Tuesday, September 20, 2011


ALL. It's a three letter word, but it grows to have such a profound, complicated meaning. I've quickly learned that once you transition to motherhood (and maybe, for some men, fatherhood), the big question is "Can you have it all?" And everyone's "all" is different on the specifics, but generally the same: spouse, career, home, friends, hobbies and leisure time, the latest Apple toys, and kids. It's interesting to me, though, that we typically (I realize I'm about to generalize) ponder this heavy question once the latter are brought into our lives. Why is that? I guess they bring a whole other level of responsibility, complication, scheduling, and chaos to the table. Anyway, I don't know that we explicitly and consciously ask ourselves "Can I have it all?", but the take home message always seems to boil down to that. Whether we're juggling daycare schedules with work schedules, trying to walk the dog, make lunch, and feed the baby at the same time by ourselves, or, God forbid, fitting in an eyebrow wax appointment, at some point you wonder how the hell you're going to manage it.

So, if you're going to put me on the spot and make me come up with an answer to the question, I would say, "Yes, you can have it all. But only if you're willing to do it all...and if you're willing to feel like a [tired] fool sometimes in the process." Yeah. That would be my answer. Bottom line is, you can have as much as you want, but you also have to accept that perfection will be compromised at times (let's be honest, at MANY times) and you'll have to take full responsibility for the consequences. You know, being broke thanks to blowing your monthly budget on cover-up for those dark circles, juuuuuust missing that deadline, a grumpy spouse or kid, or bushy eyebrows and unpainted toenails. Something's gotta give in the process. But, if something's gotta give in the process, does that mean we truly have it ALL? See how I did that right there? Turned it right around to say the exact opposite of what I've been preaching. This, my friends, is the reason women (and maybe men?) still ask this question.

 What do you think - Can you have it ALL?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


There are lots of things to be sad about, especially with the state the world is in right now, but typically, having a beautiful bouncing baby is not considered one of them. That's crazy, right? How could you be sad about what everyone calls a miracle? Last I checked, miracles are something to be happy and wonderous about, something which brings tears of joy, not sadness. Well, for 5-25% of women (depending which studies you read) there's a lot of sadness after giving birth to that miracle. The pinto, slow as she may be, dedicated a lot of time researching postpartum depression for part of her dissertation, not realizing the relevance it would have in her own life so soon. Postpartum depression is a form of clinical depression, but it happens specifically after childbirth. Just like with a major depressive disorder, common symptoms are sadness, low self-esteem, hopelessness, guilt, a sense of emptiness, no energy, social withdrawal, disturbances in sleep and eating patterns, and just not giving a damn (or anhedonia) - to name a few. When women (and sometimes men) experience these symptoms, but in a milder form, it's "baby blues," something that 80% of us have experienced after childbirth. The biggest distinction between "blues" and full-blown depression following childbirth is the transitory nature of the "blues." Having a baby is a big life transition, made worse by the assault your hormones take on your body. So, the "blues" are pretty normal if you ask me. In fact, as you could guess by reading my previous blogs, I would argue that you're crazier if you are blissful during the transition. But, anyway, I digress. So, the cause of postpartum depression isn't totally clear. Some people argue that bottle feeding rather than breast feeding has some role, others suggest that having a colicky baby is a risk factor. Clearly, a history of mood problems will also put you at greater risk for experiencing depression after childbirth. And, like with major depression, low social support, marital problems (or being a single parent), preexisting anxiety, life stress, and low socioeconomic status can also put someone at increased risk for postpartum depression. Makes sense. What's surprising (to the Pinto, at least) is that there is little evidence supporting that hormones are to blame. Huh.

I'm not sure if I have full-blown postpartum depression, but I know that something isn't right. And anyone who knows me and my current situation should be laughing right now (out of pity, of course). There are a multitude of reasons why I might be stressed or depressed. For me, I think it's a combination of unresolved grief, living really far from work, friends, and family, having my emotional rock travel for months at a time, and, well, what feels like trying to constantly fit a square peg into a round hole. ONE of those things would be reason enough to cause significant stress, but add them together and I think I just may be on my way to a proper nervous breakdown. Now here's the irony. The main thing keeping me sane is that beautiful little baby girl of mine. The one who laughs at her own burps and farts, the one who greets me with a smile when she wakes up, the one who gets bed head to rival Don King's, and the one who bounces in excitement to the jingle in an otherwise lame tv commercial. So, how does THAT work? The thing that has added to my life stress and depression is the very thing that's helping me cope. Hmm. I need to think on that....

This is where I give props to my parents, who have absolutely turned their lives inside out to help us make things work. We'll go ahead and call them the gas that keeps this rickety pinto running. I have absolutely no clue what I would do without my parents. Let's just pray that gas prices don't keep rising! LOL!

I'll end by saying that I really don't like putting myself out there like I have in my blog, but postpartum depression is a big issue that is often ignored, not identified, or kept secret. Bottom line, 5-25 percent boils down to a lot of women who are feeling this way. Asking for help is hard. Admitting you don't feel happy when, by anyone else's standards you should be, is even harder. So, if putting myself out there makes any difference whatsoever in helping women connect on this issue, then so be it, I guess.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


The time has come for the hallmark rant about the pediatrician. Don't get me wrong, I like Leila's doc. I think this is a reflection of the larger issue that is U.S. healthcare. I'd also like to preface this with the fact that I work with a lot of physicians and understand that their position is crammed right between the rock and the hard place. The rock: patient well-being and leaving no stone left unturned (wow, what's with all my geological references?). The hard place: making money and satisfying insurance companies.

At our last visit, I had what felt like a proverbial finger waving in my face about Leila's growth stats. For those who are interested, Leila has dropped from the 90th+ percentile to the 5th in a matter of a few months. Hubby and I were prepared by the docs at Children's for the steroid-induced stunting and have since embraced the notion of raising a wild, little smurf until the treatment is completed (at which point her growth will rebound to where it should be). Back to our 8-month checkup. I felt a reaction of disbelief and quiet judgment coming from the pediatrician that we haven't been feeding Leila solids at least twice a day, if not three. I'm immediately feeling embarrassed and a whole lot guilty. Is that something everyone knows? How could I NOT know that? Shit. (I know, I know, you're sitting there thinking, "duh." Whatever, smarty pants.) Anyway, I then got internally defensive. At our last visit, it was recommended that we introduce solids at one meal a day to see how she does. If we wanted to, we could go ahead and give her more, but the message I heard was that the goal is to get her interested and to get her practicing. Ok, now I take some responsibility for not scouring the internet for a feeding schedule for my baby. But, I also expected that the pediatrician would help us out with this one - and, no, not a sheet printed from the internet with general milestones. I'm talking about one that is specific to Leila, who has been on a steroid regimen (which affects her appetite) for the past 5 months and who consistently deals with reflux and bouts of constipation. Did I mention the milk protein allergy? With all that is going on in life, that pinto brain of mine has been sputtering along just trying to stay within the lines - it doesn't have time to be proactive, much less common sensical about something. Plus, if you've read my earlier blogs, you know that I've tossed the kooky baby books. There's such a thing as an oblivious first time parent! ::hand raised high in the air:: How was I to know? Communication gets faulty. Misunderstandings happen. I get that. But I think this touched a nerve and is a sign of what things have come to with managed care. I would prefer to receive guidance and support throughout this daunting process, not a boatload of judgment followed by a request for a copay. Appointments have to be shorter, patient questions need to be succint, and responses are rapid-fire. You would be scratching your head feeling as though you've missed something, but you can't because you have an appointment card in one hand and a heavy, cumbersome car seat drooping in the other as you're quickly shuffled out the door. Again, I can't fully blame the pediatrician - I'm perfectly capable of researching things and, bottom line, I dropped the ball. But, given that I have the memory of a 90-year-old Alzheimer's patient, remind me of what I'm paying the pediatrician for? All snarkiness aside, I guess we learn from our mistakes. I just wish I didn't have to feel so inept in the process. We'll chalk this up to Mommy of the Year Moment #37.