Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The End. Kind of.

Hi friends. This mama is tired. She is exhausted. And so she's going to put chapter one to bed.

I'm starting chapter two.

I have no business retiring this blog to start another. I've been a terrible blogger. I don't follow ANY blogging rules. I never post. I've left huge gaps in time and information. And then I've been all "HEY I'M HERE AND HERE'S WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION!"

And so it goes.

Catch you in chapter two.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Drops in the bucket

A couple of years ago, I hopped into the Facebook controversy over breastfeeding with this post and this followup. I haven't been so involved in the continuing controversy in the last eighteen months. I weaned the boys, got busy with our growing family, had a little PPD inspired nervous breakdown, and healed marvelously and beautifully. And so it goes.

Last night, I got an email from a researcher named Caroline Jack at Cornell University. She is working on a research project that "looks at how social media affect the ways we make sense of contentious social and political issues, and how the policies set by social networking sites may influence the conversations that individuals and communities can have about those issues" (to quote directly from her email, because I certainly can't paraphrase this concisely). As part of this research, she's interviewing people who were involved in the Facebook controversy over breastfeeding. She asked me for an interview, and I excitedly said yes. (We're finalizing a date in August).

And then I started reminiscing. It was so exciting to be involved in the Facebook breastfeeding debate. It felt important. Relevant. It might have been a small drop in the bucket of all that needs to change in our society, but was something. It felt hopeful. I believed. 

I believed that if we all kept trying, we could make a difference. I believed that we could educate our communities, convert our neighbors, and gain some true publicity to get the word out there. And through all of this, I believed that the world would be a little bit better.

So it's two years later. I haven't posted any breastfeeding pictures of Anwen and I, and I'm not up on the current state of Facebook with breastfeeding. The reality is, breastfeeding, in many ways, is simply one of many aspects of life that we can look at to see how women are being treated/perceived/censored (controlled) -- by society as a whole.  We live in a world that is not equal. It's not equal if you're a woman, if you're gay, if you're part of a racial minority...I could go on and on. I fear that we're often lured into believing that things are better. That we're not still living under the heavy thumb of patriarchy. Wake up. The truth is ugly.

But back to breasts and Facebook for a moment. In the spirit of the second of my above mentioned posts, I did a quick search on Facebook...I typed the word "boobs" into the search bar. I immediately was presented with four different apps, all creatively named "boobs" with a combined 39,000 monthly users. The first app listed included the description, "send a pair of boobs to your friends! Some are hot, some are NOT!" So then I searched four more terms for breasts. Here are the images that immediately popped up:


As recently as February, Facebook had this to say about pictures of "nude" breasts: 

When it comes to uploaded photos on Facebook, the vast majority of breastfeeding photos comply with our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which closely mirrors the policy that governs broadcast television, and which places limitations on nudity due to the presence of minors on our site. On some occasions, breastfeeding photos contain nudity – for example an exposed breast that is not being used for feeding – and therefore violate our terms. When such photos are reported to us and are found to violate our policies, the person who posted the photo is contacted, and the photos are removed. Our policies strive to fit the needs of a diverse community while respecting everyone¹s interest in sharing content that is important to them, including experiences related to breastfeeding.
There are tens of thousands of fans of these pages. Pages that are heralded by pictures of hyper-sexualized and often disfigured breasts. Apparently, this content is considered within the realm of appropriateness for "minors on (Facebook's) site." I mean, it took me, a thirty one year old mother of three, less than five minutes to pull up these images. Certainly a tech savvy thirteen year old is equally capable, no?

I'm not pointing this out to be the boob police. I'm not posting these images for anyone's entertainment. I'm not making a judgement on what is or is not appropriate content for thirteen year olds. I'm trying to bring attention to the fact that breastfeeding is the tip of the iceberg.  In at least half of these pictures, the women shown have no face. No head. They are pieces of meat. In the vast majority of images, the bodies have been cut off. In most cases, the breasts have been altered, either on the screen or in the flesh, or both.

It's not about Facebook and breastfeeding. It's not solely about gender equality. It's about our world.

When I first posted on this two years ago, I posted all of the images I could find. There were four of them. Two years later, and in the same brief search, I found twenty-two. Twenty two images of somebody's daughter. Somebody's sister. Somebody's friend. I posted twenty two pictures of human beings, their bodies morphed and de-personalized, degraded.

In spite of all of this effort by tens of thousands, here we remain. Here we have progressed. 

My heart breaks. I brought children into this world. This world, where the KKK goes to court over their right to adopt a section of the highway. (Excuse me while I stop to vomit. Writing "KKK" and "their right" in the same sentence makes me want to crawl out of my own skin.) But children. My children. Your children. This is the future we offer them. Where the fucking KKK goes to court over a highway, and yet women have not been granted the legal protection to nourish their babies in the most accessible, simple and natural way they can. Where Chick Fil A throws homophobia around like a banner of patriotism for the first amendment, and yet thousands of people are dying at the hands of their own governments. Where a man walks into a movie theater and senselessly opens fire on innocent people, and yet money still wins out in the debate over gun control.

This is our world. This is what we have created. Our willingness to go along with it is our vote for things to stay the same. My heart breaks. I want more. I want better. I want to believe.

I want my children to grow up with hope.

I want my daughter to never know there was a time where she could have been an object. Where she could become a commodity for her breasts. I want my sons to never know a time where having a penis meant an automatic ownership. I want them all to know a world where we are born equal. Where good wins and where evil isn't worth it. Where they will have the opportunity to prove their excellence because of what they become, not what they are born with.

I want to believe.

And I'm terrified. I'm terrified that we're exhausted. I'm terrified that we're blind. I'm terrified that we're all too willing to turn our heads and look the other way. I'm terrified that we think this is good enough. Or that we think this is as good as it gets. I'm the idea that we all think somebody else is going to fix it.

That "somebody else" ...? The one who's going to fix it?

Put the computer, the tablet, the phone...put it down. Go look in the mirror. 

It's you. 

It's me. 

It's all of us. And if we don't?

This is our world. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I lied after the boys were born. I remember my mother asking me one day in the NICU, whether I felt the circumstances of their birth were impacting my bond with them. "Of course not." I believed myself. I loved them, and that meant everything. I had my babies. We were all, ultimately, going to be okay.

It is entirely possible to be blind to things sitting right in front of your face. My first impressions of Rhys: I would have known he was my baby in a lineup of a million others. And I felt like he didn't need me. My 5lb, 2oz preemie just seemed so strong. So independent. I kept this thought to myself. And refused to consider what it might mean. My first impression of Quin? Hardly exists. I don't remember the first time I saw him. Or held him. I remember laying alone in recovery, and the NICU doctor coming to explain to me that Quin was experiencing respiratory distress syndrome. In a haze of postpartum hormones and god only knows what drugs from the delivery, I couldn't register the seriousness of the conversation. I wavered between feeling giggly and overly, confidently relaxed. It will be okay. It will alllllll be okay.

I know that I held them for the first time the next day. I don't remember it. I don't know who I held first or what I said or who was there. I don't know how long I was with them. I desperately wanted to try breastfeeding and somehow convinced the nurses to let me try. What I remember from that is trying to hide from all present the fact that I kept passing out, or falling asleep. Slipping away.

My intentions were so good. My desires were so grand. The next year, two years, perhaps, revolved around one thing and one thing only. Survival in the best way we knew how. There was no time to think. To reflect. To mourn.

It wasn't what it was supposed to be. It became its own, as life does. We went with it. We survived.

But somewhere, hidden below the surface, I fell further and further into the rabbit hole. Things don't just fall away. I never had a chance to grieve the lost first moments of motherhood. We were okay. I had no right to be anything but grateful.

I wish I had seen Quin's face. I wish I could write out the emotions of the first time I cradled them in my arms. I wish I could describe to you the lioness inside of me who awakened to fight til the death for my vulnerable newborns. I don't have any of that to share with you. I don't have any of that to savor for myself.

And that is why I broke.

But this is our journey. It is not what I'd dreamed about. Our beginning has fractures. Holes. Heartbreak. And grief. Oh the grief. But it is our shared history. I don't know why. But it is ours. My boys and I. We are strong. Resilient. Enduring in our love. Forgiving. Letting go. Our roots begin with the understanding that we don't get to choose how it will be. Only how we grow from it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I see a therapist weekly. We're doing EMDR therapy, working to process the trauma of the boys' birth. It is painful, incredible, and hella hard work. Lately I've taken to going out for a drink alone after my sessions. Until last week, I'd never been to a bar by myself before. I'd always thought it would be terrifying and lonely. It isn't. It is an incredible indulgence, to sit in the dark amongst strangers, sipping my drink, writing and reflecting and basking in a simple sense of myself. Suddenly lifted from the rhythm of my day to day life - existing independently yet wholly - as Kyle holds down the fort at home, handling dinner, baths, bed time. I'm within weeks of completing therapy, and this self indulgent little routine is like my capstone project. I've come this far. I'm going to finish strong as life transitions to a new adventure. I am celebrating my growth, my reclaimed sense of self, a thousand wisdoms that have awakened inside me. I exist. Not just as wife or as mother. I exist. A woman who can sit alone at a bar and flourish in her own company, knowing exactly who she's with.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breathe. And then let go.

I've struggled with forgiveness. To be honest, I haven't understood it. Despite the desire, it has escaped me. It has seemed too great a gift to give to someone undeserving. I know that forgiving is supposed to help in healing. I always thought that was bullshit.

But suddenly, I get it.

I've talked about the last few months. Going crazy. I've alluded but never explained. Explanation? I was traumatized by the boys birth - more than I ever let on, and more than I could handle. It caught up with me. One simple reality. Their birth broke me. It broke my heart. My spirit. My resolve.

I tried so hard to compensate.

And couldn't.

And I'm okay.

Because I can break. I can break because I can heal. I can heal because I am strong. My strength isn't defined by determining the outcome. And that is a huge realization.

My strength is meeting the challenge. Letting go, and handling what comes next.

What has happened, all of the events that broke me, I forgive. They don't define me. Breaking doesn't define me. Surviving. Brushing myself off. Hugging my babies and moving forward. That defines me.

I get it.

Monday, May 14, 2012


It's been two months. Two months. Two months.

Two months that feel like two years.

Two decades.

In two months, I have transformed. I've peeled back the layers. I've felt. I've mourned.

Respectively: into a truer version of myself. Under which I hid. Love, fear, happiness, sadness, relief, pride, strength. My broken self.

We all want to believe that we will not break. On some level we know it is possible and so we cloak those fears in terms like, "I can't imagine" and "god forbid." We don't look at it. At the possibility of our broken selves. What we would do. What we would say.

Yet breaking - the great possibility of it - exists for all of us.

I broke.

And I am okay.

Healing - the great possibility of it - exists for all of us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No secrets.

I've been putting on a brave face. My "I'm proud of my journey to wellness face." My "I'm not ashamed" face. My "kicking postpartum depression's ass" face.

All of those faces are genuine.

But really, what choice do I have? Sit around feeling sad about all that's transpired? Feel embarrassed about my rather public (at least in my personal life) unraveling? I can't hide in my house forever, so I haven't hid in my house at all. I've gone to the grocery store. The playground with the kids. Boot camp. I've seen friends and neighbors, people who know a lot, people who know a little, people who know none of it. I've worn my brave face.

In a few weeks, I have some events to attend where I'll be seeing people I haven't seen for a while. People who might have talked to someone who talked to someone my blog. Or talked to someone.

And though I've said and stand by the fact that I'm not ashamed, I am aware. Of what might be said when I get up to refresh my drink. Of nervous smiles greeting me hello. Of whispers. Of the awkwardness of the question, "It's been so long! How have you been?"

I am aware of judgement. Of ignorance. Of the fact that sometimes people get only half a story. Of the fact that stories often get very twisted.

The truth?

I'm scared. Because there's at least a tiny part of me that wants to cry all of the time. That wants to scream out an explanation and education to everyone who might have heard. That deep down, cringes as my imagination runs wild about what people might think. What they might say.

There are two sides to this coin. On one, I know the facts. I understand the statistics. I believe mental health is a spectrum and I'm suspicious of anyone who claims to permanently operate on the extreme end of healthy. But the other side is where ignorance lies. Where it's easy to pass judgement on a good day, even easier when it's a topic we don't understand or discuss openly.

I am getting well. I can't believe where I am now in comparison to where I was a month ago. Truly, I can't believe it. I've worked my ass off. I'm proud. Hopeful. Confident.

I'm also angry, sad, and self-conscious.

We don't get to pick our journey. Just how we handle ourselves as we travel.

This particular journey?  Effing blows. How I'm handling it? I'm doing my best.

And onward.

Monday, March 19, 2012

But I don't feel depressed.

It seemed to start in November. I thought it was PMS. For about a week, I felt full of rage, impatient, not myself. Then I got my period and things returned to normal. I felt happy. Thrilled to be home with the kids, finally having left my job. So excited about the coming holidays. Looking forward to my sister flying home from CA for an extended visit. Life was good. I had everything I've ever wanted. I certainly did not feel depressed. In December, the hormonal swing came on stronger and lasted longer. For two weeks, I felt like someone had taken over my body. She was a raging bitch. She was sarcastic with my children, short with my husband, full of rage and possessing zero patience. I hated her. My period came, and once again, I felt normal. Happy. But confused. And scared. Was this PMDD? I made an appt. to see my OB to go on birth control, thinking it would level out my hormones. The appt. was scheduled for February; her soonest opening. Until then, I'd ride it out.

In January, the crazy, rageful me came out stronger than ever. Kyle came home from work one day and I declared I was done. DONE. I shut myself in the bathroom and let him handle the kids...dinner, bedtime, all of it. I thought the bath would unwind me, help me relax. Instead, I lay in the warm water and was flooded by sudden and disturbing intrusive thoughts. It scared me. I scheduled an appointment with my PCP for the following morning.

And here's the sad reality. I recognized something was wrong. I took every step I knew to intervene, get myself back on track. It was too little, too late. The next month is a blur.

PCP prescribes Zoloft. Allergic reaction. PCP switches me to Paxil. I take it for several weeks, until it becomes apparent that Paxil and I do not get along. Instead of helping get my moods under control, it makes the instrusive thoughts much more vivid and tortourous. I start thinking of killing myself. Not because I want to die, but because I can't take the torture of my crazy mind any more. Terrified, I fess up to Kyle. I call Postpartum Support International. I get connected to a therapist who specializes in PPD. I see my OB and start on a hormone stabilizing birth control. My OB tells me to stop taking the Paxil, suspecting it's making my thoughts more vivid and violent. I stop cold turkey. Begin going through SSRI withdrawals. My anxiety goes through the roof. I constantly feel like I'm crawling out of my skin. For the first time since all of this started, I feel deeply depressed. I become totally overwhelmed by my life. My children. I throw myself into cleaning and baking. I steam mop my floors three times a day. I steam mop the toilets, the bathtubs, the counter tops. I vacuum constantly. My tiny kitchen is taken over by bubbling vats of sourdough starter. Anything I can do to escape the crazy. I'm too overwhelmed and anxious to be alone with the kids.  We set up a schedule of friends and family who come over every day to help me while Kyle is at work. While they're there, I wander my house in a frenzy, starting 100 projects and finishing none. I have some good days. Mostly I have bad days.

And then, I have "the day." Where my distorted thoughts stop feeling distorted and start sounding logical. Imagine you're walking across a bridge. You're just out for a walk, and the bridge is in front of you. Naturally, you start to cross it. And the next thing you know, instead of crossing it, you're standing on the edge. Your next step will be to jump. And what the fuck? You're just out for a walk. You don't want to die. This wasn't your plan. But here you are. Confused. Terrified.

It wasn't an actual bridge for me. What it was is deeply personal, deeply painful, and deeply sad. But as I stood on that metaphorical railing, I knew it was crazy. Crazy. I called for help. And with help, I climbed back down.

The next day I checked myself into a psych ward. It was the best thing I've ever done for myself.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In opposition to silence.

Last night, Kyle and I were curled up on the couch watching recorded sitcoms from the last few weeks. Trying to laugh. He got up to go get something and I hit pause. I sat curled up on the couch listening to the hum of the baby monitors. Anwen's white noise. The boys' lullabies. The same lullabies they've been listening to since they were only a few weeks old, the ones I downloaded one overwhelmed day when I needed a sensory grounding to motherhood. Their lullabies have become an integral part of my sense of self as a mother. Reminding me of that boundless love and entrancing magic of childhood. As I sat listening to those sweet songs softly muffled by the monitor, I saw the first true glimpse of my mothering self that I've seen in weeks. It was amazing. It made me cry.


I hadn't blogged much since the fall. Or since Anwen's birth. Or since...when? But suddenly, I had the urge to write. A little over a week ago I hopped back on the laptop and let it spill out. A confused, chaotic, terrifying attempt at finding my way through a mind that was suddenly foreign, with no idea how I'd gotten there, and no idea how to get out. At the urging of loved ones, I took the posts down. Lacking any context to my daily life, they were just plain scary. But then again, daily life had gotten pretty scary itself.


It's hard to decide where to start in blogging about this now.  Do I go back to all the signs I missed over the last few years? Do I start with an explanation of postpartum depression and how truly serious and life threatening it can be? Do I start with my steady unraveling over the past few months? Do I start with my six day stint on a psych ward? Maybe with the journey ahead of me, the journey back to my true self?


None of that. I'm starting with an explanation that could be mistaken for a defense. Let me assure you, it is no defense, simply because I don't need one. I don't need to defend my sanity, my worth as a mother, or my decision to admit myself to a psychiatric ICU. It's not a defense because I feel nothing but proud of myself. For having the courage to be honest, to ask for help, and to set aside my pride to get the help I needed. I have a long way to go in healing. PPD isn't like the flu, over in a few miserable days. And especially when it's gone unchecked for as long as mine. Unchecked, unnoticed, accepted as part of motherhood. When your thoughts are distorted, it's hard to have insight to that fact. I'm starting with an explanation for anyone who is wondering why. Why I would choose to share this openly. Why I wouldn't edit out some of the more gasp-inducing details (psych ward!?!). My explanation is simple. PPD can be deadly. It's far more common than you think. And chances are, we all know somebody who will at some point suffer from it. Very likely in silence, or near silence. 


I'm sharing this because I'm here to write about it.  Because I felt safe enough to not be silent. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Let's take a pro-longed commercial break.

My return to blogging was short lived. I'm taking a blog-vacation while I focus on becoming well.

I still encourage anyone who is struggling with or knows somebody who is struggling with PPD to reach out for help. These are great places to start: and

PPD is treatable and temporary. And far more common than most people think.

So I'm signing off for now...but not quietly.

A few thoughts to share before I'm back laughing about the time I went bat-shit crazy:

-Fuck stigma.
-Fuck ignorance.
-Fuck anyone who thinks this is my fault, that I brought this on myself, or that having PPD makes me any less of a mother. I'm a fantastic mother. I take amazing care of my kids. Their health, well-being, safety, and happiness are my first priority in life.
-If you're going through something similar to me, you're not alone, help is out there, and you can get better.

So with love and lots of F bombs, I'm off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of sanity.

(Saying fuck a lot feels cathartic, and pretty fucking awesome right now).