Dashboards, Diapers, and Heartache

I recently got back from a cross-country car drive to TX and back for vacation, to see family and relatives and friends. Yes, we did this with a 7 month old. Yes, we are cray cray.

We survived – much harder said than done – yep, you’re reading it right – traveling with a baby by car (going 1500 miles in two days… Twice) is actually pretty easy. Now, in a year? HAH. NOPE. Suddenly singing songs and falling alseep in the car seat will not do for long periods of time.

As I sit here rocking Elswyth in my lap (literally – she lays on my legs now. Refuses to be held, she must be TRICKED into nap time) on the recliner, I’m at a loss for words. Not because I miss my family already (though I do) but because my identity as a mother has brought a new rate of hell into my life that I didn’t think was possible.

Before you get judgmental, hear me out. Or don’t – this isn’t your blog, so I’ll vent as I please and you can run right along!

I knew going into this that there would be trouble, heartache, exhaustion, etc. I knew my lifestyles would need to change to accommodate the new little one I love so much. I didn’t really think I’d be caught in the “lonely stay at home mom” storm, though.

I’ve been going through periods of deep depression. A few friends just stopped talking to me out of the blue – completely ignoring my calls, my texts, emails, my pokes and prods. It was the most painful thing I’ve yet to endure – because I don’t make “new friends” or “circles” – I’ve kept the people I grew up with as a child in my “clique”. To suddenly have lost them, due to being a parent (and a Christian, I’m presuming) has left me lying awake at night with a lump in my throat. I live in PA, so everyone I “depend on” and love and desire to be close to is long distance. Take that away and I am left feeling empty, anxious, manic and heartbroken.

It sounds dramatic but it’s really been quite the trauma for me. I still have three close friends – one is more semi-close, but close nonetheless. That should be enough, right? Well…

It is, and it isn’t. I’m shy, but also very social: I rely on intellectual conversation, friendly banter and people I can share hobbies and interests with. I’m also incredibly sensitive to speech – the slighlest compliment can build my ego and confidence like a rainbow, but a small negative gesture will break me into a thousand pieces.

I love my daughter. I love being a mother. It’s the most rewarding, beautiful journey worth waiting for. It’s also lonely, dry, stagnant and painful… When you’re enduring a bad day.

Losing these friends caused me to start considering employment again. Where I can socialize and hopefully meet people (which terrifies me, but I’m desperate if I can’t have the people in TX nearby, haha) with other children, to connect in this new season of life with. It’s a bad idea in general with my nature, so I’m trying to build a business of my own, in my head, for somewhere down the road… It’s clear to me that I can’t be managed, I have to work on my time, doing what I love. Even basic WAHJ’s don’t have what I need, because I’m not in control. Someday, hopefully, I can peruse my high school dreams related to art/photography/videography. Thankfully it’s not unrealistic… I will never be the breadwinner, only sporadic supplemental income.

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Dear Bipolar Mom: You Are a Star

You have learned to cope with your illness, no matter how far a “normal” day may seem out of reach. You have spent countless, sleepless nights on the verge of tears, mania, and anger – all while trying to stay put on the roller coaster of parenthood that whips you around faster that any mood swing you’ve ever been through. Some days you’re strong, others… Not so much. But that baby… Oh, that baby, who is sleeping so soundly in your arms, who is comforted by your scent, your smiles, your hard work… They make every day worth trying without regret, don’t they?

Sometimes you are hard on yourself. Sometimes you wonder if you’re a bad parent, because your anxiety, sadness, or anger swell up inside you. Sometimes you worry yourself sick that one day you’ll lose it around them, and it terrifies you. But you don’t, and I’m so proud of you. You deserve to have children, and you are a fantastic mother, with limitless sacrifice and love, because you put your baby first even when your mind is in shambles.

Please don’t doubt your ability as a mother. You’re juggling more than most would understand, and I’m so proud of you. Be proud of yourself, and remember that your illness doesn’t make you weak – managing it for the benefit of your child (and you!) is an inside AND outside job, and the emotional and physical exhaustion should not be taken lightly. Give yourself a break, and take a deep breath. You are strong, at peace with your medication, and striving to do better whenever you can. You are lovely; you are an inspiration to your breathtaking baby.

You are a star.

32 Week Update

It’s been a LONG time, and I apologize to anybody who actually still reads this blog.

Life has become… interesting in the last month, and I’ve tried my hardest not to become overwhelmed or flooded by emotion I don’t want.  I won’t lie, there have been many days where I have sobbed and felt like taking a sledgehammer to the nearest window.  Depression turns very, VERY quickly to wrath for me unless I get it under control, fast.

Once I entered my third trimester I started having some issues with self worth.  This is nothing new for me.  It usually begins with an event that hits me in the gut where I thought I had some sort of self-esteem, and it rips it away from me.  Around week 29 is when things really started to get stressful – I’ve had no manic tendencies whatsoever… just flat out horrible sadness that makes me feel incredibly guilty.  And unfortunately, the easiest way for me to deal with that guilt so that it doesn’t linger and affect my baby’s mood, I’ve turned to addictions that are NOT healthy and not good.  My husband has been so supportive of this, I don’t know what I would do without him.

During this time (week 29-32) I had several instances where I felt personally attacked… by people I never thought would say the things they said.  It made me give up on a lot of things because they made me feel so poor about myself.  Thankfully, by God’s grace and the help of a family member, I let it slide off my shoulders so I could take care of myself and my child.  I’m a VERY influential person, so obviously if someone is going to tell me I’m doing things terribly wrong, I’m going to want to believe them even though I know what I’m doing is right for me on a personal level.  So I’m glad that I’m past that point of the week.  Did I confront these people?  Hah.  Only one, really.  So, in a sense, no.  I’m a coward, and I openly admit to that.  I’m terrified of losing the friends I have.  But, as someone once told me, if someone makes you feel so ill about yourself can you really call them a friend?  I know they didn’t mean it.  Or at least, I truly hope they didn’t.  Sometimes as people we can be so oblivious to our words… but you’d think one wouldn’t, when it comes to food and nutrition.  Because that’s what all of it had to do with.  Peh.

In five weeks I’ll be full term.  I feel like there’s so much to do, even though I know we only really need three things to purchase yet.  I will re-wash everything probably during week 36-37, just so that I can assure myself that baby’s belonging’s are clean and ready to go.

Oh, something that’s pissed me off… A LOT?  I feel like everybody I talk to thinks we’re lying about not knowing our baby’s gender.  It has really gotten on my nerves.  Why the crap would we lie about that?  We stayed strong the entire pregnancy and never broke once into asking our techs to tell us.  I’m sorry you don’t know what it is, folks – we don’t either, and we intend to keep it that way until the delivery day.  I specifically have written on my birth plan that I want the delivering doctor or midwife to annaouhce, out loud in the room, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”.  I’m sorry, but if you ACTUALLY knew me, you’d know I simply CANNOT keep a secret.  So even if my spouse and I were the only ones who knew, I would blow it eventually to SOMEBODY.  But I HAVEN’T, because I don’t FREAKING KNOW, EITHER.  So LAY OFF OF IT.

Yes, being extra aggressive online without naming names is very mature.  😉  What’d I tell you?  I’m a coward who vents!

Now then, onto baby.  They’re doing great.  Kicking has turned to rolling, but every once and awhile I get a nice jab (not in the ribs, though, my baby is too low for that… yes, I’m blessed).  They weigh about 3.3 – 4.0 lbs, which is fantastic!  I’m trying to help them put on fat.  Need to do some catching up in that department, and I’ve been battling the anxiety related to it.  Gaining weight is terrifying for me but I know it’s necessary.  I’m SO done with people one-upping me there, too… when does the one-upping stop?  Seriously.  Can we all just forget about lifestyles and choices and who’s better than who and just focus on becoming parents, ladies?  Ugh.  You’re taking all the fun out of the miracle of pregnancy and life.  For real.

Easy Interval Walking Workout

My next post on Knocked Up and Fit is up!

Footprint

So!You’ve resolved to be active during your pregnancy. That’s great! Now that you’ve come to an agreement with your OB or practitioner on what is safe, you’re ready to get in shape during one of the most exciting times in your life.

Walking is super effective. It’s a convenient way to ensure you’re still logging in some cardio even when you’re having a sluggish day. I want to take you through an example workout that can be adjusted to take up 20-30 minutes of your time. We’re going to be talking about interval walking.

As I am not a health professional, always seek your doctor’s approval before starting any fitness routine and stop immediately if you feel pain, short of breath, or dizzy. Pregnancy is never the time to push yourself further than you feel your body can go! And as always, remember to warm up/cool down.

Intervals in…

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Heritable bipolar phenotypes pinned down

A very interesting perspective.

Manic Muses

(I don’t usually quote an entire article, but this subject is near and dear to my heart….)

Heritable bipolar phenotypes pinned down

Published on February 14, 2014 at 5:12 PM

By Eleanor McDermid, Senior medwireNews Reporter

A large study has pinpointed brain and behavioural traits that are genetically influenced and associated with bipolar I disorder.

Carrie Bearden (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and team examined 169 behavioural, neurocognitive and neuroimaging traits in 181 patients with bipolar I disorder and their close relatives – 738 people in total.

They found that three-quarters of these traits were heritable, 31% were significantly associated with bipolar disorder and 24% were both heritable and associated with bipolar disorder.

Traits in this last group “are the most promising phenotypes for identifying loci contributing to disease risk, as shown for other neuropsychiatric disorders,” write the researchers in JAMA Psychiatry.

They add: “Some phenotypes in this…

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Why Keep Fit During Pregnancy?

Here is the introduction post to Knocked Up and Fit!

I’m currently nearing the end of my 23rd week in pregnancy, and I feel tiredachysore GREAT!

Notice how those three words are crossed out?  Not an attempt to brag.  Just pure, unabashed honesty.  And I am so incredibly thankful.

Believe it or not, I didn’t start exercising again until the middle of my second trimester… I’ve actually been on a 4 month-long hiatus after discovering I conceived, due to possible complications.  But, now that most of those are in the clear, I’m back at it and ready to share with you why staying active during my pregnancy has been the best decision I could have made not only for my baby, but myself as well.

Now you should know, this is my first child — so accepting advice from someone who is a parenting/baby-parasite host (I say that jokingly, and with love) newbie might be a little difficult. …

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Before and After

Last night I took to writing longhand after experiencing what now seems to have been, basically, an adult temper tantrum (I couldn’t fall back asleep – woke up at 2:00 AM and started to lose it around 4:00AM… Yes, it really does make me flip out) I’ve begun to wonder just how much of bipolar disorder is merely a character flaw just like anything else – something I must continue to work through and recognize as a problem. People would probably disagree with me but sometimes I’m just not sure anymore. It is never something to lean on/manipulate with/or abuse… But I’ve been guilty of all three.

After reading what I wrote, it’s hard to believe any of it came out of me at all. The words are harsh but sad. I remember there were times I stopped my pen and asked myself, “Why are you even writing this?” Which is great — I believe that was conviction of the Holy Spirit. Illness is a drainer. Illness insomniatic. I struggled for hours last night feeling so ashamed for the stress I might have put on my child. To be completely frank, he/she is helping! I hate knowing I’m responsible for two beating hearts – so if when I cry and my heart races, I hate knowing I could be causing internal damage to something so incredibly precious to me. So in a nutshell, all the better motivation/reason to stay under control and just say NO. I never wanted my child to see me cry, but they’re feeling it in the womb.

I hope they don’t fall into this thing of mine. I hope they can look at me and see strength, maturity, patience and love.

As Creed so wonderfully puts it in “With Arms Wide Open”…


I hope he’s not like me, I hope he understands.