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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Screw You Folgers Commercial and Other Things That Make Me Cry

Words & Gifs by Kate

Someone once told me that you really don't find your footing in a new job until you've been there at least 2 months.  I think that's kind of how parenting is.  This mess is hard y'all.  In fact, I'd say this is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  Forget water boarding people for torture, what they should do is deprive them of sleep for 8 weeks and wake them with a screaming baby.  I would definitely give up government secrets for 8 solid hours of sleep. We previously talked about the first couple of weeks of parenthood and how no one talks about them. We're not sure if it's because they don't want to scare new moms or because they have blocked it out due to PTSD.  Another thing no one really talks about is Postpartum Depression, or PPD.  A couple of weeks ago I was diagnosed with it.

Motherhood in a sentence.
The first week of having a baby there was a lot of crying, all around.  Labor, late nights, poopy diapers (Ella's...) and then we found out I wasn't producing enough milk to feed Ella so she was crying out of hunger. Mommies were crying too. I was also chock full o' hormones so I cried when I had a reason and when I had no reason at all. A lot. We were forewarned about this, but considering I'm a person who rarely cries, Meg was kind of taken aback.  It wasn't until Ella was 3-4 weeks old that we noticed my crying wasn't stopping.  I also couldn't relax even if Ella was sleeping.  I felt anxious all the time, anticipating that at any moment she could burst into one of her frequent fussy/screaming/crying fits (granted we went through a lot of things that exacerbated the normal crying for a newborn- cold at 3 weeks, transition to formula, gassy baby).  I felt like my insides were twisting up constantly.  When people would visit I would be on pins and needles, waiting for Ella to start getting fussy. It was challenging to enjoy our wonderful friends and family who came to visit. I also felt like my body was constantly vibrating- almost how you feel after someone comes up behind you and scares you.  I knew I felt love for my child, but I also felt great when others would take her for periods of time.  Her cry began to
make me have a feeling of seizure-like activity in my mind.  It's almost like I went haywire- I couldn't rationalize, focus or stop myself from going into a panic attack.  I couldn't sleep as I would hear phantom cries and/or I would lay there anticipating that she would wake up any minute.  And when she did she would cry.  Then I would cry.  I mourned for my life before a baby and then felt overwhelming guilt as we were so lucky to get pregnant and have a healthy baby.  And
then I would cry. See a reoccurring theme here?

It wasn't until Meg sat me down and we talked that I realized I was becoming a shell of the strong, vivacious, witty person I used to be. I didn't want to socialize, I never left the house, I lived in a state of exhausted panic. I reached out to my midwife in an email and spelled things out.  She wrote back confirming it sounded like PPD.  Reading that confirmation made me, you guessed it, cry. But I could put a name to what I was feeling and she offered me the number for a social worker at Mt Auburn Hospital to talk to. We had some next steps.

I've met with the social worker several times and we are working through my feelings. I know now that I'm not alone. She said that there's a PPD group at a local Jewish Women's Center called "I Didn't Think It Would Be Like This".  Spot on my mishpocheh.

I was put on Ativan for the anxiety and Zoloft for the depression. I also continue to see a social worker and a psychiatrist.  It's getting better.  It is a slow process, but I'm beginning to come back to the person I once was and I'm redeveloping my relationship with our child. Meg and I also agreed that I needed to go back to work earlier than planned. I needed to establish some structure back into my life and a little time away from Ella during the day to make our time together stronger.  Meg and I are also making time for just us.  Recently, Grandpa Jeff came to take care of Ella and give us our first date night since she was born.  Right before we left Ella threw an out-of-character shit fit reminiscent of her hellacious first week screamfest and we, with great guilt, left the house to start our date with Grandpa handling Ella.  We both got in the car and Meg said, "If McDonald's sold wine I'd say we should just go there, eat in the car and cry."

I know this isn't one of my typical snarky posts and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming soon.  But, like our post on how no one talks about the first 6 weeks, I wanted to talk about this as no one ever talks about how you can not be head-over-heels in love with your child from the moment they pop out of you. Sometimes those feelings you have may be more than simple hormones.  PPD is dark and scary.  It strips you down to nothing when you need to be the strongest you will ever need to be.  It takes a toll on everything and everyone in your life.  But it's not permanent.  I'm not back to normal.  I'm still exhausted. And I still am happy for you to take my child for a bit. This too shall pass. And when I go to look at the 450 emails in my work inbox I will cry. And it's ok.

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