Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I really fucked up tonight. After more than 3 months of sleep training, 3 months of not giving in when T cried, 3 months of being really strong I went to T after an hour and a half of tears. And less than two minutes after I picked him up I realized it was a huge mistake.

Let’s back up a bit. It has been a hard couple of days. My father left town on Sunday and I never do well after my family visits. I miss them terribly. This week I was pretty proud of myself because I’ve been keeping up with the house work and although I haven’t been leaving the house much I also haven’t been wallowing.

But I’ve had to take my chill pills more than I like. And I’ve been crying a lot. It was in the 70s today, so perfect outside. It’ll be back to the 50s tomorrow. But I just couldn’t get it together to take T out for a walk even though I really wanted to. And Z had a faculty meeting tonight so I was flying solo for T’s crying.

So I was a mess as I was listening to him cry tonight. And I was listening to him cry not because I had the volume of the monitor up, but because I could hear him in our living room even though I had the TV on loud. I was worried he was too hot. I was worried there was actually something wrong with him. I was worried because he hasn’t cried for an hour and a half in more than a month. And Z wasn’t here to talk me off the ledge.

I went to T and he stopped crying the second I picked him up. It felt so good to hold him; it felt like he was soothing me. I sat on the rocking chair and cradled him and had high hopes he would go right to sleep.

Instead he became wide awake. He looked at me and grinned and stared at his hand slowly waving in front of his face. He was so intense about the hand thing; it was like he was stoned. If I hadn’t been so worked up I would have laughed out loud. After about 15 minutes of sitting there together, T becoming wider and wider awake and me becoming more and more panicy I heard Z come home.

I felt like Cameron in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off when he kicks the shit out of his dad’s car and says “I can’t hide this” I was trapped and Z totally caught me. He was not amused.

I cannot wait to see what the fallout from my huge lapse of parenting judgment is.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trying to Get Over It

I have to make an appointment with the Ob-Gyn for a little issue (I won’t bore you/gross you out with the details). For months I’ve been meaning to switch doctors from the person who delivered me to the person in the same practice who helped me with the whole piece of placenta still in my uterus thing. But I’ve been sick to my stomach with worry about making the call. Can you switch doctors within a practice? Should I just suck up my discomfort? Do I have to tell my doctor that I felt like she let me down? I couldn’t face all that stuff and did what I do best—procrastinate until something happens that forces me to act.

I am still waiting to hear from the practice to see if the switch can be made, which is kind of a bummer because now there is an urgent matter at hand and if I can’t switch I need to find a new doctor pronto and this all could have been avoided if I had dealt with it in a timely manner, blah, blah, blah.

After I got off the phone with the receptionist the weirdest thing happened. I started crying uncontrollably. And when Z asked if I had called the office last night and I told him yes—you guessed it. I started crying uncontrollably.

T turned 8 months old yesterday. It got me thinking, why am I still so upset about the circumstances surrounding his birth? Every birth has its issues, and mine was not that bad. But I really can’t seem to get over it.

Here is what I came up with: It isn’t the medicalization of my childbirth that I can’t get past, but the dehumanization.

I had preeclampsia. My blood pressure was worrisome and I had to be induced a week early. T’s birth was very medicalized, but I understand why the doctor made the choices she did. If a piece of my placenta had been left behind and I had been treated with compassion I think I would have been cool with the whole thing. I get that mistakes happen and no one is perfect. So I had to go back in and get a D&C. You know what? In the scheme of things it wasn’t the worst experience. It made me stop bleeding. It would have just been another part of his birth story if I felt like the doctor was listening to me.

But I feel like the nurse who helped me deliver, Z, and I all voiced concerns about what was going on and we were all ignored. The nurse was worried about my heavy bleeding less than 2 hours after T was born and she contacted my doctor who was no longer at the hospital. My doctor says that she requested an ultrasound, but one was never given and she didn’t follow up to make sure it happened, or to find out if I was OK. Every morning during the hospital stay you get a visit from your doctor or member of the practice and the baby gets a visit from a pediatrician. The morning after T’s birth I didn’t get a visit. After inquires, the doctor finally sent someone to see me at 3 in the afternoon. Then after I got home I called the office for an appointment because I was worried about the amount of blood I was losing. My doctor’s nurse told me she spoke to my doctor who was sure I was fine, but if I really wanted to come in I could get an appointment with another doctor at the practice for the following day. Through all these events things were going wrong and she wasn’t listening to us. I have never felt so helpless.

Thank God the other doctor realized what was going on and got me some help. He sent me right to the hospital, and to my doctor’s credit she came in to do the procedure though it was her first day of vacation. When she saw me she said she was sorry, but the next thing out of her mouth was she couldn’t believe this happened, it was her first D&C for a left behind placenta in more than 5 years. It was like she had no comprehension that the situation needed to be about me rather than about her.

Again and again she made me feel forgotten. When things started to go wrong it felt like she couldn’t be bothered. If she had acted like she gave a crap or listened to what we were saying I don’t think I would feel so awful about my experience. I wonder if I am obligated to let her know how I feel, or if I can just leave her care without an explanation. Am I a coward for not wanting to have it out with her?

The bigger question is how do I get over it? As my shrink recently pointed out to me it would be wrong to let an awful experience rule my decision to have another child, but at this point it is. If I do decide to have another child at least I will understand the importance of finding a doctor who is completely engaged. I can handle medical bumps in the road if I feel like my doctor gives a shit.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Shall we discuss the ramifications of an anxiety disorder?

I’ve been sick for the last week. Thankfully the really bad days coincided with a rare 3 day weekend for Z, so he did the bulk of the child care and I tried to get better. I was on the mend Monday with a little hiccup yesterday- an inflamed eye and a quick trip to the doctors. This morning I thought I was pretty much in the clear.

Before T’s first nap I started to get nauseated and my belly was upset. I texted Z to find out if he was feeling poorly because we’d eaten the same stuff, but he was fine. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks just like it always does. I was having an anxiety attack.

My anxiety attacks tend to be really physical. Lightheadedness, nausea, upset stomach, tingling in my extremities, all pretty textbook stuff. And I get them frequently. But even though the symptoms are the same every time I’m always shocked when I realize what is going on. Pretty ironic for someone who thinks she is pretty self aware.

So as soon as I got T to sleep I took my chill pill and tried to sleep it off. But when T and I woke up the magic chill pill hadn’t worked. I wasn’t having an anxiety attack. I threw up. And panicked.

Thankfully Z was able to leave work and come home, and I rested all afternoon. But I’m still not sure what was wrong. Did the weird cold I have morph? Was it a touch of food poisoning? A bug? Could T get it? Will it affect my production of breast milk? Will I be OK tomorrow? If I’m not who will help me with T? Will I have an anxiety attack tomorrow? Will I have one later tonight? And the biggest question of all, will T suffer from anxiety when he grows up because of me?

Feeling out of control is just about my worst nightmare. It snowballs from the specific issue to encompass everything that could go wrong in life. The agoraphobia gets stronger. I worry about how precarious everything is. Accidents happen every day. There are so many dangerous things in this world. I’m suddenly scared when the phone rings because I just know it is going to be bad news. And what about T? I’m a mess, how am I going to be able to protect him? And what about when he gets older and I’m not around to protect him? Was it fair to become a mom in the first place when I knew I struggled with these problems?

The trick is pushing all those feelings to the edges of my mind so I can get on with life. The fear is being completely paralyzed and overwhelmed by the anxiety. The fear is having the depression come back. The fear is being so messed up I can’t care for T.

Fingers crossed tomorrow is better. I want to be well for T, for Z, and for me.

And I think an accidental rhyme is a good place to end for tonight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two Steps Back

Z and I have noticed as soon as T picks up a new skill it feels like he has been doing it forever. Which is ridiculous. Dude is not even 8 months old. He hasn’t been doing much of anything forever. It reminds me of a story my dear friend told me when her daughter was brand new. They were at a pediatrician visit and my friend told the doctor that her daughter “always did that”. The Doctor told her that her daughter was less than a week old and she didn’t always do anything yet. My friend found that very reassuring and liberating, and for whatever reason the story stuck with me. Especially during the first few days I was a mom and trying to figure T out.

T was sick last week and one strange benefit was it made him sleep easier and better. He stopped crying when he went down for his naps and for bed. And he slept really well. Stands to reason, he was exhausted from being sick.

During the last few days he has been getting fussier and fussier about naps and bedtime. At first I was really confused. And I thought to myself “He never is fussy at bedtime!” Upon further examination that might be the stupidest thought I’ve ever had. We’ve struggled with him and sleeping from the time he was a few weeks old.

I also got used to him eating like a champ. T has a gag reflex like you wouldn’t believe. I introduced rice cereal when he was 6 months old and it wasn’t until he was more than 7 months that he figured out how to swallow from a spoon. I had about a week of really great eating before he puked avocado all over the place. Turns out the gag reflex was triggered by his illness and since then every time I’ve tried to feed him with a spoon it’s been a struggle.

Bottom line is I feel like things were pretty smooth here at our house about a week ago. Now I feel guilty as hell when he cries before sleeping and I am convinced he isn’t getting the nourishment he needs and I have no idea how to teach him to eat. I want to help him so much, but I don’t know what he needs. And he can’t tell me yet.

It’s a crazy thing, parenthood. One minute you feel like things are going really well and the next you feel like you are messing everything up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Admittedly Neurotic

This is going to be pretty brief as I am a bit loopy from one of my chill pills. Yeah, we had a pretty stressful conversation with our accountant about taxes about an hour ago. There was a terrible 20 minutes when it looked like we owed A SHITLOAD OF MONEY to NY State. A SHITLOAD OF MONEY. A SHIT LOAD. A SHIT LOAD THAT REQUIRES ONE WITH AN ANXIETY PROBLEM TO USE CHILL PILLS. We are going to still end up owning just not A SHITLOAD, but after believing we were going to have to pay out the vast majority of our savings it will seem like peanuts.

There is a SAHM post brewing in my head, and it is certainly tied up in the money and tax situation, but now is not the time to go there. Not while I’m sick as a dog and flying high on chill pills. But the last post needed a little follow up because it turns out circumstances changed so something I wrote is now untrue.

I am a little compulsive about honesty. I want everyone around me to be honest at all times and I am honest to a fault myself. I have trouble lying even when it would be the kindest thing. So I need to get this off my chest--I did not make the Boston Cream Pie I said I would make. I’m sick. I’m feverish. I’m making excuses and I feel really guilty about it. I’m sending Z to our friend’s house with a couple of containers of store bought mini cupcakes and I am deeply ashamed. But I promise to make the cake for my friends soon.

There. Now I feel better and can go comfort myself be rereading the 3rd Harry Potter book for the 12 time.

Happy Easter if that is your thing.

Friday, April 2, 2010


This weekend I’ll be making a Boston Cream Pie to take to a friend’s home for Easter. I’ve made this particular cake a bunch of times. Both with really good results (I still feel thrills when I remember my sister in law saying it was the best birthday cake ever made for her) and bad ones (The sloppy mess I took to our friend’s home in RI when I was 8 months pregnant. Usually I’m a baking perfectionist but that day I didn’t give a crap and told them don’t worry about looks, it would still taste fine). And every time I head into the kitchen to make something more complicated than chocolate chip cookies I think of Elinor.

Back in the early 2000s I was speeding towards an emotional breakdown. I’d gone to college for acting and yet I only went on three or so auditions after graduation. Was I unbelievably lazy? Well, maybe. I was also completely paralyzed by fear and anxiety. And over time this paralysis extended to other parts of my life until I was well on my way to being a house bound agoraphobic. Not surprisingly this put a tremendous strain on my marriage, and on all the other relationships in my life.

During that really terrible time I started to cook and discovered I really loved it. My cousin was going to culinary school and thought about externing with a small bakery that made high end wedding cakes. Turns out it wasn’t for her, but she called me and said I should look into it. I started interning about two times a week and I loved it. The woman who owned the company loved that I was a hard worker. After a few months she offered me a part time job. I explained to her that I was dealing with a really bad anxiety problem, there were days I couldn’t leave the house, I was medicated etc. etc. etc. She said I seemed fine to her and it wasn’t a problem.

Eventually I was splitting time between her and another small bakery. I gave the same speech to the owner of the second bakery when she hired me and she too, seemed cool with my situation. After a few months the first woman couldn’t handle my anxiety fuelled absences and she let me go. It was the first and only time I’ve been fired. And it ended up being a pretty soft firing. Some of her equipment was at the second bakery and she still needed me to roll cookies out for her on her sheeter. Every time I rolled them I felt a huge sense of shame as I thought about how I had let this woman down.

I was spending more time at the second bakery as my life was really falling apart around me. Zeke and I were not doing well at all. But Elinor was giving me more and more responsibility at work. She traveled to Israel for about a month twice a year and when she was gone I ran the tiny little company. She trained me to do everything in her absence. There were really bad times when I called out a lot. I’d always tell her she should fire me, I was worthless; I was going to end up causing her a lot of trouble. She totally shouldn’t have trusted me; I mean no one trusted me at that point. Zeke didn’t, my friends didn’t. I was completely unreliable.

I think back to that time feel sick to my stomach. All those acquaintances I had who surely thought I was a terrible person have no way of knowing I got better. I think of the wedding ceremony for friends of Z that I missed, although I was able to get there for the reception. Or another couple who wed during that period-never even responded to the invite. Or the close friend that got me a freelance job that I completely fucked up. Z’s friends thought I was dead weight and felt bad for Z because he had to give excuse after excuse for my behavior. When I did venture into public I tried really hard to appear completely normal, so many of these people had no idea that I was a suicidal anxiety-ridden emotional wreck. They just thought I was a loser.

Through all this crap, the worst time in my life, Elinor would tell me again and again “I believe in you”. It blew my mind. I would try and convince her she was wrong. I didn’t believe in myself. Zeke didn’t believe in me, or even like me anymore. My parents didn’t believe in me. My friends didn’t. Again, no one trusted me.

But, when push came to shove, when she was in Israel and I was the only one there to get stuff done I didn’t let her down. I still don’t understand it. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it didn’t. I’m not saying that Elinor single handedly got me well. There was the medication and the battery of therapists, but I do believe she was a huge part of it. Because when I didn’t let her down I realized I might not be completely worthless.

I suck at keeping in touch with people. When we moved to RI I was spotty about returning her calls (residual anxiety stuff, I’m still bad with the phone) and eventually she moved back to Israel. But I think about her all the time. I miss her. I love her and will always love her for what she did for me. Heck, I even look up to her a great deal—she is awesome. A kick ass Israeli who did her time in the army, jumped out of planes for fun, is drop dead gorgeous and very fashion forward, skinny as a rail, smoked cigarettes like her life depended on it, she is the kind of girl other girls want to be. And on top of it she is kind and trusting. She has faith in people. Thank God I was lucky enough to cross paths with her.