Heart Firmly Attached To Sleeve

2 Sep

One of these babies is not like the other.

Have you noticed how boring my posts have been lately?  Seriously: SNORE.  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I’m happy.

And I’m happy, at least in part, because I’m on anti-depressants.  That’s right, mommy’s on meds. 

I have debated whether or not to share this bit of information with the World Wide Web since I popped my first pill a little over three weeks ago.  While it’s true that I am a drama queen sans pareil, I also have a deep desire to help anyone who might find themself in a similar situation at some point.  The friends who have told me their stories and helped shepherd me thus far are godsends.  So I’ve decided to follow in their footsteps in the hope that someone out there finds in me a sympathetic virtual shoulder to cry on.

I was so naive pre-Seabass.  Colicky babies were born to patient people, and post-partum depression was for Brooke Shields.  During my pregnancy, I had a voracious appetite for books on how to nurse baby, how to put baby to sleep, how to implement a schedule, blah blah blah.  All of the chapters on colick and postpartum depression were for some other mother.  So I skipped those.

But all the books in the world couldn’t have prepared me for Seabass’ arrival.  He screamed – a manly, deep, earth-shattering scream that belied his young age – in a way that gave entirely new meaning to the word “inconsolable.”  Surprisingly, I was hopeful and upbeat for the first six weeks.  This will end, I told myself.  Everyone says it will end some day.  I clung to a chart in the book The Happiest Baby On The Block which shows a precipitous decrease in babies’ crying from six weeks forward.

But when Seabass’ crying didn’t decrease at six weeks, faith in my own endurance started to wane.  I’d heard that one in eight women experience postpartum depression. Looking around the room at my moms’ group, I saw seven happy, engaged babies and mothers.  And then there was me and Seabass.  (Beneath the exterior, I’m sure those moms felt the same sense of panic and unease as me, but to my bloodshot eyes, everyone else looked like they were on the best carnival ride ever while I was still stuck in line.)

One morning, just two hours after Jake had left for work, I called him in tears.  “I can’t do anything right for this kid,” I sobbed, barely holding a howling Seabass in my arms.  “I don’t know what to do.”  When Jake asked me if he should come home, I didn’t even know how to answer.  I just mumbled “Um, um, um” into the phone until he finally said he was on his way. 

This scenario recurred with increasing frequency; I worried that Jake would someday say he couldn’t come home.  When people asked how things were going with expectant smiles on their faces, I tried to be honest without being a wet blanket.  “It’s okay,” I’d moan.  How could I tell them that I wasn’t fit to be a mother?

Getting out of bed to feed the baby in the middle of the night, I felt a resentment like nothing I’ve ever experienced before – not at Seabass, but at life.  Like someone was out to get me.   To make me miserable.  To find my breaking point.  And insult to injury, Seabass was wide awake and wouldn’t fall asleep after eating.  So I lay on the floor of his room trying to get some sleep while he rocked in his swing, eyes wide open for an hour and a half.  When he finally went to sleep, I crawled into bed and promptly started to weep bitterly, hoping Jake wouldn’t wake up.  But he did.  “I’m so worried about you,” he whispered over my shoulder.  “I think you should talk to the doctor about getting help.”

Interestingly, I balked at his suggestion that I was struggling with postpartum depression.  “It’s not depression,” I snarled.  “It’s just a tragic combination of tough baby and hyper-sensitive mother.” 

But on Seabass’ 10-week birthday, I felt cracks in the dam.  The whole week I’d been listless, heaving monstrous sighs and thinking that nothing I’d ever done was right.  Seabass couldn’t do anything right, either.  Every little chirp and minor fuss he made joined a chorus of voices in my head saying that the good life as I’d previously known it was over.  Talking over dinner one night, Jake was gentle but firm.  “I think you need to tell the doctor how you’re feeling, love,” he said.  “Life can’t go on this way.”

Still, I wasn’t ready to “give up.”  It took conversations with two different friends who’d struggled with postpartum depression to get my attention.  I relayed these stories to Jake.  “She went on anti-depressants?” he asked, amazed.  ‘And she did, too?”  Something about knowing that normal, otherwise healthy women had felt the same uselessness and despair changed our perspective.  Suddenly, postpartum depression didn’t seem so improbable.

I wanted my doctor’s opinion, though.  After hearing an account of the previous weeks, he suggested I consider anti-depressants and gave me a short but thorough explanation of how they work.  I started the medication the next day and haven’t had a single regret.  I suppose I could let myself feel defeated or incompetent about the whole situation, but honestly, I’ve been too engaged in enjoying Seabass to feel much of anything besides gratitude.

A new mother does not envision herself taking medication for this sort of thing.  She does not set up her registry to include diapers, receiving blankets and a six-month supply of Lexapro.  And many women probably muscle through depression in early motherhood without giving anti-depressants so much as a thought.  It’s very possible that they are stronger women than me.

But exciting blog posts be damned.  I’m sticking with boring and happy.

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21 Responses to “Heart Firmly Attached To Sleeve”

  1. Jennavila September 2, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    Good for you friend. You’ll be a better mother because of it and Seabass will e a happier baby. Trust me. I know:). Sounds like our stories are twins. And I’m about to do it again! Yikes. At least I know better this time. Love you friend.

  2. Oma September 2, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    I loved this – I hope this will help many. I am sure it will. I love you more than I can say – and I am proud of you and think you are a stellar mommy.
    Love,
    Yer Ma.

  3. Megan September 2, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    are you familiar with Dooce.com? HYS-TERICAL woman and her blogland account of her battle with post-partum depression. It will take you months to read her archives, but worth it. Be prepared for some foul language, and more laughter than you have EVER done.

  4. marinasleeps September 2, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    I would stand up and spplaud you if I wasn’t at work. I loved this post. Being a mother is hard work and at times very overwhelming. Because we get it in our minds that we should know how to do everything and be able to handle any situation. The truth is we need to pay attention to signs that our mind and body give because it’s all about being a better mother. Kids grow fast. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves properly, we are going to miss out on many precious moments! Again, great post!

  5. LindaA September 2, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    Congrats on your courage to take that rather big step, Jaime! You won’t be sorry.

  6. Elli James September 2, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    I just felt the need to take a moment to comment on your blog and tell you how amazing I find it to be. You’re a wonderful writer, and I love how honest you are- no fluff and puff, like everyone makes motherhood out to be.

    Granted, it’s probably a bit strange that I read your blog- I’m only seventeen years old. I’m the kind of teenage girl that dreams more about falling in love, finishing college, getting a job, and having a family one day rather than concerts, the latest gossip, or who is wearing what fashion. But I feel that, by doing so, I’m being given the chance to read about what my future might be five, ten, however many years from now.

    I’ve always been suspicious about what motherhood will be like when the time comes for me to experience it. I was afraid I’d be the only mother who didn’t gush over her perfect children 24/7 and raise them with ease and instinct. But you, Jaime, have helped me realize that not everything about motherhood is a walk in the park- and that’s okay.

    Once again, it might be a bit weird to hear all this from someone only just entering her senior year of high school, but it’s true nevertheless. I’ll end this comment-turned-mini-novel here, though. So thanks for all you do, and I have a feeling Seabass is going to grow up with an awesome mom.

  7. Sandi Sigurdson September 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    How smart are you to be willing to take a suggestion? and from your husband of all people?! You lucky girl. And that baby! Gettin’ bigger and smilier and funner all the time. Some damn serious business this parenthood thing. Good on ya’, darling

  8. Sara McGrath September 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    are other mothers the onlyones who cantruly understand how HARD it is? maybe, maybe not. but it is hard. good for you for being honest.

  9. Loll September 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this Jaime. You are helping so many mothers and mothers-to-be out there!!

  10. AKeo September 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Good for you for sharing this. I didn’t have a colicky baby but I almost didn’t survive new motherhood. It was HARD! Still is, but better.

  11. Thoughts From a Real Life September 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    God bless you for being brave enough to share this and speaking the truth.

    Boring and happy is a blessing!

    Thank you!

  12. N'sMomma September 3, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    Echoing all the other comments on here, good for you for taking care of yourself and getting help. We are useless to our children if we aren’t healthy ourselves. It’s so important to get the word out that women are not failures for suffering from PPD but rather champions who get help and battle through yet another challenge of parenthood. Props to the hubby too, I know some men that just throw their hands up in exhaustion and think that’s what life will be like now.

  13. Debbie September 4, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    I’m very happy you recognized that there was a problem and that it had a solution. I’m very proud of Jacob for supporting you and encouraging you to get help. I’m proud of you for writing this blog that could help many other mothers. Be happy, you’re blogs are not boring. Big kiss to Seabass for me, please.

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