April 11th 2016
Wilder is nearly 2 & ½ years old.
“I’m feelin’ rough, I’m feelin’ raw, I’m in the prime of my life.” – MGMT
It’s been awhile. I had every intention of being more diligent in my upkeep of this blog but life happens. Every damn day. Which I suppose is much better than the alternative. I am still writing in my journal, but so little of that makes it here, and I feel more so lately than ever that my online persona is farcical in comparison to the truth of my life. Especially my life as a mother, who struggles with a literal laundry basket full of crap. There is much debate in regards to women, especially mothers, “having it all” and I have been trying to figure out where I stand in the real-life version of this controversy. Am I selfish for believing that every person deserves to “have it all” when that simply means that they feel happy, loved and secure?
My personal health for the last few years can best be described with two words: shit show. Every person is different, so there was no way to know that having a child would hormonally destroy me, but it sort of did. I knew that it was going to be a challenge to get back to my pre-baby self, but I was in no way prepared for the tumultuous journey that I’ve traversed. As some of you might remember, I went on anti-depressants not long after Wilder’s birth when I had to put my dog/best friend down (there is a post about that if you would like to emotionally destroy yourself). I was on them for about a year, in which time I felt lackadaisical about creating anything. My writing suffered and I still felt overwhelmed. I approached my doctor when Wilder was nearly a year old and she agreed that I should taper off of them, so I did. I had noticed a good deal of unsavory afflictions developing in my mind and body, but chalked these things up to the hard times that make up being a parent for the first year of a child’s life. When these problems continued and only got worse though, I addressed them with my doctor. When Wilder was just over a year and a half, I thought that I might lose my mind. I was afraid at first to address all the things that were going wrong. I was fearful that I would be labeled “crazy” or judged for my inability to pull my shit together. I went to my doctor with a list of things including the following: mood swings, anxiety, inability to lose weight, sugar cravings, no sex drive, arthritis, restlessness, exhaustion, acne, inability to concentrate. The day that I arrived at her office with this list, there was a student shadowing her. She made the mistake of having him go over the reasons for my visit. He asked me which was the most dramatic change on the list. I don’t know why I felt it necessary but I told him, “I have no sex drive, like zilch, zero. I once blew a guy at a funeral and now I don’t even want to think about sex. There is something wrong with me.” Yes, yes there is. He scribbled some frantic notes, took my nicely hand-written list and exited the room.
My doctor, who is a gynecologist, suggested that I see some other specialists, as she admitted that she could only offer me birth control or anti-depressants, neither of which appealed to either of us as a solution. She referred me to a nutritionist, psychiatrist and also suggested an endocrinologist. I could write for hours describing these appointments – the nutritionist who was very knowledgeable but may have also had a slight eating disorder, the psychiatrist who was a woman younger than me who had no kids, the endocrinologist that I never got to see because the waiting list for an appointment was over 5 months. In the end I was given the recommendation for a hefty amount of supplements, to stop attempting to eat vegetarian and eat more flesh based protein, and to go on a new anti-depressant that was supposed to have zero sexual side effect. I ate a hamburger, took some vitamin C and cried. I called the therapist that we had used for family sessions and made an appointment to see her. She immediately recognized that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue. She, along with a friend of mine, helped me to find a functional medicine doctor. Over the next few months, I completed several medical tests, which included avoiding alcohol and coffee and spitting into test tubes. I was diagnosed with stage two adrenal fatigue and also perimenopause levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Hormonal state: fucked. My reaction was “Are you serious?” Before I became pregnant with Wilder I was in the best shape of my life. This year started with me sitting at my kitchen table looking at a basket full of vitamins, supplement s and tinctures that I would be taking until at least 2017. While it has given me some relief to have an actual diagnosis, it has also been frustrating. I spent a lot of money, time and cried a lot of tears trying to solve the riddle of my health, and I refused the recommendation of simply taking an anti-depressant (which would have done nothing to help my hormonal afflictions). I have so much empathy for other people who find themselves in the same position of having to advocate for a correct diagnosis and treatment. I am thankfully feeling better, but I know I have a long way to go. I am appreciative of my knowledge because without it, I would not have been able to finally get the care I needed and deserved.
When I was in college at Tulane getting my bachelors in psychology, I specialized in biological psychology because they didn’t have a neuroscience program at the time. I was drawn to this because I was fascinated by the elasticity of the brain and the intricacies of neurotransmitters and receptors. I often remind myself that when I’m having a particularly bad day, it’s just a shitty cocktail of these things in my brain, and thankfully the menu changes daily. That being said I have a very dysfunctional relationship with my body. It often surprises people to hear this, but I am my harshest critic. I know it may be hard to believe between the FB updates and Instagram pictures of my tits that I often feel disappointed and disgusted, but it’s true. The weight loss and physical strength that I have always struggled with seem to have become insurmountable these last few years. I want so badly to be healthy, not just for myself, but for my family. I know from my many years of yoga and life experience, that the first step is accepting and appreciating my body for what it is and what it has done…but fuck it all if I don’t wish there was a goddamn pill to banish my cellulite. I’m a work in progress. I’ll get there eventually. I write about this not as a cry for help but because I know I’m not alone in this feeling. If you are struggling too with your body, your mind or your spirit, I can empathize. I see you. I got you.
Having compromised health surely affects all of your relationships and mine are no exception. Time, introspection and therapy have been key in navigating this new family that we’ve created. I believe co-parenting has been a boon for all of us and I simply cannot imagine trying to raise a child in a traditional relationship or as a single mother. My perception of women, especially mothers has changed so dramatically since Wilder’s arrival. I am beyond grateful for our team and while we have certainly faced growing pains, our individual and collective love for Wilder is something that has never been questioned. I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I had a different vision for how our family would operate, but I have found that what has developed is a beautiful thing in its own right. As much as I have unconsciously desired for our family to fill the void created by the loss of my own, I know that is an impossible feat. I never realized how much I missed my family until now. Becoming a mother has permanently changed my perception.
My father passed away on January 25th 2013 and exactly one month and a day later I began trying to get pregnant. As most of you know Lee Kyle and my attempts worked the first time and in October of 2013 Wilder was born. To say I didn’t give myself time to grieve is an understatement. I have found though that these things have a tendency to catch up with you. I feel that there is never a convenient time to lament death, but while caring for a newborn would probably make the list of “worst-ever”. I myself am the master of distraction. I will do practically anything to avoid feeling vulnerable and sad, which I have done for the last two years. But the loneliness has always found a way to catch up with me. There is something so profoundly alien in becoming the last living member of your birth family. First my brother died leaving me as an only child, which was difficult to embrace, but I still had my mother and father to remind me of how I fit in this world. After my mother killed two people and herself, I found a huge reluctance to talk about her. I struggled with my anger for years, but I found solace in my relationship with my father to whom I was always the closest. When he became ill and finally succumbed to dementia, I prayed for him to die. I knew he never wanted to live that way. It is an odd thing to want death so badly for someone whom you don’t want to live without. When he did pass, I felt as if I had already been grieving him for years. I thought foolishly that I was passed it. I find myself now feeling alone and melancholy more than I would like to admit. I worry that I will forget my family history as I have no one to remind me. I have already forgotten simple things, like my mother’s favorite color or my father’s silly nicknames for me. I feel frustration with my extended family (which exists only on my mother’s side) for their inactivity in mine and Wilder’s life. I find that when I do talk about my parents I get overwhelmed with emotion. Simply writing this has caused tears to fall.
I am grateful for Lee Kyle, Andy and Clint. I wanted Wilder to have a diverse, loving extended family and he has one. Lee’s family is amazing. They are very involved in Wilder’s life and show genuine concern for all of us. Lee Kyle is a truly exceptional father. He is devoted to Wilder and continually expands his horizons with travels and adventures. His artistic abilities never cease to amaze me. His partner Clint is also a devoted father. In the beginning he was unsure of his relationship with Wilder but now he is often the “favorite.” His care and concern are authentic and enthusiastically returned by our son. Andy is phenomenal in every way. He is patient, kind and fun. Wilder asks for Poppa to put him to bed every night at our house and if he wakes in the middle of the night, guess who he wants. I couldn’t do it without these fantastic men. We are a team.
Wilder had to get surgery in February to have tubes placed in his ears. Thankfully everything went well. At the follow up appointment Andy and I were in the waiting room with several other parents and their children. There was another mother there with a child Wilder’s age and as we waited for quite a long time, her son became upset. Like most mothers she tried to calm him but as his cries persisted I could see her getting frustrated with him. At one point she grabbed him roughly and said “shut up” in the threatening mom voice that all mothers have. Wilder climbed into my lap, visually shocked by her reaction. We don’t tell Wilder to “shut up.” Honestly we don’t even talk to the dogs that way. I wanted to be mad at her, but all I could feel was empathy. I distracted her son and gave her an understanding gaze. She understood that I understood. She looked exhausted and overwhelmed. She was in her work clothes. She was waiting for the bus when we left. Why does it have to be so hard for mothers to provide for their families? I held Andy and Wilder stronger that night and gave so much thanks for the support I have. Be kind, it doesn’t cost you any extra.
I have to also mention that I am in awe of my friends that have become my family. My dearest friend Akrum, who has made my son laugh while talking me off of several ledges. My life partner Cody who always texts me back, even if I just need someone to tell me I’m pretty. My west bank partner in crime Dori, who will always honestly tell me if my son is acting like an asshole. My saving grace Daphne, who should collect my tears for her next art project since she seems to see them the most. Jackson, the closest thing I’ve ever had to a sister, who gives me life advice with laughter. Trixie, who is a constant inspiration and “gave” me her mother who is a true gift. My creative team of men: Chris, Todd & Andy, who have read my plays and helped me to hone my craft. And the many, many others who are loving, kind and genuine with their concern for me and my family.
Andy is a remarkable partner. I love him so much that after 12 years I finally asked him to marry me on February 29th and he said “yeah.” Things haven’t been the easiest for us (see above: no sex drive, anxiety, depression) but they have drastically improved with time. Andy is incredibly understanding and patient with me which makes up for the fact that he isn’t the neatest and devours his food like a wild animal. We have grown together in our relationship and have more trust and honesty than anyone I know. I consider myself lucky to share this life with him. He’s really happy that I am feeling more like myself. When I ask, “Why do you love me?” It’s always the same answer, “Your ass.”
We have a fluid relationship. We understand that no one person can be everything to another. We have interests outside of our relationship. We have our own friendships. We can have great times together and great times apart. We trust one another. Andy is a much less jealous person than I am, and I try to learn from him. I am a much more empathetic person than he is, which means that sometimes my friendships can become unhealthy, as I often seek people that I can “help” or “fix.” Andy has comforted me many times when I have been heartbroken over someone else’s actions. That is true love. I never take it for granted.
I have had some great and some not-so-great relationships over the last few years. I have learned from all of them. I have a love who helped me find my lost confidence by assuring me that my post-baby body was still beautiful to him. I have another love who I shared some of my most vulnerable thoughts of anxiety and depression with who didn’t judge me. I fell in love with someone who is an alcoholic and am still struggling with the despair that accompanies the acknowledgement that I can’t change him. I learned about myself, my grief, my love for Andy and my family through all my relationships. Most importantly I learned that the main source of my unhappiness is my desire to control situations and people. I’m working on that too.
The greatest love of my life is no doubt our son Wilder. He is one of a kind. It would be total bullshit if I pretended that everything was lollipops and rainbows. It isn’t. Some days are very challenging. One particular morning when Wilder woke with a disdain for life and everything in it, Andy met my exhausted gaze in the kitchen and I said, “Well we can’t give him back.” He understood. We made it through. Being a parent is 49% thinking “Jesus fucking Christ this is the most intense, amazing love that I couldn’t have even imagined existed.” And 51% thinking “What the fuck did I decide to do with my life?” The percentages aren’t set in stone. They fluctuate by the minute. While he can be a pill at times, for the most part Wilder is quite the character. He laughs a lot, which warms my heart. He is exceptionally intelligent. At this time he knows all 50 states and their capitals (which I have had to learn to keep up with him). He loves to sing and dance. He loves to be outside. He shows compassion for others. He has the ability to make me go from frustrated to elated faster than anyone I’ve ever known. He has taught me to let go of expectations. He has shown me that the world can be beautiful or shitty depending on my perception. He is my heart. He is currently being potty trained, so pray for us.
More to come on my new job and my creative projects, but for now, sleep.