Wednesday, August 17, 2016

In Defense of Self-Soothing

Imagine a scene of three children and a mother is reading them the charming "Big Red Barn" book before bed. It's quiet in your scene, I'm sure. Meanwhile, in my reality, Stephen is crying his face off instead of eating. Laura is helping me turn the pages and Grace is reading her own book.

A few months ago (about three, to be exact), if this would happen, my anxiety would SAIL sky high. My postpartum depression did not manifest itself in sadness, but irritability and anger. That kind of crying would send my nerves into overstimulation and I'd shut down and have to leave the room.

Will and I are focusing on my coping mechanisms: food prep, cooking, exercise, sleep, and letting chaos reign. It's okay. Even when it's not.

I remember a friend who, a few years ago, was deeply depressed; but, as a nursing student, she refused to go on medication because she knew it changed her body's chemistry. But she was miserable.

I can empathize to a certain point. Will and I talked about a timeline for me to go off my PPD medication as well, and I talked to my OB and PA about it as well. I can feel the difference. I can remain calm in the face of my son screaming even though his diaper was changed, he was fed, and he was being held. Sometimes, the baby is going to cry. Sometimes, the baby is going to self-soothe, and fall asleep via crying. Stephen just did. It seems magical now to hear his little snores. He was just *so* tired.

Haven't you ever felt like a baby? So tired you just want to scream and cry and eat ice cream and sleep at the same time? It's okay. I ate brownies for dinner tonight, and now that the kids are down, I'll go eat a second course of pork, rice and salad. Some days, ya know? Gotta eat backwards dinner. Gotta be alone and not talk to anyone and relish that.

It's been a long day, as well as the end of Will's "staycation" (he had a few days off of SICU in a row, which made this month bearable). I'm working on school prep and wondering if a calm normal exists, or if life is a giant exercise in self-soothing and juggling. I'm guessing the latter. It has never slowed down in my 28 years alive, and - if anything! - kids speed up the process. They also help you appreciate the more important things, like being together, laughing and having fun, and loving one another.

Then again, God gave us toddlers to take everyone's pride down a few notches. Toddlers don't give a damn about anything. They will ignore you and dump all their blocks out and look you in the eye while throwing their dinner on the floor. It's amazing. I am no longer crying over dinners [I spent time researching, preparing and serving] being ignored and thrown on the floor since instituting "toddler tapas" and "picnics" to the schedule.

How do you self-soothe? What makes you tick?

I hope you all are well, dear readers. I hope you take time to self-soothe, and time to re-connect. I hope you don't worry about other people's perception of you, and that you love what makes you tick.

I'm off to eat dinner, watch an episode of Elementary, and maybe fix zucchini bread since the air is cooler now. I wish you good eats and many reminders of what a treat life is, truly, for each of us.

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