Jun 28, 2016
Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story about making female friends as an adult, please see my new submissions page here.
I love my son...
But we got off to a rocky start, we did.
MY BABY IN UTERO
The minute I found out I was pregnant, I loved him more than life itself. But just that quickly, the light started to dim. My fire went out. And soon I was encompassed with crippling, overwhelming anxiety, racing thoughts, ugly, very ugly feelings toward my husband. Resentment.
I cried myself to sleep every night, literally. The despair that I felt was intense, irrational, but real. I was a failure. I would lock myself in the bathroom and sob uncontrollably because the pain in my heart was just too much to bear.
I frequently drove around the block to a deserted area, parked, and bawled, hugging my swollen belly, and pleading with my higher power to take the pain away. How could I bring a child into this awful world?
I was depressed, severely depressed. There was no reason that I could pinpoint. Nothing in my life had changed, except I was now with child.
There was nothing anyone could do to help me, because I was hiding my pain. I cried behind closed doors. My husband couldn't help. I didn't want to take medication for fear that it would harm my developing baby. If only I knew then what I know now.
THE PERFECT FIRST-TIME MOM
The pressure on a first-time mom to be perfect is insane. I can't tell you how many groups, sites, blogs I read that just fueled and perpetuated the image of the perfect parent that I surely could not live up to.
And all the unsolicited advice from family and strangers alike just reverberated around in my head like too much booze.
It all came to a head when I "failed" at breast feeding my son. What kind of a mother was I, was I going to be, that I couldn't do something as natural as breast feed my baby? Epic fail.
At this point, my depression, anxiety, despair was at an all time high. I was terrified to leave my son with his dad or anyone else, even if it meant just a short nap for me. I was afraid the car seat wasn't right. I was afraid the co sleeper wasn't right. I was afraid that the baby would stop breathing if I stopped looking at him. Did I mention I was irrational?
I was depressed, and now I can say I was acting a bit crazy. The impact on my marriage was devastating too, almost ending in divorce.
And the right medication cocktail made all the difference.
Now, six weeks postpartum, since I was NOT breastfeeding, I was given medication to help my mood.
Thank God. Really.
I was now able to enjoy my son. I was able to sleep. I was able to think straight and to be present and with my family. I was able to live.
MY SPIRITED CHILD
My son is awesome. He is funny, and witty, and bright. He is exceptional in many ways. He excels academically and loves his sport. He is my life and I couldn't love him more.
He is also very argumentative, overly emotional, and super sensitive. He has boundary issues and impulsive issues. He struggles with relationships. He laughs too loud. He cries a lot for his age. I see him struggle and I wonder if it's my fault.
Did I do this to him? Did I screw with his development while in utero and during the formative weeks after his birth? Did I make him this way?
Hence my guilt.
I spend every waking moment trying to make up for not being a better parent before he was born. I can honestly tell you that I see how irrational I was. My reality was not reality at all. I had this distorted, twisted, dark perception of everything.
Depression is real. It is a beast. And I believe it harmed me and my child.
Could I do it over? No. Did I try? Yes!
THE SECOND TIME AROUND
I did it differently. I did it... right. I chose to take medication while pregnant. (Gasp!) It was the right choice for me. And my pregnancy and the time postpartum were beautiful. I was able to enjoy being pregnant. I was able to be present with my family and to experience the moments in full.
This time I was NOT depressed, anxious, crazy, and OCD. I was happy and excited about the new addition.
Please, please, please don't judge other moms. We ALL have guilt for one reason or another. We do the best we can with what we've got, and we make mistakes.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression while pregnant or postpartum, please seek help. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. There is happiness. It can and will get better with the right treatment. Explore counseling, medication, natural therapies. Do whatever it takes to be healthy for you and your baby. He deserves the best from you, and you deserve to be the best mother you can be.