Archive for the ‘My Girls’ Category

That Skeleton in the Closet

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Sometimes, I miss dancing.

But then I remember why we ended that chapter of our lives.



My sanity is worth everything to my beautiful family. The “dance world” was a horrific bipolar trigger that we could not find a way to integrate into our lives in a healthy way.

We still dance – but for fun. Alone. In our beautiful new house on our beautiful wood floors. And we perform for our girls’ school occasionally. It’s enough.

Sometimes, I miss it. But most of the time, I am just so relieved we made that choice.

Current Mood:Cool emoticon Cool

3 Years

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

April’s birthday was on Sunday.

Wait, how does this finger thing work?

Pay no attention to my hideous cake decorating. While I can bake like nobody’s business, I absolutely cannot be bothered with frosting. I don’t eat frosting, therefore, it’s not important. But birthday baby wanted a pink cake, so at least I made sure the top looked okay, right?

It’s been three years since a baby bust out of my vag at top speed in the blow-up kiddie pool in the middle of my living room during the middle of a thunderstorm. My homebirth that I was so proud of. And now, my amazing three-year-old.

My precious daughter

She had a wonderful birthday filled with spending time with my parents, who flew in for the occasion, opening presents, eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory downtown and playing at two different parks. My kids are spoiled.


I must admit that each birthday is a little hard on me. Not because she’s growing older because honestly, I love older kids and don’t really like infants. Toddlers are a ton of fun for me because I’m a freak. No, I’m not one of those parents who laments about the the fact that their baby’s all done grown up and all… it’s just a reminder to me that since she was born, I have dealt with mental health issues up the wazoo and each passing year really isn’t much easier.

I am sick to death of being poked with needles that leave me with bruises to check my “levels”, doctors, and therapists. I am tired of opening my pill bottles every night and downing a handful of prescribed drugs just so I can wake up and function the next day. I am tired of hearing that I’m not on the exact right something-or-other every time I go for my medicine checks only to serve as a guinea pig for some God-awful drug that leaves me depressed or psychotic or induces fine motor skill loss.

The last three years, unfortunately, have been the worst of my life in many ways. Honestly, some days I’m unsure just how many more years I am willing to fight all of this.

Thank God I have my little April to look at. She’s one of the reminders of why I’m here. If one good thing has come out of the last three years, she certainly has been it.

Current Mood:Bored emoticon Bored

A Controversial Potty Post

Monday, July 25th, 2011

April is potty-trained. She’s not three yet, and she’s so good at it that she probably doesn’t even need to wear a pull-up at night.

How’d I do it? People with toddlers like to ask. Everyone wants the magic formula that makes their kid piss and shit in the potty on their own accord.

You wanna know? It’s not magic. There’s no special potion. Fact is: your kid has to WANT to use the potty like a big kid, and they have to choose to do it. If it’s not their choice, it’ll never work.

I watch so many parents freak out while they struggle to potty train their kid. They try forcing it, then try rewarding it, they try spending a couple days with their kid naked and do nothing but focus on the toilet. But there’s a problem with a lot of those approaches: if your kid has not made the decision to use the potty, it’s not going to work. Only they can make the choice, and they have to want it themselves before any kind of potty training can be effective.

You can make it fun- stickers, treats, whatever, but none of those things will make potty training “work” unless your kid has also made the decision.

In fact, forcing the potty on a child has actually shown to cause a lot of control issues and potty problems. There are few things a young child has control over- eating, sleeping, and toilet business- and if you try to force any of those for them, guess what happens? They learn they can control them and can use them to manipulate you… and they will.

Some people HATE me for saying this, but I think the whole concept of “infant potty training” is just flat out ridiculous in this country. In places where diapers aren’t available, it’s a great idea, but people with computers aren’t generally in those kinds of situations. You’re not training your kid to be potty trained, they’re potty training *you*. Hey, if it works for some parents, then so be it, but I personally had no desire to have my head stuck up my kid’s ass far enough to look for their little “I have to go potty clue” and run to the toilet every 20 minutes. I have a life! I don’t want it tied to the potty! My experience with several moms who were infant potty training left me absolutely disinterested in the concept. During a weekly 2-hour mom-baby group that I attended until my oldest daughter could walk, I had to listen incessantly to these infant-potty-trainers discuss poops, pees, potty trips, peeing out the car window, blah blah blah. It’s all they could talk about! Every conversation led to their kid’s pooping habits, everything in their lives seemed to revolve around it. Pair that with the fact that they were literally jumping up every 20 minutes or so to pop out their son’s penis in front of everyone to pee in the toilet with the bathroom door open- “LOOK WHAT MY KID IS DOING!”- or better yet, water the tree just outside of the room in which we held our meetings, and boy, I had enough of the concept of “Infant potty training” to last me to the grave.

After all the child development courses I took in college along with speaking with experienced preschool and kindergarten teachers, discussing toilet training with pediatric nurses, and chatting with fellow moms about the whole dumping-waste-in-the-toilet phenomenon, I have realized that for my girls, there was only one way to potty train:

Tamra’s Guide For Getting Your Stubborn Kid To Shit And Piss In The Potty:

  1. Wait until they show interest in YOU using the potty: “Mommy? What are you doing?”
  2. Wait until they can tell their diaper is wet/messy: “Is your diaper wet?”… “Yeah!”
  3. Set up the right atmosphere: a little toilet, a potty chair for the big potty, a stool to stand on.
  4. Ask them if they want to sit on the potty. Don’t force them. If they say no, they’re NOT READY.
  5. Let them enjoy sitting on it, congratulate them for being a big kid.
  6. If they do pee/poo in the potty, through them a motherfucking party.
  7. DON’T EXPECT THAT THIS MEANS THEY’RE READY. Just because they use the toilet a few times does not means they’re on their way to being potty trained.
  8. Continue to provide encouragement, ask them if they want to use the toilet. If they say no, don’t be discouraged, make no big deal out of it, just let them do their thing in their disgusting diaper.
  9. Drink vodka or your beverage of choice.
  10. Expect a relapse or ten. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
  11. Always provide the opportunity for them to use the toilet, but allow THEM to make the choice.
  12. Remember: one day, they’ll get it

Many health care providers have told me that tons of kids aren’t even READY to start potty training until they are FOUR years old. FOUR!? Okay, I believe it, but that just seems so old to me. But no, it’s not. And in my “holy cow she’s not even interested” concern a couple months ago with April, I just had to keep reminding myself of that.

Both my girls were potty trained somewhere around two-and-a-half, but both were very different about it. Julie was very gradual. Baby steps. April woke up one day after we got back from Maui and wanted to wear panties. She’s had so few accidents since that I can count them on one hand. She was simply an “overnight baby”.

I personally had no desire to potty train before my kids were old enough to walk to the toilet, pull down their britches, and climb up onto that toilet seat by themselves. I don’t mind wiping and helping them button their jeans, but being somewhat self-sufficient in the crapping department makes my job MUCH easier than those moms who were running their baby boys to the nearby tree with their peens popping out of their pants. Plus, baby penis FREAKS ME THE FUCK OUT.

But in all seriousness, I did not find potty training my kids all that difficult or frustrating. Maybe my girls are just amazing like that and the complete exception to the rule? No, I doubt it. I think maybe they made the choice a little sooner than some, but I think it’s also just part of the fact that there was no pressure for them to be interested.

Yes, world, believe it or not, I’m a pretty good potty trainer! Woo hoo! How’s THAT for a fucking claim to fame?!

Current Mood:Bored emoticon Bored

Ice Cream For Breakfast

Monday, June 13th, 2011

My little too-big-for-her-britches-and-smart-as-a-whip booger graduated from preschool last week. It’s officially “summer vacation” around here.

Preschool Graduate

And you wanna know what I found this kid doing this morning as I made a lazy exit from my soft bed in my upstairs bedroom? I walked downstairs into the kitchen to find her and her little sister celebrating her new educational freedom by scooping ICE CREAM into bowls. And popsicle wrappers winked at me from the table. They both stared at me with HUGE eyes when they got caught red-handed.

I am the amazing, negligent mother. What makes the whole scenario even better is that after I almost died laughing, I finished scooping a small amount of ice cream into the-half-finished bowl and let them eat it for breakfast while asking Julie not to do it again.

Me and my girls!

To think that my postpartum depression with these girls was crippling, varying from unbearable all the way to flat-out paranoia and suicidal psychosis, is inconceivable now that I am past it. I have never been the girl who suffers from PMS or hormonal-related mood swings. I’ve always just quite level-headed. I get to play with my dear co-pilot, Bipolar Disorder instead. But at the time, it wasn’t diagnosed, and I had never experienced what role postpartum hormones can possibly play in an unstable mind. I found out, and I suddenly understood why mental hospitals are packed with people wandering the halls with vacant eyes or sitting in the corner batting at imaginary bugs.

I breastfed both my girls because I knew that it was, beyond a doubt, far healthier than shoving a bottle of formula in their mouths. Hindsight is 20/20. I should probably have risked the slight possibility that their IQs might drop, you know, a whole point on the scale if I let a cow or soybean feed them instead. Because what I later learned made so much sense that I probably could have avoided the whole trip to the psycho hospital had I just listened to my body in the first place.

I HATED breastfeeding. HATED. In fact, there was one solitary moment where I kind of enjoyed it- and that was when I nursed my friend’s foster son, a newborn drug baby who had just been weaned from meth. I babysat for him one day, and it broke my heart seeing a baby so listless and pathetic. I scooped him up, shoved his mouth on my boob, and that baby didn’t want to let go. After that, his eyes were open, he looked at me, and my friend was thrilled to see a new baby when she came to pick him up. That moment was so special, so amazing, because I knew that for whatever reason, my boob was a comfort for a baby who needed it most.

That was the one time that the horrible hormonal manic rush didn’t shoot through my body when I nursed. Most women like, even love, the way it feels. I couldn’t stand it. It tickled my nipple to the point where I wanted to scream or cry or throw my shoe through the wall. Once the let-down happens and milk starts to gush, I’ve seen dozens of moms get this sleepy, smily, dreamy, relaxed look in their eyes due to the release of prolactin, a supposedly awesome hormone that makes moms fall madly in love with their baby and forget the fact that they haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time in the last 6 days.

That whole prolactin thing? Yeah, that was a myth for me. Instead of relaxing, I felt like I could hardly breathe while electricity shot its way up my spine. Night time feedings always forced my mind and thoughts to run a marathon, and I became the amazing, unsleeping insomniac. I’d get a burst of negative, manic energy, and I’d stare at the clock, sometimes shaking, wondering how long that freaking baby at my breast was going to feed off of me like a leech. See, that’s not a normal reaction. I didn’t think of my girls like that when they were off the boob, just on it.

Later, during all my treatment, I learned that for women struggling with a postpartum mood disorder who have that kind of reaction to nursing frequently have prolonged and more severe difficulty with depression, anxiety, and psychosis. My uncomfortable mental and physical reaction to breastfeeding? That was most likely my body’s way of trying to tell me, “This isn’t healthy for you… your kids will be just fine sucking off a bottle. Give it up and stop being such a stubborn brat.”

In other words, if I hadn’t breastfed, I probably would have gotten away with a minor version of the extreme postpartum mood disorder that I experienced.¬†Almost three years after my little stinker was born, though, I can hardly remember what I was actually going through during that time. My mind was a black hole.

But see, that was then, and this is today. That picture above is me, truly proud and happy to have just watched my 5-year-old walk across the stage and accept her preschool diploma. Somehow, I survived those miserable postpartum crazy hormones, and now I’m just as happy- if not more so since I know what it’s like to be on the other side- than the “other moms” to be a mother.

Yay me! I’ve really gotten somewhere!

And as a side note, I love that color blue on myself. Normally I tear myself to shreds when I have to look at a picture of myself… but this time, I just see a happy mom with two amazing girls wearing a lovely blue top.

Current Mood:Happy emoticon Happy

Beyond Postpartum Depression

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I struggle with depression all the time. Sometimes I’m okay, sometimes I’m hardly motivated to crack a smile unless I’m teaching, which always just seems to bring sunshine to my gloomy mood. But one thing I realized? It’s not a result of new motherhood, or breastfeeding hormones, and it’s certainly not because I am stuck taking care of a toddler and a screaming baby with a voice that rivals Cher’s powerful vocal boom.

In fact, I daresay that while babies, newborns especially, just flat-out freak me out and make me shudder, I absolutely, positively adore two-year-olds, young kids, older kids, and teens. Yes, you saw that right. While the rest of the motherly world coos and gushes over newborn toes and spit-up, I prefer everything beyond baby, included those “dreaded” teenage years. I love when bitter moms tell me, “Oh just you wait...”. Well, darling, trust me, I’ve paid my dues. I know it’s hard to believe, but yes, I enjoy teens. I always have. I love listening to their troubles and broken hearts, I enjoy hearing and watching them shape their own believes and argue for what they feel is right. I have no false impressions about the difficulty of being a parent of teens, but fact is, I enjoy that age. They’re smart, amazing, and they can take care of their basic needs with little guidance. And I’m a firm believer that if I do my job well while they’re younger, my girls will sprout into some pretty amazing peeps during their older years at home as well. Yeah, I know, shit happens, but I’m not going to dwell on that because I do have faith that I’m not going to change my mind regarding my thoughts on teens.

But until those years, I’d like to say that today in the here and now, I feel so far beyond my postpartum depression era that I can actually enjoy watching my kids run around like rugrats. Why they’re dubbed the “terrible twos” is beyond me… I love age two! I have with both of my kids. And five? Holy cow- my child is truly becoming an individual and it’s just so stinking cool to watch.

April and Julie at Kubota Gardens

So finally, finally I can feel a bit smug when other parents are complaining about their 2-year-olds and wishing they were babies again. Not me! I am so glad my kids are finally beyond those years. Yes, kids are difficult in general, and yes, I have days where I want to step in front of a speeding bus… but 90% of the time, I’m having a great time with them. They’re just amazing little people, and I wasn’t well enough to enjoy them they way they deserve until they got beyond those infant years.

And yes, I’m smiling. Who wouldn’t with a beautiful daughter like Julie?

My Julie Rose

And, of course, my little spitfire and entertainer, with dimples for days- my darling April:

Dimples for Days

It’s nice to be well, to be beyond the bitter days of postpartum depression and days of psychosis. I’m not sure when it all faded away into the past, but I realize that here I am in the now, and it’s no longer haunting me. No more anxiety welling up when the dreaded blackened mood would start to rip up the “I think I might be okay again” moments. No more being a trapped prisoner in the labyrinth of psychosis, where I could see the buildings of sanity crumble and crash, but the voice inside of me was too paralyzed to say, “Help me, I can feel it happening, and I can’t stop it.

‘Course, I’ve got bipolar to grapple with… but that’s a different story. And today, the sun is shining and having a mental illness is pretty far from my mind.

Thank God.

Current Mood:Happy emoticon Happy