This is a difficult blog post to write because it requires admitting that I have felt emotions that don’t go with the advertised new-baby-bliss. My sweet little Dayenu entered the world on March 2. He was greeted peacefully and lovingly at home by his big brother, daddy, midwives, doula, grandparents, dogs, and me. It was beautiful. And the euphoria didn’t last long.
That night, B came down with the flu. Within a week, my mom had an accident with the car and was bruised pretty badly. Pud was a sleep-deprived nightmare who refused to sleep but couldn’t handle NOT sleeping, with behaviors bordering on the manic and hyperactive. He demanded to be nursed as much and as often as his brother. Dayenu had to learn to suck more gently and in the meantime, my nipples cracked and I developed thrush inside my breasts. It only took 4 weeks to work out the pain I was experiencing and the solution. Pud threw nightly tantrums in the middle of the night because he was having such a difficult time adjusting to sharing me. And B went back to work the week after Dayenu arrived, instead of the planned 4 weeks after, because he is being transferred from one department to another and learning a new job while winding down big projects for the old one.
It’s 7 weeks later. Two- no- three weeks ago, I moved in with my parents to get some extra help because I needed the help. I have not hurt my children, but before I agreed to move in with my parents, I was definitely having a hard time being patient and understanding with my Pud and his strong emotions and neediness during a huge transition.
Feelings of nearly losing control and wanting to smack my child (we don’t spank), wanting to run away and never come home again, and huge guilt for all those feelings have swirled through me over and over and over again. Even my sweet little Dayenu has stirred up extreme feelings of parenting inadequacy, guilt, and frustration. But my children, even my toddler who is going through a phase of challenging behaviors and emotions, are not the problem. Nor is the broken sleep that comes with parenthood, or the fact that I am tandem nursing, or that B is going through a huge change at work, or any other number of reasons or excuses that can be cited.
The problem is inside me.
This, I understand now, is the evil called Postpartum Depression. I am seeking help, as I can’t seem to “fix myself” on my own.
I am writing this with a heavy heart and feelings of utter shame because my children are my joy and all I ever wanted to be was a mommy, but even I was close to hurting my precious boys because of these strong emotions that come in powerful waves. I am writing this to speak out, because there are other mamas out there who are facing the same struggle. I have to constantly remind myself that the depression lies. My husband, my parents, and my boys show and tell me constantly that I am a better mom than my head wants me to believe these days. And even though the extreme clinging my older son is doing drives this already-irritable mom up the wall, I still can’t help but melt when he says “Mama, I need to hold you!” That is my light in this darkness, and the reassurance that this, too, shall pass. But not without help and reconnecting with my fellow moms.