Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fighting the Darkness

In this post I will attempt to write coherently about the feelings that I have been having the last couple of weeks. This is not an easy topic, but I feel that there may be some other moms out there that are having these same feelings and who might benefit from reading my words. So here it is…

One thing that I never worried about when I was pregnant was post-partum depression. I was so in love with the baby inside my tummy and with the idea of being her mommy that I never considered for a second that I would have glimpses of depression. Since I gave birth and have been around a lot of other moms with young children, I have learned that depression can come in all shapes and sizes. It can be mild or full blown. It can be constant, or it can be recurring. However it comes, I have found that we all have moments where we fight the darkness. I truly believe that. I don’t consider the things I experience to be true depression, but I do see how that line starts to blur for some mommies. I consider depression to be a serious illness. I do not claim to understand it fully—or that I am experiencing it.

I planned carefully for P. I was strong in my philosophies. When she was born I controlled every second of her day into a finely tuned routine. She was a great baby. She slept when she was supposed to, and she ate when she was supposed to. THEN—she started to change. The new P doesn’t really eat…ANYTHING. She went from taking 30 ounces in 12 hours and sleeping through the night to taking 13-15 ounces and then waking a few times during the night. Some nights she eats and some she just screams. It was around this time that I felt the darkness creep in.

It was brought on by feelings of inadequacy. I felt and continue to feel  like a failure because I couldn’t figure out how to make her happy. I have tried everything and she just continues to take less and less milk. Her solid intake has increased but she still won’t take any veggies unless they are mixed with a lot of fruit. Her sleep became unpredictable and she became more and more demanding during the day.

Couple all of thee above with starting back to work and my husband going back to work and you have a strong cocktail for that darkness I am referring to. What I mean by darkness is this overwhelmed feeling and the feeling that I cannot control my mood or emotions. I feel overwhelmed a lot now. I get frustrated quickly. I am easily irritated and I get angry a lot. I don’t want to go out—take a shower—or take care of myself at times. I don’t want to do –anything, except sleep. I love to sleep. I have heard that this is a symptom of depression, however it is also a symptom of being a mother of a child under one.

I cry a lot more now than I did in the first days and weeks after P was born. When P slaps the spoon out of my hand for the millionth time sending pears flying—I feel the frustration build. Sometimes I have to walk away—I have to scream in the bathroom or into a pillow. I don’t know why but it just frustrates me so much. I have never been quick to anger. I have always been able to weather the storm calmly and rationally.
Feeling like you cannot control your moods or emotions is no laughing matter. It too can make you feel like a failure. You just feel out of whack and blah all the time.

Then there are the moments of clarity. When P is in a really good mood and she is giggling incessantly—I think about how lucky I am to have her. How I am her whole world and I have the chance to mold her into this really awesome person. Then I feel the happiness well up in my eyes. Highs and lows from one minute to the next. That is what motherhood has become for me—and for a lot of you I’d be willing to bet.

So what I want to say to myself and to all of you who have these same feelings is that you are not alone. You are not a bad mom for needing to scream in the shower or into a pillow. It does not mean that you love your child any less. It is just a left over side effect of your hormones or sleep deprivation. It is not what defines you.

What does define you are those amazing moments when you are the one that puts a smile on your baby’s face. When you make her/him giggle like crazy. When you walk into a room and they light up. That means you are doing something right. That little human—you made them. You will continue to make them—mold them—create them into a compassionate person. You deserve credit for that. It is not an easy job, and you are allowed to have a few blips and bumps along the way. We have to forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

I am learning to let go of the restlessness that I am feeling. I am learning to cut myself some slack, and to not measure myself up against all the other moms around me who seem to have it all together. I choose to believe that they lock themselves in the bathroom, eat cookie dough for breakfast, don’t shower for three days, etc.  

So, in conclusion, on days like today—when P has taken 5 ounces and a half a cup of yogurt by 12:00, and I pretty much know it will be another day of fighting for every ounce and then up every two hours at night—I am going to drink a big cup of hot coffee and eat my cookie dough with a smile knowing that somewhere out there, you are too! Cheers ladies!

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