Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it...

I started to write a post about what I call "Mommy OCD" after having read an article about it late in my pregnancy.  Apparently, they're starting to notice a prevalence in the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder in new moms.  I tried to find this article to share and to also share that I believe I have this disorder, but all I could find was stuff like this and this.  If you didn't have time to click on those links, let me summarize - the symptoms that moms with PPOCD exhibit are intrusive and compulsory thoughts about doing physical harm to their babies.

Okay.  I don't have that

And, if anyone out there thinks they have some of the symptoms described in the articles above, I'm not shaming you or faulting you at all.  And I definitely think you shouldn't hesitate to talk to someone about it.  It's obviously something that isn't all that uncommon among new moms and I'm sure help is out there.

But, here's the thing.  I was attempting to write a funny article about my "OCD" symptoms since becoming a mother.  And now, I feel like kind of an ass for wanting to make light of something people actually do suffer from (and which sounds pretty damn scary.)

So, when you read this - understand that my intent was not to be a jerk and make fun of those with any type of obsessive compulsive symptoms.  I work in the mental health field.  I would never do anything to add to the stigma associated with mental illness.  Consider that my disclaimer.  No nasty comments, please.  This is supposed to be funny.  (Great.  I just did the bloggy version of laughing at my own joke.  But, seriously.  It's funny.)

So.  Without further stalling are my symptoms of Mommy OCD.

Compulsive Hoarding of anything baby-related.  My personal vice is baby wipes.  I stash these like Wal Mart is going out of business (which we all know will never happen - after the Apocalypse all that will be left standing will be cockroaches, Tom Cruise, and Wal Mart with their 6-pack of sensitive baby wipes for $4.97).  Additionally:
  • I always have TWO backup tubes of Dr. Smith's diaper ointment. 
  • My diaper bag must never have any less than 12 diapers in it.  Even if we're just going to the grocery store.
  • I just purchased 6 new bottles for pumping, but refused to allow my husband to throw away the 6 I claimed we were "replacing."
  • I can't remember the last time I left the baby clothes section of any store without a pair of socks in my hand.
  • I have (on more than one occasion) purchased the same outfit in different sizes because LMGAL grew out of it too quickly and I liked it so much.  So, at times, his closet looks akin to the old Mickey Mouse cartoons where he opens his closet and all he has is a bunch of pairs of red suspender shorts.  Yeah.  Like that.
  • There must always be 7 each of the fleece/non-fleece footed sleepers  This way I'm never forced to do laundry mid-week...and although it's usually cold enough that I should only have to stock fleece sleepers in this way.  BUT, I have to plan ahead of time in case this kind of stuff happens:

Almost forty degree temperature swing in one day?  Normal.

Compulsive Checking of everything.  The trips throughout the night to his room to make sure he's still breathing.  When we use the space heater in his room to warm it up (before we put him to bed), I check it at least three or four times to make sure it hasn't fallen over.  I check the car seat straps.  I make sure his blanket isn't covering his face or impeding his breathing in anyway when we put it over him in the car.  And then I have to pull the blanket out of his chubby little hands while driving 70 mph down the highway because he won't stop covering his face with the blanket.  Making my husband, my mom, and complete strangers smell bottles of breast milk I am sure have gone bad (even though it's only been in the freezer for 1 month).  I have checked my child's temperature so many times I've lost count, but he's never had a fever.

Obsessive Thoughts about things that could possibly happen (and those which couldn't possibly happen, but I worry about them anyway.)  And I can usually keep this under control until sends out emails about stuff like this and now I'm worried that the crib is going to swallow up my baby or that if I stop breastfeeding, my baby has to eat bugs.

[Side note:  I love scrolling through the comments on these mommy websites because the women are so ridiculous. Like the one who uses this opportunity to say she's "glad she breastfed so she didn't have to rely on Similac or any type of formula."  You can almost hear the distaste in her voice as she comments.  Congratulations on the breastfeeding.  Here's your cookie, your medal, and your crown.  Move along, now.  My favorite of all the comments is one of them who suggests you "avoid buying anything from China" which I assume means buying anything that is made in China.  Have you ever tried to do that?  It's IMPOSSIBLE.  All of the good toys are made in China.  A mommy friend and I went to a really high-end baby store the other day and she couldn't find a single toy that wasn't made in China.  And these weren't your average Fisher Price kind of toys either.  So.  Good luck on that one, my friend.  This rambling tangent has given me an idea for stalking these types of forums and commenting on the comments to post on this blog.  Although it'll probably get boring after awhile.  No matter what the topic, someone always manages to make it into a breastfeeding debate at some point.  Yawn.]

Since I work in health care, I get this yearly "everyone better get your flu shot or you'll die" email from our infection control people.  This year, I actually have been nagging concerned about whether or not my husband would get the flu shot.  On the CDC's website it gives this explanation that it is extremely dangerous for babies under 6 months to not have the flu shot, but the best way to prevent it is for the caregivers to receive the shot.  And I think I may have some form of post-traumatic stress related to all of the lovely videos news networks shown after the increase in the incidences of pertussis.  Which brings me to...

Obsessive Hand washing and contamination worries.  I have always been a big hand washer.  I usually have some sort of hand sanitizer with me where ever I go.  Then, I became a mother.  Now I'm washing my hands, I wash the baby's hands.  I sanitize the crap out of everything we touch.  I run things under hot water even after they come out of the dishwasher "just in case."  And, since he's teething, he just loves gnawing on my hands and fingers whenever he gets the chance.  So, then I worry about him getting the hand sanitizer in his mouth.  I have actually licked my own hand to find out if it tasted like hand sanitizer before I allow him to put my fingers in his mouth.  I know.  It's so gross.

Obsessive Counting and calculating and adding and subtracting.  The number of ounces of milk he gets.  The number of servings of baby food I can make out of 1 butternut squash.  The total hours of sleep he gets in day.  How many months, weeks, and days old he is.  How long it has been since he last ate and how long he ate at that last feeding.  The number of ounces of milk we have in the freezer and how many days it would last us just in case something apocalyptic happened (and my theory about Wal Mart turned out to be wrong.) How many doses of that magical medicine I like to call Prilosec he has had.  I think if you were to open up my brain and look inside you'd see nothing but a bunch of jumbled up numbers and (often inaccurate) calculations about ounces of breast milk.

Obsessive Ordering and Straightening of whatever I can make stand still.  The wipes are lined up in a certain way (and when you have 18 packages of them, this is very necessary).  His outfits have specific hangers assigned to them.  I have a rotation for receiving blankets, sheets, burp cloths, bibs and bottles that only I can understand and couldn't even begin to explain. 

I know to most, I probably sound like a crazy person.  To moms?  I sound perfectly normal (and to some moms, maybe even somewhat neglectful! HA.)

Lastly, my latest obsession has been this blog.  Thinking about it. Checking my stats. Writing posts in my head.  Jotting down ideas to myself or recording them as a voice note on my phone.  It has been a wonderful way for me to enhance the experience of motherhood.  So, thanks to all who read.  And happy New Year to all of you.  I'm sad to close the chapter on 2010 - a year that made me a new mother and, honestly, made me a totally new person, but I am so excited to see what 2011 will bring.  And, with that cliched ending, I'm signing off.

See you all next year!


  1. Great post...maybe my favorite was the breastfeeding thing...I did formula after I was absolutely miserable breastfeeding. And I could just tell people were thinking "oh that awful mom" when I said I formula fed.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog as well. Always love new readers.

  2. Much needed. I was just sitting at the dining room table ordering a gazillion stuff that I don't really need all of RIGHT THIS MOMENT, but ordered anyway, because you know, what if they ran out??? =)

  3. I'm completely familiar with the OCD you're talking about. Even though my youngest is now three, I still do some of the things you describe, down to the obsessive checking on them all night long (heck, I even do this with my eight year old!), and I'm also guilty of the germ phobia. Comes with the territory, I suppose, but at least I know I'm not the only one.

    Great post!



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