Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sharing, A Part of Me

Postpartum depression....the disorder that Tom Cruise famously cured by telling those suffering Mother's to go have a jog on a treadmill.  A MAN, who's NOT a doctor shall of no opinion of the sort.  How do you diagnose from pure ignorance? You just don't.  I use to love Tom Cruise back in the day of Cocktail and a Few Good Men.  Not so much of a fan now let me tell you.  I wasn't even pregnant at the time these ridiculous interviews came out but I was astounded by his gall and self righteousness.

Enough about him.  More about me.

Some of you now reading this might be a little surprised or maybe uncomfortable reading the first paragraph, possibly assuming I too, went through this awful, dark period of time.

I don't believe I did, although I would never want to trivialize this very real disorder.   I definitely did go through a stage of serious blues after both boys were born that lasted longer than the usual estimated 3 weeks of baby blues that we all hear about.  I never told my doctor because I didn't think my "symptoms" were dire enough to warrant it.  Although I would encourage other Mom's out there going through depression to talk to someone.  My husband was amazing through my "down times".  He was supportive, loving and literally my shoulder to cry on.

Following each of my boy's births I went through many a stage of emotional ups and downs.  After the birth of Adrian it had a lot to do with bringing him home on pretty much zero sleep.  The labour for him was difficult, to put it mildly.  From start of induction to his time of birth it was 38 hours.   With no sleep.  Zip, zero, nada...for about 48 hours.  Not a good way to start off Motherhood.  I didn't have the feeling of euphoria when he was born.  I was too exhausted to even know what was going on.  I was in terrible agony, physically, for about 3 weeks after.  3 hours of pushing out a 9.6 lb baby shifted far to many "things" and I could literally feel it all coming back to together, minute by minute, hour by hour.  The constant throbbing aches were about as painful as the birth itself.

Once we got home and were situated as a new family, it was .... fine.  Fine in the "you look fine" type of way.  Not amazing, not horrible.  I dealt with the days....the very, interminably long days.  It certainly didn't help that it was a very dreary, damp summer and my husband travelled a lot.  But, I did fall in love with Adrian more and more everyday, he was an incredible little guy that clearly had an abundance of energy  (a daughter of one of our elder neighbours could "read" energy and she said he had the most amazing energy she had ever encountered - I wasn't sure what to take from this as she didn't seem as kooky as this sounds - but it's cool to think about)

I felt pretty lonesome most days.  I didn't have any family where we were living (in a new city...that I despised) and only 1 close friend who wasn't married and didn't have any children.  There was a sweet Danish family that we became friends with.  They lived across the hall.  They also had a newborn but I never wanted to "intrude".  Looking back I know they would never have felt that way as they didn't have any family around them either.

Adrian cried.  A lot.  Like A LOT a lot.  I wouldn't classify him as colicky but he definitely cried too much for me.  There were days that I would call John desperate for him to come home for lunch just so I could go for a walk to get away from the crying and fussing.

It was really, really hard not having a built in support system.  I think this did a number on me.  I'm sure there are many new Mom's that haven't been lucky enough to have their Mother's or immediate family members in the same city and I can relate.  It's TOUGH.  If I could change anything in my life it would be to have my family in the same city as us...of-course life isn't always that easy.

In hindsight (isn't it always 20/20) it would have been an ideal time to blog.  Therapeutic if you will.  I don't think I knew that I had the blues as bad as I did and maybe it would've helped me realize what I was going through emotionally.

After about 10 months, things got much better.  We were in a new home, in a new city with lovely neighbours who also had kids and I was back to work.  Not at a job that I loved, or even liked much some days but I was relieved of being home 24/7.  I was ready to go back to work.  Then a month after I returned to the "real world" I was on my way to becoming a mother of TWO.

It scared the living shit out of me.

I remember vividly taking the pregnancy test.  John was away and I just thought I take the test to assure myself I wasn't actually pregnant.  Does anyone know how hard it is to take a pregnancy test when your 1 year old is in the bathroom with you, unwinding the toilet paper at 100 km/hour while simultaneously grabbing for the toilet bowl scrubber?

I put the peed upon stick on the corner of the sink (what a pretty visual that is) and picked up my son to leave the bathroom, at the last minute grabbing the test to go throw it out.  I was that convinced I couldn't be pregnant.  Just before I put it in the garbage I saw it...   +

I immediately started having a panic attack and called my best friend.  She assured me (as she always does) that everything would be great, that I was an amazing Mommy and I could handle it.  She also laughed at my dramatics.  Best friends are good like that.

I then went to the computer to video skype with my husband.  He answered the call to the shocking + sign filling up his computer screen.  "Is that what I think that is?"  He asks with a huge smile in his voice.  I had to admit, after my 'pep' talk with my BF and having it sink in a little bit,  I was very excited too.

Almost 10 months later Finley Alexander was born.  Best labour and delivery ever.  I went into labour normally (although 5 days late), was at the hospital at 8 am, my doctor said my contractions were so perfect she wanted to frame them, received my beautiful epidural (happidural the nurses called it) at 10:30 am and at 1:28 pm I pushed 3 times and within 8 minutes there was my second son!  I was elated.  It was the birth that I dreamed of that I didn't get the first time.  I even cried this time.  I was very emotional....which I seriously lacked after my first delivery.

Physically and mentally after Fin was born I felt great.  Being that he was born in the afternoon I had a decent amount of sleep that night (between nursing and staring in wonder at my newborn) and I actually showered at the hospital before going home.  This was a total 180 compared to when Adrian was born.  I couldn't walk easily for weeks afterward (and it was a natural birth) let alone stand in a shower less than 24 hours after his birth.

It was a few weeks afterwards that I felt my world spinning out of control.  I had good days, but there were some when I'd wake up dreading the day ahead....the very long, very chaotic, exceedingly tiring day ahead.  After a bit of a mental breakdown just before Christmas, John suggested I ask my Dad for some temporary assistance.  I've never asked my family for much of anything.  I figured now was the time I needed it the most.  My dad lives over an hour away but he's retired and adores his grandsons to no end.  He, of-course, jumped at the chance and during the seemingly never ending winter months he would take the long drive (weather permitting) once a week to keep me from sliding over the edge.  I don't think he'll ever realize how much that meant to me.  Once the good weather broke life became much easier.  Although, having 2 kids close in age is no breeze I will admit.

As a side note:  Whoever said that going from 1 to 2 children is WAY easier than going from 0 to 1 needs to button it.  I heard that saying over and over again.  Maybe these people thought they were trying to make me feel better (as I was very nervous about having another what with already having a hurricane of a child) because they knew the craziness I would endure and didn't have the heart to tell me the truth?  Well, I'm here to break it to you Mom's that are on the way to having another....those people are liars.

Then again, it could possibly depend on the age of your first born and the difference of age between the two.  My boys are 21 months apart and it is HARD.  Even now.  It's been all different stages of chaos.  I wouldn't change it for the world of-course.  I think it'll be great (I hope!) when they're older and will be able to really play together, become good friends.  But as of right now...I wish I had 5 more sets of hands or even better, a duplicate of me.  Except my kids would love the "real me" way more of-course.  Seeing that having a duplicate "mommy me" will never happen (I'm sure my husband is relieved about that, and as awesome as it would be for me it might freak my kids out and confuse them a bit) I will do my best to enjoy the beautiful mothery moments.  Like the rare times my children play nicely together, staring at their angelic chubby cheeked innocence, reveling in their occasional moments of sweet, young brotherhood and simply do my best to celebrate being a Mommy of two beautiful boys...for whom without them, I would not be....me.


Helene said...

You have a way of saying in words what so many women probably feel like after having children. I had PPD after both sets of twins, but probably the worst possible case of it after my 2nd set of twins.

And, yeah, that feeling of spiraling out of control and not being able to ask for help....or not even knowing how to ask for help is scary.

Thank goodness for your dad who was willing to come to your rescue, even just one day a week. I wished I would've reached out and asked for help. I let it spin too out of control to the point where things got super scary.

So happy you've shared your experience here on your blog! My blog was my saving grace for quite some time when I was going through it. I wish more women would talk openly about this!

January Dawn said...

Thank you Helene. I can't imagine how overwhelmed you must have felt having 2 sets of twins and here I am complaining about how hard 2 are. I agree with you about wishing more women would be more open and honest about their after birth experiences.

Shell said...

It seems so dang hard- my first two were 17 months apart and my middle and last were 24 months apart.

I was definitely depressed after my third, but was so afraid to admit it.

Really, where was blogging back then?

January Dawn said...

I didn't have a clue about blogging until...well, this year. I truly think it is a wonderful outlet for anyone and any topic. This entry has been sitting in my blog unposted for a while now. I'm glad I finally had the courage to click..."post".

Attila said...

Very nice, January! I agree with you, whomever said that going from 1 to 2 is just a little more work was definitely lying to us! Maybe because our kids are so close to yours in age, but going from 1 to 2 certainly didn't feel like a small step, it was real tough at the beginning!