July 5, 2007

A Pitiful List

Yesterday and today I have felt NUTS, like I'm going to fly up in the sky and shoot out sprays of irritation and anger over all the land. Everything is pissing me off, everything is stressful, there are too many stressful, pissy things happening all at once. I can't even tell if this is a postpartum thing or if life is actually stressful and pissy right now. All I know is that I don't like anybody or anything, and that it seems like it would feel really great to take a whole stack of plates out to the driveway and smash them one after another. Mmmmm, destruction.

Since we scared all the pregnant women with our postpartum discussion a few days ago, it seems only fair that we now share tips on the things that can help to alleviate the problem. Let's try not to laugh a hard, bitter laugh as we try to think of things.

I've mentioned in another post that it helps me to have good food, and to try to do one small task per day. I've also mentioned that I do whatever gets me more sleep. Here are some other things I've tried with some success. And when I say "some success," I assume you know I mean "It may keep me from packing my bag and heading for a hotel hide-out, but it doesn't take that off the list of options." These are just things that sometimes make me feel a little better, not things that "fix" anything or make any kind of huge difference. I assume you also know that I am in no way qualified to give out any kind of medical advice whatsoever, and that if you are feeling truly nuts you need to consult a doctor about it because postpartum stuff can be really serious and bad, right? Good.

1) Coffee, small amounts (too much can make me all jittery and snappish, and I think I have gracious plenty of that already), especially with a selection of flavored creamers to stir into it and a cookie to eat with it. I once read on a web site that 1/4th cup of coffee taken medicinally every hour can be helpful for mild depression.

2) Turning on lots and lots of lights. I read that tip on the same website that mentioned the medicinal coffee. I'd thought it wouldn't help, but it did seem to improve my mood on dark, sad mornings.

3) Taking fish oil capsules. I read a long time ago that a study found fish oil helped with postpartum depression. That could be a total load, but it stayed with me and now if it's not true I don't want to hear about it. There is something to be said for the placebo effect.

4) Nice smells. A pretty shower gel, a good perfume--but not a scented candle in this state of mind or you'll accidentally burn the house down and then think how sad you'll be.

For the love of god, tell me you have more ideas, because that list is pitiful and the combination of insurance issues and the kids' giddiness is making me feel like scorching the land with my wrath.


Kathi said...

One thing that made me feel better was to have my toenails painted. I doubt new moms are really going to have time to go get a pedicure (although when my son was an infant I took him there and nursed him while I was getting one) but it helps that at least one part of my body is pretty at a time when the rest of it is all stretch-marked and lactating. Also I pampered myself by buying a bunch of magazines at the grocery store and reading them while I was nursing. It makes you feel a little less out of the loop when you're keeping up with the latest celebrity news.....a totally unrelated question, Swistle, did you put your kids in toddler beds after the crib or did you go straight to twin beds?

Swistle said...

Kathi: Good idea about the toesies--I painted my toenails red for the wedding I went to last month, and it does make me feel cuter.

I went straight to twin beds. But toddler beds are SO CUTE.

LoriD said...

Rice pudding. No kidding, it worked for me everytime... I don't know if it was the iron in the raisins, the warm milky goodness or what, but it worked.

jen said...

food. forcing myself to clean something. Oh it sucked but once I got going I was fine and usually couldn't stop cleaning things. Tell me that now.. it'll snap me out of my funk.. but I don't wanna! hmph.

did i mention food? GOOD food. I'm always telling my husband what I really want is a restaurant meal with all the frivolous sides and trimmings. oh sure I'm fat, but at least I'm not killing people with my eye lasers.

Devan said...

Reading a good book. (if you can find the time.) A good workout. It kinda sucks while you're doing it, but i feel good after.
Taking a shower with the door closed. Chocolate. Brownies. Ice Cream.
SLEEP! Co-sleeping saved my sanity.
The beach, if you can get so lucky.

Tessie said...

Sorted in order of most effort to least effort, these things helped me:

1) Some kind of exercise. Every time I heard this advice I kind of wanted to punch someone in his or her well-rested face, but I have to admit that it usually worked. Even a walk to the end of the block made me feel better for almost an hour.

2) Going out for lunch. For the first few weeks after my baby was born, we went out for lunch every day. It was usually just Wendys or Subway or whatever, but it was a chance to leave the house and do something fun (for me) while the baby was still basically sleepy luggage. I would bring a book, and it felt sort of like vacation. Plus people fawn all over you and the baby and make you feel like a queen. Probably a first-time mother thing, since bringing slightly older kids would make this feel not so much like "vacation" as "chore".

3) Washing my face with a tingly-type face soap (I think I used Clean & Clear Oxygenating something-something). Makes you feel clean and relatively energized, even if you can't shower.

4) Saving something "special" for the evening hours, or whatever time of day is usually the hardest for you. I used Tivo'd episodes of my favorite shows or a special snack.

5) Weird mental affirmations. Thinking to myself over and over things like "I'm taking good care of her" and "I'm doing it, I'm getting through it" etc. I know, CHEESE ALERT.

I love the tips about coffee and painting toenails too!

Misguided Mommy said...

I totally agree on the coffee creamer. However, I think a weekly trip to Starbucks ALL BY YOURSELF totally kicks ass too.

Shopping for baby crap. Seriously how can you be mad when you are buying a foot long pair of jammies? Not possible I tell you!

Letting my son run around naked knowing he will run and pee on daddies slippers.

Fresh smelling new lotions and shower gels. I usually go with Lemon, orange and strawberry in the shower. A new fun lotion from Bath and Body and then I splurge on some yummy new Salt City Candle.

SALT CITY CANDLES. You need to get a grapefruit vanilla, a pear berry, any of the fruit slices and so on for the summer blues. In the winter I burn some apple cinnamon, vanilla spice, oatmeal cookie, and pumpkin pie.

Clipping my toenails and cleaning the toe jam out and then flicking it at my husband (i mean, huh thats gross, i would sooo never do that..cough cough liar cough)


New clean high thread count sheets washed in Gains Apple berry splash fabric softner and freshly shaved legs...seriously people...heaven

Erin said...

Swistle, I like the little bits of coffee tip. Thanks.

For me, on days when a shower is waaaay too much to ask, just washing my face, brushing my teeth, and putting on clean underwear can make me feel a little more alive.

Also, putting on music. That can switch the environment pretty quick, as long as you have a good selection to choose from (no David Gray or anything like that or else I'd never stop with the tears).

Humor Girl said...

Light helps for sure! The more dark my apartment...the more seedy I feel.

Kelli in the Mirror said...

If I can get out of the house, I really love baby shopping. With the baby. He's generally in a good mood in the store right now and I like doing cheesy things like holding up two rattles and asking him which one he likes better. And then buying him the one he seems to indicate. :) Even if it's totally random.

If I can't get out of the house, having someone bring me food is the best thing. When my sister shows up with a Chickfila milkshake I want to throw myself on her and weep for joy. It helps a lot.

Emblita said...

I took cod-liver oil my entire pregnancy and am still taking them. And post partum wasn't bad... Now I don't have anything to compare it with. But they seemed to work for me

Shannon said...

Taking a shower, going outside, read, playsudoku, a real latte, having DH bring takeout for dinner.

Marie Green said...

For me it was not stressing about when/how much the baby slept/ate. The first time around I was constantly looking at my watch and thinking (and probably saying aloud to NO ONE) "They need to eat AGAIN??? They only slept for 1 hour!!!!!" Like I was looking for details to build up my case that my life was impossible and it sucked and can you believe they want MORE FOOD???

This time, I have no idea how many time a day Marin nurses, I don't stress about her solids intake, and I don't keep track of how many hours she is sleeping. I either know she slept pretty much all night, or she didn't, but that's it.

Basically, I just needed to chill out. Or quit stressing out over thing I couldn't control.

The other really nice thing was that my Grandma (in her 70's) came to stay for a week. She cooked and cleaned and spoiled us. It was bliss! =)

AndreAnna said...

Wow, these are all such great ideas. I feel like I should print this and hang it on my wall for the next time I squirt a kid out! :)

The thing that worked best for me was taking a drive, blasting the music, with the windows open. Even if it was for 20 minutes while the baby was napping, it felt great.

Hope you get some rest. In 20 years, when your babies are all grown, you'll wish you had this stress. At least that's what my mother keeps reminding me...

Sara said...

Ok, the first time, I was just a sleep-walking, lactating wreck. Here's what worked for me the second time around:

*Coffee. Black and strong how I like it, and not worrying that it would irritate the baby. (which it didn't)

*long hot showers with good smelling stuff. I actually bought and packed sample size fruity shampoo/soaps etc. for my hospital stay, and then just moved them right on in to my bathroom.

*sending my toddler to daycare 2 days a week even though I was off of work

*yes, yes, good food. and iced cold bottled water.

*keeping as everything I needed all in the same place where I was nursing.

*Obsessing over Murphy Brown reruns on Nick at Nite

*taking the baby out for a while-even if it's just to sit on the porch.

*and my favorite- going grocery shopping by myself.

Dooneybug said...

You're right about the coffee thing. I always find that if I'm having a shit-tastic day it most likely means I haven't had any caffeine yet. I usually perk up after a nice cold soda on a hot day or warm coffee on a cold one.

The most helpful thing for me was getting the heck out of the house. Even if it meant just driving around town to avoid spending money going to the mall or Target (unless you have a will of steel or you know, are wealthy).

Going to events or programs where other moms will be is also fantastic. I signed up with the early childhood classes after my son was born and even though they don't run programs during the summer, I met a bunch of moms who we now get together at the water park or go to the park here and there. Also try the library for story times - our small town does it two weekday mornings and one evening each week - even during summer.

The mall is definitely a place to be near people and many places have those indoor play areas.

Just get out of the house as much as possible!

But sometimes, the reality is that it just takes time before things feel ok again.

Erica said...

The thing that helped me the most was getting out of the house. I was lucky in that my husband stayed home for the first four weeks after Maddie was born. He would tell me to get cleaned up and get out. I'd go to Target and wander around and just generally not be taking care of a baby for 5 freakin' minutes. It really helped with the "oh my God, I am so overwhelmed with baby baby baby" feelings.

And to be honest, formula helped me, a lot, too. I had a really hard time with nursing and it stressed me out something fierce. Once I made the decision to go formula and give up on nursing, things calmed down considerably for me. It also meant that my husband could do some feedings, which let me get a lot more sleep.

nanann said...

sounds like the same thing a couple people said here: going to Target! or picking up take-out food! (which worked real well for the 1st. I don't think it will work quite so well with the coming 2nd just b/c we don't do take=out quite so much). And doing those things WITHOUT the baby! Just to be out of the house without worrying about another human being was heavenly and let me keep my sanity.

desperate housewife said...

Ditto Erin on the music. A lot of mornings when I'm feeling pretty down- being bombarded with neediness from a toddler when all you want is to pee in peace will do that to you- just turning on the radio helps A LOT. And at night, as a cure for that I'm-so-tired-yet-there's-so-much-picking-uo-still-to-be-done-but-all-I-have-the-energy-to-do-is-stare-at-the-mess problem, zoning out to TV is my solution. I just pull a Scarlett O'Hara (as in, "I'll just think about this tomorrow!") and then force myself to blindly walk past any messes straight to the bedroom, turn out lights, and turn on DVD player. The end.

Jodi said...

Get out of the house. Even if you are just sitting in the yard.

Katie said...

Devan, co-sleeping also saved my sanity. I wasn't necessarily AGAINST it ahead of time, but I didn't realize how much better my entire life was for the first three months until the baby was just attached to my shirtless boob all night. I slept through almost all of her night feedings. My husband said I was the human milkshake buffet.

My husband deployed when the baby was 6 weeks old, so she moved right into bed with me and didn't move out until he came home. It was so much better than trudging back and forth to a crib or hoisting her in and out of a bassinet. So. Much. Better.

I agree with the FOOD statement. And wine. I had a glass of wine every single day even while breastfeeding.

Having my mother there, even if it was just for two short weeks, to do laundry and just sit there with me while the baby was permanently attached to my boob.

Marie Green: GREAT POINT! I am STILL always building my case on why my kid sleeps at all the wrong hours. Lowering expectations is a great idea. Things are just going to be crazy...roll with it and stop looking at the clock. That and the coffee thing--I'm trying them both next time!

Katie said...

Oh. And lots and lots and lots of water. Never sit down to nurse without a big glass of it, or you'll be sorry! I have never been so freaking thirsty in my whole entire life.

Farrell said...

Um, I guess I am not so PC but I would say drugs? NO, seriously. Like, Effexor? I love you buddy; couldn't have done it without you. (of course my husband walked out on me when I was 7mo pregnant, so "post-partum" depression started just a wee bit early for me).