My Anxiety/OCD Triggers


If you’ve been following this blog for a while or if you know me in real life, then you know that anxiety with obsessive compulsive tendencies is something I have struggled with for a long time- basically my whole life. I say obsessive compulsive tendencies because, thankfully, I don’t have full-blown OCD, but I DO exhibit some obsessive compulsive tendencies in my thinking & thus in my behavior. I had an experience this morning that made me think that a useful exercise might be writing out some of my current anxiety triggers. Not only might this be therapeutic for me but it’s very possible that others could relate- even if not to these exact scenarios.

Because I value transparency, let me say that I have been taking a low dose of generic Prozac for my anxiety for probably six or seven years now. I managed to go off of it for about 6 months in late 2019 & early 2020 but once Covid hit, I realized I needed to go back on it to manage all the extra stress & general madness of living through a worldwide pandemic. It took me a long time to admit to myself that needing medication to assist with my anxiety management was not a weakness any more than needing medication for high blood pressure or lupus or any other medical condition. Of course I always believed that for everyone ELSE- but getting myself to believe it for ME? That was a whole other story- being the perfectionist that I am. In any case, I have gotten MUCH better at managing my anxiety over the years, not just thanks to medication, though I do think that has been very useful with taking some of the “edge off” so that I can actually focus on other non-medication based strategies with a clearer brain. But it’s definitely still a daily struggle with some days being better than others.

Anyway, this post is not strictly meant to be humorous but at the same time I’ll confess that one of my best coping mechanisms has been learning to laugh at myself. Not in a condescending “I’m so stupid” way. But rather in a “Ok, self, this is a bit silly. You’ve handled this kind of thing before. There is no logical reason to be this upset about this now. You’ve got this. Take a deep breath & don’t take everything so seriously” way. If that makes any sense. So, on that note, feel free to laugh along with me if you find some of these things a bit comical. I won’t judge you or hold it against you in any way.

  • Having someone behind me in line while pumping gas. This happened to me at Sheetz this morning. A man pulled up behind me in a pick-up truck as I was just getting out of my car. There was absolutely nothing overtly threatening about this man, but my immediate thoughts were “Oh gosh, I’ve parked a bit too close to the pump. This dude is probably laughing about how ridiculous I look now, trying to get out of my car. He’s probably going to judge every move I make while pumping this silly gas.” Once I got the gas pumping, I stopped that train of thought & told myself “This is ridiculous. Even if he does laugh at you, so what? You have no idea who he is, he has no idea who you are, you’ll never see each other again. What does it MATTER?” After that, I was able to calm down & laugh at myself & move on without further anxiety over the matter. This is what I mean by learning to laugh at myself.
  • Having my money in order in my wallet. This one is a remnant from being a waitress back in college. That’s been almost 15 years ago but I STILL feel a very urgent compulsion to have my bills in order. What I mean by this is the largest bills have to be on the bottom of the stack & they all have to be facing the same direction (i.e. none upside down or backwards). So on the rare occasions I pay with cash somewhere & the cashier gives me change, I inevitably end up cringing inwardly when the person hands me a bunch of bills all out of order. Because, you see, I then have to correct them before putting them in my wallet- but if there are people behind me in line I HATE holding them up to do this… And yet I also hate putting the bills in my wallet all out of order. It’s a real conundrum, I tell ya! And yes, I am laughing at myself as I type this because I fully realize how ridiculous this must sound to the average person.
  • Having my documentation in order as a nurse. Y’all, this is one reason I do not miss inpatient nursing. Because anyone who has worked inpatient nursing knows that documentation is wildly important & also wildly difficult to get done in a timely manner. I am one of those weird nurses who actually enjoys documentation, perhaps because I am acutely aware of how truly important it can be, but also perhaps because I enjoy writing. In any case, it can cause me tremendous anxiety if I get too far behind on my charting. I HATE that feeling of knowing I’ve done something but it hasn’t yet been documented. I guess it was drilled into my head enough times that “If it’s not documented, then it wasn’t done” that until something is documented, I don’t feel like my task is truly complete. This is one reason I’ve been reluctant to go back to school to become an NP, which was my original career goal, because providers of all disciplines (i.e. doctors, NPs, PAs) all struggle so much with timely documentation. I just know I would be the kind of provider who couldn’t relax after work until all my notes were done, & I also know that it’s very rare that one can finish them all on the same day…. Soooooo… Yeah, I’d probably just be permanently anxious as hell! Just another reason why I’m pretty content to be “just a nurse” for now.
  • Too much noise. Y’all, this is one reason motherhood is hard for me. Between Rachel hollering constant questions & the dogs barking, I’m pretty sure I’ll be deaf in the not so distant future. I don’t think I realized it at the time but this is another thing I don’t miss about inpatient nursing- all the constant alarms dinging!
  • Social events that feel forced. I’ve talked about this before but work parties or parties where I only know one or two people are anathema for me. Just look up the song We Don’t Have to Dance by Andy Black. It’s an anthem for every introvert with social anxiety. I’m great at one on one or very small group discussions. But networking type events where you have to talk to a bunch of people, usually only for a few minutes & about mundane topics that feel forced? Ugh. The WORST! Thank goodness I’m in a career field where such things aren’t really an issue.
  • Having unread texts, messages, or emails. Ohhh man, what I wouldn’t give to be a type B person who doesn’t care that their inbox is overloaded! But it’s just not in my nature to ever be that way. Nope, I have to read everything quickly & usually feel compelled to respond quickly too. Otherwise I end up with that “unfinished business” feeling that I mentioned earlier with documentation at work. This is one of many reasons I refuse to get any new social media accounts such as Twitter, Snapchat, or Tik Tok. Not only do not I find those apps of any particular interest but I also don’t need any more notifications pouring in to my phone. No thanks.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety &/or if you aren’t plagued by obsessive compulsive tendencies, this post may have read like a real laugh riot. Or you may be tempted to say that I’m clearly crazy & in need of serious help. While that may be a fair assessment, remember that my anxious, obsessive compulsive tendencies also make me a fantastic nurse. You better believe I monitor my patients’ vital signs & labs like a hawk. You better believe I obsess over dating my PICC line/IV dressings. You better believe I notify providers of even subtle changes that I know might be important. You get the drift.

Outside of nursing, I like to think some of these tendencies are useful as well- as a wife, mom, & friend, etc. We all face challenges in life, & I think, as with anything, there are pros & cons to this type of mindset. The key- at least for me- is being cognizant of my triggers so that I can better manage them when they happen. Trust me when I say that’s a work in progress!

An Addled Mother’s Thoughts on PPD


Have you ever wished to have a different brain than your own? I definitely have. And I still do sometimes, especially as a mom. Everywhere I look I see friends, coworkers, former classmates, former coworkers, family members, & general acquaintances having their second, third, or even fourth kids. And here I am with a daughter who’s soon to be five still feeling like “Nope, I’m not ready to do that again.” When I say “that” I mean everything involved with having another baby but specifically the newborn & baby stage. As some of you may know, that was a very difficult & trying time for me. It’s really only been in the past year or so that I’ve come to fully appreciate just how bad my post partum depression really was. No, I wasn’t suicidal or psychotic, but I was far further down the rabbit hole of despair than I realized at the time. And the frustrating thing is I did so many of the “right” things that you’re supposed to do to help with PPD: I took medication (a slightly different version of what I took for anxiety prior to giving birth or even being pregnant), I went to therapy, I occasionally went to a new mom’s support group, I worked part time, I vented to friends & family. And yet I still struggled, far more than I ever let on.

The truth is part of me is angry because I feel like PPD stole things from me. I feel like I lost precious moments that I can’t get back. I also feel so guilty for complaining because I know many women have had far worse situations- but I also feel like I’ll never get past this fear if I don’t air it…. So, on that note, here we go…

Because of my pre-existing anxiety I was high risk for PPD anyway. Then throw in a jaundiced baby who had to be readmitted to the hospital after just one night at home- a miserable night that left me in tears too many times to count- & I think it was just too much for me. I know social media is always a highlight reel & most people don’t share the hard stuff, but every time I see people so excited about going home with their new babies & enjoying those early days at home, I must confess I feel a pang of jealousy. Again I know so many women who’ve endured far worse, but I just didn’t get a peaceful newborn period. Physically I recovered phenomenally well- I can’t complain there- but mentally was a whole other story.

Our first night at home I spent in anguish because I knew my baby was sick & nothing I was doing was helping. I felt helpless, terrified, & lonely. It’s not like my husband could breastfeed, you know! When we went to the pediatrician the next day, the doctor graciously helped me with breastfeeding & even taught me how to use my pump. But because it was a Saturday they couldn’t do labs there, so we had to then cart her 20 minutes across town to a hospital to get her labs checked. No sooner than we got home from that did we get a call from the doctor telling us she needed to be admitted for bili-light therapy. That required packing up & driving another 20 or 30 minutes all the way across the city to yet another hospital. So those first few weeks I spent pumping & recording the baby’s intake & output like a mad woman, meanwhile also struggling to breastfeed- which was FAR harder than I’d imagined, even though I’d taken classes & read up on it- & generally feeling like I was losing my mind. Over the weeks that turned into months, things slowly got better. We found a rhythm with breastfeeding. We finally got some decent sleep. We bonded more & more & things slowly began to feel more manageable. I slowly began feeling like less of a zombie & more of a proper human being again. But I’ve never forgotten those long nights & those incredibly dark moments of despair. And I truly think that the only real “answer” for my PPD was time- which makes the idea of potentially facing it again quite intimidating.

I’ve realized over the years that my experience is actually quite common. Yet what is less common is women being truly honest about it. There are so many legitimate reasons why we aren’t, but in the big picture staying quiet about our pain only hurts ourselves & each other. I’m writing all this to try to come to terms with my own experience in the hopes that maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to try again. I’m very encouraged by some friends who have told me that they actually fared far better with their second babies. But right now I’m still scared. I know this time I’ll have the advantage of experience, the advantage of knowing that what I thought was going to kill me didn’t- so if I can survive it once, feeling like that & having NO experience, I can definitely survive it again. Even so, with the state of the world today, it’s hard to be a parent of even one kid, much less more than one. Not that it’s ever been easy, but Covid has without doubt made parenthood FAR more complicated.

I’m also writing this in hopes that if another mom is reading this & struggling with PPD she will know she’s not alone. I’m here to say that if you don’t like the newborn or baby stage too much- because of PPD or other reasons- it’s ok. It does NOT make you a bad mom. If you have moments- maybe more than you’d care to admit- when you regret your choice to be a mom or fear you’ve made a mistake, it’s ok. You will survive, things will get better, & you are not alone. If you want to roll your eyes every time someone says “Oh, I’m so sad my baby is growing up” or “She’s getting too big, I’m not ready,” it’s ok. You can roll your eyes right along with me & silently (or not so silently) cheer every time your baby becomes more independent & learns something new. It’s ok! Some moms love the newborn, baby, & toddler stages. Some don’t. Either way is ok. We all have our own experiences & they are all valid.

Also it occurred to me last night that the fact that my kids will be at minimum 6 years apart in age- IF I ever have a second one, that is- really shouldn’t surprise me. It’s far more common to have kids 1.5-4 years apart but since when have I done things the “normal” way? I got married young (at 22) which was not unusual for my upbringing but IS unusual in the greater scheme of things these days. Furthermore I married my high school sweetheart which, while “traditional,” isn’t exactly the normal thing to do anymore. I left my hometown & never moved back which certainly isn’t unheard of but also isn’t the norm for most people from that area. I could go on & on but in many ways in life I have not done what “most” people have done, though I’ll be the first to admit I know folks who have strayed far further from the “normal” path than I have. But the point is it probably shouldn’t surprise me that I’m choosing to approach motherhood a bit differently than many others. I must also take the time to note that because we got married young I have the advantage of not HAVING to rush into motherhood because my biological clock isn’t ticking but so loudly (yet). I realize not everyone has that advantage & I am grateful that I do.

So will I ever have another kid? I have no idea at this point. Part of me feels like I just can’t go through all of that again. But part of me also feels like I’d really like another shot at it, that I’d really like to give my daughter a sibling & all the experiences that come with that, that I’d really like another baby to love & teach. But the truth is I’m just not sure I’m up to the challenge. This has been weighing heavily on my mind this year & frankly if it weren’t for Covid, I’d probably have been ready by now. But Covid makes parenting SO much harder & there is absolutely nothing I can do about that. Part of me wants to wait until the dust settles a bit more, but I also fear that may never happen & I’ll be left regretting my indecision someday.

So yes, right now I wish I had a different brain. I wish I didn’t feel the need to plan things so much. I wish I could just go off birth control casually & “see what happens,” like so many women seem to do. I wish I didn’t CARE so much about doing everything right & could just throw caution to the wind & say “Oh well, I’ll figure it out when it happens.” But my mind doesn’t work that way, it just doesn’t. And that’s all there is to it.

The Perfectionist Conundrum


How do you define yourself? What are the main characteristics that encompass who you are? Is it a strong work ethic or athletic, musical, or artistic talent? Perhaps generosity or courage or fortitude? For me it’s always been my intelligence & my kindness. Throughout my whole life the main feedback I’ve ever received from the world, be it teachers, family, friends, coworkers, or managers- whether said feedback was solicited or not- has always been, “Oh, Rebekah? She’s so nice. And very smart.” Or something very similar to that. Now there’s nothing wrong with that & I’m certainly not complaining. Whether intentionally or not, these are the ways I’ve defined myself too. But I’ll confess I’m having a bit of an identity crisis right now, precipitated at least partly by two events that have occurred in the past 24 hours.

First, when I was coming home from work yesterday I stopped to get gas. As I was finishing up at the pump, a man approached me with a sob story about how he & his pregnant wife needed money to fix their car to so they could get back home to Charlotte. I was suspicious of his story, partly because I’ve heard this same story from other people quite often in my life, but being the nice person I am, I couldn’t say no seeing as I DID actually have cash with me & I COULD actually afford to part with some of it. I ended up giving him most of the cash I had because he was so persistent. He didn’t even say thank you, just moved on to the next pump saying “I need 7 more dollars, 7 more dollars.” I left feeling a bit used, I’m not going to lie. And yet, I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I’d either lied & said I had no cash or just refused to give him any. I know this is a very complex issue & in many cases I have given homeless people food or water rather than cash, but on the chance that this man’s story WAS true, food or water wasn’t going to fix the problem, so that wasn’t really an option here. Even if he was in fact lying, I can’t help but feel that he must have had SOME kind of need or he wouldn’t have been begging from strangers.

I am always happy to help when I can, so in the end I don’t regret giving him the money- I really don’t- but I DO have to wonder if I have some kind of sign on my forehead that unbeknownst to me proclaims “CAN’T SAY NO- WAY TOO NICE!” And if so, how the hell do I go about removing that “sign” without actually becoming a cold-hearted mean person? After all, I have long since learned how to draw boundaries at work & in my personal life so that I’m not constantly being taken advantage of there. In reality, that would be a much bigger problem. Even so, in situations like this where I don’t actually feel threatened but do feel a bit pressured, I can’t seem to find the guts to say no. Hell, once I had a man approach me at a gas station saying something creepy along the lines of “Hey, if your husband doesn’t appreciate you, I can” all while leering at me lecherously. As angry I was, I was so shocked that all I said was “Have a nice day.” In my head, once I drove away, I was saying much worse, believe me, but in the moment I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t formulate a better response. What I suspect is that I’m giving off some kind of vibe where these types of men somehow KNOW that & that’s why they approach me in the first place. Actually, I shouldn’t say men because these things have happened with women too. And I find it even harder to say no to them!

Now obviously if I saw the same person every day telling this same story (or a very similar one), naturally I would not continue giving them money. I am not Jeff Bezos or Oprah here, after all! I cannot fund every crisis I encounter. It’s just hard to be a kind person in an often cruel world, so often wondering if you’re being taken advantage of & yet unable to live with yourself if you say no to someone who may in fact be in real need…

As a side note, these are the stories I always want to scream at people who tell me that I’m such a terrible, uncaring person because I’m not a socialist or communist (as if the only way to have compassion is through the government- please, give me a break!) I always want to scream “You don’t know anything about me. You have no idea how many times I have given my time & money to help both friends & strangers in need.” But usually I just clam up & let them rant because it rarely feels worth the effort.

The second thing that happened to provoke this identity crisis is that I wrecked my car on the way to work this morning. Thankfully it was nothing too serious & I wasn’t actually injured- I’m just a little sore & psychologically torn up. Most importantly my daughter wasn’t with me. Furthermore the only major damage to the car was a flat tire & a small dent, the latter of which isn’t worth fixing. My husband was able to come remove the car from the ditch & change the tire so that I could get home & try to spend the rest of the day recovering so that I can make it to work tomorrow. But the whole thing has left me feeling like a total idiot. I mean, for someone who has spent her whole life priding herself on her intelligence & rational decision-making, going off the road & ending up in a ditch feels like an incredibly dumb thing to do (because it IS an incredibly dumb thing to do)! Being a perfectionist is hard because even when everyone around you says “It’s ok, it’s just an honest mistake, it happens to everyone,” your own brain won’t let you off that easily. And I’ve always had this terrible anxiety that if I weren’t such a perfectionist about everything, my whole life would fall apart, like that’s the only thing holding me together or keeping my life “on the tracks.” So when I make a mistake like this, I’m left feeling like: A. “I’m not as smart as I think I am or as people so often tell me I am.” Or B: “My life is going off the rails! How could I slip up like this? What is wrong with me?”

I’m sure this is just part of getting older but I’m left wondering how we are supposed to define ourselves when the things we’ve always been defined by feel somehow wrong or invalid. I’m also sure that after some good sleep I’ll probably feel much better, both physically & psychologically. But one thing I’ve learned over the years- albeit slowly- is that the only way to really move past something is to just face it, to allow myself to feel every emotion I’m feeling rather than telling myself “I shouldn’t feel this way. This is stupid. Just move on.” None of those things are helpful. I’ve found that the best way to actually “toughen up & move on” is to be weak for a moment, to cry when I need to, to scream at the universe when things feel unfair. Otherwise I’m just creating a powder keg that will inevitably explode in a much more unpleasant & hurtful way later down the road.

I think one mistake many people make, perhaps women more than men, though I could certainly be wrong about that part, is that we often allow the world around us to define us. I know I am guilty of this at times. The truth is that we have to learn to define ourselves in a world that so often seeks to box us in or to make us conform to pre-arranged identities. Fighting against that is hard & when we inevitably fail to live up to our own standards at times, we have to learn to forgive ourselves but still keep trying.

So I guess I’ve written all this to say, I forgive myself. I want to do better- I need to do better. But I won’t accomplish that if I spend all my time berating myself for not being perfect.

So dear perfectionist brain, take a “chill pill.” It’s going to be ok.

An Ode to Mediocrity- Or Is It?


If you know me, you know that I have always been, & likely will always be, a perfectionist at heart. An over-achiever. A bit OCD, if you will, but not to the point of having the TRUE disorder. So it should come as no surprise to hear that I got into nursing with the goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. I saw it as the cheaper way to become a doctor (or rather something similar enough to a doctor) since I had a full scholarship to nursing school. And I had no problem working as an RN for several years in order to get there. Initially I thought “Ok, I’ll do 3-5 years as a bedside hospital nurse & then I’ll go back to school.” Well, five years went by & the unthinkable happened: I decided to become a mom! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that for many years I said I never wanted children. But somewhere around age 25 or 26 I changed my mind. Believe me when I say it wasn’t a flippant decision either. It was something that happened gradually & that I put a monumental amount of thought into- if anything TOO much thought, as I am often known to over-analyze things.

Anyway, around that same time in my life, I realized that becoming an NP just didn’t interest me that much anymore. It’s not that I didn’t/don’t think I was/am smart enough to do it- I had/have no doubt in my mind I could do it if I wanted to. Many doctors & NPs I’ve worked with over the years have told me I’d be a great NP, just as they’ve also told me I’d be a great ICU nurse- but I’ve never wanted that either, for a variety of reasons. The simple truth is I realized being an NP just wasn’t what I WANTED anymore. Now, five years later, I feel even more strongly about this issue. The longer I’ve been a nurse, the more I realize that I don’t agree with certain things that the medical system teaches/does, so being an NP would put me in way too many ethical dilemmas that I don’t want to have to face. Furthermore, as a mom of a small child, I don’t want to take call overnight & on weekends. I don’t want to come home & have a mountain of charting to do. Simply put, I don’t want a job that follows me home & dominates my life 24/7. I had enough of that experience when I briefly did nursing management & I realized that life it is NOT for me. Or at least it isn’t at this stage in my life. Obviously I can’t predict how I may feel in ten or twenty years, just as I didn’t predict I’d eventually want to become a mom (ok, deep down, I knew I’d probably change my mind on that but I fought against it for a long time, believe me).

I know plenty of women my age (& younger) who have gone back to school when they have young children, but I for one cannot even begin to fathom the stress of doing that on top of having a young child. Maybe I just find motherhood more stressful than some women do. Or maybe I just value my own happiness too much. But if there is one thing I’ve learned in a decade of nursing it’s that life is way too short to be anything but happy as much of the time as we can. As someone who struggles with anxiety & depression & OCD tendencies, the last thing I need is to overload my life with too many things going on at once. I’m in awe of those who are able to do it & seem to not just survive but actually thrive. But I know my limits. And I’m not pushing them. Plus, if nothing else, there is no age limit on when I can go back to school if I do decide to pursue that path someday. It’s not like you can’t get a master’s degree in your 40s or 50s (or older)! On the other hand, my daughter will NOT be young forever. Someday she will need me a lot less than she does now. Trust me when I say that I look forward to that more than maybe I should some days. But at the same time I refuse to give up time with her now when I know she is still very much in her formative years. To be clear, I’m not judging anyone who chooses a different path than I have. We all have different personalities & needs, as do our kids- this is just what I’ve found makes sense for ME.

As much as I love nursing, some days I actually dream about becoming a high school English (or maybe even history) teacher. I would love the chance to grapple deep subjects with young minds. But as with being an NP, there are so many things I disagree with about the modern education system. The idea of doing lesson plans makes me cringe. The idea of enforcing dress codes makes me cringe. Furthermore, I’d probably get fired for choosing books almost entirely from the various banned books lists (keep in mind the Bible is on many of those lists so it’s not as narrow of a range of books as you may think). Not to mention there is the sad fact that I’d be making considerably less money as a teacher than I do as a nurse (even working part time). And I’m not going to lie, I don’t want to take a pay cut, especially since I’d have to pay to go back to school to pursue such a career.

What I’m getting at here is that I so often find myself as odds with “the system.” I’m a great rule follower when it comes to following protocols for things like starting an IV, inserting a foley catheter, taking a BP, etc. That kind of stuff is very evidence-based, very tangible. But there are other part of our medical system that are not so evidence-based, in my opinion, but are still done because they benefit the system itself (or the various pharmaceutical companies) or they’re just “the way it’s always been done.” Anyway, on a similar token, if I were a teacher I think I’d be great at getting kids to have in depth discussions about serious life matters. But I’d probably be horrible at some of the more practical aspects of teaching, like lesson plans & grading homework.

I guess what I’m saying is there are so many things in life I think I could accomplish, but there are so many hoops I’d have to jump through, so much unnecessary red tape to battle, that I find myself for once in my life being satisfied with what some might call mediocrity. Being a part time outpatient nurse, partly because the schedule is beneficial to my husband’s career (meaning I’m more available for our daughter when he sometimes isn’t), is certainly something I would have called mediocre a decade ago. But you know what? I’m happy! I don’t mean I never feel sad or disappointed or scared or anxious. Trust me, in truth I’m naturally a bit of a melancholy person. But overall, I am very content with my life. And if that means having a bit more of a traditional role than perhaps I envisioned for myself, so be it. After all, it’s not like I’m stuck at home all day every day. It’s not like I do all the housework while my husband does none. No way! I could never stand for that, as I mentioned in my last blog post. The way I see it is I get the best of both worlds & if that means I’ve settled for mediocrity, for once in my life, I am content with that.

I’m not really sure what the point of all this was, other than to settle my own overly analytic brain. But that’s a point in & of itself, is it not? Anyway, if your life hasn’t turned out quite the way you imagined, if you’ve made different choices than you thought you would, even done things you said you’d never do, just know that you’re not alone. And as long as you’re happy with your choices, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. After all- no one else’s opinion is paying your bills or raising your children. No one else has to sleep with your conscience at night.

In conclusion, I never thought my life would lead me where it has now. Actually, maybe that’s being a bit more dramatic than is strictly necessary. But the point is, my life hasn’t followed the trajectory I would have predicted years ago, nor the trajectory many folks who knew me as a child or teenager might have predicted. But I am happy where I am, & I’m learning that the destination truly isn’t half as important as the journey along the way. I don’t say that to make excuses for bad decisions either. I say that because I’ve realized that it’s ok to change your goals, it’s ok to be something or someone different than you were in the past or than you pictured yourself becoming. If something you once thought would be mediocre (or even lame) makes you happy now, embrace it. True mediocrity, in my opinion, is refusing to be flexible, refusing to adapt to the stages of life. True mediocrity is not doing whatever makes you happiest & most fulfilled.

And based on that definition, I don’t think my life is mediocre at all.

And you never know- maybe I’ll run a book club someday & that will fulfill my fantasy of being an English/literature teacher without having to deal with “the system” & all the red tape it entails!

Pandemic Panic


This is going to be brain vomit because I’m working with a limited window of time here but I feel like I need to write SOMETHING for my own sanity. I don’t know about you but this pandemic, this whole year, has been absolute HELL for my anxiety. The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized that I have a baseline anxiety that really is a double-edged sword. It’s a big part of what makes me so driven & hard-working but it’s also the main reason why I struggle like hell to relax. Oh yeah, if curse words bother you, this might not be the post for you. Now that I’m in my thirties I’ve realized life is far too short to censor myself just because some people are “sensitive” over something as silly as four letter words. Please- be offended by poverty, by war, by child abuse, by systemic racism, by famine. If a WORD offends you, I kindly ask you to GROW UP.

Ok, sorry, that was an unexpected rant but ANYWAY, I guess I am just tired. I’m tired of coronavirus. I’m tired of masks. I’m tired of social distancing. I’m tired of society being so damn polarized about everything. No matter what the issue is, it seems that most people cannot find any middle ground. Or at least that is how the news media & social media paint things. In real life, I think many people are far more reasonable but social media & the news bring out the worst in us & seek to divide us further. I’ve about had it with all of it. As a Libertarian I am so tired of being told I’m too conservative for the liberals & too liberal for the conservatives. On almost every issue I find myself at odds with a huge portion of my “friends” & many of them are quick to tell me how terrible I am because I don’t agree with them. To those of you who can have rational conversations, thank you. You give me hope. I just wish there were more of you because I am becoming more & more cynical by the day & I know it isn’t healthy for me.

There isn’t any real point to this post other than to say I wish coronavirus were gone. I wish there weren’t an election this year. I wish I could wake up & know that I could hug my friends again without igniting fear. I wish the world weren’t so divided & so busy calling each other racists & sexists & fascists that no one can have an actual conversation of substance. I wish I could just have faith that everything will be ok & that normal life will someday, in the not too distant future, resume. But frankly I don’t have that faith right now. I see this going on for a very long time. I fear that my daughter will never have a normal school experience because of this virus. I fear that my anxiety will continue spiraling when just a few months ago, before all this started, I had it under better control than I had in YEARS.

I don’t miss being a kid. Or a teenager. Not at all. Let’s be real: my anxiety was already an issue back then so it wasn’t like I was the stereotypical carefree kid. Ha! Nope, not me. But right now I’m kind of tired of being an adult too. My anxiety isn’t even the “normal” kind that involves dreaming up every worst case scenario for everything. When it comes to a lot of stuff, I’m surprisingly chill. My anxiety has more to do with never being able to truly RELAX. My brain is just always going, going, going, like the damn Energizer Bunny. One of the reasons my husband & I connected so many years ago as teenagers is because we bonded over the realization that we both had this same “chattering squirrel” inside our heads that never shuts up or lets us fully relax. It sucks- plain & simple, it just sucks. It’s why we are so successful in so many areas of life but it’s also why we aren’t much good at enjoying that success.

This has been a very rambling post & I apologize that it is probably poorly written & may not offer much hope. I sincerely try not to pour negative energy into the world because there is way too damn much of that as it is. But I’m just not feeling a lot of positive energy these days so it’s hard to give that off. But I will share some songs that are serving as a lifeline for me these days. They give me hope & allow me to let off steam when nothing else seems to work. If you too are struggling, I hope they’ll do the same for you.

Times are Hard by Redlight King

You’re Not the Only One by Papa Roach

Come Around by Papa Roach

Get Up by Shinedown

Nostalgia


Well, it’s safe to say I haven’t blogged in so long that I honestly don’t even KNOW the last time I blogged or what it was even about. Pretty sure it’s been long enough that I can confidently say this is my first blog post of 2020… Shameful compared to how I used to be but hey, that’s life with a three year old. Anyway, since we are truly living in historic times right now I figured what better time to break out the old blog?

I don’t know about y’all but my anxiety has definitely taken a turn for the worse the past few months. Initially I was actually scared of the virus, not so much of getting sick myself but of bringing it home to Rachel. Additionally I was terrified that going to work was going to become the war zone it did in Italy & Spain (& to a certain extent in NYC too). To be brutally honest I’ve never been so glad that I left hospital nursing after Rachel was born. But if things do get really bad here it is possible I could be sent to the hospital to help. However, I am grateful (for many reasons) that that scenario is continuing to become more & more unlikely.

Anyway, as time has passed & it’s become clear that this virus isn’t nearly as fatal across the board as initially feared, my anxiety has become more about being terrified of being indefinitely quarantined. Plus I’ve been losing hours at work which means more days at home with a very spirited three year old. In some ways I’ve loved this extra time with her. But let me just tell you, when you can’t even take a three year old- one who LOVES the outdoors, by the way- to a playground, that is ROUGH. Yes, we’ve taken lots of walks & played in the yard, but this kid misses going to the park. She also misses going to the gym & playing in the kids’ room & even just going to WalMart & Aldi. Probably more than anything she misses my parents. I am so grateful for video chats because those have a been a lifesaver for us. Even so, being on quarantine with a three year old is NOT easy.

Furthermore, as a Libertarian this whole situation has been incredibly challenging for me. Obviously as a healthcare professional I want our decisions to be based on science. But the more I’ve read & learned about this virus, the more I fear that many decisions are being made based out of fear & to achieve political goals. Even though I know it’s probably “better to be safe than sorry,” there is a part of me that just cannot help but be very uncomfortable with the idea of this indefinite quarantine for all. It seems like far too good of a way for certain groups to usher in socialist/communist policies as the “only solution.” But that’s a whole other blog post for another day…

What I’m really trying to say today is that all of the craziness in the world right now has made me, perhaps for the first time in my life, truly nostalgic for what was ostensibly an easier time in my life. For better or worse I have never been someone who spends too much time thinking about the past. It’s just not something that appeals to me. On the other hand I probably spend too MUCH time thinking about the future. I’m well aware that I would be a much happier person if I could live “in the moment” a lot more. But it’s just something I really struggle with & probably always will. However, here lately I keep finding myself thinking back on college & missing it in a way that is honestly a little painful. I guess one reason I’ve never dwelt on the past very much is I’ve always felt that was a sign that you aren’t happy with your current situation. And it’s always seemed really sad to me to constantly look back on the past & say “Oh, man, I wish I could go back. Those were the best days of my life.” I mean, how depressing is that? If any time in the past was the best time of my life, then what do I have to look forward to? You see what I mean?

Yet here lately I cannot help myself from having random memories from college cross my mind, things & people I haven’t thought about in ages. I’ve also been listening to a lot of music from that time in my life, even some stuff I hadn’t listened to in years & had frankly forgotten about. I think it’s probably just a sign of how difficult life is right now that I am naturally drawn to a time in my life that was simpler, or at least SEEMS simpler in retrospect. Because, you see, that’s the thing: nostalgia is always looking at the past with rose-colored glasses, seeing things as easier than they really were at the time because comparatively speaking your current challenges seem so much harder than your past ones- & maybe they ARE. But what we tend to forget is that just because something seems easy now doesn’t mean it was easy when we were facing it.

For example, I could easily look back on grade school & think “Man, I didn’t have a care in the world back then.” But I know that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was never a very happy go lucky child, truth be told. The kids who made fun of me & all the fears I had about never being accepted at school were SO BIG to me at that time. Those things might not have had great consequence on my life as a whole, but at the time they were MASSIVE. So yeah, objectively the challenges I face as an adult, particularly as a parent of a toddler during a worldwide pandemic, are probably harder. But wishing I could go back to childhood isn’t really a solution because the challenges I faced then felt just as overwhelming at that time- even if maybe they “shouldn’t” have.

I guess the beautiful thing about college (& the reason I find myself so nostalgic for it sometimes), especially the first two years before the chaos of nursing school set in, was that it was the first time in my life that I was truly free to explore the world on my own: any ideas, any music, basically anything I wanted. That kind of freedom was something I’d been longing for my whole life. And it was intoxicating, more intoxicating than any alcohol or drug could ever be– perhaps that’s why I’ve never been much of a drinker or had any interest in drugs. Just having that freedom to explore the world- I don’t mean so much travel as just exploring ideas & ways of viewing the world- that was enough for me. It was also the first time in my life I overcame my natural introverted tendencies enough to reach out & make new friends & build a true group of friends. It was the first time I felt truly accepted by a group of people for being nothing more than myself. It was the first time I didn’t feel like I had to underplay how smart I was or be fake in any way to try to fit in with a group. And the truth of the matter is I’ve never been able to recreate that kind of friend group since college. I am incredibly grateful for the few really close friends I have, one of which predates college, even high school, partly because I now realize how rare it is to find someone who you can stick close to despite the challenges & distance that adult life brings. But I still miss that feeling of being part of a group. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with Friends last year…

Anyway, all of this thinking about college of course makes me realize how “fake” it all was in some ways. That wasn’t the real world. It wasn’t a place I could stay forever. Part of me can’t help but be sad about realizing that too. Furthermore, the fact that I’ve lost touch with some of those friends- who at the time I thought I’d be friends with forever- is a bit heart-breaking at times. I know it’s just real life, & logically I know it doesn’t diminish the connection we had at the time. I guess what it all comes down to is something I’ve had to realize a lot over the past few months, particularly with reducing my hours at one job in favor of taking another one. The truth is that just because something is great doesn’t mean it has to last forever & just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t great while it lasted. I keep coming back to this truth over & over again the past few months but I’m not entirely sure it’s getting easier to accept. Maybe it is. It’s something that I feel like is so simple, & yet it’s also so incredibly hard to accept. I’m not sure why. Maybe for some people it isn’t. But for me it is. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m married to the first man I ever dated. I don’t know.

I guess I’m just saying I miss the newness of everything in college. I miss some of the (cautious) optimism I had about the world. I’ll be the first to admit that almost a decade of nursing has made me a bit cynical, though to be honest I’m not sure that has as much to do with being a nurse as it does with just being an adult in general. And I’ll admit that sometimes maybe I let that cynicism get the best of me. Perhaps that is particularly true now that we’re facing a true worldwide crisis.

I guess I hate being nostalgic because it forces me to admit that I’m not totally happy with my current situation. Or at least I’ve always assumed that’s what being nostalgic HAS to mean. But maybe that isn’t true. Maybe it’s ok to be nostalgic sometimes, especially during a time of crisis. (Frankly at this point I’m just nostalgic for being able to take my kid to the grocery store!) Perhaps it’s ok to look back on the past sometimes & miss it. Maybe it doesn’t have to mean we aren’t happy where we are now. Maybe it just means we were lucky enough to experience something good enough to miss.

The Other Side of Being a Mom with Anxiety


I saw my therapist last Monday for the first time since Christmas & it was so therapeutic that I left there thinking “I’m never skipping a monthly session ever again.” It was amazing how I could feel months worth of tension easing so much just from one therapeutic session. I also saw my NP last week for my annual physical & she reassured me that being a “Type A” person who struggles a bit with anxiety does present some unique challenges as a mom & that I should never feel the need to compare myself to other moms, especially those with different personalities &/or who don’t struggle with anxiety.

hello-my-name-is-anxiety

I struggle with anxiety, but I’ve found that this blog is a great way to tame the “anxiety monster.”

Anyhow, all that left me thinking about what being a mom with anxiety is like. No, I don’t have crippling anxiety that makes me unable to leave the house or to have a professional job or anything like that. But once I got into therapy as an adult & eventually started Prozac for my anxiety I realized how much anxiety has affected my life for a very long time, dating back to well before adolescence. In fact my blood pressure was actually elevated at times during my senior year of college & my first year after college because of my anxiety. However, once I got my anxiety better under control, especially after starting Prozac, my BP has never been high again (other than when I developed preeclampsia while pregnant, but that was obviously a whole other issue). My point is there are obviously people out there who struggle with much worse cases of anxiety than I do, but that doesn’t invalidate my struggles. Nor does it mean that my story isn’t worth sharing.

anxiety

When people think of moms with anxiety they probably think of the mom who can’t stop worrying about her child, who is obsessed with incessant “what if” scenarios: “What if I’m in a car accident with my child?” “What if he falls & hits his head?” “What if she chokes on that piece of popcorn?” Or the mom who runs in her child’s room every hour to check that she’s still breathing. While I’ve certainly had those moments as a mom- I think we all do- that really isn’t how anxiety affects me as a mom. I’m actually remarkably “chill.” For example I’ve never been a worry wart about germs. If my child eats something off the floor (at home anyway) or after the dog licks it, I just shrug & say “She’s building a good immune system.” When she was a newborn I rarely ever felt a compulsion to check her breathing while she was sleeping. Even when she had her tonsillectomy earlier this year, I was remarkably calm.

touched out

The ways anxiety affects me as a mom are a bit different. For example, I get touched out really easily. When your toddler routinely uses you as a jungle gym, this can be quite trying! As a devout introvert, I fall apart if I don’t have enough alone time– which is why nap time is so incredibly sacred for me- & also why I could probably never survive as a true full time SAHM.

Anxiety also causes me to feel like whatever stage I’m in as a mom will last forever. When my daughter was a newborn & she breastfed CONSTANTLY I felt like I was going to lose my mind because I just couldn’t imagine that things would ever change. (Talk about being touched out- breastfeeding a newborn is the ultimate way to get touched out. Ha!) Now that she is a toddler thankfully I have the knowledge that I survived that crazy period of her life so I have the reassurance that if I can survive that- which at the time seemed like it would never end- I can survive anything else she throws my way. But even so when she is in the midst of a tantrum it is very difficult for me to remember that this too is just a phase- & that it too will pass.

introverts cats

Anxiety also causes me to constantly feel inadequate as a mom. I talked about this in my last post, but I look around & see all these moms who seem naturally “gifted” with babies & toddlers & I feel like I’m an impostor. I’ve always been very honest & admitted that I’m not a “baby” person, nor am I a “toddler person.” As I’ve written in previous blog posts, for most of my life I never even wanted to be a mom, largely because I feared I’d never be able to survive the first five years or so. Eventually I changed my mind & I’m so glad I did, but I’ll be the first to admit that I highly doubt the baby/toddler years will ever be my favorite. Yes, I will have loads of wonderful memories from these stages- I already do- but I truly believe I will “come into my own” as a mom when my child is a bit older. (I suppose it isn’t “normal” to be so honest about these things but I know that somewhere there has to be a mom who feels the same way as me- & if she reads this I want her to know she’s not alone.)

Frustrated Mother Suffering From Post Natal Depression

Here lately, I’m bombarded by people telling me “Oh just wait, 3 is so much worse.” “If you think she’s difficult now, wait till you see her in a year or two.” “God help you when she’s a teenager if you think THIS is hard.” And every time I inevitably want to slap these people of course. First of all, these kind of comments are so incredibly unhelpful- in fact they’re downright discouraging- & second of all, how do you KNOW that 3 or 4 (or whatever age) is going to be harder for me? As someone who is very logical & pragmatic I think the toddler stage is particularly challenging for me because toddlers are pretty much the exact opposite of logical. Most moms are terrified of their kids growing up & having to discuss difficult subjects like war, sex, & death- but those things really don’t scare me. I know I can handle that stuff. I’m not saying it will be easy- I’m sure it won’t be. But I can handle it. I know I can.

jewish proverb

But these tantrums? The blood curdling screams- not to mention the kicks- every time I have to get my child dressed? Of if she doesn’t get the exact food she wants at the exact second she wants it? Whew, this stuff is hard, y’all. I’m not rushing her growing up, I promise I’m not. I’m just saying this toddler stage is really hard for me. I know it’s not easy for any of us, of course it isn’t. But my anxiety has definitely been on an upswing since around the time Rachel turned two. And the last thing I need is for anyone to tell me “Oh, it only gets worse from here.” So please, the next time a mom tells you she is struggling (whether she actually says it or you can just read it on her face), take a second & remember that no matter how put-together she seems- or how completely un-put together she seems- you really have no idea how she is feeling on the inside. And the last thing she needs is you telling her things are only going to get worse. After all, her child may be very different than yours. And she may be very different than you. Just give her a smile, a hug, & a quick “You’ve got this.” You might just make her whole day.

tantrum

Just Chill Out, Moms


There is a meme circulating around Facebook these days about how much easier motherhood must have been back in the 1970s & 80s when “all moms had to worry about was remembering to roll the car window down so their kids didn’t breathe in too much cigarette smoke” (or something to that effect).  The author of the post goes on to say how she has spent 45 mins researching what kind of vitamins to buy her kids & how they are going to cost her an arm & a leg but she feels like she has to have the “perfect” ones or she’s somehow going to damage her kids for life.organic food cartoon

I get it, ladies, I really do.  Moming is hard work these days.  Everywhere we turn there’s some new post or ad telling us “you need this” or “your kid will get cancer or die if they have this.”  But the truth is motherhood has always been hard.  And frankly we are making things so much harder on ourselves because we buy in to the hysteria about having to be perfect about every little thing.  Do you think the average dad is anguishing over whether his kids are eating all organic non-GMO food or using phthalate free body wash or taking the perfect blend of vitamins?  Um, no.  Ladies, why are we doing this to ourselves?  Being a mom is hard enough as it is.  I for one refuse to obsess over every tiny little thing, thereby making my life even more difficult- & far less enjoyable- than it already is!

 

mom cartoon

We have enough to worry about as moms.  Let’s stop adding to it by obsessing over every tiny detail.

Here’s the thing, y’all: we are all going to die someday.  As a nurse I have lost count of the number of times I have seen people die.  It’s just part of life.  Am I saying we should give our kids sodas & McDonald’s on a regular basis?  Hell no!  I believe it’s very important to feed our kids a healthy diet to help prevent early-onset diabetes & all the other myriad health problems that come with obesity.  But obsessing over everything being organic, non-GMO, etc, etc- give me a break!  I for one don’t have the time or energy (or money) for all that.dont compare

At the end of the day, this is what I know: my child is loved & cared for.  We read books to her on a daily basis, usually multiple times a day.  We take her on walks around the neighborhood so she can enjoy some fresh air & get some good old fashioned Vitamin D.  We feed her a reasonably healthy diet (probably very healthy compared to most kids but by no means perfect).  We take her to the doctor for her regular check-ups & make sure she’s meeting all of her developmental milestones.  She has a loving sitter who cares for her on the three days a week that I work.  While she’s there she gets to play with other girls around her age which is teaching her a great deal about socialization.  She sees her grandparents on a regular basis & has built a loving relationship with them.  At the end of the day, these are the things that matter.  These are the things she will look back on some day & be grateful for.  What more could we want?  everything kills.jpg

If nursing has taught me anything, it’s that life is way too short to be unhappy.  And I for one cannot be happy if I am obsessing over every little ingredient in every product I buy or torturing myself over what kind of multivitamins I give my child.  I don’t have the time or energy for that.  As someone who has struggled with anxiety for years, I find it very ironic that people frequently tell me I’m such a “chill” mom.  But I am (most of the time- trust me, I have my freak out moments like anyone else) because I know life is way too short to obsess over things that aren’t going to matter in the course of a lifetimecourse of a lifetime

Moms, if I have one piece of advice for you, it’s this: just chill out.  Hug your kids, give them a kiss, & stop worrying so damn much.  

“Am I the Only One?”- Mom Edition


Hello, moms of the world.  Does anyone else feel like they just don’t relate well to babies & toddlers?  I love Rachel with every fiber of my being & there are some things I absolutely love about this age (18 months) but I also have to admit that sometimes I really struggle.  The tantrums are starting &- just like she did with her screaming fits as an infant- she reserves the vast majority of them for me.  I know in some ways this is a compliment because it means she is most comfortable with me.  After all, even as adults we typically save our “tantrums” for our spouses or significant others because they’re the people we feel the most comfortable with & we know they won’t just kick us to the curb even if we aren’t our most lovable.  But it’s still hard, especially since I’m a very logical, pragmatic person & babies & toddlers are anything BUT logical & pragmatic.motherhood not for sissies

Sometimes I just can’t help but look at other moms & feel like I’m on the outside looking in at all these women who just naturally know how to relate to babies & toddlers, meanwhile I’m over here like “I have no idea what I’m doing.”  I know that we all struggle some days & no one is actually perfect, but I constantly hear moms say how the first few years are the “best times” & I just can’t help but feel like that isn’t going to be true for me.  Trust me, I LOVE my time with Rachel.  I am in no way rushing things.  I know I will have loads of wonderful memories from these early years (I already do).  Yet I just can’t help but feel like my time to really blossom as a mom is going to be when she’s a bit older.  And is that really so horrible?  I don’t think so.outsidelookingin

Trust me, I love watching Rachel explore the world around her & find so much joy in the simplest things like twigs or leaves or blades of grass.  I LOVE it.  But I also can’t wait to be able to take her hiking in the mountains & to concerts & to really explore the world around us in a more adult way.  I know she’ll lose her “innocence” as she gets older & while that is hard to accept I think it’s worth it because she’ll gain so much more.  And is that really such an awful thing?  I think not.Anxiety mental health symbol isolated on white. Mental disorder icon design

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.  My anxiety likes to convince me that I’m crazy & that no one else feels like I do, but logically I know there have to be other moms out there like me- even if we are the minority.

Reflections of a New Mother


Six weeks ago today baby Rachel entered this world!  So much has happened in those six weeks, so in a way it seems like a long time, yet in another way it seems like no time at all.  I know all new parents say this but it really is hard to imagine my life without Rachel now that she is here.

The last two days have been pretty rough (although the past two nights have been great), so I thought it would be therapeutic to share some of my reflections on motherhood thus far.me-and-rachel-penguin

  1. Being a mom is incredibly hard.  I always knew it would be; I was never naive enough to think this would be a walk in the park or all fun & joy.  Of course not.  But you just can’t understand how truly difficult it is until you do it.
  2. Motherhood is full of extreme emotions.  On any given day I cycle between extreme love, joy, devotion, fear, anxiety, frustration, & a whole gamut of other emotions.  This is all totally normal of course but it is exhausting at times to feel like an emotional yo-yo.
  3. That being said, the extreme joy & love truly do make up for all the more “negative” emotions.  I always worried that moms said that just because they felt they had to but it really is true.  Trust me, I’ve had moments when I’ve wondered if I made a mistake in becoming a mom.  And I’m sure I’ll have more of those moments for the rest of my life.  But the point is those are just moments.  They don’t last forever.  me-and-rachel-fire
  4. Taking care of yourself is absolutely imperative to surviving motherhood.  This is just one of many reasons that being a single mom (or dad) is clearly not how parenthood was designed.  I’ve quickly learned that it’s essential that I eat a reasonably healthy diet, drink plenty of water, spend some time outside, listen to music, take a shower, read a little here & there, & generally do all the things that help keep me sane.  My mantra these days is “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  In other words, Rachel needs a healthy, sane mommy & that means I need to take care of myself every bit as much as I’m taking care of her.  Which feeds right into my next point.
  5. Being able to take care of myself is largely dependent on my husband’s support.  I know every mom says this but once again it is so true: I’ve never loved my husband more than when I see him with our daughter.  When he changes her diapers, pushes her stroller, wears her in the baby carrier on his chest, & cuddles & kisses her my heart truly melts.  Furthermore, when he does the dishes or the laundry or cooks me dinner I want to kiss his feet.  Parenthood is definitely meant to be a two person job.  I never doubted that but now that I’m living it I can attest that it is 100% true.daughter quote
  6. Moms are the most giving people in the world.  I can’t say thank you enough to all the wonderful ladies who have reached out to me for encouragement & support over the past six weeks.  Y’all know who you are & you’re all amazing.  I hope someday I can encourage other new moms the way so many of you have done for me.  Seriously, THANK YOU!
  7. Breastfeeding is hard.  Like woahhhh.  To be honest, it’s actually not been physically painful the way I feared it would be.  However, it is still very demanding, both mentally & physically.  While I was pregnant I set two breastfeeding goals.  My ultimate goal was/is to make it a full year, but I will be perfectly satisfied if I make it to six months.  My minimum goal was to make it to six weeks, & I’m happy to say that as of today I’ve fulfilled that goal.  Woohoo!  I haven’t made it this far without a TON of support & encouragement though.  It’s truly been a team effort in so many ways!  There have been so many days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel & I’m sure there will be more of them, but knowing I’ve already made it this far will hopefully continue to encourage me on the difficult days.breastfeeding-cartoon
  8. Being a mom with anxiety & OCD tendencies is hard.  Thank goodness for a fantastic husband, a great mom, some dear friends, a wonderful therapist, & Zoloft.  And music.  (I switched from Prozac to Zoloft about 3 weeks ago at the suggestion of Rachel’s pediatrician because Zoloft is considered better for breastfeeding.)  Even if you don’t have a history of anxiety or depression or any other mental health issue, don’t be afraid to seek help as a new mom.  I think EVERYONE could benefit from a few sessions with a good therapist & no one more so than us frazzled, sleep-deprived new mommies.
  9. As much as I love Rachel now & am enjoying many things about the newborn/baby stage, I still very much look forward to her being a little older.  I know most moms say they miss the baby stage & often yearn for those days, but I seriously doubt that will ever be me (at least not often).  I’ve always said I prefer older kids & teens, & I still think that is true for me.  Trust me, I am not rushing anything.  I am enjoying (most) of where we are right now.  But there is a part of me that still can’t wait for the day when I can have real conversations with her, even about the hard stuff like death, sex, war, etc.  Yes, I’m crazy, I know, but I really do look forward to that day.  I also can’t wait to take her on hikes & to concerts & share the joy of all of those things with her.  It might make me weird, but I don’t think it makes me a bad mom to say that I will probably love being a mom even more as she gets older.motherhood-quote
  10. There is absolutely no room for comparison in motherhood.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: motherhood is not a competition.  Some moms breastfeed, some use formula, some do both.  Some moms make beautiful baby books, some don’t.  Some moms decorate a perfect nursery, some don’t.  Some moms co-sleep, some don’t.  Some moms wear their babies, some don’t.  And some babies will sleep through the night or learn to walk/talk faster than others.  The point is none of these things makes one mom better than another.  We are not competing against anyone.  Some moms seem like they have it all together while others of us are just happy we took a shower & did a load of laundry today.  As for me, I’m never going to be the mom who pretends she has it all figured out.  I think the world could benefit from more candidness.  The truth is my house is frequently a little messy (& it was like that long before I became a mom; I just have a better excuse now), I’ve shaved my legs a grand total of twice since I gave birth, & sometimes I hate breastfeeding.  I’m not “perfect” but I’m doing the best I can, & that’s all any of us can do.  At the end of the day if mom & baby are healthy & happy that’s all that matters.  Everything else is just details.
  11. Being a mom really is the best thing I’ve ever done.  End of story.  🙂

I’m not sure this song totally fits with the post but I discovered it last week & I’m in love with everything about it so I’m going to share it anyway.  (Yes, I’m still listening to “heavy” music.  Thankfully Rachel seems to like it!)  Check out the lyrics below:

I’ve always been a fan of the night life
‘Cause it’s the only life I had
Expressing my mind with paper & a pen playing my guitar
‘Till my fingers bled on the carpet
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
It wasn’t easy being rejected by the thing I wanted so bad
To be accepted, to be wanted
To wake up & say this is gonna be a good day
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
More than your word
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born just a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
I got sick of it
I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it