Our second child, our son, was born on his due date, Friday, September 23rd at 7:06am. He weighed 8 lbs 2 oz and was 20 inches long. His older sister, who is 2 and 9 months old, had been doing a great job with the adjustment. There are highs and lows but overall, this is a beautiful time.
… Kind of sucks. Growing a human is beautiful and I can’t wait to meet this little boy, but oh my goodness this is so much harder than the first time.
I’m 34 weeks pregnant and we’ve been going through a heat wave here in NYC, with lots of hot, humid days with a heat index above 105° F. I’ve never been a summer person, preferring cool weather or even a rainy or snowy day to the clear skies with the burning sun.
So this summer, with the heat wave, the third trimester, and the challenges of parenting a toddler… I’ve felt a bit like I’m melting to pieces. Many times it’s all I can do to get through the hour or the day. Tears seem to fall more easily. I go to sleep when my daughter does most nights, spending 10 hours in bed, and often still want a nap.
I’m getting better at managing, though. I’ve been frank with my husband about the support I need, lowered my expectations of myself, set an earlier start to my leave (less than 3 weeks to go!), built more rest and refreshment time into my days, and also spoke with my doctors and increased my anti-depressants. All of this is helping, and I’m feeling more stable and ready and in control. We’ve made it to mid-August and there’s just a little summer left.
One day soon, I will walk outside into a cool fall breeze, holding my new baby and watching my toddler and husband play, and it will be beautiful.
I haven’t written much this past year. I wrote a post nearly a year ago about returning to full time work (from the part time schedule I’d had since my daughter was born), and I think the strain the full time work has put on me is a large part of why I haven’t written much. It’s not only more time away from my daughter, but it’s also just a stressful job – without a doubt the hardest job I’ve ever had!
When I’m not working, I want to be with my daughter or vegging out or out with my husband. I just haven’t had the mental energy to write, which saddens me because I value writing as an outlet and a way to stay connected with others online. And there are things I could have written about, like how hard I find parenting a toddler to be, the horrible night terrors my daughter had, the 3 month long menstrual cycle I had after having my IUI removed, how that ended in the briefest of pregnancies that ended during a major product launch at said stressful job, or how I got to starting a 4 day/week schedule last week.
But of all the updates I could share, I’ve been nagged by not having written yet about one thing in particular – we have a baby boy due in late September!
This pregnancy has been more exhausting and trying than the first was, but it’s hard for me to say if that’s the pregnancy or the fact that I’ve already got a toddler who demands near constant attention from me. Now that I’m 18 weeks along, the exhaustion, emotion, and nausea of the first trimester have somewhat subsided and I feel the baby move sometimes, so I’m feeling more excited.
Our daughter has been pretty amazing with the news so far. Our nanny is pregnant too, due in July, so there’s a lot of pregnancy around her. She loves babies, whether real or pretend. She likes to care for them and tickle them and talk about them. She’ll be 2 years and 9 months when her brother is born, so we expect sharing the attention will still be tough on her, but she’s so into babies and learning about them that we think that will help a lot.
I can’t wait for our family to grow and to share some stories from the trenches as we raise 2 little ones in NYC!
It’s the end of the day on Friday, and I’m on my way home following my first week at a new job. It was not just my first week here, but also my first week back at full time work. I feel so many different emotions over this transition.
I am very excited and happy about my new job. I think I made the right choice. There were stresses at my old job that were making me very unhappy, so I decided to see what else was out there for me. And I found that there was quite a bit. I was upfront in my interviews that one of the things I wanted was work/life balance and that a flexible schedule was important to me. I was pleasantly surprised at how many companies were willing to work with me on that.
After much consideration I accepted an offer to work at the one company where my department head would be a woman. She is a C-level executive and we have several things in common. I’m really excited to work with her!
So when I’m at work things are great. When I’m at home and my daughter is up I like to focus on spending time with her, and that’s great too.
When I’m commuting… That is the worst right now. I find myself with time to think about what I missed of my daughter during the day. And I just want to be with her Right This Minute!
She is handling it all pretty well though. And the new income has made it possible for us to rent a new, big, clean apartment – we just got the lease and will get the keys next weekend! The income should alleviate our financial stress, and the home will provide a new comfy refuge that home has not been for me lately (we’ve had a serious cockroach problem). And I’m learning new things and getting new opportunities. Taken together, these things should help a lot with our general happiness and put us in a better position for baby #2 down the road, so that I can hopefully spend more time with our children again when we get to that milestone.
It’s Saturday morning, and I am on my work laptop. The last two days I have been at the office, working hard as one of my staff is leaving, and while I am eager to focus on family again, there are a few nagging items I can’t get out of my mind. I send off a few emails, interrupted here and there by my toddler who is hungry for breakfast.
I get my daughter dressed in her bear suit so we can run some errands. We head outside in the late morning, her bundled in her stroller and me wondering how navigating the snowy sidewalks will be today. I am relieved and happy to be done with work and spending time with my daughter, experiencing our weekly reconnection day after my time away. I am getting ready for a party and I need to stop at the grocery store and the bakery.
I have all 4 stove tops going – pancakes for breakfast, bacon, broccoli, and pasta for the mac and cheese I will bring to the party. My daughter is alternately playing on her own and clinging to my leg as I work. My husband is sleeping after a late night out with friends. I peek in on him to tell him breakfast will be ready soon and ask him to help out.
Our daughter is dressed and ready to go and I have packed up the stroller with the cake and mac and cheese. The party has already started and we are not yet out the door. My husband is moving slowly, his body showing how drained he feels.
“Do you have to go?” he asks. We embrace and I feel him curl into me, how genuine his pleading for me to join him in staying in our nest, ignoring the world and its demands together.
I had wanted for him to accompany us to the party, but I decide not to push, instead asking if he still wants to go out after. We had arranged a babysitter and were planning on a date, but I could tell he was in the mood to stay in. “I don’t really want to do anything at all,” he says, confirming my suspicions. I understand all too well how he is feeling – the sense that any effort at all is too much, that nothing could be rewarding enough to make it worth it. It’s not true, of course. But I know how true it can feel, when you’re there, in that place.
I pause. “Let’s at least get dinner, just the two of us,” I say. “We can always come home afterwards.”
As I push the stroller around the building and roll it up the stairs, careful not to wake my sleeping toddler, I hear the buzz of the party inside the building. The voices of adults mingle with the squeals and cries of children. I open the door and enter the space, looking around at the gathered families. Here are my daughter’s best friends, my best mom friends (though the “mom” qualifier is no longer needed), and their spouses, all gathered together to mark the occasion of our children’s first birthdays. It is a room filled with love and support, I know, and yet as I enter with my sleeping child I can’t help but feel a bit alone.
I roll the stroller with my daughter to a spot in the back, where she is somewhat removed from the din but we can see when she wakes. With a sigh, I note that I am 45 minutes late for a 2 hour party. After getting settled, I snap a picture of my sleeping daughter, and send it to my husband.
“So far, she is sleeping through the party. Your daughter, much? ;)”
Once she wakes up, she is a joy. We have some food and talk with our friends. Then we all get together for a group photo of the moms and babies. As we laugh and smile and look at any of the many cameras in the hands of the many dads, I know that this will be a picture I will cherish – we will capture a moment, but it will call to mind so many more, of emails and texts and afternoons together in the park or indoors, of home cooked scones and pot luck dinners, of watching our children make their first friends, with each other.
During the group shot with the fathers, a few of us step out of the frame. My daughter and I run back and forth in the large space, enjoying the music.
Someone who generously watched my daughter in addition to their own just the day before returns a sippy cup that I had left behind at their house. My daughter wants to drink from it, and I let her carry it, then lose track of it again in the sea of children’s things that is our celebration of ten 1 year olds and their moms and dads.
We are cleaning up, putting away furniture and sweeping the floor. The babysitter has picked up my daughter and is on her way to our apartment. I have messaged my husband, but heard nothing. I guess that he has fallen asleep and will wake when the babysitter arrives. I make the most of the time, chatting with the friends who remain and helping out. A boy, the older sibling of one of my daughter’s friends, brings the sippy cup to the mom I am standing next to. She tells me he thought it was hers because her daughter was drinking from it too.
“No worries,” I say as I put the bright pink and yellow cup in the pocket of my oversized coat, thankful at this moment for the coat and its large pockets. The coat is too big and not very flattering. I wore it last winter when I was in my third trimester, and I continue to wear it now so that I can close it around my daughter and I when she is in the wrap. It has dried finger paint on the hem from my encounters with not-quite-dry toddler art, and crumbs and specks of food from her snacks in the wrap. It is, as my boss put it, a “mom coat.” I probably should get a nice fitted coat for myself, but I just couldn’t bring myself to invest the money and time in the hunt for the right winter coat this year. I am not focused on that part of me. I am a mom first, and everything else after. It’s how I want it to be.
My pace quickens as I see my husband walking towards me on the street. I feel weird, like a train off the tracks, as I walk towards him without our daughter in sight. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve gone out without our daughter in the 14 months since she was born. As the two of us draw closer, I am giddy with happy memories – a decade of dinners for two, conversations both deep and light, games and trips and weekends in.
We embrace excitedly, sharing a big hug and a kiss, even though we’d just seen each other a few hours earlier. I lean into him as we walk, an extra skip in my step. As we hold hands and chat about where to go for dinner, I am relieved to hear more energy in his voice and feel more strength in his walk.
We choose to eat at Le Cheile, where we had our first dinner out as a new family of 3 a little over a year earlier and where we have been since many times, instead of Saggio, the fancy but cramped Italian restaurant where we ate our last dinner out as a childless couple. We are creatures of habit and comfort, and they have delicious mozzarella sticks.
I sit on a bench in the park, my legs awkwardly stretched in front of me on the deep blanket of snow. My husband sits across from me, helping me light the joint I just rolled as we talk about family size and when to have another child. I am enjoying myself, and I tell him so. It feels nice to be able to focus on each other and not worry about what our daughter is up to.
My throat feels dry, and I think a drink would be great. Then I interrupt our conversation – “I’m about to have a very mom moment. Are you ready for this?” I ask as I reach into my pocket and pull out the sippy cup. “Want some water?” I ask, thinking of all the people involved in making this drink turn up in my pocket on this particular day.
I smile, feeling immense love as I talk with my husband.
What a great day.
After my last significant update from October, I lost some momentum. There are a lot of reasons why, but suffice it to say I went through the holiday season in a state of grasping for things to make me feel good.
Do you know that feeling where you start eating cookies and you can’t stop until they are gone, because with each one you think “I’ll stop after this one” and then “but it tastes so good” and “just one more” and before you know it you’ve had a thousands calories and untold grams of fat, and all just for 10 minutes of enjoying the deliciousness? And you feel as though you can’t stop yourself, that it’s a compulsion really, but there is some quiet voice in the back of your head saying “well you could fight it” and the rest of the voices just sort of tilt their heads to listen to that one and then just shrug and say “too tired to fight it…”
I felt that way all too much in the last few months. And I don’t really feel the energy and strength to pull out of it now. But I’m trying – at least. I’m trying to break the changes I’d like to see in myself into very small steps. I know with each small step I can feel a little more proud, a little stronger, and a little more in control. Whether it’s 5 minutes of meditating or getting up within the first two snoozes, I think the little changes are the first steps. Now, to take those steps…
What a summer it’s been. Every year I brace myself as June comes along and announces that hot, sticky weather won’t be far behind. For me, with it comes extra transit delays due to track work and more time waiting in stifling subway stations. I also inevitably find myself jealously listening to other people’s vacation plans and stories, and wondering when we’ll get our finances and lifestyle in place enough to take trips ourselves. And to make it worse, I miss the convenience of having multiple outdoor rinks around the city where I can fit skating in at least weekly. I struggle to exercise as much, and start feeling sluggish. So I tend to think of a summer as a long hot slog through three months and I just bear it enough to get through.
This year, I remember thinking that maybe it won’t be so bad, that I need to try to enjoy it.
But, unfortunately that would not be so for me. This summer, my Husband and I:
Returned home from a pleasant walk on a Saturday afternoon to find our apartment had been burgled and 3 laptops, 2 of them work computers, had been stolen
Commenced an apartment search planning to finally move from our starter apartment that we’ve been in for 6 years, only to determine that we could not yet afford to move somewhere better
Worked overtime every week, feeling stressed and overwhelmed that we could not get things done in the timeframes asked of us
Learned of a family member’s struggle with cocaine use
Supported our family as they faced another eviction proceeding, which ended in us coming to the rescue with 1-2k that we’d been planning to use to book an anniversary trip, our first non-family-visit vacation since our honeymoon 5 years ago
Fought a tiresome battle with our CEO to get Husband’s freelancer paycheck in time to help our family close that eviction case
Fought another tiresome battle to get a review that was promised to me for 3 months after job start, and has still not been completed as we reach month 9
Experienced 2 painful cyst ruptures despite being on birth control which is usually prescribed to prevent cysts from forming, and
Had one breakdown that ended in doubling my dose of Prozac after months of carefully reducing it as part of a plan to try to reduce my meds before trying for baby. Now I’ll wait 3 more months and then try to reduce the Wellbutrin instead.
Now, there have been some good things happening – we are on track to finish paying down 2-4 of the debts we’ve been carrying for years, we’ve both gained tremendous experience in our jobs, and Husband is successfully charging over 20% more for his freelance work than he did just last year. Once he actually gets paid for that work, I’m sure that will feel good.
I turned 28 last weekend, and I’ve been thinking a lot. We need a change. I need a change. I feel as though inertia and lethargy have settled in, and I can barely stand it anymore. I want to start fresh, to move somewhere new, decorate our living space as the adults that we are instead of the college kid that I was when we moved here, start taking vacations, saving a nest egg, exercising and eating healthier, planning for a family, and enjoying life more. I’m trying to muster what energy I have to make that happen.
Perhaps this Fall we will get ourselves solidly on that path. I sure hope so.
Tomorrow members of my family will face the housing court judge who will decide whether to grant them an extension to pay or to unequivocally move forward with eviction. Considering that the three of them live in a bronx apartment that costs less than $1000/ month and they’ve been there over two decades, this is extremely distressing. You can’t house 3 people for 1k in many places here. It’s unheard of, and it’s only because of rent control that they pay so little. Once they are kicked out, they will have to pay going rates.
Now you might say, why do they need to live in NYC? Can’t they move somewhere cheaper? I don’t see how though, because none of them can drive or afford a car, and 2 of them are disabled so there’s no chance of learning to drive. The only places I can think of that aren’t in the city but allow a person to meet their needs without a car are assisted living facilities or in downtown locations of other cities, but neither can house 3 people for under $1k, as far as I know.
So, where does that leave them? I wish I knew.
Meanwhile, it’s not easy to pay our own rent, and the hot water disappeared again yesterday and isn’t back yet. We pay about $1.1k/month for the privilege of living in an apartment (near the subway at least, albeit the end of the line) that has been burgled twice in 6 years and, lately, loses heat and/or hot water about 10-25 times a year.
And still I know we are lucky in some ways, as there are Americans who have it worse. Americans who live in slums, shacks, trailers, and homeless shelters, who despair at the prospects of a jobless future, who cannot feed their children.
What a luxury it seems to be worried about deficits and taxes.
It was another hard week, one that brought a second set of impending eviction hearings against my extended family, news of a family member’s coke addiction, my second painful ruptured cyst in as many months, and an unexpected motherboard failure of my husband’s trusted computer, which he depends on for his freelance web development work. By week’s end I felt so gloomy it was hard to imagine a positive future, and I was caught in my head with worries of infertility, homeless relatives, and a continued struggle to meet basic needs like rent.
But these problems were not only mine but my husband’s too, and he was struggling more than I with fear and distress for his family. I knew that he needed me and even though he was there for me, I didn’t want to be another source of worry and energy drain for him. I resolved to do all that I could to get stronger.
On Friday, I went to the kindle store and searched for self-help books on dysthymia, depression, and addiction. I found some that seemed to be approaches I am comfortable with and downloaded samples to my phone. And I began reading.
I found that just having the books added to my sense of control. I am doing something. I am educating myself further about the current guidelines for what works and what doesn’t. And I will use this information to craft a lifestyle that keeps my dysthymia in check.
As I read through the introductory chapters, I found it comforting to be reminded that my lack of activity and energy is not because I am a failure, a slob, or a lazy bum. Rather, I had fallen into a vicious cycle that affects many. I am not alone in this, and there are ways to manage it.
One thing I read in many places is the beneficial effect of regular exercise on both neurochemistry and hormone levels. I’d not been exercising (beyond walks) since the end of the skating season, and I felt like a failure as I continued to neglect exercise. But reading these books motivated me to try and to start simple. So on Saturday after our walk I fired up the Kinect and played Kinect Adventures until my body was tired.
That little act was very powerful in it’s effect on me. I felt more in control because I’d successfully gotten myself to exercise, my body felt better because the muscles were active, and my brain felt better because the exercise released dopamine.
And I can’t believe that much time has passed. I love the job and am still so grateful for the opportunity. I actually enjoy going to work most days and I am really excelling. The company is having a strong year and I believe I’ve been a big part of that. The environment is so much better for me – I feel accepted and comfortable and valued.
I’d even thought about ending this blog. After all, it was originally an exploration of school and depression, research and science, and life in academia as a woman scientist. I’m no longer in school, academia, research, or considered a woman scientist professionally.
But, that doesn’t mean the themes of my life aren’t similar. I still struggle with dysthymia, and I’m still in a male-dominated industry. I’m still a young woman figuring out herself and her future. And I still enjoy the outlet of blogging and the companionship of other bloggers (although I’ve mostly been a lurker lately).
So, I’m still here. And I still have things to talk about.
I’ve wanted to start a family for many years now. The time is nearly right, and I’m glad I’ve waited through our struggles with money and career. A few months ago, we started decreasing my antidepressants. Following my friend’s suicide last fall I had spiraled out of control, and it took many months to feel better again. During that time we changed my medication, such that I was on both Wellbutrin and Prozac. It helped me feel alert enough to go to work mostly on time and feel aware in the mornings. It felt like the cloud lifted and my head was clearer.
Then I started the new job in January, and I felt energized and motivated. Also, my students did well and finished the skating season fabulously, earning an invitation to skate at the end of year gala with Olympians, where I shook Evan Lysacek’s hand and watched him give a $100,000 donation to my organization.
So earlier this year I began talking to my doctor about planning for a baby, and we started tapering off my meds. We started with Prozac because Wellbutrin had been the more recent addition and had helped a lot. We dropped the Prozac from 40 mg to 30, then to 20, and things seemed ok. So we dropped it to 10, and then planned to start reducing the Wellbutrin.
But somewhere around then things degraded. The increased stress and long hours of the new job had started taking their toll on me. I began crying too often and worrying and sleeping too much. The doctor said we had probably dropped it too fast, and we upped it half a pill, to 15. That was about a month ago.
Work continued to be stressful even as I enjoyed it and felt proud of it. Night and weekend work that had seemed like a temporary measure dragged on. I got a summer intern which relieved some of the pressure, but the work kept increasing and that wasn’t enough. We won more and more work from new clients, and the projects I led went extremely well, but I was getting worn-down.
The last few weeks I noticed increasing negative and repetitive thought patterns, and I found myself crying alone quite a few times. Finally, on Thursday about a week ago, I got so upset during the work day that I dashed to the bathroom so no one would see as the tears started. I finally had broken down, and I called my husband and told him how much I’d been struggling.
It was disheartening to reach that point, but it forced me to see that I must change something now to prevent a full relapse of depression. I saw my dr that eve and told him how I’d been feeling, and he said I sounded depressed and increased the Prozac back to 30. I talked to my boss and told him that I could not keep working nights and weekends, that there had to be an end in sight for that. Then I worked from home the next day and rested over the weekend. The next week, I forced myself to take full lunch breaks and go home at a decent time. And I took all my meds.
It’s been about 9 days and I’m starting to feel better. I want to keep writing, and focusing on my health and sanity. Maybe I’ll even stop lurking and let some of you know that I’ve been reading.