Due Date!

June 24th – 40 weeks pregnant

So, it’s officially Baby Uri’s due date. Yesterday was my last day at work, I am ready to do this labor thing. It’s kinda unfair… I mean, when you train for a marathon, you typically know exactly when the marathon is going to take place.  In my situation… well… I know the “marathon” is going to occur… but not exactly when. And if it doesn’t occur by July 5th, I will have to run the marathon while receiving jolts of electricity/Pitocin, and then I will probably end up doing it without feeling my legs.  Can you imagine running a marathon when you can’t feel your legs?* Medically induced labor is a little terrifying…

I try to avoid things that I find terrifying, so I’m trying what I can to promote labor… Fresh pineapple is supposed to get things moving, so today I made a smoothie out of half a pineapple and a strawberry Chobani Yogurt.  Not the ideal ingredient, but it’s what I had at home.  And it was… disgusting. I was literally gagging.  I added some honey which helped only a little.  But I remembered what I learned in college: I chugged, and down it went. Job done.

Brian and I went for a walk this morning before it got too hot.  Walking is pretty much the only physical exercise that appeals, and after I walk I am so excited to get my shoes off.  I have hippo-feet and sausage fingers, and it’s not sexy.  When I do go for a walk, after a few minutes, I have to pee because of the pressure down on my bladder.  I have been wearing compression stockings at work this past week and a half, and I relish the ritual of removing them, and my shoes, at the end of the day — feels sooo good to let those doggies breathe.  I won’t miss many things about being pregnant.

The one thing I will miss is how nice people are to pregnant ladies.  When you’re pregnant, people don’t tell you that “the restrooms are for customers only.”  I got so many well wishes and hugs this week from patients (even some that I didn’t even treat once). Random people in the elevator and in my building have been congratulating me and telling me how great I look.  Co-workers have been cleaning my treatment tables for me because they don’t want me to be exposed to our awful-smelling chemical cleaner.  The other day I did a truly pregnant thing and went “mall walking.”  Afterward, a lady came up to me in the Chick-fil-a line like we were old friends and said “you look like you are made for this!”  Of course people will also ask you things things that would be totally inappropriate at any other time like “how much weight did you gain?” Even now, that question is a little borderline… (if you are wondering, I gained a good 30 lbs, so I have done my part).

I am feeling very loved these days, which is wonderful, and really I’m pretty relaxed.  I have been listening to the tracks of positive affirmations on my hypno-birthing app:

“My baby knows how to be born.”

“I look forward to meeting my baby when my baby and my body are ready.”

“Birth is a natural, safe, and wonderful experience.”

And my favorite:

“My body is at ease.” because when the lady says it in her British accent sounds like: “My body is a tease.”

I’ll continue to choke down my pineapple and do my best to relax and not worry, so that labor will happen when it is meant to. It’s weird, but having a medically induced birth with pain meds is a lot scarier to me than giving birth naturally, but by writing this I don’t mean to judge anyone.  I have educated myself as much as I can stand to, and I know that even if I do all I can to aid my body in going into labor, it may not, and I will surrender.  In any case, it’s very exciting to know that I will meet my baby within the next 11 days!  Sweet baby, we are ready for you!

 

*This is probably NOT what labor with an epidural is like… (I really have no idea). And actually, running a marathon without feeling my legs would probably be MUCH more pleasant than the other way around.

Almost a Momma

38 Weeks Preggers —

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Feeling like a bad-ass pregnant lady for a few minutes after a great day at work. Headed to my mat for another session of Yoga for Beer Bellies (TM pending).

Well, Baby, we are almost at the end of this phase, and we will be meeting face to face soon.  I haven’t written much in these past few months.  Your dad and I have been nesting like crazy.  We have a beautiful room ready for you filled with sweet, thoughtful gifts from friends and family who are fans of yours already.  Our hospital bag is packed, with 2 outfits, and socks and a hat and blankets for you.   You are moving around and kicking and tapping more consistently now; almost any time I hold still I can feel you moving.  The past week, and especially this weekend, I have been SO SLEEPY.  I slept basically the whole weekend, except when we were at another childbirth class and when we met with Elaine, our doula.  I guess that is good, because hopefully it means you are growing strong.  I think I have also been sleeping because as the weeks continue to add up, I have started worrying a bit: When will you come?  Will it be one or 3 weeks after I stop working?  If you come later than expected, will I perish from boredom and drive myself crazy waiting for you?  Will you be in the ideal LOA (Left Occiput Anterior) position for a natural birth?  Am I drinking enough raspberry leaf tea/eating enough fresh pineapple/doing enough of the “natural birthy” things to ensure I don’t have to be induced with meds?  Even though I generally worry a lot less these days, I worry a bit still.  I haven’t had significant contractions, nor have I noticed any other signs of your immediately approaching arrival.

So today I talked to my boss, who is pretty confident that my baby is coming in July, and we decided to open up 3 more days of my schedule to patients (I was going to stop a week before my due date – now I’m going to continue until 3 days before, and we may even add more days at the end of the week.  I feel much more relaxed just knowing I will have something to do those days, because truthfully, I feel better after working today than I did all weekend.  I will eat fresh pineapple, maybe not a whole pineapple a day (which was recommended).  I may make some more raspberry leaf tea, but I will drink it before bed and make sure I am also drinking enough water (because I noticed I was getting headaches after drinking it).  I will do recommended exercises for helping you get into a good position for birth, but I will not obsess about it – you’re still moving a lot. I will continue living my life, napping as my body tells me to, and taking walks and doing yoga when my body tells me to.

I have certainly slowed down A LOT during this pregnancy. It has been an interesting time for me—as I have mentioned before, it is strange for me to not be feeling great physically. In many ways, it has been good to slow down and focus on this very significant life change.  My days of arm-balances, and working on handstands at yoga, and hiking 10 miles of AT Rollercoaster for fun on a Saturday are simply on hold. My strong body has done some amazing things, but making you, Baby, is the most amazing thing it has done yet.  We look forward to snuggling you!

Love,

YOUR MOM.  ❤

Gender Reveal Shenanigans: “Early Easter”

23 weeks Pregnant

Dear Baby,

This Saturday morning your dad and I had planned to do our taxes, but instead YOUR MOM fell asleep on the couch after breakfast for 3 HOURS!!! When I finally woke up the weather was still unseasonably warm, so we went for a walk at Sugarland Run and talked about how we could, in a fun way, reveal your gender to our parents.  We went to Giant and the early appearance of Easter eggs and candy gave us this idea:

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We let each of your grandparents open an egg… all together: img_2444

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Pink chocolate eggs = It’s a Girl!

Everyone was exited, especially Grandma Char and Grandma Carol.

Since we found out that you are a girl, your dad has been so excited.  It’s very cute.  You were shy at the ultrasound, often covering your face with your little hands (especially after we looked at your genitals — I can’t blame you). And I had to drink free juice and walk the halls of the Washington Radiology Center for 10 minutes to get you to move into the right position and encourage you to keep active.  Luckily they provided me with a warm robe to wear over the gown, and my own changing area — it was almost like a radiology spa.  I can hardly believe that after all this time and how much I seem to have grown, you weigh only about 1 pound! We can’t wait to meet you — I almost wish this pregnancy would go faster!  Of course we still have ALL the “nesting” tasks to do to prepare for your arrival.

In the coming weeks we will take a childbirth class. We will do our best to educate ourselves so we can give you as calm a birth as possible — to control what we can and be ready to make appropriate decisions to deal with unexpected/non-ideal circumstances should that be necessary.  I have also been reading about newborn care.  It’s more pleasant than reading about pregnancy and feels more important.  I know that having you will be a huge adjustment and big change for us.  Know that we love you very much.  Keep growing, little girl!

Love,

YOUR MOM

(I don’t know why but I find it hilarious to write “your mom” and be referring to myself…).

 

The Other Side of Inertia

2/15/17 : 22 Weeks Pregnant

I never liked studying physics, but I am a strong believer in inertia. When it comes to exercise, and feeling good, I believe inertia is powerful. Start a habit that works for you, and it becomes hard to stop, and eventually you can just go on auto-pilot and have healthy habits, more or less. I wasn’t always physically fit, but since I started regular exercise a few years after college, I have been riding the wave of inertia. It wasn’t easy to start, but I got going, and kept finding things I enjoyed doing, from jogging on a treadmill with good music, to workout videos with weights at home, to running around Burke lake when I was in PTA school, to hiking up and down the AT “rollercoaster”, to a regular vigorous yoga practice.  Working out wasn’t work.  I wanted to do it, because it always made me feel good. Most days, it was harder not to do it.

Pregnancy has brought my fitness inertia to a halt.  Spending hours on the couch feeling gross in the first trimester, and continued napping and exhaustion in the second trimester has curbed my motivation and my fitness level. I find myself breathing heavily at work after doing hard manual therapy on someone’s shoulder, and I sit down as much as possible during the work day (I am still up and down very frequently, all day).  After work, sleeping is all I want to do.  And there isn’t much that I enjoy – so food is a pleasure that I enjoy when I’m feeling well. I have gained what seems to me to be a lot of weight (I think it’s fairly normal at this point*) but my weight is all over, not just in the belly, so I have been creative about my wardrobe choices.  Pants that used to be loose and easy are now form-fitting.  To celebrate not being chastised for my weight gain by the nurse at my last OB visit, Brian and I went to Chick-fil-a for dinner afterward and I had FRIES. OMG they were so good!!  But since then, I have been trying to clean up my diet a little. It’s not like I’m eating much more than I did before I was pregnant, but my activity level is so much lower, and foods that used to be my healthy mainstays are out of the question.  All of this sounds like whining, I know.  I’m just used to being in control of my body and feeling pretty great physically.

Inertia used to be my friend, but it is now working against me.  Getting myself to exercise, even though I generally feel great afterward, is so so very hard.  I’ve been sitting, so I have no energy, and then I keep sitting (and sleeping, and lying down), and that doesn’t help.

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My favorite Iron Pumping Video. She looks scary, but it’s not scary, I promise.

So yesterday, I decided to do something different.  As I was driving home from work, fighting sleepiness, I decided I would put on one of my old Jackie Warner video and do what I could of it and modify as needed (Remember when I was a BEAST and everyone was like, OMG, your arms are so buff?  Jackie is mostly responsible).  I muted it, and played crazy hip hop and just followed along, of course not doing the millions of crunches she does, and being careful about my body mechanics. And I restricted myself to my 2 and 4 pound dumbbells (though at one point I was using 7 and 10 pound dumbbells for the same exercises).  I did a little yoga/stretch session afterward.  For the rest of the evening, until I fell asleep at 8:30pm, I felt AMAZING.  Today, I still feel pretty good, and thankfully, I didn’t push myself too hard, so while I can feel my gluts a little bit more than usual, I will not be too sore to work today.

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The weights look bigger if you hold them closer to the camera…. riiiight?

It’s still going to be a fight against inertia to get myself moving, but it was nice to break the pattern.  And it was actually nice to not try to force myself to do yoga with all the pregnancy modifications I have to make now.  I miss my “beast mode,” but I hope it will come back someday.  For now, I’m happy to keep things moderate, pump a little iron, stay flexible, and go on some nice walks now and then.  And I know that the more I do those things with regularity, the better I’m going to feel and the more energy I will have.

*The “healthy” weight gain for a pregnant woman is a total of 25-35 lbs (according to What to Expect When You’re Expecting).  I have already gained about 12-15lbs (depending on what scale and when).

The “Pregnant Plod”: Our Weekend in Sperryville

2/5/2017 – 20 weeks Pregnant

Dear Peanut,

You are MUCH bigger than a peanut now – bigger than a sweet potato and at least as long as a banana according to various charts on the internet.  Your dad and I estimate that you might be about the size of a guinea pig, but I don’t want to call you “Guinea Pig”—that just sounds wrong on a lot of different levels.  We hope you are not a guinea pig, and don’t plan to treat you like one.  We also don’t know your sex yet, but honestly, I don’t care, as long as you are a healthy human baby.

This weekend your dad and I visited one of our favorite places, Hopkins Ordinary B&B and Aleworks in Sperryville, VA.  We apologized to Kevin and Sherri, informing them that we would not be living up to our “status quo” amount of beer consumption established on previous visits.  We didn’t even bring a growler, because your dad didn’t want to be responsible for such a large amount of beer on his own.  I did enjoy small sips and tastes of their beer, and my favorite breakfast from their repertoire, “Eggs Hopkins” (with some questionable ingredients for pregnancy…).  I hope you don’t mind.

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Winter Hiking. Pregnant Hiking. Putting on My Game Face.

We also managed a hike yesterday, Little Devil’s Stairs.  We haven’t hiked in a while, because I just haven’t been up to it.  We forgot a lot of our usual hiking equipment: hand sanitizer, sunscreen (I left it in the car), beef jerky (I probably shouldn’t eat that anyway), and our map.  We kept joking about feeling like hiking rookies/nubes again.  Little Devil’s Stairs was an interesting choice – we picked it because it was shorter than some of the other hikes in the area, but it involves a long, steep ascent up a gorge.  Your dad reminded me to “Alpine Plod,” a technique I learned in the Alps and attempted to convert him to in Europe and Colorado on our high altitude hikes.  I tried to keep moving, but this was a SLOW PLOD for sure.  We’ll call it the “Pregnant Plod.”  Unlike the Alpine Plod, the Pregnant Plod included several short stops to sit on rocks and enjoy the view of the rapids and ice formations in the creek as we gazed down the gorge; opportunities to catch my breath and wonder how much longer the ascent would be.  At one point an older couple, maybe in their 60s, passed us and I asked them how much further it was to the top. I imagined that as they hiked on ahead they congratulated themselves for being in better shape than us despite our relatively young age.  Your dad said that next time we caught up to them, he would say “yep, It’s her first hike after cancer!”  to make me seem more respectable.  (We acknowledge, of course, that pregnancy, and even a rough first trimester is NOTHING compared to fighting cancer—forgive us for our political incorrectness).  Your dad scouted ahead at one point, and luckily, we were close to the top, so I decided to keep plodding on up instead of turning back and descending via the steep “stairs.” We took the “easy way” down via the fire road, which seemed to go on FOREVER. (Last time we did this hike, over a year ago, we returned via a different trail to make the hike LONGER, because your mom, in her previous physical condition, tried to make all hikes as hard-core as possible).

I am definitely pretty de-conditioned at this point, and I know some of this is due to the decreased lung capacity that comes with pregnancy, but spending the first trimester lying on the couch feeling gross instead of enjoying my previous exercise habits contributed.  All things considered, we still hiked over 5 miles, so I count that as a win for our family.

After our hike and beer tasting, we had dinner at the Headmaster’s Pub in Sperryville, right across the street from Hopkins. Your dad ate a very spicy plate of wings. He was sweating, and breathing to cool his mouth, and had to take a break in the middle, but came back to finish them all because they were so delicious.  At one point, there were rivulets of sweat dripping down his neck.  I joked that it was almost like he was giving birth, then we laughed because, clearly, the comparison between giving birth and eating a spicy plate of wings is like comparing  Mount Everest to Little Devil’s Stairs.  If only labor could be that easy!  Gosh, that would be awesome… (and I handle spicy food much better than your dad does).

After the physical effort and excitement of the hike and the plate of wings, we made a nice fire in the fireplace in our B&B room and enjoyed some quiet time just for the two of us; we know big changes are coming, and quiet times like this will be few and far between.  We are truly eager to meet you and snuggle you, and are doing our best to enjoy this stage of waiting.

Love,   Mom

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Quiet time by the fire.
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After the hike, I let your dad rub my feet with fancy coconut-lime lotion and then put my “spa socks” on (both gifts from your Aunt Annie).

 

 

 

 

 

P.S: We also checked out “Before & After” the new coffee shop in Sperryville. I enjoyed a chai latte and read about Virginia’s winter birds, then we checked out the Art Gallery upstairs.

Hey guys… I’m pregnant! 

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So, internet, we are having a baby in June!!  Or July.  You know, sometime around then. We are excited, and have been hoping for this for a while, though I can’t imagine a better time than now.  It is funny how life works out that way.  Early last year, we were wondering WHEN would we get pregnant?  For most of our lives, many women are obsessed with preventing pregnancy, then ALL OF A SUDDEN we stop, and we WANT A BABY IMMEDIATELY.  Meanwhile, I imagine our bodies are like, “what??  Are you sure?”, and after enough months of trying, I guess my body understood that yes, we were sure.  So, here we go!  For 2017, this is my Tour de Mont Blanc, this is my Kilimanjaro, my Himalayan trek, my adventure for the year. (For the year and beyond, really…)

I haven’t published any of this yet, but of course I have been writing a bit throughout the pregnancy. I was worried about publishing before I had told people in person, and now I think enough people know that it’s ok.  I am sorry if I didn’t have a chance to let you know individually, but… this is pretty personal… so you are still privileged… I mean, I only share my blog with you on Facebook if I have deemed you “blog-friendly” (seriously, it’s a special list of people that I have!), so please feel special.

And here is my long winded pregnancy journal thus far:

12/1/16 – 10 weeks pregnant

Dear Peanut,

Maybe one day I will tell I will tell you how pregnancy helped your mom understand that it is ok to be human.  Maybe one day you’ll know how hard I worked to get my head and heart straight before your dad and I managed to conceive you.  Maybe I’ll tell you how thankful I was that I could approach parenthood from this solid, sane and reasonable place where I am comfortable in my own human skin.  You have already helped me to learn a valuable lesson: that I am human, I am not a work and yoga robot, and the world will not crumble if I show some weakness.

Right now, you are 3.17cm long and your heartbeat is a healthy 170 beats per minute, and you are smaller than a hummingbird.  You are making me nauseous and sleepy and I have called in sick four times in the past month.  However, you are pretty cool.  I know this because we saw your little tiny legs and arms wiggling and I could just tell. Plus, you are ours.

Today, I am grateful for the little things.  Treated myself to Robeks (again… because its delicious and I can keep it down most of the time) and my medium smoothie got “larged.”  I came home to a happy kitty in a sunny window.  I have great music playing.  I am not vomiting right now, and you are as healthy as we could hope at this early stage.  Life is good, and so is being human.

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A few weeks ago, I discovered the Robeks around the corner from work!  It can be ON MY WAY to work.  It was a very exciting moment.

12/20/16 – 13 weeks preggers. 

Pregnancy sucks.

As you may have guessed, Brian has been doing pretty much EVERYTHING around the house these days (well… he has always done pretty much everything around the house) while I sleep and vomit and struggle to manage my existing commitments.  But this weekend some of my work pants did not get washed by Brian with the rest of the laundry (since I didn’t put them in the right place).  I crawled out of bed and had to put away my folded laundry that was filling the laundry basket, the whole time saying “I can do this, I can do a load of laundry.” Then I rounded up my clothes from off the floor, the chair, hanging in various places and put them in the basket, then started a load of laundry with my work clothes in it, resolving not to be a smelly pregnant lady.  After I put the load in, I “assumed the position” over the toilet, retching up what little saltine residue was in my belly.

I have never been so exhausted in my life, and I am used to feeling good, working my very physical job, doing a vigorous yoga practice 4-5x a week and generally feeling physically awesome.  Now making it through each work day, or even getting out of bed, feels like a herculean accomplishment. While I am home, I am usually sleeping. And spending the afternoon in the yoga studio on Saturday left me sleeping all day on Sunday.  I wrote recently about depression; sometimes depression makes it hard to get out of bed.  This is not depression-related, and that is weird for me. I feel fabulous mentally and emotionally.   I want to do all the cute pregnancy things that women do, like taking cute pictures of my belly and rubbing lotion on it.  But all I can do is keep my work under control, barely make it to the yoga class I am teaching, and (if I’m lucky) follow through on the existing social commitments I have made.  But I am comforted to know that there is a little baby growing inside of me, and all signs point to its good health.

Gestating is hard work.

1/1/17 – Sunday – 15 weeks pregnant

So, I’ll be optimistic and say that I am feeling a little bit better.  I am not as nauseous. I am still exhausted – like a totally un-human amount of exhaustion. WHAT THE F@#$ is going on with my body??  I managed to do 2 short yoga practices at home, very low key in comparison to what I did pre-prego, and they felt great.  I managed to go to Asana Club (Yoga play-time) at my studio (the first time I had been there in 2 weeks) and do some Sun salutations and stretches and lie on the floor in reclined butterfly.  I consider these things victories, but I certainly don’t feel like myself.  Meanwhile, What to Expect When You’re Expecting tells me that my uterus is about the size of a small melon, and my baby is between the size of an apple and an avocado.  Co-workers began mentioning this past week that I was “showing.”  I am still worried, after a nurse exclaimed at my last OB appointment, that I have gained more weight then I should have by this point, otherwise, I would be more proud of “showing.”  Brian is taking amazing care of me, and this weekend, instead of doing any number of new years’ things, we cleared the schedule and laid low.  Christmas weekend was very busy, filled with a month’s worth of wonderful things and people, so this weekend it was nice to just be lazy.

Needless to say, we are looking forward to 2017.  I am very excited for this baby to be born and not be inside me anymore.  I can hardly wait, really.  Every time I see a baby on TV or on facebook I WANT TO SNUGGLE IT.  For now, Little Avocado, stay in my belly and grow big and strong.  But not TOO big please.  And I will do my best to incubate you lovingly.

1/28/17 Saturday – 19 Weeks PREGNART!

Had a relaxing morning lying in bed for an hour and a half finishing my new Augusten Burroughs book (Lust and Wonder), which has absolutely nothing to do with pregnancy, childbirth, or Donald Trump’s executive orders.  I have been obsessively reading and talking to friends about childbirth for the past several weeks/months/I don’t even know how long.  Yesterday I talked with and answered questions from co-workers and yogis ALL DAY about my pregnancy, and as much as I appreciate people’s concern and interest, I was SO exhausted last night.  so reading Augusten’s book provided a welcome respite to totally disengage from that.  Instead, I worried about Augusten, worried about him losing his long-term relationship, then hoping he would get on anti-depressants (like me) and be ok with it.  As a recovering catastrophist married to a very content person myself, I can relate. While I can see the value/appeal of going off meds to see where your brain settles, I also am not willing to go back to the fear and anxiety I used to live with.  I am proud of him, though, for sharing his story, the work in progress of his life.  Augusten, though I have borrowed most of your books from the library, I am glad I bought this one (or my husband did, for me for Christmas) to help you recover financially from filling your void with gemstone jewelry.  Also, Augusten, you are awesome, please keep writing, and let’s hang out.

I have decided to give myself a vacation from reading about childbirth and pregnancy. We have scheduled tours for both the Inova Loudoun “Birthing Inn” and natural birth center, and I have educated myself to pieces about home birth.  We’ll take the tours and make a decision, but there’s no decision to make in the next 2 weeks until we take the tours.  While I may take action to hire a doula, there is nothing to be gained from more obsessing in the next 2 weeks.  I will continue living, as much as I can, and let this baby brew.  Anticipation can be a difficult thing to live with, so I will do my best to find peace and calm and live this phase.

If you need a good laugh, check THIS VIDEO out. 

I just howled watching it again.

 

 

 

Biking Uphill (Part 2 of 2)

Here’s more of the story:

This year was not my first time being in counseling/talk therapy.  I know my history; transitions suck for me.  When I decided to change jobs, I knew it would be a difficult transition.  I was reaching the end of my resilience, in a state of burn-out, possibly ready to give up my career if things didn’t work out.  It was time.  It was an act of surrender.

One of the first things my therapist Lisa told me was to try focusing on the other people in an interaction.  To try to see the other people rather than worrying about how I came across.  This was a revelation and I immediately started to feel less anxious and thought, “Wow, is this how normal people feel?”

As I continued therapy with Lisa, I continued to see improvement as I focused HARD on my self-care, did lots of deep breathing, and started meditating every morning before walking into work.  With her encouragement I began to think outside of the box about what would refuel me.  I learned and reminded myself daily that healthy socializing and connecting with people is generally more fulfilling than spending an afternoon on the couch.

In late 2015, Lisa suggested I see a psychiatrist and consider going on medication for my depression/anxiety.  I put it off.  I mean, things were already going so much better than they had been 6 months earlier. What if medication messed with that? I was resistant for philosophical reasons too; I strongly believed there was nothing wrong with me. It’s just our society, northern VA, I thought. But I listened to my therapist and set up an appointment with a shrink she recommended.  The appointment was 2 months away, but there was no rush, I was doing so well.  But still, there was a hump I couldn’t get over.

Low level, long standing depression is like moving through water.  You don’t know why it is so hard to do simple things, sometimes just getting off the couch. You want to call a friend or talk to a cool person at yoga or ask your co-worker a work related question. But it’s just a lot harder to do these things than it should be.  I had reached the point where I was philosophically OK with not being perfect, with learning at work rather than hiding my shortcomings, with letting people see my insecurities socially rather than hiding at home. But it was still VERY HARD to do these things, they were very taxing. It was like biking uphill.

I started seeing my shrink in February. She started me on Wellbutrin, a medication I had taken in 2006-7 that seemed helpful at the time.  This time, I didn’t know if it was helping. Things seemed ok, and I was afraid to make a change because I was terrified of things getting worse.

Within a few months, I had reached what I call “the end of my rope” – This didn’t look like much from the outside—I was going to work, getting my job done, moving through life. I never called in sick; I never had a day when I couldn’t get out of bed.  But everything I did felt hard and heavy, like moving through water, like biking uphill.

In April my shrink and I reached the conclusion that Wellbutrin wasn’t working.  I began tapering off the Wellbutrin and tapering up Zoloft.  Have you ever seen the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper?  Or the TV show with the same name?  I recently watched the first few episodes of the TV show (on Netflix).  The main character, Brian, takes an NZT pill and it allows him to use all parts of his brain and accomplish things that seemed impossible to him.  I joked with my Brian that this is roughly the way I felt on Zoloft. While I couldn’t magically read and retain the information in 200 personnel files in 20 minutes, I could live my life without walking through water.  I’m not becoming a US Senator or working for the FBI like the Limitless characters, but I am teaching a yoga class and walking into rooms without fear. With zoloft, there is a little more ease and a little less effort. Asking a question about work or even texting a new friend to invite them to hang out with me used to be terrifying.  Now, I do these things without apology and with fewer reservations.  I am not sorry for existing anymore (in this post, I wrote about how I used to feel).

Zoloft is not NZT, obviously. Zoloft is an SSRI, a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. When I began taking it, within about a week, it was clear that it was making a difference. Apparently, my brain just doesn’t produce enough serotonin, and now I get to use what little serotonin I do produce for a little bit longer. As a result, I now feel like I wake up every day to a life worth living.  There are still things I am working on. I waste horrible amounts of time on facebook. I still have a hard time throwing things away. I still sometimes worry I am not good enough. But these feelings are less severe now; they no longer paralyze me.

A lot has happened this year. I started a new job in October 2015. I did yoga teacher training September 2015 – February 2016. I cut back my work hours in April 2016. We went to Colorado in August 2016. I am proud of these things, but there are other things I’m not proud of that I’m not mentioning here J . I have also cultivated some new and valuable friendships, I am enjoying my career, I am loving my yoga activities, and, in my opinion, I am happy as f@#&.

I couldn’t have gotten here on my own. It took a great therapist, the right medication, and cultivating excellent self-care habits to allow me to take the initiative to go after and ask for what I wanted (if you think I am patting myself on the back, you’re right) in life and work. In addition, I have an amazingly supportive husband and set of parents, day after day. Here I am.  I am not sorry for existing.

For many years I felt going on medication would be a sign of weakness. This weekend I heard the beginning of the TED radio hour, where Andrew Solomon said the following: “It takes certain toughness… resilience… to seek the help that you need and go on and build a worthwhile life… but that’s something I can say now that I am feeling better most of the time.” In addition, he compared taking a shower while depressed to planning your route to ascend Mont Blanc, and that got my attention.  In his TED talk he says “Depression is the family secret that everyone has.” So I am sharing it with you now that I have made it to the other side.

I was not sure how to share this, but I hope that any of you will feel comfortable talking to me about it, especially if you feel like you are moving through water or biking uphill.  And I can tell you that getting treated is worth it, even if your depression doesn’t seem that severe to you or to anyone else.  Knowing what I know now, I wish I had given medication a serious try many years ago. But, looking ahead, I am grateful that I will be living my life, not just enduring it.

This quote captures how I feel about therapy and medication, which have been my saving grace: “Grace means suddenly you’re in a different universe from the one where you were stuck, and there was absolutely no way for you to get there on your own.” – Anne Lamott