July 8, 2009

Moving Forward, Leslie-Style

My last post was kind of a downer, yes? Well, life is like that sometimes. Thanks for all your support during this time. Seriously. When I see things like this (which kind of disgusts me, frankly), I am reminded of how blessed I am to have loving and supportive people in my life - online and off. You make it easier for me to move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, I have started to do that - as much as you can when your life revolves around baby poop and sleepless nights, that is. While I like getting my feelings out there, I don't like to wallow. It just doesn't feel good to me. So I'm taking it one day at a time and doing a few different things to help alleviate the baby blues:

1) Reading - I take a little time out of each day (usually about 15 to 30 minutes before going to bed for the night) to lose myself in a book. Recent book purchases have been It Sucked and Then I Cried and Bad Mother. And then I went through my sister-in-law's books and then borrowed ten or so from her. I doubt I'll get to all ten, but really, I need options. There's nothing like literary therapy.

2) Movies - I've recently watched Little Children (really great, and I loved the odd narration), Revolutionary Road (good, but I think I expected more), the Three Colors trilogy (a rewatch, and totally awesome), The Usual Suspects (another rewatch and also still totally awesome), and Boy A (good, but the ending was a letdown) - all while feeding Charlie. I find I need the distraction just in case he starts getting fussy, because it makes his prolonged crying easier to deal with.

3) Sleep shifts - Roy and I started doing this last week, and it really has made a huge difference. We used to alternate nighttime feedings, but it got to the point where we were both being woken up when Charlie would start crying every two hours (or less). Now one of us attends to him from 10 PM until 3 AM (usually Roy) while the other sleeps, and we trade from 3 to 8 AM. This means that theoretically we are both getting five hours of uninterrupted sleep and a much needed break from feedings and diaper changes. This also means that Roy and I never get to sleep together anymore, which totally and completely sucks.

4) Cleaning - I have mixed feelings about cleaning these days. On one hand, doing it makes me feel like there's one thing I have control over. On the other, it's a job that really never ends, and thus that makes me realize that I have no control over it whatsoever. Still, I like keeping things as clean as possible for Charlie, although one glance at our house right now makes me cringe.

5) Creating closure - I'm a highly ritualistic person. When I am ready to move on from something that has ended, I tend to pack up everything having to do with that thing while reflecting on it. Such was the case when I packed up my pump and all my other nursing/pumping items on Sunday night. I cried a bit thinking of that relationship that I will never have with Charlie. I still wonder every day if I should have tried harder. Deep down I know that I tried as hard as I could at the time, especially considering the emotional burden of my birth experience and postpartum hormones.

6) Taking care of me - I've decided that there are some things that I am not willing to sacrifice as a mother. Showers and makeup aren't one of them. I know of many, many new mothers who go without both, and frankly, getting ready for the day makes me feel really good about myself. Even though there are days when I just stay home, when I look in the mirror I want to be happy with who I see. I don't feel good when I see myself looking haggard and rumpled in my pajamas. I also have gotten an eyebrow wax and a pedicure, something I don't think many new moms can say.

7) Music - I hadn't listened to my iPod in weeks (since before Charlie was born), and I busted it out the other day. This song came on, and I was bowled over by its awesomeness. It was like hearing it for the first time. Our current (constant) soundtrack at home is the sound of ocean waves (to make it easier for Charlie to sleep), so it was fucking amazing to hear something different.

8) Getting out - I have made it my mission this week to get out of the house every day. Charlie and I haven't been anywhere fancy, but just the act of being with the rest of the world does wonders for my mood. I come home feeling much more energetic and positive. I also have taken a couple of trips out without Charlie (while Roy is with him, of course). Again, I don't go anywhere special - it's usually to the grocery store or something, but it's oddly freeing to have the car to myself now and again.

9) Being around people - In my heightened emotional state, my first instinct is to isolate myself because I hate to think of myself unleashing the crazy when others are around. But actually, when I'm around people, the crazy tends to die down and I feel more normal. It's when I'm alone that I'm in more danger of dwelling on hard-to-handle issues.

So, there are days when I'm okay. And there are days when I feel so depressed I don't know how I can face the day. But I end up doing it anyway. It's that survivalist instinct, I guess. Overall, I am hanging in there and handling things the best way I know how.

Stay tuned for a fun post coming up!


Erika said...

Thhat is TOTALLY awesome Leslie.....It's always good to write down those feelings, reflect on them, and then move on.

I hear you about RR...still good tho..:)

Angie Eats Peace said...

I am so glad you are taking time out to take care of YOU and do small things for yourself.

kim said...

Ditto Angelina.

I love you!

cowboyboot lady said...

It's great that you are taking these steps for yourself and taking time for YOU! Way to take charge of your life!!

amber said...

It's really amazing how everyone deals with everything post-partum so differently. 2 of my friends have been totally mellow and laid back with everything and make this whole newborn thing look like a cakewalk - one of which is normally a bit high strung so this change in temperment couldn't have been more shocking. A couple of other friends have had the complete opposite experience. It just seems like the combination of hormones, how fussy your baby is, etc, make for a very interesting mix. I think it's also up to all of us women to support one another and realize that everyone is going to have different experiences being a new mom... and that one is not more "normal" or "acceptable" than another.

I'm glad that you're starting to feel a bit better though and I'm right there with you about not sacrificing showers and make-up. ;) Even in my childless state, when I look good, I feel good.

You're obviously doing a great job with Charlie as he is getting cuter each day. Hang in there and know we're all pulling for you guys. :)

Bex said...

It sound like you are really taking care of yourself. I'm very glad to hear that, it's so important. I too, had to put on make-up everyday :)