Tuesday, July 21, 2015

And Now For Something Completely Different...and Serious?

A good while back, a very courageous friend of mine, Kendra Thomas, posted a call to action on Facebook for a change in the national discourse on mental illness. In it, she admitted to having depression and encouraged anyone feeling similarly to seek out help. I greatly respected her willingness to share her struggles, and agree that the only way to reduce the stigma is to demonstrate that mental illness is prevalent and treatable. However, the discussion didn’t continue much after her passionate request, and I think it’s important that it does in some form or another. Considering Robin Williams would have turned 64 today if we had not lost the comedic juggernaut to his own demons, I thought now was a good time to humbly share my attempt to change the conversation.

When I was 18 years old, a boy I knew...let’s call him Carl...committed suicide. It was strange for me, as I never knew Carl very well beyond having classes together and the odd social run-in. But he and I attended the same schools for most of our lives and somehow ended up with a similar social group in college, so I felt obligated to inform those people who wouldn’t otherwise know from Facebook or word of mouth. It was unsettling, to say the least. Having an extremely intimate and uncomfortable conversation about someone I really didn’t know all that well.

“So I don’t really know how to say this…Carl committed suicide today.”

“What?? But I knew that guy. Was he really that depressed?”

People can be arrogant like that. We think we know how the world works. We think we know what everyone else is thinking, and we get upset when it turns out we are wrong.

I know about that aversion to the unknown more than most. I am one of an estimated 6.8 million Americans with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It’s a pretty broadly defined mood disorder, so let me be more specific about some of my individual symptoms...I exhibit an extremely low tolerance of uncertainty, high looming vulnerability to threat (basically extreme impatience), inappropriate use of abstract linguistic processing (avoidance of emotion by failing to process threatening stimuli thoroughly), and a tendency to catastrophize pretty much anything you let me think about for long enough, among others. Sprinkle a little bit of classic social anxiety on there for good measure and, bam! You have a woman in her mid-twenties who can go from perfectly happy to a sobbing wreck downing whiskey at 11:00 am and blubbering about how an awkward conversation last week is evidence she’s going to die alone, in a matter of minutes.

Don’t believe me? Ask my sister, Lindsay. Since I can remember, she’s served as my shrink. Before my actual diagnosis, we would go through all sorts of theories about what might be causing my struggles with getting through the day...That it was the type of people I hung out with. That I was overly introverted. That I was just one of those people who worried a lot, and I could snap out of it if I just gave it some effort. But I didn’t, because honestly (and I do admit this sheepishly…) it kind of made me feel more prepared than everyone else. Since I was always worrying about stuff, I’d obviously be ready for it, right? Those silly people driving to work un-petrified by thoughts of how quickly the imaginary cancer already growing in their uterus will kill them...they’ll never see it coming!

Yes, many of the people you know are currently depressed, or anxious, or obsessive-compulsive, or whatever else. You may be aware of that fact or you may not. They may not even be fully aware themselves. But waiting to ask the question until after the fact is to ignore the tragic reality that someone finally gave into whatever torment you were unaware of.

“Carl committed suicide today.”

“What a fucking coward. I’m sorry. But how could he do that to his family?”

I have no idea for how long I’ve been anxious to the degree of a diagnosable disorder. Most people don’t. In fact, it’s thought that most GAD-having people don’t seek help for it and the number of cases are much higher than just ~2% of the U.S. population. At any rate, I never thought I needed help, because I never thought I had a problem that needed fixing. What I needed instead was to get over my worries and get out of my own head. Everyone else did it every day of their lives, what the hell was so wrong with me? I’ve led a decently easy life without too much hardship or trauma. But I still found myself utterly exhausted by everyday things like...going shopping, or having a job interview. I felt weak and pathetic. Just the thought of going to a dinner with friends would make my hands shake while I fretted over every possible scenario...that is if the anxiety hadn’t paralyzed me into just cancelling. Every time I was told “DUDE you freak out over everything. Just stop worrying. It’s going to turn out all right,” I would revert into what I like to call a “worry spiral,” over why I couldn’t seem to get the hang of it.

That’s right. Sometimes I worry about worrying. Ever do that? It’s a fun lil circle jerk to work through, ending in some really colorful shades of self-loathing.

My point is, I thought seeking help meant admitting I failed. It meant admitting I was worse than everyone else at...living. I felt the courageous thing to do was to suck it up. It took the people I loved the most in the world telling me they were unable to understand my emotions and felt helpless to support me to make me really challenge my idea of what failure meant.

Perhaps instead of judging one’s actions as cowardice, we should ask how they define it, and why? Ask what could motivate a person to act in that way and, if you haven’t, be grateful that you yourself have yet to be forced to such extremes.

“Carl committed suicide today.”

“Huh, well I guess that’s one way to get attention.”

This kind of victim-blaming is the reason there is almost an entire year gap between Kendra’s original post and this one. I thought people would assume I was looking for pity and miss my overall message. But the fear of coming across as a narcissist is, to me, the lesser evil than continuing to ignore mental health until it causes another tragedy in the public eye. If you are of the opinion that I wrote this for my own ego, then that is your prerogative.

I have met several people who have claimed to have anxiety over the years. I also harbor doubts that a very small number of those individuals may be using the term anxiety to excuse poor behavior and illicit sympathy. However, I am not a mind-reader. I have no way of knowing what motivates a person to share details of their mental state. All I know is that if more people are honest about theirs, those crying out for attention will be drowned out in the conversation. It’s estimated that one-third of the population has some sort of mood disorder...with that many people discussing it, the novelty of having it might wear off.

We have all encountered people who fake all sorts of issues to gain attention. There has even been people who went so far as to create online personas with thousands of followers supporting their fight against cancer while they remained perfectly healthy. But if someone told you they had cancer, would you doubt them because there’s a small chance they wanted to martyr themselves?

“Carl committed suicide today.”

“Holy shit, I didn’t know he was depressed. Shame he didn’t even try to get help.”

The reason I took the time earlier to explain some of my individual symptoms is because mood disorders are muddled. It’s not like a virus or bacteria, where an outside pathogen infects you. You can have multiple disorders with varying levels of intensity, or just exhibit a little more social anxiety than the normal person. Each disorder is really just a spectrum of symptoms that have reached a degree of severity warranting a “disorder,” based on how your mind is hard-wired to work. A treatment that works for one person may or may not work for the next five, even if those people have the same disorder.

One anxious acquaintance of mine exhibits it severely enough to warrant daily medication and weekly therapy appointments. Another has an emergency stash of benzodiazepines to calm him down only in the event of a panic attack, but prefers meditation and deep breathing for every-day coping. One person saw a therapist for only a brief stint until they identified a good medication schedule for her. Another went to a therapist and never returned after an incredibly negative experience, but still reads credible literature on the subject for self-education. I myself see a cognitive-behavioral therapist occasionally and sometimes participate in group sessions, but don’t have any prescriptions. For me, it has proven by far the most effective coping method. For someone else, it might exacerbate their disorder.

Seeking out meaningful help for mental illness requires much more thought than scheduling a doctor’s appointment. It requires humility to admit needing help, funds to afford it, sincere self-reflection to choose a method that suits your needs, determination to try a different route should the first not work, and a willingness to learn some of the uglier things about yourself. On top of that, no one wants to be the crazy person who has to go to the shrink. I will admit I’ve come up with various reasons to leave work for my appointments for fear my coworkers might think I’m unstable or deranged. Yes, that’s also a symptom of my social anxiety, but I do think this enters into the problem. People who feel marginalized by their disorder might not even admit to having it, much less seek out meaningful and effective treatment.

Perhaps if we stop prescribing simple “help” to those with mental disorders and instead offer a brainstorm of the various methods, taking that first step to wellness won’t seem so daunting.

I will never know why Carl decided to kill himself that day, but my friends’ reactions of disbelief, shock, and awe speak loudly to one issue: mental health is a taboo. One that we are so averse to talking about in everyday life (with the exception of caricatured psychiatrists and lunatics in entertainment), that we continue to be rocked by the tragedies that result from its mistreatment, no matter how numerous. Mental disorders can be very different to treat than some infectious diseases, but the rhetoric we use should not differentiate between the two. I can only hope that this has encouraged someone to think and speak differently about mental health, because it will remain destructive as long as we refuse to change our conception of it.

I urge you, if you yourself or anyone you know has shown signs of mental distress, to please start looking into treatment options. Whether that means simply reading about various disorders, trying homeopathic remedies, or even seeking out a therapist, that first small step can make a huge difference months down the line. My loved ones can attest to the changes I’ve gone through since finding a treatment method that worked for me. No one has a chance of improving if they don’t take action. The National Suicide Prevention Line is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 to anyone who may be having suicidal thoughts, and SAMHSA has a line for treatment referral and general mental health information from 8 am to 8 pm M-F at 1-877-726-4727. Be well, my friends. And be good to each other.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Effects of Motherhood on Your Brain

When Lindsay first got pregnant with Will (heh...kind of sounds like she came down with some sort of disease, doesn't it?), I warned her about pregnancy brain*. It's when the mother is too distracted by all her baby-making stuff going on and turns into a blithering idiot until she comes to term. Well, she made it all the way through the nine months without too many incidents and thought she'd been let off the hook. Little did we know, her pregnancy brain just manifested postpartum. And is less...idiot and more...psychotic. She's gotten weird, people. Real weird. Like...I'm weirded out by her at this point and I spent the majority of my morning imagining an adventure movie about a fly trying to get back to his estranged family after he got stuck in my car and driven to Woodinville**.

Yeah. Real weird.

The other day she very seriously tried to convince me that she saw a UFO in the backyard, to the point where she sent me a video. It was thirty seconds of the night sky. Nothing there. Anyways, for your amusement, I've documented some of the stranger and more ridiculous messages that have come from my sister dearest in the last few months: 

“Will finally pooped after about 20 minutes of pushing. It was epic.”

Lindsay and Jesse came up two days before Christmas to Mom and Dad’s to visit. I was otherwise occupied (read: drunk) in Seattle the first night they arrived.

“WTF biautza? Donde esta? Mom just told me she’s going to poop in my stocking.”

This email was titled “I’m Susie-Fucking-Homemaker," and read:
"I just made baby cereal out of a coconut. Bam.”

Lindsay: Will wiped a bunch of snot on the couch and now he’s playing with it. *sigh*
Sara: That’s half your genetics right there.
Lindsay: Fuck.
Sara: Half.

I didn’t watch the Grammy’s this year. I mean. I never do. But this year I did get a play-by-play of Lindsay’s takeaways from the night. It’s worth noting I didn't reply to a single message until the next day.

“Keith Urban looks like a lesbian.”
“What the fuck happened to Steven Tyler?”
“Merle Haggard looks like a hacidic jew”
“Pharrell looks like he’s on safari.”
“Stevie Wonder is totally playing on a Barbie piano”
“Daft Punk look like storm troopers”
“Sooo…it’s cool that Taylor Swift gave a passionate performance but it was just a little too Linda Blair-in-the-exorcist for me.”
“Is anyone going to offer Lorde an iron or vitamin D supplement?”
“I know Dave Grohl is grunge and everything but you’d think he has something nicer to wear than a black t-shirt and jeans.”
“Pink is switching careers to be an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil. Is that what we’re supposed to take away? I’m confused.”
“John Legend can play my piano any time.”
“If Madonna showed up at my wedding dressed like a fucking cowboy and sang like that I.Would.Lose.My.Shit.”
“I can’t even call Robin Thicke a douche. He’s so much more than a douche. He’s like an enema. Whatever equipment you need for one, that’s what he is.”

*There's not really any such thing as pregnancy brain. Much like PMS, pregnancy brain is an exaggeration of a symptom (in this case minor memory deficits during pregnancy) that affects a very small number of the population and generally isn't a big deal. One of the fun parts of being on the wrong side of misogyny is shit like this. Any mention of a reason for women being irrational/dumber than men is immediately blown out of proportion. Remember the whole women-can't-be-in-leadership-positions-there's-too-much-blood-in-their-lady-parts-for-their-brains-to-function piece of shit? Yeah. So let me be ABSOLUTELY clear here...pregnancy brain is not real. I was joking. THESE ARE JOKES. Women are people. Deal with it, fuckers.
**It had a happy ending. Sir Edmund Roger Flyhound made it back to his loving wife and children, all a midst a cheerful acoustic guitar track and rapid credit reel. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Great Chicken Coop Adventure

I’ve never been a morning person. Ever. In my entire life. I’ve had a fairly severe caffeine addiction since I was 18. Most times, it takes me a good four or five attempts to even lift myself out of the cozy cocoon of blankets, wool socks, and dreams that I delightfully weave for myself each night. So I try to avoid activities that are particularly mentally taxing before I’m properly caffeinated and functioning. However, since having a big girl job and coming to terms with the fact that for the majority of my adult life I will need to rise before seven a.m. five days a week, I’ve taken some steps to make them more bearable. I work out before doing anything else to help get my blood pumping. I give myself time to make a proper breakfast with enough protein to get me through lunch without my stomach throwing a bitch-fit. I choose the clothes that I will wear the night before and make sure they are ironed and clean so I can dress quickly.

It’s also worth noting that I do take steps to look quite nice for work. When I can wear what I want I’m all about comfort. But, if I need to be professional, I’m going to look professional as all fuck, god damn it. High heels. Pressed slacks. Pencil skirts. Fancy silk blouses that are never washed as often as they should be because, let’s face it, dry-clean only is code for “Eh I can wear this another day and not smell TOO much like a dumpster.”

Anyways. Point. Right. I was making one.

This particular morning I woke up late and groggy. No reason. I just did.

...okay so I gorged myself on half a pint of chocolate ice cream and a bag of Doritos the night before. Whatever. It’s not like you’re perfect or anything. I bet your Thanksgiving turkey was dry and unsatisfying (unrelated: that’s also what he said. HEYO! *high fives self*).

Back to the morning. It was late enough that I skipped my workout and healthy breakfast and just threw on the nice outfit I had laid out the night before. As I was leaving, I remembered that Dad had asked me to let the chickens out of the hen house. So I started the car to let it warm up, walked over to the coop, and pulled on the string that lifts the gate to the hen house. Since the PNW has been colder than Santa’s butthole lately, the latch was frosted shut.


So I opened the coop, stooped down (in my professional business clothes, mind you), and opened it by hand. Even so, I still had to latch it open from the outside. So I stumbled back out of the coop and secured the string. Chickens = dealt with. Great success. I could go to work and drink more coffee.

Until something white caught my eye. I realized that I forgot to close the coop itself and Amelia had made a break for it. The other three were still cautiously weighing the pros and cons of running away.


I ran to the door and threw it shut, keeping the other three chickens inside. At this point I just had to catch Amelia. The most skittish piece of shit asshole chicken on the face of the planet. In the dark. In 30 degrees. In boots and a dress.

The next five minutes consisted of me chasing the everloving fuck out of Amelia, who had gone from “FREEDOM!!!” to “OH FUCK WHERE THE FUCK AM I LET ME BACK IN!!” She kept running the fuck into the chicken wire around the coop attempting to get back in. Apparently she thinks she’s made of liquid or is Kitty Pryde in X-Men or some shit. That annoying song yakety sax started playing in my head.. I kept muttering over and over “You stupid piece of shit just STOP running away and I WILL LET YOU BACK IN fucking stupid bitch of a chicken asshat mother fucking up my entire fucking morning…”

Finally I tackled her against the coop and she got her panties all in a bunch over it. At this point I started yelling at her “YOU AND I WANT THE SAME THING GOD DAMN IT. I’M LETTING YOU BACK IN CALM YOUR SHIT.” I managed to throw her in the coop, slam and lock the door, get in my car (that had been running the entire time still), and head to work.

The moral of the story is: if you skip your morning work out, don’t you fret. The universe will give you another opportunity to get that blood pumping...but it’ll use a bitch of a chicken to do it. My only regret is that no one was around to witness and/or film the pissed off woman in business attire swearing profusely as she runs around and around in the dark chasing a chicken.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Working" at work.

And now, more emails from work! Sara recently recorded a song she kind of sort of helped write with a friend from college (Sara: to answer your question...yes. I am a rock star. I'm accepting applications for groupies. No fat chicks). When he sent her the initial recording on his Soundcloud account, which includes a picture of him, she shared it with the family.

Sara: Look! It's me singing!
Dad: Wow!...who is the dude in the picture? I think I'm in love. Seriously...
Lindsay: Yah, the guy is a biscuit! Date him!
Sara: Uh, he's been in a happy loving relationship with his current girlfriend whom he lives with for a long time now so...that ain't happening.
Dad: What a wimp you need to be more like Tricia Yearwood the home wrecker...
Lindsay: HAHAHA

It's good for fathers to encourage their daughters to home wreck, right?* No? Oh well...have some more emails!
* Like Dad said, it worked out for that tart, Trisha Yearwood. Married to Garth Brooks (I'm not convinced that's a good thing…) and Paula Dean made her her bitch protege'. 

An email Sara sent to Lindsay. Just this. No prior conversation or context. Obviously she was really slammed at work that day. 
Sara: So I just got a weird idea to join a roller derby team. Bad idea? I think it's probably a bad idea.

Dad: Is it REALLY only 10:45??
Sara: I guess so and I am already in pain from how long the day is dragging on...
Mom: OH MY GOD! You whiners.
Lindsay: Well, at least none of you started your day having to get out of bed earlier than you wanted because someone shat out half their body weight. I was going to go to CrossFit, but I have a sore throat and I'm sitting in front of my space heater and I feel like making shitty excuses to not go.
Mom: Oh. I'm sorry.
Lindsay: It's okay. It needed to happen. He hadn't pooped in three days.
Mom: No I meant about you feeling poorly. I don't care about poop. I have many poop stories from both of you.
Lindsay: Oh. I don't feel that yucky. Like I said, I just want to make excuses...Maybe I should drink some breast milk to get some antibodies. Does it work if it's my own? That's weird. Why did I even say that?

Mom was telling us a story about a co-worker and some of his bizarre comments about his girlfriend. Though he's a very nice, docile man...he mentioned three times in a conversation that "my girlfriend loves me." The conversation was not about his girlfriend in any way shape or form. 

Mom: Not that I love her, but she loves me. Do you think that's odd?
Sara: ...yeahhhh that sounds like a Stepford husband or some shit...maybe she abuses him?
Lindsay: Maybe she's his dominatrix. HAHAHAHAHA eewww I regret saying that. Kind of. Not really. Hahahahaha.
Mom: Thanks for the picture. ….NOT
Sara: Ha! Right after I called abuse.
Lindsay: Or he's just a wet blanket.
Mom: Everyone talks about how nothing rattles him and how nice he is. Translation - BORING!
Sara: I hate boring people. They're the worst. At least assholes can occasionally have a good time. 
Mom: Nice people can be fabulous. Nice people that never get rattled and talk in one-tone, and never raise their voices, and brag they never get stressed equates to they have no dang feelings.
Lindsay: He sounds more like a serial killer to me.

Poop and breast milk and serial killers. You're welcome, America.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

East Coast Invasion

A few weeks ago, our Aunt Pat and Uncle Bob came into town from Massachusetts. They’re not literally our Aunt and Uncle though…Pat is mom’s cousin, but it was Grandma who raised her. Cause she’s awesome like that. But with these two around, all of mom’s East Coast mannerisms come out with a vengeance. I haven’t heard a single R pronounced at the end of a word in that house in weeks. I swear every time someone asked for the keys to the car I thought, “what the hell are they talking about? No one’s wearing khakis...”


One night, mom and dad managed to drag everyone over to see my apartment. I don’t know why they insist showing the family that at 23 I’m still far too irresponsible to take out my recycling in a timely fashion or vacuum regularly, but they do. We ended up having drinks at the bar that’s in my building, The Beer Authority. If you’re ever in Lake City and want some delicious brews, go there. It’s like Narnia and Beer Fest had a love child then put it in my place of residence with giant Jenga. I can’t under hype the greatness that is giant Jenga, you guys. It’s awesome.

The owner of this little spot, Burke, saw me walk in with a giant troupe of older people and a baby. I told him it was my family and they were in town visiting. So he came over to serve us and introduce himself to everyone. Pat had a hard time understanding him…

Pat: What’s your name again?
Burke: Burke.
Pat: Burt? Like Burt Reynolds?
Burke: *laughs* I wish that was my name!

Bob spent the evening people watching. Lake City draws a pretty interesting crowd, to say the least. One of the other regulars is the reason I have a “no making out with anyone at The Beer Authority” rule. I’m sure you can figure out the backstory. It’s not one that I’m either proud of or willing to share. But let’s be honest…EVERYONE has drunkenly made out with someone that they later regret. Don’t lie to yourself…we’ve all been there. You can admit it. This is a safe place.

At any rate, Bob leaned over to comment on this particular gentleman’s appearance.

Bob: See that person up at the bar, in the black hat and sweatshirt?
Sara: Yep, why?
Bob: I’ve figured it out now, but when he first walked in I thought to myself “Is that a man or a woman?” Then I saw that pathetic excuse for a beard, and I figured it out. Some of these young kids these days…*laughs*.
Sara: (While Lindsay, knowing who the guy is, snickers)…goddamnit Bob.
Bob: What, the kid looks womanly! It’s not my fault I was confused.
Sara:...I know.
*Lindsay continues to snicker*

At at table across from us, there was a group of people who appeared to be deaf, as they were having a conversation in sign language. Dad, thinking it was interesting, pointed it out to us. Literally.
Dad: I think all these people at that table are deaf because they're talking in sign language.
Lindsay: Dad, just because they're deaf doesn't mean they can't see you pointing at them. And I noticed them when we sat down.
Dad: No you didn't. I saw them first. I am the Ayatollah. I am all-seeing.

Did we mention we brought a baby to a bar?

This last weekend, we all took a trip down to Lindsay’s for empanadas and Sara was one of the designated drivers. She had the pleasure of taking Dad and Bob down…both of whom were very drunk by the time we left (at 4:30 in the afternoon) and passed a can of Bud Light around the car like we were 17 again. The whole hour and fifteen minutes, Bob wouldn’t stop asking “are we there yet?” while Dad kept harassing me with Batdad impressions. If you haven’t seen Batdad, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlVi0noRr-o

Here are some excerpts of dinner conversation while at Lindsay’s:

Mom: Pat, how do you like it?
Pat: It’s good.
Mom: Do you ever say anything is better than good?! You said the king salmon at Anthony’s was just good. The bloody mary was just good. Everything’s just good to you!
Pat: Well they all WERE good.  

Dad: (watching a commercial for FIFA 14) There’s a soccer video game?! Holy shit!
Sara: There are 13 other ones too.
Dad: I didn’t think anyone liked soccer enough in this country!
Sara: Apparently they do!
Dad: Why don’t you buy that?
Sara: Because I suck at video games.
Dad: Why?
Sara: Because you never let me buy or play any when I was a kid. Something silly about playing outside or reading books or whatever.
Dad: Well now you can buy that one and 14 cats, then play it all day in your apartment and never leave. That’s how you want your life to go, right?
Sara:…I’d pretend to be offended if that didn’t actually sound appealing. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

What Post-Partum Life Looks Like - Baby Book Translations

DISCLAIMER: If you are pregnant or want kids, you might not want to read this because you may want to remain blissfully ignorant until the time comes. On the other hand, if you are not ready for kids, read this because it will be a very effective form of birth control.

This is also intended to be a humorous account. It's funny now. Because if you can't laugh at traumatic events in your life then...well I feel sorry for you.

Traditional baby books (What to Expect When You're Expecting, Mayo Clinic, etc.) are chockfull of information for pregnant women. They guide you through pregnancy and cover the first few months post-partum as well. The writing style in these books is about as vanilla as it comes. I will now go so far as to accuse the writers and editors of these books of sugar-coating the post-partum period, to the point of almost flat out lying to you. The way they describe life immediately post-pregnancy is very, um, conservative. As such, I've taken the liberty to translate some of these descriptions of post-partum life into language that really grabs the essence of what you will be experiencing.

Labor and Delivery:

What my book says:
"What does labor feel like? ...You may feel the pain in your lower abdomen, lower back, hips, or upper thighs. This sensation has been described as an aching feeling, pressure, fullness, cramping, and backache. For some, labor pain seems like very strong menstrual cramps."
"Very strong menstrual cramps" my ass. Labor and contractions feel like your body and some invisible force is trying to shove and rip all your insides out through your vagina.

What my book says:
"Occasionally, a small amount of stool is expelled during birth."
If you don't shit on the delivery table, then you're not pushing hard enough. If your baby daddy can't handle a little bit of poop, then he is no man.


What my book says: 
"When you begin breastfeeding, your nipples may feel sore or tender."
This is the understatement of the fucking century. Your nipples will feel like they have been through a war and are about to FALL OFF. All you will want to do is air them out and and sit with cold ice-packs on them. You'll wear a sports bra in the shower because the shower stream will feel like a fire hose is being sprayed onto your breasts.

What my book says:
"(After birth)...you'll have a vaginal discharge known as lochia....it typically starts off as a red, heavy flow of blood.
The first time you go to the bathroom, THERE WILL BE SO MUCH BLOOD. It will look like a horrible murder scene.

What my book says:
"For the first few days to weeks after birth, going to the bathroom can be an uncomfortable experience."
Peeing - The first time you pee is like having shot-gunned 8 beers and you've been holding it for 4 hours, and you get to the toilet and you have to concentrate harder than you ever have in your entire life to try to relax so you can actually pee. Oh, and it hurts.
Pooping - I didn't poop for 5 days. FIVE FUCKING DAYS. Thank modern fucking science for stool softeners - especially if they put you on iron supplements. Pooping will now feel like you're shitting rocks for the next four weeks. I remember day-dreaming about one day enjoying pooping again. (Sara: I can confirm this. I have multiple emails and text messages from Linz pining for a possibly pleasant poop)

What my book says:
"If your incision was closed with surgical staples, they'll likely be removed a few days or weeks after surgery."
What the book completely fails to mention is how terrifying getting those out will be. You had your belly sliced open (and you probably weren't planning on it), all of your guts taken out and put on the surgical table, and then your uterus sliced open to yank your already ill-behaved-child-who-just-didn't-want-to-come-out-the-regular-way out. And then everything is put back in and together and you were STAPLED CLOSED. Holy shit! So when your staples come out you will be petrified that your guts are just going to FALL OUT. You'll probably walk around all hunchback-like clutching your incision for a few days, because, you know, that would help (not).

Life at Home:

What my book says:
"The abrupt drop in levels of estrogen and progesterone after childbirth...likely causes the baby blues and may have you feeling emotional."
YOU WILL BE A FUCKING BASKET-CASE. I sobbed (SOBBED!) when I realized I hadn't gotten Jesse a Father's Day card. Yah. I did that. You'll cry because you love your baby (wah fucking wah). You'll cry because your basil and cilantro plants bolted and flowered while you were in the hospital so now they aren't producing anymore herbs. You'll be FUCKING ECSTATIC when you get the hang of that breastfeeding position you've been trying. What I'm saying is you'll be insane for a few weeks.

What my book says:
"Some women may feel like they've lost their sense of identity."
All I am in this world is a giant boob/milk factory with a never-ending period!

What my book says:
"For some parents...comes the further realization that your baby is solely in your care. This may come as a bit of a shock..."

What my book says:
"Truly, you wonder, how do I go about this business of parenting?"

Lastly, baby books NEVER address your loss of dignity and modesty after childbirth.
Examples of how you will lose all sense of dignity and modesty after childbirth:

1. Poor Sara was mortified when like, the 5th different person came into the delivery room during labor to check how dilated I was. In between chit-chat, my nurse stuck her entire hand into my vagina to check. There is a revolving door of medical professionals in and out of the delivery room and almost all of them need to see/touch your lady bits for one reason or another. I almost wanted to put a sign on the door that said "LINDSAY'S VAGINA IS NOW OPEN FOR VIEWING. COME ONE, COME ALL!"

2. You will wear a diaper. The hospital calls it a "hospital grade pad." It's a fucking diaper. And you need it. Because there will be floods of amniotic fluid and other gross stuff flowing from your lady parts.

3. Having a contraction while trying to pee. This needs no further elaboration.

4. Writhing in pain during a contraction while the nurses and anesthesiologist wait patiently for it to end so they can give you an epidural.

5. Getting buck-ass-naked during pushing because you're trying every different birthing position known to man to try to knock that little bastard baby loose. You've got a tube for your catheter, a tube coming out of your spine, and an IV tube. That god damn hospital gown gets caught in everything eveytime you try to move. My nurses, bless their hearts, were trying to hold a sheet over my ass during the squat position to, you know, preserve what little dignity I had left. Which brings me to...

6. Pooping while pushing in front of your husband and three nurses and one of them wipes your ass for you.

7. Breastfeeding for the very first time while your nurses help. One is squeezing your boob and the other one shoves your baby's face onto it.

8. Walking for the first time. They put these super sexy compression socks on your calves to protect against blood clots. I had an epidural, but that wore off by the time I was pushing, and so then I needed a complete spinal for surgery, and then they pump you with morphine as soon as they yank baby and cut the umbilical cord. Suffice it to say, you brain's communication with the rest of your body is fucked for the next 24 hours. I needed a walker. At 27 years old I used a walker to get to the shower.

9. You need to tell your nurse the first time you pee, poop, and fart post-surgery. Yes. I had to tell my nurse when I farted for the first time. I had to call my nurse when I was ready to pee, so she could come look in the commode and make sure that everything was...normal? Except peeing was hard and painful because I was swollen and sore. So there I am, straddling the toilet seat (SO MUCH BLOOD), sobbing because I can't pee and it hurts, and the nurse is bent down in front of me spraying my lady bits with warm water from a spray bottle to try to stimulate my urine flow. How about that image?

10. Everyone is taking pictures and wants to come see you and the baby and your entire body is wrecked, pale from loosing so much blood, puffy from all the drugs, you're lactating through your shirt, circles under your eyes from lack of sleep, wearing compression stockings, sweaty from all the hormonal changes, and wearing an industrial sized maxi-pad. And at this point you have zero fucks to give.

So there it is. My summation of what baby books don't address and my translation of their sugar-coated-bullshit descriptions. Congratulations!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Onion Ring Wars: Part 2

When Mom and Dad went on their million year road trip in June, they missed Sara's birthday. They didn't forget about her, though. Mom paid Sara's coworkers to take her out to a birthday lunch that day. That's how much our parents care. At any rate, nobody's schedule synced up until this last weekend to do a family birthday dinner. This last weekend also happened to be Jesse's 33rd birthday (toot toot!) so we had a big combined shebang. It was a typical family dinner setting: the boys out back shooting their arrows, Will pooping his pants and being generally adorable, Sara and Lindsay drinking beer and somehow managing to not spill any on Will whilst holding him, Mom cooking up a storm, Grandma Dee drinking scotch, and Grandma listening to Fox News and insulting her cat. Oh, and Tucker has been doing a lot of sulking because he's no longer the most adorable member of the family.

While Mom was throwing together the beer batter for the onion rings:

Mom: I put sriracha in the beer and it foamed up.
Lindsay: That's because there's vinegar in sriracha.
Mom: That's what it is!

While Mom was frying the onion rings:

Mom: Sara, you have to wait until everyone gets an onion ring before you get one.
Sara: What?! Why?
Mom: Because you're an onion ring hog.
Sara: I am NOT! EVERYONE is an onion ring hog!
Mom: Well it's Jesse's birthday,
Sara: It's MINE too!
Mom: No it's not!
Sara: It is since we never celebrated it! It was your idea to make this a combined birthday dinner. You didn't even want to get me a present! You thought letting me house sit counts as a present!
Mom: No! I got you a lovely flower arrangement with herbs.
Lindsay: Just what every 60 year old cat lady wants. A fucking herbed flower arrangement.

Later we gave William a bath because the neck cheese accumulation in his neck rolls was just too much. Mom and Dad also have a giant kitchen sink, so it's easy to just toss him in there.

Dad: That's a pretty impressive nutsack for an infant!
Mom: He's just jealous.

See? Baby in the sink!

I cropped out his weenie. You didn't think I'd actually post a picture of my son's package on the internetz for all you perverts to look at, did you?