If The Shoe Fits


I was getting X-rays done at the dentist yesterday.  Carol, the dental assistant who cleans my teeth and takes said X-rays, was making chit chat.  Of course, when you have a toddler who is in the waiting room with Daddy, the small talk tends to be about your child.  In this case, O’s presence in the office seemed to bring up some nostalgia for Carol.  She started to tell me, as most people do, how fast it all goes.  How he will be 21 before I know it.  And then she said, “What I wouldn’t give to hold my son as that little infant again.”  She cradled her arms and for a second I could see her newborn baby right there in her mind’s eye.  She said it was her favorite time of being a mother.  I assured her I was enjoying each moment with O….and just smiled.  But, I’ll be honest with you, my heart was aching a bit.

I wanted to be able tell her that I could relate.  I wanted to say, ” I know the feeling.”  But I didn’t know the feeling.  When O was a newborn, I couldn’t stop crying.  I would hold him in my arms and cry.  A lot of that time is truly a blur to me.   I had an impulse to share with her my bout with post partum blues, but I didn’t want to rain on her memory and make it about me.  I just smiled.  But inside I knew I missed something apparently very special with my son in the first several weeks of his life.  Something I’ll never get back.  Hence, the ache in my heart.

Now I’ve talked a lot about post partum depression and shared most every detail of my story with my readers.  So you know that my situation was short lived (thank God).  And I am certainly not harping on the past.  What’s done is done.  I can’t change any of it and I can’t get that time back.  I have not beat myself up over it for quite some time now.  But, it is important to me that I acknowledge the feeling of loss, however minute it may be perceived to be.  With out acknowledging the darkness I was in, I can’t fully appreciate the joy and light I am basking in now.  Does that make any sense?

My conversation with this woman was such a sweet memory for her and a true reminder for me to be grateful for where I am presently.  I think back to that time and I feel like a completely different person now.  It was like I didn’t know how to even walk in the shoes of that new mother.  I just hobbled along, stumbling (and crying). And now, I feel so sure footed….like I am sprinting through fields of gold.  It’s as if these Mommy Shoes were meant for me.  Like they were in my wardrobe all the time, I just didn’t realize it.  I guess that is a lot of shoe references.  I can’t really even tell you how I wound up here in this amazing place, except that I had the unending support of my husband and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. One day at a time.

O is napping.  I sit here in my favorite writing spot in the house.  The skylight above me allows the sunshine to stream in onto my lap.  There are toy trucks and cars strewn about the sectional.  And outside I can hear bees buzzing and buds opening.  I’m not missing a thing.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading.  Always. Xo

Depression: The Family Thief


Once again, I have crunched my way into avoidance.  Anything to delay the writing.  It’s funny, because tactics to avoid writing only come into play when the topic is of a difficult nature.  This is not  some “Aha!” moment for me.  It’s pretty textbook, really.  We tend to avoid the uncomfortable difficult conversations.  My bowl of popcorn, dried peas and blue corn chips are pure proof of my discomfort.  By the way,  my snacks are organic so that means they are good for me, right? Yeah, didn’t think so…they are just less bad.  Well, that’s something.

I’ve been harboring this topic for a while.  I’m not even sure how I want to explore it.  It is intensely personal.  Painstakingly difficult and heartbreakingly close to me.  I’m talking about depression.  Now I’ve shared quite a lot about my bout with postpartum blues after I had O.  What I’m talking about now is the depression I have lived with for as long as I can remember.  I’m not talking about myself.  I’m talking about my mother. It certainly has affected me my whole life…but now, as a mother myself, it brings up a whole other set of feelings.

Depression has robbed my mother of so much in her lifetime.  And that is sad enough.  But it has stolen as much from those of us who love her, as well.  And now it continues to steal from the relationship she could have with my son.  If you have never seen someone through the darkness of depression you might not understand.  She loves him, undeniably.  And he is over the moon for his Oma.  But her sickness keeps her from spending any real time with him.  It keeps her hidden away in the darkness of her slumber instead of enjoying her grandson.  It has taken all possibilities of joy from her, even when they are right in front of her.  It would be easy to blame the person.  But I know enough  after all this time, it is the illness.  And when medications cease to work, it is a deep dark place she goes to.  To say my heart is heavy is an understatement.

I want O to know my mother.  The mother that I know. The glimpses of the real her are few and far between these days.  And the truth of the matter is, she is now elderly.  Depression seems to wreak havoc on an older person’s body at an exponential pace.  The less one does when they are older, the less they actually can do.  Bones soften and muscles atrophy through lack of use.  It’s tough to make a comeback at 79.  Especially when there is no end to the darkness in sight.  It is brutal.  The reality is that O will have the memories he has, because he doesn’t know her any other way than the way she is now.  But for the rest of us, it is hard.  Especially for my father.

I am writing about this not just to express my personal upset, but to raise some awareness about depression and how it affects not just the afflicted, but the entire family.  There are two types of depression that I am aware of.  Circumstantial and chemical.  The latter, as in my mother’s case, is the trickier to remedy.  A person might find a medicine that works beautifully, but after time, it begins to lose its effect and depression can set back in.  The dosage is usually increased and enhancers are added, which can make for some scary side effects.  Or a new drug might be prescribed and the whole acclamation period starts again, sometimes only to find out the drug isn’t a good fit.  Back to square one.  I can see how a patient could be despondent about their recovery.

What I know is that depression can be genetic.  It can run a cycle that affects generation after generation.  My maternal grandmother, though I never knew her, was agoraphobic.  Anxiety runs in my family. Anxiety untreated snowballs into depression.  With all that I have learned about depression, I’ll be damned if I’m going to follow that path.  The madness must stop with me.  Parents pass on their anxiety to their children everyday.  It is unconscious and usually the fallout doesn’t rear its ugly head until the child is in their teens.  But it doesn’t have to be.  Seek help early.  As minor as your anxiety or depression might be.  Seek help.  If not for yourself, then for your family. If you suffer from circumstantial depression (divorce, job loss, death of a loved one)…seek help.  Your family needs you.  You have a spouse, a son or daughter, a grandchild who needs YOU.

I always say that things happen the way they are supposed to. I’ve always been a believer of “If it is meant to be, then it will be.”  My life is a testament to that adage.    I was certainly lucky enough to have my child at the age of 44.  But what I never thought of was how old my parents would be when I had him.  (That’s a whole other post.). So let me finish up by saying I miss my mother.  There are days when I need her more than she could ever fathom.  There are days when I need her guidance and parenting wisdom.  There are days when I just need to hear her tell me she loves me.  To know that she is here, yet not really here, is just cruel and breaks my heart.  Everyday.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid is a mother who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thank you so much for reading. Xoxo

For Now


Yesterday I opened up my Facebook feed and felt like I got punched in the gut.  Not once, not twice, but three times.  Within a span of four minutes, I was given three separate notices of horrible news.  Two separate instances of friends finding out they have cancer and the other instance was about another special soul taken from this earth far too soon.  Rarely do I get hit with three consecutive bits of bad news so quickly.  It was a jolt, to say the least.

I know bad things happen.  It seems often that they happen to the best people.  But why? And why one person and not another? Only a higher power knows these answers.  It makes me think about life.  And what it means to actually live.  It makes me think about attitude, perspective and the choice we have everyday to LIVE.   It makes me realize that life is for NOW.  That is really all there is….NOW.  Yesterday is done.  Tomorrow may never happen.  So NOW is everything.

If you are lucky enough to be blessed today, why not acknowledge it? Why not celebrate? Why not thank your lucky stars? …Today!  Tomorrow,  I could be the one announcing some horrible news.  I could be the one fighting cancer, God forbid.  But today…I am healthy.  I am loved.  I am safe.  I have joy in my life.  I am living.  Conversely, I know that if I am sad or in pain….it is just for now.  It isn’t a permanent state of being.

I was thinking that I hadn’t learned this lesson from my upbringing….as my wonderful Mother lives mostly in the past or in the land of “if only.”  (If only her kids lived closer.  If only her husband was different.  Etc.). But, maybe that is precisely WHY I believe so differently about life.  I see very closely what can happen when you don’t acknowledge what you have.  When you don’t say out loud what you are grateful for…everyday.  When you let the bad news of life dull your NOW.  Trust me, I am not minimizing depression.  I understand first hand the effects it has on the depressed and their loved  ones. I have great compassion for anyone afflicted with this dark disease.

I only hope,  I can instill in my little O, a sense of gratitude and thankfulness.  I believe you have to practice gratitude.  Every night my husband and I list five things we are grateful for.  It is a practice that has become habit and I love that.  We will do the same with O when he is old enough.  Hopefully he will carry that with him to help shape his perspective on life.

I am not saying happiness is as easy as counting your blessings.  But it is certainly a common practice of happy people.  So for now, I am going to count mine. I have so many.  My most precious one is toddling around, squealing with joy and clapping his hands. He is also in need of a diaper change.  Now.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight.  And remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is certain she is messing it up.  Thanks for reading. Xo

Praying for Help


The weeks following coming home from the hospital with Little O, were my bleakest ever.  That sounds horrible, but it’s true.  I knew I had the postpartum blues, but a diagnosis doesn’t  make the day to day struggle any easier, except to know that it would eventually pass.  Getting through those days of tears and self doubt was pretty much the most difficult time I have ever encountered.  I remember,  my husband had to fly up north for a job interview and was going to be gone overnight….about a 24 hour trip.  I was going to be alone with the baby.  Just me.  I was terrified.  I couldn’t tell him not to go.  That I couldn’t handle it. The interview was for a job he wanted badly, and I couldn’t say ” don’t go!” like I wanted to.  So I lied.  I feigned a smile.  “Go. I’ll be fine.”

I remember holding little O, rocking in my nursery glider…crying.  I just couldn’t stop.  I remember trying to quietly cry, because I didn’t want to startle the baby..or scare him.  Could I scare an infant by crying? I didn’t know! I felt like I knew nothing.  I remember feeling hopeless.  But somehow I got through the 24 hours. My parents came to stay with us a couple days later. Instead of relief, I felt stressed beyond comprehension.  My world was completely topsy turvy.  Every reaction or feeling I was having was the opposite of what I was supposed to be having.  I kept feeling like I was spinning. Like I was in a bad dream and I was desperate to wake up. I had such shame.  Such feelings of inadequacy.  I didn’t want my parents to see me like this….I think they thought I was very stressed, but I don’t think they truly grasped how bad off I was, Thank God.

My husband was always trying to get me to take some time for myself…or do something to de-stress.  This particular evening was no exception.  He told me to go take a long hot shower and I agreed.  I remember the scalding hot water running down my back…and the hot tears running down my face.  I was silently sobbing.  Heavy silent sobs.  I wanted to hide.  I wanted to stay in that shower for the rest of my life.  I remember looking up and asking God for help.  Would he please help me..because I didn’t know what I was going to do without some serious celestial assistance.

The next day, again at my husband’s plea…I went to get a manicure.  I remember thinking that a manicure was not going to solve anything…but I would go…maybe it would relax me? My usual guy was finishing up with another customer and he told me to come sit down by them. He was congratulating me on the baby…and asking all about it.  The lady he was working on was nice and started asking me questions too.  I remember telling her that I was having a difficult time. How I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be.  She said sweetly, but very matter of fact, “You just have to hold him and love him.”  Like it was THAT easy….huh.  She told me about her grandchild.  I asked her how many children she had. She said,”two.”  A son and a daughter.  “My son lives in Colorado and my daughter was murdered.”  I was stunned! What?!  “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!”  She went on like she hadn’t said something so horrific, so terrifying…telling me about something her granddaughter did recently.  She got up and gave me a smile and said, “Remember, you just have to hold  him and love him.” And she was gone.

My nail guy told me she lost her daughter in a highly publicized school shooting, years ago.  She had since relocated to South Florida.  She had done the talk shows and interviews about it afterwards, talking about gun control,  dealing with the loss and how to move on.   And there I was complaining to this woman about how hard it was to have a beautiful new born baby! How awful of me! And then it hit me.  I had asked God for help…and what I got was perspective. I proclaim that I am a spiritual person, but I am not very religious, per say.  But no one can tell me that God didn’t put me in that seat next to that woman.  Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe.  And my talking with that woman was the mental shift I needed to get me over the bluesy hump.  I can honestly say, that my whole mindset changed that afternoon.  I looked at O  differently after that.  I could see the incredible gift we had been given.  I knew I had to cherish it.  Every time I would feel like things were hard, I’d remember that woman…..and my perspective would shift.  9 months later, I wish I could thank her and let her know the huge impact she has had on my life.  How she helped me so profoundly.  How I follow her simple advice each and every day.  “Just hold him and love him.”  I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…  You never know from where you will receive help.  It can come from very unlikely places.  In unlikely forms. In the most random person.  In a thoughtful  kind word, a prayer answered,  or a simple piece of advice.  “Just hold him and love him.”


Going Home

The day we left the hospital.

The day we left the hospital.

To say that I felt I was not ready to leave the hospital is an understatement. I couldn’t have been more unsure of myself or my state of being. All I could think about was the staircase in our house that I would have to climb. How would I do that with the baby? I was just starting to get out of bed with less pain and I still had 11 staples across my stomach. These people were on crack. I couldn’t go home! My insurance said I got 5 hospital days for a c-section. Well, the hospital really didn’t care what my insurance said. They needed the room. So after three days they sent me home. Now in hindsight, it was probably for the best. I did manage physically, better than I thought I would. And “having” to do more probably made my recovery that much quicker. But boy, my head was NOT wrapped around being at home with the baby yet. I needed help. Didn’t they see that? I felt completely inadequate for the job that lay ahead. All I knew is that I wanted to cry. And then, I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know how much my hormones would spike and fall. I didn’t know just how that would affect me. And mix that with feelings of guilt, because how could I not be elated? How could I be sad? What was wrong with me? I tried to put on a good face, but I was terrified. I can’t imagine what my husband was thinking? He must have been completely freaked. I was the one who was supposed to have it all together. And here I was falling apart.  He didn’t know what to do to help me. Neither did I.

Each day and night, it got worse.  I couldn’t stop crying.  Somewhere in my head, I knew this behavior was ridiculous, unfounded, down right silly.  But the louder voice in my head kept saying, “What have you done?”   I had given birth to this child who needed a mother and I didn’t think I could do it.  No, I knew I couldn’t.  I was doomed.   I remember my husband giving me a list of phone numbers of help lines for women with postpartum issues. I remember feeling so ashamed. Why couldn’t I handle this? I am a Type A woman! I am organized, educated and in control!! I had planned everything. And nothing was going to plan. I finally got the courage to call…and there was an answering machine. A flipping answering machine. I remember when the beep came, I didn’t know what to say….and then it hung up on me. I thought. Well, there you go. Figures. The next day (at my husband’s plea) I called the nursing line at my doctor’s practice. The minute I began to speak, I broke down.  I told her I just wanted to go somewhere and figure it all out. I told her the baby might be better off with someone who knew what they were doing. I have to tell you, it’s not easy admitting any of this, but I didn’t know that I could feel so messed up. It was not on my radar that I could be hit with the “baby blues.” Well, the nurse must have thought I was ready to jump off a bridge. She had me see the doctor that afternoon. When Dr. Singer walked in, he held my hand and simply said, “How are you doing?” I broke out in tears and told him of my plan to get away for a bit and then come back when I was ready. He smiled at me. He said, “You want to come back.” I said, “Of course.” He said, “You’re gonna be just fine.” He then explained to me what was going on hormonally in my body. How the “baby blues” are real. How if they last longer than 6 weeks….it could be postpartum depression,  but he was betting, based on my effort to look presentable that day, it was most likely temporary. He also told me that because I was older, the entire recovery would take longer. Everything. Body and mind. I chose to not use any medication, because it can take up to 6 weeks to even take affect. No, I decided to ride out the “blues” and see where that would take me.

Of course you know, they have all these classes to take when you are pregnant.  Childbirth classes, Infant Care classes, Infant CPR, Breastfeeding 101.  We took everything that was offered.  To be honest, besides the Infant CPR class…they were all pretty useless to us.  What we really needed was a “Surviving the First 2 Weeks at Home with Your Newborn” class.  Like a Baby Boot Camp.  What to expect those first couple weeks and how to deal with it.  They could run a few random scenarios with you, and throw in some variables like hormonal mother, baby losing weight, and oh, it all happens on zero sleep.  If one more person said to me, “sleep when the baby sleeps!” I wanted to hit them in the face. Hard.

It isn’t even possible to thank my wonderful husband enough. He must have been wondering, “Where is my wife? Where did Mares go?” He is not only an amazing father (born to do it)..but a loving, caring and supportive partner. He didn’t know what each new day would bring, as I fumbled around trying to find my footing as a mother. But he has never given up on me. I also had help from my best friend, Jo, who came to stay with us before the baby was born. He cooked, cleaned and took care of us. He was a link to reality and remains a true godsend. And my husband’s mother, who saw me at my worst and lent me a life preserver each and every day. I don’t know how to thank them, except to say I love you all.  I truly don’t know how any woman who has the postpartum blues gets through it without help.  Your impulse is to try to hide it, because the shame is so heavy.  If I didn’t have help, I don’t know where I would be…most likely half way to Arizona, living in my Kia, hating myself for running away.  I’m here to tell ya, these “blues” are real and very scary.  If you have had them, you know what I am talking about.  And if you are living them now, get some help. Talk to someone.  Anyone.  You never know from where you will receive help.  It comes in many shapes and sometimes in the most unlikely forms.  But above all, don’t beat yourself up.  Know, this too shall pass, and you will feel better.  🙂

Next post, I’ll tell you about my breast feeding fiasco, as I like to call it. I think that lent itself a great deal to my wounded state of mind. Until then, keep up the good fight. And remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she’s screwing it up. 🙂 xo