Sunday, May 23, 2010

Postpartum Depression: 1 week out (I Want My Mommy !!)

Baby is one week old now and I'm not depressed. I haven't even had the baby blues. What I am is anxious. Well, that and charmed by sweet new little one. And feeling quite blessed to have three other beautiful children. And excited for what the future holds.

But, really, I'm feeling pretty anxious.

See with each baby my mom comes out to visit and takes over the cooking and the laundry and the cleaning. She coos over the funny faces that my baby makes. She plays with the older kids. She chats with me through the somewhat endless hours of nursing.

And then she leaves. As in gets driven to the airport and flies across the five states that separate us and goes home to my dad and little sister.

That's usually when I start to lose it. Turns out I'm a pretty good mom when I not the only mommy in the house. But when it's just me I get easily overwhelmed.

Knowing this, we've planned. I started taking Paxil just after Baby was delivered. My husband is taking some time off work next week. And, since school is almost out, I'm going to my mom's so that she can keep mom-ming me and my brood a little more. We're calling it a family reunion (except my brother can't come, which makes it not much of a reunion at all!), but I think we all know that it's actual just a bunch of people willing to sacrifice so that I don't go crazy.

And that makes me feel overwhelmed in a whole new way. A good way. There are people who love me and when I ask them for help they are willing. Even when it means getting overrun by hordes of preschoolers!

Everybody needs a mommy. Especially when you are a mommy. I wonder how many cases of PPD could be ameliorated if we were all able to mom each other a little more.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

She's Here!

I know you all wanted me to leave up my awesome painted belly pics a little longer, but I had to let you know: Baby #4 is here!

I'm sure I'll blither-blather more about the birth in the future but for now I'll just say we are both doing well--my mood didn't crash like it has in the past, but I am still being cautious and keeping an eye out for the crazies--and leave you with a pic.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Art/Body Connection

Well, my due date is tomorrow and . . . no baby! I have never been THIS pregnant. All my other kids were born early.

With my previous pregnancies the last month was the hardest. The depression usually set in around 35 weeks and it was a slow slide into Unhappy Land. Not so this time. This last month has actually been fun. A little crazy, but fun. Maybe it's because I was so busy during the rest of the pregnancy that these last few weeks have been my only chance to really think about this new little person that's been gestating inside me.

To be honest, though, last Monday was a terrible day. I didn't sleep well. I woke up exhausted. I had no patience with my children and no motivation to do anything but lay on the couch. My children watched movies for the bulk of the day and I stared at the wall. I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't time to break out my antidepressants.

But things turned around for me Tuesday. I think that's because, well, Monday was a bad day and people have those occasionally without actually being depressed. I forget that sometimes. Also, I think Tuesday was a better day because I had something to look forward to--and it's something I would heartily recommend to other mommies nearing the end of pregnancy--Belly Painting!

A friend of mine, Julia Cameron Damon, is multi-faceted, multi-talented woman who specializes in the art of body painting and photography. I've seen a lot of her portfolio and have found her work at turns whimsical, confrontational, enchanting, and instructive. So when she approached me about painting my extremely pregnant belly I wasn't sure what to say, but I decided this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I might as well experience it.

It was so fun! I was surprised by how relaxing it was and how much I enjoyed the process. I'm the kind of gal who likes to invest meaning in things so Cam and I approached things from an Earth Mother/all creations point to the Great Creator vibe. Because one thing I love about pregnancy is the connection it creates between me as a creative being and Heavenly Father as a creative being. As Elder Uchtdorf said, "But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things. If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them."

Cam did a beautiful job by starting with earth tones and layering in some beautiful jeweled branches to reflect the eternal growth that my new baby's mortality is a part of.

The truly surprising thing, though, about all this was how after awhile the meaning became secondary to the product. The meaning behind it all was beautiful for me, but after staring at my resplendent belly in the mirror and seeing the photos I couldn't get over how pretty it all was. That I was pretty. That even in my incredibly bulbous and swollen state, I was doing something beautiful. Those feelings pointed me back to the mystery that is pregnancy and birth and filled me with positive emotions. The paint served to accent the beauty of human life and our connections to the eternities. It's like, God made magnolia trees and kingfishers and mountains and clouds because they are beautiful. And for a little while, I felt like I had tapped that feeling of beauty and made it part of my own body. It was a mystical experience that still has me smiling.

All images in this post are copyrighted and are not to be used without the express permission of Julia Cameron Damon

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on Motherhood (No Baby Yet)


I'll be 40 weeks on Saturday and no baby yet. I guess that's a good thing, but I am starting to get tired of this. I've never gone overdue, but there's a first time for everything!

Anyway, being astronomically pregnant on Mother's Day was an interesting experience. People around me kept hoping I'd go into labor because it would be so poetic to be in labor on such an auspicious day. I kept thinking I didn't want to share a day that is supposed to be about me with someone else! Then I realized, as I got kids ready for Church and walked with them through the hallways and tried to fulfill my Primary calling, the only reason Mother's Day meant anything was because it WASN'T about me. It's really about my kids and the fact that I am willing to try and corral them into some semblance of civility in the hopes that someday they will quit being just kids and turn into people.

Anyway, kudos to the rest of the women out there who bravely put up with the children (and sometimes man-children) around them in the name of the greater good. Being a mom is an awesome, awe-inspiring job. But it's also the hardest thing a gal can do. So, if you're like me (and every other woman in existence) and you're one of those women who wonders if you're really doing a good job and if it really matters and if it's really worth it I'll tell you, "Yes!" Even when the sentiment and the nostalgia have been wiped from your heart and the only thing facing you is the muck and hard work of mom-ing, I'll still say this is the most important thing you can do.

So much of the value in mothering is the fact that the women of the world keep showing up--even when it's hard and they're making mistakes. Mothers don't let your imperfections of their own imperfections or the any other imperfections stop them from loving you.

We attended my husband's grandma's funeral last Friday and I was amazed at what one woman could accomplish in a lifetime. She did a lot of the homey, stereotypical woman things like make afghans and cookies--which she enjoyed and were worthwhile and blessed people. But the thing most people remembered? Her hearty laugh, strong handshake, and the fact that she always looked you in the eye when she spoke to you. They were simple things that have reached across generations. That is what's at the heart of being a mother.

So, I'm going to go mom my kids now and wonder what on earth is actually going to expel this new being from my body. And remind myself, that even when it's not pleasant, even when it's dirty and hard, it's worth it.