Tag Archives: family

Mother’s Day, Depression, and Chosing Your Own Adventure 

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Mother’s Day.

What a fucking crock of shit.  

Do you remember those “Chose Your Own Adventure” books from when we were in fourth or fifth grade?

They were these young reader books where you’d get to the end of a chapter and if you wanted to take the character to a cave to fight a dragon it would tell you to flip to a certain page, and if you wanted the character to get in a boat and sail off someplace, you’d be instructed to go to a different page.

As I got in the shower, and reflected on Mother’s Day, I  thought how motherhood is sort of like a Chose Your Own Adventure book.

I thought this because I thought “Mother’s Day; what a fucking crock of shit.”

And then the guilty little people pleaser in me poked me in the ribs and said meekly, “But you should be so grateful!  It really wasn’t all bad!  Why don’t you just chose to think it was nice?”

It’s true.  Overall it was a nice day.  I felt loved and cared for, managed to please my own mother and my mother in law (nailed it!), and had good laughs among family.  My children made me gifts and delighted me by creating beautiful cards for their grandmothers.

I got sweet, supportive texts from dear friends.  I felt recognized by my husband who pulled out all the stops with four bottles of incredible wine, flowers, and a balloon.  A balloon you guys!  I got a freaking balloon!!  I mean, how does life get any better than that?

If you want your character to chose gratitude and happiness, and to enjoy and be thankful for what she has, please turn to page 42 where she lives happily after.  

Learning to chose the way you think about things is an important step in recovery from anxiety and depression.  I know this as both a mental health professional, and as someone who has experienced anxiety and depression.  When we are able to recognize our negative thoughts and rework them into something more positive and helpful, it often creates a more positive and helpful feeling space in us.

And when we feel better, we behave better.  We get along better with our spouses and friends.  We have more energy for negotiating with the little people in our lives.

So, as I lathered my hair with amazing-smelling coconut shampoo, I tried out some different thoughts about Mother’s Day and I wondered why my initial impulse was to be so negative about it.

Why am I always so negative anyway?  I must really suck at life.  I’m probably going to be rejected by all my friends and family because I’m such a Debbie Downer.  Why can’t I ever just be joyful and super positive about stuff?  What the hell is wrong with me?  Oh.  My.  Gee.

It’s cuz I’m depressed you guys.  That’s why.

I have been for a while.  I’ve been ignoring it and working around the super high anxiety that makes me feel like I’m crawling out of my skin one moment and paralyzed with fear the next.  I’ve been isolating and only talking to a few people in my life.  I’ve had minimal energy to be with friends and family.  

I’ve written almost nothing in the past few months because I’ve had so little energy and almost no joy.

Some of it, I suppose, is chemical- my genetic lot in life.  

A lot of it is situational.

Work has been super stressful for me.  I’m burnt out and experiencing a fairly intense compassion fatigue which doesn’t leave me with much of an empathy cushion for family or social life.

My son’s behavioral issues have been amped up lately and this creates exhaustion and a keen sense of failure as a parent which plays into my depression like a lyrical melody.

I’m also preparing for my daughter to graduate from preschool.  While this is a joyful and exciting time and we are so proud, it also brings into focus a new era for which I am simply not feeling prepared.

Then there is preparing for the summer.  As a working mom, arranging all the moving parts of summer camps, transportation, child care, etc. is hugely nerve wracking for me.  Not to mention a drain on our finances.

Oh, also my mentally ill brother has gone missing again which never fails to throw my family into emotional upheaval.

I’m not sleeping well, so I’m perpetually tired.  My body hurts.  About 67% of the time I’m too stressed to eat so my blood sugar is wonky and I’m grouchy.

And because I’m already feeling emotionally fragile, every other little thing that goes wrong sets me off like a firecracker.

It’s hard for me to admit this.  I actually hate the sound of my own voice in my head as I peck it all out into this post.

It’s hard for me to admit my negative thoughts about Mother’s Day when I should just be fucking grateful.

But you guys, it’s all so hard.  It’s all just so fucking hard.

No one ever told me it would be this hard.  Or maybe they did. . .  maybe somewhere in my memory there is a shadowy recollection of my own mother’s bedraggled face dragging herself in at the end of a working day and trying to get dinner on the table.  Maybe she did try and tell me.  But let’s be honest, even if someone had told me, I would not have believed them, because if any of us believed such a thing we would never procreate.  Our species depends on the very suspension of that disbelief.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is all well and good to chose your thoughts and mood and destiny.  It’s great.  I respect it.

But sometimes the adventures of motherhood chose us and flip us into a cave where it is dark and dank and unpleasant.  When you’re sitting there face to face with the dragon of your depression and your heart is thumping away at a resting rate of 150 beats per minute, it is really hard to have a cohesive thought, let alone a positive one of your own choosing. 

If your character looks up at the dragon and says, “Hey there, guy.  What’s up?” go to page 74 where you will work on acknowledging the shit out of your self worth even on your shittiest day and then eat a taco.  

Yeah.  This isn’t my character’s first trip to the cave.  So I know the least helpful (albeit most tempting) thing to do is to put myself down for being depressed.

I also know that probably the first thing I need to do is look up at that dopey dragon and acknowledge he’s there, lurking and looming like he wants to devour me.  He’s scared of eye contact and he gets a little smaller every time I call him by his name.

It’s all hard, guys, and sometimes holidays can highlight what feels like flaws and make things seem really raw and painful. Part of healing starts with choosing to make room for all those feelings rather than shaming myself for feeling them. 

the Unbearable “Joy” of Holiday Shit Storms

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There is nothing like a holiday, and co-occuring school vacation, that validates my ineptitude- not just at motherhood but at this entire thing called life.

If you’re going to get all judgey-wudgey with me and tell me to shift my perspective and appreciate the precious moments, please stop reading and go away now, for the love of all that is holy.  I.  Can’t.  Even.  I intend to rant a little.  Or a lot.

I’m exhausted from this time of rest and relaxation, and I go back to work to a week of back to back clients with whom I have to play catch up, and hear about all of their holiday woes and really valid trauma reactions to stuff.  To be completely honest, I’ve been anxious about going back to work since about a week before my vacation even started, which kinda’ harshes the holiday buzz.  So, if you’d humor me, I’ll take a couple minutes to talk about MY feelings about the holidays, motherhood, and my consummate failure as a human being.

First of all, the house is a disaster zone.  I know, I know.  I’m not supposed to worry about the state of the house, but I do.  My children have eight grandparents because my family is crazy and blended several times over.  I’ll give you a second to let that sink in.  EIGHT grandparents.

Now imagine the influx of stuff they get from said eight grands.  You there?  Good.  Now imagine all that stuff dumped and scattered throughout your entire small home.

Footnote:  You can’t ask them to *not* get stuff for the kids because that engenders all kinds of offense and hurt feelings.  Been there, done that.

I have crates and bins and dividers and shelves and all of the home goods crap that is supposed to make life neat and organized.  You know what?  None of it does a bit of good. I wander the house picking up toys and clothes and dishes, and as soon as I put away one thing, ten other things appear in its place.  The mess makes my anxiety flare and spin inside of me like a Hawaiian fire dancer.

I don’t have cute anxiety.  I have cranky, prickly, ragey, sweary anxiety.  It’s a thing.  Google it.

Some people, like my darling husband, have an impressively high threshold for chaos, disorganization, and clutter.

I don’t.

After ten years of marriage, he sort of understands that when I get like this, he should not take it personally, maybe clear the kids out of the way for a little bit, and bring home a bottle of wine.

He hasn’t seemed to figure out that firing up the vacuum or organizing anything within his reach would go a long way toward deescalating my fervor.  That is, he doesn’t get it until I’m screaming and crying about it. . .  because that’s the point it gets to.  Not all the time, but once in a while and more often during the holidays than I would like to admit.  It makes me feel really ashamed, then depressed I can’t get it the fuck together.

Then, there are the children.  My sweet, happy, playful children who become maniacal, aggressive, and very loud lunatics when their schedule is upended.  Rather, I should say my nine year old Jack has this low threshold for change, is easily overstimulated, and sets off my typically placid five year old, Emily.  Jack has meltdowns that escalate really fast and involve a lot of sensory seeking in the form of yelling, pushing, and crying.

If you know me, or can relate to any of this whatsoever, you know my first thought:  I created this monster and it is my fault he is unhappy because he inherited my anxiety and depression and it is just a matter of time until I’m being judged by another therapist just like myself and my kid has to go on medication because I’m a complete failure as a mom and have no idea how to parent my kid.  It’s science.

And yes, I know that sentence needed some punctuation, but that is how my mind works.

Part of the stress for me, and probably also for my kids, is that with such a big and blended family, there are a shit ton of family parties, get togethers, and visits to be made.  In a perfect world I would really enjoy seeing all of these people hither and yonder and would feel awesome about reconnecting and celebrating with them.

Truthfully, I do enjoy it, but it’s also stressful, draining, and unnerving.  It seems like more proof I’m a complete asshat of a person.  While I enjoy seeing people, it also makes me feel guilty that I haven’t seen more of them, that I haven’t made more of an effort of helping my children get to know them.  It is more fuel for anxiety and self depreciation.

And while I know I might be a bit harsh on myself, it also seems there’s a lot of evidence  I suck at life.

I DO realize it’s not all bad.  And trust me, I’m grateful, despite how this post is making me sound (more proof?).  We had some truly happy moments over the break.  We laughed.  I actually napped a few times!  My husband got me everything on my holiday wish list and the kids were delighted and occupied with their gifts.  I adore my family, and they fill to overflowing with love, which I believe is the most important thing in life.  We have it all.

So what is it about the times of loud chaos that so upends my joy?

It’s a rhetorical question, folks.  I don’t actually have an answer, which sometimes I’m okay with, and other times cranks up the hurdy gurdy of nerves and makes me want to run away with the circus.   But let’s face it, I’m terrified of horses and clowns.  Like actually phobic of them.  So, the circus is probably not a viable option.

There’s no escape.

There’s really only embracing the uncomfortable, nervy sadness and frustration along with the sense of being completely bowled over by living.  It’s tough to get my arms around, and it wiggles while I try to hold it.

Look, I could tie this post up by refocusing on a tender moment and telling you it’s all good in the end.  I really could do that, and I could probably mean it.  But it seems like that would be disingenuous.  It doesn’t seem like it would be totally helpful to ignore the tough times when they really feel so weighted, because if I ignore them, they might subtly start to pull me down, hold me under the surface.

I also feel it’s important to acknowledge “the most wonderful time of the year” is really freaking difficult for a lot of us out here.  The commercials and songs tell us we are supposed to feel and act a very specific way during the holidays, and these unrealistic images and expectations create tremendous cognitive dissonance for those who can’t understand why we don’t “get it.”

Sometimes stuff is just hard and heavy to hold onto.  I have to believe that’s okay and it doesn’t make me a bad person; at least not all the time.

Not Your Average Soccer Mom

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I’m not your average soccer mom, mainly because my kids don’t do soccer.  My nine year old does karate, and he recently brought home a trumpet which I have vowed will not make me crazy at all.

Is there such a thing as a karate and trumpet mom?

Emily is almost five (oh man how it hurts to say that, as opposed to saying she is four and a half) and she thinks she would like to do dance.  But being the crunchy and neurotic freak that I am, I am too scared to sign her up for any old dance class, because I am fairly certain it will give her the same self-loathing and body issues that I had as a dancer for about 20 years before succumbing to a pudgy middle age of motherhood and sedentary work.

So I haven’t signed her up for anything yet because I can’t bear to think that the joy she feels for moving her body will ever be squashed or warped into something it shouldn’t be.

And I can’t lie to you.  The trumpet is in fact driving me crazy.

It’s a slip shod style of motherhood I try to embrace, and for which I cannot find a label.  It also bears zero resemblance to the perfect mother I thought I was before squeezing these two critters out of my now unrecognizable lady bits.

Meanwhile, I can’t decide if we should spend a third night eating leftovers so they don’t go to waste, or if I should cook up the tortellini Trader Joe made for me. . .  It’s humid here and I really do not feel like cooking, so I’m thinking it will be leftovers for me and the hubs and Lunchables or English Muffin pizzas for the kids.

Yes.  I feed my kids Lunchables.

And also yes, I make them separate dinners than what I make for me and the hubs.  I know, I know.  I’m breaking all kinds of “rules” here, but as a working mom, I would rather we all sit down and enjoy each other’s company than endure tantrums at dinner time.

Also, we don’t always eat dinner together, even when we are all home together.  But usually we are all eating at a vaguely similar time, just in different rooms.  We call it parallel eating.  I like to think of it as an ingenious parenting hack as opposed to a ginormous parenting fail.

Although it still makes me nervous.

But it doesn’t take much to make me nervous.  I’ve been prone to anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember.  Add to my already neurotic disposition that I am a social worker, and you can pretty much guarantee that I’ve diagnosed everyone in my family with just about anything possible.

A lot of people don’t get it.

Like my perfect Coworker who grew up in an intact family and has probably never worried about the sky falling in her life.  She made a crack that she had never met someone as anxious as me.  I think she meant it in a tender and friendly way, but do you know what it did?

If you guessed that the comment made me more anxious about being anxious in front of people, then you win the cookie.  But it is a keebler elf cookie.  I do not have time to make cookies from scratch.

One of the biggest compliments I ever got in my life was when a colleague said, “I always forget that you are actually anxious, because you always seem to have it all together.”

I try to channel this compliment on my darker days, and it makes me feel quite ravishing, but in a photoshopped kind of way, because if one thing is for certain it is this:  I do not have it all together.  Not by a long shot.  And it makes me crazy.

It makes me cringe when I hear mommy labels passed around. . .  Tiger Mom.  Helicopter Mom.  Bad Mom.  Attachment Mom.  Drill Sergeant Mom.

I mean, is anyone really just one label?

Sometimes I wish I could be just one label.  It would be so much easier.

I suppose that the label “Good Enough Mom” comes close enough to describing me, but like Dorothy said to the Wizzard, “I’m afraid there isn’t a label for me in that bag of yours.”  I’m paraphrasing.  We actually have not watched the Wizzard of Oz in recent years because it terrifies my daughter and then none of us sleep for weeks.

Oh, and apparently “Wizard” only has one “Z”.  Who knew?

Probably that Drill Sergeant Mom.  She knows everything.  (Cue exaggerated eye roll.)

How about “Mixed Bag of Contradictions Intense Love and Inconsistent Energy”?  Is that a title worthy of me?

I love my kids.  Hopefully that counts for something, if not everything.  And hopefully we will all laugh about all the times I’ve yelled and stomped off because I am so frigging overwhelmed by how much I love them and by how much pressure I am under from all conceivable angles to get it all right.  Motherhood.  Marriage.  Work.  Laundry.

And no I don’t sort my laundry.

And I think I’ve decided to do the leftovers.  I don’t feel like cooking and we have karate tonight after all.

Still with me?  Congratulations.  You have just taken a hike through the meandering mind of an overwhelmed working mom whose life feels almost perpetually in a state of careening chaos, if not lurking danger.

In short, I don’t really know who I am, other than to say I’m not your average soccer mom.

Or rather, that I’m not a soccer mom at all.

Posted as part of the WordPress Daily Prompt

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Floating Down the Lazy River of Consciousness. . . my summer roundup

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Aside from the bat-phobia-induced sleep deprivation, this summer hasn’t sucked too bad.

I’m exhausted.  Work has been crazy.  And I mean that literally.  When you work in the mental health field and you say work is “crazy” it is because people are quite literally struggling with their mental health.  Usually summer is a little bit more laid back, but this summer has been pretty intense.

It might be because I’m still adjusting to the new position I took about seven months ago.  I’m getting used to a different ebb and flow of clients, a different work culture, and a different schedule.  For the most part it has been awesome.  For the first time in ages, I wake up excited to go to work.  I love my little office, and am continually fascinated and challenged by the folks with whom I sit.  I also have some quirky, silly, and extremely intelligent and dedicated colleagues whom I am growing to adore and trust.

So, all in all, it has been pretty good.

Plus no one had to be vaccinated for bat rabies, like last year, so we can consider that a big WIN.

Next week, I am going to take some time off, and I hope to get back to blogging as my Jacky boy goes back to school.

In July I was notified by the amazing robots at WordPress that I’ve been blogging for four years.  Dude!  FOUR YEARS!!!


I’ve been considering retooling my blog, or just encouraging it’s evolution a little bit.  I may focus a bit more on poetry. . .  for a couple reasons.

One, my poems seem to get more attention and appreciation from the readers out there in the blogosphere.  And while I write for myself, I also enjoy the interactive process of blogging.

Two, I have been experimenting with short and sweet poems, like this one.  They seem to suit the time I have available for writing these days.  I’m finding as my children are a bit older and more active, they require more of my time and attention in different ways.  And obviously I feel it is important to be HERE and THERE for my children.  I mean, mommy blogging kind of defeats the purpose if you are doing it at the expense of your relationship with your kids.

And third, on the note of mommy blogging. . .  I’m feeling less enthralled about blogging about mommy crap.  It seems redundant.  And it feels like I have to force myself to do it, where as the poetry flows out of me a bit more naturally.  My children continue to fascinate me, but I just don’t have the same desire to write about them.  Also, as they are getting older, I am feeling a bit more protective of their privacy, and feeling like perhaps I should not be using them as fodder for my material.

I don’t know.

There is a lot going on up in my old noggin.

And I guess that was three reasons and not exactly “a couple.”  Apologies.

I mean, I have about 45 topics about which I would like to write at this very moment.  But time and energy and other demands are nipping at my psychic space.

It has also been on my mind to try to get some of my previously written posts published online elsewhere. . .  that seems like a really big risk, and is somewhat scary.  And it also feels like it would be time consuming and anxiety provoking.

When I started blogging I was advised not to wander too far afield from the original content and purpose of my blog.

And now I am feeling like I want to explore. . .  I have done that a bit over the past year by experimenting with erotica and fan fiction.  I have also written more poetry and have been paying more attention to the urge to write poetry.  Like if I start to feel, wow, that would make a good poem, then I sit down and jot it out.

I think that motherhood has so permeated my life, as had aging and growing, that no matter what I write it will still be tinged with maternal thoughts and instincts. . .  does that technically still make this a mommy blog, even if it isn’t directly a mommy blog?

When I first started blogging, I also couldn’t understand those met posts in which people blogged about blogging.  Well.  Here I am.

Anyway, my darling and dedicated readers, if you have any input on what you would like to see on Momaste, I would love to hear from you.

Also, if you have any input on previous posts which with you really resonated that you would like to see published elsewhere, I would also love to know that.

And if these requests are way too demanding or narcissistic, please forgive and disregard.

(I warned you in the title this was a stream of consciousness.)

As always, thanks for reading and commenting and for being generally wonderful and supportive.  It has changed my life.

Why Does Your Birthday Make Me Want to Cry?

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 Dearest Jack,


Tomorrow you turn nine.

I’ve often described your birthday as a national holiday in the country of motherhood, because it feels huge and spectacular.

The story of your birth is like a legend to me. I tell it often, and although it may bore others after the 47th time, it is always magical to me. I remember how it felt to walk the neighborhood with amniotic fluid dripping down my legs, surprised at how it didn’t stop flowing. It was the first of many surprises motherhood would bring my way.

Tonight, on the eve of your birthday, I told you about how when a mama is pregnant, the baby floats in a sack of waters, and how sometimes when the waters break, it means baby is on the way.

“That’s so weird sounding,” you said.  “Water breaking.” You walked off to play legos, unimpressed.

I labored for 22 hours with you. Most of it was very peaceful. Since my contractions didn’t start on their own after my water broke (an expression which forever after will sound weird to me), I had to be induced. The artificial chemicals caused me a lot of pain. I was tired and I could tell people started to worry that I would end up with a C-Section (that’s another lesson for another day).  I begged for an epidural, and within an hour of getting it, was fully dilated and ready to push you out.

I pushed for a little over two hours. It was two of the most focused, intense hours of my life.  It seemed like just minutes.  It seemed like I was deep inside of my own body, with you, helping you to find your way out of me.

You came out squished, with your head elongated and cone-shaped from being in my birth canal for so long, but as I grabbed you, snatched you to my chest, I sobbed, “He’s so beautiful,” over and over and over.

I couldn’t imagine ever feeling anything other than mystical love and adoration of you.

I couldn’t imagine that I would be so tired and so hopelessly depressed with post partum hormones that I would want to leave you on the steps of the church across the street, or sell you on the internet.  I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to leave you at daycare when I went back to work, how I cried until my face looked deformed, how I felt like an incomplete person to be apart from you.

I couldn’t imagine how you would test every nerve in my psyche with your strong will and fierce independence.  I couldn’t imagine how you would make me swell with laughter and pride when you made your first smile, took your first steps, or made your first jokes.

Nothing could have prepared me for your otherworldly wisdom, your past life regressions, and your fiery temper.  No one could have warned me how scary it would be and how much I would worry about your heart and soul.

I had no clue you would become so tall so quickly.  That you would be a brown belt in karate.  That you would be fascinated by science.  That you would be such a picky eater.  That you would be so incredibly sensitive.

I had no clue how much you would be like me, and how much that would challenge and frighten me every day.

I had not an inkling how hard it would be to be a mom, to be YOUR mom, to juggle everything we would both need and want.

You came to the bare skin of my chest that August night wired with your own personality, your unique intensity, your distinct weight and volume in the universe.  I’ve tried to shape and help you, and I always will.  But I have also learned to respect that you are your own.  For as much as I will always love you, you do not belong to me.  And maybe that is the scariest part of being a mom.

Before bed tonight, I hugged you close, felt the solidity of you in my arms.  I didn’t tell you that a part of me wanted to cry, wanted to go out and shake all the bats from the trees in the summer night with my wailing.  I just held you and patted you and felt how different and new you feel in my arms as you grow.

And I think that’s the thing.

I think that’s the part that makes me want to cry–  every time I embrace you, you are a new person and it is like the first time I ever clutched you to my breast, weeping for your beauty.  It’s a mixture of joy and sorrow that is every bit as strange and individual as you are, my son.

So here’s to your ninth birthday.  The last year you will spend in single digits.  Here’s to hugs and legos, starbursts and peanut butter sandwiches.  Here’s to Doritos and learning to canoe, swimming with friends and Harry Potter.

Here’s to you.  Here’s to you and me, even on days when it is kind of hard and when we both feel frustrated and scared.

Happy birthday, Sunny Boy.

I love you,

Mama.

See You in September?

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Hey Guys,

How’s your summer going so far?  What’s life like for you?  Do things change a lot for you in the summer?  Does the change in summer routine affect your blogging/writing habits?

Life has been a flurry of activity lately.

Getting the kids ready for camps and transitioning out of the school routine into the summer mode.

Making potato salads and picking strawberries for strawberry buckles.

Optimizing time out and about in the pleasant weather.

Celebrating my 42nd birthday.

I honestly do not know when I would have the chance to sit down and actually write a thoughtful blog post.  Someone always needs something–  a fresh application of sunscreen, or bottle of water, or help getting into/out of a bathing suit–  and as soon as I sit down I have to get back up, or I feel guilty for not spending all that glorious time with the fam.

Then at night I am just to tired to construct anything, so I climb into bed and watch tv until I fall asleep.

Even now, I am running late for work, sitting here with wet hair and a dog who is anxiously trotting around me because she needs to go out.

I’ve coughed up a couple poems lately because it is what I’ve felt moved and inspired to do.    But also because it is what time would allow.

There is this other interesting thing happening. . .  I don’t feel the same urgency to write as I did when Emily was a newborn and Jack was four.  It’s like I’ve gotten to this spot where I feel like I know the kids for the moment and things are going okay.

Don’t get me wrong.  Life is still super stressful and I’m still juggling way too many balls for my comfort and feeling like a lunatic about 87 percent of the time.

But it’s like I’ve been here and done this and have run out of desperate things to post.

It’s like I would just be writing the same post about how stressful it is to be a working mom to two very strong willed and passionate children.  (Wonder where they got those obstreperous qualities anyway. . .)

I’m sure this will change and life will present me with a bunch of new stuff. . .  but I’m kind of bored with writing about how fucking relentless motherhood is and I just want to kind of sit in the pocket of quiet that my mind is offering me at the moment.

So, while there may be a few poems or photos this summer, I think I am going to cut myself some slack and think about being in the moment as opposed to writing down every moment.  I might also think about some new ways to retool Momaste, because growth and change happens.

Yes it does.

Thanks for being here with me on this journey.  You will never have any idea how much it has meant for me to have your compassionate witness.

So, I’ll see ya in September, or sooner, or later, or you know, whatever.

xoxoxo,

 

Me.

My Boobs Are Sad

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A while back, I mused about what would become of my breasts  when I was done nursing my youngest of my two children, Emily.

Emily weaned completely about six months ago, shortly after her fourth birthday.

I had written so many posts about how we were “almost there” with our weaning, that I haven’t really bothered to write anything about the fact that we actually did “get there.”

Weaning had been a very long process for us that took close to two years, as Emily slowed her nursing sessions to twice per day, and then only to once per day either in the morning or before bed.

I had wanted weaning to be a gradual and mutual decision.  I didn’t want it to be traumatic for either of us.  The beginning of my nursing relationship with Emily had been very traumatic as I suffered extreme nipple damage and had to really fight to keep my supply and the nursing relationship between my baby and myself.

Initially, I felt robbed of the “perfect” nursing experience with my daughter.  I’d had tons of struggles and antenatal depression with my first child, and had ended up needing to supplement with formula with him.

Although I am beyond thankful that all was well that ended well with my son, when I was pregnant with Em, I was really committed to the idea of exclusively nursing.  I felt certain that I had been better educated on breastfeeding due to the trial and error with my son, and that everything would go off without a hitch.

My confidence was shattered shortly after Emily’s birth when my nipples became mangled as a result of her tongue tie.  For 11 weeks, I battled a nipple wound that would not heal.  Finally we got things sorted out, but my supply never got back to what it needed to be to be able to pump milk for her to have upon my return to my job at 12 weeks after her birth.

I took a huge amount of comfort in the fact that she continued to nurse whenever she was with me, and that she almost always refused the bottle at daycare and then would reverse cycle all night with me.  Sure I was tired, but I was thrilled that we were not having to supplement with very much formula, and that Emily was such a champion nurser.

Eventually, I accepted that while our relationship was not what I could label “perfect” from the get go, it ended up being pretty amazing and sweet.

And it endured much longer than I thought it would.

My son had weaned completely at 23 months.  Like I said, we’d had to supplement him with formula, but he continued to nurse first thing in the morning with me until one morning he woke up, asked for milk in a cup and that was that.

I don’t remember having any truly intense feelings related to this weaning.  Sure it was bittersweet, but it was not devastating in any way.  And as a first-time mom, I was thrilled I’d been able to milk it out to nearly two years (pun intended!).

I had figured Em would wean around the same time.  But she didn’t.  She turned two and then three and still loved her milky cuddles with mama.  Around the time she turned three, we started talking about what it would be like for her to not nurse anymore.  Long story longer, she went another whole year and was still occasionally nursing when she turned four.

Then she stopped.

It was so gradual.  It was almost unnoticeable.

To be honest with you, I don’t really think about it all that often.

Until I do think about it and then it is difficult to stop thinking about it.

A client came to my office with her toddler a while back.  The child grew fussy, and she surprised me by offering him her breast, which he eagerly took and settled right down.  It was absolutely the most natural and graceful thing to watch.  I told her how thrilled I was that she was nursing her toddler, but the image stayed with me throughout the day and into the night along with a feeling of deep sorrow.

It had been the first time I’d seen a mom nursing since I weaned Emily.

And this is going to sound crazy, but I felt an actual physical sensation in my breasts like I used to feel when my milk let down.  But it was different.  It was like the shadow of that let down sensation, and I felt bereft.  It was like my boobs actually felt sad.

When you are bonding and nursing with a new baby, your body creates oxytocin which is the chemical that signals the need to produce milk.  It also creates a drowsy, sweet, loving feeling between you and your baby, which for me also extended to the world at large.

So, when I saw this mom nursing, it was like I got a surge of oxytocin but there was no milk and no baby to nurse.  I went home and felt the need to give Emily and Jack extra cuddles.

I think about how I am no longer nursing at other weird times too.  Like when I went to the pharmacy and was browsing the antacids and realized that I could take alka-seltzer again.  It used to be my go-to remedy before pregnancy and nursing, but it has aspirin in it so you can’t use it during the aforementioned times.  So I purchased it with a mix of hey-this-is-awesome and hey-this-is-super-sad.

I’m bummed about weaning in a lot of ways.  It makes me sad to not have that connection with another human any longer.  It is a reminder that children grow so quickly and things change faster than you can ever imagine.  I also blame the ten pound weight gain on weaning, as well as some of my hormonal shifts and mood swings. . . although I realize those should be well regulated by now.

There is no going backwards in life.

And as I continue marching forward, I am having trouble trying to figure out what to do with these floppy appendages that seem to be a permanent DDD cup size now and give me back and neck pain.  They are like an accessory that has gone out of style, only I can’t pack them away into the back of my closet or toss them in the junk drawer.

Once upon a time, they were pert and pretty.  They attracted people and were objects of potential sexual pleasure.  Then I had kids and they became vehicles of nurturance and nutrition.

About a week after I had Jack, I developed a urinary tract infection and went to a doctor.  She was excited to hear that I was breastfeeding and shared that she had nursed her kids and it had been a great experience for her.

“But your breasts are ruined for sex forever,” She had mused.  “They become like these tube socks with golf balls at the end.”

Well. . .

I guess mine are more like balloons with permanently erect, frozen peas at the end, so her very lucid description was a bit off there.  But she was right about one thing–  my boobs are of no use for my sex life anymore.  There is a cognitive dissonance that these soft things that Emily still likes to pat and rub her face on could be used for anything other than bringing comfort to my babies.

So, I guess it is a blessing my husband is an ass man.  Anyway, I digress. . .

Six months after weaning Emily, and I am still wondering what will become of my breasts now that I am done nursing.  I’m trying to figure out how I feel about them, and what to do about the sense of sadness and loss.

At the end of the day I am very proud and content with the nursing relationships I had with both Emily and Jack.  They were conflicted and diverse, but they were filled with love. Even as my boobs feel sad that it isn’t something I’ll ever share again with another human, I am grateful for the experiences I did have breastfeeding.

What was your weaning experience like?  Did you experience any hormonal shifts or depression with weaning?  Talk to me in the comments below.  I love to hear from you!  And please feel free to share my post on social media, or with other nursing/weaning moms in your life.  xoxo and momaste!