Monday, September 22, 2014

Microblog Monday: Flushing Out The Edema

On Sunday, I spent the whole day with my feet propped up and drinking glass after glass of water, trying to flush out the swollen feet and ankles that occurred after an entire day of being the guest of honor at my baby shower. After 80 ounces of water and, what feels like, as many trips to the bathroom, I am still concerned that I won't fit into my last pair of work shoes today!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sprinting the Marathon

I returned home from the professional conference, one time zone away, on Saturday night. From last Wednesday through this time, I had spent over 8 hours per day in lectures and professional luncheons and practice sessions. I spent the evenings making professional connections and connecting with old colleagues and friends. I slept in a hotel bed without my now beloved pregnancy pillow. It was both high intellectually stimulating and emotionally and physically exhausting.

Sunday morning, we were up and heading out for the day to spend time C's sister and her family while her husband graciously replaced the car breaks. I spent the time connecting with their 6-year-old who is notoriously shy and difficult to engage. This made it all the more precious that she became a chatterbox when it was just the two of us, playing Legos, and I sat back and let her take the lead in the play. We didn't get home until later that night, just in time for me to wash my entire maternity collection (just over a week's worth of clothes) to prepare for the coming week.

By Tuesday, my sister had arrived in from out-of-town to help prepare for the shower this upcoming week. I would work as a psychologist over the day and then come over to a house-guest and more preparation work in the evening. There was no down time. It was lovely to see her and spend time with her, but she liked staying up late to talk and bond.

Tonight, my best friend from graduate school arrives in from out of town for the shower. We are taking them out to dinner after work to celebrate the success of her IVF (11 weeks on Saturday!!!!!). Then Saturday I will be up early to finish ready-ing the house, decorating, and preparing the final food options for the party. The party is expected to go into the night and there will be several more house-guests staying over until Sunday.

Last night I completely melted down. C made one snippy comment that I took too personally and that was the end of me holding it together. I was exhausted and it wasn't over yet. I haven't been sleeping well. My muscles ache and my feet are swollen. There is still so much left to do and yet my body is not cooperative to accomplish anything in any expedient manor. Then I feel guilty that C and my parents are doing a large majority of the work around the house. I feel like a princess and I despise those types of people. I just want to sleep. I feel like an ungrateful jerk, but I would choose sleep over a baby shower and seeing my friend that I haven't seen in several months.

I really need to get better at moderation, pacing myself, and not sprinting through my marathons.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feedback to Time Magazine

As a doctoral-level psychologist and a women personally diagnosed with infertility, your article made me cringe on several accounts and is horrendously offensive to both the infertility and the mental health communities.

Let's begin with the title, specifically the word "crazy." This is not an accurate term used to describe any type of mental illness as recognized by the American Psychological Association or American Psychiatric Association. In reality, this term perpetuates the stigma of mental health that prevents countless numbers of people from seeking and receiving needed treatments. The term is also strongly associated with significant mental health conditions, such as psychosis and dissociative states, which is not what the actual study was focused on.

Additionally, the study did not address the question of "why?" as the title states, but rather looked at a variety factors that may be related to mental illness. The study was strictly correlational, looking at relationships between different variables, and does not, or cannot, claim any causal relationships, including the answer to "why?"

The title is inaccurate and the subtitle, stating that "it's less about the children," depersonalizes the entire experience of infertility. It is as though we could substitute children for promotion and make the same statement, "It's less about the promotion and more about thwarted dreams." No, Belinda, it is all about the children, or lack thereof.

Throughout the article, the language used by the author is insensitive and very reflective of her lack of understanding about the inability to fulfill a basic biological drive that is so interwoven in our society it is inescapable. Women, and men for that manner, do not "let go of the idea of having kids," or "get over that particular life goal." Fertility is not the equivalent of home ownership, getting an advanced degree, or traveling to that one destination on your bucket list. Infertility is a medical disease recognized by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the World Health Organization, among others. As you would not ask someone to "get over" the goal of beating cancer or "let go of the idea" of receiving a heart transplant, it is equally unfair to suggest this from the infertility community. Instead, the appropriate term to use would be acceptance. Mental health professionals can be very helpful in the process of accepting that a disease will not be overcome; accepting that the cancer is terminal, that a transplant is no longer an option, or that a couple will not be able to create a biological child. We do not help patients "get over" these major obstacles, but rather come to terms with the current reality.

There is growing research in the psychology literature, that acceptance is an important factor in mental health functioning across a variety of populations. I believe that this is the underscored outcome from the study, but this message is lost in the sea of inaccurate, insensitive, and stigmatizing wording from the author.

I sent this letter to the Times feedback email. I am not normally one to take a stand, but this article hit too many nerves...

Friday, September 12, 2014


Over the past few weeks, I've noticed a dramatic increase in anxiety with myself. It is usually very situationally specific, but then turns quickly into a near panic attack. Luckily, my coping skills are enough to keep it at bay without becoming full-blown panic, but the sensations are unpleasant to say the least.

I first noticed it last Friday when C was driving us home from a work event during a torrential rain. We were leaving downtown at the same time as a sporting event was getting done, so traffic was bad. The rain was horrendous. My breaks need fixed soon, and I could only focus on this and then having flashbacks to the accident I was in a few weeks ago, which also occurred in a mildly rainy and traffic situation. I made it home by only looking out the side window (so I couldn't see the break lights) and holding on to cars' door handle so hard that my hands were sore the next day.

I had a similar reaction when C was driving me to the airport yesterday. Again, it was during rush-hour and the there was a slight drizzle. I couldn't even maintain a conversation. I should probably mention that C is a very capable driver and I have never been in an accident with him.

Then, last night, I was watching the news and saw the Obama speech and the subsequent commentary on Isis. I began to panic that a) we will be raising a daughter in what is seeming like an especially unstable time in our global history**, and b) I have to fly back home in two days and there are a lot of talks about the possibility of attacks here. Then I began to get immensely panicky that I was in a hotel by myself and desperately wanted to C here to comfort me. Needless to say, it was not my best night of sleep.

I have read that anxiety can be increased during pregnancy. One of my friends actually began taking an SSRI due to significant and unmanageable anxiety. I didn't fully appreciate this until now. Currently, my anxiety is very specific and controlled. I plan to continue monitoring this closely and take action if it starts to generalize or become impairing. In the meanwhile, I'm chalking this up to another lovely symptom of harboring a life.

**As an aside, I have heard that parenthood makes you view world events from a more personal standpoint and I have been questioning my increased sensitivity to the many global crises. I feel like I need a reality check - Is this an especially unstable time or am I being extra-sensitive and forgetting about the similar events in our recent history???

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Problem With Breastfeeding

I came across this article from The Onion, titled New Study Find Link Between Breastfeeding, Always knowing What's Right for Everyone, and it resonated with me.Sometimes ideas are best conveyed in the form of satire.

I have every intention of breastfeeding and I am well aware of the numerous potential benefits that it poses for our daughter's health and our bonding. I have nothing against women who breastfeed or those who do it publicly. I do have a problem with the be-all-end-all message that often goes along with these benefits and the high-and-mighty attitude that some advocates flaunt.

One of my first jobs out of graduate school was working in a Feeding Disorders clinic, treating young children with significant oral aversions and often failure-to-thrive or malnutrition. Not a week went by where I didn't hear the guilt pour out from mothers who attempted to breast feed their babies but, for numerous reasons, were unable to get their babies to grow and thrive. Some infants were incapable of properly latching. Some had such strong reflux or unidentified allergies that they became so averse to the idea of feeding that they refused all attempts at breastfeeding. Some mothers did not produce enough milk. Almost every mother carried around a huge burden of guilt because of the strongly held belief that feeding your baby should be a natural, automatic, and easy process.

In my dealings with infertility, I have become additionally sensitive to the message that anything about our bodies and reproductive systems should be automatically easy and natural. Or that the "natural" method is always the better method and that anything other than this is considered less than. 

Breast feeding is great, and so is natural family planning or getting knocked up the old fashioned way, if it works for you and your child and your beliefs and your lifestyle. But breast feeding isn't the only option and the benefits of breastfeeding don't always outweigh the negative consequences that come from a more challenging experience. For some mothers and children, it does not promote bonding but rather resentment and guilt. For some mothers and children, it does not result in healthier babies. It is not a one-size-fits-all, perfect solution for everyone. It is not always better and the implication that mother's who chose or are forced not to participate in breast feeding are less than or unfit in some way should make us all feel a little unsettled.