Cuteness Overload

Do you ever look at your kid and think “holy shit, this kid is so fucking cute I wanna bite her freaking arm off?”

I do.  Often.

Okay, I’m not going to bite her arm off.  But I might nibble on it a little.

I mean, a lot of kids are cute.  There are cutiepies everywhere you go, just walking around, going about their business and stuff, looking all kinds of adorable like they don’t even know it.

But there is just SOMETHING about your own kid.  Something besides the obvious fact that you made him and so therefore he’s just as awesome as you are.  Something about his mushy little face, and tiny little feet, and squishy little nose, and soft little skin, and rosy little cheeks, and sweet little smile.  Something so insanely endearing that it kind of makes your head want to explode.

99% of you without children are probably gagging right now, and that’s totally cool.  I would be, too.  Before I popped out a few of these cute little fuckers myself, I wasn’t exactly a kid person.  Hell, I’m still not what you would call a “kid person” (hence my use of the word “fuckers”).  I’m actually more of a “MY kid person,” if you know what I mean.

These. Kids.

These. Kids.

It seems like there’s a switch that flips into the “on” position after you give birth for the first time, one that turns you into this big softy and reduces you to a pile of mush every time you look at your own kid.  Like there’s this giant ray of sunlight beaming down upon your child wherever she goes, emitting hypnotic waves of yummy adorableness and sweet perfection at all times, and you can’t help but be drawn in by it.  I bet you didn’t even know you could have such delicious feelings of pride and love and warmth toward another human being before you had a kid.  And now it’s basically out of control.

What about when your kid says something funny?  It isn’t just funny, or cute, or even just clever.  It’s HILARIOUS!  Your child is a comedic GENIUS!  Watch out, Jimmy Fallon.  Your Tonight Show replacement has been born, and is ready to step in at any time.

For example, yesterday my son gets home from school and my daughter runs up to give him a huge hug like she does every day (which, by the way, is fucking cuteness OVERLOAD times two,  all by itself).  My son stops her in her tracks and goes, “Wait! Just let me take off my shoes and my coat and STAY A WHILE first!”

I died laughing.  Then I told my husband, who also cracked up quite a bit.

Not exactly hilarious, right?  I mean, cute.   Sweet, smile-worthy.  But I was over there acting like my kid just won Last Comic Standing.

I guess that’s just how it is once you’re a parent.  It’s scientific, actually – like a Darwinian thing. It’s NATURE. You are just naturally meant to find your children so charming and wonderful that you will have to resist the urge to choke them every time you trip over a rogue matchbox car or find permanent marker stains on your couch cushions.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  There are times when my kids’ cuteness is the furthest thing from my mind. Times when I’m literally banging my head against the wall in frustration.   I mean, there’s NOTHING cute about my daughter when she’s mid-tantrum, her face all mangled up in an angry scowl, tears and snot pouring out everywhere, and she’s sobbing and throwing food and smacking the living crap out of me because I wouldn’t let her watch Team Umizoomi during dinnertime.  And I’m over there fumbling with the cap to the Xanax when she suddenly stops crying, giggles, and starts singing her favorite song “I don’t care, I love it!” in her tiny voice… And we all just lose it, erupting into fits of hysterical laughter.

True, I laugh partially out of relief that she finally shut the hell up, but also because her little squeaky voice is so cute that I can’t even take it.

I swear, these kids make me bipolar.

And how about when they’re sleeping?  There is no selective amnesia like a mother gazing adoringly upon her soundly sleeping child.  Your kid could have just thrown your brand new iPhone in the toilet, spilled fingerpaint on the rug, and fed a chocolate bar to the dog all in the same night– but once the little darling is peacefully slumbering away, it’s like the gates of heaven have opened up and God himself has appeared to absolve the child of any wrongdoing.

Because all sleeping children are perfect angels.  Everyone knows that.

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Jackpot.

But your kid doesn’t have to be asleep to be your little angel.  Everyone knows that too.  They are ALWAYS your little angels.  Sure they might drive you to drink, or occasionally sob uncontrollably, and maybe even contemplate a bridge-jump every now and then.

But none of that matters when you are really looking at them.  Because there’s something so very beautiful that happens every time you take in your child’s sweet, innocent face.  Something that takes all the difficulties of being a parent away for a moment.  Something that inevitably makes every exasperating minute totally….. worth it.

I think they call it love. 2e

25 Signs You’re A New Mom

The feeling's mutual, kid. Still love you, though.

The feeling’s mutual, kid. Still love you, though.

I’m not exactly a new mom.  My kids are five and two, so I’m not quite new to this parenting rodeo.  But like most moms, I’ll certainly never forget the long, sleepless nights, the crazy ups and downs, the seemingly endless stress, and all of those bittersweet moments that go along with having a new baby.

So I put together this list for all the new mommies to relate to, and maybe delight in knowing that everyone else kind of loses it the first time around (and sometimes the second and third time) too.

As for the older mamas?  You ladies might feel some combination of nostalgia and extreme relief looking back on that “new mom” whirlwind in your life.

Either way, here you go!

1. At least once a night, you jump up out of bed just to hear the baby breathe.

2. You have more baby bottles than forks and spoons combined, and you often find yourself ransacking the house for items to fill the empty bottom rack of the dishwasher because the top rack  is always maxed out.

3. You have threatened the life of at least one telemarketer (or relative) for calling during the baby’s nap.

4. You play rock-paper-scissors with your spouse over who has to change the next dirty diaper (and somehow you lose every time).

5. You find yourself searching every corner and crevice of your house to see where that nasty odor is coming from— and then realize that it’s you.  You’re the nasty odor.  You smell like a person who hasn’t showered in over a week.  Then you sigh because there’s no one around to watch the baby while you go take a shower so you’re left to stew in your own stench for a few more hours.

6. You proudly relay your baby’s height, weight, head circumference and frequency of bowel movements to all close friends and relatives at the start of each conversation (and a quick conversation it will be, as they are likely thinking of a good excuse to get off the phone with you).

7. You will do almost ANYTHING to quiet a screaming baby, even if it means continuously running your dryer with the baby nestled on top, or wasting gallons of water letting him listen to the faucet run, or pacing the floor for hours at a time while swaying, bopping, rocking, and humming, or even watching an endless stream of loud and horrible rap videos all night long (I tried all of the above with my colicky first child).  Seriously, whatever works – no matter how ridiculous it seems, you’ll try it.

8. The last home-cooked meal you had (while sitting down!) was on Thanksgiving, and you certainly weren’t the one who cooked it.

9. Waking a sleeping baby is an offense punishable by termination of friendship and possibly loss of life to the offender.

10. Coffee.  Just coffee.  Lots and lots and lots of it.

11. Your trips to Babies ‘R’ Us “just for diapers” are doing more damage to your bank account than your wedding did.

12. The next person to ask “is the baby cold?” is getting smacked.  Hard.

13. Same goes for the next person to ask “where is his hat? Doesn’t he have a hat?”

14. The next person to say “just sleep when they sleep” will be forced to wash every dish in the sink, fold five loads of laundry, scrub the toilets, and wash the kitchen floor.

15. Your diaper bag: a quick trip to the store or leaving town for a week?  Who could tell?

16. Your DVR is an absolute lifesaver at 2a.m.

17. You’re officially part of the wonderful world of children’s television, where torturously catchy songs will play on an endless loop in your head for the next five years or so– songs with absurd and repetitive lyrics like “there’s a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy;” or “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’M THE MAP;” or “when we’ve gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, we know how to pee and poo, just sit on the toilet like a grown up would and see what we can doo doo doo doo!”

18. You choose the color for your rare mani/pedi carefully; it will linger on your nails for the next three months or until chipping away completely on its own.

19. Your pediatrician is on speed dial, and you could probably navigate the route to his office in your sleep.

20. What was once your living room is now an obstacle course of large, brightly-colored objects, designed to hold or occupy your baby for any period of time – none of which work nearly as well as merely holding him yourself and utilizing your only free arm for household tasks.

21. And that other arm? The one holding the baby?  Let’s just say the Incredible Hulk has NOTHING on you and your freakishly strong baby-holding arm.

22. Remember when you created your first resume and listed “excellent at multi-tasking” as one of your skills?  Ha! You didn’t even know the DEFINITION of multi-tasking until now.

23. Google is somehow simultaneously your very best friend and very worst enemy.

24.  You’ve officially been peed on by another human being (and I really do hope that’s a first for you).

25. Remember how much you loved the baby yesterday?  Well, that love just doubled today.  And tomorrow, it’ll triple.  And the day after that, it’ll quadruple.  It never stops.  Someday, your baby will grow into a precious, baby-faced toddler, and she’ll say “I love you” for the first time ever, and your heart will explode into so many pieces that you’ll need a broom and dustpan to pick them all up.

Try to remember that feeling after your sweet little angel has her first ever public meltdown.

No More Mean Jeannine: How My Husband Convinced Me To Be Nicer (On the Internet)

My husband called me “mean” the other day.  I had been scrolling through Facebook and came upon one of those “hey look at me at the gym!” pictures, and I just couldn’t resist rolling my eyes and muttering “no one gives a crap how many squats you did today” to myself.

Normally when he calls me out on being a raging beotch,  which he tends to do often, I then remind him that a)I was this way when he met me (if not much, much worse, since having children can be pretty taming); and b)I’m often merely pointing out what the rest of the world is thinking.

I mean, come ON.  I’m sure your trainer over at Crossfit and the chick who sold you that skin-tight sleeveless tank top are TOTALLY interested in how much you can bench press.  But the rest of us?  Notsomuch.

But then Big M did something he normally is unsuccessful at doing: he made me feel bad.  He forced me to be empathetic for once.  He got me to agree that I WAS being kind of a bitch.  And moreover, that it was uncalled for.

Yuck.  Uncalled for.  I hate those words.  When you’re doing something uncalled for, then you’re being an asshole.  And everyone who knows me knows that I hate assholes.  I NEVER want to be one of them.

So how did he perform such a feat, you ask?  Let me explain. And who knows?  Maybe you will realize you’ve been a bit of an asshole too.

First, he reminded me that I post pictures of our kids ALL THE TIME on Instagram, and I talk about them nonstop on Facebook.  Hell, I even write a blog that’s mostly about the kids.

So I’m all like “yea, whatever.  Our kids are fucking adorable.  Who wouldn’t want to look at them?  But no one cares what that guy looks like doing pushups.  He really doesn’t need to post four videos PER DAY.”

And then he made the following eye-opening statement.  “That’s where you’re wrong.  There are plenty of people who don’t give a shit how cute our kids are, people who maybe work out often and find pushups more entertaining than our son’s lost tooth.  And that guy you’re rolling your eyes at probably has like fifty other workout fanatics on his Facebook page, people who cheer him on and keep him motivated.  Or maybe he’s just as proud of his squats as you are when the kids go five minutes without trying to kill each other. Either way, the dude has a right to post whatever he wants—whether you like it or not.”

Oh, Big M.  How on earth did we end up together?

But he really had a great point.  Social Media connects people, brings them together.  It’s a virtual space for people with common interests to join forces and share their experiences.  And I hadn’t really ever thought of it that way before.  I was too busy being annoyed by the constant stupidity I see in my Facebook news feed to ever put it that way.

The very reason I write this blog is to share my experiences with other people who are going through all of the very same shit as I am.  Who the hell am I to criticize someone else for sharing their own life experiences, whatever those might be?

So today, I’m turning over a new leaf.  I will no longer roll my eyes and shout “no one cares!” into my phone or laptop whenever I see ANY of the following obnoxious kinds of posts/pictures:

“I’m having the BEST NIGHT EVER!  45 pictures of my extremely drunk ass to follow!”

“Look at what I made on Pinterest!  I’m SUPER CRAFTY!” (I am 100% guilty of this one)

“Isn’t my dog/cat/bird/hamster/child SO adorbs? Look at how awesomely he scampers through the snow!”  (Guilty of this one too)

“This is what I ate for breakfast.  Stay tuned for my lunch, dinner, dessert, and all drinks in between.”

“Check out this kale/broccoli/spinach/carrot/ginger vomit juice I just made in my Vitamix while reading this list of 45,000 things you will definitely die sooner from eating.”

“HAHA! I’m on vacation somewhere TROPICAL and you’re stuck in a BLIZZARD!!  Now gaze upon my feet with the ocean in the background, you poor bastards!”

“I love guns! And ‘Murica! And Duck Dynasty! F U OBAMA!”

“I take 25 pictures of my children per day, and I want you to see at least 24 of them.”

“This is a meme with a blatant grammatical error.  I posted it anyway.  Wait, what error?”

“I hate Mondays.  How is it only Tuesday? Is it Friday yet? HUMP DAYYY!  It’s almost Friday.  WOOHOO it’s finally Friday!  Ugh, the weekend goes by so fast…. Annnd I hate Mondays.  And my job.  And my life. Please kill me.“

Okay.  So it’s in my nature to come off a little bitchy.  Baby steps.

But the point I’m trying to make is that I will no longer react negatively to anything I see on a social media site.  It’s officially ALL GOOD with me.  It’s your life, and your internet.  Who the hell am I to judge?  I mean I just posted a video of my daughter knocking down homemade bowling pins on Instagram AND Facebook (seriously though, that shit was cute). So….the hypocrisy ends today.  I am a changed woman.

However!  I want to mention a couple of exceptions:

People who post disturbing things.  If you are posting something kinda messed up and you know full well that it will cause someone to lose their lunch and/or have nightmares for three weeks, then just don’t do it.  It isn’t nice. People need sleep.  And lunch.

Selfies.  I will always loathe anyone who posts an overabundance of selfies.   Once in a while, it’s totally fine.  It’s even encouraged.  I’m honestly more curious to see what kind of a train wreck or supermodel you’re looking like these days than how your dog or child looks in a Santa suit.  But nobody, NOBODY, needs to see your bathroom mirror duckface six times a day.  Kindly get over yourself and maybe get a hobby or two.

For those of you not fitting in either of those deplorable categories, please go ahead and let us all know how many crunches you did today or what your dog is having for dinner.  I’m all ears.  Really, I am.

At least, I’m trying to be.

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day

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My aversion to Valentine’s Day dates all the way back to elementary school.

In the third grade, I got sick and threw up on Valentine’s Day.  The holiday literally made me hurl. Not a big deal for most (normal) children, but for a child plagued by severe emetophobia (defined as an “intense, irrational fear or anxiety pertaining to vomiting”—look it up, it’s a REAL THING), this was pretty bad news in terms of old V-Day.  For the following three or four years, I became terrified whenever I’d start to see little hearts and cupids taped decoratively around my classroom and neighbor’s windows.  The anxiety would mount higher and higher as February 14 drew near, and when it arrived I’d spend the day in a cold sweat, praying to make it out alive (and puke-free).  Weird, I know.  But whose childhood isn’t?

When junior high reared its ugly head, Valentine’s Day was a whole new kind of unpleasant.  In my school, some genius thought it would be a fine idea to sell balloons for a few days leading up to V-Day, then have them delivered to recipients’ classrooms on the big day and handed out in front of the entire class – much to the delight of those with adoring boyfriends, “BFF”s, or perhaps secret admirers.  Sweet, right?  Not for the other 75% of the class who received nothing more than a crushing blow to their already dwindling self-esteem.  You can probably guess which percentage I belonged to.

Valentine’s Day.  Making junior high even shittier than it already is.

The classroom balloon torture has its own grown-up version for the workplace, by the way.  I call it “Nice Roses, Bitch.”  Check out these priceless moments from season two’s Valentines Day episode of The Office that sum up this phenomenon well.  Pam is literally throwing flowers and chocolate at Phyllis after the delivery guy disappoints her once again, and Meredith leers at Phyllis’s gagworthy display of gifts while sipping her vodka-laced Subway soda.  God, I miss that show.

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Once you have children, Valentine’s Day becomes just another annoying holiday that you have to pretend is “fun” for their sake.  Yay kids!  Let’s make red, heart-shaped cookies!  And red, heart-shaped cards!  And hang red, heart-shaped decorations!

Can someone please find a red, heart-shaped gun and shoot me with it?

When my son started preschool, I found out about these pointless little Valentines that the kids hand out to each other in class nowadays.  Here’s what happens: Mom heads over to Hallmark, forks over ten bucks for a box of cheap (HEART-SHAPED!!!) Spiderman or Cinderella cards (which are essentially glorified name tags), then goes home and writes one out for each child in the class.  On Valentine’s Day, the teacher puts all the little “cards” in each preschooler’s book bag at the end of the day.  When the child arrives home, all cards are promptly removed from the bag by Mom and offered enthusiastically to the child, who then shrugs disinterestedly and asks if he or she can go watch TV.  The child leaves the room, the tags go in the recycling bin, and much time, trees, and money have been wasted once again.

So here’s Valentine’s Day to me, in a nutshell.  Flowers die. Chocolate is fattening.  Kids don’t give a shit about romance.  Men are usually idiots who never get it right.  Women are usually even bigger idiots for expecting them to get it right in the first place.  And Cupid? Is a naked little perv who shoots people in the ass.

Here’s a fun, little-known fact:  Saint Valentine DROPPED DEAD on Valentine’s Day.  Wikipedia that shit, it’s true.

Another fun fact: divorce lawyers report a 40% increase in new business each year right after Valentine’s Day.  ‘Cuz nothing says “be mine” like a stack of freshly signed divorced papers!

Guess what’s red and NOT heart-shaped? 

Wine.

I think I’ll go have some.

Oh, Dwight.  I hope you and Angela are frolicking happily om a beet farm somewhere right now with your seven children and Cousin Mose.

Oh, Dwight. I hope you and Angela are frolicking happily on a beet farm somewhere right now with your seven children and Cousin Mose.

The Ten Grossest Things My Kids Do

Kids can be disgusting.  Adorable too, of course, but still pretty gross.  At least, I know mine are.  If you’d like to claim that yours aren’t, then either take them back to their home planet or shut up and quit lying.  So here’s a little list I made detailing some of the yuckiest stuff they do.  It’s only ten items long, but I’m sure you could add at least ten more based on your own child’s less-than-civilized undertakings.

This entry is not for the faint-of-heart, but then again, neither is parenthood.  So if you fall into the category of people who simply cannot discuss peeing, pooping, throwing up, spitting up, or any other undesirable thing that comes out of your child, then feel free to click over to Facebook now and read someone else’s horoscope or something.  And while you’re at it, maybe see if you can find ANYONE ELSE to raise your kids, ya big p-word.

1. The In-Your Face Sneeze – It doesn’t matter how many times you remind your kids to sneeze into a tissue, or a napkin, or their sleeve, or even their hand (GASP! how politically incorrect of me!), you surely have found yourself on the receiving end of the in-your-face sneeze more than a few times.  Now, I’m not a big fan of being sneezed on, but when it’s my own kid it’s not really a big deal.  However, I take issue with the in-your-face sneeze when: 1- I’m eating, and the in-your-face sneeze becomes the in-your-lunch sneeze; 2- I’m wearing my glasses, and I have to pause whatever I’m doing to clean streaks of mucus off of the lenses; and 3- the sneezing child is sick, and an innocent little sneeze is followed by another, and another, and one more, and then out shoots the long, dangling strand of snot headed straight for your bare foot.

2. Booger Presents – Since we’re already on the subject of things that originate in the nasal passage… Isn’t it just so awesome when your child HANDS YOU A BOOGER?  This is a favorite pastime for my two-year-old daughter, who often likes to dig a pinky or pointer in her tiny little honker to extract the largest green boulder she can find up there, then proudly hand it off to me, smiling like a cat who just left a dead bird on its owner’s kitchen table.

3. Floating Poop in the Tub – I actually had to limit my daughter’s tub time to no longer than five minutes for a while because she was constantly contaminating the bath water.   One time I left the room to grab a wash cloth and returned to find her splashing around with her new, brown, homemade tub toys.  Just what every mom wants to do after putting the kids to bed: scrub down the entire bathroom with bleach.  So….we do showers now.

4. Spit Out Food – Unless you’re a baby bird, or Alicia Silverstone (20 years post Clueless), there is NOTHING attractive about chewed-up food.  When adults taste something we dislike, we either choke it down and guzzle the nearest beverage, or at least have the decency to discreetly spit it into a napkin (I know, I know – that’s what she said).  But heaven forbid a tiny piece of lettuce should find its way onto your unsuspecting child’s chicken nugget, somehow sliding under the FBI-level radar of your little picky eater, you should prepare for the most theatrical of mock-regurgitations.  And if you’re really lucky, little Fido will scamper over to indulge in any bits and pieces that have found their way to the floor.  Seriously, you’re lucky if that happens- it’s less for you to clean up.

5. Peanut Butter Face – Also known as ice cream face, chocolate face, jelly face, ketchup face, yogurt face, and pasta sauce face.  But isn’t it just so cute to watch them enjoying their meals?  Sometimes the food even ends up IN their mouth!  And you can whip out the iPhone and capture every gloriously messy moment on video!  Yup, it’s all fun and games until someone’s gotta clean that little mofo up.  And let’s face it, the cuter the picture, the more baby wipes you’re gonna need.

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Okay, I admit that this wasn’t the messiest baby picture I could find, but it was too cute to pass up!

6. Eat Random Shit – My daughter is SO PICKY.  Some days I’m lucky if I can get her to eat more than a pretzel and a slice of cheese all day.  Yet, for some reason, she will eat absolutely ANYTHING she finds on the floor.  Old Cheerios?  Yum. Hardened Play-Doh scraps? Sure.  Tiny LEGOs?  Delish.  Dog food?  Bring it on.  And in addition to her prized culinary floor findings, she also enjoys a nice fingerful of glue every now and then, a direct-from-the-dispenser gulp of body lotion after a bath, and, of course, the colorful, waxy, scrumptiousness of anything Crayola.

7. Not Washing Hands After Poop – I’m as fond of good personal hygiene as the next mama, but if my kid forgets to wash his hands after a tinkle, I’m not exactly going to flip my lid.  However, do NOT let me find out he did a number two in that bowl and failed to wash his hands afterward.  That is just plain disgusting.  Because it was only less than a year ago that “I’m DOING COCKY, COME WIPE MY BUTTTTTTTTT!” was a daily shriek heard from inside the bathroom.  Thank GOD that shit is over with now (pun intended), but you can never be too sure how perfectly this task is performed by an amateur wiper. 

8. Sand Crotch – Is there any feeling NASTIER than sand when it’s, well, pretty much anywhere sand isn’t supposed to be…?  It’s funny how people go to the beach, a place with only two components – sand and water – and then spend the entire day trying to avoid touching a single grain of sand?  Not kids, though.  Kids LOVE sand.  The sandier a child can be, the better.  In fact, I think these kids even secretly compete with each other to see who can transfer the most sand from the beach to the car, with bonus points for any sand that makes it into the house.  My kids never fail to go directly from the water to the sand, and from there right to the clean blanket.  And then- “I’m having fun, mommy!  Can I give you a HUG??” Uh, no thanks….

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Look mom! Sand shoes! Can I take them home?

9. Spit Up – I’m lucky, because my kids were never big spitter-uppers or big thrower-uppers.  But that didn’t stop my daughter from spitting up DIRECTLY INTO MY MOUTH once.  I suppose this one was my own fault, as common sense would dictate that you shouldn’t spin a recently-fed baby around in the air, even if she usually loves the airplane game.  But it was pretty damn gross, so it makes the list. 

10. Wet the Bed – I believe that those three little words accurately sum up my entire life since becoming a parent, as I have a FIVE year old who still wears a pull-up diaper to bed because he’s prone to nighttime accidents.  Soiled sheets and pajamas have simply become a routine part of my life – the faint, malodourous scent of stale urine seemingly following my every move, and the endless paranoia that I’ve somehow missed a yellow spot somewhere is always lurking in the back of my nose.  It’s quite unsettling.  And every time I think I trust him to start making it through the night, thinking I’m finally free from purchasing overpriced pull-up diapers and the 3a.m. fumbling around in the dark for clean pajamas, I always find myself knee-deep in piss-covered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sheets all over again.  Such is the plight of a bed-wetter’s mom.

A Long December: My Struggle With Depression and Anxiety

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Every time I hear the theme song to that show Special Agent Oso, on the Disney Channel, I’m reminded of my nervous breakdown (or so it’s come to be known in my mind).  It’s a silly little TV jingle but somehow serves as a painful reminder of a very difficult time in my life when I was just physically, mentally, and emotionally ….not myself.  When I heard the song today while my kids were watching their shows, I was suddenly compelled to tell my story.

Depression is a funny little illness.  Because you look and feel like you’ve been through the spin cycle of a washing machine, yet everyone keeps telling you that you’re totally fine.  You’re fine, your family says.  You’re fine, your friends say.  You’re fine, the doctor says.  You’re healthy, your family is healthy, everything is perfectly fine in your life.

If you’re supposedly so damn fine, then why don’t you feel fine?

Why, instead, do you feel like every moment spent awake is an assault on your mind and body, like the very act of taking air into your lungs is earth-shatteringly terrifying, and like you are no longer even living inside of yourself, but instead just functioning as a separate, mindless entity, numbly hovering over your former self in the meager hope that someday you can return and feel, dare I say, normal again?

And all the while, as you’re feeling increasingly UNFINE, the world around you is spinning away.  People are still living their lives, still going to work, still caring for their children, still eating and sleeping and smiling and laughing every day.  They’re doing all the things you did back when you really were FINE.  Except now, everyone else is fine.  They are the “fine” ones.  They go right on living while you teeter dangerously on the brink of insanity, wondering how the hell you’ll make it another day, another hour, even another minute.

I had my miscarriage in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.  I watched the parade, got my son dressed, drove over to my mom’s, and then sat down with my family at the table to eat.  Somewhere between my first stuffed mushroom and second slice of turkey, I began feeling the stabbing pangs of labor pain.  Two terrifying hours later, in an emergency room somewhere in Staten Island, I emerged from a public bathroom stall with a tiny, balled-up fetus wrapped inside of a sanitary napkin.  Horrified and shaking, I handed it to the triage nurse, who then told me I was running a fever and needed to calm myself down.

Don’t feel sorry for me; my story is only seemingly dramatic because hospitals, blood, and death tend to fill me with sheer terror, and retelling the events of that day is simply impossible to do without conveying just how dramatic it all felt at the time.  In reality, I was only eight weeks along, quite optimistic that I would conceive again soon, and I honestly thought I was going to be okay.  I mean, MUCH, MUCH worse things have happened to MUCH, MUCH more unfortunate people than me.  So after about 10 miserable hours in a dim hospital room, I went home and crawled into bed, feeling exhausted and sad, but also knowing that the worst of it was over.

Or so I thought.

I did not know, at that point, that postpartum depression could happen after a miscarriage, even one occurring in just the first trimester.  I didn’t know that the overflow of hormones coursing through my body after this event, coupled with the extreme loneliness brought on by a severely harsh winter, a young child who needed more from me than I could possibly give at the time, and a hardworking husband who was never ever home, would lead me into a frightening downward spiral so intense that I am still recovering from it today.  And it’s been three full years.

My husband used to leave for work around 6 a.m., and I’d wake up at 5a.m. just to savor the only adult company I’d enjoy all day until he returned, already half-asleep, around 9p.m.  Those mornings I’d sit on the floor in the foggy bathroom while he showered for work and we’d chitchat back and forth; it was the closest to normal that I would feel all day.  Then I’d climb back into bed when he left, around the same time my son would usually wake up, and we’d watch Special Agent Oso together (for no special reason, he just happened to like the show and it happened to be on at that time).  And then I’d brace myself for a very long, lonely, dreary, anxiety-ridden day.

Ugh, the anxiety.  The anxiety is always there.  Depressed or not, anxiety is like that extra layer of fat you can’t shed, or the crooked bone in your nose that broke when you were a kid and never fully repaired itself.  It’s that single, most hated, THING that will always be a part of you.  That’s anxiety for me.

The darkest period of my life was like one, long, drawn-out anxiety attack.  My days were spent pacing the floors of my three-room apartment for hours at a time, fingers tearing at the hair behind my neck and pulling until it was smooth, maybe even bleeding.  I’d clutch the phone in my hands and cry, praying for it to ring, wishing for someone to talk to, anyone at all who could distract me from my personal hell for a moment or two.  I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away.  I’d wait by the window, praying, begging, pleading for my husband to pull up in his car and save me from the bitter, paralyzing loneliness.

My son was only two years old at the time, not nearly old enough to understand why mommy was starting to lose her mind.  But he knew something was terribly wrong.  I know he did. He would randomly break out in hives, or he would suddenly be covered in eczema patches on his arms and legs—but it only happened that winter and then never again.  Neither the allergist nor the dermatologist could explain the peculiar sudden onset of my poor little boy’s skin ailments.  “It’s just the harsh winter,” they said, and prescribed some expensive ointment or cream.  But I knew it was my fault.  My torment was spilling over onto my son, he was taking in my stress, my depression, and it was finding its way to the surface of his skin.  It might sound crazy to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  My son was hurting, too.

One morning, after I’d gotten out of bed, I fainted as I poured my son’s cereal.  Boom, hit the floor, just like that.  It could have been dehydration, or anxiety, or maybe just plain hunger, as I hadn’t been able to force down more than a slice or two of bread in about three days.  I woke to find my son, confused and visibly upset, pleading with me to get up.  Seeing pain in the eyes of a two-year-old is not something you can ever un-see.  Knowing that his pain is a reflection of the pain in your own eyes, well, that’s rock bottom.

At that point, I really needed help.  For my little boy, my sweet, innocent, scared little child, I had to come out of this.  I simply had to.  There was just no other way.

Recovery was a slow, gradual process.  My family, namely my mother and sister, whom I spoke to most often at the time, held my hand through most of my struggle.  With the help of my family, some medication, and a whole lot of self-discipline and self-discovery, I eventually began to feel like myself again.

That journey was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. NO ONE in my life understands or has even half of a clue how difficult that was for me- how every single second of every single day was wholly consumed by my hunger to push forward, my drive to never let this illness consume me again, and to be around for my children, no matter what.

In March, I was thrilled to learn that my daughter was on the way.  This was a blessing for more than just the obvious reasons– I was forced to stop taking medication and learn to heal entirely on my own.  If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, I may not have stopped the meds so soon and grown overly dependent on them instead of learning to heal on my own.   My little girl saved me from what might have been a different kind of downward spiral.  My little girl saved my life.

You might be wondering why I’ve recounted this extremely personal story with you today, especially given that I’m prone to much more lighthearted subject matter.

Recently I came down with a pesky case of writer’s block, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why.  I think, perhaps, my heart simply decided it was time to tell my story.  Or it could be that this bonechilling winter we’re having is a constant reminder of that low point in my life, and I needed to just blurt it all out before I lost my mind.  It’s almost like I’ve had this feeling in my chest, tugging at my heart, just sitting there and pulling at me with all its might, like a giant, malignant growth pushing to be set free.  Well, I’m setting it free today, for whatever the reason.  Perhaps someone will read my story and benefit from it in some small way. Maybe someone will read it and feel a little bit less alone. At the very least, perhaps I’ll be cured of writer’s block.

You don’t need to be a parent to find yourself coping with depression, although I know many are.  You don’t need to be married, engaged, employed, unemployed, grieving, sick, healthy, rich, poor….  You don’t need to have any reason at all.  For many of us, depression and anxiety are simply things we struggle with every single day.  They’re as real to us as breathing.

Your depression affects everyone around you, whether you realize it or not.  Your family, your children, your friends, your job.  Sometimes people understand, but most of the time, they don’t.  If you’re lucky, someone will get it, and they’ll reach out to you.  If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a place within yourself where healing can begin on its own– where you can realize how much the people in your life need you – and you can learn to be you again.

My journey is an ongoing one.  Some days are good, some notsomuch.  I know I’ll never be 100%.

But I’ll never stop trying, either.