Tag Archives: Postpartum depression

Sunday


Sunday’s are normally the day I get refilled, a day of renewal. After a week’s worth of nurturing a baby, running a home, cooking meals, nodding and smiling and decision making and go go going, Sunday’s are the day in which I get a little return. No, I don’t go to church, it’s our family day. It’s me and the husband and the baby all together. We run errands or we don’t. We pay social calls or we don’t. We accomplish things, or we don’t.

On Sunday’s it’s more than just feeling like, for a day at least, it’s not at all on me to keep it together. It’s getting to spend the day with my husband, who is laid back and calm and decisive and gentle and affectionate and kind. I draw from his strength on Sunday’s. I replenish my stores.

This system usually works very well. Except right now. Right now it’s not working.

My husband is going through a hard time all of his own. Overwhelmed with parenthood, sleep deprived, more to do lists than time? Who knows really. He’s not great with communication and his issues aren’t my business to write about.

Thing is, his hard time is getting harder it seems. And, while I want to support him through whatever he’s going through, and be patient and kind and replenishing to him, I just have nothing. Whatever it is that eats away at my mind is taking big, ravenous bites, and I’m disoriented from it all. My moods shift faster than ever, my highs aren’t happy, they’re frantic. My lows aren’t sad, they’re furious. The world is a merry go round spinning faster and faster and I’m nauseous from the ride. No, I’m literally nauseous.

I’ve absorbed whatever my husband is going through into myself. Assuring myself that, whatever his problem, it’s me. It’s me. It’s me. It’s always me.

And I’m left without a support. The only person I trust to talk about these things with is distracted at best, disinterested at worst. There is no checking in, there is no pulling close. There is me and my thoughts and my trying ever harder to keep a tight grip on a falling world.

Yesterday was Sunday. It was stilted and silent. It was irritable and short. It was his way and mine. It was not a refilling. There was no replenishing. I tell myself that it’s okay. That he’s allowed to go through his seasons as I am allowed mine. I tell myself, and believe, that everything will eventually get back on track.

Eventually.

But in the meantime I can’t breathe.

And so I keep on keeping on, breath be damned, because somehow it’s all got to keep moving forward. And Mabel eats and sleeps and plays. And I’m right there for every bit of it.

Nauseous and not breathing.

I hope we don’t miss too many Sundays.

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Methodical Wellness


Parenting makes me purposeful. I sit on the floor to read or play and I place myself with purpose. I align my back and cushion where needed, prepared to stay as long (or as short) as necessary. I am more aware now. I pay attention to where I lay us in bed, careful to leave enough space for her to roll away and still be safe. I am purposeful with my words, aware in my actions, knowing little eyes are watching and learning in every moment. I do not try to escape this monumental undertaking; I do not shy away from this methodical living. It is necessary and important for safety and wellness and health of all forms.

I am very often sad or anxious lately. The anxiety comes and goes, sharp and ferocious and then gone, but the sadness lingers. It becomes an undercurrent of which I am only sometimes aware, but which dictates the direction in which I flow. While I am a purposeful swimmer when it comes to parenting Mabel, in the rest of my life I have begun to simply float where the current takes me. My epiphany this morning (during laundry, how cliche) is that this current is not my friend.

While I am forever asking and answering questions as a parent – Is the sun too hot? Is she safe with that toy? Will she be alright on the ground? Why is she crying? – I realize that I have stopped doing so as a person. This is not an acceptable state of being, especially for a being in distress.

I wake up. I notice I am sad. I lay still and think, “I am still sad. It feels so heavy. Something is very wrong. I wish xyz would happen so this sadness could be fixed. The baby is stirring. She’s awake. Go away sadness, I have to be a Mom now.”

Two things. First, I am not a compartmentalized person. I cannot be a sad person between the hours of 6 pm and 5 am, when I am not solely responsible for Mabel’s care and well being, and a stable and healthy parent the rest of the time.

Second, there is no purpose in those thoughts. There is no awareness, no method. There is only blind acceptance, of what is not an acceptable long term reality, and blame.

If she hadn’t….I wouldn’t be feeling such anxiety.
If he would only…I wouldn’t feel so sad.

It doesn’t matter what I fill in those blanks with, those statements are not true. The answers to what is wrong within me do not lay without.

Why am I sad? What is this emotion surrounding? What does it feel like when I allow it to be felt? Is there an action I can take that will help alleviate this feeling? If so, what is it? Why aren’t I taking it? Do I want to feel better? Do I need to feel sad? What am I feeling anxious about? What lies am I believing? What is the truth? What am I hiding from?

I know the questions. I know the method to wellness. I have steadfastly and adamantly refused both, whether consciously or not. Perhaps I have needed this time. I can allow for that possibility, but it is needed no longer.

My husband needs me, my friends need me, my house needs me…I need me.

And so it is time to sit with the scary questions and find out their quiet answers. It is time to be well again.

Because, really, why not?

Midnight Intuition


Ever have one of those moments where you think “Yeah, this kid is awesome but I don’t know what God was thinking… she’s got zero chance of coming out of this childhood unscathed.”

This evening I escaped from my bedroom and went to stand in the silent downstairs and be alone with the idea that maybe I should never have had a kid; that this was a very, very bad idea. Not because I don’t adore her, or because I don’t think she’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, but because there’s no way I’m going to get it right. She is this amazing treasure, this tiny gift, and I am known for fucking things like that up.

Tonight she was a little fussier than usual. I’ve been dealing with a lot more anxiety than normal. “She’s very intuitive, you know, she’s affected by your emotions,” my mother tell me, every well meaning woman seems to tell me, “if you’re stressed she’s going to pick up on that.” She wouldn’t stay asleep tonight, kept waking up. She was too full to feed again and nothing else seemed to work. I was frutrated. Jason took her downstairs. My anxiety grew. She was down there crying some time later so I called them back. Jason handed her to me as I uttered a frutrated “for fucks sake!”. Mabel was crying and not easily comforted. A quick offer to nurse was refused, a more insistent offer rejected. Anxious, stressed, irritated… “Mabel, I just can’t handle this okay, I just can’t!” She began to scream like I have never heard her scream before. Inconsolabe, wounded, broken screaming. She’s intuitive, she can pick up on what I’m feeling. There’s no way I’m going to do right by her. She’s this perfect gift, this tiny little treasure and I have no idea how to not fuck that up. She’s sleeping now, finally, but I’m shaken.

I asked my doctor for zoloft but I’m scared to take it. I bought every supplement ever suggested for the baby blues today, or at least the amount on the receipt would seem to indicate such, but it’s too soon for it to work. I keep a tiny bit of marijuana in the house for just this sort of endless anxiety emergency but can’t bring myself to smoke it; I’m dealing with a diminishing milk supply and I read smoking pot can make it worse.

I’m afraid to hold her, I feel guilty when she cries. I’m certain she’s reading every mood and responding, insulted. I think I should just switch to formula to ease my stress and anxiety and allow for a bit of a buffer between us. I wish I’d never heard, never known, how easily she can pick up on what I’m feeling.

This little perfect gift, my tiny little treasure…I’m terrified I’m going to fuck us all up.

Sugar is the new wine


Sugar is the new wine.

The only problem is it doesn’t exactly have the same affect. There is no succession of relief: one truffle may temporarily calm the nerves and help me catch my breath, but two won’t improve my mood and make me warm and fuzzy, three won’t bring out the stories and the jokes, four has no impact on my sex life and five doesn’t guarantee a great nights sleep.

Sugar is the new wine if wine sucked.

Just like wine, however, sugar comes with a set of problems all it’s own. It may not make me act a fool and then black out only to wake up in the morning wondering what I did and who I pissed off, but in a hormonally charged time such as this whole postpartum chapter, it sure isn’t doing me any favors.

I’ve been reading some blogs of women who discovered themselves struggling with the baby blues, and have found myself encouraged by their stories of postpartum depression in varying degrees; reading about how they felt, what they experienced, and how they moved past it has made me feel remarkably normal.

It’s not that I want to leave my baby in the trunk or anything, I’m just a little down lately. I’m more than a little irritable, especially with my husband, and downright resentful of what I irrationally perceive as his ability to come and go as he pleases. The house and it’s endless to do list is overwhelming and depressing, my lack of independent time is maddening, and I’m damn sick of wearing maternity clothes.

Do I need to point out that cultivating a sugar habit is counter-productive to getting into my former wardrobe?  The more fudge I eat the less I want to look in the mirror, nevermind abandon my pajamas for anything threatening an actual waistline.

I’m a big believer in getting a handle on moods like this one before they take over. So, after a few days of research, I headed off to the natural food store with a few questions and shopping list in hand.

The resident herbalist at the store, after offering some tips for various herbs and supplements, said “And make sure to stay away from sugar, that’s probably the most important thing of all.”

The good news is that after two days of St. John’s Wort and a homeopathic remedy, Sepia, I’m feeling like I’m coming back up a bit. Blah, blah, blah, I’m going to live. The real question though is,

Man, can’t a girl be addicted to anything these days?!

Becoming Mom


By the time I go to bed at night, every night, I am tired both physically and emotionally, overwhelmed with the work of parenting a newborn and guilt ridden at the thought that I’m no longer fulfilling the role of wife and homemaker as well as I once did or as I feel I now should be able to again.

Our lovely Mabel Quinn is two weeks old today. I’ve been holding myself to this strangely high standard of recovery and return to normalcy. Intellectually I can acknowledge that, at two weeks postpartum, I’ve barely recovered from the c-section and shouldn’t yet have any expectation of proficiency as a new parent or the full return to my role as wife as it was prior to birth. Emotionally, however, I feel I’m letting my husband and new daughter down by not being better at this yet. I’ve convinced myself that I should be able to keep the house clean, have dinner ready, get some exercise every day and keep myself looking good, all while parenting our new daughter perfectly.

My excessively high standard for recovery and proficiency doesn’t take into consideration, of course, most of my new reality. Mabel, for all her breathtaking loveliness, is what you might call a “high needs baby”; she doesn’t fuss or cry very often, but she also doesn’t want to be put down. She’s going through a growth spurt that has her nursing about once an hour and, even when her doting daddy is home, only Mommy’s arms seem to do the trick. Seems I didn’t factor a third personality into what I envisioned during my pregnancy as the Great Postpartum Return to Self.

Of course, that isn’t all I forgot to take into consideration when making plans to “get my Self back” after pregnancy. I didn’t know well enough to acknowledge that the “Self” I thought I was returning to was no longer going to exist after Mabel came. There is no Me to go back to, there is only the Me that I am becoming. This, of all things, is something I have experience with – redemption, reinvention. I need to remind myself of the process, to remember to be kinder to me as I transition into yet another facet of Self.

I acquainted myself with some of the ins and outs of postpartum depression during my pregnancy. It’s not that I necessarily expected to have some trouble after giving birth, but as a person prone to depression and anxiety, I thought it was important to be educated. I think it would be fair to say that, instead of assuming everything would be fine once our little one arrived, I gave myself permission to not be fine if that was, in fact, what ended up happening.

I check in with myself from time to time, consider some of the difficulties I might have had that day and try to evaluate them rationally. I’m prepared to call a doctor should I need to, but every time I assess where I’m at I realize just how okay I am.

The evening hours are hard, it’s true. My arms are tired from baby loving – frankly, so are my boobs – and I’m worn down. Jason is home and I watch him fending for himself, for the both of us, in the kitchen and I feel some guilt. I look around the house and wish it were cleaner or neater, or that I was.

Yet, something incredible happens every night once we are in bed. My sweet two week old daughter snuggles up against my side to nurse happily as she drifts off to sleep. I smile at her and watch her contentment for as long as my eyes stay open and then I, too, drift off to sleep. We awaken a few times throughout the night – to shift position, to burp, to comfort or snuggle – and each time I stare at my sleeping husband and marvel that, despite whatever may have happened during our days, here we all lay at night, a contented and peacefully sleeping family, caring for each other as we are able and as we should.

Morning comes and Mabel and I get up to face our day while Jason is at work. We share smiles and songs, alternate snuggling and sleeping and discovering the world together. Sometimes a new bit of the house will get tidied or cleaned, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes the day is just rocking and nursing and napping and silly TV shows to entertain me while Mabel goes about the business of growing.

And when the evening comes with it’s challenges, I check in with myself to make sure I’m still okay, only to realize I’m more okay than I’ve ever been before. And while Mabel grows and changes so do I. I’m becoming a new Me, finding a new Self. And the new truth of this Self is that it’s really not about Me so much anymore. Everything is different. Perfectly and wonderfully different.