Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Morning Confessional: How have you changed since having a kid?

In the hospital after Max was born, I had a conversation with Dr. Gloom one day (or was it Dr. Doom? I can't recall, they were interchangeable).

Me: "I still can't believe what we've been through. I feel like this is going to change my whole personality."
Dr. Gloom: "It will."

I've never forgotten that conversation. Clearly, when your child has a major stroke at birth, it's going to upend your existence. I really was a different person those first few months after Max's birth, a combination of postpartum depression and plain old depression. I was the mopiest mope who ever moped. But has my personality permanently changed? This being tax season and all, I've decided to take inventory of myself. Here goes:

Me, before Max:
* Bubbly, upbeat, loved to laugh
* Outgoing
* Determined
* Good advice-giver
* High-energy
* Worrier
* Loved to dance
* Hardly ever cried
* Incapable of going to sleep before midnight
* Spontaneous
* Liked to eat peanut butter out of the jar
* Generally enthusiastic about life

Me, after Max:
* More serious, but still plenty upbeat (and still laughing lots)
* Outgoing
* Determined (especially when it comes to doing stuff for Max)
* Good advice-giver
* High-energy (with a little help from iced coffee)
* Professional worrier
* Loves to dance (even if it's just to Laurie Berkner or Justin Roberts)
* Cries at times about what happened to Max
* Incapable of going to sleep before midnight
* Less spontaneous (though this is any parent, no?)
* Likes to eat peanut butter out of the jar
* Generally enthusiastic about life

Bottom line: I'm somewhat more serious now and more of a worrier (shocker!). And while I get bummed about what happened to Max, what I feel is an occasional pang of sadness, not the streaming current of despair that flowed through me throughout that first year of Max's life. I am basically still me. And my tombstone shall surely read, "Here lies Ellen and her jar of Skippy Super Chunk."

Care to share your own inventory?


  1. Being a mom has changed me in some drastic and then some not-so-drastic ways. I too fell into a very deep dark depression following Noah's birth, some of which still lingers even 15 months later. The "old" me was a crazy worrier, but also very upbeat, funny, spontaneous, and a good listener. I am still mostly all of those things although the worry has increased ten fold, and sometimes I think my brain is too cluttered to be the listener I once was. A little over a year later I am just starting to feel like "me" again, the first year after becoming a mom I was truly walking around as someone else.

  2. I think parenthood in general changes you, but obviously moreso when something traumatic happens. I sometimes wonder what I would be like as a mom if nothing had happened during Elijah's birth (he has CP, micro, CVI, global delays because of a difficult labor/delivery). Would I be more easy-going?

    For the most part, I think I am the same person I was before... now that the first year is over. Elijah is almost a year and a half. I feel less on edge and although changed, I'm still me. I've always been a crazy optimist/idealist and even now - despite all the developmental delays - I try to live in denial that Elijah is going to be like any other kid. I think one of the biggest changes is my realization that bad things don't just happen to other people. That and the twinge of jealousy I feel when people have a typical child and don't seem to understand how amazing each developmetal step really is. But, on the positive side, I'm definitely stronger than before, or at least more aware of my strength.

    Mostly, though, I think that I am the same person. I'm still a bit of a hermit, I like to write (and still am incapable of writing anything short!), and I still see the world through rose colored glasses, although I do take them off a bit more often.

    PS. Elijah took his first steps this week! Amazing!!!

  3. Oh, and we totally have a Dr. Gloom too! He is actually still Elijah's Neuro because he really is a good doctor, I'm just not so keen on his bedside manner. He tries to be kind and considerate, but it comes across as more fake sappy. (yep, I'm still the same -write too long responses and use words like "keen") :)

  4. often asked me after one of my depressing moods (every few months or so) after heated argument... If I blame her... For what? My bad eyesight? No, it was out of her control... Blame her for not sending me to different schools, and life experiences? It as not just her, but others in the "well meaning" family who all thought they knew better...

    As for me? Teaching judo has changed me, I'm responsible for 15 students.. I'm involved in their lives, and worry about what they do... They look up to me... Some how life does change when a student walks up to you and says, "I want to be like you when I grow up"... Your own children are no different...

    Don't disabled your disabled kids more by protecting them from the 'big bad world'... get out their and show them what YOU can do!

  5. The question you posed is an excellent one. Though I wasn't blessed to be able to birth my daughter got her as a bouncing baby 11 yr old...her adoption still changed me. Because of her intense and various special needs, I have changed a lot. She has made me a better person. I am more accepting of the world around me, less judgemental, more patient, more loving. I am still who I was before...but a little more and a lot better all because of Tara.

  6. If I've changed with Charlie I would say that his birth has distilled the same qualities that I've always had. I'm more determined to see things through and less selfish. Right after his birth I was so scared that my life had been ruined--that I would carry around this terrible burden for the rest of my life. Truthfully, that's not how it goes. Life goes on and what was once terrible just become normal.

  7. Really, I think becoming a mother has completely changed me. Depression is something that I now experience in waves, depending upon how much is going on or what changes we're all having to go through. I'm not quiet as outgoing as I used to be and can no longer stay up to midnight without series consequences the next day. I am MUCH more serious than I used to be, more stressed than I used to be and really, just not who I used to be...though I'm working on that!

  8. yes, you are still very upbeat! i really like that about you :)

  9. I definitely have changed, however, I can't even begin to grasp how.

  10. Pia, I am glad you are still you and, like Lisa, out of the funk of that first year. My brain is more cluttered now, too. I need the brain equivalent of a home organizer. Do those exist?

    Rich, thanks for the advice. It's true, you always need to encourage these kids!

    Torina, I just love what you had to say. You too, Katy. Especially "What was once terrible becomes normal." I think you could write an entire book on that, with that as the title.

    Mia, I know it's a big load we carry—so many moms I know continue to work on easing the burden. Girls nights out with friends have helped me relax more. Ditto for occasional free hours on the weekend, when Dave takes the kids out and I can just breathe.

    Joanna, that is so sweet of you to say!

    And Heidi, welcome.

  11. Hmm,
    The old me was more spontaneous for sure, and less of a packer/planner. I could throw a few things in a bag and head to my friend's place for the wekend on a whim. Now its 3 weeks advanced planning and a van-load full of gear. I think that all just comes with the territory. And I can't rememver the last time I went out and had such a "good time" that I paid for it the next day. Someone has to get up w/ the kids, and its probably gonna be me. I also cry at Hallmark commercials. Who knew I'd become such a softy.

  12. Hi Ellen,
    I found your blog through your guest post on Rob's blog and I was so interested because my daughter Maddy had a stroke as well, hers was in utero. We had 7 months before it was diagnosed and I still think of that phase in my parenting life as my 'ignorance is bliss' phase. I think the biggest change in me after her diagnosis is that I just feel heavier, weighed down by grief, though sometimes it ebbs and flows. I also feel alienated from parents (aka all my friends at this phase of my life) of neuro-typical kids since I have tons of appointments to go to and don't have the time for playgroups and storytimes at the library. But I also feel very grateful for all that Maddy has accomplished so far (she just started walking at 23 months) and I am very aware of how easy I have it compared to a lot of parents, so I tend not to take things for granted. I also feel like her diagnosis has forced me to be more 'present' with her which is a good thing.

    Thanks for the blog, I'm so excited to have found you!

  13. It's made me stronger, and also a writer. I rarely go out anymore. I am the primary worker out of my household, I go to sleep early now, and I cannot seem to make decisions as well as I used to.

    On another note we also had a Dr Doom. His real name was Dr. Payne...not sure which is worse?


Thanks for sharing!

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