When I was pregnant with my first, we were worried about post-partum depression. I had a history of depressive episodes. The PPD variety seemed like it was just inevitable.
He’s 8. Birthday boy.
It never manifested.
We’re 4 weeks out.
Because I have a history for depression, my husband and I are on the lookout for postpartum mental problems. I almost expected to have immediate, severe PPD.
So far, so good, though.
Actually, aside from the sleep situation, which I’m getting sort of used to, I feel like I’m actually well above normal.
I dig this whole mommy thing. We lucked out. He’s a “good” baby—when he’s upset, it’s usually for a discernible reason, and I cross my fingers that I won’t jinx it. When we wake up for the day, I feed him, smother him in kisses and play jazz music for him. He makes me giggle. Eventually, I figure, he’ll giggle back.
He’s a sweet-natured little thing.
I just feel ridiculously lucky. You know those Hallmark-inspired, “We’re so blessed” moments that Faith Hill and the like cough up in interviews? I hate those. They seem so fake and wankery and wrong. But, I get it, now.
My kid is the bee’s knees. The snake’s hips. The cat’s pajamas.
And, my husband is awesome—he’s helpful, and patient, and not at all being an immature idiot like some dudes do after their first is born.
Did I mention I’m lucky? ‘Cause I’m lucky.
I was at Faith Hill levels of happy.
I was surprised to find out that Faith Hill levels of happy were even possible for mere mortals.
I can’t believe that I’m enjoying motherhood the way that I am.
He’s so freaking cute. I love his bright-eyed look in the morning. I love that he’s learning to smile and how to unravel those little fists. And, I’m sad for every day that passes because he’s one day closer to not being a baby.
Who knew I was such a fan of babies?
I love to put him in his little fox hat and show him off. And, I love how good he is at eating. And, I love seeing him in his little onesies and sleepers and sacks.
Everything you see about motherhood these days is “dark” or “brutally honest.” I was expecting hell. Hell that was somehow worth it, but hell all the same. But, really, it’s not. I don’t want to lock myself in the bathroom and sob. I don’t think I’m in over my head. I just… love him. Like, he’s what I’ve been waiting for. Even at three in the morning, when he’s hungry and I’m tired, I look down at his sweet face and snuggle him closer and think, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Then, I think, “Oh, yeah. We tried.”
Maybe the two years and two miscarriages are why I’m not feeling the awful newborn shock I was told to expect. Or, maybe I was just really, really ready for this. I feel like I’ll jinx it. Like I’m too pleased and the universe will knock me down a notch.
This was about 2 months after he was born.
The anticipated Mommy Crash never happened in 2007/2008.
So, I didn’t really suspect I’d hit it this time.
Then things went sideways.
That last little bit of summer light.
I always thought that PPD worked like some sort of Lifetime movie about Andrea Yates.
But it isn’t actually like that.
Or at least, I didn’t have the sort of PPD that goes like that.
I didn’t have the intrusive thoughts.
I didn’t think that I would hurt my baby.
I didn’t think that I would hurt myself.
I didn’t want to run away.
Hell, I loved my baby. I have had a major, major spiritual overhaul because of this baby (and I will write about that soonish.) I have never, ever used the worst “spiritual” to refer to myself before.
I am not sad.
But… things were not okay.
I couldn’t, as the kids say, adult.
I just… couldn’t. I couldn’t pick up the phone to make an appointment. I couldn’t pay a bill. I couldn’t think about the future at all.
Everything becomes, in my head, the Venusifiation of the Earth.
My anxiety levels. They were catastrophic. And I was so, so, so tired. I mean, you expect to be tired with a baby.
But I was soul tired.
I didn’t really get sad.
I got worried. About things that were within my control (calling to make appointments) and things that were decidedly outside of my control (the continuing habitat for humans on planet Earth.)
I was way, way out there in worried.
I was in the outer darkness of anxiety.
Way out there where I can’t think.
Where I repeat myself, and flap my hands, and grind my teeth, and cannot come up with reasonable words for things like cup and spill.
I was in a bad way.
And that is enough.
These ducks don’t have the luxury of knowing about their impending, inevitable demise.
So… things were not okay.
But not the sort of not okay I think of as “being depressed.”
It was more like pre-depression. Often, I make it to the Anxious Place first. Then the anxiety gets so bad that I just shut down all the feelings. The feels go mute.
I spend a few weeks in the relief of feeling absolutely nothing. Then, generally, everything is so dulled and muted and over, that I realize I cannot recognize the person in the mirror.
At that point, I am in Full-On Depression. When I scare at a reflection, then I realize, Oh… that’s me.
This… well… I wasn’t at Andrea Yates.
But I know that I don’t want to go there.
I didn’t want to subject anyone to it.
I cannot do that.
Especially not with a little baby.
He loves the redwoods.
No one should do that.
So. If you think, “I am not really sad.” Or, “I’m not really depressed.”
Don’t wait until you are actually really sad and really depressed. There’s no need. Go to your doctor.
It turns out?
That the horrible tired feeling?
Is just my thyroid.
If you are thinking that things have gone sideways and a bit out of whack? Go. Go to your doctor. Tell them all the feels. If it’s not sad, that is okay. Just tell them what the problem actually is. That you are tired beyond the normal tired. That you are anxious. That you cannot put your finger on it, but things are very much not-right.
Get some help.
Because I can take my kids to the park again.
And you should, too.