Monday, July 30, 2012

Gluten and moo cows

We are heading into week 3 of an elimination diet of gluten in our house, (on top of 3 months of no dairy) and so far, so good. While I hate hate hate the idea of a cup of morning coffee sans half n half, I have resigned myself to coconut milk creamer, and the best thing that I can say about it is that it doesn't make me gag.

But, the baby is so.much.easier. in temperament when I abstain from the white stuff. If I cheat, it shows up in his diapers (sorry, but awfully true) or in his rumbling tummy approximately 90 minutes later, so after many, many hopeful spoonfuls of yogurt and one terrible iced coffee from McDonald's, I've stopped expecting a sudden miracle cure. Maybe around 6 months.

Juuuust to make life a little trickier (and dinnertime more stressful), we've also started cutting grains from our diet, starting with the big-G. Both Dave and I have underactive thyroids, and while our medication works well, I was recently reading some interesting stuff on Kris' blog that led me to believe perhaps we could be feeling even better. Especially Dave - some of the 'silent celiac' symptoms described here are him, to a T.

Now I know it's so, so obnoxious to jump on the latest dietary bandwagon, and I'm not saying any of us are true celiacs, but I have to say we feel about 1.4 million times better since we've stopped eating the stuff.

And, perhaps most importantly to my shallow self, we've both seen awesome results on the scale. Like, mind blowing results. My poor husband usually gains a bit of baby weight right along with me, and we've both been faithful to our workouts this month, but the week we cut out gluten, he lost a whopping 4 pounds in almost as many days, and I lost 5.5 in a week. I almost fell of the scale when I saw the number. And I immediately began texting all my sisters and telling them how 'I usually have to give birth to put up numbers like that.'


But it's true! And now for a second week, we're seeing sustained results. So...what do you think, is there a hideous, wheat-bloating connection here?

*I should note that Joey does get some gluten in his diet still in the form of sprouted bread, which is probably no better than any other bread, but gives me an inflated sense of motherly accomplishment. And he is alloted, per his pediatrician, a mere 12 oz. of dairy per day to offset his sloooooow digestive tract. We bought a bit of lactose free milk over the weekend (I am sorry, this is seriously the worst and most boring post ever. EVER.) and he sucked it down like it was pure sweet nectar and then (seriously) ran around the house mooing. So I guess he does know the difference between cows and coconuts.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I was so wasted last night...

Oh, wait...nope. That was just the way I felt after watching theee most disturbing/depressing/discordant Opening Ceremonies ever. Ever. There was a giant, creepy baby made of paper mache, a ginormous Dementor torturing a 7-year old girl on a floating hospital bed, and inexplicable choruses of swing dancing nurses-turned-creepy-marionettes.
Are you having a waking nightmare yet?
Oh, and a tribute to the internet. Which was shockingly reported to have been invented by someone other than Al Gore.

God save the Queen, indeed. Thanks for a glimpse into the terrifying future of godless secularism, Brits.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Women, infants, children

I suppose Dave was spot-on with his withering critique of my go-to momiform, but I guess I didn't realize how right until the checker at King Sooper's asked me yesterday, in all seriousness, 'Is this WIC, or what?'

I blinked at him a couple of times and then realized he was asking if my cartfull of produce, canned tuna and refried beans was going to be paid for in foodstamps. Nice.

Since we've been reigning in the 'ol food budget I guess my haul does look suspiciously, well, healthy. Aka government subsidized? Or perhaps it was my two mewling children, a shocking 19 months apart, one of whom had wiped banana all up and down my sagging yoga pants.

It's all glamor up in here, all the time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Turn the Corner

Both my babies are asleep, and I've consumed the final episode of the Bachelorette, so with my priorities firmly aligned, I thought I'd put an update out there into the internets.

It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote about my struggle with PPD, and I have to say, it has been a crazy awesome ride.

First of all, the support I received from so many of you meant the world to me. It's one thing to have an amazing husband saying to me 'this isn't you, it's something outside of you, you're not crazy,' but it's something quite different to hear that echoed again and again from friends - both in the virtual world and the real world - and from strangers that, yes, this is something real that happens to women and no, you aren't the first and only and worst mother in the world to experience it.

Really, I can't tell you how much that meant.

Second, I know there are people out there who don't believe in mental illness, or who see any admission of such as a kind of scarlet letter, a stamp of failure that secures a false belief about oneself being somehow 'defective.'

Well, it is real, and I very much doubt that diabetics or migraine sufferers waste time wringing their hands over fear of people's perceptions or judgements of them. They seek treatment. And when they find a treatment that alleviates or corrects their condition, they rejoice ... and for the love of God, they make use of it.

I'm preaching to the mirror here as much as to anyone else, because I know how difficult it can be to explain an 'invisible' illness to someone who is ill informed or simply ignorant. I know how hard it can be to convince yourself that this isn't just 'the new you' or 'the person you've always been.'

So I would say, listen to your spouse. Listen to your friends, and to your people you trust. If your personality has undergone some kind of dramatic overhaul and you're feeling miserable...that's not normal. And it doesn't have to be your 'new' normal.

Some of the best resources I've found are here, here and here.

The first is a fantastic website founded and curated by a woman who is herself a survivor of profound PPD. The second is a great resource for nursing moms who want to continue nursing while taking an anti-depressant. Obviously, it's a personal choice that each woman has to make for herself, but for me it was so important to continue building that bond with my new baby, especially since I felt like we'd been cheated of quality time in the first few dark months. I also feel really strongly about the benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding, if possible, and weighed my decision with advice from my doctors as far as which meds would transfer through my milk at the lowest rates.

Finally, (and getting even more personal, if that's even possible) Dave and I have started learning the Creighton method of Natural Family Planning (NFP), and I can tell you it is already making a world of difference in my heart as far as freeing me from a real 'fear of getting pregnant.'

Perhaps the most difficult part of this entire experience with PPD has been the absolute terror I felt over the prospect of having another baby in the immediate future (or some days, ever. ) Did I feel guilt over this? You bet. I'm a practicing Catholic, a firm believer in the beauty of the NFP lifestyle, and I would never consider introducing any kind of contraceptive into my sexual relationship with my husband. I love him too much, and I don't want to do anything that contradicts either his dignity, my dignity, or the integrity of the marital act. But still...legitimately terrified of getting pregnant.

The Church, in Her wisdom, has given us amazing tools to manage our shared fertility as married couples, and to responsibly and respectfully plan our families. That doesn't mean (contrary to popular belief) pop 'em out till you drop, but it also doesn't mean condoms. And certainly not the Pill, which can actually exacerbate some of the suffering of PPD, in addition to causing other health problems. Oh, and it is potentially abortifacient...minor detail, right?

So where does that leave us? Well, we learned the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP as taught by the Couple to Couple League during our engagement, but it was never really a perfect fit for us. Let's just say neither one of us are strong in math :) Plus, having now birthed two sleepless wonders of children, I was not about to have a set wake time involving temperature readings each morning. Just wasn't happening.

So off we trotted last weekend to our intro session to Creighton, and it has already lifted such a burden from my heart. In addition to the wonderful miracle of modern medicine working its magic in my bloodstream and brain cells, Creighton is working some magic in my soul, helping to dispel much of that fear and anxiety as I begin to grasp a more complete understanding of our fertility.

I'll leave this lengthy bulletin with a final charge to you, dear readers. If you or someone you know is suffering in this way (and I know there are a lot of ways to suffer, this is just one I've come face to face with), please don't hesitate to reach out. It doesn't have to be this way - it shouldn't be. And I hope some of what I've shared can help.

I also hope Emily marries Jef. Because reality tv is obviously very serious too.

P.s. Had to re-institute the dreaded comment moderation thanks to a trolling creeper who has once again found his way to  my corner of the internets. So please forgive the inconvenience, and know that I do LOVE your sweet and helpful comments, so keep 'em coming. And pray for my troll - God knows he needs it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dave Ramsey is my homeboy

...But boy oh BOY have we been cheating on our budget lately. Ever since it got real up in here ala PPD and an ill-timed international jaunt avec bebe, my go-to line has been 'where do you want to get dinner tonight?'

I rationalize our ridiculous dinning out expenditures by estimating that 'oh, it's only $25, that's probably maybe almost close to what we would spend on a home-cooked meal.' Of gold-crusted steak. Or I justify my quick lunchtime run to Chipotle as being 'for the boys' (one of whom is breastfeeding and the other who would eat an old boot dipped in ketchup).

The point is, I need to get back to planet reality where I a. menu plan with our weekly groceries and b. produce meals based roughly upon said menu not involving chips and salsa.

I am a straight up Dave Ramsey disciple, y'all, and yet, in the past 3 months (happy quarter year birthday, JP!) I think I've begged no fewer than 40 restaurant meals out of this post-partum period. Now, I'm willing to give myself a break because I have been legit psychotic more days than not, (by the way, the new meds are working splendidly well, if you can't tell by the tone of this ramble) but I'm ready to get back on track.

But I need your help mamas! What are your own menu-planning strategies for evening meals? As mentioned last week, I've got lunch covered with a Costco suitcase of refried beans, but dinner is my kryptonite. So I pose the following questions to you, oh wise and all-knowing internet:

1. Do you meal plan? What do you base it on? Family likes/dislikes? Ease of recipe? Sales on ingredients?

2. When do you prep/cook dinner? Do you use a (shudder) crock pot? Are your children more domesticated than mine?

3. How many times a week/month does your family eat out? I am prepared to be severely shamed by this answer, but I'm looking for a good baseline for our family, and I'm not sure 'every freaking chance mommy gets' is a reasonable answer.

Oh, and if you're not familiar with the sage Mr. Ramsey, please do yourself a massive favor and check out where you can learn aaaaaaall about his Total Money Makeover, and you can also listen LIVE to his fabulous radio show from 2pm-5pm EST every day via the same magic website.

His plan is the real deal; Dave and I have paid off $47K of debt since our engagement 4 years ago, and we've got (vom) $66K to go (Hail, Steubenville).  In other words, we won't be house shopping any time soon. But we will be completely out of debt while still in our early 30s, and we will  be able to build a much brighter and shiny-er future for our little fam, unburdened by any kind of car payment, student loan payment, credit card balance or even, God-willing, a mortgage payment one day.  Plus, it's been a huge blessing in our marriage and a great partner to NFP. There are some serious parallels between money and sex, I'm telling you.

So check it out. But first, please help me celebrate being 3 months post partum by getting my act together and learning how to meal plan.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A favor and a promise

To my dear readers:

I know you're out there, and I've been so overwhelmed by your generosity in response to my recent postings on PPD and all the glories of newborn parenting. Thank you.

I wanted to take the opportunity to invite you to adopt a new link in your daily internet habit: Heroic News.

I edit this wonderful news site and am finding stories everyday that are inspiring, troubling, sometimes shocking...but oh so necessary to distill for wider consumption by the general public.

If you will add Heroic News to your daily internet habit, I promise you will have a broader, deeper, and yes - sometimes more disturbing - picture of the culture we're living in. The culture we're building our careers and raising our families in.

It is so vitally important that the average person be informed on 'life issues' today. Technology and social policy are advancing so rapidly that most times, we're too busy asking can it be done? to stop and ask the more fundamental question: Should it be done?

So I invite you to visit Heroic News daily for the most comprehensive coverage of the most critical issues facing our culture today: abortion, human trafficking, stem cell research and cloning, euthanasia, contraceptives and reproductive technology, and the assault on the traditional family.

You can follow Heroic News via e-newsletter by clicking here and signing up for a daily dose, or you can simply visit our website at

Tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell your pastor or rabbi! Tell that guy at work who sends you weird headlines from obscure websites every day! Just be sure you visit.

(And be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.)

My mom reads Heroic News.
Because Life Wins.



Friday, July 13, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: the refried bean edish

Joining the always lovely Jen, though I am appalled (and a little intrigued) by her latest choice in running footwear.

1. Speaking of running, I've been logging serious miles this past week. I ran 6 out of the last 7 days, and clocked in for a grand total of...7 miles. yes. Still very much post partum. But my weight watchers meetings have helped me to celebrate small victories...

2. like only having .6 lbs show up on the scale after a week of overindulging in everything Italian. Followed by another week of shame dieting where I counted out individual portions of tortilla chips at lunchtime. And then made multiple trips back and forth from the kitchen to acquire additional individual portions. But I digress.

3. Tortilla chips, you might ask? Why yes, they are a daily staple in our household. I purchase 1-2 bags a week, and they are basically our family's (okay, mine) equivalent of bread. I don't really eat bread, and I don't really eat pasta...I just am not crazy about either carb. But tortilla still my white mexican heart. Also, refried beans. The fat-free kind, but still...on an almost daily basis. Disturbed yet? Joey loves them too...they were basically his first food. At 6 months, where, pictured below, he weighed less than his brother does at 9 weeks.
I'm sorry, do I not look Mexican to you?
4. I have discovered my new go-to summer drink which was born of a desperate Thursday, culminating in an SOS flare sent in Dave's direction on his drive home to 'bring vodka. nothing cheaper than skyy. Abosolut will do if Grey Goose is too spendy.' End text. He didn't fail to deliver a bottle of organic Minnesota clear stuff (um, okay), which I promptly combined with muddled limes, rocks, club soda and a couple of my failed homemade strawberry 'toddler pops' from my freezer section. The result? Delish. With a side of meltingpopsicleinmyvodka. I call it Mommy's strawberry limeaid. Which sounds completely legit to bring to the pool/park/splashground.
great label design, right?
5. Having 2 kids is like, really hard. Having 2 kids and post partum depression is like shoving a hot safety pin into your eye after having gone 28 hours without sleep and 2 days without a shower. That being said, the outpouring of support, comraderie and empathy last week's post generated blew mah mind. In a good way. If I didn't respond to you personally, it's only because I'm still kind of in survival mode, but I so appreciated your words. And for all of you who admitted your own struggles with this nasty beast and asked for prayers, know that you've been remembered during those times when I most need to stop thinking about MY problems and MY crazy life and

6. But in addition to prayer, I've also had the good fortune of seeing a handful of moderately skilled mental health professionals and one great psychiatrist (thanks, managed very efficient), who has proscribed some extra 'help' in the form of a new anti-depressant. And honestly? I'm fine with that. Tom Cruise's disapproval notwithstanding, I don't see anything wrong with mixing in a little good 'ol western medicine with all the other efforts I'm making (with my wonderful husband's help) to get through this. I've had countless conversations with girlfriends who are wary of taking psychiatric meds but who probably wouldn't bat an eye over pills to treat other serious ailments. I think it's a cultural stigma that refuses to see mental illness as 'real,' or else it's just the relative 'newness' of having these kinds of medication at our disposal.

7. The Bachelorette. My secret, shameful addiction during this babymoon period (with Joey it was the Hills, which I am faaaaaar more ashamed to admit.) But, um, seriously...SPOILER sent Sean home? And kept fruity Aerie? Arie? Isn't that the name of a line of teen lingerie from American Eagle? Whatever his name's spelling is, the important thing for Emily to remember is that he WILL run his long, feminine fingers along your neck while kissing you and stroking your cranium like some kind of creepy indy-car racing vampire. Ew. And I just know she's going to pick him over sweet, skinny-jean clad Jef. C'est la vie, reality tv style, I suppose.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday, Monday

Episodes of Dora consumed by Joey: 3 (hangs head in shame)

Minutes of prayer/desperate supplications thrown skyward: ongoing...just hanging on here.

What's spinning on Youtube this morning: This power ballad by Casting Crowns. ( Please ignore the creepy final verse crooned by somebody's 11-year old. It's a strange and apparently Protestant phenom to insert high-pitched children's voices into the end of worship songs. Weird.) I honestly love this song so much that it makes me cry. And I'm fairly confident that it is the sole reason I dated the guy who introduced me to it. Hindsight is truly 20/20.

Number of times JP has feigned sleep, tricking me into laying him down in hopes of a longer-than-18-minute nap: 3.

No comment.

Percentage points of increased self-esteem earned by doing housework while clad in work-out gear: 200

I'm sure you're all enthralled.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

50 Shades of Scando

Hat tip to Grace for coining the cheeky phrase, for it is what echoed through my tired little brain on all 4 legs of last week's flights from Hades.

For not only was our 'wee hot man' (so dubbed by our charming Scottish co-worker) an utterly and unrepentant insomniac for 99% of our air travels, but every.single.woman. seated within a 50 mile radius on every one of our flights was reading some iteration of the infamous erotica (thriller? tome? epic?) ... and I started to feel like the one student who picked up the wrong course outline back in September and was on a different reading list.

Confession: I have no idea the premise of the "50 Shades" series, other than a very vague impression of something involving repressive sexual tension and a male protagonist who doesn't like to be touched. (So I guess it's Twilight for the over 40 set?)  So, don't be surprised if I veer from this post to consult the google for more info on what the heezy these books are about and why they're so hot right now.

But I'll take a stab at it.

In a culture like our sex-saturated and Puritanically-rooted modern day America, it doesn't take a far stretch of the imagination to see why perfectly reasonable and moderately well-adjusted adults might be enticed to purchase, read, and verbally vomit enthralled enthusiasm for some poorly-written British soft porn in literary form.

Thank you, Facebook.

But more to the point, thank you, twisted and repressed 'liberation sexuality,' which somehow simultaneously renders millions of men impotent, millions of women anorgasmic, and millions of readers eager to lap up juicy details of some frigid old dude spanking his handcuffed younger flame. And we swoon over this?

Truth is, our sexual identity as a culture is so profoundly broken that it makes perfectly good sense that '50 Shades' would A. Sell spectacularly well and B. Induce ironic conversations on sex and intimacy between strangers that they are otherwise incapable of having with their actual sexual partners in real life.

Go figure.

When pornography invades a relationship or, at a broader level, a cultural ethos, and becomes perfectly acceptable as the new normal, real live intimacy dies. We spend so much time and energy as a culture talking about sex and how to improve it, how to deepen ones physical enjoyment, connect more deeply on an emotional level with one's partner(s, achieve multiple orgasms and get a body like Katy Perry's in order to win the affections of the most perfect man, that we don't actually have much time to enjoy authentic intimacy. Quite frankly, most of us have no idea what the hell that actually is.

When perfect strangers can titter over pages of sex scenes between fictional characters while passing the time between airport layovers, but they are incapable of having satisfying sex with their spouses or - worse - are unable to hang on to spouses, then Houston, we have a problem.

The scariest run-in I've had with Christian Grey to date was in a little snack and magazine store in the Charlotte airport (where I was secretly hoping to run into Emily Maynard, but I digress) where a mother(?), step mom(?), guardian-esque figure of authority(?) was waiting in line with a booty-short-clad teenage girl who apparently studied dictation under the auspicious tutelage of Lauren Conrad ala "The Hills."

I turned my eavesdropping ears in their direction at the first mention of '50.' After all, I'd sat beside no fewer than 14 women all reading the book during my travels that week (and spent an unfortunate 3.25 hours beside one woman who was on the final installment of the trilogy and was actually absent-mindedly running her fingers along her cleavage area while sighing occasionally as she flipped the pages. So.Very.Awkward.

So I tuned in to the mother and child reunion only to hear a super depressing back and forth where Mom (or whomever) was schooling daughter on the finer qualities of the tales.

Mom: Oh you have to read these...your dad has them on his Kindle, (um, he does? WTF?) you should ask him to borrow it when he's done.

Girl: Omgawd everyone is like obsessed with Christian. Teeheehee...all my girlfriends want to find a guy like him!

Mom: Well it isn't hard to see why...seriously you have got to read the books!

Girl: It's like all over Facebook how hot they are...everyone is obsessed with them...all my girlfriends are like in love.

Mom: OMG you HAVE to read them. Let's get your dad to give you the Kindle for the next leg of the flight.

Girl: (pointing to shelf) Holy sh*t there's the new (Tucker Max) book 'A$$holes Finish First' ... mom you have to read that it's sooooo funny.

End scene.

And end Western Civilization, if the above exchange is any indication of how we're doing in the culture and morals department.

I managed not to vomit or confront the conversing duo, but only thanks to extreme exhaustion and the heat emanating from the tiny man strapped Ergo-style to my chest. But their words stayed with me. And they are troubling. And I think, an indicator of the real fallout from our pornified, sexually 'progressive' and permissive culture.

What we're witnessing here, people, is the death of intimacy. Ironically and irrefutably manifested in a cultural obsession with pornography. But what we're missing here is the point: no amount of titillation or exposure or oversharing can ever - ever - replace the deeply satisfying interpersonal communion we were created for. And the more we seek to expose and consume in the name of sexual satisfaction, the further we move from the truth of it, and from any measure of real happiness in that arena.

I've been meditating on this quote from Pope Benedict (you know, that repressive old man in Rome) recently and I think it fits perfectly the topic at hand:

"The world promises you comfort. But you were not made for were made for greatness."

True, no?

Friday, July 6, 2012

La Dolce Vita

So I spent the last week in Rome, (rough, I know) and having now sufficiently recovered from post partum jet lag (which sounds exactly as terrible as it is), I thought I'd share a little of the wonders of our surprise pilgrimage with you.

It was kind of like this: 'surprise, you thought you were going on vacay, but you're on a pilgrimage.'

And we were all, 'oh, Thanks, God.'

But in reality it was more like, 'whhhhhhhhhhhy is this soooooo hard?' whine whine wine wine whine...and the baby cried, too.

I know, I know... I'm a terrible ingrate for saying so, but I have to be was probably one of the most difficult weeks of my life. And it's probably not a great stretch to say it was one of Dave's, too, thanks in large part to my utter emotional instability and both my and the baby's severe aversion to heat and humidity (Which, in a 2,000+ year old city of 5 million people with little to no AC and endless journeys via public transportation, is a gawdawful exercise in sweat and tears.)

I debated whether or not to fess up about how difficult this trip was for me, because A. I realize how insanely blessed and fortunate we are to be able to go not once but twice in two years to the most spectacularly beautiful and religiously significant city on earth with each of our babies, to hang out very near the Holy Father and pray with some of our most beloved and admired saints. Admittedly: awesome. and B. nobody likes a whiny blogger.

But I would be lying if I said it wasn't very, very hard. And that the hardness blindsided me. And it made me realize some hard, hard things about myself and about this time of life. And it scared me.

I don't regret going, not for a second. We had some truly amazing opportunities, thanks largely to Dave's job and our very cool boss, and we did everything from a cocktail party at the villa of the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See to a black tie dinner honoring all of the newly-installed American bishops, including our beloved former Archbishop Chaput and our newly-beloved Archbishop Aquila. And I changed JP's diaper on the floor of St. Paul outside the wall, which will surely factor significantly into his future vocation.

Oh, and this.

Hands-down the highlight. And worth every moment of suffering and inconvenience to get there.

Having just concluded Sunday mass over the tomb of Bl. John Paul II in St. Peter's basilica (and celebrated in polish by a priest from Warsaw, no less) I hustled my arrogant American self up into restricted territory and my boy met his namesake. Touched his tomb with a tiny fist. All before the Vatican guards could shoo us away. (And that ain't no photo retouching you're seeing there. I suspect it's the blinding glare of the Holy Spirit, personally.)

But was so hard.

And here's the thing; it would have been hard under the best of circumstances, I think, because of me. Or more specifically, because of something that afflicts me -- Dave is so good at correcting me when I misspeak, reminding me that I am 'not my illness.'

The embarrassing, inconvenient and inescapable truth is, I suffer from clinical depression. And while it's usually pretty well controlled by drugs and gritting of teeth and tugging of bootstraps, this pregnancy and post-partum period had been

It's hard to admit this to a room full of my closest friends, let alone to put it out there on the internets, but I figured if any other mamas out there are going through it, I owed it to them to be honest. Because there's depression, which I've had all of my adult life...and then there's post partum depression.

And honestly, it's harder than hell.

I really thought that a week away in a gorgeous foreign city with my husband and sweet newborn would be just what the doctor ordered, but it turned out I couldn't outrun it. Which makes sense, complete and total sense, because it isn't a matter of 'shaking it off' or 'snapping out of it;' it's real, and it's bigger than I can handle by myself and, quite frankly, it's terrifying.

It's scary to be exactly where I always wanted to be, vocationally speaking, and to still feel so bad.

That has been the greatest suffering of these past few months I think, knowing that finally I have everything I've ever wanted and am living the life of my dreams...and it's still not 'enough' in the sense that it hasn't cured me of depression.

If anything, it has heightened the emotional aches and pains by adding physical sufferings like sleeplessness, short tempers, and a saggy, floppy mommy body to the mix.

There's something very raw and real and frightening about being 'at the top,' so to speak, and coming to the sickening realization that it's still here, this shadow from hell, and no amount of brilliant sunlight has managed to dispel it.

I love being a mom. I love being married. Most days I love what I do for work...but despite it all, I still feel so terrible right now, and it's so, so scary to think that this might just be how life is going to feel from here on out.

I hesitate to hit 'publish' on this one for a couple reasons, primarily my own pride which is screaming at me not to do this, not to publicly air this bit of soiled laundry, to keep pretending that everything is fine and good and, while difficult, nonetheless manageable.

But it isn't fine. And it isn't even manageable any longer. Rome showed me that I have, indeed, a breaking point of my very own and I have reached it. Looked it in the eye while running past it, in fact.

So here I sit on the other side of 'it,' broken down but still functioning. I know there is grace here in this time, and I know in a dry, intellectual sense that this isn't forever...I have hope that the right combination of consecutive hours of sleep and evened-out hormones and perhaps a different medication can and will bring me back into some semblance of normal.

But for now, it's all hard. Everything is hard, and everything feels much bigger and scarier than it really is.

Bl. John Paul II, pray for us.