the winding road to postpartum depression

You never really pay attention to the signs, even when they’re staring you in the face. Carlos kept asking me what was wrong. I could feel my mom tiptoeing around me, always around the corner making sure I was never left alone with the girls for too long. My dad made sure to make himself scarce to avoid my wrath. And my poor baby girls got a shadow of my normal self.

Postpartum depression hit me hard. I didn’t notice it right after Catalina was born, it could be because my sister came from Holland and I was distracted, or maybe it was something that developed later on. All I know is that in the beginning of May I started secluding myself. I hid in the bedroom under the guise that I was breastfeeding the baby but really I just wanted to be alone. I couldn’t handle leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then every outing was full of anxiety and self doubt.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a shower because the water on my skin felt like knives. I wanted to eat any and every thing I could get my hands on. No amount of sleep was enough and so I just wanted to be in bed all day hiding, trying to sleep while Catalina slept. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or clean, let alone keep up with my own personal hygiene.

I kept apologizing to Carlos. I kept telling him I would get better eventually. I kept telling him how much I loved him and our girls but I just wasn’t myself…and I didn’t know how to get back there. And my husband lovingly replied that there was no need to apologize and reminded me that adjusting to a new person in our family was going to take it’s time.

Finally, my mom sat me down and told me I needed help. Not just help around the house but professional medical help. I broke down crying because I knew it was true. I knew that this wasn’t going to go away on it’s own. A few days later I was seeing a psychiatrist who sat down with me and after listening to me cry, rant, and rave for what felt like forever prescribed me an SSRI and told me to come back to her in ten days.

Here I am, about six weeks later and I finally feel back to normal. Taking  a shower isn’t torture, I’m working out and eating right, and most importantly, I’m able to be present when interacting with my family. I feel free.

To all my fellow mothers out there, please do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be ashamed or bound by the stigma society has placed on depression/mental health. Finding help makes you strong and honestly will give your children just another reason to look up to you.

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Monstruos del Mar

Finding things to do with kids during the morning in Uruguay can be challenging. Most child friendly indoor spaces don’t open until 3:00pm or later, but last month Montevideo became the latest city to host an exhibit titled Monstruos del Mar (Monsters of the Sea).

Held in Parque Roosevelt on the outskirts of the city, the exhibit is comprised of about 20 animatronic prehistoric sea creatures.

My sister and her boyfriend are visiting for a few weeks from the Netherlands and we’ve been looking for fun things to do as a family. Luckily I found out about this exhibit before it was too late, because like all things Uruguay, the publicity was lacking. We were already planning to be in Montevideo due to one of PJ’s therapy sessions, so we took advantage and made a day of it.

After showing my brother-in-law (ish) the Plaza de Independencia, Calle Sarandi, and Plaza Matriz, we had lunch at a quaint restaurant we had been meaning to try out called Sin PretensionesThe food was absolutely DELICIOUS and stuffed us all right up. Even PJ ate all her pizza without being forced. I wish we had taken pictures of our food but we were just too hungry.

Once we were done we headed out to Parque Roosevelt to see the exhibit. I’m glad I did my homework beforehand because if not we definitely would have missed it. Off to the side is a little ticket booth where you can purchase entry or the ticket taker stamps your prepaid tickets. Out of the main tent you see the head of a large dinosaur thing sticking out. IMG_7871 I will say the noise machines they had was very loud, especially the exhibits with any sharks, making it kind of rough for PJ with her sensory issues.

At the end of the exhibition there was a colouring area, trampoline, and tiny triceratops for the kids to play and explore. They do have a sandpit where the kids can dig for “fossils” but I really didn’t want PJ to get sandy so we distracted her when we passed through that area. Overall PJ had a blast. She jumped to her hearts content, she manipulated her “Tio Rich” to push her all around on that triceratops, and coloured with her dad until it was time to go.

I will say it was a total splurge for us. It was $400 (USD 14.00) per adult and $240 (USD 8.40) per child over the age of two. It was worth just getting out of the house and being able to see something different though. You can buy tickets in advanced through RedPagos or at your local Tienda Inglesa. The last day to see the exhibit is April 5th.

Welcome to your world, Catalina!

On February 4th, 2017 our newest addition to our family came into the world!

The past two months has been spent adjusting to life with a preschooler (WHAT?!) and a newborn but overall it’s been great. Paloma has taken so well to her “baby sissy” and has adjusted better than I thought she would.

We are so in love with our newest addition, it’s hard to remember what life was like without this bundle of joy in our life. How she came into our world, however uneventful, will be hard to forget.

After another very hot summer day I was in bed watching tv when I started getting uncomfortable contractions. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since I was around 30 weeks pregnant so I didn’t think too much of it until I realized that after drinking water, putting my feet up, going to the bathroom, and lying down on my left side was doing nothing to alleviate them. I started timing them at around midnight, they were steadily coming every 7-10 minutes, nothing too concerning or worth going to the hospital for. I tried to sleep but every time I would get a contraction I would wake up. At around 6:30am they started coming in every five minutes. I started getting our bags ready and leaving things prepared for PJ and my parents in case we had to leave at a moments notice. I woke up Carlos at around 7:30am so he could go to the store and buy some food in case we would be gone for more than the normal two day hospital stay.

By the time he got back and PJs breakfast was made my contractions were coming every three minutes lasting about a minute each. Every contraction knocked the wind out of me and my knees would buckle beneath me. We packed the car and started on our hour long journey to the hospital. I would like to point out that I was anything but calm, cool, or collected. I was screaming and moaning in pain, banging on the ceiling and listening to PANIC! At the Disco’s new album Death of a Bachelor for some sort of comfort. How Carlos managed to get us there without crashing is beyond me.

Once I got to the hospital my contractions were so close together I couldn’t get out of the car so Carlos had to pull up to the ambulance bay and grab a nurse to assist me. They wheeled me up to L&D while Carlos parked the car. The emergency room OBGYN checked me and said I was barely a centimeter dilated. I thought it was impossible considering how close together my contractions were but wasn’t too surprised considering the same happened with PJ. As luck would have it my OBGYN was the doctor on call so he already knew we wanted to have a repeat c-section. He did make me wait about two painful hours before getting me into the operating room (rude) but everything went smoothly.

Catalina was born at 1:43pm, weighing in at 3.045kg and measured in at 18 inches. She was much smaller than any of the doctors thought she would be. Two days beforehand we had an ultrasound performed where the technician said she would come in close to 4kg.

My recovery has been great. I was feeling back to (almost) normal once they removed my stitches. Breastfeeding this time around has definitely been more successful and overall our transition to being parents to two beautiful girls has been much easier than I anticipated.

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For anyone looking for a newborn photographer in Montevideo I can highly recommend Charles Sarti Photography in Carrasco. Charles is HIGHLY professional and truly dedicated to his craft. 

 

Do unto others…

As I was driving on the highway to take PJ to playgroup this afternoon I saw a few people hitch hiking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hitch hiking is pretty normal for Uruguay.

I don’t normally stop. Especially if I have PJ in the car. But it got me thinking about this time when we were still living in Miami and I gave this older man a ride home.

It was a Saturday morning and I had just finished dropping Carlos off at work. Instead of taking my normal route home, I went the long way. It was a bright, sunny, but cold winter morning. I had my sunroof open, blasting music and just enjoying the time alone. As I was driving down Coral Way I saw an elderly man sitting at a bus stop with a shopping cart FILLED with bags. I felt a pang in my stomach and a tiny voice inside my head telling me to go back and talk with him.

After debating with myself for what felt like forever, I turned around, pulled into the gas station next to the bus stop and got out of the car. I approached the man and asked him where he was heading. We talked for a bit and I offered him a ride home. As I helped put his groceries in the back of my car, a man in a brand new BMW approached me and told me that he wished more millennials would be so kind and said, “God bless you.”

Instead of feeling shy or honored by his praise, I was angry. I wasn’t giving this guy a ride because I wanted to be patted on the back, I did it because, well I felt God was calling me to. And if it was really such a great thing then why didn’t HE do it himself? He was at the gas station before I was. He could have easily offered the man a ride home. I ended up just smiling modestly and saying, “Oh it’s nothing, thanks.” Got in my car and left.

The drive home was uneventful. It turned out the man knew my dad when they worked at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach back in the 90s. He was just a lonely man living in a section eight apartment by himself. I was genuinely happy I was able to help him, I was able to do something kind and put a smile on his face. From them on I looked out for him every Saturday at that bus stop but I never saw him again.

Being reminded of this made me wonder if I would ever do something like that again. I think about it often enough but I haven’t. Since I’ve become a mom I’ve put other people on the back burner. I’ve been too worried about my daughter and family to focus on people on the outside.

Sure, whenever I’m on the bus I’ll offer my seat to an elderly woman or if someone has one item at the grocery store behind me and I’m buying a whole cart I’ll let them in front. But I haven’t really gone out of my way to be KIND to someone. I haven’t gone out of my way to sacrifice for someone.

Of all the things going on in my/our life/lives right now, I want to make it a point to forget about us and worry about others. I want to be a blessing in other peoples lives even if it means putting myself on the back burner, even for a little while. Stop waiting for other people to bless you and stop waiting for people to put you first. But don’t do it for other people, do it for yourself. Don’t be that guy in the BMW, fully aware that people NEED help, kindness, and love. Don’t wait for someone to do it in your place. If God, the stars, the universe, etc. places someone in need in your path, help them.

Motto for the week: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (Again, not because you’ll get something in return but just because).

Best Uruguayan thing since parrilla…PAGANZA!

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before but paying bills in Uruguay is a headache. Normally you would have to go to a place where you can pay your bills called Abitab or RedPagos. They provide a myriad of services like bill pay, they make appointments to get your ID, you can pay your taxes, exchange money, you can buy scratch offs, and they also have a point system where you cash in and get discounts on things like toys, alcohol, and home goods.

Normally I don’t mind going to our local Abitab. But there’s always that time around the first of the month that you don’t want to be caught near one. That’s when Uruguay’s version of social security checks come out and everyone lines up at the Abitab to collect. I’ve waited in line for two hours before because I needed our internet turned back on. It was not fun.

Which brings me to this amazing new app I heard about through the expat Facebook group. Available for iPhone, Android and Windows, Paganza is an app that links to your (Uruguayan) bank account and allows you to pay your bills through the comfort of your home.

I know what you’re thinking…”What’s the big deal? I’ve been able to do that where I live for years.” I’ll tell you what the big deal is. I couldn’t do that in Uruguay before this miraculous app came into my life. It reminds me of when bills need to be paid BEFORE the paper bill comes to my house–if it ever comes.

It does take a few days for the payment to post onto your account, so you have to be mindful of when your bills are due to avoid your service being shut off. For example, we had one of our cell phone bills due LAST Friday but we didn’t realize that until Sunday. Because this week was Carnaval, the payment didn’t post until Thursday.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this app. If you’re in Uruguay and have a Uruguayan bank account I would check it out! Let me know how it goes, if you do.

Day trip to Atlantida: Blueberry picking and El Aguila

I have a love-hate relationship with having family or friends coming to visit. I love having familiar faces around, someone other than Carlos and my parents to talk to, and getting a bunch of goodies from the States. I hate having to come up with ways to keep them entertained.

I went through something similar when my aunt came to visit in September. Even though it was the beginning of Spring when she came, the weather was less than welcoming and we found ourselves spending a lot of time at home rather than enjoying all Uruguay has to offer.

This month my mother-in-law and her boyfriend came to spend a few weeks with us and it’s been rather challenging coming up with things to do. I’m still on the prednisone which, somedays, renders me useless. And other days, Paloma just doesn’t want to be bothered with long car rides. But Saturday I was adamant that we were going to get out of the house and do something.

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Road to Atlantida. I just love the view.

Did you know that Uruguay is one of the worlds largest blueberry producers? Well, now you know. Anyway, I’m part of an expat page on Facebook that advertises things to do around the country. The past few years we’ve seen advertisements for blueberry picking in both Atlantida and Piriapolis. Carlos and I have always wanted to go but never found a chance considering our first year here I was 9 months pregnant and last year Paloma was still too small to enjoy it.

 

So we headed out at around 9:30am and got to Atlantida at around 10:20am. It wasn’t a bad car ride but I did get lost a few times. By the time we found the place PJ was ready to get out of the car and run around. The farm is really lovely. Not only do they grow blueberries, but they also grow and sell their own organic produce separate from the picking.

I’m so glad I brought PJs rain boots because it would have been brutal to clean her up afterwards. She had a field day! She threw herself in the dirt, played with the fallen berries, picked berries off branches, tried to get through each tree into another aisle, and overall just had a blast running up and down the aisle from me to her dad.

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We were only there for about half an hour but ended up picking about 3 kilos of blueberries! And let me just tell you they are DELICIOUS! We froze about 2/3 of our pickings to be able to have some year round. But what we didn’t is almost gone.

After we got PJ cleaned up we headed to El Aguila on the beach. It’s a local landmark that was built in the mid 1940s. I don’t think it ever served an actual purpose but it’s a pretty cool building to see if you’re in the area. It’s built off a cliff so you get pretty awesome ‘sea’ views. I wish the cliff were roped off for child safety reasons but it is what it is. I was not thrilled to be chasing my two year old away from the edge, that’s for sure.

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El Aguila

We then headed to my FAVORITE bakery in all of Uruguay–La Baipa. When we lived in Atlantida before PJ was born, I used to come there at least twice a week. Their lemon merengue pie is worth every penny and empty calorie. Most people I know head to La Baipa on their way east to Punta del Este or even to Rocha. It’s a definite must go to place in Uruguay. Their selection is different than most bakeries where your options are the same four bizcochos. They have tiny bite size tiramisus, apple tarts, and lovely cream puffs. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Our stay in Atlantida was less than four hours but we had a lovely day. For those of you in Uruguay that would like more information on blueberry picking please don’t hesitate to ask!

El Prado Expo

I haven’t updated in what seems like forever. First, I didn’t know what to write about. Then, I didn’t know how to formulate my thoughts into words. And lastly, my computer died last week. Thankfully my mom is letting me borrow hers until I get it back from the repair shop.

My aunt is currently visiting us from Miami so I’ve been quite the busy tour guide!

This post is dedicated to our day at Expo Prado last Thursday. I’ve been wanting to go since we got to Uruguay two years ago but something always came up during those days. The expo is a agroindustrial fair where the country’s best animal farmers bring their prize animals for auction. It’s also where merchants come to show off their latest farm inspired goods ranging from machinery to fashion.

Walking into the fair grounds I quickly got nostalgic for the yearly fair that takes place in Miami. The smell of churros quickly hit my nose, balloon vendors were bombarding us and I just knew it was going to be a good day.

Hereford bull being brought out of the pen to spread his legs.
Hereford bull being brought out of the pen to spread his legs.
Hey Mr. Cow! Be nice!
Hey Mrs. Cow! Be nice

I’ve seen my fair share of cows before but never like this! Prior to moving to Uruguay I literally thought cows came in the black and white variety and that was that. Very small minded of me but hey, I’m a city girl. Carlos was showing off by telling me all about the different breeds, where they originate from, and how they came to Uruguay. I swear sometimes it feels like I don’t even know who my husband is!

We were separated from my mom and aunt for a bit so we decided to check out the goat pen. We used to have goats on the farm but after four died from their mischievous antics, we decided that while we love goats we weren’t suited to own them. Turns out that we have our own little goat seeing how PJ decided to climb into the goat pens.

After walking around aimlessly for a bit we came across an beer stand. For those of you that don’t know, Carlos is an avid beer drinker. As for me, as long as it has alcohol in it I’m almost always in. The beer selection was the usual Uruguayan Patricia selection along with some imported beer like Budweiser and Corona. We decided to try some Argentinian beer called Patagonia. It was delicious and I’ll definitely be looking for it at the exotic beer shops in Montevideo.

Patagonia.
Patagonia.
La Oriental Beer Company
La Oriental Beer Company

We found a little playground area in the back of the park and let PJ run around and release some steam before we decided to keep walking around the animal pens. It was nice to take a break and let her enjoy herself. After awhile we kept exploring and found a little alleyway of sorts that led us to a tiny amusement ride area. PJ originally wanted to ride the teacups but she is still too small so we coerced her to give the carousel a try. As you can see in her photo she’s just a little ball of sass.

Hi Mom!
Hi Mom!

Past the rides, there’s an area of artisanal shops selling things like leather boots, purses and even cheesy tourist keychains. My aunt ended up buying herself a mate cup along with some souvenirs for everyone in Miami.  From that point there were more alleyways leading to different parts of the park but PJ was getting cranky so we left.

Overall, we had a very nice day together and I definitely plan on making this a yearly tradition.

If you ever find yourself in Montevideo in the month of September I would definitely take the time to come to the expo. It’s a nice for a family outing with good food, animals and rides for the kids.

Would you like a kiss?
Would you like a kiss?
My own little mountain goat.
My own little mountain goat.