The Darkest Days: Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

I knew well before I gave birth to Little Oats that I would need to be on the lookout for PPD. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for the majority of my life, and I remained on a mild dose of antidepressants throughout my pregnancy. Screening tests at the midwife gave me a high likelihood of PPD, and by the time I had gone through the emotional ups and downs of a long labour, I would have written myself a prescription if I could.

By three days postpartum, the crying was nonstop. Not Little Oats’ crying…mine. Everything set me off, and I found that as soon as it started to get dark outside, I got an overwhelming sense of foreboding. Any new mama is going to struggle with exhaustion and emotions, but this was just the beginning of something much darker.

Late one night, as I was walking Little Oats in circles trying to calm her down, an image flashed through my brain. ‘What if I dropped her?‘ I gripped her extra tight, now carefully watching each of my steps to make sure I didn’t stumble or fall.

Later in the week, as I was coming down the stairs, I got a vivid picture in my head of slipping down the stairs. It wouldn’t go away, and I was nauseous, panicked and absolutely terrified that something might happen to Little Oats.

This continued to happen at various points during the day. I won’t share some of the more disturbing scenarios I imagined; they still haunt me to this day. I was never afraid that I would hurt Little Oats, but there was a deep-seated fear that something out of my control would happen. I couldn’t leave the house, because I was worried about driving with her. I couldn’t make myself lunch while holding her, for fear of spilling something on her or dropping her. Every time I panicked about something, I scolded myself. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t be a normal human being? Was this the ‘postpartum psychosis’ that is whispered about behind closed doors and in the most gruesome of newspaper articles?

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Birthday Banners

I’d consider myself to be a semi-crafty person. I like crafting, to a degree. A little project here and there is fun, but too much of one, especially one that requires lots of precision and exact measurements, and I’m stressed out and frustrated. Because of this, when it comes to Lil’ CB’s birthday parties, I keep the crafting and DIY to a manageable minimum. I’ll throw together enough small projects to pull a theme together, but I’m definitely not one of those mommas that will fold and create hundreds of paper flowers for a backdrop! Don’t get me wrong — I adore that kind of decor and find it lovely, but I would probably walk away from that in tears and with cut up or burned hands… because in addition to being wary of difficult crafts, I tend to be on the klutzy side! ;)

Given all of that, the one DIY craft that has remained consistent for the three parties I’ve thrown for Lil’ CB is his birthday banner. It’s a simple enough craft where I can get it done in a few hours (or even less with some help!), but has enough of a presence to make a theme stand out. Let’s take a look back at Lil’ CB’s past birthday banners, shall we?

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I’m Starting to Sound Like a Broken Record…

Sometimes I find myself repeating the same things over and over to my kids. After another night of saying, “we don’t eat play-doh,” it made me think back on some of the common sayings I heard from my parents growing up!

- “If you say that one more time I’m going to clean your mouth out with soap!”

- “Do you think money grows on trees?”

- “Don’t sit too close to the TV; it’ll ruin your eyes!”

- “Don’t read in the dark, you’ll go blind!”

- “I just want what’s best for you”

- “This hurts me more than it hurts you”

- “Who said life was fair?”

- “When you have your own house, you can make your own rule.”

- “As long as you live under my roof, you do what I say.”

- “I don’t care who started it.”

- “Don’t cross your eyes, they’re going to freeze that way,”

- “You’ll understand when you’re older”

… and of course, the ever so popular, “I’m starting to sound like a broken record!”, which is how I’m feeling these days!

What common sayings did your parents say to you growing up?  Which ones do you find yourself repeating?

Disney Prep: Secrets & Extra Stuff to do at the Park

The Chocolates will be Disney bound in just a few short weeks. I have been up to my eyeballs in Disney for the last few weeks reading websites, forums, books to get us ready for this trip. To be honest I think I am just as excited, if not more so, than my children (since one doesn’t know what Disney is and the other only has a vague notion). I will be doing a series of posts leading up to our trip about what we are bringing, what our tentative schedule breakdown will look like as we balance a 4 year old and a 1 year old, our hotel review (we are staying in a family suite at the Art of Animation), food reviews, photography tips (and fails) and anything else that comes up.  This post is dedicated to Disney extras or secrets I have been trying to find before we arrive.

Ever since I learned about the Disney store opening ceremony, I realized that Disney truly is a place that wants to make magical memories for children. If they do a special ceremony at their stores, you have to imagine their parks must have a few wonderful things hidden up their sleeves. Since Drake and Juliet are both still young and not really Disney lovers to begin with, I am really keen on finding ways to make this trip memorable for them. These are some tips I’ve gathered:

- If you board the Liberty Square (a large replica steamboat), children who ask may be allowed to go into the steering room with the wheel and get to “steer” the boat. They also get a certificate at the end as a souvenir.

(image via disneyworld)

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Moving House with a Toddler

I’m writing this from a phone. We moved to our new home this week and I have no idea where the charger to our laptop is hiding!

A few weeks ago I shared our family’s plans to downsize. With the housing market in recovery, I did not expect that our house would sell anytime soon. But much to our surprise, we had an offer within three weeks, and after some hectic negotiations, we accepted! It took about six weeks, from listing to closing, to sell our house. We had about three weekends to pack up. It was a pretty eventful time for us! Here some of the things that worked out for us, plus the things that we found difficult:

Purging: I took moving as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of the clutter around our house. I figured each thing I got rid of would be one fewer item to pack. Also, our new place is quite a bit smaller than our old home, and we don’t have a lot of storage space, so it was necessary to pare down. Over the course of about three weeks we got rid of probably a third of our belongings. The first two weeks we cleared out all of our valuable, but unused items. The weekend before we moved we had a garage sale. We priced things aggressively to ensure they sold. We also donated a lot of odds and ends. Now that we are in the new house I am planning to get rid of even more stuff as I unpack and can better determine what we need and where we have a surplus.

Use it all up: Once we put our house on the market, I made it my goal to use what we had instead of buying anything new. We managed to eat almost everything in our fridge, deep freezer, and pantry, which made it a lot easier to manage moving those appliances and their contents. Same goes for beauty products, medicine, gift wrap, craft items, and office supplies.

For the last few days, buy shelf-stable foodstuffs: We ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches in the days leading up to our move. We also did a lot of takeout and fast food, but any time we could make a meal out of food we had on hand was healthier and better for our budget.

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The Every Single Summer Day Dress

This is the type of dress that is a total no brainer to just throw on. But once you do, you end up looking like it was a very well thought out outfit. Dresses that you can wear every day, dress up or down and still be really comfy. Every day dresses that can be layered and kept for years to come. Basically when I say Every Single Day Summer Dresses, I mean every-single-day.

no.1 Target – no.2 Madewell - no.3 ASOS – no.4 F21 – no.5 Madewell – no.6 The Gap – no.7 ASOS – no.8 Old Navy – no.9 Aritzia – no.10 F21 – no.11 ASOS – no.12 JCrew

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10 Books for the Animal Loving Toddler

Reading (or at least the telling of stories and looking at pictures in a book) takes up a big portion of our day here in the Grizzly Bear household. I’m not surprised to walk into the children’s room first thing in the morning to be met by Patrick holding out a book out to me. It doesn’t always mean ‘read this right now’ since both my cubs usually have ferocious appetites in the morning that need to be fed right. this. instant. But I love that it shows his interest to learn. Olivia has even gotten in on the ‘bring-mom-a-book-and-plop-down-in-her-lap’ action. She may not sit still long enough to actually read the book, but she does enjoy flipping the pages and pointing arbitrarily at things.

Both cubs seem to share a very big love for books involving animals or with animals as the main character. I would say that eight times out of ten I’m handed a book full of animals, and not just one animal but several different kinds of animals! So I thought I might compile a list of our favorite animal books for younger and older toddlers:

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