Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The inevitable...

It's been on my mind, so it was bound to end up on here. You know those birthday posts to your kids where you talk about where you were this time years ago right before they were born...

Two years ago today....


Seriously though, more important than where I was physically 2 years ago, is where I was mentally.

Looking back, I experienced pretty severe post-partum depression after I had Anna. It's amazing how when you are in it, you can find a way to explain everything away, but in hindsight it glaringly obvious.

We had moved at the end of my pregnancy with Anna. I was so lonely and shut down. I can see the times where I just didn't function. I didn't leave my house. Then there were bright spots and I know that those are what pulled me through. Julia and Anna were exactly what I needed during that time. They made me try to be a better mom and person.

Before Anna was even a year old, I surprisingly found myself pregnant again. After having some assistance in overcoming my PCOS to get pregnant with Julia and Anna I was surprised to become pregnant. A few days later a blood test confirmed my results, the blood test two days later confirmed I miscarried. I had only known I was pregnant for less than a week. Yet, I had already planned a nursery, thought about what we needed, and made room for this baby. My heart hurt. This began the darkest part of that time.

When Anna was 15 months old, I made the decision that I was ready to have my tubes tied. The very next day I had a positive pregnancy test. I was in shock. I hadn't had another cycle since the miscarriage, and although I knew that I could get pregnant on my own, it was still a surprise. I know all about the birds and the bees, and more than your average bear in terms of fertility, and let's just say, I had reason to be surprised. This baby was no immaculate conception, but you couldn't get closer!

Two weeks later my parents had their accident. This was a huge turning point in all of our lives. Two hours before my first OB appointment I received the call that my parents had been taken to a trauma unit and were at the time, still in critical care.

My pregnancy with Emma was plagued with the accident, Dan's job loss and the beginning of our financial downward spiral. There were many happy moments, preparing for her arrival. I found that I had a strength I didn't know I had. I realized that I had some amazing people who were like angels helping us through all of that.

Also during this time, I felt resigned. I allowed my doctor to manage my care in a way that I normally wouldn't have allowed. I felt like I was sleepwalking through most of my pregnancy. Scared it too would end, and scared to hope.

Two years ago today, I was battling depression, and anxiously waiting to call the OB department back to find out about my inducement.

My labor was just like my pregnancy. Surprising. I had expected the quick 5 hour labors of her big sisters, but Em wasn't ready. I spent my labor flat on my back or on my side, in bed. Hooked up to tubes and machines. Machines to force contractions, machines to slow contractions, machines to mask the pain. It was so medically managed that you would think I hadn't a care in the world. In fact just the opposite was true. I was battling my own demons during that labor. While Dan slept at my side, I cried. I questioned my parenting abilities, I questioned where our life was. My husband didn't have a job and I was bringing another mouth into the world. I was insanely worried with her slowing heart rate and terrified when it quickened.

My labor with Em was terrible. It was everything my labor with Anna was not. With Anna I had a doula by my side, a nursing staff who supported all of my decisions. I had friends and family there providing me with the necessary strength and distraction I needed. I felt powerful and in control. I remember bragging to the doctor about what I good pusher I was. That labor was about me and what my body can do. My labor with Em was a battle with science and medicine.

Even after she was born, I felt uneasy with her. Mothering her did not come naturally to me as it did with her sisters. I felt like I was charged with the care of someone else's child. She would spit up and choke and I'd panic and call the nurses. I remember checking her bassinet frequently to make sure she was alive.

That feeling didn't leave at home. I slipped into a more frightening depression, that was easily explained away by my lack of sleep and our situation at home. Em cried all the time. It was a struggle to get through each day.

I'm going to admit something that I don't believe I've ever even said out loud before, and here I am sharing this boldly with the entire Internet (or the 10 people who read this!). I didn't even like her. She was beautiful, and I would sit there and stare at her as she nursed (which she did all the time. Nonstop. Seriously. Like 15 hours a day.) I just wished I could take it all back. At the time I couldn't see ahead of me. I was living minute to minute and I dreaded the next minute. I'd leave for an hour to go to the store, desperate for time away, but knowing that she was at home screaming. Then I'd feel guilty and it would take me days or weeks to build up enough courage to leave without her again.

Then the diagnosis of reflux. Then the medicine. Then some sanity. I was so relieved she had reflux, it wasn't my milk, it wasn't my parenting, it wasn't all the stress around her. I had secretly built all of those excuses into my care. I didn't care if chunks of my n*i*pples were falling off. It was a way of punishing myself.

When she was 4 months old, we moved to Maine for a job for Dan. By the time she was 7 months I was medicated and in therapy for depression. Slowly over the next year, the panic, fear, anger, sadness, hatred (of myself), guilt and depression started to lift.

I now see that during those times, those dark times, she was not the cause of my anguish, rather she was the glimmer of hope. The distraction. The reason to smile. These girls of mine did make it worth living.

My relationship with Emma Leigh has changed. I see her charm. I see the sparkle in her eye. I would even dare to say on the eve of her 2nd birthday, I have finally gotten rid of the feeling that I'm raising someone else's child (or wild dog as it were) and that she is my own. That is a hard thing to admit as a mother, but it's true. We have finally bonded. She is my partner in crime. She is my baby. She's an amazing little girl who is endlessly funny, witty even, she's smart and kind and beautiful and charming. She is also particular, outspoken, loud, demanding and stubborn. Over time though I'm less frustrated by these personality traits and more encouraged by them. She is going to be a strong woman with a good heart.


Suzanne said...

What an amazing story! You've been through so much and look at how good everything turned out! Happy Birthday Emma!

Timestep said...

I'm glad you started to feel better about admitting this. I wish people would realize how normal it can be.

The town we lived in when Syd was born had a "home visit" to each new mom at about 6 weeks post partum. She told me about the time that she decided to get her husband to help stop the baby from crying when she realized that her brain thought it was a rational thought to wrap the baby in it's blanket and throw it out the window to stop it from crying.

I don't know if it was a true story or one told to help knew moms realize that they can admit if they are struggling - either way it was an effective tool.

I wish that more communities had this - someone other than the OB who sees you for 10 minutes at 6 weeks post partum to evaluate how you are doing. 1/2 hour or so is so much more realistic. . .

Anyway, I'm glad that you are having so much fun with your girls now.

AND, I love your new layout!