Sunday, May 21, 2006

Thluppies 'R Us

We have reached a whole new level of Bay Area prototypicalness: We have hired a nanny. In keeping with our proximity to Berkeley, she's an eccentric hippie-lite nanny who's an operatically trained alto and moonlights as the lead singer of a 70s tribute band. Oh, and she teaches Pilates.

The hiring of the nanny, to be known here as Ms. Who, got me to thinking about how we arrived in this vaguely embarrassing petit-bourgeois place, the predictable bastion of the Thirtysomething Liberal Urban Professional. The Thluppy, if you will.

It all started when we moved from San Francisco to Oakland in 1999 and bought our house. (A derogatory term for those of us who fled SF at that time for the slightly more reasonable housing costs in The Other City By The Bay, driving up values in formerly marginal neighborhoods and therefore pricing out the locals, was coined a couple of years later--"The Ninety-Niners". We may consider Ninety-Niner as nearly synonymous with Thluppy.) Since then, we've unwittingly conformed to the unwritten Thluppy code as closely as the Maidenform Style 7948 conforms to my newfound milky bosom. (That milky part being literal. Drippy. Very drippy.)

Aside from the obvious characteristics of a Thluppy--such as voting for Barbara Lee--there are some subtler aspects, such as eschewing the "Barbara Lee Speaks for Me" bumper sticker, which instead is relegated to Cal students' twenty-year-old Volvos. Bumper stickers in general are just not very Thluppy, though the "Clean Air Vehicle--Access OK" decal on a Thluppy's de rigeur hybrid is more than acceptable.

So what else defines a Thluppy? A few things come to mind:

Lazy liberal guilt:

Thluppies clean the house before the cleaning lady arrives. But they have a cleaning lady.

Organic embarrassment:

Thluppies anxiously apologize for serving any farmers' market fruits or vegetables that are not both organic and sustainably farmed. Ditto on coffee. Thuppies may serve grocery store apples in an emergency but must peel off all labels and lay them out in a colorful ceramic fruit bowl before use. They do not, however, buy apples outside of apple season. Ever.

Solo commute:

While preaching the merits of conservation, public transportation and bicycle lanes, the Thluppy drives a minimum of twenty miles to work, alone. The Thluppy sops his conscience with the above-mentioned hybrid.

Essentials:

Thluppies generally disdain conspicuous consumption, but they count GPS systems and wireless networks as essential to their very survival. And they do not watch TV, they watch TiVo--on 36"+ flat-panel screens only. Additionally, the Thluppy considers non-artisanal cheese, 200 thread count sheets and being out of range of a local NPR station to be unbearable hardships. Living more than fifteen minutes from a Trader Joe's is completely out of the question.

American Jackass:

In keeping with the concept of American Jackass, as introduced on a recent This American Life episode, Thluppies often lecture confidently and in great detail on things about which they know only a smidgen. (An aside: This includes a common Thluppy assertion that couples are regularly using IVF to select the physical characteristics of their children, and did we choose Olivia's blue eyes when we had her whipped up in Dr. Frankenstein's lab?)

Denial:

Thluppies form great attachments to the NPR anchors and sign numerous on-line petitions when the morning news host is canned in a marketing effort to reach a younger audience. This is, in part, because we still think we're young, damn any reproductive evidence to the contrary, and we listen.

Back to the Nanny:

When hiring a Nanny, the Thluppy emails her to ask what she'd like from Trader Joe's, what shows she'd like TiVoed and whether she wouldn't mind parking her hybrid on the street.

Is it any wonder that Middle America laughs at us?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On sleep and thyroid and talking things out

As much as it pains me to admit it, my doctor was apparently not entirely inept. For the last few nights, Olivia has slept from midnight to four or five a.m. without a peep, and then again for a couple of hours in the later morning. We have done likewise. And, to my relief and surprise, I've felt...better. Not all the way better, but enough that I am not walking on a paper-thin crust of stability with misery pooled just beneath the surface. The ground feels a lot firmer.

My non-reproductive endocrinologist ordered another thyroid test, and the results came back out of range--apparently, for the first time in my life, my TSH is low instead of high. Perhaps a downward adjustment in my levothyroxine will further improve things.

I've also followed a lot of the advice so many of you were thoughtful enough to offer. I've talked with Jeff, spelling out what I'm going through in detail. He has responded with understanding and support, though it's hard for him to grasp, emotionally, what it means. I've also called the PPD hotline and spoken with another mother who has been there--an important, if uncomfortable, experience for someone with a shy streak. Thanks for the kick in the pants; these are steps I probably wouldn't have taken without you.

I'm not sure what I should be doing next, or whether this lightening of the load will continue on its own. I guess I'll ride it out for a while--at least till the endocrinologist appointment next week--and see where it leads. Hoping the trail is downhill from here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

For Jeff, my love

For my love, holding Olivia in her darkened room, trying to quiet her screams

For my love, changing every diaper, always willingly

For my love, securing the car seat just so

For my love, bathing her so carefully, making sure the water's just right

For my love, dressing her in her onesies, always clean

For my love, singing tuneless, soothing songs in your unpracticed voice

For my love, rocking her to sleep

For my love, pacing the 3 a.m. floor with her, a study in patience

For my love, washing and folding, cooking and cleaning

For my love, arranging everything

For my love, smiling in wonder

For my love, kissing her head, kissing her belly

For my love, comforting me in this sporadic despair

For my love, I love you even more, now that she is here

Happy Mother's Day, my love

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A whiff of cowardice

I have a million excuses, but the bottom line is this: I couldn't quite say it. My OB was standing there, removing her gloves post-exam, asking hurriedly how I was doing, and I hemmed and hawed and said I wasn't feeling great, exactly, and not like myself, and that I was crying a lot, which just wasn't like me. She asked if I was getting sleep, and I'm not, so she said to hand Olivia off to Jeff and get as much rest as I could manage. To buy ear plugs and an eye mask and turn off the baby monitor. That sleep would go a long way toward making me feel better. That colicky babies can really drain a new mother, and not to let it get to me so much. And that maybe I should look for support at a moms' group if I was still feeling down.

And as she was clearly in a rush, that's where I left it. Instead of saying, No, seriously, I'm having real trouble--hormonal trouble, physical trouble--and I think I have postpartum depression and need more than a nap, I just thanked her and said my goodbyes, feeling very, very small.

That night I did hand her off to Jeff, and I did get a little sleep, and I did feel a little better. I thought, Maybe that is all I need--maybe I've really overblown this thing. And today, I went to write a thank-you note to a friend and found that we had used up all the cards, so I curled up in a ball and sobbed. Over cards. Because they were the cards I bought for Olivia's shower, and now they were gone, and she was five weeks old and I was never going to get to experience those five weeks again. And then I thought of the grief that she will have, that one day she will have her heart broken by a lover, by an illness, by a dream unfulfilled, by something, and that even this brand-new creature will have to face longing and pain and, finally, the end. That I have done this to her. And then I felt more selfish than I can say, and then more foolish, and then I reminded myself that this is crazy talk.

I'm not sure what to do next, to be honest. I am a little afraid of actual treatment; drugs are not something I would be very comfortable with, given my mother's countless addictions and my father's dependence on antidepressants and sleep meds. There's also the breastfeeding to consider. So I just don't know how to move on from here, but I know I need to.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Reality, and the reality of my head

I have nothing appropriate to say, all things considered. This should be where I start regaling you all with stories of Olivia's wonderfulness and my utter bliss and contentment, peppered lightly with a few cute anecdotes about the way I mistakenly put the ice cream in the microwave after a night of sleeplessness or the charming way she pooped on me. Perhaps the adorable way she pretends my nipples are a dog toy and she a spunky pomeranian. But. But.

I am not getting better at this. I do not feel stronger, more competent, more worthy, now that she has been with me for a month. I haven't made it through a day without crying and a generalized grief, without feeling overwhelmed and incapable of giving her what she needs. Don't get me wrong: I am amazed by her every breath, every gaze, every sigh; she is an extraordinary creature, and I love her overpoweringly. And loving her so much hurts like a knife. I wish I could explain it better than that.

I know that what I'm feeling is irrational. Maybe it's the exhaustion, maybe my thyroid is out of whack again, my hormones in disarray, but that doesn't really help. I can't talk myself out of feeling this way.