Archive for June, 2008

by Diane

Today, I was given the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Kent County Coalition for Postpartum Mood Disorders. I was invited in as a spokesperson for LAB and what we are trying to do to help our mom friends. This coalition is an amazing group of health professionals including representatives from area hospitals, social workers, the health department, and more. This is an impressive group of individuals who are committed to raising awareness about postpartum mood disorders and offering resources to families in need.

I was honored to be invited because we would like to extend the outreach of LAB. We deeply desire to reach out to moms who “don’t have it all together” and are looking to network and make additional connections. I was welcomed warmly, and the members of the coalition expressed interest in using our group as a resource. Despite feeling ill prepared, I felt acknowledged as a representative for LAB.

Toward the middle of the meeting, my head began to spin with all the ideas going around the table, and I began to wish I had spoken more eloquently. At the end, however, all my doubts were settled, and I am happy to say that I received great affirmation that I was meant to be there.

First, I was able to speak with the organizer of MomsBloom. This is a wonderful organization that is doing great things to help new mothers. Although this individual really sounds like she knows what she is doing, and I did not, she was humble, encouraging, and wanting to work with me. That in itself was uplifting.

Second, when I told the Spectrum nurse coordinator of the group that I felt very underqualified, she told me that I am very qualified and that my voice is important.

The most important interaction for me today was with a nurse from a local hospital. She, in fact, was one of the nurses who cared for me after the birth of my daughter. Initially, I questioned myself for telling her that fact, but after the meeting she approached me, wanting to know about my experience with that hospital in my journey with PPD. I was honest and told her that I had been let down, and her response was incredible. She wanted to hear my story because she is passionate about helping moms. I was blown away when she asked if I would be willing to share my experiences as a patient at this hospital with some health professionals who work there. I am humbled and honored by this potential opportunity.

I am still processing all that happened today, but I do have some initial responses. First, I am thankful for this coalition. This dedicated group of caring professionals is giving us a voice. As hurting moms, we don’t have to go unheard. I feel like we are being heard and that we have a voice even when we cannot speak for ourselves.

Second, I am incredibly thankful specifically that the hospital where I delivered my baby is involved in this coalition. I am thankful for the chance to share with my former nurse. I cannot tell you how redemptive that was for me. I find that as I share with different people I encounter in my journey, I find healing. First, I have been able to help moms who are struggling, and second, I have received answers and closure for some questions and gaps in my own experiences. Talking with this nurse was so incredible for me. I have tears in my eyes right now just thinking about it. It is healing to know that I am not just lost in the shuffle, that she cares about my experience and appreciates my openness to sharing. It is HUGE for me to feel appreciated and cared about by someone from an organization that had previously let me down.

Third, I want to encourage you to share your story. It is scary, and you might feel dumb, but there is redemption. Others will relate and will encourage you. By sharing, you can get closure that you might otherwise not receive. Sharing is a risk, but I have found that the benefits outweigh the risks, and I have always received affirmation for sharing. Of course, I choose whom I share with and when I share. Not every person will understand, and not every situation is right, but sharing is a powerful avenue for healing.

Today was another step in the healing process for me, and I am thankful beyond words.


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by Dianehttps://i1.wp.com/www.jazz-ville.com/images/blow-index2.gif
As parents, we work hard to give our children everything they need. We go to work. We stay home. We sacrifice. We cuddle them, bathe them, wash their clothes, pick up their toys, and do our very best to help them become productive members of society. In the midst of all that, it is easy to feel like our wheels are spinning, that we are barely functioning, and that we haven’t given our children what they need. It can be hard to feel like a good parent, especially when we play the comparison game or when some well-meaning relative offers inappropriate advice.

Here’s something you can do to remind yourself that you are a good parent.

List 3 things you feel good about as a parent NO MATTER WHAT.

Here are mine (I was able to come up with 4):

1. I have helped my daughter be well adjusted and secure, despite the traumas during her first year.

2. I have taught and am teaching my daughter boundaries.

3. Ashlyn knows she is loved.

4. I can let other trustworthy individuals care for her without having difficulty walking away. I trust that she will be well cared for and look forward to seeing her when I get back.

This is a good exercise. It is well worth the time to write down 3 things you are proud of as a parent. Keep the list somewhere accessible so you can pull it out when you need it.

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by Diane

It’s been a busy day. You have been chasing children and wading through the destruction they have left in their paths. You are tired and can do no more, so you decide to go to bed. You prepare yourself for bed, say good night to your spouse, and are all set for a good night’s sleep. All you have to do is go to sleep. It seems like that should be simple, but it isn’t always. If you are like me, some nights I drift into blissful dreamland in just moments, but other nights I toss and turn all night because I just cannot turn off my brain. Anxious thoughts interfere with both days and nights, and unfortunately, they don’t just disappear on their own. Here are some ideas for coping with anxious thoughts, whether you are having trouble sleeping or just need to change your thought pattern.

1. 54321 Things you hear, smell, see, feel wherever you are or in an imaginary place – The idea is to think of 5 things you hear, smell, see, feel and then think of 4 things you hear, smell, see, feel, etc. until you get down to 1. I have never tried this, but it might work for you. By the time you think of all those things, your brain won’t have room to think about going to sleep, and you just might fall asleep. Therapist Lee Deckrow gave us that idea. If you try it, let us know what you think.

2. Breathing exercises – Try some relaxing breathing exercises to relax your body and distract your thinking. I think this is also helpful when caught in a moment of aggravation with the little ones

3. Lie in bed and focus on your breathing – This one works for me. I just think about my breathing. It relaxes me and helps me stop thinking about sleeping. It works every time, as long as I only think about my breathing

4. Pretend you are a fish going downstream – This one comes from our friend from another support group. Again, your mind will be taken off trying to go to sleep. This one was a bit much for my brain (sorry, L.L.), but it works for others. Just remember to take in the sights of the stream on your journey as a little fishy

5. Stop yourself – Sometimes, I just have to stop myself from obsessing over an anxious thoughts. Now, this does not work when I am trying to sleep, but it helps me during the day.

For example, yesterday, we were at Walmart, and I let Ashlyn get a little too far from me and wasn’t watching her as well as I should have. My husband asked me to keep her closer, and then my brain began to race with thoughts of “What if someone snatched her?” I could continue on that path or tell myself that she’s fine, that I’m a good mom, that I corrected the situation, and that I will do differently next time. There is no answer for the “What-if’s” (at least not for mine), so I just have to halt them.

I hope that you are feeling better about yourself as a parent. Take time today to remind yourself of something good you do as a parent and keep reminding yourself until it sticks.

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Driving home from my parents’ cabin–which had some basement water damage after the weekend’s heavy downpours–I saw a car with a sticker on it that said, “God is green”.

I don’t know about that, but I do think we need to care for our earth as best we can. Tonight I found myself starting a load of laundry and feeling a bit guilty that I’d be putting it in the dryer to dry since it’s too late in the evening to hang it out on the clothesline.

I did, however, try to redeem my use of energy and resources by dumping the water the basement dehumidifier had collected into the washing machine to reuse it rather than dump and waste it.

I have a friend that pours her dehumidifier water into potted plants.

I can think of lots of other ways you could use your collected water–bird bath, fill up your pet’s water bowl, car wash water, kiddie pool, foot-wash bucket etc.

Have any other great water recycling ideas to share?

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by Diane

Recently, we had the distinct privilege of having therapist Lee Deckrow speak at LAB. We were impressed with her warmth and kindness and what she had to say to us. She focused on the subject of dealing with mommy guilt and how we can learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Lee Deckrow defined parenting as an “ongoing state of change, re-learning and deciding what I will believe about myself as a parent and how to respond.” I liked her emphasis on deciding what I will believe about myself as a parent. We get so many messages that affect our self-beliefs, and unfortunately, not all of them our positive. If you are like me, then I tend to focus more on the negative than on the positive.

https://i0.wp.com/www.tuition.com.hk/pics/guilt.jpgShe defined an anxious thought as the What-if questions or a question in my mind that I cannot answer in 5 seconds. Now, those of us who are experiencing “momnesia” may not be able to answer a legitimate question in 5 seconds (thank you, sleep deprivation), but you get the idea. The goal is to develop messages to tell yourself that will replace the negative messages. When you replace the negative messages, not only will you feel better but you will also deal with your children differently. It is easier to be positive with your children when you are positive with yourself. Also, you will be more consistent in your responses to your children. These all sound like good reasons to work on more positive self-talk.

According to Lee Deckrow, many situations make us vulnerable to guilty thoughts. Being in a situation where you have no control is a huge trigger for these thoughts. Depression, a chemical imbalance, a traumatic experience – these can all lead to negative thought processes. Lee encouraged us to search out the origin of our thought processes as a starting point. She said that control is connected to guilt, and that no control leads to feeling like a bad mom. The replacement of bad thoughts helps us to see that we do have power in our responses in those “out-of-control” situations.

Lee Deckrow gave us a wonderful handout with these ideas:

Thoughts That Hurt Beliefs That Help Parenting Skills

I am bad, weak, inadequate, or not good enough. I am still a good parent when my child misbehaves.

I am weak, unimportant, or not in control. I can take action to respond to my child’s misbehavior.

I may be abandoned if I upset my child. I can take care of myself while my child is upset.

I have to keep others happy, I’m a failure. I am still a good parent when my child is upset with me.

The idea is to identify the hurtful thoughts and replace them with the positive beliefs.

Also, Lee Deckrow suggested journaling to change our self-beliefs. Think of an upsetting situation and the negative belief that follows. Write out a positive belief that you wish to adopt. For example:

Upsetting Incident Negative Belief Positive Belief

Child refused to answer I’m powerless. I can take action that will help

question about homework. my child respond.

You will likely need to remind yourself of the positive belief often.

On a side note, not all guilt is bad. It can be used as a checkpoint. The key is to work on our self talk and what we believe about ourselves.

She did have more good ideas for us, but I am going to save those for another post. For now, happy thinking!

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Every year we take our kids and car and car seats to the  Grand Rapids Safe Kids car seat safety check. We want to make sure our seats are still in good shape and installed correctly. Even though this is our fourth time going, we STILL learned something new!

Addison’s seat expired 12/07, so we were able to get her a brand new seat. And believe it or not, it was totally free of charge! We were allowed to give a donation if we so desired or just have the seat with no strings attached, but we felt that we ought to give something for such a great service. And what we gave was way less than we would have had to pay for a brand new seat, so it was well worth it.

The kids were thrilled to see Police cars, a fire truck, a race car, and get goodie bags with lollipops, magnets, cups, beach balls, coloring books and crayons in them. AND we got some fantastic safety kits from the Jaycees complete with everything you need to fingerprint your kids, collect a DNA sample, and put “Safe Shoes” tags into their footwear.

I love these types of events. My friend Roxanne is a car seat safety checker, but since she’s having a baby any day now, she wasn’t working this event. We had two police officers who really knew their stuff and spent about 45 minutes with us to check each kid, each seat, and install all of our seats properly and safely.

Here is the website so you can catch the next event–please get your seats checked. 80% of all car seats are being used incorrectly, that’s a pretty risky number. Be safe.

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by Diane

I have been in a rut lately, which means I have been struggling with being down, feeling low and unmotivated. I think I know the reasons why and what I have to do to feel better. The problem is being motivated to take the proper steps. I think these are the reasons why I have been feeling so badly:

1. I am in the process of writing a very difficult letter to a family member who has been unbelievably unkind to me for the last year and a half. The purpose of the letter is basically to express my perspective and to stand up for myself. It has taken me a long time to write this letter, and I am so close to being done. I just want to be done with it because it has been hanging over me heavily. I feel like I am covered by a cloud and am just longing for the sun to come out.

2. I have some responsibilities hanging over me that I have struggled to complete. The main one is my schoolwork. School has been out for 2 weeks now, and I still have grading to complete. I am almost there, but I just don’t have the motivation to push through it. I am sure I will feel better when it’s done, but I have to push myself to get there.

3. I feel distant from God. I have not been spending good time with him, so I have not been experiencing the peace that comes from a close connection with God. I did spend some good time with him last night before I went to sleep, so I am trying to get re-connected.

4. I have some strong feelings that need to come out. I struggle to let them out. It is hard for me to let myself cry unless I am in the “right” situation. For instance, yesterday, I felt the urge to cry a couple of times but did not let myself because it wasn’t convenient for the situation. I did, however, cry a little just now and was crying when I started this post. I think writing this has helped me feel better.

5. I struggle to know if this is all “normal” or if I need to have another adjustment to my medication. Honestly, I am having a hard time with that. Tomorrow, I see my psychiatrist, and I fear that he will want to up my dose. I am trying to decide if that is what I need. I don’t want to feel down, but I don’t want to run to medication every time I feel badly.

Well, thanks for “listening.” I am sorry to be so depressing, but I do feel better. I wish there weren’t so many ups and downs to this journey of motherhood and PPD recovery. Thanks for walking the journey with me. It’s good to know that I am not alone.

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