Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birthday

Yesterday I turned 34 in style, if that style is a chaotic, crazy, scrambling mess.

SUNDAY

10 AM go for brunch with my sister because we have loads of time to do the video project that I've been sitting on for months and is due tomorrow.

11 AM Mac only slept a half hour. Huh. Interesting.

2 PM Working starts to cut and hack at video project. Trevor prevents Mac from disassembling the house.

3 PM Mac only slept for another half hour. He seems stuffed up?

5 PM Mac a mess. Won't eat, won't play. Working realizes the video project is huge. Stresses out.

5:30 PM Trevor locks bathroom door from the outside, bath running. 10 minutes of panic. Words are exchanged.

6PM Trevor and Working not speaking to each other. They switch out spots in the edit suite (read: laptop on a desk in the office). Working attempts to feed and bathe Mac. Puts him down.

7PM Working makes peace offering (dill pickle chips). Settle down to work.

7:30PM Working trying to record stand ups and voiceovers for video. Mac wakes up. Can't breathe.

8:30 PM Mac wakes up. Can't breathe.

9 PM Schedule alert beeps on Working's laptop. Wait, what's that? Process Analysis project DUE TOMORROW?!?!?!

9:30 PM Working freaking-the-frack out. Mac wakes up. Can't breathe.

10 PM Trevor starts cutting second project, cobbled out of first project that is still underway.

10:30 PM Mac wakes up. Still can't breathe. Working realizes second project requires full paper with sources. Starts to cry a little.

MONDAY

12:00 AM Mac wakes up. Trev and Working still working.

1:00 AM Mac wakes up. Trev and Working eat leftover banana chiffon cake. Trevor gives Working her birthday gift "in case you're in a bad mood in the morning." It's a book and a gift certificate for a massage. Working loves it. They embrace, briefly, then return to their stations.

2:00 AM Mac wakes up. Trev and Working decide there will be time to finish in the morning. Go to bed.

2:30 AM - 5:00 AM Mac finally sleeps held upright by Working in the recliner. Working does not sleep.

5:00 AM Trevor takes Mac, Working sleeps.

8:00 AM - 10:30 AM Working and Trevor actually finish two separate videos plus papers AND references pages. Mac miserably clings to Working's leg, screaming and blowing snot bubbles, as Working tries to tape up the packages.

11 AM Working realizes, "we better get cleaning." TV crew scheduled to come at 1:30 PM to borrow house for a shoot.

12:00 PM TV crew arrives. Working got the time wrong. Mad race to shove things into closets. Hair and Make-up lady holds Mac.

1:00 PM Leave house to deliver projects off at school and post office and go to meeting at bank.

2:30 PM Sister calls. Mac is a screaming mess, has been since we left him with her. Working suggests to take him outside. It works (Trick Learned Hard Way #235).

3:00 PM Collapse on sister's couch and eat Korean food. Mac settles into a full-blown, coughing, snot ejecting cold. The end.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Marital Conversations

WORKING: I'm so tired.
TREVOR: Me too.
WORKING: What a frickin' week.
TREVOR: I know.
(pause)
TREVOR: I'm so glad we didn't slap chop our baby.
WORKING: You 'n me both, buddy.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Survival

TREVOR: Remember when you said we were going to throw a party on his first birthday to celebrate that we all survived the year?
WORKING: Yeah?
TREVOR: We should changed it to a celebration that he survived us.
WORKING: Agreed.
TREVOR: (looking at Mac) Holy crap, you're lucky.

We're completely out of sorts today due to lack of sleep. I didn't know Trevor had gone out to the garage. He thought I'd heard him leave. Neither of us were watching. Mac crawled into the office, which we usually keep closed but, well, perfect storm. When I heard the crash and the screaming, I ran into the office and found Mac on all fours, several poster-sized picture frames piled on his back, surrounded by big shards of broken glass.

Turns out he just had a few nicks on his head that barely bled and a tiny slice on his little finger that required a mini bandage. But to think how it could have gone... holy crap. Holy crap. Holy. Crap. Parenting fail.

(Another disadvantage of breast feeding: you can't pour yourself a stiff whatever when things like this happen)

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Marital Conversations

WORKING: (reading status updates from friends who've just landed in Italy) I wish I was in Rome.
TREVOR: Me too.
(pause)
TREVOR: Cuz then I'd have the house to myself.

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Dear Mac: Eight Months Old


As I type this, you're sitting on the kitchen floor yelling, "aiyiyiyiyiyiyiy!" at the top of your lungs. Soon I'll hear, "oh Maaaac!" which means you made it to the dog's water dish again. Our kitchen floor has never been so consistently clean.

So here's what eight months old looks like:
  • Your vocalizations are increasing in sophistication. My favourite is "dadadyedyedadyeagigga," said while sticking your tongue out the side of your mouth. My least favourite is your high-pitched, lingering shriek. I can't even get my voice to go high enough to mimic it so you know what it sounds like to other people's ears.
  • You sure can crawl when you're in a rush to get somewhere (i.e. dog's water dish), but you prefer to be standing. You've learned to walk along things and you've started letting go....
  • Of the four top teeth that have been threatening to emerge, only one has, giving you a wide, lopsided smile. Said tooth looks like it comes from my side of the family. There are probably braces are in your future.
  • One afternoon when I was putting you down, I flung the sheet over us so that it floated down around us like a parachute. You. Loved. It. You shrieked and vibrated with giddiness. So now you grab the sheets and yank them over your face over and over when I'm trying to nurse you. More parachute game! I say go to sleep already.
  • You just crawled by me at top speed. You're probably going to the bathroom. You love the tub, especially when we're in it. Splashing us to get a reaction is the height of comedy right now.
  • Food is still hit and miss. One morning you spit your applesauce at me and then devoured my lunch (I was hungry, too. Not fair).
  • You just crawled over to me, pulled yourself up, and bit me in the thigh.
  • You still seem indifferent to your peers, but you have warmed up to the extended family. You give open-mouth kisses to your aunties and your cousin. I've never gotten a kiss. Neither has your dad. Unless bites are like super kisses? I bet that's totally what they are.
  • You have the chunkiest, most delicious thighs. And eczema.
  • When I put you down on your bed and start adjusting my shirt for a feeding you get so excited that you start kicking and flapping and yelling and then you roll into position and do this fake cough thing. The fake cough also punctuates crocodile tears, as in I am so upset that I am now DYING from The Consumption (cough! cough!).
  • You're now standing at the TV. You're going after the DVDs again. You're obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia. Your dad thinks you have an appreciation for the epic films of David Lean. I think it's big and gold coloured.
  • You've shown interest in your dad's fledgling puppet shows. I think this makes him very happy.
  • You also like when he chases you. You play this crawling chase game that gets you shrieking.
  • He just left the room to go into the office and you went chasing after him. You like your dad a whole lot. But I still get the full-on sunshine smiles.

You are so much fun right now. You really are. I miss you when you're sleeping.
Love,
Mommy


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Friday, March 12, 2010

Postpartum Postmortem

Our dog used to have the patience of a saint when it came to kids crawling on her, but since her two knee surgeries, not so much. Today she barked at Mac. She rarely barks so it scared the life out of him. This 'puppy' is not hers to discipline, so she got the triple whammy: the shin block of banishment, the Cesar Milan shhht, and my family's patented glare, which wilts the strongest of wills. I even growled. Dog knew she'd done wrong and cowered in the corner.

I guess the entire family is adjusting to the new reality of Mac: The Mobile Edition. Last night he pulled a new one; he sat bolt upright, swiveled and pitched forward onto his face so that he was now sleeping with his feet in my face. He did it several times. Today we will be cutting his toenails. And having a nap.

Last night I went to the premier of the documentary for this, three stories about postpartum depression and psychosis. It was a chance to revisit my own PPD and with some perspective, I can now see how bad it really was. There was a time when I looked at Mac's beautiful little face and thought to myself, this is the biggest mistake I've ever made. I told Trev I wanted Mac to go away, that I hated him. I did physical harm to myself and I considered doing physical harm to him. It was a hard day but a good day when I finally admitted, "this is not getting better. I need help." Oh, the look of relief on Trevor's face. Of course he knew it was time; he'd been trying to tell me as much for weeks, maybe months. One of the strongest messages of last night came from the husbands. It's hard to suffer from PPD, but it's also hard to bear witness.

What's not hard is getting drugs. It's easy to get drugs once you've admitted you need help and a lot more difficult to get help beyond that. Dealing with PPD or any depression requires a three-pronged approach: body, mind, spirit. The drugs take care of the body and if you can't afford to pay for your own counseling, that's probably where the support ends. You're on the drugs indefinitely. They were the right choice for me at the time; I needed a break from the darkness.

When I chose to come off of them, people close to me rightly expressed concern. I have dealt with my depression before and I knew it was going to take strict vigilance and herculean effort on my part. But I also felt rested enough after the stretch of normalcy to risk it. I felt like I had the resources and it was time. I made an agreement with Trevor that if he felt I was slipping, I would return to my doctor.

It was hard work. The withdrawal was horrible. First the physical symptoms - the nausea and brain zaps - and then I started to get what I call "the rage" multiple times a day. I would feel a horribly strong urge to break something, hurt something, beat the living crap out of something. It required I stop whatever I was doing to breathe. If that didn't work, a very hot bath. I had a lot of baths, sometimes three a day. I never felt like I was a danger to Mac (had the psychiatrist's number close by just in case), but there are a few plates that will never recover.

The rage would happen every day, then every second day, then a couple times a week and last night I realized that I can't even remember the last time I felt it. I am so happy it's gone. I have more ups and very few downs, and the ups are solid, stable and real. The downs are just usually a little grayness and more often then not indicate that I need to get out of the house or I'm just tired.

This is a lot to share, I know. But I also know some women who are pregnant right now and I guess I feel I owe them an honest account. I have no advice except the example of my experience, and to put it this way: once upon a time I resented, even hated my baby. Now I can't wait until he wakes up from his nap so I can kiss his face some more. That's a huge difference.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Violence Update

So what does he do? Falls asleep tonight softly stroking my arm. This kid's mission in life, or one of them, is to prove me wrong at every turn.

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Violence

Here's one for you parental types and non-parental types with good ideas. Last night I had to google "baby violent when falling asleep." I got nowhere.

My nephew falls asleep by stroking your eyelashes. It's really cute. Mac falls asleep by gouging skin. It's really not cute. Both Trevor and I have emerged from his bedroom bleeding. We look like we have chronic acne. I have pinch-shaped bruises up my arms, bite marks on my boobs, and a long scrape up my stomach. We've cut his nails but it doesn't stop the pinching or biting. It really freakin' hurts, too - enough to want to screech, except he's so close to sleep, which is far too valuable.

See why I'm so hesitant to leave him with a sitter?

So come on smartypanteses, what do we do? Do I say to hell with it and just screech and just deal with the inevitable tears? Can 8 month-old babies distinguish between cause and effect?

* * *
Trevor to Mac, who was in the process of simultaneously kicking him in the balls and trying to scratch his nose off of his face: "You're like a drunken abuser. A sadistic killer who we have to take care of because you might grow up to be a nice guy."

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Doom and Gloom


What was I going to say? I'm tired. But this blog won't write itself. Neither will my 116 project. What was I going to say? Oh yeah. I'm reading this book. The first story in the book is about a family living on streets and how the parents get the kids to sniff glue so they won't be hungry (and somehow he keeps it lighthearted). I woke up in the middle of the night from a dead sleep and remembered why it hit me so hard.


In 2001, I was living in Estonia and a bunch of us went on a trip to Russia. We were taking the subway to somewhere in Moscow and I remember we got off the train, went through the turnstiles or whatever, and there I saw this group of kids, maybe ranging in ages from six to twelve, kind of lying in a heap against the wall, completely high on glue. I remember locking eyes with one and the look... that look... it's creepy when you see it in an adult. It's soul-wrenching when you see it in a kid, that vacant, stoned look. I remember thinking, how could a parent, any parent, let their little kid end up like this? I think the book is helping me understand a little better. Even if one is Africa and one is Russia. Poverty is poverty.


And here's where I make a totally irrational leap in topics to admit that my child scares me a little. Oh, he's beautiful and funny and cuddly and loving and I'm enraptured with him. But a part of me knows that this kid has the power to break my heart by breaking himself. I often think about how that could happen. He could destroy himself and I may not be able to stop him.


Oh, I know, holy cow, no wonder I was on pills. And what's the use of even thinking like that? Enjoy the moment, etc., etc.. It could go the other way, anyhow, right? He could grow up, become amazing and support his parents in the manner to which they'd both very much like to become accustomed.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Marital Conversations

Trevor returns from walking the dog. It's late.

WORKING: I just finally got him down again.
TREV: Oh you're kidding.
WORKING: Nope. How was the walk?
TREV: Wet.
WORKING: Wet?
TREV: Well, yeah. It's cool and foggy out, and...
WORKING: ?
TREV: And I kind of found a crazy carpet.
WORKING: You didn't.
TREV: It was fun. Charlie thought it was the greatest, chasing me up and down the hill.
WORKING: I can imagine. That also explains why you're covered in snow.

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