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No clean slate

June 15, 2017

Lately I’ve been feeling very meh. There’s so much focus on postpartum depression, and although there was moodiness after delivery, it was overshadowed by the sleep deprivation and life overhaul. Turns out there’s also an association between breastfeeding weaning and depression. It makes sense. After delivery, your estrogen and progesterone levels tank, so that’s a biggie. But with weaning, your prolactin and oxytocin levels tank. So all those biological feelings of well-being and love? Crash. I wonder if this is less well known because so many moms either just formula feed their babies, or wean pretty early. So all the mood changes get lumped into post-partum depression.

So there’s the weaning. But there’s also just fatigue from everything else. Sleep deprivation from one reason or another. Sometimes it’s work. Once in a while, baby decides he needs to not be sleeping, either re-testing out boundaries or actually having good reasons like missing family members who are away for work or vacation. Sometimes it’s the dog, who for whatever reason decides that night she needs to freak the fuck out, or pace around nervously, or whatever. Sometimes it’s the rain on the skylights. Sometimes it’s a stray spam phone call at an ungodly hour. Whatever it is, it adds up. Then there’s work. At first it was catch-up work from maternity leave. Oh, and mommy brain, which is definitely real. Holy fuck, mommy brain sucks. A few times I’ve found myself so sure that something is the case, and turns out to be entirely wrong. Those little baby cells in my brain are wreaking havoc with my memory. Also trying to juggle everything. 5-8pm is just the most stressful time of day. Trying to get out from work, then standing at the bus station at the mercy of whatever stupid reason the bus, which theoretically runs every 10-15 minutes during rush hour, doesn’t show up for 40 minutes. Trying to make dinner, and now trying to make food for baby that won’t result in him choking to death. Or raspberrying it all back into my face. (No pureed peas. That’s the lesson from this.) Trying to make dinner not too close to baby’s bedtime. Trying to find time to call my mother. Not knowing if baby will bite my boob off at the next feeding. Not knowing if baby will fall asleep tonight on time (which thankfully is 90% of the time), or cry and cry until you let him stay up another hour. I think the unpredictability of the bus (despite GPS apps that tell you when they think a bus will arrive) results in the most stress. Sometimes you end up losing half an hour sitting around. 30 minutes out of a stressful 3 hour window is a lot.

And turns out there’s one more thing. Something I’ve mused about before. Most of my life until now has been parcelled out into 3-6 year blocks. The longest block was elementary school! Once the block is over, you get to celebrate, and throw out all details and start afresh. It’s been now 5 years since the last major transition to this city and this job. I know a lot happened during this time, major life milestones. But everything happens overlapping now. Stuff just builds up now.

I find myself looking to Facebook or Google News regularly trying to find something to celebrate. It’s as useful as when I used to check the pantry when I was lonely. You don’t find a friend in a pantry. And you don’t find good news in The News. If it isn’t some natural disaster, it’s a terror attack. People dying from one thing or another. Fires, explosions, violence, bloodshed. Racism, xenophobia, politicizing, sensationalizing. There’s nothing to celebrate there.

So stuff just builds up. And there’s no quintessential moment anymore where the slate is wiped clean. No graduation and moving on. No grand plans to look forward to in excitement and anticipation. Just more and more responsibilities. More and more hurdles. Overlapping and competing deadlines. And crappy news from all over the world.

So some of it’s hormonal. But a lot of it is just built up crap.