Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ugly Duckling Deemed Slightly Less Ugly

During class the other night I was trolling the gossip blogs and found this picture of Susan Boyle, the instant ugly duckling star born to the media via "Britain's Got Talent". At this point I am wondering... am I the only one that sees where this woman's makeover is headed? Look out Ricky Gervais... this woman is a hairdresser with a flat iron and an inappropriate Holocaust joke away from taking your job.

The Heat

Summer is coming to this town like a masked villain creeps down the hall heading towards your room. The spring breeze is the eerie music and with every warm wind that blows through my window I know the heat approaches.

Today, I was flipping through some pictures we have taken with the new camera and I found this one of Cohen. We stayed at Grammy's last weekend and I took Cohen out to run an errand with me. In the car on the way home she told me that Grammy had promised her an ice cream cone. I drover he through the McDonald's and asked for a child's cone - which of course big fat McDonald's cannot comprehend. As I handed her the large cone piled high with chocolate goodness I knew it would lead to the christening of her new car seat.

On the brighter side, she was so happy and I think this photo encompasses the only good feeling a hot day could ever bring me.


So it begins. I remember for years the only activity in which I could bond with my annoying little brother was the sacred art of watching "toons". Look at their little mesmorized faces. I will look at this picture years from now and want for a time when he wasn't so jealous of her friends he pees on their things when they sleep over (Yeah, my brother did that). I will want for the time when they could be together peacefully without bitching about what shit parents Dan and I are because they have united in their desire for Pay Per View Cable or the right to drive our cars. These are the days.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On the Rise

I don't have long, but I know as well as you do that posting a video after a terribly depressing blog does little to quell the downright sad vibe that been coming out of ole' Dooby and the Bean.

Things are looking up. Yesterday I saw the naturopath and psychiatrist. These were two bold steps forward, and by facing this depression instead of letting it defeat me - even when every bone in my body was saying "Just stay down" - I feel better. Way better.

I took a single dose of Sepia 30C - and talked honestly with some professionals. The naturopath spent two hours with me. Every time I would expel my frustration or self loathing over something to the point where I had nothing left to complain about she would look at me and say, "What else?" She asked that so many times over the course of two hours that I felt completely and utterly expressed when our time was through.

I had my mom watch Coco for me and just brought Merrick. What trouble could the baby cause as long as I fed and nursed and changed him right? Seriously, can you believe I still make these mistakes?

Merrick began cutting his first tooth during this meeting. You're joking, Lawton. Surely you exaggerate. Not 45 minutes into the meeting he has woken up, nursed from both breasts, shit his pants so ferociously that it blew through his pants onto my pants, and screamed for 15 minutes until he passed out with his head on my shoulder. The good thing was that I felt his behavior only helped my case as I was seeing this woman for a remedy for being completely exhausted and overworked. This doctor keeps her office very warm, which is like torture for me. The only thing worse for me that a hot day is being stuck in a small hot room. It just makes me want to barf out everything that is bothering me as quickly as possible so I can get my sweaty little palms on my remedy and get the hell out of there. Maybe that's her goal. It worked for me.

From what I understand about homeopathic remedies, if they are going to work for you they work immediately. Sometimes they can make your original symptoms worse before they get better, but this is a quick cycle. A friend of mine jokes that every time she sees her naturopath and gets a remedy she calls her doc the next day and says, "Help, I feel like shit!" and the doc replies, "Good, that means we got the right one!" Within a day or two the remedy does what it is supposed to and she ends up feeling great.

I have yet to feel a down swing, possibly why my doctor only gave me one dose, but I am feeling better today. I know that all of the talking yesterday and the general pride in having faced this depression are making me feel better too, but I just wanted to get it out there - I am feeling better.

I do stand by seeing your own naturopath or doing your own research. I would hate for someone to have ended up on my site looking for help or support and have my remedy fail them. Do not just try what I have stated worked for me. I am only writing about the remedy to disclose what worked for me. Each person is different. In the same way that my blush makes me look like I just woke up, refreshed after a night of mind blowing orgasms but if you try it on with your complexion it might make you look like a whore. Or is not how I just described the way it looks on me? Whatever, you get the point.

A Picture,
in case you wondered
what a 17lb. shit machine looks like.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Takes One to Know One

Her persistence and patience is shocking considering this is the same kid that asks me for gum 25 times a minute until she gets it. I guess when you irritate at that level of annoyance you can soothe at that level as well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Neck and Neck

Postpartum depression is the vehicle in which a parent's shame can catch up to a parent's love until the two emotions are neck and neck. In a case of the baby blues where the mother is weepy and overly emotional, the love rallies and beats out the shame in a neat 6 week period. When the shameful behavior surpasses the love, in either a singular act or over a duration of time a mother can find herself dealing with the opposite extreme - postpartum psychosis.

During my postpartum depression with Cohen I entered into therapy when she was 6 months old. Looking back at my blog it looks like I was trying to keep it funny. I didn't blog honestly about the depression and in retrospect I know why.

I didn't understand that it was the postpartum depression making life so hard then. I thought I was crazy. I blogged about my zany stories and tried to make light of a dark and secretive time. Back then Dan could still come out the hero and I would blog about his stepping in and saving me from myself in some funny way. Readers assured me that I wasn't crazy. That, in fact, I seemed like a great mom. My blog was a great source of comfort when Cohen was born. What I heard from my readers was, "You are not crazy." One reader even said I "didn't sound fat." With some therapy and a great sigh of relief I eventually began to feel normal.

I knew before I had Merrick that I would have to face my postpartum demons again. However, this time I would be prepared. I knew what to expect because I had felt it before. I would recognize it as postpartum depression instead of questioning my constitution as a sane person. I still had a loving husband and in addition to that I had a daughter for whom I needed to keep it together.

Unfortunately, all my understanding and preparation, all my love for my husband and son and daughter went the way of all the king's horses and all the king's men... ultimately these things alone could not restore me to my pre-pregnancy state. In the same way that my pregnancy symptoms varied in my subsequent pregnancy so has the severity of my postpartum depression.

For now, in an attempt at sweeping honesty I will disclose the following;

Recently a friend of mine had one of her children bring home head lice. After delousing the house, canceling weekend plans, and picking nits for two days straight she ended up having to do it all again a week later because some nits were left behind and the infestation started all over again.

In the first week my friend had planned to tell the parents of a few of the neighborhood children - just as a precaution. As in, "Hey, I know our kids play together all the time, just want you to know we found lice on our kid, you might want to check yours - just to be safe." Courtesy. Except my friend's husband let the kid out to play and my friend found her kid at play with another neighborhood kid. The information she had planned to share as a courtesy could quickly become the source of her admonition. So she kept it to herself. Never told the other parents. Canceled plans for made up reasons. Holed up in the house until every nit was dead.

I tell this story because it is a lot like how I have been dealing with my postpartum depression. In retrospect it will seem manageable. One day laughable. Perhaps in the passing of just one more week I will be able to turn and say, "Wow, wasn't that awful." But this depression is alive for me now. It is active. I can be honest enough to say that it is shameful, difficult and sad. It has been scary this week, but as of tonight, this week has passed. Still, to be honest, I have no idea what next week will bring. I could be writing about Cohen's birthday or Erin's visit or all of the amazing-ness that is baby Merrick but I can't. I am frozen most days. I use every ounce of my energy to make each day the best I can for my kids, and I still fail some days. Today Cohen and I baked sugar cookies. Earlier this week we went to the water park. But last Monday I laid on the couch with Merrick on my breast all morning unable to move, to get up, to start my day and Cohen just flickered around me like a moth to her flame. Opening and closing her singing Shrek birthday card in my face. Watching cartoons and rambling to me about Scooby Doo and birthdays as I drifted in and out of sleep. Looking back it is no different than how a mother gets through the flu. There is no one to help everyday. Some days you get sick and you just do the best you can. Until you get better.

I am seeing a psychiatrist and my naturopath next week. The psychiatrist for the depression and the naturopath to aid in my treatment since I equate giving up breastfeeding completely with pushing my kid off a bridge (yeah, I think it is that important to breastfeed - call me crazy if you haven't already). I feel it is important that I have a back up plan when I go to see a psychiatrist who I cannot imagine will say anything other than - "I'll trade you your baby for a handful of pills. Seriously crazy, hand over that baby."

I am going to list the remedies that my good friend B. found for me. It was after reading these remedy descriptions that I considered seeing the naturopath at all. Before B. shared this with me I was in state of panic that the only way out of this depression would be through abandoning breastfeeding. Devastation. Never a good mix with depression.

So on my worst day I turned to my friend B. who gave me some light. Some hope. Some sense. With no judgement. Then I turned to Dan. Who cannot save me this time. But who stands by me knowing that, and sees me through this depression. I told him the truth about everything I was feeling. And I cried. He listened. Even though I could not hear him at the time, days later I remembered what he said and knew it had helped. He told me I was strong. That inside of me I had the strength to see my way through this even when it felt as if I had nothing. That I choose how I live my life. I choose.

This morning I was on the phone with B. We were laughing and that is particularly wonderful because before having Merrick we had not been in touch as often as either of us would have liked. But she visited when I had him and we rekindled our friendship in a great way. So mid laugh this morning, I had to take another call. I told her I would probably talk to her soon. It's what we always say. She said she would talk to me tomorrow. Great, I said. And if not tomorrow I'd be sure to call this weekend. Then, in the warmest voice without an ounce of condescension she said, "I'll be calling you tomorrow," and I knew that she was going to call everyday until I see that doctor. You're a good friend B.

Me and Merrick @ 3 mo.

I hope that every woman that struggles with postpartum depression has someone that loves them like those that love me and I hope they recognize it like I do. As a resource for anyone working with postpartum depression or if you know anyone this would help - reading about these remedies is a good jumping off point towards a treatment plan.

1. CIMICIFUGA: for excessive moroseness, negativity, strange or irrational fears, or alternating physical symptoms like grimacing or freaky arthritic or neuralgic (nerve) pains.

2. PULSATILLA: emotional reactions are too readily adaptable to every outside force or influence at the expense of their own inner needs. The choice of this remedy should be confirmed by the typical indications like intolerance of warm rooms, overeating or rich food, or emotional excitement and improvement from cool, fresh air, drinking fluids, and simple caring or warm emotional contact.

3. SEPIA: The leading remedy for miscellaneous postpartum complaint, SEPIA is of particular benefit to women who feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for others, insufficiently appreciated for their efforts, and involuntarily or unconsciously "turned off" to their spouses and children as a result. Typical examples might include an overly dutiful wife and mother prone to exaggerated outbursts of anger or sadness or a successful professional woman ambivalent about whether or how much to defer her own career plans. In both cases, the impression is of someone worn down, dispirited, and resentful of her obligations to her loved ones, wanting to be alone and quiet, with the usual physical symptoms like bearing-down sensations in the pelvis, a loss of muscle tone in general, and a marked improvement from vigorous exercise.

4. IGNATIA: Indicated in situations colored by acute grief, sorrow, or disappointment and resulting in contradictory or anatomically "impossible" symptoms. Other signs of an overly sensitive or irritable nervous system should also be present, such as craving for or intolerance of drugs and stimulants, insomnia, or simple "nervousness".

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lucky Dog

In marriage, it is imperative that each person find a way to relieve stress. Dan plays his XBox when he gets the chance, or works on one of the cars. I watch late night television and try to sell the puppy once a month.

Labrador Mastiff Boxer Mix

Dexter is 15 months old. He is a great pup - great with my two kids, other dogs. House broken and crate trained. We have had him for about 8 months. We also have a dominant male bulldog. Recently the male bulldog has gotten aggressive towards the pup and we need to rehome the pup. It breaks my heart to let him go, so only the most loving home will be considered. He is a people pleaser and you will not find a better behaved dog. Hopefully someone with kids. Email with any questions.

He is a big dog - still a lanky puppy but filling out more everyday. He stands about 28 in. high and weighs about 85lbs. so far. Will fill out more. Probably get to be over 100 lbs. so you must have a yard. No apartments. He will need lots of exercise. Likes frisbee and is working on fetch.

Also answers to Dexyloo. Loves scrambled eggs and peanut butter. Does well with other dogs. Defends himself with bulldog. Actually he has really put a beating on the bulldog. Ripped up both of his ears. Left a huge knot on the top of his head. Jumps. A lot. Likes babies.

He loves going for walks so you will need to walk him daily. Likes to sleep with his face on your chest when allowed in the house. Will eat furniture, clothing, power wire, cable wire and tires (bike and motorcycle - has yet to develop a taste for tricycle tires).

I really love him and want a good home for him. I just don't have the time to give him the attention he needs. My daughter is just going to be devastated without him. She sits outside of his kennel and feeds him though the grated door. He is very gentle with the baby.

I don't know. Maybe I should keep him. He already loves us. He may not even like you. Might eat your baby. I don't know. He's beaten the shit out of our bulldog, God knows what he could do to your baby. I mean, we live in walking distance to the dog park - where do you live?

This dog is ugly. I know it and you know it. Can you see past his looks? Really? Are you going to be wiling to trim the facial dingle berries he gets in his dragon beard? Even when you can't tell if its mud or shit on him? Even after I tell you there have been times it hasn't been mud? Yeah. He's a turd eater. We have had to buy a special outdoor trash can to keep shitty diapers in because Dexter will tear them open and eat the shit out of them like a fat kid tearing into an individually wrapped Tootsie Roll.

He's a genius. And he's mine. He learns tricks super fast. Chases birds. Barks at passing trucks. Responds well to neglect. Is resilient. Forgiving. Only a year old, he probably won't remember this time where I have to keep him in the kitchen or backyard all the time because of the new baby. And the toddler. And the bulldog. And my general inability to pick up clothes and toys from the floor. Seriously, get your own dog. Don't you have better things to do than to harass a new mother about giving away her perfectly good dog?
  • Location: Phoenix
Dan does not approve of this outlet. He periodically scans the pet section of craigslist. I used to think he just liked to look at the pups an imagine the day we live on a ranch and I allow him to have 27 dogs with which he can roller blade not unlike Cesar Milan. Now I see that he wants to ensure that I am not going to get rid of his dog in some hormonal outburst.

Would I throw a dog up on craigslist because of my hormones? Yes. If you think I suck for that I can direct you to at many places in this blog where I have done worse. When Dan busted me for posting the ad this week and argued his love for the dog was reason enough to keep it I explained why I posted the ad.

I am maxed out in my marriage. Maxed out with my children. At my limit with my school work. Exhausted from lack of sleep. And I am riddled with guilt about the fucking dogs. Someone has to go. Something has to give. I asked Dan to look at my list of complaints and tell me what he would cut. Nothing gives.

There is no resolution here. I took a few phone calls from people interested in the dog and no one was good enough. I simply could not imagine my future without this stupid dog in it. So here I am. Stressed. Exhausted. Bitchy. Covered in dog hair. And loved. I bust my ass for these kids, these dogs, this man in my life and what do they give me but a messy house and a love that often feels like a firework going off in my chest. I can make that work for now. I can make this work.

Lucky dog.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Recital

Today was Cohen's first recital. It was the end of her drama class. It was the end of the first thing I ever signed her up for that I had to get up early every Saturday to take her to. It is the successful end of an endeavor to get her to make some new friends so that when her birthday arrives next week she will have her first party with friends instead of just adults.

Grandma had to take her to drama last week because Dan and I were working, and when she brought her home she said she had talked to Grandpa about what Cohen does at drama and he decided he wanted to come see her recital.

Drama was a closed class. I dropped Cohen off and sat in the hallway for 45 minutes with the other parents every Saturday for the past few months. No windows. No intermission. Just coffee and adults.

I was so desperate to be liked when we arrived that first week. I have no local mommy friends and the parents there seemed fun and funny. My kind of moms. But like a big chicken shit I brought a book and cooed over the new baby - who was only 2 weeks old at the time. I thought for sure he would be an icebreaker but nil. Just a "He's cute, blah blah blah," as you were.

By the second week I left the book at home and "put myself out there" a little more, reminding myself that while these other parents seemed like capable people they were not mind readers. They could not hear me thinking witty retorts to their jokes and comments. And what do you know, at the end of week two, with some out loud participation on my part, some friendships were sprouting.

Two weeks before her final performance I handed out the invitations to her 3rd birthday party. It is amazing the childhood insecurities that resurface when handouts or invitations are involved. Will anyone RSVP? Will anyone come? Will I buy a bunch of puppy party favors and drain my soul into hand crafted home made cupcakes only to end up with another year of watching her grandparents give her all the things her father and I can't afford? That blows.

I spent the past two months harvesting relationships with the other parents in the hall, staying after class to play and share snacks so that Cohen could have the chance to have a real party. Just because I can't manage to make friends locally and can only bond with anyone via Verizon Wireless does not doom Cohen to the same fate. My goal was to see children playing at her party. To hear what a kid in this family sounds like when their friends show up.

I didn't have that when I was kid. I moved a lot because of my dad's job. Often times I didn't know anyone at my school. When we did stay in one town long enough my parents' reputation did not take long to precede my party invitations. My parents were alcoholics with a zest for life that could not be contained. Not when I was having a friend sleep over. Not when I ran out of friends that would come for sleep overs anymore.

My best friend in the fifth grade was Becky Rice. Her mom worked at the Christian Church in town. My dad would stand in the back of the kitchen, blaze up a dooby and slam back schlitz with my mom late into the night. Until someone would say something and a fight would break out. He punched through a window on the front of the house that night. I remember when Becky told me she couldn't come over anymore because she had told her parents what had happened. I remember not understanding why she would have told them. Didn't she know they would never let her come back? Only at 31 did I realize - yeah... maybe she did. She was scared. She didn't want to come back, and who could blame her.

The level of anger, alcoholism and drugs that had become a hum in the background to my childhood was a deafening blast in hers. And while I consider myself a predominantly functional person these memories circle me like sharks when I pass out invitations to this day.

But I did what I do when I face adversity. I overcame my fear, got past myself, and lightened the fuck up. gave myself the pep talk, "It's a 3 year old's birthday party not a remake of Carrie, get over yourself."

So I handed out the invitations and right off the bat got enough responses that when I walked into her class this morning to watch her recital the traveling song from the opening of Madagascar ran through my head. "My peoples, my peoples, take me to my peoples!" But the song wasn't playing for me, it played for Cohen.

The other little girls in Cohen's class are so much like her. As much as I love the uniqueness that is my daughter and as much as I enjoy the compliments we get regarding her uncanny ability to bring virtually anyone to their knees with her candid nature I am overjoyed to see her in the company of other like herself. Every kids deserves that at some point, no matter how long it ends up lasting.
My parents had called and said they would be running late. I'd be a better person if I were the type to lie and say I felt no anxiety about my father coming into this part of my world. After a life of hard living my father is 4 years and 2 months into a 5 year life expectancy. He is in end stage renal failure, a diabetic with a heart full of stents, missing most of his small intestine and colon. His veins are so fragile, so small, he has to be checked into the hospital to have anything administered intravenously. In a freakish combination of the terrible pain he lives with daily and a lifetime of addiction he consumes between 120-160mg of Oxycodone a day. He drives an electric wheelchair and frequently passes out with his hand still on the lever keeping the cart in motion.

So while I am sitting at the recital enjoying Cohen's performance and thankful for Merrick's quiet attentiveness... while I am counting my RSVP "eggs" -so to speak- "before they hatch" I am also wondering how it will go when my father enters the room. Will he be on his motorized scooter? Will he unapologetically run over a child's foot? Will he have talked my mother into extra pills for the special occasion (something he does often) and have that weird wandering eye thing going on where he takes too much pain medication and the eye he is blind in roves the room half open while his good eyes stares without shame?

When the door opens, fifteen minutes into the recital, I can see my mother is pushing my father in his regular wheelchair and I am prematurely relieved.

They cross the length of the room and I am glad he has come. I appreciate that he feels he missed my recitals and wants to be here for Cohen's. I try to remind myself as he talks too loudly that he is old and unique. I try to value his child like nature as he interrupts the children to try to talk to them as they put on their performance. I fake a smile when I see that as I am across the room taking pictures my mother has chosen this moment to have my father hold Merrick for the first time. I go about what I was doing until the moment is broken as Dan and I meet eyes, both wondering what the source of some horrific sound is. It's a low groan. I can only describe it as the sound you might hear listening through the door while a grown man labors out a huge shit. A drunk face down in his own barf growling a feeble protest to accusations he has had to much to drink. Perhaps the sound is not verbal - originating from some other orifice all together. No. The sound is my father growling at my baby in his arms.

I am mortified as I look over at a wall filled with parents holding video cameras trying to tape what is probably also their daughter's first recital. I imagine them playing their video for friends, for the kids when they are older, for anyone ever and I imagine my new friends having to answer the question, "Oh my God? What is that weird sound? Was a dog dying next to you? Were there 15 bobcats in heat in unison behind your camera?"

The growling is meant to soothe the baby, I assume, but instead scares him. Merrick begins to cry and with no regard for the performance my father again raises his voice and waves his free hand at me to say, "Er, Lawton, do you have a... a... (searching for the word) a nipple?" My embarrassed mother exclaims sharply, thereby making it worse, "A pacifier Brandon, not a nipple!"

Dan catches my eye just in time to make funny what, without him in my life, would be just another horrendous afternoon at the fate of my parents.

Another funny thing happened then... life went on.

I was the girl with the weird dad again, only instead of getting high in front of my Christian school mates he donned a pain medication induced lazy bug eye and made inappropriate remarks throughout my daughter's first recital. And I was still me. Nothing was lost.

Dan and I took my parents and the kids to IHOP after the show and my dad dined like a king. Demanding more butter for his pancakes, asking for the "god damned ketchup", and holding his cup up for the waiter to refill his coffee. He joked about how Merrick could only think of food as I put on my nursing cover to breastfeed. He almost stood leaning back in his wheel chair to get the waiter's attention when I needed syrup and no one was paying attention to me.

In his element, when I visit him at his house and he is just Grandpa in the wheelchair he is always getting in trouble for running into walls and tables in his electric scooter, for passing out with full cups off coffee in hand. Out of his element he could do something for me by getting the waiter to bring me syrup, and he almost fell out of his wheel chair trying.

He couldn't pay for the meal. My mom handles the money. He couldn't offer to let Cohen ride from the recital to the restaurant, I had the car seat. And he couldn't sit quietly through a recital because he was unable to contain his excitement at seeing children run and play while he got hold a baby!
Wow. It took writing this out to get that.

Life is deep right now and I am wading. Focusing more on not falling than journal-ing my route right now. I am adjusting to being a mother of two. I have a lot of issues resurfacing as my father's health continues on the roller coaster of "I could pack the next 5 years of your life with embarrassing or frightful moments or I could just die tomorrow." Postpartum has never come easy to me.

Thanks for killing those tulips Cori - it was just what I needed.