Super Bowl Sunday!!!! Bring on the parties and food and commercials and football!!! Or the terrible memory of how Postpartum Depression made me so tense I skipped a chance to take my sons to their first Super Bowl party at their godparents’ house!!!!
(Wait, no exclamation points on that last thing. Is there a sad equivalent? What is the saddest punctuation? How about the most anxious?)
That sad Super Bowl was four years ago, and yet I can still bring up a cloud of anxiety thinking about it. I still have pain over waiting seven months to get treated. I still wish I didn’t have to be medicated to be a good mother, wife, human.
It’s safe to say that since the boys are four, what I currently struggle with is no longer Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety. I’ve moved back to my good friends Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. These are things I’ve struggled with and been medicated for my whole life. And I still wish it would go away so I could be ‘normal’.
I was well aware of the risks of PPD and how they applied to me before I got pregnant with the boys. In addition to my history of diagnosed depression, I was also dealing with the stillbirth of our first son and the death of my brother. Add in 10 weeks of bed rest before the twins were born and the complication that had me with an NG tube down my throat after their birth, and it seems I would be the most likely candidate in the history of ever to get it.
But, I just thought I was emotional. And not a natural mother. And just a bitch. Like, that’s just my personality. (I also have a super great ego as you can see.) Besides, I didn’t want to hurt my sons or myself like Brooke Sheilds. In fact, the opposite was true. I felt that every thing I did would impact their immediate health as well as their whole lives. All decisions were life and death. I had one chance to make it right. One chance to make them healthy. One chance to ‘teach’ them to sleep well. One chance to instill good manners. One chance to make them good readers who floss every night.
Dear me, that paragraph makes me need a Xanex.
I wasn’t mentally ill in my eyes. I just wanted someone to come and take me to a hospital so I could rest. (Yes, I hoped for this so many times.) I thought more sleep was the answer. If I could just catch up on sleep, I’d be able to think and get it all together. I would sit in the car and wish I could just stay there but feel anxious and afraid of what was going on with the boys when I wasn’t with them.
I had plenty of help. My husband was home with us for nine weeks. Then I could always count on my parents and several friends in a pinch. I just couldn’t even make help work right. My mom would come so I could nap, and I’d be in my bed frantic about dirty towels. I couldn’t even tell her what needed to be done. My brain had no idea what was most important. I needed it all done and I had to do it since I was the mother and I had chosen to stay home and lots of people did this every day and my best friend has a sister-in-law who breastfed twins for 100 years! It was all on me.
My friends were good parents. My parents were good parents. Strangers who had kids without pacifiers were good parents. I was a mess of awfulness. In my eyes, I did nothing right. And I worried all the time about it. Why couldn’t I just relax? Why couldn’t things just be the normal tough parent stuff instead of catastrophes of pain and worry and sadness?
I’m so sorry that I took so long to get help. I feel like I ruined those first months for my boys. I see videos of them at that age and hear my own voice and laughter and wonder if it was enough. I wonder if they have positive feelings from that time or they just remember the mommy who cried and cussed so bad one morning that daddy stayed home from work. I can only assume daddy thought the boys were not safe in my care.
I am currently medicated. I actually just had to have the dosage upped. (I’m wondering if moving my family to Poland was maybe a bit more stressful than I planned? Um, probably.) I wish I was going the other way and was weening of it. I want to just relax and have fun. I want to enjoy when my kids make a huge mess that was fun instead of get tense about how I’m the worst housekeeper on the planet. I wish when my kids walked down stairs my brain did not picture them falling and hurting themselves. But it does unless I have the medicine to slow it down.
I hope that new moms never have to feel like I did. But, more than that, I hope that if they do, they have no fear or shame in getting help. I hope that my own shame and sadness at being like I am goes away too. I need to read more great articles like this one from Postpartum Progress and spend more time with my Twitter #ppdchat army. And most of all, I need to stop worrying about the mental wiring I’ve passed on to my sweet boys because by the time they need help, it won’t be so hard to get it.