Spiraling

January 22nd, 2013

I had a rough couple of weeks there where I was positively WEEPY about Allie being the Last Baby, after all of the Done declarations and sadness and I can’t even go into it anymore, because oddly, it passed. I think it was hormonal, seriously, because I remember going through a Dark Time right around the same age when Sam was an infant. Six to seven months, man. It’s like the silent postpartum killer that I really don’t remember hearing about. Is this a thing you’ve heard about? I mentioned it to a few people and there were many nods of agreement that oh yes, six months is a time when everything goes to shit, hormone-wise, particularly women who are breastfeeding.

For me, I think it coincided with a dip in night nursing — Allie started sleeping longer stretches at night (sometimes all the way through, please don’t tell anyone I said that), which meant that I was no longer a milk machine all night long, with the oxytocin and other happy hormones coursing through my veins and . . . yeah. Sam was similar, although there was no sleeping through the night to be had. More like, ah, sleeping through more than two hours. Which was awesome, don’t get me wrong, and shockingly provided similar results.

The thing is, there will always be a Last Baby, whether it’s this baby or another baby, and all the babies turn into children before you know it. It’s not like a third baby makes babyhood last longer — it still goes just as quickly, and it still doesn’t last. Babies become toddlers who become kids, and honestly, I can’t say I have any issue with the advancing of time so far, at least in terms of the results on my children. Yes, it’s sad to not have a baby anymore, but Sam is so awesome and fun and funny that I don’t even think I would go back if given the opportunity. I am hopeful, at least, that the same will be true for Allie, and that Sam will continue along a trail of awesomeness that makes me happier and happier each day. I keep remembering that we don’t even know who Allie IS yet. She’s just starting to tell us, and that’s pretty exciting.

(Ask me again when they’re 13.)

I have also come to the conclusion that kids are kind of like raw cookie dough. It’s impossible to stop, and it’s impossible to know that you’ve had too many until you’re nauseated and sweaty and wondering how things suddenly got this way. Not that it happens that way for everyone! I’m not saying everyone overdoes kids! I’m saying I think that’s what it would be like for me. I wouldn’t KNOW it was too much until I was weeping from . . . chaos, I guess. And I don’t REALLY feel like anyone is missing. I feel like everyone who is supposed to be here is here. When it was just us and Sam, I knew someone was missing. I KNEW it. I looked in the future and I saw the three of us and a blank space where, if I’m totally honest, another little girl was supposed to be.

And now she’s here. It IS right, even if I get a sad, biology-driven urge to have All The Babies, I can’t, and deep down, in my logical brain, I don’t actually want to.

ANYWAY, so then, instead of focusing on having another baby, or the Last Baby or any of that crap, I have REDIRECTED my anxiety on The Future, which involves budgets! And FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS! And just . . . EVERYTHING. I keep tweeting about line item after line item that I’m slashing. I am going WHOLE SLASH on everything, and honestly, I think it’s a good thing, even if my efforts are from a slightly insane place. I think. Although how I would know is beyond me.

I have spent a lot of time fretting about my house in Florida, too, which is also a good thing, as I declared this the year that we would finally come to some sort of closure on how to handle it without wanting to kill ourselves softly. I’ve also a lot of things that have always existed, but have somehow reached Paramount Importance and now that we’re not having any more children, it is time to FACE EVERYTHING and get our lives in order, and while some of this is healthy, I believe I am taking it all to a new level.

Basically, I am still working through this postpartum hormonal dip from hell, is what I’m saying. But have I ever mentioned that I am a HUGE fan of cognitive behavioral therapy? Well, I am. And what I like about it is that it focuses on stopping the wild spiral and focusing on what you can control, usually in the very immediate future and what would make you feel more in control RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Or you know, in the next few weeks. Baby steps, really.

It also helps that I have been through this anxiety spiral before, and I know what it is, and that it isn’t normal me, and that while yes, some stressors are real, they are likely FIXABLE and the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket, and hey, Jonna, what can you do TODAY that will help you achieve peace on these issues? Besides staying medicated, which I am. And also realizing that this will pass.

I highly recommend CBT if you’re an anxiety-prone person. Truly. Coping mechanisms are important.

I’m making it sound like my life is a miserable death spiral. It isn’t. It’s just that this is THERE, lurking in the shadows, coming out to play at the least opportune moment, like, you know, when you want to go to sleep.

On the positive front, the one thing that did come out of this is that I want to take on a few freelance clients again. I miss it. I miss that small part of me doing something thinky and non-child-related to keep perspective on you know, being a human outside of a mom. It was a nice seven months, but it’s time. And I think I can say that comes from a relatively sane place, because I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

Well! It’s, ah, time to try to go to sleep. Thanks for listening. Writing it out always helps.

*Erasure

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Entry Filed under: Alex the Grace,Beeber McSteebs,Teh Second Baby,The anxious anxiety

39 Comments Add your own

  • 1. craftyashley  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 12:01 am

    That was lovely. Thank you.
    I do feel all weepy about last baby. But I’m also so busy and stressed with the ones I have, I could not add more and expect anyone to be happy. And this is our year to get our ship running smoother. Post house sale is such a nice place- join me?

  • 2. Erica  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Okay, seriously. You are my last hope for two-girls-is-plenty. And honestly, the other day I saw all four of our winter coats piled up and thought, “Yep, that’s us. We’re good.”

    There will always be a Last Baby and look what great Last Babies we have right now.

  • 3. Veronica  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Yes, the six month mark is hell. I’m medicated again now after a long time not. So much hell.

  • 4. Melissa  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Every single feeding dropped led to a kind of psycho me. I remember screaming at my husband over a lone sock in front of the tv when S started sleeping through the night (me – the person who is mellow and unaffected by things like stray laundry, dirty dishes, and abandoned toys for the most part). I am POSITIVE I had never yelled at him before. He was stunned. When she dropped her last feeding (11 mo) I thought something was terribly wrong with me. It took me a week or 2 to make the connection every time!

  • 5. Elissa  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I felt similarly for the couple of months before I weaned (12-14 months, or thereabouts). I felt that baby longing and sadness and wanting to stop the clock or turn it back (not totally and not with the rational part of my brain). But once we got through weaning I felt so much calmer about it and was able to enjoy the relief of neither of my kids being dependent on my body. And I really started to feel at peace with the idea of being done. There will always be a small part of me that wants another, but a much bigger part is enjoying sleeping through the night and focusing on the kids I’ve got. All of which is to say you may have another round or two of this to go, but it sounds like you are in a good place.

  • 6. Hillary  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 9:40 am

    A friend of mine introduced me to the concept of cognitive therapy just after college and it changed my life. Completely. I still worry and get anxious — that seems to be my default setting — but I don’t get so overwhelmed that I can’t function.

    My son quit nursing at six months and I was a wreck. I got laid off from my job right about the same time and I thought that was the cause of my wreckiness, but perhaps it was a combo deal, because wow was I a mess.

    Good luck with your spiral. It certainly sounds like you’ve got a handle on it.

  • 7. Cherie Beyond  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I will someday need to email you about CBT. The thought of therapy makes me want barf but I, uh, yeah. I’ll email you someday.

    *whistles off into the distance*

  • 8. melaniek  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I need to some googling of this CBT because I am probably the poster child of a good candidate. My last baby is just a few months shy of 5, my first “baby” turns 8 in 3 months and I’m having a bit of meltdown about it myself. I think its because my Allie starts all day kindergarten in the fall and that means my life isn’t defined anymore as a child’s full time care giver. I gotta be honest, it scares me. Not enough to go get preggo again, because I know my limits, but enough that I haven’t let my husband go and do anything permanent because “I’m only 34!! If I wanted too I could totally do it again” but its so dumb because I’m not going to do it again, so why is this door so hard to close? I know I have roughly 6 months to figure out what’s next. I know I dont want to go back into the boring world of accounting that I was in prior to my son being born, because the school day is long enough and I want to be here to send them off and be here when they get home, and DANG IT I want to be here during the summer… and man does that make job options SLIM. At any rate, this long rambling comment is just my way of saying, I feel your last baby pain. Mine just seems to have come much later. *hugs*

  • 9. Mary  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Yes, six months was when I needed medication. Who knew? Also, I totally get the last baby thing. I always thought I wanted all the babies,too. But now I just want the kids I have to be babies AGAIN for maybe a day. I do not want NEW babies (44 years old here, was 36 and 38 when I had them). I am convinced the first six weeks of babyhood would kill me and I need my sleep. I remember never wanting my son to get bigger (still don’t) but once I had my daughter I couldn’t wait to see who she would be and who they would be TOGETHER. They are awesome. They have each others backs, they take good care of each other and nobody makes my son laugh harder than his sister does. Also, I know everyone is talking about being sick. I remember those days where it was illness after illness. But let me say the older they get the less they get sick, when they do, they can hit the toilet or the bucket. Score! I love your writing and hearing about your beautiful babies. Thanks!

  • 10. Jennifer  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I wanted that third too. For eight long years I waited. I finally have her and we are crazy about her, but it’s been harder on my husband and my marriage than I expected. I may have even commented on this before here, but he was terrified no matter how many babies we had, I would always want just one more. He’s totally right. I always will. BUT there has been a cost and I thinks some people are hesitant to admit it.
    Congratulations on your family.

  • 11. Rachel  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Yes to all of this. I totally weaned Leah a few weeks ago (we were down to morning and night because pumping at work wasn’t for me, and it was really just all about me at that point) and it was…rough. I would say for 2 weeks.

    Also, I just said the other night, there will always be a last baby, and they grow up and become willful 2 yr olds (just kidding, i love my willful 2 year old). I am just forcing myself to slow down and really soak in her babyhood and enjoy. I feel this way even though I honestly don’t think me or my husband could be more sure about not having more kids. I have honestly never been more scared of getting pregnant than right now (crazy, i know), but i know that a 4th would more than put me and my marriage over the edge. Like a previous commenter said, 3 has been hard, harder than expected We love her to pieces, and I am feeling much more optimistic about life now that she is getting a little older (things were bleak for a little while), but it has been just plain hard – physically, mentally, etc. However, i had to do it – i looked at our 2 kids and just KNEW that someone was missing…and that someone turned out to be my little peanut Leah. I feel such a sense of completeness – and like you ready to move on and tackle some larger projects/goals with the house, career and running.

  • 12. Christine  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I have no kids so can’t comment on the last baby or 6th month phenomenon. BUT I can tell you that for people who want all the babies, you can become my mom (opened up her own day care business run out of a local church – that we don’t belong to – at 50) OR my friend’s mom who at 50+ is still a foster mom (she’s adopted three of her fosters and currently has twin 16 month old babies who I want to swallow whole).

    So, yeah, it’s probably just hormones, but if it isn’t you have options! (On top of having your own pregnancy and babies…natch).

  • 13. Christine  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    PS – hope you’re feeling back to normal soon. I tend towards depressed instead of anxious and even when I know what I’m experiencing and know that there will be an end in sight – it’s hard. xoxo

  • 14. Jessica  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    As much as I would love, love, love to not work, I think it’s really good for me that I do. Sure, it ties me down a bit, but it keeps money worry at bay and I enjoy it.

    I completely forgot about the hormone dip when babies slow down on nursing, and while Elise hasn’t yet, at least I might understand it when it happens.

  • 15. Pam  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Long time reader, first time commenter :) your kids are adorable, and also how would one go about hiring you?? Or at least telling you about this editing project one has…

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  • 17. Gaby  |  January 24th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    My best friend is a doctor, and she and I have discussed the six month mark with regard to breastfeeding–it seems that right around then the body regulates supply to coincide with baby getting into solids. She and I both experienced a marked drop in supply, but for women with oversupply, it would probably result in less but not too little. With that change, I definitely saw a change in my mood–a little more frantic and anxious. At nine months, I am feeling better, happy even! And finding myself feeling nostalgic for pregnancy and babies, which HA!Hahaha! Not for quite a while, that stuff.

    Interesting that, like you said, people don’t talk about this apparently common time post-partum.

  • 18. Sarah  |  January 24th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Oh so timely. I just weaned our *last* baby and I’ve been a bit of a wreck about it for some time. Not that I want any more babies, but it would be so easy to accidentally have just one more…and who knows if it would stop there. I loved the cookie dough analogy. :) I think you’ve summed it up perfectly.

  • 19. HereWeGoAJen  |  January 24th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I hate our house in Florida. It’s just always there, in the back of my mind.

    I am afraid of getting to the last baby. I don’t know what I am going to do after that. And I mean that very practically. Like what will I DO when there are no babies on my lap all the time? (Right now, he’s chewing on the inside of my arm.)

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  • 24. MaggyD  |  January 25th, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Oh, my. I was so worried about the post-weaning slump. My first was 15 months and still nursing when I went away for a week. I took my pump but forgot the horns. I drove two hours round trip to get them. One of the counselors (I was the camp nurse.) said that he was worried I was going to go wacko on them. And I was worried, too. As it happened, I was only as crazy as camp normally makes me. (Honey, you’re 17. You can learn to swallow pills.) Boy the first nursed for another year. (I know.) Boy the second nursed for a good two and a half years until I pried him off. I tried to wean slooooowly so that I would stay on an even keel. But, man, did I miss that oxytocin hit.

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