At BabyShrink, we are inclined to believe Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is the long, lost lovechild of Erma Bombeck and Carol Burnett. How else to explain Stefanie’s sharp wit, stunning honesty and widespread public appeal? She is the author of two hilarious books: Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom, and her second salvo, Naptime is the New Happy Hour: And Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down, which will be released this Tuesday, March 25. Stefanie will be on the Today Show that day promoting it. It will be her fifth appearance on the show as a parent/humorist/author.
We happen to love Stefanie. We read her blog, Baby On Bored, where she writes about her three daughters (including four-month-old twins!), her experience with postpartum depression, and about life in general, with the superior brand of humor that has also served well in her stand-up comedy pursuits.
We are naturally thrilled that Stefanie agreed to be the subject of the second BabyShrink Interview.
BabyShrink: Why did you start Baby On Bored?
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor: About three years ago, a few months after the birth of my daughter, Elby, I decided to start a blog since I was a writer who was unemployed due to HAVING A BABY. I'd been told how absolutely wonderful it was going to be to become a mother and had been looking forward to "the blessed event" for nine months. But I was in for a rude awakening. Not only did I have horrendous postpartum depression and not know what it was, but I felt unbonded to my baby, overwhelmed, full of regret and ripped off that I'd been sold a bill of goods that didn't live up to the
BS: You don’t sugarcoat what it’s like to be a mom, and you’ve been very successful in being honest and funny about that.
SWT: My first book deal came from my blog being seen by an agent and sold pretty straight away. I couldn't believe that anyone would be interested in my decidedly unromantic take on the early days of my parenting experience but they were. Since the book received such a great response, I've found it's my calling to be honest about everything. I'm feeling safe in the knowledge that others out there feel the same way.
BS: Tell me about your parenting approach.
SWT: Of course, the bonding did take place with my daughter and I love her in an obsessive, crazy, stalker, "mommyish" way. But I refuse to believe that there is one specific way to parent. I do believe that one should treat each child as an individual and parent that individual to the best of our abilities. Yes, you are a parent and you have to suck it up and make sacrifices. But I don't think you have to live your entire existence thinking of ways to enrich their little minds and ensure they will get into an Ivy League school. Hey, I didn't even go to college and things worked out okay.
I also believe that all parents lie, so you can't compare your parenting to what others say. They all let their kids watch TV (otherwise how would you take a shower?). They all let their kids eat cookies (unless they're completely crazy and controlling), and they all lose their temper once in awhile. It's reassuring to say the least.
I must also say, I'm in praise of praise! The more the better as far as I'm concerned -- this is in response to some articles saying parents overpraise their kids these days.
BS: You had twin girls four months ago. Knowing you were prone to postpartum depression (PPD), how did you approach this pregnancy differently?
SWT: I did plan to go back on Zoloft the second I gave birth. When I found out my babies were coming early, I wasn't so sure I would take the meds so fast because I knew I would be trying to pump as much as possible. But, my doctor was fairly insistent that the Zoloft wouldn't affect my milk enough to warrant possible PPD, so I went ahead and started it. I still pumped for a month while the babies were in the NICU and even the nurses there told me the Zoloft wasn't a problem.
BS: Has it been different this time?
SWT: It's been different, yes. My PPD didn't get nearly as bad in part from the anti-depressant and in part because I knew what I was in for as far as sleep deprivation. The first time around I was paranoid that my horrible attitude would chase my poor husband screaming into the arms of another woman or even another house. But this time, we knew it was just divide and conquer -- make it through the first few months and things will get better. This pregnancy I didn't mess around and I'm so glad I went back on the medication immediately. With twins, I seriously wouldn't have had time to be moping around the house all day.
BS: Did your preparations and advance knowledge help?
SWT: Yes and no. Of course it helps to know that you've had another baby and survived it. But, part of PPD is chemical and that can't be solved by knowing about it in advance. For me, that required meds -- pure and simple, and I refuse to feel weak because I need a little something to get me through. Hell, I need meds with or without a baby or three.
BS: Did the twins being preemies and in the NICU make things more complicated, in terms of how you were feeling and recovering?
SWT: On one hand, I think having the babies be in the NICU made it easier. I knew they were okay and I had a chance to recover from my C-section and fix up the house before they came home. On the other hand, the fact that I went on hospital bedrest and had these babies much sooner than I thought I would, combined with hearing there was a major growth problem with one of the babies, caused an enormous amount of stress. Even though it's all over, the babies are safe and home and we have help, I realize I’m still recovering from that stress. And it will probably be awhile until things are back to normal.
BS: What can you say to the other moms out there who might also be prone to PPD but are afraid of reaching out to ask for help?
SWT: When I had my first baby, Elby, I thought I was crazy because I was crying inconsolably all day everyday. I felt ashamed that I didn't feel connected to my child and that instead of feeling blissful I just felt sad and, to be honest, angry. But when, due to my inability to censor myself, I told my doctor exactly what I was feeling, he blew me off and said that "having a baby is a big responsibility" and to basically suck it up. So, not knowing better, I did. It took me 14 months to get the help I needed. It wasn't until after my daughter was hospitalized for dehydration that I realized I'd felt stressed for months and needed help. I went to a shrink and was put on Zoloft and I suddenly realized that I hadn't felt normal since my daughter was born. It was like a window opened. Hey, if you're against pills and think maybe yoga or aromatherapy is going to make a difference for you than by all means do Downward Facing Dog or get a Glade Plug-In. But if you really want to fight fire with fire, I say GET HELP.
To read more of Stefanie's thoughts, buy her books (linked above) and visit her blog at babyonbored.blogspot.com