Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Courtney's Anti-PPD Checklist

I had postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. When I got pregnant with my second, I knew there was a strong possibility I would get it again. But I also knew that if I took certain steps, I could minimize that risk. Or, at the very least, I could have safeguards in place to keep the postpartum depression from being as severe as my 2013 edition. After lots of soul searching, I devised "Courtney's Action Plan To Kick Postpartum Depression In The Ass."

My action plan involved four parts: (1) skip breastfeeding entirely (Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Try To Eek Out A Few Drops of Colostrum); (2) take Zoloft as soon as the baby left my womb; (3) hire a night nurse; and (4) keep doing all the little things that make me happy. 

I will write about the first three parts of my action plan in future blog posts. Right now, I want to tell you about my checklist. My recovery from postpartum depression involved a lot of big things - a four night stay in the hospital, Zoloft, cognitive behavioral therapy - but it also involved a lot of little things like listening to music and getting fresh air. Those little things might seem inconsequential, but they were as important to my recovery as the big ticket items.

The "little things" could also be the difference between having postpartum depression again and just experiencing regular new mommy challenges. Yet I would be exhausted and brain dead during those first postpartum weeks. I might not remember to do the little things that keep my soul happy. So I drafted Courtney's Anti-PPD Checklist, a list of all the little things that give a huge boost to my morale and mental health. I posted the list to a bulletin board in my bedroom and checked it every day.

Without further ado, I give you Courtney's Anti-PPD Checklist:  
  • Fresh Air (front lawn, nature walk around the block, rocking chair on the porch)  
  • Sunlight - open the blinds!
  • Exercise  
  • Shower
  • Listen to music! 
  • Get silly with Pippa - tickle her at least once a day.  
  • Doodle or draw or craft or knit  
  • Drink tons of water
  • Write for 10 minutes by hand  
  • Sing a song
  • Stretch 
My Anti-PPD Checklist was incredibly helpful. It gave me a daily plan of attack. It inspired me to get outside and walk around the block even though I could barely shuffle. It reminded me that in order to take care of my children, I have to first take care of myself. I have not felt any twinges of depression or anxiety, but I'm not getting cocky. It's easy to forget to do things like take a shower or write in my journal for ten minutes when there's a baby crying for food. Yet I need to shower and write in my journal to remain the best version of myself. So even though I mostly feel wonderful and good, I am keeping the Anti-PPD Checklist tacked to a very prominent place on my bulletin board.  

I might never take it down.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Courtney vs. The Neighborhood Crocodile

I can't run. 

Well, that's not entirely accurate. Let me try again.

I can run about 100 feet. While I'm running those 100 feet, it feels as if I am in grave danger of losing something important, like an arm or my entire torso.

I would like to be able to run again. Not so I can run marathons. That's just not in my DNA.  

But yesterday, I went on a walk with Pippa and Julian. Halfway through the walk, Pippa got out to collect flowers and examine sidewalk cracks and build a snowman out of leaves. As we were walking home, she shrieked, "A crocodile! Run!" She started to run and I wanted so badly to join in her game. I ran with her for the 100 feet my body could handle, but then I had to walk because it felt like my ass was going to break off. That made me sad.  

I want to lose weight and get into the best shape of my life so I can be healthy, wear the clothes I want to wear, and run away from invisible crocodiles with my preschooler. 

In early December, I decided to lose a 100 pounds. I've already lost 12 pounds, so hey, only 88 pounds to go! In the past, I have focused on smaller weight loss goals on the theory that if I thought about all the weight I need to lose, I would get depressed and give up. But I got a Fitbit, and the Fitbit App asked me for my weight loss goal, and I confessed to the entire 100 pounds. And you know what? It's inspiring to have such a big weight loss goal. Look, anyone can lose 10 pounds. I myself have done so more times than I care to remember. But 100 pounds? That's fucking inspirational. And I am going to do it because I am a bad ass. 

Right now, I'm working on the Julian pregnancy weight. Then I have to finish losing the Pippa pregnancy weight. And the newlywed weight. And then it's the forty pounds I gained after I became a lawyer. (I like to think of that as the "I hate being a lawyer and I'm so anxious I have to eat this stale cookie or my head might explode" weight.) Then, last but not least, I have to lose the ten pounds that I gained during my five week eat-all-the-pastries-in-Europe trip that happened after I took the bar exam. And then, whew, I'm done. Its like time traveling! Except instead of meeting Benjamin Franklin, I get to eat lots of kale.

As I mentioned, I have a Fitbit. Holy crap, I love that little gizmo. I have been walking 10,000 steps every day and since mid-December, have only missed my goal twice. Many nights, I have to pace around the house to hit the 10,000 mark, but it's worth it. Already, I can feel my legs getting stronger.

I am so excited to get back into shape and lose all this weight I'm schlepping around. Eighty-eight extra pounds - that's a sixth grader! I am giving a piggyback ride all day, every day to some shitty sixth-grader. Holy shit, do you know what that's doing to my knees? 

I am so ready to drop that sixth grader on his ass and let him be devoured by the crocodile roaming my neighborhood.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

These Days

  • I'm working on birth announcements and thank you cards for Julian. 
  • But it's tough because I lost my address book. Again.
  • Man I am such a fuck-up when it comes to address books.
  • And passports. Have I mentioned the time I left my passport on a train in London? And didn't realize I had lost my passport for an entire week? And then, when I went back to the train station, some beautiful soul had actually left my passport in the Lost and Found Department? 
  • I should just sit down and finish the birth announcements tonight after the babies go to bed. 
  • Except I won't because Nathan and I are watching Making A Murderer and we can't stop until we are done.
  • Except we will stop next Monday so we can watch Bachelor.
  • I'm also busy pacing the house because I have a Fitbit and I've been walking 10,000 steps every day and I'm obsessed with hitting that 10,000 mark. If I could pace and write thank you notes at the same time, I would. 
  •  I can't pace and write thank you notes at the same time. Can you?
  • I didn't think so.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today I am 37 years old! I think I'm supposed to feel bad about that, but I don't. My life is where I want it to be, and besides, when I turn 40, I'm throwing myself an awesome party. I'm thinking something along the lines of a bowling alley or roller skating rink... with tacos ... and maybe a magician. Basically, I want an eight-year-old's fantasy party except with booze.

I love lists and I love learning, so to celebrate my birthday, I'vecomposed a list of 37 things I want to learn in the next 37 years.

1. how to roller skate backwards
2. Spanish (I can speak a little but I want to be fluent)
3. another language like French or Chinese
4. the fine art of balloon animals
5. Tap dance (so jealous of my toddler who is starting her first ballet/tap class next week!)
6. the guitar
7. and the accordion
8. and the harmonica
9. basic survival skills like making a fire
10. first aid
11. human anatomy and physiology
12. US geography, including the state capitols
13. World geography because holy shit it is embarrassing how little I know
14. all the U.S. presidents in chronological order
15. the Thriller dance
16. a magic card trick that doesn't suck
17. archery
18. the night sky, especially all the constellations
19. American Sign Language (this one intimidates the hell out of me) Nope, I changed my mind. I will learn how to grill instead.
20. basic car maintenance, especially how to change a tire
21. woodworking
22. some bad ass self-defense moves
23. sewing clothes
24. canning, especially jam
25. crochet (I know enough to crochet a scarf but I want to be able to make intricate amigurami creations)
26. quilting
27. how to ride a unicycle without killing myself
28. the fundamentals of photography - I took a photography class in high school but the teacher was crap
29. botany
30. some basics about statistics and probability
31. the periodic table of elements
32. how to host a podcast (not saying I'd be good at this. But I'm curious how it's done.)
33. enough about robotics to make my own robot
34. meteorology
35. hand embroidery
36. how to make an amazing floral arrangement with cheap flowers
37. french braid - my hair and Pippa's

Happy Birthday to Me!

The Cranky Pumpkin reserves the right to revise and/or abandon this list at any time.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Life Update! Or, I had the baby and life is great

I blogged about being pregnant, and might have whined once or twice about my constant nausea, and then I never blogged about the actual baby. Oops! So let's rewind and travel back in time a few months....

At the beginning of my third trimester, my doctor warned me that the baby was big and I might need a c-section. Every time I visited my doctor, she did an ultrasound and checked the baby. And every time, the ultrasound said I was carrying a BIG baby. I did not need the ultrasound to tell me this. I could tell that compared to Pippa, this baby was huge.

My due date was November 7th. By mid-October, my doctor and I had decided I should have a c-section unless the baby arrived during the week of October 15th.

The week of October 15th came and went with nary a Braxton-Hicks contraction.

We scheduled a c-section for November 2, the earliest date my doctor felt comfortable performing an elective c-section. With Pippa, my labor started eleven days before the due date; so I was hopeful that I would not have to wait until November 2 to give birth.

I was so ready to have the baby. My first trimester morning sickness never abated. Even water made me puke. By the final weeks of the pregnancy, I was living off of bread, cheese and Gatorade. And not just any Gatorade: it had to be red fruit punch Gatorade. I drank so much damn Gatorade, I assumed the baby would come out looking like a red gummy bear.

Confession: I also wanted to give birth in late October so I could throw a Halloween-themed first birthday party.

The days passed, and I finally accepted that my baby was waiting for November to make his big entrance. At first, I was nervous about having a c-section. I delivered Pippa vaginally and worried that something would go wrong when the doctors sliced me open and removed my intestines and I would die on the operating table and leave my babies to grow up without a mother. But after a few days of imagining all sorts of horrifying deaths, I embraced the c-section. I was clearly carrying a BIG baby and I realized that if this had been an earlier era, with me giving birth in some hut in the wilderness, I would probably have died. A c-section in a hospital with an excellent doctor suddenly did not seem so scary.

On November 2, I had my c-section and Julian James arrived. He was indeed a big baby, weighing nearly ten pounds. Despite all the red fruit punch Gatorade, he did not look like a red gummy bear.

I had postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter Pippa, but I had a plan to prevent a second bout of PPD. I skipped breastfeeding entirely and started taking Zoloft a couple days after the birth. In the evenings, we sent Julian to the hospital nursery so that Nathan and I could sleep. Of course, the nurses kept waking me every few hours, but that was better than been woken by nurses AND a hungry newborn. After four nights in the hospital, we took Julian home and started using a night nurse. The night nurse was expensive but I consider it some of the best money we've ever spent. Nathan took a month of paternity leave and was a tremendous help with Pippa and Julian. When he went back to work, I felt physically, mentally and emotionally ready to stay home with a toddler and newborn.

My parents have helped a lot. They regularly pick Pippa up from preschool and take her out for lunch. I also have a babysitter twice a week for six hours. With Pippa, I felt guilty if I let anyone help me for fifteen minutes... and then I ended up in the hospital's psychiatric wing for four nights. This time, I am accepting all the help I can and I have not experienced a twinge of postpartum depression. I'm sure the Zoloft has helped plenty but I think for me, accepting help - and not feeling guilty about accepting said help - has been the biggest factor in keeping me healthy.

From the day he was born, Julian has been a fat happy baby. He is so sweet and easy-going. Now he is two months old and smiling up a big happy storm. He loves it when I tickle his chin and sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. He adores his big sister and Pippa adores him. I am so blessed and lucky to be his mama.

Now Julian is two months old and sleeping through the night. Hallelujah! There's something very sweet and precious about feeding a newborn at 3 a.m. but there are also plenty of sweet and precious moments at 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and all the daylight hours. Sleep is a beautiful thing. Thank you, Julian, for being such a fantastic sleeper.

So that pretty much sums up the past three months. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I (Heart) Stats

There are a lot of great things about having this blog. It's an easy and convenient creative outlet. It lets me pretend I'm a "bonified" writer. It helps me send messages to aliens in the Alphapoot System.

But the thing I love most about this blog?

The stats.

Oh my god, I love the stats. As the master of this blog, I am privy to some fun information about the readers of this blog. Don't worry, I don't know who you are. But I do know you are probably Russian. In the past week, this blog received "102 pageviews" from Russia. Now, I don't know if those pageviews all came from one avid Russian reader or 102 different readers. But I like to think that there are 102 Russians following the antics of The Cranky Pumpkin. I bet they are sipping Vodka right now and wearing big fur coats and clutching a well-read copy of Anna Karenina. Hello, Russian Readers!

My most popular post of all time is this one about Caffeine Withdrawal.  It's been viewed 2,216 times. I guess the internet is interested in caffeine withdrawal. Maybe I should start a separate blog devoted to caffeine. Except these days, I'm caffeine free, and I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life because caffeine destroys me. It turns me into an anxious, agitated, awful beast woman. So I'm officially done with caffeine. FOR-EFFIN-EVER. Which means I will not be getting rich and famous off a caffeine blog during this lifetime. Oh well.

In the past week, this post about the Hamptons was viewed 24 times. Huh. I guess people like to look at photos of my feet in the ocean? Or maybe my devoted Russian fan base is dreaming about summer? Or maybe the aliens in the Alphapoot System are planning their invasion, and they think the Hamptons are a good place to land their fleet? People, we might never know, and that's okay. No one really cares about this shit in real life.

Anyway, I guess I need to keep blogging and occasionally generate some original content so I can keep checking on my stats BECAUSE BLOG STATS ARE AWESOME.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Random List No. 1: My favorite colors

1. Emerald green
2. Apple green 
3. All other shades of green
4. Blue-green
5. Pumpkin orange but only during the fall or when I'm painting 
6. Pink when paired with the color green
7. Pink
8. Cherry red
9. Tropical waters blue 
10. Gingham. I know its not a color but it should at least be an honorary color. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year!

I got a new planner for 2016 and folks, this is it, this is the one. I am ready to swear eternal fidelity to this planner for the rest of time. It's the Goal Digger and I'm in love. I did not know it was possible to have these sorts of feelings about a planner, but here I am, ready to buy a ring and get down on one knee.

It has a page to list your goals for 2016.

Then another page to list your monthly mini goals.

Then, for each week, you can further list your goals.

And for each day, there's space for a To Do list.

And so much more. I could seriously write 10,000 words about the Goal Digger but I don't have the time for that. I have to go ring shopping!!!