It’s DAY TWO of Guest-blog-a-palooza for PPD and PPA. Only..umm…I can’t REALLY be my own guest.
Today I’m telling my story. I’ve told it in bits and pieces here and there throughout the blog, but I don’t know that I’ve ever just sat down and told it. I guess I should start at the very beginning (a very fine place to start….y’all love me now, don’t you 🙂 )
A few days ago I opened up about how I battled depression in late high school and off and on throughout college and about how I finally got help for my depression and anxiety. I remember the old feelings creeping back during my second year of teaching, so once again, I began taking medication for depression and anxiety. However, that bout was short-lived and when we decided to start a family, I shoved the thoughts to the back of my mind.
I knew I was meant to be a mother. I knew that I would be good at this. It was my destiny. How could I not be a natural?
So imagine my shock when, two days after having my beautiful plans of a natural, vaginal, med-free delivery shot down due to “failure to progress,” I found myself crying into my meatloaf. Apparently, someone having an “inappropriate response to meatloaf” has become code-language in my doctor’s office for “watch out for this one. She’s on the fast-track to medication.” Or something like that. But see, that wasn’t normal. And I didn’t know it.
And when I wrote that post, the anger over my C-section was definitely present. I was angry. I am angry. Even now, 14 months later.
And that’s how my PPD/PPA started. With anger. And bitterness. And resentment.
And then the anger and bitterness and resentment turned into sadness over how things didn’t go the way I planned.
And then I heard the words “you’ll have to supplement” at my son’s first newborn visit after being discharged and that’s where the no-no F word started creeping in.
I had only been a mom for five days and already I was a failure. I’d failed to get him here the way I’d envisioned. I’d failed to keep him from losing 10% of his birth weight because my stress and anxiety over the surgery (and the pain! Sweet baby Jesus in a manger the pain.) kept my milk from coming in.
And I just KNEW that supplementing would be doom for breastfeeding for us.
And then I’d be failing at yet ANOTHER thing and I was BARELY EVEN A MOTHER YET AND HOW CAN I ALREADY BE SO BAD AT THIS?!?!?
When my one-week postpartum check-up came around, Peggy and Dan and I discussed my “inappropriate response to meatloaf” in the hospital. While Joshua, ever the little stinker he is, slept peacefully in his car seat. A car seat that he HATED for the first four months of his life (which effectively trapped me in the house because the sound of him screaming would send me into what I now think were mild panic attacks…WHILE DRIVING).
While we were at that visit, Peggy wrote me a prescription for an anti-depressant. She thought it’d be a good idea for me to go ahead and start taking them.
But I didn’t. Because I wanted to believe that I was stronger than that. I wanted to believe that this was just the “Baby Blues” and that they’d go away and I’d realize that I was a natural at this. That I was a PERFECT mother.
But I wasn’t. I’m still not. And the “Baby Blues” didn’t just evaporate.
It didn’t help that a mere seven days after giving birth, I was flying solo with this tiny bundle of lungs and poop. I couldn’t drive because it still hurt to sneeze, so I still needed to take pain medication. But I couldn’t take pain medication and be home all day with the baby because what if he needed me and the medication made me drowsy and I was sent a baby who wouldn’t sleep so there was no “sleep when baby is sleeping” in this house for at least three weeks.
I resented my husband. I resented the fact that he got to leave every day and go to work. He got to get out. He got to see people. If I tried to leave, even to go to Target, I’d have the baby screaming his tiny baby lungs out the whole way there. The whole time we walked around the store. The whole time we drove home. It just wasn’t worth it. So I didn’t leave. And when he left for work, I’d cry.
And because I was so mired up in my own grief, I didn’t feel connected to my son. I’d read blogs written by women who would gush and gush about how when they saw their baby it was love at first sight and they knew instinctively what to do and what their baby needed and part of me screamed “THAT IS BULLSHIT” and then part of me cried.
Because that’s what I wanted. I wanted that instant bond. That connection. That look from my baby that said “You are my mommy and I know this because I have heard your heart for 40 weeks and 5 days and it is the greatest sound in the world and I love you, Mommy. And I promise to sleep all night long and save the poop-splosions for Daddy.”
And I didn’t get that. Even close to a year out, I still didn’t feel that. Even now, there are times where I look at my son and go “WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM!?!?” because he and I just don’t seem to understand each other very well.
The times that I felt most at peace were the times when my mother came down to spend the day with me. She’d get here early in the morning and do a load of laundry or dishes or sweep my floor. And then? Then she’d hold Joshua while I napped in the bed. It was glorious. But it was brief. My reprieves from the resentment were short-lived. I knew she’d leave soon, so when it would be time for her to leave, I’d get all anxious in the pit of my stomach and I’d feel the lump forming in my throat. And then she’d walk out the door and I’d be choking back tears and trying to hold it together.
And in the midst of all of this, Joshua was diagnosed with reflux and a milk protein allergy. Which meant mixing up little packets of Zegerid twice a day and me cutting out all yummy dairy goodness for as long as I planned to breastfeed. Me and Oreos became BFFs because they are totally, completely dairy free. And some days, I’d eat Oreos. All day long. That’s almost all I’d have to eat. Maybe I’d sneak in a graham cracker and some peanut butter. But I didn’t have much of an appetite, despite the fact that I was a dairy-free dairy cow.
(I think the fact that we finally got breastfeeding worked out is the only thing that helped me keep it together. It’s the only thing I knew I didn’t totally suck at, even though it had its own set of drawbacks…like growth spurts, and nursing every hour, on the hour, all.night.long. AND GIVING UP CHEESE AND COFFEE CREAMER.)
At my six week postpartum visit, I finally admitted to Peggy, and my husband, and my mom, and myself, that I needed to fill the prescription she’d written me six weeks earlier. I knew that this was not something I could do alone. So, I drove to the pharmacy, filled the prescription, and started taking them that night.
And I didn’t feel instantly better. I still have days where I don’t feel better. I have days where I just want to cry. Or where it physically hurts to move my body because I’m just so weighed down with my thoughts. And there are times when Joshua screams (um..hello…he’s a Tiny Terrorist. That’s pretty much all he does is scream) and I feel my heart start to beat faster and I kind of lose my train of thought and I become robotic. GET.DIAPER.ON.NOW.PICK.UP.BABY.NOW. And I just sort of “do” it.
One of the things I’ve come to realize through my battle with PPD/PPA is that I have to take every day as it comes. I’ve also had to abandon the quest for “perfection.” Nothing is perfect. Especially not me. Which is the purpose behind this blog. I’m not perfect. I’m never going to BE perfect.
I’ll have perfect moments, and moments where I go “Hey, I don’t suck at this!” but I’m not going to have those moments all the time. The “perfect” world of mommyhood that I envisioned for myself prior to actually being a mom doesn’t exist.
And slowly…slowly, I’m becoming more and more okay with the lack of perfection in my life. And I’m finding something kind of perfect in the imperfection. I’m finding me.