Yes that is right. I am a mama. A typical, tired, scattered, working, sleep-deprived, mom and so I thought, “you know what you need Annie, something else to do with your free time.” Free time you say? What free time? How can you have free time? Well let me tell you. I have time when I am sitting on the toilet for 47 seconds. I have free time when I am standing at the sink waiting for the water to warm up for Ben’s bottle and the amount of free time I have while driving to work is unbelievable. You will never believe what can get done behind the wheel of a car. Just kidding.
Actually I think I need to do this for myself, which as we all know is not allowed when you are a mom. Doing things for yourself that is, but I like throwing caution to the wind and trying to shower every day, drink a cup of coffee without guilt and even get my eyebrows waxed when I can (although I look a bit like Andy Rooney right now, but hey my husband hasn’t said anything).
I have been hit with a pretty hefty case of Postpartum Depression/Anxiety and there are things I can do to help with that scary fucker. One of them is to talk about it without hesitation or in hushed tones. I pay it respect like you do a car when you first learn to drive. It has the ability to affect your life, but it is not my life.
For me the postpartum presents itself as anxiety, which, at first glance, looks vastly different from depression. I get up every day, brush my teeth, brush my hair, look semi-put together (ok there is definitely spit up on me somewhere every day, but I think you get the drift), but the anxiety I feel about my beautiful baby boy being ok is overwhelming. And that turns into fear and eventually anger because I can’t rationalize how I feel. This huge pit in my stomach that he isn’t all right (with no evidence pointing that way) will not go away.
For several weeks I felt that way and knew I hated feeling so out-of-body and scared. I am in love with my son. I can stand on my back porch, watching the sun set, as my husband puts him to sleep and miss him, but at the same time I dread when he wakes up because it may mean there could be something wrong with him. If that doesn’t make you feel totally nuts.
So I did something crazy….are you ready? I went ahead and got help. With my husband’s encouragement I went and saw a psychiatrist and talked about options with him. A very low dose of Zoloft later, a bit more sleep, trying to run and exercise when I can and I am starting to get out of the dungeon of despair. This is not an easy process. It ebbs and flows and there are definitely good days and bad days. Days where I feel like the worst mother in the world, where I cannot see the wonderful, happy, sweet boy in front of me and it absolutely breaks my heart. My Ben is meant to make the world a happier place. My mother said that one day and I absolutely believe it is true. He smiles and laughs all the time. But now I have days where I can revel in the joy that he brings, and laugh when he giggles at nothing or has conversations with himself about lord knows what.
Postpartum is hands-down the scariest, most overwhelming thing I have ever gone through. It feels like quick sand pulling you down and like no one can save you. The thoughts that I had, that my husband and child would be so much better without me, were the lowest point in my life. Falling apart while crouching on my kitchen floor, sobbing against my bathroom wall while my baby stares at me curious as to why I was so sad, are not for the weak of heart.
So here is what I know. I am not weak. No mother that has brought a child into this world or tried to bring a child into this world is weak of heart. We stand up, we wipe the tears away, we collect ourselves and we remember all that we are. We remember that we are women, we are brave and strong, we have carried a child, however far they were meant to come. We have loved harder than we ever thought possible. We have brought that child into this world. We are warriors.
And I am Ben’s Mama.