It's been a very baby week. First, The Motel Manager had a beautiful, adorable son on May 14th, who spent all last night screaming his head off, so everyone head over there, read all about it, and offer her some words of fellow-feeling, solace, or wisdom, whatever you have available at the moment.
Then, Elsa and Clio came to visit today with their parents, Jane and A. Folks, never have I seen such adorable five-month-old twin girls, and definitely not since The Deadbeat (to whom I would link if she still blogged) have I seen such competent, smart, relaxed parents. It was a delight to coo over the girls, poke their fat cheeks, watch their parents heave them around in carseats, and admire their mother's truly spectacular rack. Also, Rabbit, who love babies, thought he'd died and gone to heaven: TWO babies, right here in the living room! At one point he asked me, "Do you think they'd like to play on my swing set in the yard? Or maybe the baby grownups would like to play too?" By "the baby grownups" of course he meant Jane and A. Sadly, it's been raining here for five days (tell you what I think about THAT) and nobody ended up on the swing set, but still, it was a nice offer.
So that's the good, with maybe a little bad thrown in when you consider the all night screaming fest mentioned above. The ugly, fortunately, is not current, but it's something I've been wanting to write about for a long time, and for some reason now feels like the time to do it. Well, probably not NOW, b/c it's late and I'm tired, but a little now and a lot later. Namely; Post-Partum Depression (PPD).
I know I've talked a little about it before. But it's only now, when I've been on Lex.apro for three months and am really, finally feeling like me again, that I'm beginning to comprehend how bad it was.
With Rabbit, it wasn't THAT bad. It manifested itself as anxiety, mostly, and as an inability to really enjoy him as an infant. And, you know, the colic didn't help and neither did his refusal to sleep through the night until we (and I do mean we) cried it out at thirteen months. But still, I was so TENSE. Not just new parent tense, but crazy tense. I thought if I didn't get it right (get WHAT right, I think now), something awful would happen. I had to get him on a schedule, I had to get him sleeping, I had to do everything perfectly, and I thought that if I just did that then he'd never cry, he'd always be happy...well, you see how far from reality I was. What it boiled down to was this awful guilt and second-guessing, following me around all the time, eating away at my enjoyment of my baby and my ability to let go and just flipping look after him on a daily basis without getting chewed up by an existential crisis every time he cried.
But down at the bottom of it all, I still felt like myself. I still recognized myself. And by the time Rabbit was one, I'd relaxed a lot and learned the sanity-making value of frequent babysitting. Which is when I got pregnant with Urp and went crazy.
I found out I was pregnant when Rabbit was sixteen months. We'd wanted another child; we'd been (I love this phrase) "trying" for three months. But when I saw pink line number two on the stick, my first thought was, "Wait, I'm not ready yet!" Then, about three weeks later, I woke up one morning and didn't recognize myself. I was mean, I was angry, I didn't want any part of my family. And I was stupid, because even though it got worse and worse I didn't realize that 20% of PPD starts DURING PREGNANCY. And after the birth, whooeee. There followed eighteen months of awful. Awful. Terrible. Terrible for me, worse for TTD and Rabbit and Urp. I'll get into more detail with my next post, but for now, suffice it to say that the whole experience was like being eaten by a black hole: my center, my self, felt like it was rotting, and all I had to take its place was anger and guilt and a kind of cosmic irritation.
And then I started to get better. I got a job, I got out of the house, I met other mothers, I started doing yoga again instead of just running all the time, and the kids started sleeping more, and my hormones balanced out (I presume) and I got a little better. But finally, in February 2007, I realized that I was still dragging a smallish ball and chain of guilt and explosive rage and resentment and exhaustion and absent-mindedness and lack of appetite and desire to sleep constantly and all that, and I went to my very good doctor and said, "Can I have Lex.apro?"
Which, for me, works. Beautifully. I feel like I'm a window and someone finally cleaned me. I can see out of my eyes now. There's a me inside here again. It's not all hearts and roses, but I can function, and I can enjoy my little boys, and savor my food, and wake up without weeping at the thought of getting through a day, and I am so grateful. Yay, drugs! Yay, Lexa.pro!
So, why am I writing all this down now? Well, for one, it's part of my reality and I wanted to share it with you. Also, I want to make sure this blog doesn't get too pie in the sky and idealized. I mean, I really try to be honest and I really want to write about the hard parts of mothering, not the cute parts (or not just the cute parts), and I really don't want to do that thing where you write all this confessional prose but in the end it just winds up making you look good (look at me, all amusing and confessional!). Finally, and most importantly, I figured out what was going on with me from reading blogs. Remember, I worked in an ER, I hadn't done family practice in five years, and PPD wasn't on my professional radar as much as it should have been. Also, I have the usual nurse's denial system firmly in place. But gradually, through several blogs, I began to recognize myself. So I'd like to pass on the favor, just in case anyone reading this recognizes herself and in doing so takes the first step toward help.
Oops. Battery almost out. Must post before this disappears. Anyway, aren't you glad to have a break from the moving talk? Even I am ready to be done with that.