Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MM and the Letter D

As the Mother of a toddler I watch Sesame Street. This blog post is sponsored by the letter D.

I could easily write thousands of words on diapers alone. The topic of what kind of diapers a modern mother uses, cloth or disposable is a political statement about how much one cares about the future of the planet. While I was pregnant, I teased my neighbors that I was going to use the compostable diapers but not get a good back yard compost container and just see how long it took them to form a posse and come after me.

To prevent mean comments or starting a long dialogue, I will not tell you what kind of diapers I use.

Yesterday, when I went to change a diaper on my now 14 month old baby we did have a funny exchange:

Me: Did you poop in your pants?

Baby: Shook her head "NO"

Me: Who pooped in your pants?

Baby: Lala (our dog) points to the dog.

Me: Really, the dog pooped in your pants.

Baby: Laughs hysterically.

There are many other big D words that come into being a Myalgia Mommie that could also take up volumes and be great blogs: discipline, dinner, distraction, delivery, debt, divorce, really I could go on all day.

The D word that needs to be spelled with a capital D and sadly affects too many mothers is Depression.

Yesterday I dropped my Mother-in-law off at the train station and our last conversation together was about her Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and my promise to send her full spectrum lights if she doesn't buy herself some by the end of next week. For people who suffer from winter depression, research has shown that using full spectrum light therapy has better outcomes than anti-depressant medications. I have seen the transformative power of a lightbulb in treating seasonal affective disorder firsthand and may just have some sent to my Mother-in-law so I know she will get better. The hardest thing about getting treatment for depression or helping a loved one get treatment for depression is that when you are really depressed you feel so hopeless that you believe nothing will ever be better so why bother with therapy. It's a silly vicious cycle.

As mothers we have our own special form of depression that can have devastating consequences. The period of pregnancy and the first year of life triggers changes in mood that cause depression called Perinatal Mood Disorder or Postpartum Depression. Recent studies have shown that a depressed mother with have lifelong impact on the brain development of her child. So, if one of your Myalgia Mommie friends is having more than the normal level of "baby blues" please help them help themselves, not just for their sake but for the sake of the baby. To me this point should be repeated thousands of times. A depressed mother doesn't interact with her baby, the babies brain doesn't grow, the baby is a measurable amount less intelligent when they grow up. What better new baby gift for a friend than helping her out of depression? It makes you the "Fairy Godmother" that insures her child will get a better score on tests and possibly go onto a better future. Wow! That is an amazing gift. 

I am incredibly fortunate to live in Chapel Hill where the University of North Carolina has the first Perinatal Mood Disorders in-patient ward. There are dedicated beds and a department of trained nurses who specialize in mothers with postpartum depression and support services for the rest of the family. The woman who runs the clinic speaks all over the country and I hope in years to come the program expands to other hospitals. Until then, I do know that anti-depressants are safe and effective in breastfeeding despite some commercials I have seen for class actions settlements. As I understand it, a small amount of prozac, xanax and some of our oldest anti-depressants will go into the milk but have no effects on the baby. Since we know that a depressed mother does have real and serious effects on the baby, it strikes me as a no brainer. Also, and this is a joke, a tiny amount of prozac in the milk would just make a baby happy, right?

As we head into the Holiday season filled with all kinds of stress and pressure, I have to throw out one more thing about Depression. Please remind your friends, Myalgia Mommies or not, that alcohol is a depressant! My days of being a drinker are behind me, alcohol interferes with my medication. I am always amazed by people who get sad at the holidays and think that getting really drunk will make them feel better. It won't. Unless you drink too much Champagne.

Oh no, a Diaper!


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