Get out of my home thank you very much

This is how I know I’m getting and feeling better:

One of my sources of anxieties since Kensi has come along is having the confidence to know what she wants and whether what I’m doing is right or wrong. These anxieties include whether she’s eating enough, why she refuses to eat off me at times + just howls, whether I have enough milk supply, trying to get her to sleep on her own, just trying to get her to sleep at all… etc etc etc.  The list is LONG in terms of my anxieties and concerns for her.

One of the resources I reached out to is the Healthy Children Health Babies program from Toronto Public Health that someone told me about. Essentially if you are accepted into a program, you have a Toronto Public Health nurse come visit you every week in addition to another experienced parent who has been through the program and they support you with all your concerns in terms of how to raise the baby into toddlerhood.

Doesn’t this program sound grand? It sounded EXACTLY like what would help ease my anxieties and tackle my post partum depression + anxiety.

Well the first time I called them 4 weeks post partum, the nurse on the phone essentially asked me how much money I make and whether I have a history of mental health issues or addiction and then effectively said I didn’t qualify for the program. WHAT THE! Just because I’m not a crack addict doesn’t make me any more knowledgeable about knowing how to care for a newborn baby.

Anyways fast forward 4 weeks later when a coworker said she got an appointment into the program to be assessed. I thought THAT’S STRANGE because when I called they said I didn’t qualify. I called the number back, clearly talked to someone else – explained to them about the depression and anxiety I’ve been experiencing, all the different resources I’m trying to tackle my issues, and she said this program sounded like it would REALLY benefit helping me address some of the anxieties I have about caring for the baby. SPLENDID! I mean I’m glad I called back but who the hell did I talk to in the first place?

So last Friday a Toronto Public Health nurse came to my house. That’s when shit hit the fan.  She essentially SHOULDED all over me and elevated my stress and anxiety even MORE.  These include telling me:

  • Oh do you alway support your baby’s head like that? You know she should really be holding her head up independently on her own by now (she was 9 weeks old at that point and she has a hella huge head, there is NO way she’s going to be supporting her head on her own 24/7)
  • Take that dock-a-tot away from her crib – that’s just a waste of money. She should be sleeping in her crib with nothing else!
  • Oh you shouldn’t swaddle her! If you go on the Toronto Public Health website you can see there’s loads of research against swaddling.
  • She’s lobbing on and off your breast? That’s FINE. Maybe she’s a snacker and that just means you’ll have to feed her more frequently which sucks for you but it is what it is, no big deal!
  • Do you rock her to sleep like that? How long do you have to do that for? More than 30 mins? That’s too long, you should just put her down and see what happens.
  • Your doctor gave you anti-depressant/anxiety medication? I would REALLY suggest you take it (this is after I started crying because of all the previous things she said to me)

Lets just say everything she told me essentially made me question and doubt everything that I had been doing before. I started crying and she was like, “Oh no! You only heard the bad stuff but you didn’t hear all the positive things I said. This is indicative of a depressive mind because you’re just focusing on the negative when I told you LOTS of positive things.”  She left soon after (spent maybe an hour at my home) and left me feeling really rattled.

My mom and the friends I had over that morning could see I was shaken up by the experience.

But this is when things get interesting – because after talking through and explaining to my friend who was there with me what happened, I started getting enraged. That nurse (slash STRANGER) just came into my home, shoulded all over me, and told me what I should and shouldn’t do – having had NO history or knowledge of Kensi or me and what we’ve been experiencing for the past 9 weeks. She essentially took her antiquated nurse lense and tried to force fit it on me. And so by that afternoon I thought – SCREW HER.

And THAT’s when I had an epiphany: IM GETTING BETTER AND IM FEELING MORE LIKE MYSELF. 

The Katy 4 weeks ago would have UNRAVELLED by that experience, and cried not just for hours but also days. She would have fixated on all the things the nurse said and been riddled with self doubt and concern for weeks after – thinking oh god, everything I’ve been doing is WRONG!

But not this time. 10 weeks out (holy crap K dawg is 10 weeks old today) and I’m feeling like a different person than I was 4 weeks ago. Sure I cried – because this monster who is supposed to be some expert authority figure on babies just made me feel like shit, but then I stopped crying and carried on with my life and thought screw her!

And now I’m really proud of myself – for recognizing how much I’ve improved in a month, and also trusting my gut and myself for recognizing when someone is making me feel uncomfortable about how I am as a parent.

So that’s my lesson for this week – and a warning to any new (or experienced even) parents out there. Just because you go see some alleged “expert” – if whatever they say doesn’t jive with how you feel in your heart, then kindly usher them out of your life and say THANKS BUT NO THANKS STRANGER! PEACE!

Sidebar: I told this story to Kensi this morning and this is her face below – she said “OOH NOO SHE DIIIDDDN’T” in response to what I said the nurse did to us.

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8 YEARS

Taking a break from babyland to post about something else for once, like how end of March has creeped up on me. Dan + I do not have a definitive date of when we first started going out, but we mark the end of March/beginning of April as our anniversary every year of when we started dating.

This year we will have been together for 8 years (in Hollywood that’s the equivalent of 30 years or something impressive).  HOLY COW

To think – if someone told me that at 23 I will have met the person I’ll be spending the rest of my life with, I’ll have said YA CRAZY.

We didn’t hire a videographer  as we didn’t want to prioritize budget on that, so we asked a friend to record the whole thing. My mistake, as this friend clearly didn’t prioritize sitting in an advantageous spot (you know who YOU are *death stare*) so this is all we got, a poorly shot video of our nuptials! OH well at least our wedding photos are BOMB 🙂

 

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D&K

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smug

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Type A + Newborn = no bueno

The baby is asleep (but because she’s insane probably for like 10 mins) so I’m updating this fast + furious.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I’m a combination of type A perfectionist AND a hypochondriac. Nevermind the latter (I am aware I have issues) but the former is something I’ve been thinking more and more about, especially as I’ve been in counselling lately.

Being a Type A perfectionist can be amazing in MANY MANY ways. We get shit done. We’re hyper organized because we likely have OCD as well. We have high expectations of ourselves and others around us and we are capable of achieving great successes. I like to think a lot of my accomplishments I’ve achieved are because of the vivacity of my Type A nature.

But being Type A is a double edged sword my friend and I’ve quickly realized my inherent nature is what leaves me so vulnerable for the bad feels (i.e. struggle, depression, anxiety, etc) that’s come along with having a baby.  It goes against everything that feels right with me: structure, routine, consistency, confidence, competency, SLEEP, etc

 

Anyways long story short, my mom is leaving this afternoon and I’ll be essentially on my own for the remainder of the week. I have people visiting me during the day so hopefully that will give me some slight reprieve but mostly it’ll be me taking care of the baby, Frankly and trying not to burn the house alive.

In order to help me adjust to her being gone and not send me into full blown anxiety attack, I’ve decided to draft a REALISTIC list of what I should be proud of for accomplishing and making through each day this week on my own:

  • Taking Kensington out and walking Frankly – this is a HUGE goal because I have to strap her into a carrier (assuming she’s agreeable) and then go outside to take Franks out for her potty breaks.  This previously gave me a LOT of anxiety but I’ve done it a couple of times now and I’m trying to be braver and braver about doing it more often.
  • Taking all my vitamins and supplements. This is a HUGE feat and I should really cut myself a break and be proud if I manage to take them all.  This includes: 3 prenatal vitamins/ day, 3 encapsulated placenta pills/day, a scoop of probiotics to drink with water, 3 drops of vitamin d and 1 tablespoon of omega fish oil.
  • Feeding Kensington – she’s a terrible eater where she lobs on and off the boob for the better part of the hour so having her actually eat enough can be QUITE the challenge.
  • Changing Kensington and keeping her (fairly) clean. Bonus if I give her a bath every other day.
  • Getting her to sleep. This is a hit or miss. I need to realize that sometimes Kensington just doesn’t want to sleep for whatever reason and I need to give myself a break and realize it’s not me, maybe it’s HER? If she sleeps, AMAZING. If she doesn’t – FML, she’ll make us pay for it later at night. But whatever happens, she’s still going to LIVE.
  • Eating myself. The most helpful support my mom provides is she cooks meals for me or can watch the baby while I make food for myself to refuel. Since she’s gone, this will be particularly challenging to do so I’ll have to just figure it out because keeping myself fueled and charged will be KEY to getting through the day.

As long as I’ve accomplished the above, then I need to remind myself I’M DOING IT and l need to leave every other bullshit thought I have out the door that includes: making dinner for Dan, doing laundry, cleaning, keeping the house tidy, trying to organize the random hodge podge of stuff around the house, etc.

Slowly + painfully, Kensington is forcing me to adapt to change in a way I’ve never had to do before and shedding my Type A layer (in a drippingly slow glacial way) so that hopefully I can be a better person for her but also for myself.  I can’t be in control of everything (even though I want to!) and somehow I have to learn to not only accept it but let go and welcome the opportunity to adapt and change.  I JUST GOTTA LET IT GO (like the song from that annoying movie I’ve never seen but somehow know the lyrics to).

If all else fails and I find myself in a corner crying (several times this week) – then THAT’S OK. I’ll live and so will Kensi and Frankly.

BTW: Full disclosure I’ll likely have consumed this entire box of Buenos by end of the week.

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SLOW TO WARM

I have someone who comes to my house once a week to do a combo class with me and the baby. She takes me through meditation guides framed to help me adjust to being what she calls “a newborn mom”  and then the last half of the class she leads Kensi and I through an infant massage lesson.

baby massage

 

During yesterday’s session, she took me through a really great exercise that I wanted to elaborate on – which is deconstructing the myth that you will fall instantly in love with your baby. This is something that can obviously be a source of anxiety for me because ever since Kensi was born, I’m like – ok is something wrong with me? Why am I not falling head over heels for this blob?  How come it’s not like in those stupid diaper commercials when the baby is put on the mom’s body and they look at each other longingly?

I was increasingly feeling guilty because god – there are people out there who are STRUGGLING to have a baby and here I am with a healthy baby that I struggle to adore. But then she asked me a bunch of questions that made me check myself (b/c I obviously already wrecked myself):

They were:

  1. Tell me how you and Dan met? Was it love at first sight?
  2. Tell me about Frankly? You obviously adore her. Can you tell me what it was like when you first got her?

And that’s when I was reminded of something really important about myself that I must have forgotten and failed to acknowledge during this whole crisis of post partum depression and anxiety.  I AM SLOW TO WARM. 

That’s just inherently who I am.

So no – I didn’t fall instantly in love with Dan, but somehow Dan is now the most important person in my life. It was a relationship that evolved into what it is now. Hello – we were together for SIX YEARS before we were like ummm should we get married?

Similarly with Frankly – I remember how much work she was for the first 3 months. I was always on edge in the condo with her because I was worried she would have an accident, so I never felt like I could really enjoy her (because of the fear she would defecate on me if I held her too long lol). And now I’m OBSESSED with Frankly.

frankly baby massage

And then I went and thought more about this and drafted a list of things in my life that I came to really enjoy but took a considerable amount of time to evolve to that point:

  • Jobz jobz and more jobs. The past 5 years, every job that I’ve held – it took me months if not up to a year to really enjoy it. That’s because I needed time to 1) learn my job and feel competent and then confident at it 2) forge friendships at work 3) get accustomed to a new routine
  • People. There are SOOO many amazing friendships that I have in my life but if I really think about it – none of them were instantaneous. It took a lengthy amount of time to develop and achieve a closeness and depth and none of that was created overnight
  • Music. Sometimes I’ll hear a song and I WILL fall instantly in love with it (hello Starboy or as some of you might remember,  my Wrecking Ball ala Miley Cyrus phase). But other times, it takes time for me to appreciate a song or an artist. Great example: Elton John! I’ve heard his music a bunch of times but then one day years back I REALLY listened to ‘Tiny Dancer’ and it really hit me and I thought holy shit, this song is really good. I should listen to his other music. And since then, I’ve seen Elton John perform live twice because I’m so obsessed with the man.
  • Sushi. When I first tried sushi I thought no m’am not for me. But then after trying a bunch of different rolls over time my palette evolved and of course I grew to love it, and subsequently shed a tear when I had to give it up during my pregnancy (haha not, I still snuck some pieces in).

Based on my above list – I’m reminding myself to be gentle and kind and to acknowledge the person that I am in relation to Kensi. I love her because I am taking care of her and she’s thriving, but I’m not in love with her because it’s only been 8 weeks and so far, she takes a whole lot from me and offers very little reward in return (unless rewards are now being defined as dirty diapers in which case I would be rich).

I’m also reminding myself to trust the process and to review the list of all the things in my life that I love and are important to me (Dan, Frankly, Elton John, etc). None of these love affairs were instantaneous, all of them grew and evolved over time – and Kensi should be considered no different.

I need to let go of my guilt and just trust that it will happen because it’s happened every other instance in my life before with anything that’s been important to me, so just TRUST.

kensi peanuts sweater

 

 

 

~1 week later

Ok last time I updated this I thought I was having a mental breakdown (and I probably was). Several things have occurred since then and I am VERY VERY hopeful that I’m on an upward trajectory. Granted there will be major ups and downs but I’m hopeful that day by day I’ll be stronger (mentally and physically) to endure the downs so I can appreciate the ups.

1) A week ago I was so scared by how I was feeling (like I was mentally slipping away from myself + everyone around me) and sobbing non stop that I felt like I snapped. BTW I now understand and can relate to the movie Girl Interrupted.  Depression + anxiety are intense and powerful feelings that can make you feel like a shell of a person.

I told my midwife during our last appointment and they immediately referred me to a specialized post partum program at the Women’s College of Health (that I’m currently waiting on to be assessed).

I contacted my family doctor who referred me to a bunch of therapists that could do video sessions since there was no way I could haul ass to downtown easily anymore – especially based on the demands of Kensi. She also heavily recommended going on anti depressants because as she explained it, depression is a disease and if left untreated for a long time, can cause damage to your brain.

I consulted with another doctor who also explained it to me (with a picture no less). She essentially said my brain is likely leaking more serotonin than it’s producing, like a bucket that has holes in the bottom. Sleep deprivation obviously heavily contributes to the leaking holes – probably producing more holes or making them bigger! The anti depressants is supposed to help me plug up the holes so that with time my serotonin can be replenished (i.e. more serotonin in than getting out).

Listen – I’m no expert on depression or anxiety but this makes a lot of sense to me. First – I was carrying a baby for 10 months that pumped a ton of hormones in my body. Then this baby gets ejected from me and then bam, my hormones are supposed to just resume back to normal in 2 weeks with no effects? That makes no sense to me. If it took 10 months to produce the baby, shouldn’t I be more forgiving and understanding that it could take my mood, brain and body just as long (if not longer) to try to go back to normal?

The danger is obviously waiting too long to do something about post partum depression because like my doctor said earlier, if left untreated – this could cause more damage and be tougher to recover from.

2) So far myself (along with Dan and my Mom) are heavily monitoring how I’m feeling and doing day to day and then we’ll decide whether I want to take the anti depressants. I’m hesitant to do it not because I don’t believe in the role of medication, but because there’s quite a commitment to taking them in terms of length of time. I also don’t feel comfortable just going on them immediately without waiting to see how the therapy sessions go.

So far I’ve had 2 sessions (each from a different therapist) – one I definitely didn’t like, and the other one was just OK but I’ve never done therapy before so I have no idea whether you’re supposed to just click with someone instantaneously or whether it takes more than one session. I’m willing to do a couple more before deciding whether I should try to find another one that I have a better connection with.

With all that being said – I have never been 1) more grateful for the love + support of everyone who have messaged me and are rooting for me. Even people I haven’t talked to in ages message or check in on me to ask how I’m doing and that gives me even more reason to be frank + honest about this whole experience.

3) Last but not least, I swear to god I think it’s a sign from the universe telling me Katy, keep GOING and keep sharing. I know I asked the universe for a sign to tell me whether I have the strength to continue and I like to think the universe responded by dropping that big giant public Glamour article that Chrissy Tiegen wrote revealing SHE had PPD as well.

Everything she talked about in that article I could relate to, though parts of it seem way more severe than what I’ve experienced (and hopefully won’t get to that point of experiencing!).  After reading that article, several things struck me:

  • Depression + Anxiety does not discriminate. Chrissy Tiegen has John Legend, her mom who lives with her AND a nanny – and she’s still experiencing similarly powerful and intense feelings that I’m dealing with. For weeks I was wracked with such intense guilt over not being able to get my shit together, especially because Dan wasn’t working full time yet and my mom lives with me too. How could I feel so terrible when unlike other moms I know, I can take a shower or eat a meal uninterrupted or even go outside to walk the dog because I know someone is helping out with the baby.
  • I refuse to suffer for as long as she did. She had her baby in April and didn’t go see a doctor until December. There is no fucking way I’m going to allow myself to suffer for that long – hence when I thought I was having a mental breakdown I immediately called everyone I could think of to figure out HOW DO I GET BETTER.  And that’s what my new commitment is focused on – getting better and feeling like myself. I’m by no means in the clear but ever since I took the step to just reach out and get a bunch of therapy sessions, there was a sense of relief that I was finally doing something within my control (in this situation that otherwise feels powerless and out of control).
  • If Chrissy Teigen has anxiety about going outside, then I don’t feel so damn bad that I feel the same way.  It’s clear Chrissy has a lot of anxiety about a bunch of different things and I feel the same way. Ever since Kensi came along, my confidence in anything and everything has been shattered. And very very slowly – I’m rebuilding it back up.

 

That’s all I have for now but note I’m rewarding myself RIGHT NOW with this fine fellow (no not Dan haha) and it feels GREAT:

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6 weeks later

Many people have privately reached out to me to check in on me and I wanted to let everyone know I feel the overwhelming love, support and compassion.

Yesterday I made the decision that enough time has passed that I can assess – things are NOT ok with me. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to get through the days despite having more support than anyone I know with my mom here with me full time.

Yesterday was my last appt with the midwives and I had them refer me to get additional post partum depression support. I also reached out to EAP to see what resources they can provide (waiting for someone to reach out to me) and I also left a message with my family doctor to have her call me back and hopefully refer me to someone.

I wanted to make this update because:

a) It makes me cry how much love and support I feel around me. People are reaching out near and far to check in on me and I want everyone to know how much it means to me. 

b) Knowing when you need professional help is important. When I have physical ailments I go see my family doctor, I get a massage and I do acupuncture. My mental health should be treated the same and even more vigilantly. I realize that maybe I should have tried to call someone two weeks ago but I guess I had to make that decision on my own, which I finally succumbed to yesterday.

I know it’s strange to make a post so publicly about this but I’ve been pretty frank and honest so far on everything that’s been going on that it would seem really inauthentic to me to not be open about this. I also think life can be overwhelming and we need a more public and open discourse on encouraging people to ask for professional help when they feel they need it. I’m really hopeful that things will change and I’m committed to taking things day by day. 

I will try to keep everyone posted on what happens next but my commitment is of course to myself and trying to get better, so that I can start feeling like myself again 🙂 
Xo