Thursday, June 30, 2005

postpartum depression: realizing something wasn’t right

A year ago today, the boys and I were driving to Texas for my brother’s wedding. I had been feeling rather low ever since Rowan was born, but I attributed it to hormones and typical new-mommy uncertainty. There was no reason I should have been suffering from postpartum depression, I thought. After all I had a healthy baby, supportive husband, helpful relatives, and encouraging friends. But in March 2004, I had quit a job I loved, we bought our first home, moved into that home, and I broke out in a pregnancy-induced rash that itched like mad. Then I birthed Rowan. Fortunately the rash disappeared, but I missed my friends at work who made me laugh every day; our house was a shambles, and being a lover of order, it drove me nuts; and my baby nursed around the clock. To top it off, my only sibling was planning his wedding, and being geographically faraway as well as consumed with parenthood, we couldn’t attend the showers and engagement parties. So, actually, with all that was going on in our life, I had plenty of reason to be depressed. Looking back now, I think I was in a bit of denial.

Then we were off for Texas. I was anxious about the trip. It’s a good 12-hour trek from here to there, and that with pleasant weather and no road construction. But this time we had a baby along for the ride, and the baby wouldn’t take a bottle. That meant pulling over to nurse every few hours in the suffocatingly sticky heat of a southern summer. We drove to Little Rock and stayed with friends overnight on Thursday. After a restless night, we left for our destination early the next morning. We wanted to get to town in time for the attendants’ luncheons but arrived late afternoon, missing the events. We had been told that the rehearsal and dinner would be a casual affair so I wore a t-shirt and capris only to find the other bridesmaids dressed up in pretty frocks and heels. As if I didn’t already feel schlumpy enough sporting my drastically changed, wrinkly, stretchmarked postpartum body! I tried to choke back my frustration. It didn’t help that I was feeling invisible either. It’s not that we expected everyone to get up and dance on the tables when we arrived, but we had just driven all the way from Tennessee with a newborn.

As I stood in my spot at the front of the church during rehearsal and realized I would be staring at the rear end of one of the groomsmen during the ceremony, my blood boiled. The wedding coordinator looking directly at me and made some sarcastic comment about how we all needed to smile and "look happy". It was all I could do not to blow my top.

As Brandon drove us to dinner, I cried in the car. My mom sat behind me with her hand on my arm all the way there, none of us speaking. At dinner I sat with another new mom on the porch while we nursed our babies. I enjoyed talking to her but felt like I was missing out on this hugely significant moment in my brother’s life. I had wanted to put together a one-of-a-kind gift for my brother and new sis-in-law, a cool video or something, to honor them, but there was no way on God’s green earth that I had had any kind of time to put something together. So I just sat there in my frazzled, frizzy state, trying to keep Rowan from fussing, on the verge of tears, feeling very much like an outsider.

I slept only three hours that night. Felt like crap on Saturday morning. The bridesmaids went to the spa that morning, but since Rowan was so anti-bottle, I couldn’t leave his side thus making my participation physically impossible. I was starting to feel resentful towards, well, pretty much everyone. Both physically and emotionally weary, I asked my brother if I could sit during the ceremony; I felt so horrible that I didn’t think I could stand up for an hour.

I survived though. The ceremony was beautiful. This being the first time our extended families had met Rowan, we were swamped with people fawning over him, wanting to hold him. The little guy was such a trooper. His mom…not so much. I was in the restroom nursing again when the best man gave his toast at the reception. My brother and sis-in-law left for their honeymoon amidst a spray of sparklers, and I felt a pang of jealousy, wishing for the day six-and-a-half years earlier when Brandon and I left for our own honeymoon. Things were so much simpler then.

Sunday was Independence Day. We attended my parents’ church, had a family lunch at my relatives’ house, and caught a few fireworks downtown that evening. On Monday my parents graciously opened their home to host a party for Rowan. We felt honored to have our friends drive in from all over Texas to meet our three-month-old. There wasn’t nearly enough time to catch up with everyone.

On Tuesday I crashed and burned. Hard. I was nearly immobile with nausea and exhausted beyond belief. Wednesday morning the dam burst and I wept as we traveled to visit Brandon's family. I was so, so tired. The fatigue was something like I’ve never felt before. I didn’t have the energy to smile, laugh, or even converse. On Sunday we drove back to Tennessee. The trip to Texas had been painfully emotional; it just reminded me how far away from our loved ones we actually were. Suffice it to say, the trip pushed me over the edge and into the valley of depression.

I thought for sure coming back to our home, our familiar surroundings, our routine, I would feel better. But only a few days later, anxiety washed over me, drowning me in panic. Two friends and my mom suggested I talk to my doctor, so I made an appointment for Thursday. My doc said she thought I might be suffering from postpartum depression (maybe when I told her I had imagined digging my fingernails into and dragging them through the skin on my legs?). She prescribed an antidepressant and suggested counseling. I wasn’t excited about either, especially taking medication. Wasn’t improving my mood something I should be able to do myself? On Saturday morning Brandon mentioned buying a garden hose and I lost it. In my mind, buying a garden hose just signified one more thing for me to do; I had neither the time nor the desire to water the plants outside our residence. So I sat on the patio, staring into space, tears streaming down my face. I cried for an hour. That morning I decided to take the antidepressant. I set up an appointment with a therapist. And I cleared my calendar for the rest of the year.

An excerpt from my journal, July 2004: “I’ve been feeling more and more hopeless and overwhelmed. I’ve been feeling less joy towards Rowan. I want to enjoy his coos, smiles and laughs…and it seems like I’ve been enjoying them less over the past few weeks. Lord, PLEASE HELP ME. This is horrible, how I’m feeling. I wish Brandon could be home all the time. This morning I even thought about asking him to take me to the hospital so the nurses could take care of me. I was trying to think of people who could come stay with me this week. I don’t have an appetite. I’m exhausted. I want to feel the way I did before Rowan was born. I want to feel joy, laugh, have peace.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

for all us know-it-alls

I think I can safely say that, for the first time in my life, I am ravenous for God's Word. This new hunger has been prompted by two things, I believe: 1) my new "fake Bible", as my parents' friends good-naturedly call it (my dad has his own "fake Bible"), better known as the New Living Translation, and 2) my prayers that God would give me a desire to read Scripture. Well, the desire is here...and so is a Bible that makes sense to me.

The other day my dad suggested I read Romans 14, so I was going to share some words from that chapter this morning. But I got sidetracked with chapter 12: "Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them....When God's children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night....Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

right there with you, nicodemus

For the past few months, our minister Tim Woodroof has been sharing lessons on the gospel of John. Every week – no exaggeration here – every week I come away feeling moved and convicted.

This morning Tim began by likening our faith journeys to how some of us fall in love. Some fall in love at first sight. Some spend a little while dating and getting to know each other before professing devotion. Still others are in relationship, not really seeing the potential for love until someone makes a sharp remark about their significant other, and in coming to their defense, love is realized. And finally, there are those who aren’t aware how much they love someone until, for whatever reason, that person just isn’t around anymore. The apostle Nathanael was one who fell in love with Jesus “at first sight”. The Samaritan woman asked Jesus questions and “courted” him, if you will, before falling in love. When the blind man in John 9 was antagonized by the Pharisees, he came to Jesus’ defense, later exclaiming, “Yes, Lord, I believe!”

And then there was Nicodemus. This religious leader, a Pharisee among Pharisees who wanted Jesus dead, had a nagging suspicion that there was something to this man who claimed to be the Son of God. He asked questions of Jesus; he pursued understanding of Jesus’ hard words. But when the Sanhedrin assembled in an effort to put Jesus to death, Nicodemus remained silent. It wasn’t until after Jesus died that Nicodemus made known publicly his love for Jesus, bringing pounds of spices to bury him.

Tim said tradition holds that Nicodemus died a martyr’s death. Whatever the case, the story of Nicodemus’ journey of faith gives me hope. We all fall into Love differently. Doesn’t seem to matter to God exactly how it happens…just as long as it happens.

BTW, Tony, thanks a lot! I was on the brink of tears almost from the very beginning of worship this morning, all through Tim’s lesson, and then you pushed me right on over the edge with the comments you shared with the church family. So thanks. I could have done without the blubbering! ;) I’ll be praying for you, brother/blogging pal.

Friday, June 24, 2005

someone make him stop

Matt Lauer and Maverick got into it this morning on the Today Show.

a jewel

Found this in my endless stash of paper scraps:

"There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

to hell in a handbasket

Because I am fascinated with Jesus and because my faith is of such importance to me, most of the blogs I peruse daily tend to be those of other believers. Many of these folks have great insight to share; they encourage me with their wisdom (click on some of their links to the right).

Unfortunately I’ve also come across a number of believers who, apparently, know exactly how everyone else should be living in accordance with God. I can see why unbelievers would be turned off by Christians who claim to love, yet sit in a judgment seat (that is not rightly theirs, I might add) pointing out everyone else’s “faults”.

According to blogs and sites I’ve skimmed, below are a few reasons (this is the short list) why I am in danger of the fires of hell. My soul is in peril because I…

- have used any kind of birth control at all (this includes the pill, abstinence, etc.)
- have worshipped God with instruments
- am comfortable with sending my child to public schools
- pursue personal interests outside of raising my child
- don’t attend church every time the doors are open
- think it’s fine for women to lead worship, teach classes, etc.
- believe it’s okay to drink alcohol in moderation

To any Christian who believes it is “wrong” to send your child to a public school or ingest any alcohol ever or use birth control, that’s fine. For YOU, that’s fine. But just because it works for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone. I welcome you to share your opinion as well. Just do so in a gentle and loving and kind-hearted spirit, as God commands us to.

For those believers who think they’ve got all the “right” answers for the rest of the world: Please. Climb down off your high horse and give other believers the benefit of the doubt. We’re all doing the best we know how. Praise God that His grace covers us all.

I’m starting to realize that, with people, you can’t ever win. Fortunately, God doesn’t require that we “win”. All He asks is that we love others.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

winners of movies...but not of contests

In case anyone's in need of entertainment this weekend, here are some winners of movies I've watched recently:
Judgment at Nuremburg - one of my new favorites
Bridge on the River Kwai - great commentary on the madness of war, suspenseful
Mona Lisa Smile - As the credits rolled, I was thinking it, but Brandon went ahead and spoke it aloud, "Jana, you would NOT have done well in the fifties!" ;)

So I competed in this contest of sorts to form a 7-member female team blog called Intellectuelles. There were 31 entrants in the contest and the "winners" were revealed today. I didn't make the team but I didn't really expect to. My writing is more chatty, down-to-earth, and goofy, I think, than what they were looking for. But about half of the 31 entrants drew favorable comments, a majority of votes, etc. My entry wasn't even on that list, and it burned my pride a little. But such is life, right? I'm glad I sent in an entry anyway.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

day of the father

My dad is cool because he...

- has allowed God to soften his heart over sixty years of living
- walks every morning
- reads his Bible every morning
- never loses his cool
- despises violence
- explained to me from an early age that "life isn't fair"
- worked to provide a home for our family
- apologized to me after the only time he ever physically threatened me. He grabbed my arms and shook me hard. I was 6 or 7 years old, and he scared me. That night he came home from work and apologized. He never did it again.
- made tasty lunches for me to take to school every day
- listened and listened and listened some more
- always came to my side in the middle of the night when I called out to him (that includes the many times my legs fell asleep, the times I had nightmares, the time I was in tears over chickenpox itchiness, and the time the field mouse was trying to bore a hole into my room from the attic)
- drove me to school in the mornings for three years of high school (anything to avoid the big yellow limo!)
- took my cousin into his home and fathered him through high school
- wrote me insightful, thoughtful letters while I was away at college
- filled my car up with gas when I came home to visit
- gave Brandon his blessing when Brandon asked for my hand in marriage
- walked me down the aisle to marry Brandon
- despite having absolutely no desire to dance EVER -- as well as no sense of rhythm -- he danced with my mom at my brother's wedding last summer!!! Go Dad!!!
- along with my mom, took care of me when I was in the midst of postpartum depression
- is, as it reads in Proverbs 31, "respected at the city gate"
- is a precious sight to behold when interacting with his grandson
- has stayed faithful to my mom for 35+ years
- is not afraid to cry
- is wise, honest and even-keeled
- prays for me

I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

me likes

Thanks to J-Wild for sending me this link. I think I might be a moderate.

Friday, June 17, 2005

the entity known as tomkat

In absolutely-unrelated-and-insignficant-to-my-life news, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are engaged. For anyone reading this, I promise I'm not usually swept up in the personal lives of celebrities. But this relationship strikes me as really, really wacky. The whole thing completely weirds me out for numerous reasons.

I think I'll go eat a bowl of Bluebell.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

alpha mom TV?

Tell me no. Please tell me no. When will the race to be the perfect-mother-with-the-perfect-child end?!? Please read this article, and DO NOT tune into Alpha Mom TV! The author of the article likens Isabel Kallman and her new show to Martha Stewart and her perfectionistic homemaking venture.

To all you moms out there: trust your instincts. People have survived and thrived for thousands of years without all the books, classes, parties, preschools, etc. God has given you all you need to raise a loving and competent child. You have a heart and a brain, don't you?

an article on present-day mothering

Read the article here. The mom who I identify with the most says: "I found that the books put too many doubts in my mind, so I just avoid them. I just try to do what's best for my kids. You hope people aren't judging. You just have to say, 'If they are, it's their problem.'"

hallelujah praise jehovah

Bluebell Ice Cream has arrived in Nashville.

Monday, June 13, 2005

the deal with blogging

Blog envy. I've got a minor case of it. You has more readers or more comments or more links through other blogs. Or so-and-so hasn't commented on my blog maybe I'm getting boring or pessimistic.

Brandon reminded me, though, that I started this thing for work through issues of faith, God, relationships. So even if I'm not the most skilled or popular blogger out there, at least I can continue my free online therapy...and maybe encourage one or two of you in the process.

An acquaintance of mine told me a mutual friend of ours thought people who blog are "narcissistic and self-centered." Maybe. But I can say with almost full confidence that, if you're human, at some point in your life, you wear the label of "narcissistic and self-centered." None of us are immune. Some of us are just willing to admit to it on the worldwide web!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

proverbs 31? yeah right.

Rowan has started frantically waving and crying when Brandon leaves for work in the mornings. It's just about the saddest thing EVER. Sometimes I feel like joining in with him!

I want to be stronger. I really do. I want to be like Sheryl, who, while 10 months pregnant, and with two toddlers underfoot, remodeled a friend's house. I want to be like the parents I saw on Ellen yesterday who were smiling with joy to be finalizing the adoption of their twelve children. I wanted to be one of those new moms who -- even though having just given birth and sporting a hospital gown -- looks glowing and beautiful and thrilled in the first photo with her newborn. Just getting up in the morning and not feeling so anxious about what the day will bring might even be enough. I want to be the Proverbs 31 woman. I really do.

But I'm not. I'm not anywhere close. I look like a mess. I feel like a mess. I've always thought I wanted a whole passel of kids, but now that I have one, I'm not so sure. Motherhood is so, SO much harder than I ever thought it would be.

Fortunately I have an easy child. And an easy husband. That must mean the problem is with me...right?

Reading my blog has got to be the hugest drag sometimes.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

what now?

The question of the morning is...what now? I just dropped off Rowan for his first day of preschool. He was fine. And so was I (for the most part). Brandon accompanied us, the teacher gave me a whirlwind tour of where to stash Rowan's stuff, we paid our tuition and left. As I left Brandon at work, he said "You did good." And then, as I drove off and watched my husband get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, I teared up. When dozens of emotions crash into each other, tears are inevitable, aren't they? I feel excited for Rowan to make friends. I feel relieved to have a few hours to myself every week. I feel a little guilty about feeling relieved. I wonder if Rowan's teachers are going to look out for him as much as I do. I start to understand why some parents might be hesitant to enroll their children in public schools. I wonder if Rowan will miss me; I want him to...just a little at least. I think, if it's this hard to let him go to preschool, what about kindergarten? Middle school? College? Halfway around the world to serve in the military?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


tidbit 1 - I love my pediatrician. And his nurses. I just talked to one of the nurses, and she was so reassuring I almost jumped with joy. It's weird the things you get excited about when you have a baby.

tidbit 2 - A dear, sweet friend called me this morning. We hadn't spoken in two years! Two years is too long. It was so great to hear her voice. Thank you Lord for my dear, sweet friend.

tidbit 3 - Rowan took his first step unassisted last Friday! Woo-hoo! Go lil' Ro!

tidbit 4 - A Texas landmark, the Oasis in Austin, burned down this morning!!! I can't believe it. I almost cried when I heard the news. If you've been to the multi-level restaurant on Lake Travis, you know how awesome it is. The owner is planning to rebuild, but it'll never be the same. I saw video of the property going up in flames this morn. So sad.