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Jul 7 2014

The Trauma of First-Time Parenthood

By at 10:02 am

Tamara-newborn-nap

When we brought our newborn daughter home, she nursed around the clock with a ferocious latch. It felt as if I was putting my nipple into a stapler and then having the milk sucked out by an expensive Dyson.

If I were a first-time mama, I would have been convinced I had no milk and faulty nipples. I would have probably also convinced myself that my baby was tongue tied, lip-tied, or whatever bad-latch karma was going around the internet at the time. But what I now know to be true, after successfully nursing her two older brothers, is that I always have nipple sensitivity in the first few weeks and my daughter was gaining more than enough weight, despite a small mouth and slightly shallow latch.

As expected, after two weeks it all went away. She still nurses around the clock, but it is normal–even biological–for her to want to be nourished by me, held by me, and comforted by me. She won’t always want to be this close to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 2 2014

I Cried on the Last Day of Preschool, But Not For the Reasons You Think

By at 4:26 pm

Crying-Preschool

Our son’s last day of Jewish preschool has come and gone, and there are still times I cry, but not for the reasons you may think.

I wasn’t one of those moms posting on Facebook about my son’s first day at preschool and my overflowing tears and anxieties. We took a picture of him outside with his backpack–which was posted on Facebook–and drove on, knowing he was going to have a great time. This mom wasn’t sad or worried, not one bit.

Deciding to send our son to preschool was fueled by a couple of factors: our son’s need for more activity and my history with Postpartum Depression (PPD). We were expecting our second child in the fall, and a difficult pregnancy kept my son home with little opportunity for active play, which he desperately needed. I also felt it was important to prepare for the possibility I may experience PPD again; being proactive was important to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 22 2013

Torah MOMentary: Climbing Out of the Pit

By at 12:43 pm

peacejoseph

In this week’s portion, Vayeshev, we read about Joseph’s father giving him the coat of many colors. This is the last straw for his jealous brothers, who decide to get rid of him: they cast Joseph down into a pit, then sell him to some passing slave traders. “When Joseph came up to his brothers…they took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.”

Although I’ve read this story before, this time that empty pit stopped me for a moment. It felt personal. Not so long ago, for about a year and a half after my daughter was born, I was in a pit of my own.

It took me 14 months to realize there was a problem. I was on a plane, landing at SFO with major turbulence, holding my little daughter on my lap. As we jolted down towards the fast-approaching tarmac, I found myself thinking with a strange sort of excitement: “Maybe the plane will crash and I won’t have to be here anymore! And it’s perfect because I won’t be leaving her alone, either.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 26 2012

My Pregnancy Panic Attacks

By at 4:03 pm

pregnant belly black and whiteI sat alone in a small office suite in a suburb of Washington, pregnant, but generally in good health.

Suddenly, something shifted. I felt my blood move. I became conscious of my breathing, which felt increasingly labored, and my heartbeat, which was getting faster by the minute.

I thought I was dying.

I called my husband, my best friend, and my OB, trying desperately to stay centered. The OB counseled the emergency room, and minutes later I was speeding away in the back of an ambulance, my husband headed up to meet me at the hospital. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 23 2011

After Battling Postpartum Anxiety, Finding the Mama in Me

By at 10:09 am

This piece is a follow up to Tamara’s previous story about her experience with postpartum anxiety.

I have always been high strung, a classic type A personality. I set goals for myself, reach them and instead of patting myself on the back–I examine what I could have done better and set a new goal. Most of my anxiety about things is fear-based, specifically a fear of failure or not being good enough. Motherhood is the perfect petri dish to cultivate this sort of self loathing. All of this resulted in my crash-and-burn frame of mind and a little back patting was in order.

In therapy, I worked on building confidence in my abilities to parent. After all, I was succeeding. My son was gaining weight. He was happy and healthy… and perfect. I just needed to recognize it and trust in my abilities as a mother. Each week I set small goals for myself –goals that either I could think about accomplishing, make some step to accomplish in the near future or actually accomplish.

And this is how I gradually got better.

I worked on “positive self talk.” I know it sounds kooky, but every time I would fret about SIDS, I would tell myself my fears were irrational and my baby was fine. My husband bought me a video monitor and gradually my trips back to check on a sleeping babe were fewer and fewer.

I wanted to go to the public library for baby story time, but I always had an excuse. I didn’t shower, he was hungry, it was nap time, maybe next week. Finally, one day I was done with the excuses. My baby was tired and even a little bit hungry but I fumbled with the Moby, the diaper bag, the house keys and left the house.

I was late. I was walking in LATE with a tired, hungry 3 month old. WHAT IN THE HELL WAS I DOING? I walked the three blocks to the library the entire way repeating to myself, “You suck at this. Man, you’re a shitty Mom.” It was packed, there were probably 30 moms and babies sitting in a circle. I sat close the door so not to disturb anyone and watched my son’s eyes light up for what was left of baby story time. After it was over, the girl next to me leaned over and asked if I was new. I said we had just relocated for my husband’s job.  She said, “Oh yeah? Us, too.” the girl next to her said, “We just moved here, too. Welcome.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 18 2011

Postpartum Anxiety–This is What Mine Looked Like

By at 9:46 am

Tamara recently left her beloved buckeye-state and relocated to Pittsburgh with her husband and infant son. While at home, she’s decided to give writing, attachment parenting, and photography a try. And when she saw our post about depression, she decided to share her story.

The birth of my son brought about some of the craziest emotions I’ve ever had in my entire life. Happy ones, sad ones, normal ones, and desperate ones. After a pretty uneventful first two trimesters–being put on bed rest in my third trimester really took a toll on me emotionally. Then after he was born, we struggled with breastfeeding. At his two month visit when we found out that he hadn’t gained weight, my husband and I were broken to the core. The entire day is a blur, all I remember is the pediatrician shaking her head at the weight and then–as if I am a ghost in the room–I watch myself sobbing uncontrollably, tears falling on my tiny boy who is screaming at the breast. That visit threw me down a hole of self blame. This precious gift that I worked so hard to bring into this world was hungry.

At the time nothing was as it should be. We closed on our home-sale the day my water broke and we were packing up our belongings on no more than two hours of sleep each night. I was struggling with pain from some postpartum complications and my body was weak and still recovering from bed rest. And to top it all off, I hadn’t finished writing our thank you notes yet.

We were living amongst boxes.
We were worrying about money.
We were moving to a city where we had no friends or family.
My baby was hungry.
It was too much.

Looking back–all that was probably too much for almost anyone.

I cried, a lot. Every day I cried. I cried because I couldn’t pump enough milk. I cried because my baby wouldn’t latch. I cried because we were leaving a home we loved. I cried because I felt I had no business being a mother.

Other people saw us struggling. We asked for more help than we ever have in our entire lives in that three month time span. It was like my husband and I were shells of ourselves just going through the motions of our hectic life. Everything we knew was being changed, all at once. Everything. Our friends, where we lived, our jobs, our marriage, our finances. And we were responsible for this new little person who didn’t happen to arrive with an instruction booklet. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 17 2011

Postpartum Depression Statistics

By at 2:20 pm

Every year, thousands of new moms battle with a serious case of depression. Bringing a baby home is no easy task, and getting used taking care of a being that seems to suck everything out of you, takes some getting used to. (And that would be a major understatement.)

Our friends over at the New Moms Connect program at Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles just sent over some pretty startling statistics about postpartum depression.

1) Every year, 800,000-1 million American women are affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

2) This statistic cuts across income, race, ethnicity, income, age and sexual orientation.

3) Low income women, however, are disproportionately affected.

4) In the Los Angeles Mother Baby study, low-income or ethnic minority women in Los Angeles had rates of depressive symptoms closer to 40-50%.

If you or somebody you know is looking for some help, send them to the New Moms Connect website or call them at 323.761.8800 x1028. They’ll help connect you with somebody in your community.

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