Saturday, March 18, 2006

This Makes Me Sad

I heard this story on CNN this morning and it really made me feel sad and guilty. I remember when Andrea Yates killed her children. Like everyone else who has never had a child and suffered from post-partum depression, I was shocked, disgusted, and I judged her. How could a mother harm her own child? I just didn't get it.

And really, I still don't. However, having given birth and suffered from a lengthy and severe bout of the baby blues, I come a lot closer to understanding than I ever did before. There were moments after Brendan's birth when I felt like I was literally going to come out of my skin. I felt like I didn't even know myself and I felt like my son deserved a better mother than I was capable of being. Still, it never crossed my mind (thankfully) to hurt him.

I'm lucky. I happen to be very open about my emotions, though I was more guarded than usual in sharing my negative feelings after the birth of my son. I was conflicted. On the one hand, I knew I should be overjoyed at having a beautiful, healthy son. On the other, having a child was a major shock to the system! For all our planning, we had no idea how difficult it would be having a newborn and how isolated we would feel, especially me. My mother had died two years before Brendan's birth and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The one time in her life when a daughter really needs her mom and I didn't have mine.

Still, I had a loving husband who tried hard even if he couldn't fully comprehend what I was going through. I had a mother-in-law to give advice. And most importantly, I wasn't trying to deal with five children all under the age of six. My body and soul had time to recuperate without being assaulted by another pregnancy too soon. My husband didn't coerce me into leaving my career and then tell me I could have nothing to do with our neighbors or other members of society. I wasn't forced to homeschool my children because my husband was afraid of having our children influenced by modern society.

Who knows what a fragile mind is capable of when assaulted by hormones, a multitude of children, lack of sleep, and there's no one to turn to? Now, I know.... Andrea Yates could have talked to her mother, a doctor, or gone to her minister. But, as someone whose family had a history of mental illness, I'm sure she was well aware of the stigmas associated with that. Without the loving support she needed at home, I doubt she was comfortable going to strangers or friends or family members and saying, "Ya know, last night I had the strongest urge to drown my children in the bathtub." Like so many other women, I'm sure she thought, "I can handle this. I'm the mommy and I have to be strong. What will everyone think if I tell them how I really feel." I imagine, too, that her fundamentalist faith urged her to rely as much on God as on the medication she quit taking with her doctor's approval three weeks before murdering her children, as well.

Yes, Andrea Yates did a horrible thing that I can barely even think about without physically cringing. She deserves to be punished, but she deserved treatment for her mental illness as well. We should all remember that she didn't do it by herself either. Russell Yates is equally culpable for helping create the environment that led to the death of his children. He may be celebrating his honeymoon and the start of a new life today as his former wife awaits the start of a new trial, but he'll have to live the rest of his life knowing he did nothing to prevent the deaths of his children.

And the rest of us who would so quickly jump to judge? Well, I'd say, there but for the grace of God go we. We should all be aware of that and do the things we can to make sure other moms suffering from PPD or the baby blues get the help they need. Call your friends and family members who've just had babies. Make or buy a meal and drop it off. Offer to take an older child to the park so mom can focus on a new baby. Stop by and watch the new baby once a week so mom can take a nap or a bath. Wash and fold a load of laundry for her. Run some errands. Ask her how she's doing and really listen. Don't judge her or patronize her if she says she's having a hard time since the baby came. Reassure her that she's normal and help her get the help she needs. If you think she's a danger to herself or her kids, tell her husband, her doctor, or someone else better equipped to help. Just be there and let her know you care for her and her child(ren).

It's a shame no one did that for Andrea Yates or her children.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Whoo-hoo! What a Great Day!

Admittedly, I have not been super-productive today, but I am having an absolutely brilliant day! Whooooo! Hooooo! Yeehaw!

Brendan woke at 3:00 a.m. as usual, but simply came and climbed into bed with Scott and me. We all went back to sleep almost instantly. I awoke at 6:30 and dozed off and on listening to NPR and CNN simultaneously (alarm radio and TV were both on) until 7:30. Got up, showered, dressed (including make-up) and was downstairs by 8:00. Brendan woke shortly afterward and demanded breakfast. He was happy with cereal, so that was fast. I made coffee and my own breakfast while he ate cereal and watched Blue's Clues.

While I tidied up the kitchen, B. played trains and had me come rescue him from the "mountain" a.k.a., the end table, every 10 minutes. Then, he played and entertained himself while I vacuumed both the upstairs and downstairs, put on a load of laundry, folded another load of laundry, made his bed and ours, and made a picnic lunch to take to the park. I also got some reading done in there. By 11:15 we were in the park.

It's a gorgeous, sunny, warm day. We played on the playground, blew bubbles, ate a delicious lunch (Brendan ate all his bell pepper and carrots! Yay for veggies he likes!) hiked on the awesome trails in the woods of the park, saw a waterfall, looked for turtles, fed the ducks, played on the playground again, then came home. Brendan wanted to have quiet time and was asleep within 10 minutes.

I did another load of laundry, listed two items on eBay, followed up on some e-mail, and best of all, worked out! A great workout that has me totally energized and feeling like I can get back in shape relatively quickly. I used to workout daily but then this fall when Brendan stopped napping, I fell off the wagon and have felt like ish ever since. If I can just make it a priority, I think within two weeks, I could be back to my old every day habit.

I may not have gotten much done, but I feel great! Now, I'm relaxing with a glass of wine, enjoying my blabbering on, Not that anyone gives a damn. But I do!

You have to savor days like this! Be thankful and share your joy!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Do Children Get Clumsier During Growth Spurts?

While I can't find any scientific evidence to back me up on this, my observations have led me to believe that toddlers get clumsy whenever they're having a growth spurt. It took me a while to put the pieces together, but I've noticed that whenever Brendan goes through a clumsy phase, after a couple of days I'll notice he seems taller.

In the last week, it seems like he's been tripping and bumping his head a lot. He's hit his head hard enough at school to require ice twice in the last week. :Yesterday, I nearly fainted when I saw the bump on his head when I picked him up at school. He had a ginormous bump with a long, narrow dark purple bruise in the center of it. It was one of those things that's so bad, the teacher tries to intercept you before you see it so you won't panic.

When I asked him what happened, Brendan told me that he was trying to hug his friend Nicholas and fell of his chair. He hit his head on the edge of the table. I guess that's what being sweet will get ya! Poor little guy!

He has also tripped over his own feet a few times in the last several days, which, when examined alone or in conjunction with all the head bumps might just mean he's a klutz like his mama. However, generally, Brendan is pretty athletic and coordinated for a little guy and not prone to too many accidents. Examined in conjunction with an increased appetite and the three-hour nap he took on Sunday along with sleeping better at night, and I think he's growing. Yay!

Still, I wish I could find something to back up my theory. All I have found on-line suggests that kids going through or entering puberty get clumsier.

Intuitively it makes sense. Suddenly there's more of you and you have to get a feel for your new body and that extra inch or extra pound. Figure out where it all goes. Realize you don't have to swing your leg quite as high to climb on the chair. Find your center of gravity.

Hopefully in a day or two, B. will have adapted. I just pray we don't end up in the ER before then.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Is This Possible?

Last night I think Brendan called me "Dummy." While this is shocking enough, what happened afterward is the part that really blew my mind and made both Scott and me realize we have an evil genius on our hands.

Remember, he's only three. A little young to lie and he's never shown a particular inclination in that direction before.

So, what did he do, you might ask? Well, after he called me "Dummy," I immediately put him in time out. When I went back in a few minutes, he asked me why he was in time out and I explained that he used an "ugly" word that we don't use in our house. That's when he told me he was just saying a Spanish word. He said, "I called you Dummyo, Mommy. That's Spanish."

While I had a very strong suspicion he was not being honest, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was all I could do not to crack up. Scott pointed out that he thought I was being duped. And I know I was. However, he was so earnest in telling me that he was using a Spanish word and so clever, I let it slide.

Next time, I won't be so generous or forgiving. It also helped that I don't think he knew what he was saying.