Tuesday, June 18, 2013

i always have a reason to be on edge

Here is the number one thing I've learned about parenting so far:

It's harder to take care of the things you took care of pre-baby. But it's also just as important as the new job of keeping a baby alive.

Going to the store is harder, but I need fresh foods. Conversations with The Foliage are interrupted, so we have to force ourselves to ignore her for a little while and finish talking. When she (invariably) cried while I'm mid-workout, I have to keep going. It's important to stay healthy, even if I'm incredibly distracted during the ab portion of the DVD.

OK, so that's part 1. That maintenance of my own health has become a lot more difficult, but maybe even more important than it used to be.

Part 2 is postpartum depression. Do I have it? I don't know. The symptoms of PPD are the same as regular depression, only with baby-specific stuff added (difficulty bonding with, thoughts of harming). I've dealt with regular depression for my entire life, so I don't know whether my feelings are just THAT or this new deal. Also most of the markers for PPD seem to be...things inherent to early motherhood. This shit is ISOLATING. Even though I'm around people every day. Even though I go out of my way to get out of the house and visit, I still feel alone most of the time. Changing and washing all of the diapers every single day and being responsible for all of the food will do that, I guess. This non-villagey child-rearing business is just sadness central. 

Also - and let's get this RIGHT out of the way - I love my kid. She's so great! She is incredibly squishy, and makes hilarious noises at me, and I experience palpable relief when she poops, and when she puts her tiny arm around my neck it's the greatest thing that's ever happened. But have I imagined throwing her in frustration more than a few times? Um. Yes. 

And I feel like that's not something you're allowed to say! All the other moms I know express only adoration for their babies, and are able to not take their babies' actions personally ever. I don't know how. I exclusively take her actions personally. Tell myself not to, but ugh! It's pretty tough.

But then on the other hand, I don't. There are plenty of times I look at her, and she's totally alien to me. I am acutely aware that she's going to grow up, and leave, and be a sexual person, who will experience things I wouldn't have chosen for her. And for now I'm totally fine with that. I don't feel like she's MINE - she belongs to the universe. I'm just her guardian. And most of the time I respond to her, not because I have a biological imperative to make her life OK, but because I don't want to get in trouble. Like CPS is listening with a glass up against the door. If there were no risk of people hating me for being a bad mom? I don't know. I really don't. This being the center of someone's universe stuff is so intense and draining. And I have a pretty easy baby! She sleeps so much! She doesn't mind noisy places! I can't imagine dealing with a kid that has actual issues.

So I'm thinking I'm on the precipice of PPD. That's my self-assessment. And the very best way I know to stay afloat during depressed periods is to eat healthily (Paleo or Weston A. Price), so I've been doing a Whole 30 for the past month. I started working out (Barre) 9 days after AL was born, and 6 weeks ago we started doing Insanity

It's been intense. I've gotten into maybe the best shape of my life, but it's also unsustainable. And we're about to go to the beach for 2 weeks. Vacation = all work lost. Every time. Which means I'm analyzing photos of the beach house's living room to see what workouts will be possible there, and noting where all the grocery stores are and what kind of products they carry, and debating whether or not to bring the crockpot with us.

But. You know. Necessary or whatever. So.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're writing about this. I tend toward depression, and it's often hormonally affected, so I'm pretty sure I'll be battling PPD. You're an inspiration in how you're handling it.
I personally think extrinsic motivators (CPS) is there for when intrinsic motivators go on vacation, and that's okay. The intrinsic stuff will come back. I know LOTS of moms who hated their kids as babies, and think they're the shit as kids, because they can interact and they're real humans and not so damn needy.
Fuck yeah on the working out! I'm so impressed you're working out at home. I am abysmal at self motivation. -abraindump

KA said...

First off, thank you for being brave enough to talk about this. As someone who tends towards depression and doesn't really even like babies, these are the kind of things I think about constantly as I feel pressured to decide what we're deciding about children one way or the other. Counter-intuitively, this kind of makes me feel much better about the possibility of having children. We were talking to a guy at an art thing this weekend, who was there with his wife and baby, and he was all like, I never would've thought I'd become Dad Guy, but babies do something to you, like biologically and they take over your brain. Not the first time I've heard that, but it pretty much sold me on never ever ever having a baby ever. Bad enough they take over your body, please don't take over my brain too. I think it's okay that she hasn't taken over your brain, and you love her, but don't worship her 24/7. To my very unexperienced mind, this may make it harder now, but seems like it will make it far easier in the long run as she grows into her own unique person. "I personally think extrinsic motivators (CPS) is there for when intrinsic motivators go on vacation, and that's okay. The intrinsic stuff will come back." And too true on this. I mean, I would never got to work if it didn't mean I would get fired--and that's totally socially acceptable, right?

Hope you can keep on with the exercise and diet, but still manage to enjoy vacation!

Carrie said...

Yes. This is how I felt when Frances was tiny too. I loved her. I thought she was a good baby, but one crappy nap or cranky morning could ruin my whole day - and I was stressed and anxious and just HOME. And I would try to go out and do things, but that was stressful too (even though I was usually glad I did it). Looking back I do think I was depressed, although when I was in it, I would have said I was fine. I do think the hormones play a part - as does sleep deprivation, and just doing this new thing that I didn't feel particular good at or in love with doing. (And that you aren't supposed to talk about like that). Anyway, I hope your vacation feels like a good break. Good job taking care of yourself. It will get better.