simplicity – misnomer, or merely ironic?

Most of our crib arrived on Thursday. You’d think a company which sells cribs and practically nothing else would pack said cribs in such a way as to ensure that all necessary pieces arrive at the same time. You’d be wrong.

Apparently at some point in its journey the box containing our crib encountered a polar bear or something similar. All the edges were mangled and torn; only the plastic strapping stuff held the box together. It was so bad the UPS guy wanted to send it back, but since we’d waited so long for the damn thing I elected to keep it.

When Not So got home and we unpacked what was left of the box, we found the actual crib bits to be in surprisingly good condition – only one minor ding on the inside bottom of one of the sides. Score! Putting the pieces together would be the only problem, of course. The instructions indicated that screws, bolts, casters and wrenches should be included for optimal crib assembly; these were, apparently, casualties of the polar bear attack.

I called the manufacturer on Friday and a very bored customer service rep immediately said we would receive our replacement hardware in a week. “Don’t you need to know which pieces are missing?” I asked. But no; apparently this happens a lot. Good to know.

In the meantime, we have a lovely stack of crib parts leaning against the wall…

lofting the zo’

I finally bit the metaphorical bullet and called my doctor’s office. Shockingly they did not berate me for being a hypochondriac pussy, but rather said it sounds like I have PPD and set me up with a prescription and a referral for some therapy. I’m now taking Zoloft, which, entertainingly, was the antidepressant I so indignantly refused back in 1995. To be fair, at that time it was being pushed on me in lieu of therapy. By a nurse practitioner, no less, who had spoken to me for all of ten minutes. But I digress.

I took my first half pill yesterday morning and right away noticed that my mouth dried right up. Dry mouth, exhausted, nauseous, peeing all the time…it’s just like being pregnant. Whee!

Aside from that, the main thing I notice is that my depression is a lot worse. I assume this is normal, and temporary. Still, it sucks. I’m having just as many obsessive thoughts about something terrible happening to the baby, only I’m so tired and out of it that I can’t make my brain switch tracks. I’m still lethargic and unmotivated. I still feel useless (and the fact that I can’t think straight and am too tired to do any housework doesn’t help matters). And food doesn’t taste good anymore. That’s a party. I took a bite of chocolate last night and said mournfully to Not So, “I know why people lose weight on meds.”

Speaking of Not So, he’s being fabulous. It must be hard to deal with someone who’s all doom and gloom all the time, but he seems to like me an awful lot. Right now he’s snuggling with the baby, who’s just been changed into a fresh pair of jammies and looks particularly delicious. They both do. I’m a very lucky girl.

the internet has failed to solve my problems again

I totally didn’t call the advice line on Friday, but instead of viewing this as a failure, I’m choosing to think of it as buying myself time to do some research on antidepressants and breastfeeding. How optimistic is that? It’s almost like I don’t have PPD at all.

The fruit of my labors is almost as depressing as I am, though. Basically it comes down to this: I can either gain a bunch of weight, lose my sex drive, or stay depressed. There is no check box for “none of the above.” According to HealthyPlace.com:

Dissatisfaction with physical appearance is a common concern for new mothers, many of whom haven’t made it back into their pre-pregnancy clothes yet. If medication might slow down weight loss, or worse yet, cause weight gain, it may seem that the cure is worse than the disease.

Yes. And:

Unfortunately, the very medications that don’t cause weight gain may lead to sexual side effects in as many as half of women recovering from postnatal depression.

I don’t have any sex drive to spare, so surely there must be some sort of medication that won’t make me a complete sexual zombie – I suppose something that would stir up a little extra interest would be too much to ask. Hooray, they said, Wellbutrin doesn’t alter sex drive. So hellooo, Wellbutrin, right?

Wrong.

I don’t want to stop breastfeeding. I don’t want my emotional issues to have that kind of impact on my child’s development. (One could argue that my depression is already impacting my child in some way, to which I will respond “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”) On the other hand: more sexual issues = badness (and, let’s face it, given the state of my self-esteem a few extra pounds will be just as effective a libido suppressant as any seratonin enhancer). So, I don’t know. What’s a good compromise here? I could just wait it out, but all the accounts I’ve heard have suggested that I might be in for a long ride.

What I have to consider is maybe my current libido issues and self-esteem problems are largely due to my depression. Maybe if I felt better about myself I’d want to have sex. Maybe if I didn’t feel so worthless I wouldn’t look in the mirror and see a shapeless blob of mom-flesh.

I’m enjoying the baby so much now, despite the fact that most days I just want to lay on the couch and shovel chocolate into my mouth. How much more would I enjoy him if I felt good?

now let’s see if I can fit homework in before the kid wakes up

I don’t like saying I’m solo mom because it sounds so…self-serving. Hello self, would you like a cup of tea? Perhaps a foot rub? But from 7 am to 7 pm (or so, depending on the day) it’s just me and the baby. That’s a lot of hours. That’s the number of hours in the Pinball song from old-school Sesame Street. Did I mention that I found an MP3 of that song, and that it’s by the Pointer Sisters? Dude, that song gets stuck in my head all the time. Onetwothree FOUR FIVE sixseven eight NINE ten eleven twelve.

Anyway, so it’s just me, the kid, and the Pointer Sisters for twelve hours every day, so you’d think I’d insist on some Me Time once Not So Cranky Dada gets home. The problem with that is a) I’ve forgotten how to do Me Time, what with all the spending nine months cooped up in the house worrying that something would happen to the impending baby and then the taking care of said baby, and b) I know that Not So spends those hours working hard to support us and I feel like he needs some Him Time, and c) I have the self-esteem of a…person who has very low self-esteem, and right now the only thing that makes me feel worthwhile is taking care of the kid.

All those things together and we get a night like last night. I’ll set the scene: I’m putting away laundry in the baby’s (woefully incomplete) nursery; Not So is downstairs doing dishes. Happy Fun Baby and I are playing this game where I announce each clothing item (“Oh my goodness! Could it be…pants?“) and he grins and bounces and generally is adorable. Suddenly Happy Fun Baby starts to laugh, and it’s the funniest sound I’ve ever heard in my life. He doesn’t usually give us more than the occasional giggle – I think it surprised him. Still, he was cracking right up (and yes, I realize I just changed tenses in the middle of a paragraph. Let’s all take a moment to mourn the loss of my grammar skills and move on), so I called Not So. Of course as soon as he came up the baby merely smiled tolerantly at me and the laughing episode did not repeat. Not So went back down to finish the dishes and I finished putting away the laundry.

I assumed Not So knew we were awake, and upstairs, and adorable. I hung out in the nursery with the baby for another half hour or so, thinking Not So would surely come back up (and feeling increasingly guilty for making him do housework, which is clearly my job because hello, SAHM?). Finally I went down to check on him and found him hanging out on the couch with his laptop. “Don’t you want to come play with the baby?” I asked.

He jumped up right away. “I was just decompressing,” he said. We played with the baby in the nursery for a while, and then the baby got kind of sleepy and cranky. Not So went back downstairs. I brought the baby into the bedroom (one of the incomplete aspects of the nursery: no crib) and snuggled him to sleep, which left me…upstairs, by myself, with a sleeping baby. Not much I could do other than sit there and watch HGTV, and after a day of doing pretty much just that, it wasn’t too appealing. Except, and here’s the thing: during the day there’s no one else here, and at night I could, in theory, at least be sharing space with my husband. I ventured downstairs (after clearing all the pillows off the bed and fretting obsessively about SIDS, as per my usual) and asked Not So about his not-coming-up-ness.

“I’d love to spend time with you!” he said. “I’m just not ready to be down. You guys seemed kind of down.”

“I’m not down!” I said. “I was trying to get the baby to be down. I’m up! I just didn’t say anything because I thought you might be having some You Time.”

“Well, I do like a little Me Time. That’s why I take a bath every night. It’s nice to have an hour when I can just relax, read a book, decompress.”

“Yes,” I said, all internally snark-a-riffic all of a sudden, “that does sound nice.” Then I went back upstairs to make sure the baby hadn’t spontaneously discovered rolling and rolled off the bed – but I did get some kissin’ from Not So, because it doesn’t do to wear our passive-aggression on our sleeve.

That was last night. Today I got a call from a tipsy Not So, wanting to know if it was okay if he hung out with his coworkers at the bar for a while…although he could come right home if I needed him to. I didn’t need him to, did I?

I looked at Happy Fun Baby, all crashed out in his Boppy, and I thought about how much I wish I could take a night off without someone needing me.

“Of course you don’t need to come straight home,” I said. “Have fun.”

Onetwothree FOUR FIVE sixseven eight NINE ten eleven twelve.

it’s no wonder nothing gets done around here

Number of rainy days in February: lots.
Number of times I left the house: few.

It’s lovely outside today. You might think we’d be going for a walk, but you’d be wrong. As usual, I’ve assessed the effort vs. possible reward and come to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that it’s much better to stay home and make some pudding. One could argue that I need a walk far, far more than I need anything resembling pudding. To that I say HA! And then I mention the cuteness of my child, because no one can criticize while gazing on a face like this:

my baby

And how can I be depressed while looking at a face like that? Yet here I am, parked on the couch, contemplating pudding. Not just a little bit of pudding, either; my plan, if I could be so bold as to label it a plan, is to make an entire box of Cook and Serve and then go back to the couch, where I will eat all four servings. Possibly I will pour all four servings into one very large bowl; this idea fills me with joy.

The main thing standing between me and a tub of pudding-related bliss is, ironically enough, the amount of effort it will take. Less effort than going out, yes, sure. No one needs to get dressed in order to prepare pudding. Getting dressed: a whole planet of unpleasantness all on its own. I used to have a good relationship with my clothes. We were quite friendly, my clothing and me. I’d flirt with cute skirts and chat up sweater sets. Certain brands could inspire torrents of illicit longing (Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole still hold a special place in my heart). Sometimes I’d pick up an outfit on a whim only to discover in the harsh light of morning that it wasn’t nearly as flattering as it had seemed at the store, but for the most part my separates and I had a mutually supportive existence.

That was before. Before baby? Before pregnancy? Being pregnant at least was a dress-up party in and of itself. Fat and waddling, sure, but fat and waddling in cunning maternity duds! Maternity duds have a special language; they say to the world I am not obese, I am creating life! You must surrender your bus seat to me and claim that I have a “glow”! Ha! There ought to be cunning post-pregnancy duds: special clothes for the time between giving birth and actually resembling the person you were before you had a person in your uterus. There are nursing clothes, sure, but why must nursing clothes be either massive and unflattering or cost the same as a small car? If there’s any time in a woman’s life when she won’t be able to afford designer clothing it’s when she’s on maternity leave (or, in my case, beginning the strange and new career of SAHM). It’s not like the baby; people like buying clothes for the baby. The baby, I’ll hazard to guess, has more clothing than he could possibly need. But mama? Mama is wearing one of the two tops she owns which do not make her look like a turnip, paired with either some floppy sweats or a sad pair of maternity jeans that make her look like she’s working on Baby #2. Mama is not a fashion plate.

At some point I’m sure I’ll once again have a relationship with my clothing which does not involve a futile attempt to cover as much of my misshapen, flab-ridden body as possible, but until then: pudding. Yes. The baby’s asleep right now so the timing could not be better. Then again, there are all sorts of other things I ought to be doing while the baby sleeps. Things like school, or dishes, or cleaning up the cat vomit at the foot of the stairs. All these things are at least as important as the pudding, although far, far less delicious (esp. the cat vomit) and the baby, he wakes often and unpredictably. How can I possibly justify twenty minutes of standing in front of the stove? There are bills to pay, lists to make, calls which must be placed to the advice line at Kaiser in which I am somehow supposed to utter the words “I have Post Partum Depression” and then fling myself at the mercy of the Insurance Gods. (I spent a disproportionate amount of time last night trying to figure out the proper cutting response should the advice line nurse try to argue with me; I’m pretty sure normal people do not do this.)

The baby just decided that sleep is some obscure form of baby torture, so I guess the point is moot for now. Crying baby! Immediate need! No time to dilly-dally! Still: I wish I had some pudding.

you darn kids with your loud music and strange clothes

I hate our neighbors.

I had such high hopes when they moved in. Nice young couple with several cats – what could be wrong with that? One of their cars was festooned with left-wing political stickers, and their other car was a BMW. And their other other car was a truck with a camper. Hmm. But okay, we don’t drive so it’s not like we minded that they took up the whole driveway. And they have kids – three grammar-school aged kids. Yay, I thought, they won’t mind if the baby makes a lot of noise (I was eight months pregnant when they moved in).

Noise, apparently, is not an issue which concerns our neighbors. The children, who seemed so sweet, seemed to have no concept of time or space. Ten p.m. and the kids were outside in our shared driveway, shouting and kicking a ball. Kicking a ball into the side of our house, that is. Bang. Bang. Shout. Bang. And the hate began. Why were three grammar-school aged kids outside at ten p.m.? Didn’t they have a bedtime? And the kicking of the ball into the side of the house – it wasn’t once or twice, or even just one or two isolated occasions. It was every time they were outside. Finally one night when they were playing on our lawn (we do share a driveway, but dude, our lawn is so clearly our lawn) Matt opened the door and looked out. The kids stopped like deer in headlights and immediately said “I’m sorry.” Okay, so you know you’re doing something wrong…why are you waiting to get caught? Matt said something about how it’s really loud when they kick the ball into the house, and the oldest boy said “We won’t do it again” in this really rehearsed tone, like he already knew. That ended the kickball portion of the festivities, thank jeebus. (But I swear, one morning they woke me up because they were whacking the oak tree with a stick. Whacking a tree. With a stick. *shakes head*)

Adding to the cacophony were two dogs, added about a month after the neighbors moved in. Aaw, I thought. What cute Beagles! Sure, the dogs made dog-like noises when they were outside, but they were really only outside during the day when the kids were home. Happy children playing with happy doggies. What could be sweeter? Then one day the neighbors left the dogs out on the deck while they left for the day. The dogs spent the entire time they were gone – close to 6 hours, as I recall – whining and yowling. Whine, yowl, whine, yowl. Still, I was willing to give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they didn’t realize how loud the dogs were when no one was home with them. Certainly they would not knowingly subject their neighbors to such unending noise. Then they began leaving the dogs out at night. All night. Whine, yowl, whine, yowl…occasionally one of the neighbors would come out and shout at the dogs but that only added to the noise. So much noise. And the hate, it grew.

(To be fair…they seem to have gotten rid of the dogs, and the kids are only there part time, so it’s not as bad as it seemed like it would be during the first couple of months. But still.)

Today it’s the parents who are incurring my wrath. There is a new vehicle in the driveway. A truck, which can only be described as a “beater.” The husband’s got the hood open and is doing something engine-related, if I’m to judge from the revving noises coming from just outside my window. RNNNnnnnn. RRRRNNNNNNNnnn. Rnnnn. And a couple of backfires thrown in for good measure. This has been going on for a half hour. I’m trying to soothe the baby into a nap while the neighbor is running a repair shop. (Granted, the noise doesn’t seem to bother the baby at all – but it bothers me, and that makes it hard for me to be soothing.)

Now, it seems, the husband has given up on the truck and has moved it out of the driveway. Onto his lawn. There is a truck parked on my neighbor’s lawn. Wow. I’m having flashbacks to the trailer park, and it’s not even the holidays.

Matt thinks I’m overreacting, and maybe I am – but I’m always hyper-sensitive to other people’s space, and when I was a kid I would never kick my ball into the neighbor’s house (for example) or, as an adult, leave my loud, untrained animals outside all night when other people were trying to sleep. Some of the noise is forgivable (including, if I’m in the mood to be reasonable, the revving of the truck – it’s the middle of the day, after all, and it is their driveway too) but much of it seems like bad manners. Do you teach your kid to respect other people’s space, or do you just ignore it when they run amok? Are you considerate of the noise level at night, or do you just pretend your neighbors don’t exist?