Thursday, October 22, 2015

Even Busy Black Women Get the Blues (Then and Now and Again)

By now it's no secret that black women can get the blues--even a Busy Black Woman who just happened to have had a baby 15 weeks ago...

Side note 1 - I wrote that sentence this summer when I first started writing this piece, but please keep reading:

Depression is not a new topic for me or this blog, and while I would prefer to write something a lot more light-hearted, it has been on my heart for more than three weeks to address my postpartum struggles. When I first began this piece over the summer, it was meant to be a commemoration of this past year since I began this unexpected journey towards motherhood in July 2014. My intended testimonial coincided perfectly with the baby's three month birthday and latest growth spurt; however, instead of celebrating I found myself overwhelmed by irrational sadness.

Side note 2 - We are now at the six month mark, another growth spurt is underway, and...

I have suffered with varying degrees of depression for most of my life, so I knew this was a possibility and was prepared to deal weeks earlier. I felt some of the typical new mother stress and reported that to the doctor at my postpartum visit. Then something shifted, like being hit by an enormous Pacific Ocean wave and I have been struggling to catch my breath ever since.

From my zigzagging emotional state; to enduring the various ailments that have manifested (and recurred) since giving birth; to this feisty little person who refuses to nap longer than 45 minutes at a time; to the omnipotent parenting expertise of Tigger (otherwise known as the ultra-exuberant over-protective first-time father); to my mother and the quicksand of dementia that engulfs her and my father; to every other aspect of my old Busy Black Life...I am really fucking depressed.

Side note 3 - I was really f***ing depressed, and then I was not, and now I am coping. This next paragraph reflects my current reality:

I decided to finish writing this piece about my postpartum depression even though I thought I had conquered it when I stopped taking the Zoloft one of my many doctors prescribed six weeks ago. This week, it started to creep back in again...but it has been manageable and the remaining pills are still in the drawer just in case (although I never could tell if they were working to be totally honest).

Side note 4 - All of this stuff is new:

I also wanted to finish this piece because I have needed to vent. Seriously.


For me postpartum depression has been a combination of all of the stressors I listed earlier multiplied by isolation, disconnectedness and a never-ending list of things that should must be done before this kid starts to walk. When I went to a doctor to address the matter, I was given a prescription and told to expect follow-up that never occurred (thankfully, I was not waiting by the phone or sitting on a ledge).

So how did I overcome? Well, first by admitting that I have yet to do so. Second, by accepting the fact that my life and relationships have changed dramatically and third, by deciding to go with the flow. Thus, when I have a week like this, when only a few things gets crossed off my list (none of the big ticket items, mind you), then I just breathe...

After I allow myself to lose it. Sometimes that could be crying; other times it could be shopping for more crap to add to my cluttered life. Or eating a lot of gelato. Then I pack the kid in the car and try not to hate myself for being imperfect.

A friend just asked me to give advice to another new mother which is ironic as I struggle to finish this piece (and as I am setting aside clothes and stuff for that very same new mother)...because who thinks of themselves as an expert on postpartum depression? My best advice is to seek out support.

Not advice, support. Plenty of people offer advice disguised as opinions and judgments on parenting. Which was definitely a contributing factor to my earlier feelings of inadequacy--folks making suggestions or off-handed comments such as, "that baby should be wearing more clothes" (even though it was 85 degrees and the kid was sweating), I fretted that I might have exposed her to the risk of developing June.

Finally, I also realized that there are times to let things this piece. I am a perfectionist, and I could keep writing and revising and it would NEVER be published. So here is my imperfect conclusion:


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5, 4, 3, 2...

I am still writing; I just have not posted anything to this blog.

The title refers to the attempts I've made at each milestone of the baby's life to write. Although I initially said that this would not be a baby/mommy/parenting blog, there were/are moments when I need to share. Like now, I need to share that my kid is teething and that I have three weeks left of Zoloft.

Too much? Read on...

Thanks to motherhood, I am a mess. A steaming hot pile of sweaty gym socks left in the middle of the living room floor mess. And it really sucks to feel like my only purpose in life is to pump enough milk to keep my husband from giving the kid formula.

Back to my blogging, which I have attempted several times in the last four and a half months. And how this stream of conscious rant is the best I can do.

For instance, a piece that started out as a "yay, I made it to three months without doing anything really stupid" turned into a piece about post-partum depression. And then it got too depressing to finish. Another piece on Caitlyn Jenner (not at all about me) is still waiting for me to pull together. And if I had any other bright ideas I guess I might have half-written those by now as well.

So I am blaming my false starts on my new computer and the old one. I am composing this piece on the new computer that just received a Windows 10 upgrade last week, which so far is meh (because the mouse does not work and other random glitches). I wrote an article for someone yesterday on the old computer which has all of my files, Office and a screen that is less than a day away from detaching itself. Hence, I can either work on the computer that is literally falling apart or the one that randomly does unexplained stuff like resizing the fonts on websites.

I also blame my various post-partum ailments which have ranged from ankle swelling to shedding skin/hair like a reptile. I have also become very emotional, unusually hormonal, and totally stupid. On the plus side, I have lost the baby weight.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Opinions are A$$.....

Yeah, I almost said it...and you can keep your opinions on the matter to yourself!

Ever since I bcame a parent, I have received a lot of advice. On everything. And most a lot of it has been useless.

Yeah, I absolutely said that. Useless.

Sure, the advice was offered with the best intentions, especially from all the non-parents with friends who have children that live in different states, so it was much appreciated. The advice offered from seasoned parents with grown children and grandchildren was also received in gratitude, especially when said advice was followed by a snarkastic "thank goodness those days are behind me!"

As if there was not enough unsolicited opinionating on parenting, there are SO many more opinions on just about every other topic under the sun. I know this because I read the online comments section of articles and all of your rantings on Twitter and Facebook. So in my unsolicited opinion, social media has made us a nation of assholes.

(This coming from a woman who also writes a blog. Pot meet kettle. Nevertheless, I would like to think that unless someone is a close friend or relative, I keep my opinions to myself. Most of the time. But this is not about me...)

Of course, there is a lot going on in the world so naturally if there is a constructive outlet available for folks to opine on current events, that should be allowable. So I am not annoyed by the fact that people are offering up their two cents worth on everything; I am dismayed that people feel compelled to do so all the damn time.

Social media used to be an escape from real-life events. Remember when status updates were all about telling people what you just did five minutes ago? And for over-sharing pictures of your lunch or children? Whatever happened to all of those little games involving virtual gardens and farms? When did everything become so serious? Suddenly everyone is releasing their inner Bill O'Reilly.

The latest thing is to opine on people's decision not to opine. Really? Can we all just take a break and exhale for just a minute?

Not all white people are bad--not even those who have purposefully decided to avoid racial landmines by commenting on current events. Not all black people take the moral high ground. Mexicans and other Latinos are coming to America for the same reasons that your Italian, Irish, Greek, German, Jewish, etc. ancestors came. Now that gay people have the right to call their civil unions marriage, you can if you wish, continue to secretly hate their "sin" more than you hate poverty, terrorism and Donald Trump. You are forgiven if you voted for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election; however, no such absolution if you vote for Ted Cruz. And no, Bristol Palin, we do not care that you could not abstain and got yourself knocked up...again.

And for the record, you are welcome to offer your parenting opinions as long as I am free to ignore it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

And Baby Makes...

Eleven weeks ago and a few hours after I posted that last piece, I went into labor! And now the Busy Black Baby is here, and SHE is doing great!!!

So much I want to write, but now that I am officially a mother (weird to see that written in a sentence describing myself), I have to write on the run. Today I am entertaining my 5 year old niece, hanging solo with the baby for the second week after surviving the husband's two months of paternity leave, and slowly but surely trying to ease myself back into some version of my Busy Black Life.


Part of that readjustment is my return to this blog! That means new pieces, regular postings to the FB page, a possible return to Twitter, a redesigned tee shirt, a few events, and just getting back into the swing of things. I know it is a lot to promise and Lord knows I have a checkered track record when it comes to this blog...

But, I am excited and committed! Of course motherhood has brought a whole new meaning to the concept of being Busy, and while I could write almost exclusively about this new aspect of my life, I promise not to since baby poop and breastfeeding are only slightly entertaining topics.

Gotta run...until next time!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sitting Down

Still on baby watch. I have three days until my due date and the reality of what is about to happen to me is starting to set in. Finally.

I joke about not being ready, but it is not a joke. I AM NOT READY!!! Mentally, I have not wrapped my head around going into labor, giving birth, and then bringing a new little person into my chaotic life. Physically, I have no idea what I am going to experience because no one really tells you anything except to prepare for the pain. Emotionally, I have no words.

The other day I posted a question in a FB group of mothers and several realizations occurred. First, I sought advice in a public forum! Second, I appreciated receiving said advice! Third, by participating in this very public forum on a topic related to my impending motherhood am I embracing the inevitable???

Holy cannoli!

For the last month, I have been slowly transitioning to life in the slow lane, but it has been a struggle (slowing down). I took dance classes until the end of March. I pulled a couple of classic Busy Black weekends by going from activity to activity without breaking too much of a sweat. I went to the early church service on Palm Sunday and stayed for the second service. I've taken my mother on outings, including one to the mall last week. I shopped (twice) for my niece's Easter outfit. I cooked my traditional Good Friday dinner. I got all dolled up for Easter and by the grace of God, got my mother dressed and out of the house and off to church as well! I hung out with the Niece all day on Monday. And I literally just got off a conference call. I still have to file our taxes and take care of a few other loose ends...

And this baby is still coming. And that hospital bag still needs to be packed. And well, so many other things still need to be done.

But, I am sitting down. I am writing. I do not plan to sneak out of town. I will do a little nesting around the house (tomorrow). I will work on the next round of thank-you notes (tonight). I will not go to Target for anything else. Ditto the grocery store. I will go to bed early (maybe), but if I don't I will sleep in (if I can). I will not sweat the small stuff or the scary stuff.

We will be just fine.

Fix the Leak!!!

Still on baby watch and of course, the most popular question that we get is "Are you ready?" to which, I politely smile and respond no.

We are procrastinators of the highest order, as in the Tom Cruise level of Scientology highest order. I have been packing my bag for the hospital for weeks. Stuff is laid out but not a lot has been put into the actual bag. And it is still blocking the doorway to the room that is supposed to be the baby's room once I put away all of my shoes and clothes and other stuff. And then there is the leaking tub...

My husband, like many men out there, accuses me of nagging whenever I mention that something in the house needs fixing. Or if he does something slightly inconsiderate, like eating an entire bag of chips except for the crumbs. Or if I ask him to do anything during baseball season.

So when the tub in our bathroom began dripping a few weeks ago, I waited to see if he would notice. When I placed a cup under the spigot to catch the dripping water, I expected him to inquire about the cup. After I mentioned that the water was no longer dripping, but flowing he said "Oh yeah". And when I placed the stopper in the tub and it filled with water, he simply pulled out the stopper.

Yes my fellow Busy Black Sisters, unless you are married to Tim "The Toolman" Taylor, it is a crap shoot whether your man will fix anything around the house that requires immediate attention. He will do the grocery shopping when there is nothing in the fridge except for rotten fruit (but he will not discard any of it); he will mow the lawn in anticipation of rain (but he will not pick up any of the broken pots that are littering your front lawn); and he will keep using the same dirty dishtowel on the dishes even though there is a stack of clean ones available because you did not tell him it was well past time to change towels (but at least the dishes are done, he will argue).

Matters of mutual inconvenience tend not to require multiple requests for remedial action. Last fall I insisted on going to the laundromat one night because two loads of wash needed to be dried. Unbeknownst to me our 12-year old dryer had conked out, which I realized only after running the machine twice to dry a load of towels and had another load of clothes waiting. "Why not just hang them up," he asked as I loaded the car. "Because we do not have a clothes line," I responded. "What about hanging them outside on the fence?" Blank stare as I searched for a roll of quarters; agitated sigh as he accompanied me to the laundromat. We sat through about half an hour of America's Home Video, watched as children awake past their bedtimes played hide and seek, and a week later he ordered brand new machines.

But back to our leaking tub as a metaphor of our readiness for parenthood. Yeah we are totally ready...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Let It Go

For Lent I signed up for a purging challenge as a way of doing something affirmative that would have a life-enhancing impact (mainly cleaning my house finally). I was supposed to toss out or donate 40 bags of stuff in 40 days. But here we are, roughly at day 38 or so and I have only succeeded in emptying all the gift bags I received at my baby showers.

And that produced one (1) measly bag of trash.

I want to purge. I look at the piles of papers, clothes and other stuff in my house and I feel like a hoarder. I have convinced myself that I can do this in a week (or two) if I really dedicated the time, but who am I kidding? I need Niecy Nash.

But before I admit to that level of dysfunction, can I just say that my life is really complicated? In between barely getting enough sleep, wrapping up various Busy Black Woman projects, helping out with my mother, going to doctor visits, finishing up childbirth classes, shopping for Easter and however else I waste time, something has got to give. Given the choice between cleaning and purging or doing almost anything else, I will do almost anything else.

Ok, not really a valid excuse, so how about this one: I am not ready to start nesting yet.

Except that I am, kinda. I did all of my baby laundry two weeks ago. I got my brother to install my car seat base. I put together the stroller and one of the playpens. I am ready to unpack and unload and rearrange stuff. I am packing my baby bag for the hospital.

Yet the reality...nesting implies that I am ready for this baby to be born. Nesting means that I am ready to send this kid to preschool. Nesting suggests that I will survive middle school and adolescence with a really good dye job. Nesting requires me to accept the fact that one day, my nest will be empty.

Yeah, I watch way too many car commercials.

But I am running out of excuses and time. Everything that I put off until tomorrow becomes more stuff that has to be done or else the baby will have no where to sleep (not exactly). Or else I will be forced to admit that I am a messy Mommy (or I will just blame it on RC). So I am giving myself permission to just forget about the 40 days challenge...for now. I will simply get to it eventually, right around the time when the baby goes reaching for something that I should have tossed. Either way, it will get done.