Visualize Whirled Peas

Her name was Svetlana. She spoke with a thick Slavic accent and wore a pantsuit, which for some reason made me think that she looked like a banker. A Russian banker. Which didn’t predispose me to telling her my secrets, but still: I had promised myself that I would do this, that I would seek help, and this place, this tidy office with a worn leatherette sofa and wilting fern and shelves upon shelves of books on psychiatry and therapy and parenting, was where I had arrived. This woman, the occupant of this office, would help me.

So, she says, peering at the file in her hands, you vant harm your child?

Um… no… that’s not…

She frowns. Say here, you vant harm your child… you have violent thoughts…

No, no, that’s not exactly right… I just…

Is chicken scratch. I cannot to read. You look, tell me vat it say. She hands me the file with my psychiatric referral.

Um… I squint at the inky scrawl “…reports intrusive thoughts of harming baby… reports wanting to drop baby on bed, escape home, reports experiencing feelings as violent, aggressive… denies intent to harm… denies intent to harm self… denies suicidal ideation… reports being afraid of intrusive thoughts.” I cringe. I’d rather not be reading this. “Sleep deprivation. Previous treatment for anxiety. Supportive husband.” I hand the file back to her. I didn’t say that I felt violent. I said that the feeling itself was violent. Like a shock. It frightened me.

Is frightening, yes, these thoughts. She looks me in the eye. I know you do not vant harm baby.

Which is as good a basis for a therapeutic relationship as any, I suppose. I could, I decided in that instant, overlook the pantsuit. I could work with this woman.

We spoke at length, Svetlana and I. Or rather, she spoke, and asked the occasional question, which suited me. I hate psychiatric therapy, I hate feeling that I’m being analyzed. I hate listening to the sound of my own voice droning on and on about can’t sleep motherhood hard feel anxious yes family history of depression no not suicidal just TIRED TIRED OH SO TIRED. I just want a solution. I just wanted her to give me a solution.

And Svetlana was all about the solutions. First, we get you to sleep, no? I give you Ativan; you sleep when baby sleep. Zen, we test blood: thyroid, B12, glucose… your body, I zink, it is PFFT!… zen we meet again; we talk… is good to talk… zen maybe, maybe I give you somezing for depression. Not now. Now, you are tired. You are post-traumatic stress. You need sleep and peas. She leans forward and grabs my hand. Sleep and peas.

I had to think about that for a second.

Yes, I say, finally. Peace would be nice.

Peas is nice, she says. I help you to get peas. She drops her voice to a whisper. I tell you somezing. You are not bad mother. You are good mother. She pats my hand. Not to forget.

No, I say. Not to forget. Thank you.

Peas is good. Today, I will fill the prescription for Ativan and will go to bed early with that little bottle of peas while the husband takes the baby and leaves me in the sweet, sweet quiet dark. With my peas. With my peace. So that I will rest, so that tomorrow will dawn brighter, so that I’ll move a step or two closer to feeling like the good mother that I know I am.


Note to you all, who do so much to sustain me: if you have e-mailed me in the last month or so and have not had a response from me, please forgive – I am completely overwhelmed and doing the best I can. I read everything. I respond as best I can, but that hasn’t been enough to keep control of my inbox. Please know that I so appreciate the support and the contact. I really, really do.


93 Responses to “Visualize Whirled Peas”

  1. Sarah Lena Says:


    Went through the same cycle. Came out stronger in the end. You will too.

    (((MORE LOVE)))

  2. Anonymous Says:

    So, so, so hard. Many hugs to you. You will come out the other side.

  3. Jamie Says:

    Ah mama. You are telling my story after baby number two.

    You will be stronger at the other end, and? There really is another end. It just takes a while to get there.

  4. ms. changes pants while driving Says:

    good good good good. rest and peas to you.

  5. Don Mills Diva Says:

    Sleep tight Catherine and pleasant dreams.

  6. Amy Says:

    Oh my goodness, only you would get Natasha (as in, Bullwinkle) for a therapist… I know it’s not funny, but peas? I chuckled…

    I hope you get lots and lots of peas. Bushels, even.

    Hugs to you,

  7. Erin Says:

    I will send peas-ful thoughts your way!

  8. Black Hockey Jesus Says:

    Once people start genuinely asking *WHERE* intrusive thoughts intrude *FROM* – well, then shit gets really interesting (if you ask me).

    I mean – it’s obviously from beyond your ego, right? Because you, your ego, Catherine as such, doesn’t want to hurt the baby.

    So what does? And if we start feeling around “beyond” the ego, what’s the possibility of this Other being outside your body (and so IN-TRUDING with the thoughts)?

    You’re fucking trippy!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Please hire someone to hold the baby for a few hours a day so you can sleep. Get a line of credit to pay for it if you have to, go into debt, you can pay it back later. You must sleep.

    It is only the Western world where women must single-handedly care for young children. In “less developed” countries families of women live together to hold new babies while tired new mommies sleep. It is the only way the species has survivied.

  10. kaila Says:

    Imagine Whirled Peas is my favorite ice cream – ice cream is good – you’ll be just fine.
    *sending good thoughts*

  11. Goldfish Says:

    I’ve been following along. I hope you sleep. And that you feel so much better when you wake up. Sweet dreams.

  12. daysgoby Says:

    Oh, C.

    I am heart-burstingly full of hope for you – that this is quick, and relatively painless, and…..

    good-night, sweet lady.

  13. All Things BD Says:

    Good for you for looking for help. I too went on Ativan after my daughter was born. It was the best decision I could have made, for my health and hers.

    Hubby used to tell me “what your baby needs most is a well rested mother”. It’s amazing what proper sleep can do for you.

    Wishing you rest and peas.

  14. Cinthia Says:

    Ativan is kind of weird for sleep in that it is an anti-anxiety med, and it works differently than a sleeping pill, but I think the added bonus is that you will have anti-anxiety meds in your blood stream which should help you feel calmer. Nighty night, sweet dreams!

  15. blissfullycaffeinated Says:

    Good for you. I hope you get some much needed rest.

  16. Her Bad Mother Says:

    BHJ – that’s such an interesting and entirely trippy question. Do the thoughts INTRUDE from the outside? Do they come from some outer place, some OTHER, as you say? Only, I suppose, if we imagine that we DO have Mr. Hyde-like shadow selves that trail us in the darkness.

    The trippy thing is – they probably aren’t intrusive, but extrusive – bursting out from our darker inner places (you might say id; I might say – Socratically, because that’s how I roll – from the appetitive, erotic part of our soul, the part that is most concerned with selfish self-preservation – if baby keeps me from sustaining myself, why should my impulse NOT be to thrust him away?) That these thoughts might be part of us is disturbing, but maybe it’s healthy to take ownership? To admit that in our weakest moments we get desperately, almost dangerously selfish?

    Aaaaah… where’s that Ativan at, again?

  17. Winkin1 Says:

    Its good to be funny in the midst of it all. Always a good sign if you can laugh at least a little.

  18. Issas Crazy World Says:

    I like that woman. Sleep and peas, she makes complete sense. Wishing you sleep lots of peas really soon.

  19. motherbumper Says:

    Extrusive makes a hell of a lot of sense. Also, you know I’ve always said give peas a chance.

  20. Mimi Says:

    she sounds like a good one: yes, you need sleep, and peace. yes, you are a good mother. enjoy the dark and quiet. hugs to you and yours …

  21. mothergoosemouse Says:

    You know that I know of what you speak. Svetlana seems like she gets it too.

    Much love to you.

  22. ScientistMother Says:

    Love, hugs, sleep and peas to you. I am glad you found someone like svetlana. You are a good mother.

  23. Ms. Moon Says:

    I remember once when my second child was a young baby and I thought I lost her. I was frantically looking through the house for her. And the whole time? I was holding her in my arms. Scary shit.
    Sleep deprivation is no joke.
    I love Svetlana for you.
    You are a good mother. But a tired one.

  24. Shannon Says:

    Svetlana just rocks – I’m so happy it went well. Good for you for going . . . many women don’t do it. Sleep makes the entire world a different place – so I hope you get some. And peas too.

  25. worldmomma Says:

    Enjoy the quiet night tonight. If you and hubby haven’t been using them already, try a set of earplugs. They greatly increase the restfulness of whatever sleep you might be able to get.

  26. Momily Says:

    Again, thanks for blogging so honestly about “this” . . . it helps so much to stop PPD and the spectrum of stuff associated with it from being this dirty secret that no one talks about or is somehow dimished for admitting to. You are brave and incredible for doing this – really. I hope you will write about your experience with Ativan as I think many of us use a sleep aid, but don’t know how it works come “wake up” time and so on. I know the truth stops here so look forward to your reviews!

  27. ALI Says:

    Struck by how brave you are to share this, and hoping you know we all have those moments..

    sending you big warm hugs from new england!

  28. Bea Says:

    This post was so funny and vulnerable and clever – and then so tear-jerkingly moving. I think Svetlana will do. I like her.

  29. ewe are here Says:

    Sleep and peas.

    Spot on.

    And many, many hugs and you hearing the message that you ARE a good mother. A GREAT mother. And hopefully, after a little sleep and peas, you’ll remember that, too.

  30. Carmen Says:

    Oh my gosh, that woman sounds so wonderful! She knows you are a good mother in just the first meeting. And she knows you need rest before anything else.
    Good for you for knowing you needed a helping hand and advice. Enjoy your sleep and peas. Any possibility a trusted friend or hired nanny could continue to help with childcare so you can get some peas daily? I remember what just a nap would do for me when I was so very sleep deprived and caring for 2 little ones. continue to take care and thank you for sharing with all of us…

  31. Mac and Cheese Says:

    Sounds like a good start. I know you’ll be ok.

  32. Cloudy Says:

    I hope you get your peace; this seems like a good step in that direction.

    I sought therapy once and my therapist turned out to be the daughter-in-law of Ronald Reagan.

  33. Jennifer P Says:

    Sending lots of positive energy and sweet, sweet, dreams

  34. Heather Says:

    She sounds vondervul. Peas to you.

  35. julie @ the calm before the stork Says:

    What a beautifully written account of your appointment.

    Ditto everyone’s comments about the Russian sounding like a good egg and you getting peas and sleep.

  36. O'Neal (The woman in charge around here) Says:

    I don’t know how the health care thing goes up there or if it is as expensive as is it here in the South. But my offer still stands, about bitching to each other and calling it even. We won’t even have to leave the house or get dressed! And I have bottles of whatever you need, no charge, no pharmacy lines ;). One way or another you will get the rest you so dearly need! 😉 Totally trying not to incriminate myself…

    Anyway, I am SO glad you got in and got some answers. Hopefully your world will be right as rain ASAP! My Dr, however, is STILL giving me the run around. I was to start my meds this afternon in their office and then attend group therapy meeting right after. 5 oclock traffic and 4 pharmacies later, NO ONE had the meds he wrote so I came home and dropped it off at MY pharmacy on the other side of town and will *HOPEFULLY* have it in hand tomorrow and start Saturday. Sorry for all that boring personal TMI , I just needed to get it out and the hubs is all blank when I try to talk to him about it…

  37. Her Bad Mother Says:

    ONeal – It’s Canada. Healthcare is universal. So I only pay for my prescriptions. For this? I am grateful.

    But you’re welcome to whatever bitching you’d like. You know where I am 😉

  38. Listen Up, MoFos! Says:

    I am actually crying right now. I have been there, exactly there, although her name was Adair. And I take my Prozac and Ativan every day. Last night was hard, I felt so angry at my daughter for not wanting to go to sleep, not wanting cow’s milk instead of her usual soy milk, at my husband for leaving the damned soy milk in the car that he then took to work!!! And it is such an ugly feeling, that anger. And I know it’s not her fault and that I should be a good mommy and not hurt her feelings with my anger… but sometimes I am only human. And so are you, Catherine.

    Much love.

  39. Manager Mom Says:

    We are all behind you. You will find yourself again through all of this.

  40. Mamalooper Says:

    She sounds great – get the sleep and self care stuff sorted out first; THEN, do other stuffs if needed.

    Sweet, sweet dreams…

  41. marymurtz Says:

    Bless her, bless her, bless her. And the ativan. And the sleep.

    My doctor said she wouldn’t have any patients at all if everyone drank enough water and got enough sleep. She’s slightly overstating it, but not by much.

    Love to you. xoxo

  42. brandi Says:

    {{{HBM}}} who is SO not a BM. I wish pecks and pecks of peas upon your house.

    If you get a few extra pecks could you pass them down my way though?

  43. Domestic Extraordinaire Says:

    Well I am glad that you are going to give peas a try. Lots of hugs! xoxo!!

  44. Asha {Parent Hacks} Says:

    And even here you write so beautifully and so honestly. Wishing you peas as you move through this valley.

  45. Michelle Says:

    Wishing you sleep and peas.

  46. brandi Says:

    Oh, if your husband is on the night shift you might want him to get you up briefly at some point to pump. Say, after he’s taken care of the baby already so you are not too awake or tempted to nurse him, thus loosing sleep.

    Not for the baby, I’m sure you have stock in the fridge for him, but for your poor boobies. Waking from a blissful sleep b/c your tits are bursting is so not the best wake-up you could wish for.

    If your husband is really up for it you could show him how to pump you himself. You know, so you don’t have to be conscious at all, if the meds work really well that is. You could even call it research for PETA.

    frickin’ weird suggestion, I know, but it could work and allow you a few extra hours (45 min?) of sleep.

  47. Anonymous Says:

    Her bad mother is not a good name for this blog…

    You are an AMAZING mother…..

    Cheers to Svetlana, ativan and sleep…

  48. Sandra Says:

    She’s right … you are a great mother. Sleep and peas is what I wish for you dear Catherine.


  49. Mandy Says:

    I often think that asking for help is the hardest thing to do.

    Why is that, when we are so willing to try and help others?

    Sweet dreams.

  50. roz Says:

    Am I the only person that thinks that occasional `crazy` thoughts are normal? My goodness- you`re sleep deprived, seemingly still working your butt off and, oh yeah, you`ve just sacrificed your body to another human being who doesn`t understand what you`re doing for him and as such will not try one bit to make your life any easier. It upsets me that moments such as the one you experienced make you and other mothers feel like there might be something wrong with you. I`m happy for you that you`re strong enough to know to get help when you feel that you need it, but I certainly hope that you know that it doesn`t mean that you`re becoming a `monster` and you shouldn`t feel any shame for the frustration you`re experiencing. I know well that feeling of anger. I thought that I was a terrible mother and a terrible person when my daughter was the same age. Only after coming out of the dark of depression did I realise that the problem wasn`t me- it was the situation. You`re doing a fabulous job- I`m sure of it. Give yourself credit and take all the time to sleep that you can- you deserve it.

  51. Mommy Melee Says:

    I admire you so very, very much.

  52. Lisa b Says:

    ahh whirrled peas.
    I like Svetlana.
    I’ve just booked a flight.
    NOT with westjet….

  53. paper napkin Says:

    Dude, I feel for you. I had such oppressive PPD with every single kid. OY. Things will get better. Rilly. Lord it’s so hard.

  54. No Mother Earth Says:

    Sleep and peas might just become my new mantra.

    Sleep well, my friend.

  55. Mia Says:

    Sleep is good.

    It’s my favorite pastime that I have hardly been able to partake in.

    Hang in there. It all changes as they get older. It doesn’t make it better for now, just know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel…

    For now, shut out the light. Turn off the computer. Go to sleep. Peas.

  56. Maria Says:

    I’m glad you are getting some sleep tonight. Tomorrow will be brighter (or at the very least less exhausting)

  57. She sure is strange! Says:

    15.5 years ago I had an emergency c-section and nearly died. My son was born dead but revived by a very attentive assistant to my doctor. I had undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic and Anxiety Disorder and Post Partum Depression. It went undiagnosed until my second child was about 9 months old(almost 3 years).

    Since the first one’s birth, I had intrusive thoughts that I wasn’t my son’s real mom, that his parents were going to come get him and I was just a baby sitter. Another intrusive thought was that I wanted something to happen to him so I could start over with a better experience. It was an AWFUL time in my life. I felt like a robot. After the second kid came along it was overwhelming and debilitating because I also developed agoraphobia and couldn’t go anywhere!

    I went for a screening on the National Depression Screening Day even though I didn’t think my problem was depression. We took a little test and I was referred to a couselor there who said it was most likely anxiety and she made me an appt to see a psychiatrist.

    My doctor prescribed Xanax and Paxil and within a few months I was feeling more normal. After about 2 years on the meds I weaned myself off, having moved away from this doctor and not having insurance to continue seeing someone. I got pregnant again and have the most wonderful birth(another c-section but not an emergency life or death situation). I’ve not had any problems since then and she’s 8.5 years now.

    Hang in there, it will get better, I promise!!!((((((hugs)))))))


  58. Irene Says:

    Good for you! Much peas to you too!

  59. Rachael Says:

    She sounds like a really nice woman. Good job on getting help – now go get some sleep!

  60. Mamalooper Says:

    P.S. there’s a HUGE reason why sleep deprivation is a great torture weapon. We aren’t meant to operate without enough rest…

  61. Mama V Says:

    Wishing you much peas and sleep…. ((((((HUGS))))))

  62. HeatherK Says:

    She sounds quirky, yet gentle. Everything you need to heal from this, you have within you. You are on the right track. Sleep, pea soup, some more sleep, love, family.

  63. Robyn - Chique*Plus Says:

    Your honesty about everything you are going through is a lifeline for other women. Don’t forget that.

    My first thought was that only a good mother would take the time and energy to seek help. So the remote possibility of being a bad mother is immediately dismissed.

    Sleep and heal. As your body gets stronger, so will your mind.

  64. starrlife Says:

    It takes alot of courage to do what you are doing! Especially if it’s so distasteful for you to do! Go for the peace, you deserve it.

  65. Vodka Mom Says:

    wow. That was some post. I can’t even be a smart-ass. It was both hard and a pleasure to read.

    you rock,

  66. Vicki Says:

    Sending you peas and sheep to count. Lots of love and get much rest. Good luck dear.

  67. LAVANDULA Says:

    catherine so glad you are getting help. and svetlana sounds wonderful..

  68. Shannon Says:

    I’m also so glad you were able to get past the inital hesitation with Svetlana. Talking is good, taking time for yourself is wonderful. You are a good person, and have helped so many people by being honest about your feelings.

    I wish I had a “svetlana” to pat my hand and tell me everything will be ok.

  69. themommykelly Says:

    Oh dear. I am so sorry for your difficulties. It seems as though you have found some wonderful help, however. Having someone understand and help find solutions is such a blessing!

  70. HeatherPride Says:

    That just almost made me cry! I’m so sorry. You will get through this. Be open to therapy. I used to think it was for schmucks but then I went through counseling when I got divorced. It helped soooooo much, I can’t even begin to say.

    I am wishing you much peas.

  71. Candy Says:

    OK Svetlana, who I was all set to hate, made me cry. Dammit! She’s a winner. You’re in good hands. Now go to bed.

  72. Mamajama Says:

    Reading the doctor’s notes is what got me. So harsh. So clinical. Not compassionate enough. Hang in there!

  73. Her Bad Mother Says:

    Reading the doctor’s notes almost made me get up and leave the room. but I’m glad that I stayed.

  74. Loralee Choate Says:

    When you got to the part about reading the notes I MARVELED at your strength but you are just…amazing to me.

    I think the sleep thing alone would SEND ME. I thing getting that under control will make coping easier.

    Next to something going wrong lack of sleep is the single biggest fear I have about having a baby again.

    I love you, you wonderful, wonderful woman. All my good thoughts are sent your way.

  75. Mama Smurf Says:

    zees post make me cry.

    You’ll get there girl. Sleep is as good a place to start as any.

  76. Michelle Says:

    You ARE a good mother. A great mother. I’m glad you got some peas…er peace anyways.

  77. Christina Says:

    I’ve been reading along, unsure of what to say only because it sounded cliche to say I’ve been there. But I have been there, and understand this so well.

    You are a good mother. You’re better than many considering how fast you decided to take action. And I think Svetlana has the right idea: sleep and peas. We could all use more of that, couldn’t we?

  78. Christy Says:

    Sleep and peas sound wonderful! I am with you on the exhaustion. My babe is just 4 months and not sleeping well. I also have a 5 and 7 year old who are my reminders that there is a light at the end. Hopefully soon 🙂 Hang in there!

  79. Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    Sleep will do you good. I see brightness ahead. My youngest just turned 4 and I can assure you: there comes a day when they all sleep, and it seems miraculous and ordinary at the same time.

  80. AspenEm Says:

    Peace has a way of changing the world … May sleep change yours! Positive vibes headed your way.

  81. Stefanie Says:

    As a person, woman, mother on anxiety meds, I can tell you for shizzle that lack of sleep is what put me over the edge and near breakdown territory.

    My husband started taking some overnights with BOTH babies and I slept through the night for about a week. I was a completely different person.

    I don’t think that the dark thoughts come from a dark side of yourself, I believe they come from the taboo of thinking them. The mere fact that we’re so sure it’s wrong to want to hurt our baby is enought to make us think that when we’re insanely stressed and tired. And then we make it worse by feeling guilt over having those thoughts. It’s just your body’s way of making you seek help. Ativan is yummy.

  82. Kaza Says:

    I wish I had been strong enough to see a shrink in my postpartum months. I white-knuckled it through and was miserable. I hope you get the “peas” you need from all of this. It’s a tremendous act of courage to get help with this, and very, very wise.

  83. Ernesta Says:

    Now you need to stop reading all these wonderful comments from everyone and go back to bed to get some sleep and peas!!!

  84. Just Call Me Sleep Deprived Says:

    My heart goes out to you! No one realizes how much lack of sleep really affects you, it really can push you over the edge. Good luck getting some real sleep and peas, I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you even though it may not feel like it! Hang in there:)

  85. Katrina Says:

    Hang in there, chickadee, hang in there.

  86. Ruth Dynamite Says:

    Get zome zleep, dearie. Thinking of you.

  87. Mom101 Says:

    Sometime the universe sends you Svetlanas right when you need them. Ativan too.

    Peace, mama.

  88. Maggie, Dammit Says:

    I love this. How did Svetlana know your blog name? 😉

    Sleep and peas, sweet dear.

  89. Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas Says:

    Wishing you many peas.

    This was so sweet. I recently wrote a post called Depression is an Asshole. Maybe I need halp?!?

  90. Indigo Children Says:

    Oh god.

    Thank you (really a lot) for your honesty.

    I wish you peace


    I am grateful

    that I found this post today…

    so many reasons why.

    There is nothing so vulnerable

    as sharing darkness (with the unknown).

    You can’t know the unintended results of your honesty.

  91. Haley-O Says:

    Suddenly, I have an overwhelming craving for pea soup….!

  92. Erin, Nick and Merrick Says:

    You are very brave!
    I have had that flash of anger- very scary.
    I wish you all the best.

  93. Booba Juice Says:

    Your peas have meant so much to me, I had to use them in my latest post.

    Here is hoping that we both get the peas that we need.


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