and the worst thing about the whole trip was that the pool at our hotel was closed for renovations! Wah! So we went to the mall next door, and played at the play area with Kallan before meeting up with friends for dinner. Authentic Mexican food: delicious. Catching up with old friends: much needed.

We got Kallan to bed a little later than we had hoped, and then we watched a movie on our computer and attempted to do everything in complete darkness to not wake her up. But later in the night, we purposely woke her up twice to eat. Poor baby had to fast before her surgery!  We woke up, packed up, woke Kallan up, changed her diaper, and checked out. The roads in Ann Arbor were empty. But filled with an astonishing amount of potholes. They really need to do some road maintenance over there. Anyway. We got to the hospital at 6:20 am and got checked in. We had barely been sitting down for five minutes when we got called back to pre-op. We were given a little gown for Kallan to wear. It was blue, which did not help the nurses and doctors to NOT mistake her for a boy. Poor girl.. (Kallan is a girl's name, I swear!)

I knew the hospital was large, but I was surprised to see how many children were there that morning, at that time of the morning even. It made me think of how lucky we were to just be there for a relatively simple eye surgery. How many parents were there for a second.. third.. fourth time with their child? So many parents with hands wrapped tightly together. So many babies and young kids clutching a favorite animal or blankie. I remember looking around the waiting room and making a mental note to be thankful for the good health of my kids and that they have lead lives with little or no medical complication. I'm by no means saying that Kallan's surgery was without risk or fear of complication, but it could be so much more difficult and darker and scarier. And all of these families are in such expert and capable hands. Just another thing to be thankful for.

But back to the events of the day. Kallan was really antsy the whole time because, well, that's just the way she is. She also saw a lot of other kids and babies, and since she is obsessed with babies, it was hard to keep her in our little area. She kept running off yelling, "beebee! beebee!" To which we always answered, "Yes Kallan, there's a baby. Yes there's another baby." We saw nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors, and at this point I can't remember exactly who was who, but they all asked a million questions a million times.  Kallan started getting really upset about having her vitals checked. But soon, things got underway. She was given a "pre-med" to make her sleepy before they took her back and gave her the anesthesia. She snuggled and hugged me so much, and when I found out it was time, I burst into tears. Our anesthesiologist had told us that if she wasn't that sleepy, we would be able to go back with her until she fell asleep. But apparently, his boss, who came up afterwards, did not agree, and she did not let us go back with her, even though she still seemed quite awake. Imagine this... you hand over your baby to a doctor. Nurses gather around you, assuring you that she is so groggy and has no idea what is happening. Your baby looks at you, reaches for you, and says "Mommy!" before the operation doors close. That is what happened, and that is the only part of the day I wish had gone differently. Apparently, there is some procedural rule that parents can either go back with their kids to get the anesthesia OR they can have the pre-med first, without the parents coming back. I wish they had been a bit more flexible on this, but I'm not a doctor, I don't know the reasoning so... moving on!

We walked what felt like a million miles to the cafeteria and had a much needed breakfast. Then we waited. The surgery was not long, maybe 45 minutes. Our doctor paged us for "consultation," which had me panicking like the crazy mama I am. But she just brought us in to say, everything went perfectly, it was a "textbook case." Then we had to wait until Kallan started waking up to go in and see her. I'm not sure how long this part was....because I took a nap.

Our pager buzzed, indicating that our sweet patient was finally waking up. We could not get back to her fast enough. When we saw her.. she was not happy. She was still very groggy, and the nurse said, likely a bit dizzy as well. So I was trying to hold her and she was flinging herself every which way. Finally she settled down some, and napped on me before I was able to feed her. Her tears were slightly pink from blood in the eye, which was a bit difficult to see. I actually had been told that her tears would be bloody by someone whose child had the surgery also. I was expecting "True Blood" style tears, so I was actually relieved that they were just slightly pink! Her voice was raspy from having a breathing tube in during the procedure, and our nurse told us that usually the sore throat is the most bothersome part of recovery for kids.

All this time, Kallan was snuggling me. She opened her eyes and looked at me and said, "Sissy?" I assured her that we would see sissy soon. "Daddy?" Yes, Daddy is here, too!

We got our discharge instructions. Goopy eye drops (that Kallan already hates) three times a day, no swimming for two weeks, Tylenol for pain. That's about it. And we were on our merry way! We were in our car at about 10:15am. Kallan ate a ton of watermelon while we were on the road, and was soon laughing and smiling like her usual, chipper self! Her eyes were quite red in the corners, and the redness will last up to two months. In 6 weeks, we will head back to AA for follow-up. For now, we are just happy that everything went smoothly and that our little girl is happy!

Now it's just a matter of getting eye drops in and getting her to wear her glasses!

But we are hoping that she takes better to her glasses now. The problem has been that she only used one eye at a time since they were not aligned.  When she wore her glasses, it didn't make a lot of difference to her vision, so she didn't care about wearing them.  With her eye muscle loosened up some, they should be lined up, and her brain can use both eyes at the same time.  If her eyes are lined up, and she is using them both, the glasses will really improve her vision. Hopefully that will be enough for her to leave the glasses on. We will see!

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers! We are glad it's over, and hopefully she won't need any surgery in the years to come.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

17 Months / 3.5 YEARS

Wow, I haven't blogged in forever! And I'm only blogging now because I should be studying for my exam tomorrow... and I am really trying to avoid doing that. Ugh. I am feeling a little burnt out in the school department this semester. I won't get into it. Can I just nap instead of going to class?!

So what's new with us?

Kallan Marie is 17 months old now. She is learning so many things, so many words, and she is just keen to explore non-stop. Anything Lyla is doing, she wants to be doing, too.  She talks all the time and is building up quite a vocabulary. I love when she says, "sissy," "Owie (unless she is really hurt)," "baby," and "mmhmm!" She was become obsessed with Lyla's American Girl baby doll. That thing freaks me out.. and now I have it staring me in the face when I'm rocking, nursing, or simply relaxing on the couch... Yikes.

I think Kallan's favorite activity is eating. She has been a great eater but is starting to get a bit more picky. She loves blueberries ("boobies".. hehe) and meat, but I think pretzels are her all-time favorite food.

She has found her favorite show in the world... "The Fresh Beat Band," which was Lyla's favorite at this age, too. She calls it "Lala" and she will find the TV remote, bring it to me, say Lala!, and then go plop on the couch for some quality tube time. If I say "No!" then she immediately says, "Dodo?" (Dora).

But of course, the biggest piece of news is that we are going ahead with eye surgery for Kallan. In less than a week!. I'll probably write about this later. Maybe.

So Lyla... 3 and a half years old! How does this happen? We just visited a preschool with her, and it's amazing how much more social she is and independent. She was chatting up the teachers and other kids, and really excited about all the activities they had planned.

As always, she is always such an amazing big sister. I love when Kallan wakes up from nap, Lyla always says... "I'd better go check on baby sis." and then she goes, "Good morning Kallan! Up? Up? Do you want up? Oh I see, oh I see!" I will say that they are developing a typical love/hate sister relationship quite quickly. They are hugging and kissing each other one second, and screaming in each other's faces the next!

Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates. Please be thinking of us this week as we get ready for the surgery!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Presents from Santa!

Cinderella Legos for Lyla...

A CD Player toy for Kallan!

and stockings!

Awesome musical globe from Aunt Lois

New Sofia board game!

Grandma's getting into it

Grandpa and Lyla playing the new game


Love and snuggles from my girlie

Friday, December 27, 2013


Okay, despite the title of this post, this has literally nothing to do with cookies, and I am honestly going to ramble and vent for the next little bit.

I'd like to start this out by saying a) I very rarely vent about other people on the internet.. which means I must be pretty annoyed and b) moms! leave each alone!!!!! SHEESH.

So here's what happened. I was shopping yesterday, and the owner of the store was one of those sort of pushy and overly talkative ladies, who I don't usually mind too much because I can sometimes be overly talkative, too. Anyway, so I am finally checking out and we have the following conversation.

Lady: So do you work in the area?
Me: No I'm a mom to two and I'm in school full-time, too.
Lady: See, I never got that, why go back to school and have kids. I mean your focus is here with your kids, and then you have to change your whole focus? I mean, I don't know.
Me: (kind of perplexed) Hm, yea it can be challenging.
Lady: Like people used to give me a hard time because I wasn't in the store much while I had my kids. And this lady came in, and she was a great day care provider. And she said it best, she said, "You only have one go around with your kids." So I just don't know why anyone would choose to do school and have kids. So your sure about the dress? It's really great for three seasons blah blah blah......."

And then I mumbled and grumbled my way out of the store, something like: "Well, my husband's home when I'm gone..soo... just two days...." basically defending myself to this obnoxious lady for no reason whatsoever.

I wish I would've told this lady to freaking mind her own business!

I wish I would've told her that, maybe unbeknownst to her, not all families can afford to have someone stay at home. Maybe if we were more financially secure at this point in our lives, I would not finish out my education. But that is simply not the case, and I know that to be true for a lot of couples. I would never judge a mom who wants to go to school or needs to work to make a living to support her family. Moms work part-time. Moms work from home. Moms work full-time. Moms stay at home. And they are all great moms! Why is this so hard for people to grasp??? I literally don't understand the whole "mommy war" issue.

And then I would've told her that I'm 100% positive that being out of the house for two days of the week makes me about a trillion times happier when I AM at home. I will honestly say that I've struggled (a lot at times.. particularly in the winter) with being a stay-at-home-mom. I love spending all this time with the girls, and if I had to do it all again, I would, but it is no easy task. I am the type of person who easily gets cabin fever. I'm antsy. I'm not used to routine or staying in one place. Play dates, story time, pool time, errands... all great ways to get out of the house. But in terms of emotional stability, those were barely enough to keep me going.

I once had a long talk with my OB.. I think about breast feeding or something and going to school and how it would all come together. I will always, always remember what she told me. "The best thing you can do for your kids is to be happy yourself.  And what's right for someone else, may not be the right thing for you."

So yes, lady, I agree. I only get one "go around" with my kids. And I also only get one life to be me. I'm being the best mom I can be because of what I do, not in spite of it. There's no 'cookie cutter' way to be a perfect mom. There's no such thing as being a perfect mom. So what does everyone have to get on everyone else' case? It irks me to no end. Yes, I go to school, and yes GOD FORBID, I am away from my children for two days of every week. But the days I'm home, I smile more, I laugh more, and I enjoy more.

And finally, I'd remind this lady that not everyone has a cushy job owning a successful business where everything is absurdly overpriced.

The end.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Long Overdue Update!

Okay so first of all, I've been neglecting my DSLR in favor of my iPhone. Ummm, not okay, and I will be making a point to start working on my photography again! But for now, here's an iPhone pic.

I don't know about you other moms, but daylight savings is kicking our butt this year. Lyla is sick so her sleep schedule is all wonky anyway, but we are getting up early, staying up late, and getting up at odd hours of the night. And yet, here I sit, updating my blog at 12:30 am. We never learn, do we???

So Kallan is 13 months now, and I think people say this about every age, but I really think this is my favorite age. Every time she says or does something new, I'm positively giddy! I just remember how exciting it was when Lyla's words started snowballing and snowballing... and now she says stuff like, "It really hurts my feelings when you say I can't have teddy bears now." Now she's telling us little stories about things she remembers (always starting with yesterday, even if it was this morning or months ago)! And now when Lyla says something new, it's fun, usually funny, amazing really... but this age, this beginning stage of talking, is where it all begins. And I said earlier, I am just GIDDY!

I made a list of Kallan's words and some protowords (wow, my SLP classes are actually relevant to my life, whaddya know!) so here they are:

Mama, dada, ba (ball... also up), up (occasionally), boo (indicates something she wants), buh (book), buh mo mo (brown mono... Lyla's lovey that Kallan is now obsessed with, too), no-no (no), dat (that... definitely her favorite word).

Some other things I want to remember from this age:
- Kallan has a couple books that are her absolute favorites.. "Global Babies" and "What's Up Duck?" In "What's Up Duck?" when I say, "heavy" (it's a book of opposites), Kallan makes grunting noises, like she's lifting something up. I have no idea where she got that!
- She is babbling non-stop! Well... I guess technically she is using "jargon." Am I boring you with my new SLP knowledge yet??? Anyway, non-stop talking! She can get her point across!
- She is a goof! She likes to act like she is going to feed you something, and then right before it gets to your mouth, she eats it! She cracks up laughing! Sometimes, she will be just entertaining herself and will start laughing. I love it!
- "I love how she crawls like a jolly dinosaur." - Erik. Yes, she crawls like a jolly dinosaur. I have yet to catch this phenomenon on film. Hopefully video to come soon.
- Her lovey is a blankie, and when she sees it, she loves to go smoosh her face in to it and snuggle with it. She is just a big snuggler and really loves to hug and play with baby dolls... really anything soft.
- She likes to bring Lyla her brown mono... well now she has started trying to keep brown mono for herself. This has negatively affected sisterly relations.

And that's all I can think of now.

So Lyla... what's she up to? This age is so much fun, too. Lyla has such a great memory and imagination. She is so curious, always exploring and creating. And she's always listening - something we have to watch out for sometimes.

Things to remember:
- Lyla has some "friends" that she calls the Jingseya's
- She loves Kallan so much, and loves to hug and be around Kallan all the time. Kallan usually gets mad.
- She can spell her whole name.. she thinks of it as one word, and she recently got upset with me when I tried to tell her about her first, middle, and last name, and how they are separate.
- Lyla can "read" several books and can recognize a lot of words. If I ask her which word says "Ball," she can guess by which letter it starts with.
- If I say something like, "You might be cold if you don't wear a jacket," she lifts her hand and says, "No no, mommy, I'll be fiiiiiine."

Smart, sweet, sensitive, as always.

Also, sorry for the lack of posting, but school has me busy out of my mind at the moment. I am loving every minute of it, though! First of all, I'm so glad to be with other people, not talking about babies. I mean, I love getting together with moms to chit-chat/whine about our lack of sleep or getting spit up on or pooped on. But it's nice to go to class and talk about ... anything but babies really. Unless we are in Language Development, where we were talking about babies for about half the semester. By the way, now whenever Lyla says something, I catch myself thinking, "Oh she is using a contractible copula." and other really nerdy things like that. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kallan is ONE!

Oh my, I seem to have forgotten how fast babies turn into toddlers. The other day, Kallan was up later than Lyla (because she was working on a massive poo, in case you were wondering ... surely you were), and I was just shocked at how much older she was acting already. At the time, she was trying to put a ball on top of the armrest on our couch. It is slightly slanted so it kept rolling down to her feet. She would say, "Uh-oh!" and try again. Eventually I moved her over to the lower area of the couch to see if she would put it on there... she wasn't interesting in doing that. Then I gave her the wrong color ball, and she tossed it.  I was so amazed, watching her determination, as she tried over.. and over.. and over.


 Kallan's personality just cracks me up. She is very sweet and gives non-stop hugs and kisses. She absolutely loves music! Maybe this is weird to say about a one-year-old, but I would even say she is passionate about music. She dances all the time, and she dances with her whole body. Erik says she "dances furiously." She is not interested in the TV at all, unless there is a song on... she will drop whatever she is doing, scurry over to stand right in front of the TV and proceed to bop and wiggle until the song ends. As I said, she is a very sweet, little baby, but she easily becomes FURIOUS and throws little baby tantrums when she doesn't get her way. If Lyla takes a toy from her, she will chase her down and head butt her! Not going to lie, it's a little bit hilarious.

She is a bit picky. Bottles have to be piping hot. There should definitely not be milk mixed in. Milk in general is ick. Bananas are thrown to the ground. And if you give her a food that she does not like, she will let you know that she is not happy about it!

What else to say?? She says: mama, dada, baba, uh-oh, ba (ball), dat (that), and possibly "get it." Also possibly Yaya (Lyla). Possibly "all done." It's hard to say sometimes. But even when she isn't using real words, she is constantly telling us stories. Her favorite word by far is "dat" and is pointing non-stop and saying "dat" to get over to see something. She loves to explore and check things out.

She took her first steps on September 30. Right now she can take 3 or 4 wobbly ones on her own. I'm so excited because she is getting heavy for me to be carrying around all the time (yep, I'm weak). She pretends to make calls on her toy phone. She will "brush" her hair with a brush. She gives kisses and signs "more" and "all done." All in all, she is just getting too grown up, too fast. Can't wait to see her hilarious little personality shine through more and more.

Lyla has been having so much fun playing with Kallan lately. Kallan follows her around everywhere, and sometimes Lyla loves it, sometimes she hates it. I'm sure she'll have similar sentiments all through high school! But Lyla calls her, "My baby," "My googers," or "sweetheart." She loves to hug and kiss her, although a little too forcefully for Kallan's liking. She likes to crawl around with her, and the other day she said, "Kallan I really like doing things with you!" Another time she said, "Kallan come back, I don't want to be without you!" Then five minutes later she was saying, "Kallan, you CAN'T come in here with me!!" and slamming the door in Kallan's face. Ah, true sisters.