Before Ben was born I had these wonderful, albeit unrealistic, fantasies about the quiet times I would spend with my son. Quietly looking at the sun rise, or stars while I fed him and rocked him back to sleep, holding him in my arms, all while smelling the sweet scent of baby that lingered on the top of his head.
The truth is, that I spent the first 6 weeks of his life in a sleep-deprived, colic-induced, packing the apartment to move, postpartum depression based fog. I barely remember the first 6 weeks of Ben’s life. It all seems like it was a distant memory. That coupled with my postpartum meant that I can look back on that time as an almost out-of-body experience.
The thing about PPD for me was that I knew I wasn’t enjoying what I should have when I should have. I had this sweet, chicken legged, little boy who occupied ALL of my thoughts, but it didn’t live in my heart and soul yet because I couldn’t open myself up like that. I was too vulnerable. I was still so weak physically and didn’t understand that my chemical makeup had altered so much that I could no longer control the anxiety I had spent the first 30 or so years managing on my own.
It wasn’t until I was at the top of the stairs yelling at my husband about something totally inane, that I had this sensation that was almost ghost-like, like I was floating above, that I knew I needed to get help. I knew I hated the way I was feeling and that this was not me. I was also very determined that this would not be me for the rest of my life, for the rest of my marriage or the rest of Ben’s life. Angry, scared, worried, anxious, most of these are normal to feel as a parent, especially a new parent, but to feel them all at once, 24 hours a day is not normal. It is hard and it is scary.
And I did get help. It has now been over 3 months since I started seeing someone to help and began taking a low dose of anti-anxiety medication. And I feel like myself again. My husband has me back. My son is getting to know his mom. I laugh again, I smile. I remember conversations and my anxiety is the good old-fashioned, what if my son DOESN’T grow up to be a neurosurgeon, rather than, what if my son doesn’t get the right length nap in, then he might be ruined for life (yes that is what I was thinking most days).
So last night, as I sang a very off-key version of a Dixie Chicks song to my son, as is our tradition, changed his diaper, fed him his bottle, rocked with him in the glider, said our good night poem, and smelled the top of his head, before kissing him, telling him I love him and laying him down for the night, I realized I was looking at the stars with him, while quietly living out my now, realistic fantasies.