Postpartum & Opening That Door to Enlightenment
Let it out and let them in
I sit in the public library in Arlington, my sleeping daughter Aria by my side. I feel at peace. I’ve always loved libraries. The librarian and I are the only ones here at the moment. I’ve been flooded with emotion since the day I found out I was pregnant. I thought the emotion would subdue when Aria was born, but in many ways it got worse. I was recently diagnosed with postpartum. I was diagnosed because I found the courage to come to my therapist with honesty and tell her how I was feeling. I was overwhelmed with emotion and I felt out of control.
Some nights I imagined myself screaming and crying because I had lost my little girl. I had visions of myself mourning as I thought of how it would feel to never know what my daughter would grow into. I was so scared and so in love with my precious little girl. I was constantly afraid she was going to stop breathing in her sleep or I was going to break her neck or drop her. I just knew something bad would happen; I wasn’t allowed to be happy and have everything go smoothly.
Other times I had anxiety attacks and would think of how I could get away from it all— literally wondering if there was a way to escape. I thought, “I don’t want to be a wife or a mother anymore. I’m not meant for this and I never have been. It’s scary and tough and I just can’t do it— I can’t ”. I felt so ashamed of myself for having these thoughts. I felt like a good mother always wants to be a mother; but I didn’t. I didn’t want the responsibility. I never got sleep and all of my plans were falling apart. I had planned to breastfeed originally and I wasn’t able to. This was more than a huge disappointment to me. It’s still a very sensitive subject that I’m not ready to write about. I felt like I wouldn’t get to bond with my child the same way other mothers could; breastfeeding is something special that only mothers can do.
I was exhausted from no sleep and I missed my husband, Keyes. He and I used to do EVERYTHING together. He didn’t have a job and we were inseparable. He got a new job— a good job— I felt like I couldn’t see him when I needed him the most. Not only that, but I couldn’t help being jealous that he was getting paid to help other people yet he couldn’t help me. I was just lost and confused.
There is one thing I do know for sure; I am positive that I’m a good mother and Keyes is a great father. My baby is well fed, she never sits in a dirty diaper, she never goes unattended and she is loved and cuddled constantly. I take her to the doctor whenever I’m in doubt (way too often but I don’t care). I can find solace in that. I also do whatever I have to do, to take care of myself. It’s difficult for me, but I’m learning and asking for help. I’m following the instructions given to me by my health care team and being honest with them about my feelings no matter how embarrassed I feel.
I’ve continued going to therapy and started a journal per my counselors suggestion. She wants me to make two columns; on one side, write my cognitive distortions (my subjective point of view), and on the other side write the rational, objective truth. Sometimes I get upset that Keyes gets the “easy job”. I stay up all night with the baby and watch her all day while he gets paid to do—sometimes, very fun things like play games. He gets paid to put on game nights for kids at each of the schools in the county. He has an iphone and a computer provided, plus the use of a company car! He helps people in all walks of life on a daily basis, which is very rewarding— something that I wish I could do.
However, there ARE perks to my job too. How could I forget? I get to watch my baby grow and spend time with her; interacting with her and helping her learn. What I get is irreplaceable. The time I spend with her is time that we will never get back. The precious moments he misses will never repeat. He would love to be at home watching Aria grow.
The truth is that Keyes deals with a lot of pressure and stress. It isn’t fair to take that away from him. In reality he doesn’t have an easy job at all. He has traveled all over Oregon to attend week long training courses just to be able start his job. He’s had to pass background checks and learn new skills and techniques in order to do what he does. Plus, he does everything he can to support our family. He provides financially and he takes the baby as soon as he gets home from work and on weekends. He changes her diapers and feeds her. He loves her, he loves making her smile and he loves experiencing those once in a lifetime moments.
I have to try hard not to let these little things get blown out of proportion (magnification is the distortion in play). My counselor, my psychiatrist and my doctor work as a team to figure out the best way to handle this particular, fragile, situation. They have added a few temporary medications, for the next few months, while I’m dealing with postpartum.
Keyes and I have to make whatever sacrifices we can for the betterment of our family. We would both do anything for the health and happiness of our little girl. I’ve been advised to try my best to get rest and take time for myself. We’ve been encouraged to take shifts so we can get more rest, but it’s extremely difficult for us. As is, we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like and we don’t want to spend any more time a part.
I’ve also been advised to stop comparing myself to other mothers and judging myself. I’m being told that the feelings that I find embarrassing and shameful are quite common. Something like %10 of women deal with postpartum and I’m sure many of them feel just like I do.
Many of you have been following my journey and haven’t heard anything from me since the birth of my child. I’ve wanted to write so many times but I was too tired and just couldn’t find the words. Keyes has our daughter right now, as he did all night and all day yesterday. I’m finally relaxed and able to gather my thoughts enough to check in. The medication does help, but my loving husband is the biggest help and I couldn’t ask for a better partner. My mom has also been there as much as she can.
To anyone out there who is dealing with negative emotions whether you are dealing with pregnancy, or not— push them away and think of something good! Make a list of things you are thankful for, and also PLEASE reach out to someone. Reach out to a professional, a friend, or someone who will simply support you. The best thing I have done for myself— something I’m proud of— is reaching out to Rebecca Humphreys, my counselor and Amanda Roy, my doctor. They have both went above and beyond to help me get through this. I don’t know what I would do without them and the many other members of my support network. I’m proud that I pushed myself to share my feelings no matter how terribly difficult it was. My little girl is so lucky for the great people that have helped me along in this journey.
A shout out to the memebers of my network that I didn’t mention in the blog: Mary Johnson, Auntie Ellen Geissel, Kimberly Humann, The entire Donnelly family + Angela Benham, Bobbi and Trevor Humphreys, The Franz’s, members of the church who provided great meals (Emma, Tarra, Diana, Andrea, Carol, Vicky, Judy, and Alina). Not only did Alina provide meals, she and Josiah also helped in countless ways. People from the church were also there during our baby shower and I want to thank all of them but there are far to many to name. I would also like to thank Dave Humphreys and Michael Fischer for Baptizing me and Darlene Starr for always being there for my family spiritually. She’s an inspiration. The Grey’s (Beki and Bruce) have always offered a helping had from afar.