Exhausted, anxious and in a total tear-stained daze, I stood in line at the pharmacy thinking to myself, “Fuck, I knew I should have eaten my placenta.” Never in my life did I think this particular thought would be running through my mind but when one is in the midst of Postpartum Depression, one’s mind is full of surprises. I did consider going down the placenta smoothie path when I was pregnant with my second child but ultimately decided I just wasn’t the organ-eating type. However, in that moment while waiting for my Zoloft, I found yet another thing I thought I had messed up. The last few weeks had been chock-full of those.
Fast forward a couple months. I have learned a tremendous deal about the illness that was slowly suffocating me and I want to share some of those things with you. So Dearests, I present to you with love in my heart, sanity in my brain and wine in my glass, Five “Easy” Steps for Surviving Postpartum Depression.
Step 1 – Acknowledge that you’re too screwed up to see how screwed up you are.
Let me paint a picture of the true chemical cluster fuck that is Postpartum Depression. It’s like this, you know how you used to go out with your girlfriends on a Saturday night (I say “used to” because you’re a parent now, and the only thing you do on Saturday night is watch “48 Hours” while making a mental note to check on whether your spouse has recently taken out a new life insurance policy on you). Anyway, you used to get dressed up – dress, heels, hair and makeup – the whole nine. And, when you left the house you thought, “Hey, I look pretty good. I mean, not supermodel good but since I’m not a genetic mutant, this is as good as it’s going to get. Let’s do this!” Then, you would start drinking. And, all of a sudden…logic be damned, you’re Miranda freaking Kerr! A couple more drinks and now you are really feeling yourself. No one is hotter than you. You own this night. Hell, you own Miranda Kerr! Sound familiar?
The only problem with this scenario (other than your inevitable massive hangover) is that you actually look like a hot frigging mess. Your mascara is smeared, your hair looks like Nick Nolte’s mugshot and half your boob is hanging out (not the good boob either). Only you are way too drunk to realize it. The chemicals that have you feeling all hot to trot are actually blocking you from the reality of the situation – you are superbly fucked up.
Well, that’s what PPD is like as well. The hormones, stress, fatigue, physical changes, etc have you so supremely messed up that it’s impossible to even compute how messed up you really are. My solution for this is simple. Ask everyone who truly loves you whether or not they think you are out of your mind and when they say yes, please, believe them.
Step 2 – Ignore everything you see on Social Media.
Truthfully, I think this should be a general rule of thumb to live by (except when it comes to MommyDearest Inc. of course!), but this is particularly true when you suffer from PPD and here’s why – parents lie, big time. During the course of my suffering, I posted plenty of joyful pictures, like this one…
and this one….Aw, so sweet, right? And, while those pictures were truly a portion of life at the time, they weren’t the whole truth. The whole truth was not the kind of photo you post on Instagram. Nobody wants to see me curled up in the fetal position crying, (really hard to get a good selfie angle of that anyway). They want to see cute kids and smiling faces. I get it, I want that too. I just don’t want all of us Moms out there to feel like everyone else’s lives are picture perfect because that’s what we see everyday on social media, when really there isn’t a filter in the world that can clean up the craziness of what it’s sometimes like to bring a new baby into your family.
Step 3 – Make sure your kids know it’s their fault.
I’m only partially kidding here. I think our natural instinct as parents is to shield our kids from seeing us sad. Angry, sure, that’s unavoidable given their tendency to act like holy terrors but sad, not so much. Thus, I was spending an extraordinary amount of energy trying to act happy around my kids who were, I’m quite convinced, trying to slowly kill me. Then one day, I just couldn’t do it anymore. It’s not that I wanted to lose my shit on such an epic level, but just like my inexplicable affection for Christian Slater even after all these years, it was a force bigger than me. I simply could not stop crying, even in front of my four year old. At first, I agonized over this and the potential damage it could do to him but then a friend reminded me that sadness is a normal human emotion he needs to feel comfortable with – especially if I wanted to avoid raising an emotionally stunted man (just what the world needs more of, amiright?). So, I explained to him that I was feeling very sad and overwhelmed and that I needed a break. And you know what happened? This kid, the same one who often seemed to take pleasure in doing his best to drive me bat shit, actually started to take care of me. He rubbed my back, telling me everything was going to be okay. He brought me his favorite stuffed animals to snuggle with and he even wiped his own butt! No wait, he’s never done that last thing, I’m just wishful thinking on that one. Seriously though, it was like that page in I Love You Forever where the son holds his old-ass mom in the rocking chair and sings to her – except much less creepy (I hope). Regardless of the potential Oedipal ramifications, it really proved to me that I shouldn’t sugar coat the situation as much as I had been. And neither should you.
Step 4 – Let it all go to shit.
Eat chocolate. Drink wine. Stop working out. Let the dust bunnies pile up. Let the kids eat something from a box. Then let the dog eat the box. Then let your husband see that not only did your children eat processed macaroni and cheese for dinner but your dog is now pooping cardboard from having snatched the box while you were drinking wine in the bathroom. In other words, give up the act. You don’t have your shit together right now and that’s okay. You will rebound soon enough. In the meantime, cut yourself some slack and find solace in the comforts of being a total slacker. If it’s a good enough strategy for the Millennials, it’s good enough for you too.
Step 5 – Get help.
For me, this meant finally taking the advice of my Dr. (and fellow Dearests) and starting medication. I also sought the help of a Chiropractor, a Healer and a Psychiatrist (it takes a village). It’s not easy to admit that to you. But, it’s a hell of a lot easier than spending one more day looking in the mirror and not realizing I was the drunk girl at the club with my bad boob hanging out.
So there I was, peeing all over the floor.
I really wish this was the start of a story about how I was wasted in NYC with my fabulous girlfriends and couldn’t be bothered to find a toilet so I threw caution to the wind and peed on the floor before laughing my way to find pizza at 2am. But alas, it is not. Rather, this is the beginning of a story where I, holding my one day old baby in my arms, pissed all over my bathroom floor while my husband, four-year-old son and dog watched in horror. To be more specific, my husband looked at me with kind, sympathetic eyes. Because that’s just the kind of guy I married. My son looked at me with utter confusion in his eyes, likely because I have spent the better part of the last two years trying to get him to stop peeing on the floor. Yet there I was, standing – frozen really – in a puddle of my own urine. And, my dog…well I couldn’t really see his eyes at all because he was too busy licking it all up. And thus began my journey as a mother of two. I believe this is also the exact moment where my journey of being in control came to a screeching halt. Control of my bladder (obviously), but also control of my life as I once knew it.
Let me back up a bit. I have always been a person who enjoys being in control. When I was in Kindergarten I sang in the church choir and I would frequently snatch the microphone from anyone who I felt wasn’t doing the song justice. I didn’t give a flying f*ck if everyone was supposed to get a turn. If they couldn’t get with the program, they weren’t staying in the spotlight. You might call that having control issues, I call it doing God’s work. This trait is something that has stuck with me in the decades since my meteoric rise to fame at Plaza United Methodist Church. And it has served me well. The need to be in control has helped me excel in many areas of my life, including academics and in my career getting people to do what I want…er, I mean producing Reality TV, where I really just act as a fly on the wall. But I digress…What I’m trying to say is, I never looked at my preference for control, my desire to be in charge, as a negative thing. But then again, I had also never peed all over my bathroom floor.
I feel like you might be wondering why the pee was all over the floor. Plenty of people have pissed themselves in a drunken stupor and not suffered the indignity of having their hundred pound dog lick it up. Was she naked, you ask? Dear god no! Once I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror after delivering number two, I vowed never to be naked again. But that is a different post, for a different day. I was wearing a nightgown. This nightgown in fact. Before I continue, let’s take a moment to discuss this photo, which was taken about four and a half years ago. The first thing I notice is how horrible the angle is (i.e. how huge my arm looks), which likely means my husband took it. He has an uncanny knack for making me look as fat as possible in photos. God love him. Second, my son looks like a straight up gangster (or is it gangsta?)! A gangster/a with serious man boobs. Well done, buddy. Well done. Now, back to this nightgown. I purchased this blue and white polka dotted frock from TJ Maxx when I was pregnant with my first. And, I loved it. It’s comfortable and perfect for nursing. No other criteria were required. I have many fond memories of my post partum insanity in this nightgown. So, I couldn’t wait to wear it again for old time’s sake when I had my second. Also, I was too lazy to buy anything new. Underneath this nightgown on the day in question I was wearing a pair of mesh underwear, as modeled for you in this photo. You’re welcome world.
As an aside, I must tell you, I LOVE mesh underwear. I feel like “mesh underwear” should be the secret passcode in order to enter the gang of motherhood. As soon as you say it to another Mom, instant recognition occurs and you know EXACTLY the goodness of which I speak.They became the single most comforting part of life with a newborn. With my first, I was a bit horrified of them initially and never thought to ask for more when I left the hospital. With this one though, you bet your bottomless mimosa dollar I loaded up on those suckers before they wheeled me outta there.
So, we’ve got nightgown and we’ve got mesh underwear. In the cookbook of wetting oneself, this is surely a recipe for disaster. But here’s the real kicker. I was wearing a maxi pad the size of a Buick! No joke, this thing was massive. It was practically a diaper, only there was no Elmo on it to help me decipher which was the front and which was the back. So why, Dearests, didn’t this maxi pad do its job, its ONE JOB and protect me from humiliating myself in front of my family by absorbing the damn pee??? I have no idea, really. Maybe that Buick-sized maxi knew something I didn’t. Maybe, just maybe, that maxi pad knew I needed something that drastic to happen before I could fully relinquish the hold on my need to control, on my need to make it seem that I have it all handled, when, as a parent, you never really have it all handled. You just have days when you get the pee pee in the potty, and days when you don’t.
What I realized in that moment, aside from the fact that I really should have done more Kegels, was that I may never be in control again. No, I wouldn’t always be pissing myself (would I?), but I would likely never have the ability to fully control my life in the way I wanted/needed to before. Having one kid had been hard enough on that desire. With two, forget it! Because, the reason I peed myself in the first place, Dearests, was that I had been holding my newborn in bed for hours, blissfully watching him sleep and marveling at the new life my husband and I had created. By the time I actually paid attention to the fact that I had to go pee reeeeaaaallllly badly, it was too late. But I didn’t care. I wouldn’t have traded a second of watching that baby breathe in and out for the ability to make it two feet further into my bathroom and onto the toilet.
Now, in the months since that day, I’ve been tested in big and small ways on whether I’m really okay with relinquishing control. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes my hold on that old trait is so strong that I can’t let go. But other times, I sit back and laugh. I laugh so hard at this beautiful crazy life, I almost pee myself. Almost.
Welcome back, Dearests!
For your next dose of Mommy Dearest Inc, we’re introducing our featured category, “Ask the Experts,” where we seek parenting advice from some of our wisest and most accomplished friends. So what if none of them have kids of their own (yet)? We all know by now that anyone with a child has likely lost their mind and any ability to give sound advice, so we’re seeking guidance from the sane ones – the childless.
Without further ado, please enjoy the expert advice of none other than Mr. Brian Patrick Flynn. In addition to having the perfect three word name and being ridiculously handsome (the proof is in the picture), Brian is also an Atlanta-based Interior Designer/Production Designer/Set Decorator extraordinaire! Seriously, everything this guy touches instantly becomes 1000 times more beautiful and stylish. And, it turns out, Brian also knows a thing or two about proper child-rearing.
Question #1 –
My four year old daughter has recently decided that she won’t eat anything red. You can just add that to the list of other things she won’t eat…meat, anything hot, sandwiches, things that are “flappy” (your guess is as good as mine), beans, mac and cheese, bread or anything that has visible spices in it. I need to prepare meals for the family and school lunches and I am at a loss. Any tips on how to get her to pick less and eat more?
Short and sweet: your daughter may be a pint-sized liar and/or thief. This may sound harsh, but here’s my reasoning. She’s using color, texture, shape and sheen (four essential elements to a well-layered interior) to steal your happiness and your valuable time. How does she know what she doesn’t like? She can’t even spell her own name or pay for her own smart phone apps. Now, I’m no expert on children (yet), but it’s probably best to stick your attention seeker (aka DAUGHTER) into a very sparsely furnished room with absolutely no color, soft underfoot surfaces or physical elements with character, and serve her a bowl of air and a glass of make believe oxygen astronaut juice. Once she’s robbed of all texture, color, shape and sheen, SHE WILL EAT HOT MEAT-FILLED FLAPPY SANDWICHES AND WASH ‘EM DOWN WITH A BEAN, MAC AND CHEESE, BREAD ROLL AND CURRY SMOOTHIE AND LEARN TO LIKE ‘EM. Trust me, deprive her of almost everything and soon she’ll come around and stop being a flappy-hater.
Question #2 –
My four year old daughter keeps asking me if she is going to die. She cries quite a bit when we talk about it, and death in general scares her. It’s quite a lot for a four year old to grasp and I am not sure how to go about having a healthy discussion about it. Can you give me some suggestions on how to broach the subject?
The Grim Reaper
First up: the reality of human existence on planet earth proves that somewhere around the 100 year mark, she is going to expire. Just like the family’s pet goldfish or flying squirrel, the flowers in your vases and the engines in the automobiles you drive the family around in. It’s a fact of life Reepz: we are born, we decorate our houses so that our children and pets can destroy them, and then we bite the big one after spending $300K per child and $12K in vet bills per pet.
I do have a solution to help tone down her obsession: You need to wallpaper your hallway so she can appreciate life more and forget about all things morbid. Trust me, some bright color and a medium repeat pattern will keep her from feeling like she’s in purgatory thus leading to such dark-sad thoughts. Perhaps a large scale botanical in shades of celery green, grey and robin’s egg blue or even a classic hexagon in the hot pink and turquoise color way. Now, get that kid out into the sunshine and play her some Björk, dammit!
Question #3 –
My son LOVES to take a “nature pee.” Which would be fine if we were actually in nature when this happens. More often than not though, this happens on the playground, on a walk with our dog, or just generally anytime he’s outdoors – including our backyard, where there happens to be a perfectly good toilet right inside. While I admit it is much easier at times to let him drop trou and pee on a tree rather than braving disgusting public restrooms, I worry that he will grow up to be one of those douche bags who pees on buildings for fun and then ultimately blames me for his behavior when he’s being taken to the local police precinct. Should I put a stop to the public pee now or wait and see how things shake out? (pun intended)
Yours in Urine,
Meh. Your son is going to be a massively successful person and just fine and let me tell you why: He doesn’t give a #%@$. And what I mean by this is sometimes he just really HAS to go; it’s part of being a living human being. And, instead of wasting time finding the nearest bathroom, he just gets all super efficiency-based and goes right then and there. He can use the time saved to learn HTML or jet propulsion physics or how to sew. One word: LEADER. Now, let’s avoid lawsuits by making sure no one who actually cares is around when he decides to empty some of the tank, and perhaps have him bring a stylish tapestry with him everywhere he goes to put up as a privacy screen. I think a wide neutral stripe would be fantastic as would a modern camo, maybe in taupes, pumpkin tones and olive greens for a little autumnal flair.
As far as avoiding him becoming a D.B., just make him wear those trashy skull-and-crossbones t-shirts every single day and force him to talk about super basic stuff like football statistics, brands of guitars and use the term MAN CAVE to describe boring things like nail polish organization, shopping for rice or dropping off dry-cleaning. That way, when he’s an adult he will be programmed to NEVER WANT A MAN CAVE.
Words to live by if you ask us! To check out more of Brian’s work, visit his incredibly inspiring website, http://flynnsideout.com/. We’re warning you though, as soon as you see what this man can do to a Family Room, you’ll want to cash in that college fund for Jr. and hire him to redo your entire house/life! You can also find him on Instagram at @bpatrickflynn where he waxes poetic about everything from Taylor Swift (whom he loves) to cats (which we honestly can’t tell if he loves or hates) to sofas he doesn’t need but buys anyway. If you need some inspiration in your life, and we know you do because of those MFKs (mother f#&$*ing kids), put a little BPF in your life!
If you have a burning parenting question you want our Experts to tackle, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have other burning things, you should really see a Doctor.
Until next time, Dearests!
Hello Mommy Dearests,
S.M. here, and this week I’m going to cover a topic near and dear to every woman’s heart: breastfeeding. Ah, just typing the word makes me lactate with joy! At this point, you’d have to be living under a very large rock to think that any other method of feeding your baby is appropriate. But don’t just take my word for it. Hundreds, no, thousands of studies have proven that a breast fed baby is likely to be smarter, healthier, richer, taller, and less likely to kill you in your sleep than those peasant formula feeders. These facts are indisputable.
But, listen Dearests, I’m nothing if not sympathetic, and I know that breastfeeding can be a bit hard at first. So, I’m here to give you some support and helpful tips that will keep your little one sucking for years to come! The biggest fear women seem to have about nursing is the pain. Well, I’m here to set you free from that misinformation. It’s quite simple really. If it hurts, you’re doing it all wrong. Breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt – it’s supposed to feel good, magical even. Imagine what it would feel like if you met Rainbow Bright while riding on a Little Pony on your way to eat ice cream with Punky Brewster. Pretty magical, right? THAT’S HOW BREASTFEEDING IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL! Hands down, it is the single most beautiful feeling any woman could ever experience. So, if you don’t feel that way, don’t worry, it just means you need to try harder and do better.
I’ve also heard some women lament that they have low milk supply. I find this one rather hard to believe since God clearly designed all us gals to provide for our babies, just like all other species on the Planet. But, if you’re feeling as if you may not be producing at your peak level, there is a very easy solution…breastfeed more often! It’s so simple really. The reason you feel you don’t have enough milk is because you aren’t nursing or pumping enough. And, as we all know, since breastfeeding is the single most important thing you can do for your child, any and all activities other than nursing should come a very distant second to your attempts of upping that supply. I recommend pumping immediately following each nursing session and never go longer than two hours between feedings or pumping in any 24 hour period. Sure, you could sleep or eat a little bit while your baby naps, but that would make you a selfish mommy, and I know you wouldn’t want that. This may sound exhausting, but I assure you, once you get that milk flowing, exhaustion will turn into EXHILARATION and you will forget all about sleep!
Now, I feel it is my obligation to also address the F word. Formula. Oh, how it saddens me to think of all the women who have been manipulated into using this evil product, made by evil people who only want to do your precious baby harm by raping their poor little virgin guts! I weep for them and I weep for their babies. Why, when nature has made such a perfect food would you even contemplate feeding them anything else? Please, Dearests, do not fall for the propaganda. Formula will rob your child of any shot they may have at overall wellness. They will be cursed with non-stop ear infections, they will be overweight, they will only want to eat skittles and drink Pepsi for the rest of their lives. But, above all else, they will feel no attachment towards you whatsoever. To them, you will forever be the woman who deprived them of the joys of breastfeeding. If you have a daughter, this will likely lead to her hating her own femininity when she grows up. If you have a son, this will undoubtedly lead to him being a lifelong bachelor who suffers from emotional detachment and MAJOR mommy issues. I tell you this not to scare you, but rather just to lovingly give you all the facts. The choice is yours. If, for some reason, you do choose formula for your child, please do the responsible thing and make it yourself. It may take up every ounce of free time you (don’t) have, but trust me, you will sleep better at night knowing that you made the best of a bad situation.
Lastly, and most importantly, whatever setbacks you encounter, please remember that breastfeeding is a marathon and not a sprint, and just like a world-class athlete you should never, under any circumstance, give up. When you get Mastitis and become faint with a fever and the chills, just keep nursing. When your little one has reflux and screams bloody murder every time you place him at your breast, just keep nursing. When you are a working mother and need to sleep so you can function at a high level in order to keep your job, just keep nursing. When you, quite simply, just want to have a (mother effing) drink when you (mother effing) choose, don’t give in to the urge. Just. Keep. Nursing!
I am here for you, Dearests. I am cheering you on from the sidelines and I know you can do it. And, when all other methods of encouragement fail to inspire you, just remember that if you quit breastfeeding, you will be judged. Not by me, of course, but by everyone else. And, I wouldn’t want that for you.