Monday, January 30, 2012


Last week was filled with appointments. Monday I saw my counselor and OB. Tuesday Charlotte saw her pediatrician and Friday David saw a urologist.

It was mostly good. She is a little hippie-crunchy-weird but she's also sweet and caring and gave me some good tools to work on my anxiety and PTSD. I have arranged to do 5 sessions and then will judge where to go from there.

Good as always. I really couldn't love my OB's office or OB any more. She did agree to change my meds. I'm now on Paxil instead of Lexapro. I don't have to go back for 3 months, though I'm to call with any trouble or if I feel like I need to up my dose. I stopped in to see the phlebotomist from whom I took Charlotte's middle name (Corrina) which is always fun. She took a look at Charlotte and said "She's so fat!" It absolutely horrified the pregnant woman who was just finishing up in the lab. I reassured her that in my world a fat baby is good.

Charlotte is kinda fat. Ya know, relatively. She was 9.5 pounds and 20.5 inches long. She was 10% height and 25% weight on the growth chart for her actual age. If we adjusted, she'd be at 40% and 70%. That was new! We got official permission to let her sleep as long as she wants at night (sshh, don't tell, I already was. I knew she was gaining weight like crazy already.) and to come out of quarantine the first week of February. THAT'S NEXT WEEK.
Obviously, we're not supposed to go crazy and keep her covered and such, but we can leave the house! I'm more excited than I even express in words. Of course, the first time she gets sick, I'm going to freak the hell out, but we will try to be careful.
She didn't want me to send Robbie back to school until we talk again at the end of February. She wants to see the glut of RSV & Flu season pass before I send him back. So I'm supposed to call towards the end of February and discuss it then. I'm still hoping to send him back the first week of March.

David's getting a vasectomy on Feb 10. Before I got pregnant with Charlotte, I would have told you that I wanted more than 2 children. And honestly, I'd still like to raise more. But I feel 100% certain that I am not having any more babies. Severe pre-e x 2 is plenty for me. And I'm not getting any younger. I still can't quite get used to the idea that I'll never wonder about pregnancy again. When I walked down the family planning aisle at Target last week, I almost automatically grabbed a few HPTs.
The doctor was really nice. I wish we'd seen him when David saw a urologist for his low sperm count. I hated the one he saw back then. This guy was very easy going and down to earth. And it turned out his sister had HELLP syndrome, so he was sympathetic about our history.
I'll be glad to have it done with. Honestly, even the thought of being pregnant again makes my stomach churn. Not the part about having another baby (though certainly I'd like to get a good night's sleep again before I even want to think about that, either) but the being pregnant again. It's quite a paradigm shift to go from "if I could just get pregnant" to "please don't let me be pregnant." Perhaps after the snip is done, I can just stop thinking about pregnancy, period. That would be new and strange.

I think I'm in a decent place. The side effects from the Paxil are lower than those on the Lexapro and I think the anxiety is a little better controlled.Honestly I've felt pretty sane for almost 2 weeks now.

Last night the smoke detectors went off (crumbs in the oven.) Our house is one of those where they are all wired together so when one goes off, they ALL go off. Robbie freaked the hell out. I can't say I enjoyed it much better, but of course, my focus was on covering his ears and getting it fixed.
After it was over, I was shaking. I wasn't scared by any means, but I guess just my startle reflex set off my nervous system and it just can't shut off after that.

Today it continued off and on. And it's been back tonight a bit. The different is that it's only physical. My hands are shaky and I'm tense, but I feel completely lucid. So even the breakthrough anxiety is not nearly as severe as it was. I think the Paxil is a better choice for me. And again, Charlotte doesn't seem to be having any reaction to it. She's still amazing and thriving.

There are still good days and bad days, but the bad days are rarer and less severe. The good days are more common and more fulfilling. I am able to enjoy being a mom again. All in all, life is feeling pretty good right now.



Monday, January 23, 2012

A good week

Spending the week with my mother in law was really nice. I always suspected it would be nice to have a real mom and it turns out I was right. We get along very well, so it was fun to have someone to talk to and gossip with. She loves the kids almost as much as I do and helps SO much with them. She cooked, she cleaned, hell, she did my laundry! A girl could get used to that.

Anxiety wise, I did pretty well. I had one bad night where I started thinking about being home alone with the kids again which set me into a tizzy, but it eventually passed.

I've been home a few days now and still doing pretty well. I'm still having a hard time when I first wake up. It doesn't matter if it's morning or a nap, for about an hour after I wake up, I'm really jittery and shaky. It feels a bit like having low blood sugar, but it's not that. I've found that if I have something caffeinated, it seems to help, so I think it's related to trying to get my blood pumping again.

I go back to the OB tomorrow to discuss progress. I am going to talk about changing meds. I'm a little nervous to do so because I'm afraid the anxiety will get worse again, but I'm hopeful that maybe we can manage even my residual anxiety and lessen the side effects as well.

I also start therapy tomorrow. I'm not really nervous about therapy itself. I've been in therapy before (in my late teens) and I'm fine with that. I originally went to college for psychology and feel pretty comfortable in that setting. I am, however, worried about liking my therapist. She seems very nice on the phone and came recommended by a friend I really trust. But she asked for some childhood history via email and spilling that all out in an email made me feel really vulnerable. And then she didn't reply. I ended up sending a follow up email under the guise of asking a question, sort of hoping she'd say something reassuring, but no luck. But I guess will see how it goes.

I know that having had a few days being mostly anxiety free has been really refreshing. I can't say I've felt 100% like the old me, but I couldn't say if that's mental illness or straight out exhaustion. (Charlotte had 4 nights in a row of being up for a 3 hour stretch in the middle of the night.) Either way, I am functional and capable of feeling joy, so I'll take it.

I'm also hopefully in the home stretch of quarantine. The doc said 8 weeks past due date, which gives us 2.5 weeks to go. Charlotte goes back to the doctor on Tuesday (rescheduled from 2 weeks ago because the highway to the doctor was shut down with ice) and we'll discuss it then. She's doing very well and gaining weight really well, so I don't think she'll stop us. I know she'll caution us that she's still small and need to be careful, but we should be able to go out and have company if we use good sense. And honestly, once Robbie goes back to school, there will be a steady flow of germs into the house anyway. I just hope the worst of it has passed by then (thinking the first week of March.)

I think having things to look forward to has helped my mental health more than just about anything else. One of the worst parts about anxiety has been the feeling that THIS (this feeling, this exhaustion, this overwhelmedness, this life) is forever. Being able to look and say "no, on X date, something good will happen" goes a long way to negate that. So looking forward to getting away for a week, then to starting therapy, then to getting out of quarantine... it's been nice.

We've also decided to take another week at my mother in law's next month. The week before Robbie goes back to school, we'll spend with her again. This time we'll even be able to go out to dinner or do some shopping since that should be post-quarantine. Another thing to look forward to.

I'm also looking forward to Robbie going back to school, too. Right now the plan is just preschool (2 hours) on Monday & Wednesday and all day on Tuesday & Thursday (he'll stay home on Fridays). That gives him 4 days of preschool plus two full days of being with his friends. While his development has done a LOT of catching up in the last year, the biggest area that he is still behind in are in his social development. Being with the other kids his age is the best way to facilitate that, so I think it's important for him.

And honestly, the idea of 2 days a week where I can sleep when Charlotte sleeps sounds great. Even on the weekends when David is home, Robbie wants me all the time. David takes Charlotte so I can take a nap and I wake up to Robbie bouncing on my head. Or the sound of David and Robbie at the door arguing about whether mommy really needs to be left alone or not. Being loved by your son is a good problem to have, for sure. But a real nap sounds pretty nice, too.

All in all, it was a good week. And I hope that this week continues to be so. It's hard to feel confident that it will be because it seems like just when I think I've got this thing licked, anxiety surges through again, but I'm trying to remain positive. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Things have been pretty okay this week. I'm at my mother-in-law's for the week. David is at home, but the kids and I are here. Having another woman- a mom- around is pretty awesome. David's been amazing but there is nothing like a mom to see what needs to be done and do it without having to be directed. It's almost enough to make me consider taking a sister-wife. If only David could keep up with two of us.

It's also been interesting to be mothered so consistently. David asked me the other night what it was like to have a mom. I said it was pretty awesome. Having grown up without one, it's amazing to see how the other half lived. My dad was (is) a great dad, but again, a mom just gets things that most men don't. I walked into my room tonight and just stared at a basket of clean laundry. When I'd left my room earlier it was dirty and now it was clean. That's.....magic. A girl could get used to being taken care of.

Of course, being me, I managed to let that give me anxiety tonight. She is driving back with me on Friday and then will drive herself home (David took her car home) on Saturday. I had a thought about how I'd miss the help on Sunday and WHAM! anxiety set in. Even though things really have been improving, my biggest fear is still being alone with the kids. As soon as it hit me, I started talking myself through it. I AM alone with the kids ALL the time. Hell, my MIL has a job, I've been alone with the kids while I've been here. And they seem to be doing just fine. But once in a while all I can think is how tired and overwhelmed I am and how will I ever get through it.

That rolled into wondering if I ever won't be afraid again. What if I feel like this forever? What if I can't enjoy the kids, what if I don't want to be alone with them, what if they know I am scared? Will they think I don't love them? Is this what my mother felt like? Is this why she left me? What if I snap and leave my kids like she left me? (And whoa. Typing that out makes me realize that I CLEARLY still have mommy issues that I thought I'd worked through. Mental note to bring that up in therapy next week.) Cue hands shaking, stomach churning, brink of tears.

My MIL was bathing Robbie. I put Charlotte in the moby and went to join them. She offered to let me sit and I explained that I was feeling anxious and was better off pacing and burning off the energy. She was very sympathetic. We talked about the physical feeling of anxiety and how nonsensical it is. I just hate it. She's very encouraging, and we both help therapy will help. But I'm so frustrated that something as mundane as "sure will miss her when she's back home" turns into what turned out to be a nearly 3 hour anxiety cycle. I'm sick of it.

I did think of this:

and held onto it. Those fears of it lasting forever are not real. They are the illness lying to me. It is a lie. Thanks to The Bloggess for it because I clung to it. And right now-now that it has passed- I think "how silly. I'm not scared of my kids. They're awesome and I've totally got this. And of course I'll get better. Think of how many people have contacted you to tell you how they've recovered..." But I also know that that hopeless feeling seems so real when I'm in the middle of it.

I hate anxiety. I hate that my own body and mind are doing this to me in spite of me knowing it's not real. I hate that even when I'm not feeling anxious, I'm thinking about when I'm going to next be anxious. I'm still having a period of tension just after dusk each night. So when I see the sun starting to set, I look at the clock and wonder when it's going to start. It's a fear-of-fear cycle that just plain blows.

I've been trying to stay busy and distracted. I'm working on gathering things for Charlotte's nursery. That's a ton of fun. Since I'm not at home, I had to call David and tell him to haul in all the boxes off the porch every night. It's going to be like another Christmas when I get home because there will be things waiting for me.

Right now the room that will be hers is David's office. It's going to move to the basement, but in order to do so, we have to have some wiring run down there (it's not finished). So I'm chomping at the bit to get it done. Hopefully when I can start painting and hanging things, that will give me both a physical and mental outlet to expend some energy. In the meantime, I'm doing a lot of online shopping (which is difficult when you're using an unreliable unsecured wifi connection, btw) and trying to ignore anything not as fun. I guess when that's done, I'm going to need a new project to focus on.

Or who knows, maybe by then I'll be all "fixed" and can just be lazy like normal. A girl can dream, eh?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

checking in

Well, I'd say I'm about the same as I was last week. I still get tense and worried just after dark each night. I've installed full spectrum bulbs in key places throughout the house (wow, are they BRIGHT and WHITE! Robbie's taken to telling me that the old bulbs are yellow and the new ones are white. He's right.) and I turn them on before dusk even begins. Dark doesn't seem to bother me as much as dusk does.

Monday was a pretty decent day, the weather was great. I took the kids out for a long walk through the neighborhood just before dusk and was feeling great all evening. Then around 9:30, I was washing dishes and WHAM! It hit me harder than it has in a while. It was awful. It only lasted about an hour, which isn't bad, but it was intense and unexpected.

I've also been having a lot of heartburn and reflux. I'm still taking my reflux meds that I started while I was pregnant with Charlotte, so you'd think I'd be okay. I'm certain it's a symptom of the anxiety. It starts in the evening (or intensifies if it's started earlier.) and seems to precede the tense/anxious feelings by about a half an hour or 45 minutes. I think it's the start of my body gearing up to freak out.

I contacted a therapist and will be starting therapy on the 23rd. In the meantime, we've been in contact via phone and email a couple of times. I wrote out the world's longest history on Saturday and sent it. Nothing like dragging up all my childhood emotional baggage to really get the blood pumping.

Immediately after sending that email to her, we took my 13 year old cat to the vet to be put to sleep. She had cancer and was fading fast. It was awful. I held her and talked to her until the end, and then David and I both sobbed for a little while. She is being cremated and some day I will spread her ashes with my dog's ashes somewhere nice. I'm relieved she's not in pain any more, but I still expect her to hop into bed with me, or come lay on the arm of the chair. She was part of my life before the kids, before David, before I was really even grown up. She loved me more than anyone else. She will be missed.

It's possible that the unexpected anxiety on Monday was related. Years ago when I had a lot of panic attacks, they would often hit a few days after a stressful event, not in the midst of it. So I suppose that makes sense.

I am functioning okay, I think. I am able to mostly enjoy the kids and see them through the haze of my brain. I don't feel cloudy and hopeless all the time. I just don't feel 100%. It still takes almost nothing to set off my anxiety. A headache or a pain in my side is an aneurysm or liver failure. Charlotte sleeps too long and her brain isn't aware enough. Tonight the story of a mom losing her son so SIDS threatened to push me over the edge. I've checked Charlotte's breathing a hundred times.

The kids and I are going to spend a week with my mother-in-law and I'm both looking forward to it and stressed. Being away from home for a week is stressful no matter what. Making sure we have everything we need for the kids is just a lot to keep track of. It also means no real Internet access for a week. (I'll have my wireless phone, but that's it.) It's scary how much I rely on the both the Internet and TV as a distraction when I'm tense. The noise of the TV can drown out my crazy thoughts. I have a few movies to take with me, but those will only go so far. Sometimes I can get lucky and catch a weak unsecured signal and check my email or something, but I can't count on it.

On the other hand, my mother-in-law is a great help and a good distraction herself. She will let me nap, make sure I'm fed, and entertain the kids, all while enjoying herself too. Not having to be alone all day is fantastic as I still get anxious about being alone with both kids all day. (Which is still stupid because I'm doing it most days and so far we're all doing fine, but anxiety is not rational.)

I go back to my OB for an anxiety check on the 23rd (same day as I start therapy) and I might ask about trying a different med. I feel like I could still be better. I want to still be better. I also still get a lot of shakiness as a side effect and I would love to be rid of that, too. I had good luck with Paxil years ago and it's cleared for nursing, so I'm hoping that might work better.

Those of you who have experience in this area, how much better did the meds REALLY make you? Realistically, 2 months into being medicated, how many bad days are you having? How severe? How regularly? I don't know what to expect. When I was on Paxil years ago, it was for panic attacks and it completely eradicated them.

But I've never not been an anxious person. That's part of my personality. And now it's been so regular since I've had Charlotte that I'm not sure how much is "Anxiety" and how much is "Trish." I'm not sure I know what normal is any more.

In non-anxiety related news, Charlotte is 2 months old today. I can't believe how quickly it's gone. She's doing great. She was supposed to have her 2 month appointment today but we got some snow today that inexplicably shut down the highway between here and the doctor so I had to reschedule. I do have a scale at home, so I can tell you that she's right around 8.5 pounds and quite a chunk. She's really a momma's girl and good-natured so long as she's held. Just don't try to put her down, okay?

 Robbie's pretty much the best big brother ever. As worried as I was about jealousy, he's completely the opposite. The only trouble we have between them is that he wants to hug and kiss her 30 times a day, whether she's sleeping or not and sometimes his hugs are a little aggressive. But they're well-intentioned. He hugs her and says "aww.. I love you baby sissy." It's SO sweet.

Let's look at house cute they are:

Yes, Robbie has thousands of his own toys, but has spent the last 2 days playing with nothing but a toy rattle that looks like a phone.
 I caught a sleep smile.

Napping on Daddy.

Is it time to eat yet? 
 Hi mom!

 Who needs tumbling class when you have pillows?

My pants are as bright as I am. 


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking forward

I wish today had been as great as yesterday. It just wasn't. It wasn't awful. I only had one flash of panic that lasted only a few minutes. But the rest of the day I just felt "off." Kinda of cloudy and tense. The pain in my chest set in just after dark (is it spring yet?) and is still on-going. It's frustrating.

I'm doing everything I can think of to help. I try to get as much activity in during the day as I can. That mostly consists of housework, but I make a concentrated effort to walk around and make it as active as possible. I'm taking fish oil, vitamin D and a probiotic on top of my regular prenatal vitamin, folguard & Lexapro. I open the blinds the minute we're up and spend as much time in the sun as I can. Hell, tonight I ordered some full spectrum light bulbs. I am eating turkey and chicken & drinking milk for the triptophan (something about it being metabolized into serotonin. Just go with it.)

I'm doing relaxation breathing and techniques during the day. I sleep when I can (that's hard right now, though), and try to do something for myself in the evenings. (Usually a bath and a book for about 45 minutes.) I hired help a day or two a week. I have a great support system and when it gets bad, I call and talk to that support system. (I've never talked to my dad so much in my life and that's saying something because we've always been close.)

Maybe I'm just being impatient. I've been on meds for a month. I know it takes time. But it feels like that time is slipping away. I spend so much time wishing time away, waiting for David to get home, or bedtime or until the weekend when I don't have to be alone and feeling overwhelmed. I don't want to do that. The time goes by so fast as it is. I can't believe Robbie's 3.5 and Charlotte's almost 2 months old. I don't want to miss out on this time with them. But right now is just not good and I can't help but wishing that we could fast-forward to the time when things are better. Or would like to know when that time will be. I really need a crystal ball, I guess.

I am concentrating on things to look forward to. The week after next I'm going to my mother in law's for a week. David will be at home, but the kids and I will stay there. She's a great help. She works part time, so she'll mostly be around to help. And of course, it's win-win because she adores the kids and enjoys helping out and I'll not have to be alone and might get a nap once in a while.

And then just a couple of weeks after I get home from there, we'll be out of quarantine. Charlotte's doctor wanted 8 weeks past her due date, which is February 9. We'll get to leave the house. Heading out with two kids is a challenge, but honestly, even just being able to run to the grocery store or Target during the day would be freeing. Robbie needs out of the house and so do I.

I'm not sure when I'm sending Robbie back to preschool just yet. I'll discussing it with his pediatrician next week, but probably mid-late February. He'll go full days 2 days a week and then just preschool (2 hours a day) another 2. I'm going to keep him home on Fridays. I know he will enjoy it. I dropped some Christmas treats and a birth announcement off to the school last week and his teacher told me that the kids still include Robbie in their story telling. They miss him. It was nice to hear. I know he misses them. He tells me that kids in his books look like his classmates. Or asks to go to school or to Tumbling (which is at school on Tuesdays.) The social interaction is important. And of course, two days a week, I can sleep when Charlotte does. I think that is good for all of us, really.

In any case, those things are what I'm focusing on when I'm feeling low. Hoping that the better days are closer than they feel. I know some day these will seem like the best days, so I'm trying to pay attention while I'm in them.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Improving again

My thyroid results came back fine. I'm just crazy. I'm not really sure how I feel about that. It seems silly to wish for a health problem (thyroid issues) but then it would have been nice to have something with the hope of being fixed.

The increased dose of Lexapro (now 20mg) is helping, though. I changed doses on Friday. I spent most of Friday feeling pretty much like an anxious zombie. Saturday was a little better but I still had some time in the evening that wasn't pleasant and left me exhausted. I didn't see midnight on New Years for what I'm pretty sure is the first time in my entire adult life. Sunday was a little better still.

Monday was pretty nice with just a little tense feeling in the evening. The nanny was going to come on Tuesday but texted early on Monday to tell me she wasn't going to be able to after all (funeral) and it ALMOST got me. The biggest trigger I have is still feeling overwhelmed with the kids by myself. (Though I still can't tell you why. We're by ourselves all the time and so far so good, but it still gets me.) But I fought it off. I thought about all the days we've gotten through just fine and dandy and we managed. I had to really concentrate on fighting it off for a while, but Robbie and I had a tumbling, tickling match just before his bedtime and I was able to feel really present for that in spite of it. That was a major victory. Normally the last thing I can take when I'm feeling super tense is being bounced on, but we had fun.

Today is the first day I can say I felt sane all day. It was remarkable really. I forget how nice it feels to live my life. When I'm in the pit of anxiety I can list all my blessings, but I can't *FEEL* them. But when I have a day like today I can. It's such an odd feeling, really. I know that yesterday I felt hopeless and anxious. But today that feels like it was someone else. It's so surreal.

It really makes me understand why people stop taking their meds. You start to feel like that was all in your mind. You feel fine now so why take medicine? You must have just been having an off day. Of course, I realize that isn't the case, but it's amazing how distant the bad days feel on the good days. And on the bad days, it feels like there will never be good days again, so it really feels distant. It's hard to describe to anyone who hasn't felt it.

In maybe-related news, my period returned this week. Yes, at 7 weeks postpartum, despite the fact that I'm exclusively breastfeeding Charlotte. It returned at 8 weeks with Robbie, but I assumed that had to do with pumping instead of nursing. Apparently not. Apparently I'm just lucky like that. Honestly, we are 100% done with baby making so I could happily be done with those permanently but this sort of seems like insult to injury. I'm sure PMS is not adding to my mental stability here. I can't help but wonder if it was responsible for my resurgence of symptoms last week.

In any case, today was a better day. Hoping tomorrow is, too. Hoping for lots and lots of better days.


P.S. If you haven't read this yet, you should. The Bloggess is one of the funniest writers on the web... and crazy like the rest of us.