16 December 2008

Intrusive thoughts

Some people get diverticulitis, and some just get belly aches. The bellyachers are glad not to have diverticulitis, but it doesn't mean their bellies don't ache and that they don't take whatever steps are necessary to get through it.

Some moms get full-on postpartum depression, OCD, or panic disorder, and others will just know what I'm talking about when I mention that inward eye which is the horror of solitude, especially when there's a new baby in the house or at other times of hormonal upheaval in the perpetual parturition cycle (it's so great to be ruled by glands squirting chemicals into the bloodstream at random).

Strategies for victims of mental belly aches:

1. Stay away from problematic places or objects as much as possible, especially when you have the baby with you.

2. Ask someone to be with you during bad times. This is one of those things for which it's ok to ask your husband to get out of bed or stay awake with you. Even an older child can be the company you need, and they'll probably really like being up in the middle of the night with mom and the baby. During the day, phone a far-away friend to talk, ask a nearby friend to come over.

3. Have a book or other diversion that will hold your attention on hand so you don't end up with empty times. An idle mind is the devil's playground. Better to have the TV or radio on, even if your baby books say not to, than to listen to him.

4. Know your favorite mental candy and gobble up those sweet thoughts when the other ones come a-knocking. For example, think about what a terrific grandma you're going to be.

5. Defend your problem places with good images. Pick your nursery artwork (for whatever kind of "nursery" you have) for you, not your baby. He doesn't care anyway.

6. Pray without ceasing. Ex corde may not be the best for a mind fighting a hijacking. If the Psalms you have memorized aren't keeping you busy enough, pray through some you don't know as well to do double duty on both mental and spiritual fronts. Ask your husband or pastor to keep you stocked with good devotional reading, ie not the schloggy women's junk that publishers seem to think we dear little females love so much. TDP is too big for this job, sad to say. Find something you can manuever with one hand.

7. Don't be afraid to tell someone if you need to. They will not take your baby away from you. The person you trust to tell will help get you whatever help you need, formal or informal.

For what it's worth, this is something that has improved considerably for me over the course of a few babies. If you're just starting and terrified at the prospect of going through it again, there is hope (though no guarantee) for an easier go of it in the future. Again, this is advice is only for bellyachers.


Gauntlets said...


I've been gearing up around these parts; the first onslaught cometh.

I'll add this one to the list: Hymns. Memorize them in the dark hours of the morning so you have something to do with your mind and your mouth when washing the dishes. Also handy for drowning out those screams and crashes from over yon.

My personal favorite: I Bind Unto Myself This Day, LSB #604

Rebekah said...

Hymns. Yes. Good. That's why I pay you the big bucks to blog here.

William Weedon said...

Yes, and not only singing them yourself, but purchase some wonderful music - CPH's new set on "Heirs of the Reformation: Treasures of the Singing Church" will do the trick - and chase the demons away with David's harp! I've been listening this afternoon and it has astounded me. Should be trumpeted loudly for all to feast on!

Pam said...

My personal favorite, which has gotten me through the 'evil days' is TLH #518 "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee." Awesome.

Reb. Mary said...

A post that I wish I'd had a few babies ago...Why oh why are we so loathe to ask for the help and support that we so desperately need?

Hymns = lifesavers. Likewise the index cards or scraps of paper, scribbled with whatever Scripture I'm trying to memorize or at least internalize, shoved into my pockets to be hauled out at frequent and (in)opportune moments.

And on what may perhaps be a lower note, liturgically speaking, than the hymns mentioned here: I grew up to the sounds of (among other, more ancient music) the FisherFolk, and often find their refrains echoing cheerfully and usefully through my head and on my lips: "Washin' the dishes, Lord, washin' the dishes....Livin' for Your glory Lord, washin' the dishes" And so forth.