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A Realization – PPD Round 1

June 4, 2018

{I wrote the following post about postpartum depression last year for another blog that was never published.}

A month after my baby turned one year old I discovered I had postpartum depression. I wondered if late onset PPD was a thing, but the more I thought back over my second daughter’s first year of life I realized I had been suffering for months without knowing. There were many reasons I failed to see the signs earlier, but mostly because my postpartum depression didn’t look like what I thought it was supposed to look like.

According to an article on American Pregnancy (and many other resources), some symptoms of postpartum depression include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, and/or overwhelmed
  • Trouble sleeping and eating
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • No interest in your baby
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

I never considered postpartum depression as an explanation for my struggles because I had an excellent relationship with my baby. My first was a daddy’s girl, but Luciana was a little koala bear who clung to her mama. I savored every minute with my sweet babe. I didn’t have any “classic symptoms” and my husband’s work situation was extremely stressful at the time. I just assumed I was in survival mode. But as my husband’s job began to stabilize, I found myself wondering when I was going to snap out of it.

One difficult night in January, I lay in bed trying to calm myself down after a furious outburst at my husband for coming home twenty minutes late. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and why I was so upset over something so small. I prayed and prayed and began doing some research on my phone. Very quickly I realized my view of postpartum depression and its symptoms had been very narrow. The more I read, the more I recognized myself in what I was reading. The symptoms I related to were anger, irritability, inability to concentrate, “sadness to the depths of your soul”, and insomnia (source). I also realized postpartum depression was the source of my social anxiety. PPD seemed to exaggerate all my weaknesses; things I spent years learning to keep in check.

I immediately began a strict vitamin regimen and sought professional help. In my case, medication has not been necessary, but I was prepared to go that route if the vitamins weren’t effective. Knowing the cause and being able to get help has been healing for both myself and my husband who has been a rock throughout this journey.

More and more women, even celebrities including Hayden Panettiere and more recently Chrissy Teigen, have been speaking out about their experiences with postpartum depression. But many women still suffer in silence because they feel ashamed and isolated. According to the American Psychological Association, up to 1 in 7 women have postpartum depression. If you haven’t been feeling like yourself after the birth of your baby, talk to your healthcare provider. You are not alone in this.

(written April 2017)

Blog Resurrected

May 30, 2018

It’s been a while, reader, but I’ve decided to resurrect this blog. Blogging tapered off for various reasons after Karl and I got married and as Agnes got older, mostly because I wanted to focus on the transition to married life and motherhood. As I settled into our new rhythm of life, writing about it crossed my mind now and again but then something would distract me and I’d push the thought aside. At first I felt guilty for letting this blog linger pestles. I eventually came to terms with my blogging days being over.

I decided to write again for a couple of reasons, but mainly for therapeutic purposes. We now have three beautiful daughters, and I have postpartum depression for the second time. Since I have been through this once before you would think I’d be a pro at managing it, but I’m not. Not even close. I’m hoping that writing about postpartum depression will help me work through it* and perhaps help other moms who might be struggling with PPD. It can be very lonely and isolating; it’s reassuring to know you are not alone.

When talking to Karl about starting to blog again, he asked what it was going to be called. I told him I was going to stick with the same title. It’s one of the most difficult things for me to do right now: laugh at the days to come, knowing that it might be one overwhelmed with postpartum depression. I’m working on it.

*Please note: Just because I am writing about my journey with postpartum depression, doesn’t mean I want to talk about it. If you know me in real life, please refrain from prying further, unless you are in need of postpartum support.

waking up on the dark side

August 13, 2015

IMG_1842Karl had a difficult time waking up this morning. We both did, so we laid in bed for a few minutes. He made a sleepy comment about Agnes, who was laying diagonally between us, and I reminded him that he had to take out the garbage and recycling. I got up and went to the bathroom. By the time I returned to our room, Karl was asleep again.

The best way to get Karl out of bed is bribing him with coffee. So a few minutes later, I returned to our room with a fresh, hot cup of coffee in Karl’s favorite Star Wars Darth Vader mug. He sat up and as he took the cup, he read the words on the side, “You don’t know the power of the dark side.” Then he added, “I must obey my master.”

“Well you aren’t obeying your master now!” I retorted. “I told you to get up a while ago!”

If the first sips of coffee didn’t wake him up, that and the laughter that followed certainly did!

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Even Agnes embraced the spirit of Star Wars this morning!

parenting songs

January 28, 2015

2014-12-28 13.02.21-1Agnes is not a fan of her carseat. She doesn’t like being restrained, but who does? She has gotten used to it and is fine for short periods of time. She tends to fall asleep in her seat, especially if we are in the car around nap time. This tends to happen on Sundays afternoons on our way home from mass because her morning nap is cut short due to choir practice and the post-mass coffee social creeps into her afternoon nap time. I usually let her sleep it out in her carseat once we get home.

This Sunday I ran to the store while Karl stayed home with the napping Agnes. Karl informed me when I finally made it home after fighting the crowds at the grocery store that Agnes was MAD when she woke up and found herself in the carseat. So later on that evening, I found myself trying to get Agnes excited for another car ride. Somewhere from the deep recesses of my brain came a little tune, and with a big smile I busted out with “Let’s go ride in the car-car! Let’s go ride in the car-car!”

“It’s something my dad used to sing,” I explained to Karl as we drove to shoe store. “I don’t know where it’s from. I have a feeling it is one of those folk songs Dad loves so much, but it doesn’t sound like a real song. I wonder if he made it up.”

After a series of text messages, my dad informed me that it is indeed a real song. “I thought it was recorded by folk artist, Bill Staines,” his text message said, “but I can’t find it in iTunes by him. I know he sang it in concert. Woody Guthrie recorded it as the Car Song. Darby Gerking recorded it as Let’s Go for a Ride in the Car.” Later another text came in: “Found another version: Arlo Guthrie; Riding in My Car in album Woody’s 20 Grow Big Songs.”

I laughed. All I wanted to know was whether or not it was a real song or something crazy he made up, which I told him in a text. Dad replied that he did make it up and those other fellers stole it from him. I rolled my eyes. That’s my dad.

People always say that you start emulating your parents as you get older, especially once you have kids. I am mostly okay with that. My parents have many amazing qualities I would be proud to inherit. My father’s passion for folk music, however, is not one of the qualities I ever wanted to or thought I would acquire. Sigh… But there I was on Sunday afternoon, heaven help me, singing like my dad.

the agnes chronicles: chapter 5

January 15, 2015

Our little lady turned seven months old yesterday. How these seven months have flown by! Agnes has become quite the little vocalist. She talks and squeals and giggles and sings. At mass on Sundays, she sings with the choir, she helps the lectors with the readings, and she has lovely conversations with our priest, Fr. Paul, during his homily and at other various parts of the mass. She doesn’t have any specific words as of yet, but she does say “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mam” when she’s tired or hungry or upset. Karl is still hoping her first word will be daddy… I’m thinking momma is gonna win out.

Agnes has several adorable stages of smiles and half smiles. Sometimes she’ll break out into a huge grin immediately; other times her smile starts slowly and grows into a massive one. And then there are times when she really makes you work for a smile. No matter which one you get, her smiles are the best. Even this week when she is teething, Agnes somehow manages pained but sweet smiles. She saves her best smiles for Karl when she hasn’t seen him after a long day. Those are the smiles that light up her whole face and melt my heart.

I took 7 month/Christmas pictures of Agnes today. Since the Christmas season ended on Sunday, I’m not that late, right? Anyway here are a few of my favorites:

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the agnes chronicles: chapter 3

October 14, 2014

The adorable heroine of our story is four months old today! I’ve done a terrible job of blogging about Agnes’ adventures because she has been pretty much all-consuming. I don’t mind… I rather enjoy spending my days (and nights) cuddling with Agnes, while the dishes and laundry pile up, blog posts go unwritten, and bathrooms and bedrooms go without cleaning. Well, not entirely. I actually get plenty accomplished. It’s never as much as I want (hence the lack of blogging), but I can live with that. The chores will eventually get done. These precious moments with Agnes however are quickly fleeting.

Some of the highlights of Agnes’ few short months of life include a trip to Michigan to meet her abuelos, great-grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, a detour to Ohio for the Schwartz family reunion, accompanying me and Karl (and a few friends) on an anniversary trip to Nantucket, and (the best of all) being baptized.

Agnes is getting so big! The other day, Karl commented that Agnes was growing and changing so much that she was practically a little woman. I reminded him that she was only three and a half months old. “Well… she’s a baby-woman!” he exclaimed. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is incredible watching her develop more every day into a little lady.

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the agnes chronicles: chapter 2

July 3, 2014

Agnes is almost three weeks old! Where does the time go?! I love this teeny-tiny stage and want it to last as long as possible! Our girl is a good eater. Like her father, she likes dinner… LOTS and LOTS of dinner! And she is starting to chunk up. At her first week doctor’s appointment, Agnes was down to 5lbs 8oz. By the next week, she was up to 7lbs 2oz. I know growth is a good thing… Still I wish this time wouldn’t go so fast so I can enjoy it as long as possible.

Since I provide Agnes’ dinner, the only thing she is interested in doing when I hold her is eating. She doesn’t cry often but when she does she won’t calm down for me unless she is nursing. Her papa, on the other hand, she’ll calm down for him. Agnes loves hanging on her daddy’s shoulder or being cradled in his arms while he sings to her and dances with her. One of the things I was most looking forward to during pregnancy was seeing Karl hold our child. I have not been disappointed. I love watching the two of them together. Daddy/Daughter time is my favorite time of day.

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Adorable, right?!

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Agnes may be Daddy’s girl, but she’s also Mama’s little dancer!

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 Agnes prepares mentally for her first performance.

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the agnes chronicles: chapter 1

June 22, 2014

Our beautiful Agnes is just over a week old, and what a week it has been!! We may be exhausted but we are so incredibly happy. Agnes is such a joy! We’ve had our ups and downs as we are all getting acclimated to our new life, but it has been a very blessed time.

We are grateful for all the love and congratulations we’ve received in honor of Agnes. We are also especially grateful for the overabundance of prayers during labor and delivery. Labor was surprisingly peaceful despite being lengthy and intense. Karl and my sister-in-law extraordinaire, Lindsay, were a fantastic team in the delivery room. I never could have done it without them! I was hoping Agnes would be born on the Feast of St. Anthony, June 13, but she missed it by a couple hours. By that point, I didn’t care what day it was; I just wanted her out! Of course we didn’t know if we were waiting on Agnes or Karl. When, after 25 hours of labor, our child was finally born into this world, the doctor held her up in front of us and said “Tell me what it is”. It took me a second to process – I was rather tired after all that pushing – but I looked at the little person in front of me and saw Agnes. “It’s a girl!” I told the doctor. “It’s Agnes!”

It was so wonderful to officially meet the little lady who had been residing inside me for the last nine months. And we have been thoroughly enjoying getting to know our daughter day by day. Like I said, she is a joy!!

Here are a few photos of Agnes during her first week outside the womb.

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Ready to come home

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Our little strawberry muffin

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To infinity and beyond!

#SuperheroBaby

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Watching Despicable Me and being burped by Tia Angie and her minion.

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Mornings with Daddy

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Sleepy Baby

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That’s all for now!

it’s a girl!!!!!

June 22, 2014

Our little Muffin made her appearance in the wee small hours of the morning of June 14, after a 25 hour labor.

Readers, meet Agnes Maria:

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6lbs 4oz, 19in

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Our little family

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More to follow…

the muffin chronicles – prologue: week 39

June 5, 2014

Muffin and I had a great Week 39 checkup yesterday! The doctor was very pleased with the results of the quick ultrasound he did to check the amniotic fluid and placenta. He said everything looks good and I will probably go to the due date or just past it. I’m glad everything looks great, but I am a little disappointed… I was kind of hoping Muffin would come this week or this weekend. My original hope was to have the baby after June 7 because our good friends are getting married that day, but I changed my mind when I found out that my mom is coming this weekend! She and Ang will arrive tomorrow, and she can only stay until Sunday (Ang will be staying for as long as she wants). If there is ever a time a girl needs her mom, it’s now. I’d love to be at our friends’ wedding, but even more so I would love for my mom to be there when I give birth.

This is a woman who has gone through labor and delivery six times, each time being as different and unique as the child that came out. Both of my parents educated themselves about pregnancy, including labor and delivery and have been an incredible resource for me and Karl. With all her knowledge about the topic along with her strong yet calming presence, I think Mom could be a doula. Who wouldn’t want all that wisdom and experience in the delivery room?!

I didn’t plan on her coming this weekend; it just worked out that she was able to get some time off and figured she’d bring Ang out (Did I mention that my mom is on her way to sainthood?). So if I go into labor and Mom is here, great! But even if I don’t go into labor while she is here, I already have a plan. It’s called FaceTime. Thank the Lord for technology!

Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from trying to help things along… Everyone keeps telling me to walk, so Karl and I took a stroll down to Lake Parsippany Monday night. Tuesday I walked the one mile from Port Authority to the office and then walked again all through my lunch hour. I didn’t walk as far yesterday morning (the bus was late so I hiked it to 6th Ave and took a cab the rest of the way), but I ended up walking a mile at lunch. Today, I walked about one and a quarter miles during lunch. So far all this walking hasn’t made much of a difference aside from making my legs swell and leaving me even more exhausted. Rosario pointed out that I should probably stick with the leisurely strolls rather than mile long walks, and Mom keeps telling me to let nature take its course. I’m all about nature taking its course, but I’m open to some divine intervention too. So here’s praying that this little Muffin decides it can’t wait to meet Abuelita and comes in the next couple of days!

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On our stroll to the lake Monday evening

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