Friday, February 29, 2008

Presenting the new and improved Boychen

I mentioned in my last post that Boychen has taken a turn for the cheeful. Here's proof.


Monday, February 25, 2008

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

When the storm clouds of post-partum depression started gathering, a confluence of events conspired to push me over the edge: Boychen reacted badly to his first round of immunizations and there was much crankiness; my milk supply seemed to drop and it's possible he was hungry; the weather took a turn for the cold and grey; we hit the height of the six-to-eight week night colic; and perhaps most importantly R returned to work full-time after an extended period of paternity leave, part-time paternity leave, and Christmas and New Years holidays; then one week after he returned to work, he spent three weeks at a course in Zurich. I would say it was a post-partum perfect storm scenario except that I've sort of vowed never to refer to a confluence of events as a perfect storm scenario. Still. It all sort of went wrong at the same time and once the ball of depression started rolling down that hill it excelerated with alarming alacrity.

By the same token, miraculously, when things started looking up, things started looking up at the same time: thanks to a series of herbal suppliments the milk supply is back up and Boychen seems more content; the weather has been delightful for weeks, these almost kitchy post-card picture days; the Deroxat (Paxil) is clearly doing its job; and Boychen, at just over three months old, has turned the corner from newborn to baby. Those first three months, when the baby is disorganized and struggling to adjust to life on earth, are over and things really have gotten better. Boychen naps. In the house. Without touching my body. He falls asleep fairly easily at night. He's much happier during his waking periods; he can clumsily grasp soft toys and shove them in the general direction of his face. He can be awake on my knee or in his bouncy chair for 30 or 40 minutes without fussing. This is approaching a miracle. It's been a wonder.

I'm enjoying my baby. He's a delight. Imagine that. He's a positive delight.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nice to know it's not all in my head

"You're doing better," Dr. Fantabulous said when I sat down in his office yesterday. It was a statement, not a question.

"I'm feeling much better," I replied.

"I only have to look at your face to see you're feeling better. I'm happy for you.* Are you seeing Dr. FeelGood?"

"Yes, and I'm taking the medication."

"Well, it shows."

* Actually he said "I'm lucky for you" but I know what he meant; it's a common mistake among German-speakers speaking English. In German the same noun, Glück, is used for luck and for happiness and the adjective glücklich can mean either lucky or happy. So when German-speakers turn around and speak English, they often use lucky and happy interchangeably. Later in the appointment we switched over to German because he said his English is no good first thing Monday morning. I love that we can do our appointments in either language, or, as usually happens, both.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Retail therapy

I didn't want to do it; I've been putting it off. But I still don't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and as part of my effort to face the post-partum depression head-on I simply cannot go schlumping about in maternity clothes any longer. I am not naive enough to think that a new outfit and jeans that fit properly are the solution to my problems - post-partum depression is real and serious and cannot be solved with retail therapy and a hot bath - but it is a tiny piece of the puzzle. Catching a glimpse of my reflection and thinking "I can't believe I'm walking around looking like this." Dissatisfaction with the way I look. Mild embarrassment over wearing the same five (maternity) shirts over and over. It's certainly not the root cause of the problem, but it doesn't help.

So yesterday R took the boys on a stroller nap and I went shopping. I dread shopping. My size has crept up over the years and I have a hard time accepting that I am no longer twenty-five with a body that made guys walk across the bar and say "come dance with me." Or hang around taking forever to dance with me even though I thought I was sending out all sorts of hey-come-dance-with-me smiles (yeah, I'm talking about you , R!). And clothes in Switzerland are just expensive, and I'm hoping that I will, eventually, lose at least some of the baby weight; I hate to spend that kind of money on something I plant to shrink myself out of. But it had to be done. I'm not going to let the Paxil do all the heavy lifting; that's why I'm back to seeing Dr. FeelGood regularly, it's why R has found a few hours in his schedule to take Boychen during the week (on days Small Boy is at The Farm or with the Tagesmutter) so that I am completely child-free for an hour and a half, and it's why I'm forcing myself into social situations. And it's why I went shopping. The result? Four tops, a necklace, and one pair of jeans that actually fits.

It's a little thing, but it is nice to feel like I look...good.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Better living through pharmaceuticals

I don't know exactly to what I should attribute the slight parting in the clouds but there is a slight parting in the clouds, the sort of parting that a hopeful person would say augers a change in the weather. Surely the Paxil* that I started taking a week ago is doing most of the heavy lifting though there is probably also a placebo effect as it's a bit early for the medication to really be making much of a difference. Then there is the fact that there has been a literal parting of the clouds: for the past week we've had about ten hours of sunshine a day, beautiful blue sky days with crisp temperatures of 6 or 7 degrees (Celcius). Unabashed good weather, ostentatiously beautiful days. I've been spending loads of time outside, getting away from the narrow Gasschens of the Old Town where the sun does not penetrate and which hold a chill well into the late spring. Walks along the river, up at the Rose Garden, even just kicking a ball with Small Boy around the Grosse Schanze which looms above the city and collects the sun. It helps, the sun, the tall blue skies, the fresh air. But as much as I would like to believe that a change in the weather can bring about a change in my weather, I know perfectly well that right now the Paxil is necessary.

I'm not entirely comfortable taking medication; there is enough multi-generational alcoholism in my family to lift an ordinary degree of caution to levels approaching paranoia in my case. But then again, I'm not at all comfortable with my three year old son telling me that it scares him when I cry, which is what happened two weekends ago, so for the time being the medication is most definitely the lesser of two evils. And I have to say, I feel better. I feel rational. I feel like I can find a way out of this snowstorm. I feel like it won't be this way forever. I didn't cry today, and I didn't cry yesterday, and I feel like I won't cry tomorrow.

Here's how I see it. I'm on Everest and a storm is blowing in, and if I need supplemental oxygen to make it back to base camp then baby, pass the tanks and hook me up. Because somewhere down there is base camp where my family is waiting.

* which goes by the name Deroxat in Switzerland


Monday, February 04, 2008


Small Boy turned three last Wednesday. We had a few of his playmates over for a party - I meant to invite at least two more friends over but couldn't get my act together to do it, which, judging from the chaos we had with just the four of them, may have been a good thing in the long run. Maybe less a party than a playdate with cupcakes and balloons, during which I discovered that my son does not like frosting. Really? A son of mine? How is that even possible? I mean, the only purpose to cakes and cupcakes is to serve as a conduit for frosting, right?

There was playing and running around and some sharing of toys and some less than good sharing of toys. Small Boy was serenaded in three languages - English, German and a solo in Dutch courtesy of Dutch Friend - and there were cupcakes with and without frosting. There were flowers, and presents, and my son turned three. After everybody left we had his favorite dinner - take out pizza with viele viele schwarze Oliven (lots and lots of black olives) - and at bed time he told me "thank you for my lovely birthday." Yes, he actually said lovely.


What's that song? Who knows where the time goes, who knows where the time goes.