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Archive for August, 2008

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My friend Becky is helping organize a Mom’s Sale for this fall (Sept 27). These types of sales are HUGE in the Detroit area and they are trying to get them going on this side of the state.

They’ve rented a big room for the day and the idea is that a bunch of moms bring the things they want to sell all to one location. Each mom gets their own table (or can share if they want) and set up their own “garage sale on a table”. It’s the perfect place to get rid of the baby stuff that you’ve been wanting to get rid of.

It is only $25 to rent a table for the day, to help cover the cost of renting the room and tables. You are practically guaranteed to sell everything you bring, because all of the shoppers that come are looking for baby/kid stuff, and we already literally have hundreds of people planning on shopping.

Alpha Women’s center will be there after the sale to take any donations- so it’s the perfect place to dump everything that’s left, if you don’t want to keep the clutter.

Apparently, they’ve had an overwhelming amount of people interesting in shopping, but not as many interested in selling. So, if you are looking to clean out your basement/garage of baby stuff, or if you do crafts, bake, sew, etc. and would like to buy a table to set up shop, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

If you’re looking for baby and kid stuff for cheap and can’t afford to drive from garage sale to garage sale, plan to come shop all in one location.

Check out the website for all the info- www.westmichiganmomssale.com–  there is online registration- so anyone interested in selling can pay via paypal/ credit card online or you can print out a form and mail a check.

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by Lauren at Unexpected Blessing

I first stumbled across Dan’s blog (LABAIRI) quite awhile back. I left a comment and he emailed me to thank me for my kind words. We’ve kept in touch here and there, mostly I read his Twitter updates. (I Twitter too – unxpctdblessing is my username there) A few weeks ago I asked him if he would be willing to do an interview as he is a dad who has PPD experience. Dan opened up and is very honest and forward with his answers. I sincerely hope you enjoy today’s interview as much as I did when I first received his reply!

Would you share with us your insight on your wife’s journey as she struggled with PPD?

Jenna suffered PPD with all three of our children. Each time was different, PPD isn’t the same for every woman – it’s not even the same for one woman! The second bought was the worst. It was just a dark time – so dark that there are moments during that year that Jenna and I don’t even remember. We look at pictures and have no idea the circumstances. The darkness was just overwhelming. Nothing was right and everything was difficult. She suffered a lot, and I was really at a loss at how I’d be able to help her through this.
What were some of the first signs you noticed that made you think things weren’t quite right?

During the first time around, we didn’t know this was even happening – only 5 years ago, but awareness has come a LONG way since then. But looking back I guess there was a huge lack of motivation to do anything from getting out of bed in the morning to get up in the middle of the night to feed our son. It seemed odd – but we thought that this must just be sheer exhaustion from Jenna also working part-time. Plus, during those first 8 months after Liam was born, our relationship was tanking. I remember thinking if this is what marriage is like after kids that I didn’t want any more of them. (You can laugh – we have three and another on the way from Ethiopia!)

How have you grown as a man and as a father as a result of PPD?

Wow, great question. As a father, PPD grew me up really fast. As Jenna had moments where she was unable to care for the kids as she would have liked, I had no choice but to step in and make it work. I wasn’t secure in my parenting skills by any stretch of the imagination (the first diaper I ever changed was Liam’s). But I loved my family more than life, and these times forced me to step up to the responsibility.

As a man, I know I am more sensitive to expectant and new mothers. I know how hard it can be. I know the hell that it can be on the family. I advocate for fathers to step up and care for their wives as this is the “for better or for worse” part of the vows we made before God. I’ve never been a “manly-man” with the barefoot and pregnant mentality, but this time reinforced that caring for our wives as Christ loves the church is the only way to make a marriage work. There is a lot of sacrifice to be made as a husband/father, with or without PPD. I’m definitely a better person for having been through this with Jenna.

How did your faith support you through your journey?

WOW. We couldn’t have done this without our faith. Almost without a doubt, without our faith we would never have made it through that first year after Liam. Those were really dark times. The Psalms were a great comfort as we journeyed though PPD. David talks so often of going through the valley and crying out to God for help. Those passages of lament gave words to the cry of our hearts, cries that found words difficult to come by. We also couldn’t have done this without our faith community. Especially after PPD was diagnosed and we could talk about it with some clarity, people brought us meals, they stayed with us and helped out wherever they could. The support structure our faith community gave us was invaluable and at least for me reaffirmed the beauty of the local church and the potential she has to do good in this world.

What do you love about being a father?

Coming home from work and having a little person scream “DADDY!” at the top of her lungs while running to give me a bear hug! Those moments make all of the bad ones disappear in seconds.

What lessons have you learned from PPD?

Hmm. What first comes to mind is that no one is immune from pain. I think we all figure that PPD (or anything else bad) won’t happen to us. Jenna had NEVER suffered any sort of depression before PPD. There were absolutely no warning signs on this one. We never prepared ourselves for the worst. Jenna and I had no plan for PPD when it happened, no safety net or plan b. As a result, we’re going through an adoption right now, which is going very well. But in the back of my mind, I’m preparing for what might go wrong – and there is plenty to go wrong in international adoptions. It’s given me a healthy dose of preparedness that I’d never had before.

Depression isn’t just a bad thing. I know, that sounds like an insane statement to make, but let me explain. Depression allows you for a time to see life, and perhaps embrace life, as it really is – broken and in desperate need of repair. As a result of PPD, I savor even the “just OK” times in life because I know how bad it can get.

People are good. Surrounding yourself with a support network is one of the best things you can do for PPD. Do this before you experience tragedy; experience the joys of community as well.

Share with us some of the ways you were able to participate in your wife’s recovery.

1. Realize that this is something that I can’t fix. Once that was cemented into my head, I was free to just be the best husband / father I could be.

2. Take over duties/chores. Taking away the stresses – cleaning, cooking, etc. – that I could seemed to free her mind to think about the kids. Along with this, I also had the freedom to flex my hours at work. I stayed home until the kids were fed and clothed. I was home for the bedtime routine and canceled my evening appointments. This isn’t easy, but this speaks VOLUMES to your wife – you’re making her a priority.

3. I went with her to her first PPD group meeting. I wanted to show my support, even if it was just driving her to the wellness center so she didn’t feel like she’d get lost. Along with this, I made her being able to go to PPD group a priority. I rearranged my schedule, took appointments out of my schedule, etc. To make that happen.

4. I made every effort to help her start Life After Baby, the support group she started at our church – helping design web images, fliers, etc. She has since graduated from the group herself, but the group will still meet with new leadership this coming year.

Let’s face it. Parenting is not easy. What are some of your most difficult daily parenting challenges?

We now have three kids. Jenna’s pretty much recovered from her third trip through PPD (this hasn’t been the worst, just the longest – Addi is 2). Daily challenges: navigating the kids through the best friends/worst enemy phase of being siblings. They can turn on a dime, and helping them work through the worst enemy side of that coin is not easy. Finding alone time with each of the kids and making sure that each is getting a good amount of personal attention. And I guess that last challenge would be more on the marriage side of things, but making sure that Jenna and I don’t lose touch in the process of caring for the kids. It’s easy to focus everything on them and give the leftovers to each other. We’ve got to make each other a priority!

Shameless plug time. Tell us about your blog and why you started it.

My blog: labairi (or life as best as I remember it) was started basically as an outlet for me to write my thoughts on life. I’m an avid journal writer, and figured I’d put that to good use for the world to read–No grand ambitions, just a guy and his thoughts. It’s definitely evolved in the past three years as I’ve allowed myself to become more transparent with what’s actually going on sharing our journey and my thoughts on PPD as well as my own bouts with depression and anxiety. Since starting the blog, it’s been amazing to see what being transparent can do. I’ve connected and helped several PPD dads and family members helping them walk through some of the worst moments. I’ve been able to read books on fatherhood sent to me by authors. And I’ve just met some incredibly cool people that encourage me to be a better person. My blog is sometimes serious, sometimes fun, but always real.

And last but not least – if you had a chance to share one piece of advice with an expectant father (new or experienced), what would it be?

Embrace every moment good and bad, you can’t get them back. Choose your family above your golf game and if you can help it, your work life. You may make less money, but in the long run you’ll be investing in something that lasts for eternity.

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Dr. Phil Looking for those with Postpartum Depression

Do you believe you are suffering from post-partum depression?

Are you having obsessive thoughts, feeling a lack of attachment to your baby, or are you experiencing other symptoms you suspect could be post-partum depression?

If so, please share your story with us! We’ll be working with leading physicians to help moms who are suffering with these symptoms.

http://www.drphil.com/plugger/respond/?plugID=12527

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By dan

Lauren over at Unexpected Blessing asked me a few weeks ago to fill out an interview of sorts about being a PPD dad. I meant to do this before leaving for vacation, but life and work got WAY to crazy. I just got around to answering the questions tonight. I was really delinquent in getting them to her, but she told me that she’ll post them next week. Check out her PPD blog, but I’ll also be sure to include a link when she posts the interview.

Lately, Jenna and I have been really selective about who/when/where we talk about PPD. It’s getting old, you know? (Yeah, yeah, yeah, PPD…. snooze.) It’s part of our life that we’re ready to leave behind for awhile. However, when good people like Lauren come along and ask for some thoughts and insights about our time with PPD, we know they have incredible intentions to help others with our story and love to help out. It’s great to know that there are people like Lauren (and Katherine, etc.) who are advocating for the family in response to life with PPD. It’s cool to be able to help them in any way we can.

Remembering our time through PPD isn’t always the most fun part of life. Most of that time was dark and forgetable. But that said, we also learned so much about ourselves and what we want most out of life through those times. It was good for me to go back and remember all that was good in the healing process, all that we learned, and how we grew in our faith. I hope I captured that in the interview. I guess you’ll just have to wait and find out for yourself… I’ll keep you posted!

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THRIFTY THURSDAYS FLAT header

I volunteered to be a snack helper at Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer while my kids were attending the program. A week’s-worth of daily snacks for 400+ kids meant a lot of packaged goods.

I made sure we broke down and recycled all the cardboard, clipped “Box tops for education” medallions off every single box that had one to send to kindergarten with Liam, recycled all the plastic grocery bags, and “trash-picked” (as in, the leader said they were trash and could not be re-used in their church program but I could have them if I wanted them) lots of perfectly clean items to re-use in my home.

My favorite items:

  • a box full of lunch-sized baggies that had held been ‘used’ to hold beads and buttons
  • two industrial-sized maraschino cherry jugs with lids–they’re like free Tupperware!
  • a stack of plastic medicine cups–great for measuring out small amounts of things like sugar to sprinkle on oatmeal, chocolate chips to eat as a snack, salt to pour into a recipe, etc.
  • 2 containers of vanilla frosting (mainly because they were 9/10 still full of vanilla frosting)
  • A 2-liter of Mug Root Beer–a nice treat (we don’t buy soda) plus I got a 10 cent refund when I recycled it!

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by Diane

Today I have a fabulous opportunity. I have been invited to share my story with some nurses at the hospital where I delivered Ashlyn. I am so thankful for this chance to share. First, it is another healing step to be able to speak to members of this important organization, especially since I did not receive the help I needed there. Second, this gives a voice to other moms who will need this hospital to help them. In addition to sharing my story, I also have opportunity to suggest ways that the nurses can help moms with PPD. I polled some of my PPD friends, and these are the ideas we developed:

  1. Recognize the symptoms.  Moms experiencing symptoms of PPD for the first time will be scared and not understand what is happening. Many moms will not reach out for help and need advocates to recognize their symptoms. Other moms have reached out and have not been helped. 
  2. Address the patient by name in the room and when she uses the call button. This helps her to feel like a human being who is cared about. 
  3. Provide gentle reassurance. A few kind words can go a long way for helping a mom calm down.  
  4. Realize that patients with PPD need to be treated differently. This applies to new moms and especially to moms who have a history of PPD. 
  5. Ask questions. Ask how she slept, how she is feeling, if her appetite is ok. Not sleeping and not eating are big indicators that there is a problem. Also, a struggling mom may feel like something just isn’t right but not know what’s wrong.
  6. Support for the mother. Be sensitive to any trauma the mother has experienced. Sit with her a few minutes and listen. Let her talk and help her process what she has been through. Offer helpful information such as questions for pediatricians, suggestions for limiting visits with family and friends, etc. Find out what type of instructions or help she needs. In general, take care of the mom by showing warmth and concern. 
  7. Lessen the pressure of having the baby room in. Give the mom permission to take a break by gently offering to take the baby to the nursery so she can rest. Make sure she knows you will bring the baby back for a feeding or at least won’t give the baby a bottle without permission. 
  8. Offer medication to help the mother sleep if needed. Sometimes, we don’t know this is available or ok. 
  9. Help with breastfeeding. Provide consistent advice and offer assistance with the breastpump. Provide breastfeeding resouces and information. 
  10. Avoid pushing for an early check-out. The extra rest and care can be critical for helping a mom with PPD. 
  11. Provide information about PPD resources and encourage the parents to seek support. Many moms will not want to consider the reality of PPD, but information can help support persons recognize this illness. Also, PPD may not strike until months later.                                                                                          
  12.  Provide information and training for ER staff. Moms seeking help may go to the ER. Although many moms do not seek help, when we do, we need you to recognize this illness.

I will let you know how the meeting goes today. I anticipate that it will go well.

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by Diane

Today is a pretty good day. Last week was especially rough due to my receiving the letter and making the big mistake of reading the first one, but I am happy to report that I am doing better today.

I  have found that a few things have made the difference for me in how I feel today and how I felt last week. First, I have stopped talking about it. When I talk to friends, I have stopped re-living the experience by re-telling it each time I tell someone I have had a bad week. Instead, I say that I had a bad week but that I can’t talk about it. Second, I am trying not to focus on my hurt feelings but instead on the fact that I will heal. Focusing on God’s “bigness” rather than on my problem helps me move forward. Third, I treated myself to a nice weekend with a friend. We had a slumber party and did scrapbooking. Fourth, I have set aside the emotional part for now and am focusing on the facts. That will help me to deal with the raw emotions later when I am ready.

Feeling better is a lot of work, and unfortunately, for me, it doesn’t happen on its own. I wish it wasn’t so much work to get better, but the peace that comes after the struggle is worth fighting for.

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