The Gill Family Webpage

Monday, August 31, 2009

My fear

As I enter the last phase of my pregnancy and anxiously await the arrival of my newest little one, I am tinged with fear. Every day closer to the impending birth compels me to think about this more. Will it be as bad as before? Can I avoid it altogether this time? What can I do to prepare? No, I’m not talking about birthing my beautiful baby. I’m talking about being consumed by post-partum depression once again.

Yes, dear readers, once again. I know I never wrote about it before, but some of those whom I interacted with following the birth of my beautiful little girl know about this. I felt completely overwhelmed, guilty, and horrible. All I wanted to do was to leave Zoe in someone else’s arms and leave the room while at the same time all I wanted to do was hold and take care of my sweet baby. “I can do it!” I kept saying to myself. “I can do it all by myself!” But I couldn’t.

It didn’t help that I had few mommy friends to lean on for support when Zoe was born and that the few childless friends I did confide in either didn’t know what to say or said things like, “That would never happen to me. I’ve always wanted kids.” That’s a direct quote. Clearly she did not know me at all. I’ve wanted kids since I was one myself and this newfound sense of panic of becoming a Mom was too much for me to handle. As I sat there in silence listening to my heart breaking I did my best not to wish a horrible post-partum period for her if she were to ever get pregnant. I wouldn’t then, and I don’t now, wish that on anyone.

But post-partum depression does happen to quite a few women. In the sensationalist media, we hear about the extreme cases of post-partum depression where mothers harm their newborns, and sometimes even kill them. I never felt the impulse to harm myself or my baby. Ever. But I did feel a nagging sense of being an inadequate Mom to my child, a useless companion to my husband, and a very sad individual to be around.

I am a psychologist by training, and although I am not a clinical psychologist, I study the brain and how it makes us who we are. I know that depression is a medical condition that is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. I know it is not a sign of weakness. I know you “cannot just snap out of it”. Clinical depression is not the same as feeling sad and requires medical intervention either in the form of talk therapy or anti-depressant drugs.

A person with depression is much like a person who suffers from any number of neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s Disease. No one tells Michael J. Fox to suck it up and deal with his tremors. Or that Muhammad Ali just needs to get a grip. Yet a person with depression is viewed differently by our society as it is sometimes perceived as a sign of weakness. People are not willing to admit their illness when it’s depression. Even knowing everything I know about the neural underpinnings of depression, I was still embarrassed to admit that I suffered from it following the birth of Zoe.

Not anymore. If someday Zoe and Mango do read this journal I call The Gill Family Webpage, I want them to know that their mother loved them very much, and that even though she seems like Superwoman, sometimes she was even human.

I eventually got over my depression through talking with friends who understood, surrounding myself with other new moms as much as possible even if I barely knew them, and leaning on the comfort of Everett. Of course, looking into Zoe’s face often helped too.

I’m not sure if I will be plagued by post-partum depression again, but this time I’m ready (if that’s even possible). I’ve talked to my doctor about safe anti-depressants for nursing moms and have a very strong network of mommy friends to lean on. It won’t be easy – it never is – but I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Only in NashVegas!

This Saturday, Zoe and I spent a gloriously cool morning watching Everett row down the Cumberland River in the Dragon Boat Festival. Everett's "Strokes of Genius" team did pretty well for themselves! That's them in the boat closest to us in the picture.

While Daddy paddled, Zoe and I danced to the music and made faces at the people! Much different than Zoe's first Dragon Boat experience two years ago when all she did was wiggle on the ground! She was especially excited about the pirates who went around dressed up as, well, pirates handing out candy and saying "Arrrrgh!". Only the "man (who) gave me a ball" was more exciting!

We stayed until lunchtime, then Zoe and I headed out. We had to park a bit away from the river so we had fun exploring downtown. We went on the trolley, visited some of the tourist shops, took our picture with Elvis (who Zoe can recognize without a problem!), played near (not in) the fountain by the Symphony Center, and finally we visited the museum shop in the Country Music Hall of Fame. By the time we got home, we both took a 2 hour nap!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Movin' on down

We went from the crib, to the Dora toddler bed, to the big bed, to ... the floor! I told you she was a freaky sleeper!

Honestly though, I think she was testing her limits when I asked her if she wanted to sleep on the Dora bed or the big bed and she replied, "Zoe want to sleep on the floor." At first I said no, then I thought, "Well why not?" So she sleeps on the floor most nights until we (and by we, I mean Everett) hefts her up onto one of the beds.

Hey man, whatever gets you through the night!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fishing, feeding, and fun

What fun can be had on a lazy summer afternoon!

Zoe woke up (last) Sunday and was obsessed with the idea of going fishing! I don't know where she got that from (perhaps from her Sponge Bob CD?), but she kept talking about how Zoe wanted to go fishing.

Well what's a fisherman Daddy supposed to say, but yes! So father and daughter headed out to the store early Sunday morning to buy a fishing pole and and some bobbers. I daresay that Daddy was impressed that Zoe chose the Sponge Bob pole over the Dora pole. Momma is just in shock! Afterwards, we headed to our favorite Zoe-friendly fishing hole/duck feeding place and had at it!

Truth be told, Daddy was way more into the actual fishing part than Zoe. You can't blame her though. Fishing is a contemplative sport and Zoe is a little too-Zoe to be contemplative for too long! But as soon as Daddy snagged a fish (using bread as bait once again!), she was all excited!

I know the picture makes her look scared of the fish, but we have a video that shows how fascinated she was by it. (I can't get it to upload, so you'll either have to believe me or come by the house to see it!) She was quiet, but I think it was because she was in awe at this tiny little creature in front of her. She reached out to touch it many times before we released it back into the wild.

As per tradition, Zoe also got to feed the duckies. She just loves doing that! We happened to be far away from any of them and despite Zoe's best efforts at calling them over by making kissy noises, she didn't actually get any bread to any fowl. She did manage to feed some of the fish because the absence of the above-mentioned birds was not going to stop this little girl from feeding them whether they liked it or not!

Later that night, as we were firing up the grill for the usual Sunday night grill fest, Daddy went fishing for Zoe:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The blues

I can still recall the way they feel. Soft, yet sturdy. Snug, yet comfy. Stylish, yet casual. You know what I am talking about: good ol' fashion blue jeans.

I crave their presence against my long legs. The way they fit about the waist - the good pairs allow at least a finger's width between you and them and a belt, though unnecessary, completes the look. The way they fit around your mid-section, hugging your butt and defining its curves. The way they cling to your thighs and then release their hold around your knees flowing straight down to your ankles where they may or may not flair out.

What I wouldn't do to feel them right now on my body instead of my "belly bra" - a wide and uncomfortable white elastic band that helps support the weight of my ginormous belly - and my pregnancy bottoms. The skirts sail out about 15 ft from your body and the pants/shorts cover your entire mid-section up to your boobs. And these are the comfy clothing items. I find the preggy bottoms that sit under the belly to be the worst - they constantly feel as though they're going to fall down and they irritate the already itchy and stretched out skin that I cannot see anymore beneath the aforementioned ginormous belly.

Ah Mango, blue jeans are only the first of your Momma's comforts that she'll willingly give up for you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fetal invasion

I can surely attest that I have something growing inside me! Mango is a mover and a shaker! There is a constant barrage of what I can only guess are punches, kicks, and big stretches coming at me (or in me) on an hourly basis! I'm not sure if Zuzu moved this much, but Mango sure does!

It's quite funny actually. I'll just be sitting there and BAM! I'll feel something push out simultaneously on my belly and backside. If I have a book propped on my "shelf", it will undulate with the force from within. If I am laying on my side, I can feel Mango knocking on my uterine walls as if to say, "Hello! I'm in here, you know!"

As of last night, I thought I had 5 more weeks of this. Then I looked at my calendar which clearly stated that I had 6 more weeks. Darn math! I made a similar mistake around week 35/36 with Zuzu. Mushy Mommy Brain strikes again!

The surprise "extra" week has left me feeling a bit farklempt. On the one hand, I have an extra week to get ready for the little one's arrival. We've set up the crib, gotten out some of the things that need to be washed (including the car seat cover), and have started organzing the baby clothes, but there's so much more to do! On the other hand, I have an extra week carrying this baby around and my back (not me, mind you!) has started to whine!

Of course, this all assumes that Mango will be on time. A mighty big assumption at that! Oh gosh, that makes me nervous too!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hospital Visit

This Saturday we visited the hospital where "Zoe was born" and where the "baby born". (For the record, according to Zoe, Elmo, her friends, Mommy, Daddy, Papa, Grandma, her cousins, and a plethora of other folk were born there too.)

They had a "Tots on Tour" class and Zoe got to learn all about what was in "mommy's uterus", how the baby's belly button looks weird after s/he is born, and how they have no teeth at first. We also got a tour of the labor and delivery room. Not that she'll be there for that part, but she got to see the big mommy bed and the little bed where the baby will be after s/he comes out of mommy's belly. They even showed her the hat they put on all the babes that are born there.

Direct quote from Everett while in the room, "I think I'm getting a little nervous now." Surprisingly, I didn't feel nervous at all, just a little miffed that the room was set up in the opposite way from the way it was when I gave birth to Zoe. The L&D bed was on the left instead on the right, while the baby bed was on the right instead of on the left. I know it's weird, but this pregnant lady needs things the way she needs them!

The tour ended with a visit to the nursery to see the new babies. Let me tell you - newborns are tiny! Now it was my turn to feel nervous!

The only one who never became nervous was Big Sister Zoe. She loved seeing the hospital, the new babies, and she especially loved the big sister t-shirt she received. I think she's going to do great!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bring on the weddings!

My sisters gave me a singing birthday card that plays the Chicken Dance know, na na na na na na na, etc, etc, etc. Zoe loves singing cards and this one was no exception! Couple that love with her love of dancing and you get the cutest little chicken ever made!

Hee hee, note that Everett is hiding behind the camera showing Zoe the dance moves - the iron tells all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thanks Daddy!

That's right Zoe...first you lick the yogurt melt and then you can stick it on your nose!

Zoe: Oh. (Pause. Lick. Stick. Big ol' grin.) Look at me Mommy!

Mommy: Awesome honey! Thanks Daddy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Momma got belly

My belly is steadily growing larger and larger! I had another doctor appointment this week and all is well! I can't believe that I have just 7 weeks to go!! I'll be getting one more ultrasound to be done in a few weeks to be on the safe side. Recall that I needed to be induced with Zuzu due to low fluid, so we're going to check things out in week 37. I'm sure everything will be fine; I'm not worried at all. It'll be neat to see Mango one more time before s/he makes her/his arrival!

It's starting to sink in that we'll have a newborn in the house again. A whole new person who will have his/her own personality and his/her own demands. But who will also be cute as a button, I'm sure! I'm starting to think about our children's and not just Zoe's future in Florida now. Where will the children go to daycare/school? Who will be their pediatrician? Will they like living in Florida? How will they adjust? It's exciting to think about!

Zoe is also getting excited about the baby...well as much as she understands what that even means! She likes to kiss and hug my belly and say, "Hi baby!" Oh, she has no clue!

I keep telling her that babies don't know how to do anything when they're born. They don't know how to talk, or walk, or crawl, or anything. I asked her if she would teach the baby these things and she readily said, "Yes, Mommy! I teach baby to "wok" (aka walk), and "craw" (aka crawl), and "shwear" (aka share)!" Yes, you read right, she said she would teach the baby to share completely on her own! I heard you Zoe - we all heard you! I'm going to hold you to this in a couple of months! Yup, that's the burden of an older sister - you'll be held to higher expectations than your younger sibling which won't seem fair to you at the time. But remember we love you just as much!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Home freeeeeeeeeee!


We closed on our house last Friday!! The top pics show us sitting in our realtor's office before the big sign-off. You can see we looked a little weary and were somewhat nervous that it might not happen at all! This process has been so much up and down that we could not feel settled until everything was signed and official! About 45 minutes later, we headed to a local coffee shop to use the giftcard our realtor had given us and to take advantage of their internet (we didn't have it yet at the new place). As we drank beer and coffee and gobbled up some sweet goodies, we perused the Florida houses that our FL realtor had put on-line for us. It was such a nice afternoon!

The next morning we headed to Nashville Shores for some swimming fun! It was probably one of the first really hot weekends we've seen so far this year - luckily for me! After naptime, we headed back out to the East Nashville Tomato Art Fest. We didn't stay there too long - it was HOT - but we did manage to stay long enough to soak up some tomato art, listen to groovy music, drink ginger- and blackberry-flavored lemonades, and eat some of the yummiest friend green tomatoes!

Now did I mention it was hot out? The original plan was to head downtown and just walk around, but the heat was unbearable! So we headed to what I like to call the indoor-outdoor play area, or the Opryland Hotel! There we made our own fun riding the train, playing in the arcade, riding up and down the "moving stairs", walking over the "troll bridge", and eating pizza overlooking the dancing fountains.

On Sunday I did chores while Everett went golfing. You may think this sounds unfair, but I encouraged him to go out! Zoe and I had a blast going to the "arts and craft store", "baby store", and "cat store" (aka Michaels, Babies R Us, and Pet Smart). As she napped in the afternoon, I did laundry, watched some TV, and did some of my own crafting. It was a nice, normal day not spent packing or moving anything!

At night, Everett fired up the grill and we feasted on 3 different animals and many vegetables! We like to grill out a lot at a time and then heat things up as the week goes on.

All in all, this was one of the best weekends we've had in a long while. It's just been so stressful with the packing of all our stuff, the moving to the new place, and the selling of our beloved first house (that's a post for later!). I know I can complain about a lot of things, but I do realize how lucky I am - how lucky we are - and it's weekends like this one that affirm that.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Bubble Races

I remember when I was a kid, my sisters and I would race around our ginormous backyard after dinner to see who could run the the most laps. Inevitably, I would always win (wink, wink, nod, nod)! I used to think it was so much fun!

Now, looking back on it, I have to say that my parents were very clever beings tuckering out their children like that. We've taken a page out of their playbook and tonight we took Zoe outside to play with bubbles and to run around like a crazy kid after dinner. She was more than tuckered out after all the excitement!

Here's a video of her running after bubbles:

And here's a video of her running after...I don't know what, but it didn't really matter to her!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The BIG bed

Here's Zoe passed out asleep on the "big bed" in her "new room" in the "new house". Note the emphasis on the big and new descriptors - very important as far as Zoe is concerned!
We had to put both the Dora toddler bed (which Zoe used to sleep in) and the double bed in Zoe's new room so my Mom would have someplace to sleep when she comes up for Mango's arrival.

One of the first nights in the new house I left Zoe to sleep in her Dora bed after our usual bedtime routine of bath, books, and bed. Then I went downstairs (the duplex has 2 levels - bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor and living room and kitchen on first floor). I thought I heard a thump about 45 minutes later so I went upstairs to investigate. I got to the top of the stairs and the first thing I heard was Zoe's "rock-n-roll" music blaring, then I noticed her light was on, and when I opened the door, there she was lying in the middle of the big bed reading her books, surrounded by her toys, and legs up in the air like she just didn't care. She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Hi Mommy" with the passy half out of her mouth. I cracked up!

Our general bedtime rule is that she doesn't necessarily have to go to sleep when she's left alone, but that the lights need to be out. So I had to be a disciplinarian. I took the light out of her room and told her it was night-night time. She didn't like that too much, but she eventually went to sleep after I told her she could sleep on the big bed if she wanted to. And she's slept there ever since! Sometimes she'll move to the Dora bed, but it's not very often.

It just totally cracks me up to see this little thing asleep on this massive bed! Truth be told, I like it better since I can easily sit on the bed and give her a kiss goodnight instead of having to bend down to do it. And although I get a little teary-eyed thinking about how fast she's growing, I enjoy her company more and more every day.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Capturing the river

You know, sometimes things just seem worse than they are. And sometimes they are worse then they seem. It's tough to tell the difference between the two.

I wrote the previous post a few days after the weekend. It was with perspective that I was able to get re-live that weekend. I hate to say it, but the weekend left me more devastated than I was able to capture with my words. We are all fine now, it's just that that weekend was a tough one.

Although I wasn't keeping a blog at the time, if I were to write about my wedding day now, it would sound lovely. There were the most beautiful words that were spoken and songs that were song, there were delicious foods and drinks that were consumed, and of course there was the incredible sense of love for everyone that attended (especially my groom!) that was felt throughout the day. But I'm not sure I could truly capture the wonderfulness of that day with my words either.

It's not that I think I'm a bad writer and so cannot capture certain feelings through prose. I think I do a pretty okay job conveying some of my emotions, as best as I can anyway. But there's something about living in the moment and feeling the feelings as they are happening. One's ability to recall those feelings - which cannot be described in words precisely because they are feelings - is something that makes us uniquely human.

So I try to capture the feelings as best as I can here to serve as triggers so that I may try to re-live the experience again - with the good feelings and the bad - and with the caveat that one can never step into the same river twice. After all, one cannot truly appreciate the sunny days if it never rains.