Reboot

Um, hi. It’s been awhile. Like maybe a year-and-a-half while. Which is totally my fault. Obviously. I stopped writing. And I probably worried some of you, and I am so sorry. I’m okay. I’ve been (mostly) okay since my last post in the fall of 2017. I’ve had a couple of really not okay moments and I will get to those eventually, but for now I wanted to try and explain why I stopped writing and why I am starting to write again and how I hope you’ll be interested in reading.

I stopped writing, largely, because I started to feel better and I felt less and less like talking about being sick. I didn’t have to think about or feel my illness every minute of every day for the first time in over a year. Continuing to blog about it felt counterproductive.

While I could have written about getting well, frankly, it felt boring and also more like purposeless navel-gazing than writing about being sick. Writing about being sick felt like it might be helpful; it made some meaning out of the madness (pun aboslutely intended). Without that larger purpose, I felt lost in terms of what to write about or why to write it.

I also had a bit of a shame hangover (hat tip, Bren√©¬†Brown). I shared a lot on this blog, about my mental health, my guilt/fear/shame as a parent, partner, and human, and my struggle to accept and make my way through life as a person with “late onset,” or at least late-diagnosed, biopolar disorder. I was broken when I started this blog and I stopped writing when I had reassembled enough pieces to feel capable of moving forward from not exactly where I left off but close enough to be my life.

And I did move forward, and I do, but I’ve also taken like a million steps back and fallen once so hard I almost died. But I didn’t and I’m okay but not always or in the way that I’d like to be. Being well is a struggle, every goddamn day, it’s a struggle. And I’ve found some things that are really, really helpful to me. Also, things that are particularly unhelpful. I’ve got some thoughts and ideas and tips and tricks and questions and answers and questions without answers that are still useful to ask. I’m back at work. My oldest is about to finish kinder and the twins will start pre-K this fall (?!). I am the ringmaster of the shit show that is our family of five. I’ve started taking epic hikes and gone to two meditation retreats and one in-patient psych ward and my weekly pill organizer could kill a horse.

I am okay and not okay every day and most often at the same time. And I’ve been thinking I’d like to write about that. That it might be helpful to know that getting better is always just that and sometimes it involves getting worse, at least for awhile. I have absolutely no answers to Any of the Things, but I can point them out and write about them in a way that might make them more approachable, less scary, sometimes funny, and always shared. It’s not just me and it’s not just you and none of us can do this alone.

So, if you’re not still totally pissed at my for disappearing for 19 months, please come back. I promise I’ll write as often as a mentally-ill, working mother of three kids six and under can, which I hope is often. XOXO, A

Crazy pills

There’s no question that having three kids age three and under is a recipe for crazy making. However, my predisposition to OCD, anxiety, and depression has made having twins particularly debilitating. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I love them so much I want to attack every tiny piece of dust that dares enter my home, sterilize every toy, nipple or finger that might possibly enter their mouths, and invent some sort of breathable yet germ retaining suit for my three year old to wear at all times. Needless to say, things have been a little rough around here the past three months. Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo, so when the crazy crying cleaning meanies arrived I knew enough to know I needed help. Lots and lots of help.

With my first son, I honestly didn’t realize how crazy I had become for nearly six months. And then, when I very kind and perceptive friend pointed out that maybe I had become a teeny bit wacko about all things parenting, I was so ashamed. It took me weeks to work up the nerve to tell my husband and then my therapist. I was devastated at the thought of going back on my antidepressants; sure that meant I would have to stop nursing and BREAST IS BEST, RIGHT?! How could I choose my own mental health over THE BREAST!

Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive husband and a great team of mental health professionals who got me back on my meds and made me feel comfortable enough to continue nursing (which I did until my son was one and then stopped immediately and had a big party with lots of booze and burning of nursing tanks).

Fast forward three years to my six week ultra-sound where we meet Baby A and . . . wait for it . . . Baby B. I gasped. I cried. I told my husband we needed a bigger house. And, on the way home in the car, I told him I was no-way-jose going off of my meds for this pregnancy. He agreed that was best, as did my OB.

The pregnancy went well (I mean, I puked every day for eight weeks and there was a cane involved and I had to start working from home at 30 weeks because I couldn’t walk from my parking garage to the building even with said cane for assistant but overall we did great). I carried to 38 weeks. Vaginal birth for both babes. I am a twin baby mama rockstar! And I continued to feel like one right up until three weeks postpartum, when my hormones did a nose dive and suddenly I couldn’t get off the floor. Not even in the bed, I was on the floor.

I told my husband and my mom that day. I called my therapist immediately. We upped my meds that night. Then we upped them some more. And I’m back in therapy.

Of course, I’m nervous about the breastfeeding impact of the meds and am doing everything possible to minimize exposure (BREAST IS BEST!). If it comes down to it though, I will stop nursing. I will stop because getting my shit together enough to be present and engaged in my life is not only important for my twins and my three-year old and my marriage but also for ME. I count, too. And I feel a whole lot better when I take my medication.

I’m also trying something new this time by talking about it, with my friends, my family, and even you, stranger that you are. I think talking helps. Talking about it makes it feel less shameful. It’s not a secret. I’m not broken or bad or failing at parenting or life. It’s just the way things are for me (and for a lot of other moms too).

It is what it is and we do what we can.

Are they natural?

First, wtf? How is this a remotely acceptable question to ask a stranger, or even an acquaintance or friend? They are clearly my babies. How they came to be so is none of your damn business.

Second, what does that even mean? Are they natural human children? Are they robots? Zombies? Why not just ask what you really want to know: “Are these two babies the result of sperm(s) meeting egg(s) after intercourse with my husband?” Because it’s an unbelievably rude question that no one with even a modicum of social skills would ever ask, that’s why (see paragraph 1 above).

Even so, I will answer it.

No, neither my twins nor my three-year old are the result of the standard operating procedure for making babies. We tried that. Very long story short , it didn’t work for us. So, we got help. Science is an amazing thing. I heart science.

We ended up doing IUIs for both pregnancies, which is one (giant) step below IVF. Think turkey baster, but without having to hang out with your in-laws (good) but also no watching football (bad). Not exactly how I pictured conceiving my beloved children but, you know, it worked. We got pregnant on our first try with our first-born, which is like winning the infertility lottery (what a sad concept that is).

The second time around, we had three failed IUI attempts over the course of three months. It was brutal. Basically, our doctor wanted us to move on to IVF but also offered the alternative of one more IUI attempt with injectible hormones for me. I was hesitant. Partly because they idea of giving myself shots in the stomach made me want to throw up but mostly because using the hormones would significantly increase our chance of having multiples. I was really really freaked out about the idea of having more than one baby at the same time. I had serious postpartum anxiety struggles the first time around and I couldn’t fathom holding my shit together while dealing with twice the baby. But, I also really wanted another baby. And so did my husband. And I couldn’t imagine our son not having a sibling to love and tackle and fight over the car with. So, we rolled the dice.

And we lost, or won, depending on how I’m feeling on any given day. Mostly it feels like winning now. Our babies are healthy and adorable and so beloved by their older brother it’s sometimes dangerous (he is a daycare plague carrier of the first order).

So no, my twins are not “natural” in the sense that most people mean when they use that term, but they are just as much a part of my heart as anyone’s babies can possibly be. Nothing else matters.