Lost in Brain Space

Two things that have been chugging up my mind lately:

1. I am no longer attending any sort of therapy or counselling, and I think I should be.

2. I still feel like I need a break, and by "break" I don't mean a couple hours; I mean like FOUR DAYS.

Which leads me to ask: when did you get a break after having kids?

Was it eight or nine years later that you finally got a weekend escape or they went to their first sleepover? Or did you have a baby and hand it over to your Mom or spouse a few weeks later and say "sorry, I gotta get outta here - I'm going to the mall for a couple days to walk around."?

What's the protocol on this?

The past month I've experienced one friend who holed up in a hotel for a whole week - all by herself, and if it weren't for her real life happening, I would have been bitterly jealous. I have another friend with three kids (including a baby just over a year old) jetting off to Vegas without the kids.

I still co-sleep. I don't mind co-sleeping - really, I don't, but I was pregnant or breastfeeding or both for five years, and now I'm not, and I guess I just sorta assumed that I could take off for a weekend or something once I was no longer breastfeeding. This bubble of personal space has not yet returned - even with my working my 5 hour shifts four days a week. Sean is saying that my twice-cancelled trip to Seattle, tentatively scheduled for this spring, could be without the kids.

Alas, spring is a long way away, and even then it's still a maybe (finances - for a two day trip that's a 2.5 hour drive away - ridiculous). Also? My friends in Seattle MAY want to meet my kids. I haven't been there since I was pregnant with Nina. Also-also? Most have them have had kids since I left so it seems kinda silly for me to visit them and their toddlers without bringing my toddlers along to play!

I seriously wonder how much of this is my mental health and how much of this is me just needing a few days off. Is that too selfish?

I've never had the experience of missing my kids - is that wrong for me to say? I've been away for a work shift, or headed out with my Mom or something running errands for hours, and Sean has always helped me to take a night off to go write when I can, but that feeling of pure joy from seeing the kids after not seeing them for a couple days (or, you know... a week maybe?) is something I have never experienced. I think it would be good for me - to bring that feeling back. No. Not back. To bring me that feeling.

And let's not forget the Nina. How would she get by without me being her complaint desk for a few days? Seriously: I am her wailing wall. Would she get over it? Would her little brain misfire the whole time? Or would it re-align her brain to realize that the world can still exist without me for a couple days? What would be the result after her experience? Would she "get over it" and appreciate me more, or would her fierce clinginess become more fierce?

Ask any, any of my friends, and they will tell you that Nina is completely easy and happy, even for hours, but the second I walk into the room, she turns her crank on. It's like we feed anxiety to each other.

This is what's in my head a lot lately. It's not something we can do, or fix. I haven't won a free four-day cruise (and even if I did, how fair would it be to leave Sean in charge of signing papers to return to school, scheduled playdates, all that hair, tights, backpacks, packed lunches, ballet class, brushing teeth, bedtime, dinner, breakfast, appointments, and groceries, while trying to work?) Am I trying to run away from my responsibilities or am I really due for a long break?

Has anyone else been tempted to just keep driving until you end up in some tiny town where no one knows you, and figure you can just get a job at a diner and forget it all?

They can call me Maisy. Fries or onion rings, hun?

Lost in Blog Space
Somewhere since having kids, the Blogosphere zoomed past me. I didn't even hear it pass by, but off it went, as I was busy stomping through my transition into parenthood and trying to figure out how to clean up the mess I'd made for myself.

The internet is loaded with really, really good websites and blogs now. There isn't enough time in the day to see it all. There are apps to try to compress everything onto one page for you, news feeds, Facebook and Twitter, and everything is fed in a small spoonful of information and communication. The blogs now cover exact topics - postpartum depression and self-help, recipes with fantastic photography, amazing baking projects, decorating and organization tips, printable useful lists and objects - anything you need is easily compartmentalized for you to learn and then walk away.

I am here at this website with not much to offer but... me.

This was enough for the last ten years - no one expected much more. But as I see the growth of expertise and amazing writing and photography, I wonder where Daymented can go. I am overwhelmed with the day-to-day tasks of being a grown up. I am a wife, mother of two, part-time employee at a non-profit society that I am honored to work for, and I am struggling just to keep in touch with my friends and respond to voicemails and e-mails.

Mental health issues encapsulated me for two years. Nina encapsulated me soon after the moment I got pregnant, so really it's been more like three years (this month!). I am working on a system for mornings before school and daycare to go smoothly, my work to go smoothly, afternoon pick-ups and the chaos of coming home to go smoothly, and then, finally, picking it all up, putting it away, and laying out what can be done the night before so we can start it all over again when we wake up the next morning. It's a Merry-Go-Round that doesn't stop.

I believe that my skills are expanding again - it's just slow-going. Starting work again was major brain-work, for sure, but I didn't realize how much it would also affect my emotional state, as well as physical exhaustion. Once I got that adjusted, it was time for Nina to start daycare and Ever to start kindergarten, and all this time I thought that meant: vacation! But no, there is so much work involved to packing lunches, forms to fill out and return, scheduling, rules and regulations and dress codes and ponytails and teeth-brushing and... I could go on. While the girls are at school I am at work, so I'm still craving personal time.

My work also replaced my time to socialize - mainly with my Burnaby Mama friends, and I am missing that. I always feel better when I am a part of something - something constantly moving and yet staying familiar.

My work is comfortable but I want to contribute much, much more than one person possibly can. I come from a background in restaurant, and therefore I am task-driven and want each task completed when it is at-hand. Make the pizza and deliver the pizza in 30 minutes. Non-profit takes time and thought and consideration and funding from others. There are plenty of tasks to do, but I need to prioritize what will pay the bills, so to speak. It's a new twist of "job stress" that I've never experienced before.

I have switched my medication from Zoloft to Paxil. I gained 12 pounds within weeks of going off of Zoloft. I am taking more supplements and spending some time to wind-down at night after the girls go to sleep (I am no longer going to sleep with the girls every night at 9:00 - this is great for my head-space but I DO miss the extra sleep!). I can feel that I am doing better. I no longer feel completely cuckoo, but I am not yet fully well. I am in the process of many transitions at the same time, and it is slow-going, but that is probably the safest way to go.

This spring I cranked out 40,000 words toward my book about my postpartum experience. Then I got a job. It's something I need to get done, even if just for myself. Each new month brings a new chapter instead of closure.

Greg tells me I still have some traffic coming to this website. I often wonder if this is something that I can re-build someday. I will continue to see where the days take me.

A Few Sporadic Things
Wednesday the girls and I fly to Missouri (we'll be in a small town called Adrian) for a family reunion with Kay's side of the family (Kay is my Dad's wife). Barring any more bizarre medical occurrences, my brother Todd and his daughter Lila will be there as well. Big dinner party Saturday - I'm in charge of the cupcakes. We'll be there for a week.

I am still applying for full-time jobs in Burnaby for administrative work. Still pending.

Looks like I'll be getting Lasik again - my left eye is -2.50 but the crew at Clearly Lasik checked me out today and it looks like my eyes are strong and healthy enough for a re-touch. I look forward to seeing Dr. King again!

I am working on organizing a list of businesses to solicit for donations to Burnaby Family Place. We had some nice postcards printed up, and now it's a matter of who to contact and what to ask for. Time consuming, but worth it. If I had the time I'd make a website for the centre, but there are SOOOOooooo many updates I need to do to fix this here old Daymented site I can never imagine when I could get it done. I want each entry to link to it's own page, which is daunting since I've been doing this for over 10 years.

Jon and Amy just bought a house 2 blocks down the road from our old house on Palatine in Seattle. They now have Benjamin, 3 and Annabelle, 17 months. I wish I could be there to welcome them to their new home!

Nina is getting easier but is still attached to me at all times possible. She's almost 22 months old and smart as a whip but if I'm in the room she gets all whiny and demanding. Therefore I am still leaving the house almost every night to run errands or whatever.

I am trying to start writing my book but looking at a blank page makes ME go blank, so Kristin has been asking me questions and I've been talking into a microphone attached to her laptop. We'll see if that helps. I'm talking all over the place but hopefully we'll have enough content to eventually put it in some sort of chronological order. It would be such a therapeutic relief to get it OUT.

Our friends that we know in Japan are accounted for and well (Tomoka Shigemi, Colum Fagan, Taka Sumpter's family, Andy Miller).

I am happy to feel that I have a good support system here - still adding new friends as much as I can. It was nearly impossible trying to figure out how to have so many great relationships as I had in Seattle, but thankfully after being here 5 years it is happening. And it feels good.

And one last thing I want to mention, because I haven't mentioned it yet and I think it's okay to talk about now. My step-brother Todd is gay. He came out of the closet to his wife Carrie when she was pregnant in her first trimester, and they went through counseling at their church and he also got his own therapist. He tried to make it work but obviously he couldn't. He's been gay this whole time but was fighting it because he's a good Christian and didn't want to burn in Hell. In the process, he hurt a lot of people by living this lie, and even got a baby daughter out of the experience, but he's gay now, sharing custody of their daughter Lila, and learning to live his new life. I am of proud of him for finding his true self. He was always a gaybo anyway (read the comments).

I miss you guys - I miss blogging.

Here I sit at Burnaby Family Place, as I usually do in the evenings after dinner, soon after Nina starts saying "MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA" repeatedly. Once I leave the house she chills, so I now find myself wandering the streets of North Burnaby for a hangout from 7-9 pm. I usually end up here at this community centre where we hang out because it's quiet, I can have tea, and I can usually connect to a default wireless that is unsecured. But tonight it's giving me grief.

And it's a bummer, really, as I looked forward to plugging in and Googling "How to choose a good orange". Such is the excitement during my evenings of freedom.

Nina's 18 months have come and gone - she's almost 20 months now. Her vocabulary is unbelievable, including counting to ten. I'm now teaching her to count to ten in Spanish. She runs up and down the hall with her Grandma Culver sway with her right arm folded (how my Grandma carried her pocketbook in the crook of her elbow) and the left arm out like a proper woman. She insists on taking the stairs herself, and I keep telling her "Not until you're two!" She will talk to me about things that happened months ago. She will lay in bed and just start saying members of our friend's and family's names, some pet names too, and she especially likes to say "Uncle Bucko!"

I have a babysitter, Carling, who comes to me from my good friends at Family Place as a Christmas gift, who all pitched in and purchased 16 hours of babysitting for me. It's a huge relief and I'm only annoyed that I didn't think I deserved a babysitter sooner. Even if she's here and Sean comes home, there is still so much we can get DONE while Carling keeps playing with them. I look forward to long days of the girls playing with her in the back yard while I do important stuff like take a shower or put laundry away.

My counselor is going on mat leave soon. My therapist left the hospital last summer. There's a support group I can go to, but I don't have child-care covered and it's right in the middle of Nina's nap time. I'm not too panicked, I just know I need to get a job. I am desperately trying to get my foot in the door with Pacific Post Partum Society because I would do whatever they need me to do, and in turn, I would feel supported and perhaps change my journey from hurting to healing by helping others. I've made so many Mama connections just since moving to Burnaby that I really feel that I can bring something to their society - I just need them to see that! Oh and did I mention that their office is about 7 minutes from my house? Sheesh!

So in the meantime, we are still plugging away with Sean working really hard just to find construction work and I am looking for work that makes sense with the child-care cost/balance. It's tricky. I still seek out friends each day so I don't feel claustrophobic in my house and that has helped greatly. I miss my old friends - I always realize it more just after someone visits me. It's almost like "Oh yeah, remember those 75 friends you used to have? Hmmm.... yeahhhhh...." Seattle gave me so much -- life.

The girls and I are going to Missouri in March for a family reunion on Kay's (my Dad's wife) side. We will all be meeting my brother's boyfriend Jeremy. My brother who just had a baby with his wife and just got divorced. Tough crowd. I will be baking cupcakes and topping them in hot pink raspberry buttercream in his honor. I love my gay brother. And he loves me.

Oh and just a heads up for those of you who find this important - Ever and I are already planning her 5th birthday party, dontcha know. It's going to be a tea party, girls only, in princess attire, with a hair-stylist and make-up artist on-hand, then tea, lemonade, and cute little sandwiches or something. Lip gloss for everyone. And a pinata full of glitter. You won't want to miss it, y'all. And you still have five months to book your flights!

Eighteen Months Old

And so the day is here - Nina is now 18 months old.
On Dec 23 we went to see Dr. Coates at 9:45. It was actually the only thing on our calendar for the day. Dr. Coates is our Pediatric Allergist who started Nina on her no wheat diet, and later put Ever on a no wheat and no rice diet (much tougher). On this visit he decided to let the girls try a "normal diet" again and see how they react.
Nina reacted as expected - loads of boogers again. Back to no wheat for her.
Ever is a bit harder to keep track of. She snores when she sleeps and she's a mouth-breather, but the foods may not be the issue - it could instead be her other environmental allergies - dust mites and grass and pollens, meaning she can eat a "normal diet" but will continue to be on inhalers morning and night, plus we have to get a good room air purifier for the bedroom. Like, the good ones, that zap 99.7% of crap in the air, not just 99%. Not only does Ever have these environmental allergies, but the downstairs neighbor smokes, and the air purifier will help greatly for that. Mom and Jeff got us the proper mattress and pillow covers, and once we move the girls into their own bedroom, we'll get a queen-size mattress cover for that room, too.
Did I mention the drugs? 4mg tabs of Singulaire for both girls - costing $50 per month - each. And that's the Costco price. So as soon as I get a job I will be thankful for Extended Health Insurance.

Christmas with Mom & Jeff was more than we ever could have imagined - I got tons of books and seasons two and three of Mad Men, but mostly I am thankful for the gift cards, which were NEEDED, to Costco, Target, Ikea, and Safeway. Sean got a Blu-Ray DVD player with all the bells and whistles, and a good hands-free set-up for his iPhone, plus two pairs of much-needed pajama pants. Oh and we got a new set of cordless phones since ours have been waning. And those super fluffy blankets for both our bed and the 2nd bed. The girls left cookies and milk for Santa, plus oatmeal and a dish of milk for the reindeer on the deck. Santa returned their favor with a baby doll for Nina, and Barbies for Ever, plus numerous other gifts for Mom & Jeff. It was an astounding morning. Sean is back to sleep.
Tomorrow I am heading out the door with gift cards clutched in my hand. Our plan is to change the second bedroom into "the girls' room" with some pink added here and there, and we hope to be able to get three Ikea dressers in there, as we will need them! So Target may be fun for the decor. The goal is to get the girls motivated to sleep together in THEIR OWN ROOM, and even if it takes a few months, it'll be helpful to have a fun pink room beckoning them.
Tomorrow afternoon we head back up to our house, where I will fitfully pack for Florida, as we leave the next morning. I am going alone with the girls for NINE DAYS and can not tell you how THRILLED I am to have Nina weaned. We are sleeping more. She is chilling more.

I made an exciting discovery today - although I haven't tested it out yet... but it turns out that my iPhone has a memo recorder, which is the one thing I really wanted to get started on writing my book. If I can record a whole slew of gibberish and whatever comes to my mind at the time, then I can sync it to my computer and hopefully be able to send the sound file to my Mom, who can type it out. This can go on as long as needed in whatever order it comes out - we can edit it later. But just knowing that I can start getting it out makes me feel a great sense of relief.

My Nina. She has dimples like Grandma Culver, and walks like Grandma Culver, with a pocketbook on her right elbow and her left hand out swaying like a proper lady. She shrieks most of what she says with such exuberance. She is one big handful of baby. And once we get her happy MOST of the time then things will get good. She still says MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA when I am anywhere in the room, and needs lots of stimulation and distractions, and she still cries and whines A LOT for no reason, but we're getting there.
One more note - we changed my meds now that I've weaned. We are now trying Zoloft instead of Cipralex, Seroquel in higher doses, and the Ativan still as needed. I have an appointment with a new psychiatrist when I get home from Florida Jan 7, and we will discuss how those changes have helped or not.

Merry Christmas, Everyone. Here's to a better new year.

Three Things
On Weaning with Postpartum Anxiety (i.e. Rage & Aggression)
On the Girls having Allergies
On the Gold Star on Christmas Day

I am still cuckoo and thoroughly believe that this relationship between Nina and I is at LEAST partially due to a bad batch of hormones coursing through my body starting with the pregnancy. I had depression during the pregnancy, I cried all the time and couldn't handle anything; and I had postpartum anxiety in the form of surviving on adrenaline alone, walking around in a tired caveman stomp whenever I was required to get out of bed and do ANYTHING. Brush my teeth, take a shower, comb my hair, remove the last four days' outfit from my body. Whatever the reason for this bad mix, I do believe that there is one big physical change to get this rollercoaster to slow down, and that's weaning Nina.

Nina wants my boobs out all day, in her face, to pinch, grab, bite, and sometimes suckle. She wants to be sitting on my lap against naked boobs. All the time. She is walking and talking up a storm and the majority of what she says is I WANT MOMMY or I WANT KHEE which for some reason is her word for nursing. It escalates until everyone in the room is yelling NINA NO KHEE SHEESH and I put her on the floor to pee/wash my hands/do the dishes and it's a wailing tantrum that is blowing our minds.

It's definitely a control thing, and her separation anxiety could very well be the result of my spending my entire days OUT of the house seeking safety in numbers and although Nina is WITH me, I am in a constant state of trying to pass her over to someone else or setting her down in a pile of playing kids to distract her. This helped, for a while, only now we are theorizing that this may have ramped up her separation anxiety, as I'm with her all day, but it's not directly - it's not one on one time. She will INSIST on MOMMY and KHEE when I am in earshot or in her line of vision at all times. I can spend all day WITH this girl while spending the whole day TRYING TO AVOID this girl. It's tough work. We keep on moving.

I wonder if my theory of these pregnancy/lactating hormones coursing through me since the pregnancy are cause for study. I really look forward to seeing what happens to both her and I when weaning is complete. I truly believe that I can not get mentally well until all physical signs and symptoms of nursing Nina are away from me. These hormones - it's been too long - what if they are part of the cause of all my mental health issues? Is there a connection? And how could it be PROVEN? Would you actually find a doctor out there to tell a postpartum mom to STOP nursing to feel better? We shall see....

I tried at Margeret's in Palm Desert because we were away from home and away from Sean (thinking he would be spared the heartbreaking cries for milk) and it worked for two days. I covered my boobs in vinegar every couple hours and Nina got mad mad MAD and once the vinegar evaporated a couple hours later she would latch right back on. It got stressful and we were all losing sleep, so after over two days of this system, I gave up. And that's when Nina went into PANIC MODE and decided that she wouldn't let any KHEE shenanigans occur again, not on her watch, and she has been asking for KHEE every 9 seconds all day and night.

Seriously - I get kicked out of the house most evenings after dinner because it's just so distracting. I leave, Nina knows I'm gone, and home life is relatively normal. As soon as she hears my steps on the stairs she starts with the I WANT MAMA I WANT KHEE and it lasts, non-stop, until there is a boob in her mouth. I am rushing to pee, brush my teeth, and get my jammies on while she sits on the bed wailing. It's stressful.

The vinegar didn't work, and I looked into some other options, but I found a new one that I'm going to try. There are some herbs that dry breastmilk - you usually take them after you have weaned so you aren't engorged. I am going to start taking them soon. Parsley, Sage, and Garlic (for the taste). I am getting them in capsules, and eating lots of cabbage for my meals too. I hope it doesn't exhaust my body drying my milk while Nina works harder to draw more milk which will make me produce the milk and you see the cycle there. I don't know. But I've GOT to give it a try and the only way Nina will stop nursing is if THERE'S NOTHING TO NURSE. I hope to order the pills on Amazon next week when we clear some space on our credit card ($28) and I will keep you all posted.

This leads us to the next subject, which could kinda be titled
Why I Should Try To Keep Nursing Nina as Long as I Can

Last October Nina was taken to an allergist (FINALLY) where we discovered a wheat allergy on her skin test. There was a little cat, shellfish, peanut, and soy, but the wheat was the glaringly obvious one. We immediately went out and bought all the rice pasta we could buy. We got rice bread, rice crackers, popcorn snacks, etc. IT WORKED. She actually started walking 2 weeks later (on her 15th month) and the allergist says this is from the lack of oxygen getting to her muscles. She's on a non-medicated puffer twice a day to help her relax and sleep and breathe better.

Last week we decided to get Ever's allergies checked, because she's a mouth breather and snores like her father. Sure enough, she allergic to dust mites, wheat, and RICE. So now we are stocking up on CORN pastas and revamping our meals to meat, veggies, and potatoes. Snacks are fruit or popcorn. We can do this.

The point is, I think that there is one more major diet change that could affect Nina, and that is weaning her. What if there's something in my diet, or again, my hormones, making her miserable? Certainly the fact that I whip out my boob with clenched teeth means I'm not releasing that heavenly closeness hormone that is supposedly released when you nurse.

The allergist was hopeful that Nina no longer eating wheat and no longer being a constant snot face means that something's working, but he also added a medicated inhaler to start this week. I won't even go into the fact that the downstairs neighbor smokes inside the house and burns his fireplace every single day all day when the weather is even the slightest bit chilly. We have to get an air purifier for our bedroom, special covers for every single mattress and pillow in the house, vacuum like crazy while the girls and I are away in Florida, and hopefully we can talk the landlords into cleaning the duct work, which we know hasn't been done in at least eight years. These are all steps that I hope will lead to a cleaner, healthier home for all of us.

There is a Gold Star in all of this, however - a psychological one.

There's been a magic number in my head since Nina was born. Nay, since BEFORE she was born. I've pretty much resigned to the fact that the baby stage is not my favorite stage, we all get that now. But still, there was a number in my head where I knew no matter how hard things were, someday, Nina would be eighteen months old. I don't expect a giant rainbow to come flying out of her ass that day, and expectations aren't as much for her but for me. Eighteen months was a magic number with Ever - it just got relatively easier. I liked her more. We had conversations. We chatted. We worked well together. We were happy to snuggle down in bed together for the night. Not to mention that a lot of fears about the baby getting smothered in the bed, choking on small pieces of food, eating pennies, and the like, would also let me breathe a sigh of relief. It's just that, I've been banking on that number for so long now, and the light at the end of the tunnel is near - I can see it. And it's Christmas Day. Nina will be eighteen months old. And maybe weaning and getting her allergies and her inhalers straight will take the edge off a lot of things. We go to Florida, just me and the girls, for 9 days around the New Year (OH what I wouldn't GIVE for Tomoka to join us) and it will be hard without Sean. But there will be the beach, the sunshine, the swimming pool, Disneyworld, and my family. My FAMILY.

I need to get a full-time job in January. I've got to get out of the house for both Nina's sake and my sake. She needs independence from me and I need a physical and mental break. Plus I look forward to using my caveman brain again. Sean wants to stay home with the girls, meaning I gotta find a bookoo job, although I secretly want Sean to find at least part-time work too, because I think both Nina and Ever deserve a play place to make friends and work on their social skills. We'll see what happens.

I miss you guys - my blog readers. I feel like this whole postpartum anxiety diagnosis ripped you off from content that used to include what cute shoes I wore today or what bands I hung out with, or at least cute pictures of Sean With Cats. A lot has changed at Chez Dayment and it's become not so funny and witty and whatever. I appreciate those of you who are still here. I appreciate those who tell me to write a book. I want to write it, I do, as a way of getting it all out and telling other Moms that they aren't crazy. Well maybe they are crazy but you can get help for crazy.
Stay tuned.

Ever, Nina and I are in Michigan/Indiana for six days visiting family and friends. It's funny how this means so much more as I get older. I mean, I always knew I had it good, and my father did a good job of always reminding me that we had it good, but it takes age and time to give Family the respect it deserves. Combine that with my mental health issues and coming here takes such a weight off of me.
When Maggi visited me from Seattle a couple months ago, and I was just so unwell, she reminded me that I had old friends in Seattle worth visiting. I hemmed and hawed and said they all have kids now, they are busy like me, they have their own lives, and she pointed out that these are people who knew me pre-kids; pre-illness. These are people who knew the Old Me. These are people that will make me healthier just by seeing them. I get it now - she was right. I love the community I have in Burnaby - I am making good friends in my mommy circle - but you shouldn't lose your way while climbing out of mental illness. Utilize everything and everyone. Talk it out. Your new friends will love you for who you are but your old friends will love you for who you were and always will be, even during/after major change. Being here with my family and old friends reminds me that I need to go to Seattle soon and visit that part of my life as well.
I am surrounded by Good People here. And being on a lake doesn't hurt, either! The weather is beautiful and leaves are changing and I feel better just by being here. The girls are having fun and I am resting. That's what this trip was meant to do.
I need to write a book. I have to get it out. I feel like I'm experiencing something that a lot of Moms are going through and they don't know that other people are going through it too. They don't know that they can get help before their children get snatched away. Brooke Shields wrote a book about going through postpartum depression and maybe it's a good book, I dunno. But she is a millionaire who can afford round-the-clock nannies and order cute kids clothes online while a cook makes healthy meals. She doesn't apply to me.
The way I see it, during my darkest days (and it just so happened to be winter in BC and dark outside most the time) my brain was probably functioning at about 15%. Now that could have been breastfeeding constantly, anxiety keeping me from sleeping, and the fact that I was surviving on pure adrenaline alone. But my brain couldn't maintain functionality. Pre-kids I could be working on a document, talking to someone at my desk, taking a call and transferring the call, and thinking about what to buy at the grocery store on the way home for our dinner party that night. Now, the loud dishwasher is running, Ever is on the couch shouting for a cup of milk, I am holding a baby that won't let me put her down, and the phone rings, and... that's it. My brain can't take that one last item and the emotional part of my brain shuts down to keep going. But once the emotional part shuts down then rage kicks in. I could cry, or yell, or just hear in my brain "I can't do this". It's chaos in my brain. Getting out of the house with two children requires food/snacks, a clean diaper on the baby, 4 sock and 4 shoes on the children, brushing teeth, brushing hair, stupid buckles on car seats, holding a baby and a bag, checking the weather for sweaters, spare diapers, cell phone, cash, coins, sippy cups, stroller, Ergo carrier, I mean you guys - the list goes on. This can be just to go to the damn grocery store. Oh Good God the grocery store. The quarter for the shopping cart, the list, Ever wants a pink milk from Starbucks, she will spill the pink milk, Nina wants in the cart on me walking back in the cart back on me walking over there I want this *poof* there goes the emotional part of my brain - gone.
My name is Stace. I am an educated 40 year old woman with a great husband, great family, great friends, and a great support system. And I have Postpartum Aggression. No, that's not a term yet. But once I write my book, it will be. And my book is going to scare the shit out of the people who know me. But my kids have NEVER been injured by me. They may have anxiety based on my behavior/reactions, and I regret that. But I am a survivor of a disease that I didn't know was a disease. For the first few months of my therapy, my therapist had to ask me each time - who was to blame here, you or the baby? And for months I still insisted that this wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Nina being such a tough baby. Months and months I still blamed Nina for this. I didn't respect Nina for about 13 months. And now she is just the most amazing kid and deserving of my love - both of them, of course. And I feel that my brain may be up to about 65% now. That's a BIG difference. My book will explain how I got there - it's too much to type out now. But just know that I no longer feel alone in this, and that's the biggest step.

Baby 101
Just before giving birth to my first baby, I remember this sudden need for a "list" of Things I Will Need when I had a baby around. I remember e-mailing some friends and I especially remember that Jessica (good Lord she made the farmhouse bed) wrote back a super long and personal e-mail that still makes me feel special to this day.
The point is, however, that every list will vary depending on, well, everything. Some women breeze through breastfeeding, some babies are super-poopers, some babies drool buckets, some mothers focus on the environmental issues while others focus on cost or efficiency or ease... etc. etc.
I did disposable diapers after my mother spent hundreds of dollars on Everything Cloth Diapers for us and after a few days of that black tarry meconium and scrub-scrub-scrubbing, we got a pack of Newborn Huggies and just never stopped stocking up on Huggies diapers. For some reason I've noticed boys do well in Pampers and girls do well in Huggies, I don't know why. Fit or something.
I had 50,000 breast pads and never used them. I had Lansinoh cream and never used it, then I was furiously searching for it in a box three years later when I had Nina. My biggest life-saver in the world, and the only reason I am able to breast feed to this day, was a nipple shield. There's just something about my boobs and babies that DO NOT combine well for about SIX MONTHS and I am so glad I struggled through it both times because I nursed Ever for two years and four months and I plan to nurse Nina as long as she wishes. If you breeze through nursing you obviously wouldn't need a nipple shield.
I was thankful for the dipes & wipes set because you will use it for years (as long as they are in diapers), so go ahead and splurge on a super-cute set because Lord knows you could use anything possible to be cheery and make you happy while changing a baby in a public bathroom.
I don't recommend getting a diaper bag until you go out a few times and decide what you need/want, and what annoys you.
A cheap, simple onesie (like even just a plain white one) in a ziploc freezer bag so when the baby has a blowout you have a change of clothes and a baggie to put the gross outfit into.
With Ever I needed bottles of water at every single nursing station throughout our house because nursing made me SO THIRSTY. With Nina, it didn't. (?)
THINK BEFORE YOU NURSE. Grab your phone, iPod, iPhone (whatever), make sure you are near a box of Kleenex, a drink for yourself, the TV remote, etc. Because the second that baby latches on the phone will ring, a dumb TV show will come on, you will be dying of thirst, have to pee, etc.
I love love love my Glamourmom tanks and wear one every single day under a normal shirt, and therefore don't need any nursing shirts. They are expensive but let me repeat: I wear one every single day. (They now make big boob tanks which have saved my life.) The "support" sucks though. Someday they'll make a perfect tank.
We have this bouncy seat thingie that someone brought into the Starbucks I was working at (at the time) and it was SO VERY USEFUL but I think they recalled all of that style of bouncy seats because you can NOT find it anywhere online (except used) - I think the walls on the side must have been a SIDS risk. Too bad. We loved it.
We used a Bumbo seat for months and Nina is ten months old now and STILL uses it for some meals on the dining table.
Advice: when one parent is in the shower, pass the baby to them to hold in the water and snuggle and let the water run on them. Once the baby can sit up on their own, with plenty of padding/a good tub mat, let the baby sit on the floor of the shower (easier in a flat stand-up shower) and they will chill out on the floor of the shower and get used to water in their face/eyes/on their head. Then you can have the baby in the shower with you AND they won't be afraid of water. Later, the other parent can come get the baby and dry them off and dress them. Once the baby is older, you can do this yourself and leave them in the shower if you trust their strength and the padding around them while you dry off and put something on and then get them out. I am blessed with two bath-and-shower water-loving girls because of this daily habit.
I could go on and on here, but the point is: You are not just having a baby and then you take care of it. Instead, you about to discover what makes YOU a mother - and there is no list for that.
Good luck as you embark into a whole new world. Even when it's crazy, don't forget that This Will Be The Only Time She's Eleven Days Old or This Is The First Time I Can See His Eyebrows or She Won't Always Look Directly At Me When She's Pooping. You know, those OH MY GOD I'M SOMEONE'S MOM moments.

Spring Forward
Having Sean as his own employer in construction has its good times and bad. The benefits usually outweigh the bad, which is why he is still in construction/renovations, instead of getting a "real" job. It would be nice if he had covered/extended health benefits. It would be nice if he had paid sick days or vacation days. Pension, taxes done for him, etc. You know. The responsible stuff.
But overall it's been great having him in this field of work. Not only is his head exploding with all that he's learned, and his body is looking great, but he can also charge a decent hourly rate while working.
Ahem, while working.
I can't count how many times it has happened since we moved here (August 2005) that Sean has informed me that there is no foreseeable work in the future. None. Usually joblessness starts "after Friday" or "after next week" but a few times it was even "no work starting tomorrow". It's stressful - those words: no work, laid off, overbid. You think of bills, rent, my stupid looming minivan repairs that never go away, groceries.
That's what YOU think.
You know what I think?
Yep, that's right. While I'm mentally throwing dollar bills out the window and setting our valuables (HAHAHAHA) on fire, I'm also secretly dancing a jig inside my heart.
On a normal night where Sean works the next day, he does most of the bedtime routine while I run around trying to put the leftovers into the fridge and stack dishes and put away laundry, etc. This has to be done without Nina seeing me or there will be howling involved. It's a dance between Sean holding Nina, and I.
At 9 p.m. we go to bed, and by we, I mean myself with the girls. In our family bed. Sean tucks in all three of us and I get the girls to sleep (which can take up to an hour), and I "sleep" as well. Meaning I have a monkey attached to my boobs in the front and a three-year old koala bear piggy-backing my back. While I lay on my side in a weird twist that I have to do to keep from crushing Ever and smothering Nina. (This is also the reason why I can't take a "real" dose of Seroquel to help me sleep - only a cute little fashionable dose to take the "edge off" even though I need much, much more than an "edge" off.). It's been this way since Nina & I moved back into our family bed when Nina was six months old. Nina stays attached to my chest all night and nurses every 1-2 hours, and by 4 or 5 a.m. gets fidgety and my back is pretty much screaming by then. By 6 a.m. it starts to wake Sean and Ever, and Sean will put Nina in the swing and join her in the 2nd bedroom (where we keep the swing and a queen bed). This is all well and good unless Sean then wakes me at 6:40 and says "sorry - I gotta go to work" and he's handing me a grumpy, snot-covered kicking monster who can't sleep and clearly needs to blame it all on her Mama.
My back has been abused for four months now, and I haven't slept well since I was about nine weeks PREGNANT with Nina, so the whole Going Cuckoo From No Sleep is the story of my life for over a year now.
Do you see? Do you see the beauty in this?
And we're not just talking hold this baby, my friends, we're talking MORNING SHIFTS. The shift that I will have to work if he has to work a "real" job (i.e. be somewhere at 7 or 8 a.m.) The shift that begins at 6ish a.m. and lasts until SWEET JESUS NINE OR TEN A.M. when he's not working. While he's MAKING PANCAKES I am sleeping more than two hours IN A ROW and having the most bizarro dreams because my brain is stocking up on everything that it found confounding since THE LAST TIME I slept more than two hours in a row. When I finally drag my ass outta bed Nina's just going down for her morning nap (I know! I KNOW!) and Ever's throwing on jeans for a TRIP TO THE PARK. They return, spent and hungry, and Sean fixes them a HOT LUNCH. You couldn't BUY this, folks. Okay yes you could, but wouldn't dare unless you were a celebrity. He sings and dances while loading the dishwasher, taking a shower, playing outside, folding laundry, and as it happens my heart already aches to hear those words - those words he puts off for the last, last eensy moment so as not to ruin my mood for any longer than necessary:
"I'm working tomorrow."

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