I had the mandatory postpartum meltdown last night after Curtis came home from work and immediately told me that he’d offered to come in the next day (his day off) to cover for someone else. The reason? His nineteen year old coworker has been whining passive aggressive all day about how he’s sooooo tired and soooo sick and otherwise desperately seeking attention from people because he’s a little bitch who seriously needs to get hit over the head with something. Anyway. After this obnoxious display they expect him to try and stay home from work the next morning, which means someone has to cover for him and the other guy has covered the last 6 weeks in a row so Curtis feels bad for him. It pisses me off that the whiney little kid with no attachments mopes about and the one that has to deal with his mess is the guy with a three week old baby at home.
It pissed me off more than Curtis offered without asking me first. I mean, I don’t require much from him in terms of staying home from work and such, and really I would have been cool with it on any other occasion and I legitimately feel bad for the other guy who has covered so many shifts (he deserves a two day weekend, too)… but we are still in the first fucking month after childbirth here, and I’d really like to have those few two day weekends of family time that we can get during that time.

So naturally I can’t sit there and be all, “STOP BEING A NICE GUY WHOSE BOSSES REALLY LIKE HIM, YOU FUCKING SUCK” so I stewed in my mix of guilt and depression and didn’t say anything to him about it until that evening at around 11pm when Zephyra was super fussy and I realized we were out of swaddling blankets because the white laundry hadn’t been brought up. I’d asked Curtis to do it three times already that evening and he kept forgetting, so this opened up an opportunity to have a quiet and respectful discourse wherein we politely express our feelings on the matter.
Or that would have happened if I wasn’t certifiably insane by that point.
Instead I ground my teeth while I tried, for the umpteenth time that hour, to get Zephyra quieted and to stay asleep. And once again she wakes after 20 seconds fussing and grunting and wanting to nurse. I’m totally sick of nursing her because I really want her to just stay asleep, so I ask if Curtis can rock her for a bit, which he does, but it’s obvious she’s not going to quiet. I take her and she promptly upchucks all over her receiving blanket, herself, and me. I try and put her in another one, but it’s too small to swaddle so she immediately gets out of it and fusses some more. Curtis asks if I want another one, and looks around to find one and realizes there are none in the room, at which point I freak out and start screaming, “IF YOU’D BROUGHT IN THE LAUNDRY WHEN I ASKED YOU TO WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS PROBLEM, WOULD WE?”
And he just sits there blinking quietly, because years of training have taught him that one wrong move at this point could result in castration. That stillness was an obvious invitation to have a hysterical breakdown about why this is really hard and put a lot of effort into trying to be a mom to three kids and be exciting and interesting every single day and I’m having a bit of trouble adjusting to that as the kids come into summer vacation and are now home, bored and kicking the ever loving fuck out of each other 24/7 while I try and keep the baby asleep for just one. more. minute. so I can get up and pee.
You know, among other things.

I sat crying and yelling for a good ten minutes while Curtis quietly watched and didn’t say a word until I was finally out of breath. He’s remarkably good at this, so even while I launched myself into space off the power of my venomous rage he just sat there calmly until I paused long enough for him to respond with something like, “You do work really hard, and I can see that. You do a really good job with the kids and they’re really happy. They’re adjusting, too. I shouldn’t have offered to work that shift without asking you, that was inconsiderate. Would you like me to get the laundry now or do you want to talk some more?” and then I’m like… okay fine. Jerk. Just go get that laundry because you totally sucked the air out of my rage by being calm and rational and now I obviously can’t keep yelling at you.

These brief hormonal moments are all part of the lovely mix of postpartum withdrawal and for the most part I’m handling it okay but then there are these random triggers that make me flip out for no reason. For instance, the way Tempest has learned to ask before glomming onto Zephyra. I’m glad she asks, because the first few times she just sort of walked in and smothered her after I’d only just gotten her to sleep, which really upset me and I sent her out of the room, but there’s something about the way she asks that makes me go a little nuts. She’ll walk in and say, “Can I touch her?” in this quiet little way that makes me want to respond by screaming, “I AM NOT A MONSTER!” and burst into tears rather than something rational like, “Of course honey, just be gentle while she’s sleeping”.

Really though, the kids are great with her.

But I am really feeling the sudden drop in hormonal output. It’s like reverse PMS shot into the vacuum of space and straight into a black hole…. but, hormonally.

Totally unrelated to the rest of the entry: Zephyra is like a little baby bucket of random recessive genes. She has a widow’s peak, and a single – and very prominent – dimple on her right cheek (which my dad has), she has darker skin than any of the other kids, a more visible [ Mongolian Spot ] than Xan had and even a little cleft chin. After another two dozen people said she looked like my dad and/or Marika, or even Sophia, Curtis sighed dramatically and said, “Do you just… like… asexually reproduce? Are you sure you even need me for this process, or am I just along for the ride?”.
As Xan gets older and his face thins out I think he’s starting to look like Curtis, though in general it’s true that none of the kids really look much like him at all.

Curtis at five.

Xan is much darker and heavier-featured than Curtis is/was, but I can see the resemblance growing, like in this picture when compared to the above.

But then again sometimes I come across things like this class photo that popped up on Facebook through an old school friend of mine, and I realize that me at five is like Xan in a dress. Or, you know, Xan 50% of the time…

So far I’m not entirely sure who Zephyra resembles other than Jericho, but as she gets past that folded newborn stage she looks less and less like him, merely because we never got the opportunity to see him grow past a newborn. She has Tempest’s mouth, Xan’s nose, and these weird eyebrows that sort of stand up and look very ‘mad scientist’-y. A lot of people have said she looks like Curtis, but newborns often look like their fathers for evolutionary reasons and they tend to grow out of it, so I’m not sure if that will stick either. She certainly is an odd one. I’m so interested by her mere existence; I want to see how she’ll fit in this family. The big kids couldn’t be more different from each other. They are polar opposites and it makes me eager to see where Zephyra will turn up on that the spectrum.
Today while we were walking around doing errands I was watching Tempest and Xan as we made our way to the grocery store. Tempest had her nose stuck in a book about the latin names of flowers and occasionally popped up to say, “I’ve been practicing how to walk and read at the same time, so I won’t run into anything. I’m very safe. I need to keep reading.”
And then there’s Xan picking up every rock, stick and pinecone he can find and slamming it up against various objects to investigate which makes the most obnoxious noise until he finally figures out that a pinecone rubbed against a metal pole can make a sound that causes people half a block away to cringe in abject horror. So then he sits there and does it over and over again, with a shit-eating grin, while singing, “LA. LA. LA LA LA!” and otherwise attracting as much attention to himself as humanely possible. If someone so much as asks Tempest how she’s feeling these days she skitters off in silence because she’s too socially awkward and introverted to return a polite smile let alone start a conversation. She freaks out at the sight of a cut toe that she didn’t even notice 15 minutes earlier. Xan gives total strangers a walking tour of our home and then invites them to watch him perform a song and dance routine about his bloody hand while wearing a sparkling tutu. How are these two even related? They get along for approximately 1/25th of every day, if I’m lucky. Both are intent on carefully crafting Zephyra into a clone of themselves: Tempest wants to read her books and teach her sign language (she’s already taken out several books on ASL to study) while Xan asks me daily why he can’t jump on the bed with her and how many days he has left until she can play chicken with him.

I’ll finish this up with a picture of the only knitting I’ve done in the last month.

Zephyra is an angry pumpkin.

Wait, I lied: I kept meaning to post this and haven’t yet. Normally we don’t invest in preschool pictures because they suck and I think the whole concept is kind of silly, but after this class photo showed up I immediately forked over the $24 for it.
I suppose his preschool photo was cute, too. Sort of.

But this? This is the reason I immediately needed to have his class photo on my mantle.




  • megamuphen says:

    I have reached the end of the internet!

    (or so it seems… I started reading your journal from the beginning earlier this summer… it is like finishing the last book in the series and knowing that the author is going to write more, but that the next book won’t be released for at least a year. HOW WILL IT END?!?)

  • nicolechan says:

    I am totally dealing with the hormonal dump too! I’ve not cried this much in like the last 2 years! I’m only 5 days pp so I wonder what the next month has in store for me lol!

    I can see that Xan does look a lot like his dad, but he’s a good mix. I LOVE that class photo! That is SERIOUSLY AWESOME! πŸ˜€

  • bluealoe says:

    I hope I don’t sound too horrible, but I laughed at the description of your meltdown. Curtis seemed to handle it well, and sometimes that’s even more frustrating. I know when I’m really angry and yelling at someone, part of me just wants them to get as angry as I am and scream back, not be all calm. Damn rational people. πŸ™‚

    Wow, your dad’s genes are seriously dominant.

    Curtis at five is SO cute! As is the pumpkin hat. I want one of those!

    Xan cracks me up. πŸ™‚

  • j_lew says:

    can you ask Curtis to write a book to help other men whose response to any meltdown is to beat a hasty retreat to the pub ( ie. my other half) seriously, what wouldnt I give to ever even hear the words “do you want to talk” its not his fault, he was brought up in a house where any discussion= argument, he will actually lock himself in a room rather than talk at times! which turns me into a raving madwoman. πŸ˜‰ anyway keep on it hun, sounds like you are doing a fine job. kids are beaut.

  • thank you for writing this. i laughed (only at the appropriate times) and reading your play by play of the meltdown was surreal. i’m glad i got to read it.

  • mammaopal says:

    When I first saw your birth photos, this one: http://www.natural-forces.com/zephyra/birthday/post/zephyrabirth-100.jpg made me think “Man. Does Tempest ever look like Curtis in this photo!” but I didn’t comment because i was all “oooooh! Birth story!”

    That school picture is Hilarious!!! The contrast of him against the rest of the class is priceles.

    In my postpartum days, I was really triggered by my oldest son. I didn’t expect that at all, but there it was.

    • admin says:

      Yeah, I’m finding myself ridiculously triggered by her and I absolutely cannot understand why. I wonder if it doesn’t have to do with the difficulties I had in her first year, vs. how easy things are going now with Zephyra and how readily the love and bonding is coming… whereas with her it really did take a long time to feel like I was ‘in love’ with her the way moms are supposed to be with their babies. I know now that was PPD, but I didn’t recognize it at the time. I have this weird little twinge in me where every time I look at Tempest I feel a little guilty, and angry. Not so much at her, but just ‘in general’.

  • Anonymous says:

    class photo

    = freaking hilarious πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous says:

    This is random, but it’s been bugging me – is it Zeff-EAR-ah, or ZEFF-ear-ah? Love the name regardless.

    Also Xan is hilarious.

    • admin says:

      The first one, I think. I suppose I’d have to hear you say it to know for sure!

      When I think about how to say it, I immediately think of Babar. His monkey friend is named Zafir. Think that, but with an “ah” sound at the end.

  • Oh Xan, you’re the best! <3

  • knottyrye says:

    oh my goodness, xan reminds me SO MUCH of haye. i wonder if they would get along or if they would despise each other because they are so alike?

  • Xan’s picture…holy carp it’s priceless. Alex usually sports some weird open mouth expression that isn’t quite a smile. Somehow you can see his molars as well, which makes it even weirder. Cassie’s preK picture is slightly better, but she’s got this slightly unsettling ‘bitch, I’ll cut you’ closed mouth tight grin.

    I’m only looking forward to the first pp crazies for myself so that things will finally settle down. I’ve already told Matt to make me rest and mot do my normal ‘I can totally stay up for two days!’.

  • devilgrrl says:

    Calico had a grumpy pumpkin hat, as well. I think all her pumpkin stuff was the reason she decided she was out in September.

    That picture of Xan is priceless.

  • sylvanna says:

    Zephyra is angry because you do not realize that she is a persimmon, not a pumpkin.

  • Anonymous says:

    I would have thought that Canada would have better maternity and paternity leave than the US, but I guess not? With our first, my husband saved all his vacation and took 3 weeks, which everyone said was excessive – but I truly needed because I had PTSD after that birth. For the second I was remembering how horrible the first time was and I felt I was very vulnerable to PPD so he saved vacation from the year before, and took all his sick leave and a lot of his vacation too and he ended up taking 6 weeks – which is pretty much unheard of here, but would be pretty measly in most of Europe. His manager actually told him he could only take 2 weeks and I completely lost it and ended up locking myself in the bathroom screaming or something embarrassing like that. It was hard enough risking having another baby after PTSD, I just couldn’t face only having him home 2 weeks. But, then we remembered we had FMLA which says he gets up to 12 weeks. That is unpaid though, but we were willing to do the 4 additional weeks unpaid it was so important to us that things get off on the right foot this time. But in the end his manager actually got in trouble for interfering with FMLA and he got his 6 weeks paid. Everything went very well, but I did get really weepy and had a touch of the baby blues which lasted for much of the time he was home, so it was great he was there. I know it’s really hard for most people to get any time off, or anything more than a week or maybe two if they are lucky. I always wonder how they do it because I think I would just loose my mind if I had to get back into life that soon, but I guess we do what we have to do and it all works out somehow. Anyway, all this to say, I completely understand your meltdown.

    • admin says:

      Maternity yes, paternity no. On top of that, Curtis had only JUST started this new job a few weeks prior, which means he was still in the period where they could legally fire him for taking too long of a leave. Not that they would (they’ve been pretty good employers), but it’s kind of shitty to get hired at a new job where they desperately need you and then immediately take two months off.
      I asked him to take 10 days, which is how much he took off after Xan’s birth as well. He ended up stretching it to 14 because he came home early after that bout of prodromal labour that tricked me into thinking it was real, and he stayed home from that point onward because we were too scared real labour would go too fast for him to get home on time (he bikes).

  • I burst into laughter at the last couple pics…
    OMG. That cracked me up. Xan is such a funny little guy. The facial expression on the little girl right next to him only adds to it. Too damn funny. He does look a lot like you! I see a lot of him in Zephyra too.

    • sashafarce says:

      The little girl on the visible left, yes, with the “I’m so done with this” face? I cracked the hell up when I looked at him and then looked over at her complete and total opposite expression.

  • mybonnykate says:

    Ohhh the progesterone crash. It is brutal.

    • gen_here says:

      total question (for anyone) – NOT a suggestion.

      Since it’s the progesterone crash that causes the madness (I’ve been through it each time, too), why wouldn’t/shouldn’t something like a natural progesterone cream be used to help ease out of the high to the normal low? I’m assuming something to do with breastfeeding? And do people who are put on the mini pill (with synthetic progesterone) experience the crash as much or at all?

      Hormones fascinate me.

      • admin says:

        Apparently there’s a lot of argument over how progesterone affects milk supply, and how it passes through the milk.

      • mybonnykate says:

        It’s related to giving birth — your progesterone levels are sky-high during pregnancy, and they crash something like 95% immediately after birth.

        The placenta contains huge amounts of progesterone. That’s how nature solved this problem, evolutionarily speaking — consuming the placenta would give you a hit of progesterone to help carry you through the postpartum period. Since this is such an unpalatable idea to most people today, I’ve often wondered whether some sort of substitute (like a cream) would help. I know there is an issue with progestin (the artificial version) and milk supply, but I don’t know how that might translate, if you were to start messing with supplements and whatnot.

  • I was going to post a comment and say that Xan definitely has Curtis’s nose and mouth (or at least upper lip) when comparing the childhood photos… but then I realized that he also seems to have yours. And then I looked at your banner and thought that you and Curtis actually seem to have very similar nose and upper lip as each other. Do you agree with that at all, or am I basing it on too few photographs? (Admittedly I haven’t gone searching for older ones, I’m really just looking at your banner and the photos in this post.)

    • admin says:

      Curtis has a small mouth but big lips, and a much larger bottom lip than I have. I have a big mouth and big lips. Our noses are COMPLETELY different, but in the banner pics they look similar. He has the classic Dutch nose with a really strong profile.

  • auraofmyself says:

    you totally sucked the air out of my rage by being calm and rational and now I obviously can’t keep yelling at you.

    This is how i feel frequently. Mine is mostly because i am nesting and on strict bed rest. Those two are not a good combination.
    And my poor husband who works 60 hours a week, and in his spare time is trying to get a car up and running for us, has to pick up the slack around the house with my two TERRORS destroying everything–gets the brunt of my moodiness.

    And your sons school pictures are FANTASTIC,i must say.
    Totally worth the 24.00 πŸ˜€
    My kids both have all my husbands major traits, like the full thick gorgeous heads of hair, bright BIG blue eyes, huge eyelashes. All of things i lack. So i don’t complain to much. I just pray that this baby comes out with my green eyes so i don’t kill someone :0)

  • jenrose1 says:

    I am utterly, completely resigned to never having any of my kids look like me.

    K looks so much like her dad’s family it is terrifying (and annoying, given how little he’s been involved). She has his expressions and his freaky prehensile toes and his family’s body shapes and his hair. But she has One. Red. Curly. Hair. I attribute it to stem cells in breastmilk. Her eye color is mine, but nothing else about them has much to do with me.

    Shiny is more like her chromosome disorder than anything. Her eyes are darker than her dad’s, which is sort of freakish since my genes are hazel and blue, and his are brown and blue, and they came out browner than his. She sort of looked like some of my baby pictures if you squinted, but it gets totally lost in the chromosome features.

    My niece looks more like my baby pictures than anything, but no one else admits it. They say she looks like her dad. But her dad actually looks a lot like my dad’s family, so that’s not all that surprising.

    I’m a total melting pot blend… my dad is very Jewish and my mom is a “early American mix” that includes British Isles (including some viking blood, for sure) and about 1/16 American Indian, not that anyone could tell, and the net result is that I have no dominant genes whatsoever except the hazel.

  • smellykaka says:

    Curtis was so cute at five. What went wrong? :p

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