Hello to the three or four people who read my blog! I know that you may have noticed that I have been absent recently. If you read my previous post, you may have guessed why I have been absent. That’s right — it’s because I’ve published a bestselling memoir of my life, and I’ve already sold the movie rights to Warner Brothers. I’ve been told they may cast Ellen Page to play me, but I’m still holding out hope for Scarlett Jo. I just don’t think Ellen would look right with blond hair. Either way, I’ve just been way too busy rolling around in piles of money to write on my little blog.
Ha ha. Opposite day. That didn’t really happen. As you may have actually guessed, or if you know me, you’ve likely become aware that I haven’t been myself in the past months. I have been coping with postpartum depression — not as majorly terrible as some folks experience, but still it’s pretty rough.
I was talking with a friend recently about how “depression” is such a dirty word. “Postpartum” certainly makes it sound better — “Oh, I don’t have depression, I have postpartum depression. It’s a special kind of depression that mommies get because their hormones are doing terrible things to their brains. It’s not like regular, run of the mill depression. The kind that doesn’t have a specific cause or a specific end date. I have the kind of mommy depression that Gwyneth Paltrow had with Apple. And now she’s a regular guest star on Glee!” Yes, it’s okay to have postpartum depression because it’s gotten a little bit of a notoriety, and it has this specific CAUSE that makes people feel a little more comfortable with it.
Well let me clue you in, it is EXACTLY the same as the regular, run of the mill, general depression. The same chemicals go haywire in your brain. Even though there may be a specific cause, no one can guess an end date. You have the same horrible thoughts, perhaps even obsessions and compulsions, and on many days, you just might not want to get out of bed. I feel exactly the same as when I have suffered major depressive episodes before — except this time, it doesn’t just affect me and my college roommate, or me and my boyfriend, or me and my experience living abroad in Japan. It affects me and my child, me and my husband, me and my family, me and my job that I love. It’s just the same ugly thing that it always has been; only now, the stakes are higher. It isn’t trendy, or fun, or “lighter” than regular depression. It doesn’t magically end when Sam turns one, and it didn’t have a discernible starting point either. It’s the same damn thing as depression without the adjective, and it really sucks.
Because PPD (at least, for me, I can’t speak for others) is like the regular old-hat depression, I’ve looked to treating it the same way. I take medication, I try to exercise when I have the time, and I go to talk therapy. I look up on days that are good and realize how lucky I am. I have insurance to pay for appointments and pills that make my brain work well enough so that I can begin to heal. I lucked out and found an amazing therapist who really gels with my personality — she laughs at my jokes and curses and has my same politics, and isn’t shy about saying so. I have colleagues who care about what’s going on with me, and I have a family who supports, encourages, and loves me. On not so good days, I sink in ways that I don’t want to describe here. For those of you who have experienced depression, you know what I am talking about. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
I look back on my blog over the past year, and I am proud that I came back to writing along with the creation of this beautiful new life. I also look back and wonder — and perhaps this is through the lens of depression — why anyone would want to read my pronouncements about how cloth diapers are better than disposables, or why you should breastfeed as long as you can, or why you should give birth without an epidural, or choose not to circumcise your son. These are things I still believe, but depression has humbled me and my strong opinions. I had to go to using disposable diapers 80% of the time when Sam entered day care, and the medication I am on dried my breast milk up almost as soon as I took the first pill. (And fenugreek, you can suck it. I hate you forever. More on that in another post.) I look at my birth and I am proud that I accomplished exactly what I wanted, but I am no better than any other mother who has ever had a child.
Moms, and dads, you are heroes. Whether or not you choose to have an epidural, or put a organic hemp diaper or a Pampers Swaddler on your baby’s butt, or choose to feed breast milk or Enfamil, whether to stay home or have a nanny or day care — those are NOT the important decisions I once thought they were. The important decisions, well, those are harder to define. I believe they are the decisions that relate to how you love yourself, and how you love your child. What example you choose to present, and what kind of person you raise your child to be. How you choose to express yourself to your child and how you choose to bring order into your child’s life. Those are the things — and they are really the only things right now — that I view as important.
As Natalie Portman said in Garden State, I’m “in it” right now. And being in it — and being much more concerned with trying to figure things out in my life — that’s made me not want to write posts about which organic baby food I feed to my kid, or why exactly I think FuzziBunz are great diapers. I know a lot of my previous posts verged on preachy, and while a lot of my friends have let me know that they enjoyed reading what I had to say, I’m pretty done with being preachy.
As parents, we’re doing the best we can (I mean — not every parent is — but the ones I know sure are). We’re surviving day to day, trying to teach these little amazing people how to be good and honest and conscious. We make great decisions and terrible mistakes. Who am I to say what is best?
Another friend said to me, right before the birth of her second child — a beautiful little girl — that she does not judge other parents. Or she tries not to. Her husband had remarked to her one day, upon seeing a four or five year old girl with a pacifier, that it was improper, or wrong, or something like that, and that the parents shouldn’t be allowing her to have a pacifier at that age. My friend responded — “You don’t know. That little girl could have autism, and the pacifier is the only way she can cope with being at the store. You don’t know. You NEVER know.” This has stuck with me big time. What wise words — we can’t ever know what is going on in another parent’s life, or what is happening in the life of their child. We can give advice, when solicited, but that’s really all. (I CAN judge that horrible woman who is making her child get Botox treatments, because I do know that is wrong for sure. Otherwise, I’m trying to be like my wise friend and just chill.)
You can never predict the choices you will make, or will have to make, with your child. You can never predict how you will feel on a day to day basis, or exactly how you will figure out how to be the best parent that you can be. Being a mom and dealing with depression has made me more aware of this than I ever was before.
So, on good days, hopefully I will come back to writing with a different tone in my voice. On not so good days, you can probably find me sitting on my porch and soaking in the sun, or in my bath with my baby who is squealing at the wonder it is to splash in the water. (Oh the sounds he makes!) In trying to find contentment, I am discovering myself to be a person who must release some of her firmly held opinions. I am slowly learning not to judge the decisions of others, and in this process, I am learning not to judge myself. At least, I am trying.
Welcome to the Savvy Mom Space
I’m a liberal feminist that believes that liberal, feminist ideals should gel with embracing your gender and motherhood (if that’s what you feel like doing). I support all kinds of moms and dads and parents. Oh and, although I totally love that natural vibe and not harming the environment, I supplement my organic milk and fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional Twix, the frequent Oreo, and the daily Coke Zero. I’m opinionated, not easily offended, and a loudmouth in person and on the internet. I am what I am. Welcome.