Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Fifth First Day of School

My teacher-friend reminded me that this is the first day of school where I used to work.

August went by and despite the posts I read about teachers preparing for the new year, I didn't feel a twinge of sadness because I wasn't going back.

My fifth year as an I-used-to-be-a-teacher.

Ella helped with that.

Ella and the fact that I really don't miss teaching.

Nevertheless today is the first day of school.

It should be recognized as it floats by, just another day in a long string of days feeding her oatmeal, taking her to the park, letting her nap...

Today, I can't help but think of the parents' experience on the first day of school. The anxiety, the loneliness, the pride. The I-can't-believe-she's-growing-up feeling of milestones.

Today, I am a mommy who wants her daughter to do OK. To be liked. To make friends. To be included. Today, I love and teach just one child, and she's mine.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

From a note to my doctors

I'm starting to think the best thing to do is give up Medicine A.

For one thing, I'm still having problems falling asleep at night and I'm already taking three Medicine B pills plus two Medicine C pills a night. I don't like the idea of taking more Medicine B to stop a problem that might just be because I'm taking Medicine A.

Also, if I recall correctly, I started taking Medicine D because the Medicine A was causing me to gain weight.

So that's two drugs to cancel out the effects of one drug.

Seems like overkill to me.

I know that I was really bad before I started the Medicine A though, so I'm a little worried about it. But Justin reminds me that there was a time when I was OK without any meds at all, and who's to say I won't be OK again.

I'm guessing it doesn't usually work that way--but is this really what I'm destined for? A lifetime of taking meds out of a granny-like pill box?

Right now I have five pills in the morning and five at night, for a total of six different drugs and ten pills. I know I don't usually care how many pills I'm taking when I'm doing well, but aside from the restless legs I am  doing pretty well, so I have to ask what the heck I am doing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where's Ella?

I never thought I'd be one of those mommies who had that question; I'd be eagle-eye-mommy and always know where my kid was playing.

But today I asked, "Where's Ella?"

It seems she's found her independence.

We got to my friend's house for a MOMS Club Swap Meet, and Ella held my hand like we're best friends. But then when I started pawing through the clothes that other MOMS brought, she went around the corner. I looked up, "Where's Ella?"

She came back around the corner.

She kept disappearing into the house or the patio while I talked with friends, ate a bagel and told other people to take her old clothes, please.

It was only when she saw me that she came to keep me company, holding my finger while she walked around, crying and wanting to be picked up, asking for water without saying a word.

Ella is a girl about town.

I kept saying, "She's only been walking for three or four weeks, I'm not used to this."

"But she's doing fine," a friend said.

She was walking on concrete, a little wobbly, "OK, I just can't look," I said, and looked away.

My friend was right--she was fine without me. Not that I could leave her--she has new, strict rules about my departure at any given time--but she could leave me whenever she wanted to go.

It's something I have to get used to.

Our independence.

Ella is free to go.

And I have to let go.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music and Dancing is Always in Fashion

It's the Copa Cabana around here.

Last night I made dinner--fish and risotto just so you know--and Ella watched from her play yard.

Part of how I get away with leaving her "alone" while I cook includes music. And dancing.

I dance big.

I dance like my 15 month old is watching.

She giggles and shakes her bootie.

There are arm movements and head shaking involved in our dancing.

Until she whacked her head against the wall of the play yard and I had to rescue her. (Fortunately just before I got the risotto started.)

Her first dancing injury. 

Luckily, the memory of a toddler is short, and we were back to the boogie after some cuddles and playing in the living room with oh-so-safe stacking cups.

With any luck there will be video of her dancing soon. As for my dancing, well, that's just for Ella to see.(And BTW, isn't it neat that I have the energy to dance vigorously while I cook? Things aren't all bad around here.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Our lives are heavily ruled by Ella's walking experience these days. We have a play yard in the dining room, so that she can be near us when we are cooking or eating. She loves it.


Mostly she prefers to choose toys from the toy bucket so that she can play in the freedom of the living room.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dryer Sheets

Ella has been helping me sort laundry for months. When she gets to the dryer sheet I always take it away from her before she can put it into her mouth.

Today, when we were sorting and folding towels (I'm in charge of the folding, she does the "sorting"), she found the dryer sheet.

She looked at it, got up, toddled over to the wastebasket and threw it away.

I love that girl.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How are you?

It's easy to blog about feeling miserable.

But how do you enter a post saying, "Fine thanks, and you?"

Of course though, things aren't fine, but they're so much better that I haven't felt like writing because I felt awkward about saying I'm better. Things are a 7 out of 10--10 being best, 7, in my point of view, being C average. Which is better than a 5, but still not good enough.

So yesterday I went back to San Diego--the euphemism for going to see my therapist and psychiatrist.

I explained that I did OK when there was something to do--taking care of Ella, going on play dates (especially going on play dates), getting stuff done. But dropping her off at my mom's house to be taken care of for the day, having to drive for almost 4 hours total alone with my thoughts, no one to worry about in the backseat, that was hard.

There are times when I feel liberated by my alone time driving to San Diego. But when I'm in a low part of the Bipolar II cycle (which can take years to go around, or just days or hours or minutes--but right now years), I hate that I have to do this. I hate that I have to leave my girl. I hate that I have to take so much medicine. I hate that I can't just be normal.

Whatever that is.

The other night when I was tossing and turning because of Restless Leg Syndrome (a side effect of a medication that is working well on my mood but wreaking havoc on my body), I thought, "I wish I could just do a meds cleanse. That I could go off it all and feel great and then go back on little by little til the right combination was achieved."

But I know it doesn't work that way.

For one thing, this is me. I'm not some other person because I take my medicine, I'm who I am without the bizarre demons running through my head.

I'm just a person the way a diabetic on insulin is just a person. We watch our levels and live our lives just the same. 

Let's talk about Medicine A (I don't like to name them here because everyone reacts differently to meds and I don't want anyone starting or stopping something because of my experience with a drug).  Medicine A sucks. And it's saving my life.

Medicine A has the side effect of making me fat (it slows my metabolism, making me not the always-skinny girl I once was, skinny with or without exercise, no matter what I ate). It has the side effect of Restless Leg Syndrome, which makes it difficult if not impossible (depending on the night) for me to fall asleep.

And, wait for it...

It could make my face start moving with an involuntary muscle movement that will never stop.

So I want to go off Medicine A. Because I don't want to be The-Mom-With-The-Twitching-Face.

However, I also don't want to be the mom from my doctor's notes from 2008. The woman who couldn't get off the couch during the day, who was having nightmares, who had self-mutilation and suicidal ideation. Sooooooooo....

What would you do with Medicine A?

It's a very rare side effect, this twitching-face thing, but I'm rare. I'm on a cocktail of medicines that would make a junky joyous if he found my bottles.

There's the option of titrating me down from everything (woo-hoo! the cleanse!) and starting a new regime, but I could do really badly during the cleanse, and if the new regime didn't work, turning back to This Regime wouldn't necessarily work.

There's the option of lowering my dose of Medicine A, just to see if I can handle it, and raising my dose of medicine that stops my legs from going crazy at night.

Right now we're going with the latter.

So, for those of you who keep eyeing me with that question, "How are you doing?" lingering over our heads, an unvoiced curiosity, there you have it.

For the rest of you, I hope you'll still be my friend even though you've read my blog.

And, since I have a moment while Ella naps and Justin golfs, I'll let you know that my worries extend beyond my medication. As my beloved psychiatrist said, "Your world is bigger now. [So we can't just go changing your meds and seeing what happens, because there's Ella to think about.] But we also want you to enjoy that world."

I do love my world. I love my baby girl. I get so tired of chasing her around all day while she holds my finger like Linus holds his security blanket, but I also know there's going to be a day when she doesn't need to hold my finger any more, and that makes me wistfully sad. She won't always need me. But she does right now, and I have to be SO present for her.

Today I made macaroni and cheese for her lunch. She waited relatively patiently in her play yard while I "cooked" (seriously, it's just boiling water), and then she was so excited to see the bowl before her with her own little spoon in it.

She proceeded to eat by picking one shell at a time off the spoon and popping it into her mouth.

"This is going to take forever," I said aloud. I wished for my iPhone, for something to read, for a way to pass the time.

But unless I'm eating the same food as Ella, I'm not allowed to do anything while she is eating. She thinks I'm a mirror. Mommy's reading? I should, too.

So I watched her, and eventually she started taking more than one shell at a time, eventually she used her spoon and her fingers.

And eventually she started eating the cheese flavor off the noodles and then spitting them out.

Game over.

The kid is alright.

And so am I, as long as I don't have time on my hands to recruit historic thoughts and mull them over until they hurt.

Friday, August 12, 2011

They Should Tell You About Preschool

They should tell you about preschool before you get pregnant. Or at least when you have your first doctor's appointment, the one where they confirm that yes, indeed, you are pregnant.

But by then it might be too late.

Too late to get into the right preschool.

The right one?

God only knows what that means.

More coming, after I do some homework.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Life's Lessons

Ella has learned to walk. Actually, she's known how to walk for some time now (she first stood up on her own in mid-April, just before we moved; she got her first pair of shoes two weeks later). 

But she's a cautious one.

After several weeks of feeling like my kid was "behind" and that it was somehow a reflection on my parenting style, I finally let go and accepted that Ella would walk when she was ready, that she would be ready when she'd be ready, and that her needing to ever so gently hold onto my finger was precious. I have Kelle Hampton to thank for that one.

And now she walks.

I love that my girl is cautious. I hope she is relatively cautious when she is 16 and driving a car.

I also hope that my cautiousness and her daddy's sense of fearlessness balance each other well. That she doesn't become too scared, or act too wild.

I love her sense of accomplishment; look at that smile!

I love that she claps at the end of a song, or when she gets the shape toys to fit properly in the sorter.

And as I wished before, she is brave--those first steps away from the security of holding onto something are always brave, no matter when they happen.