Thursday, January 31, 2013
When babies make you sad and ice cream doesn't help.
I know I've talked many times about my parenting woes and I think I even talked about my case of post-partum depression with Olivia but because it's been awhile and I have newbies, maybe it's time to revisit that because even if it turns out you hate your baby and you feel like a horrible monster?
You're not and it's going to be OK. (So long as you don't actually hurt your baby because then it's definitely not OK.) And this is all spurred on because one of my favorite new people blogged about this yesterday and it was a really great post and this is also more of my story so she doesn't feel awful.
So when I got pregnant with Olivia, Matt and I had only been married for six months, we lived in a one bedroom apartment, grossly in debt and totally young and stupid. I cannot emphasize it enough- we were ill prepared. I know at the time I had naysayers who said we were ill prepared and I was like, bitches please... I've got this. And I really thought I did. I knew I'd love the baby, and at least I wasn't 16 and pregnant. By then I had graduated college, started my career, was a full fledged adult. I had the world by the balls. Well, every one except Capital One. They had me by my pretend balls. But that's another story for another day.
When I was five months pregnant we decided to cash out all of Matt's investments (dumb idea) and bought ourselves the ghetto homestead we're in now. We had NO IDEA how much this investment would be. The bills were all more, it was stressful, there was nobody to call when your toilet randomly leaks and you can't make it stop and you're crying because you can't find a fucking wrench ANYWHERE and you just want to pee and your husband isn't answering his god damn phone.
So in September, I had Olivia. It was a ridiculously easy pregnancy, I gained 15 pounds, I was healthy, and as it turns out, these hips were made for birthing because I had the easiest labor and delivery ever. But when they handed me Olivia? Terrified. The fear of all of a sudden having to be responsible for another person 24/7 probably for the rest of my life is terrifying. I didn't fall in love with her. I didn't feel like even holding her. I had nurses pushing the whole breastfeeding thing on me and they made me feel like a shit mom that A) I couldn't do it and B) when I was trying I realized nothing about this feels right to me. I'm not joking when I say I felt bullied by nurses, lactation consultants and even my mother in law. So I cried. I cried for a really long time when people left me alone. They would call me and let me know Olivia needed to be fed, or changed, or whatever and really try to engage me as a mom and I didn't want it. By the second day of being a mom I knew that I wasn't cut out for this and I had made a really huge mistake.
And I was ashamed to feel that way.
When she came home and realized that clearly, my daughter hates me, because she cried endlessly for me but totally love Matt. I felt betrayed. I carried her for nine months, I was the sole care taker for her, I read to her in utero, I talked to her every day and told her how her daddy and I met and how excited we were for her, all of it.
And she hated me. Clearly.
Matt went back to work after two weeks and I was terrified. I found out later even he was scared and people tried to "check in" on me but they were probably making sure I hadn't killed us yet. She would cry for hours in her crib and I had thoughts of shaking her, smothering her, doing anything I could to make it stop. For it to all be over. I'd cry for hours with her. I couldn't do anything right and everyone just told me the baby blues go away and stop worrying about it.
But it didn't.
For weeks I would walk around the neighborhood, completely zoned out and crying with my child in a stroller crying hysterically. I'm pretty sure the neighbors felt bad for me but at the same time, would worry if they didn't see the bat shit terrible mother who can't calm her child down.
For an entire year I suffered. No doctor would listen to me when I said I didn't feel better. I wanted to be away from my child. I resented Matt for being a better parent and I hated that he didn't pay any attention to me anymore. At the same time I didn't want attention, I just really wanted to run away and make it all stop. I was too scared to tell doctors that I wanted to kill my baby or myself because I thought they'd take her away. I may not want her but I don't want others to have her. They could be worse than me.
By the time her first birthday rolled around I was way fat, I had a terrible hair cut, Matt and I were having a hard time, and I just wanted to make it all better. So I got on anti depressants which didn't help but the illusion of them helping made stuff get better.
Then when Olivia was 2 I found out I was pregnant. Horrible time in my life. Matt and I were considering divorce, bankruptcy was happening, I was hysterical and sad- complete opposite of how I was with Olivia. I was pregnant with twins. When I found out at my 7 week appointment that I lost one, god help me but I was thrilled. The thought of three kids on my own was terrifying, two seemed manageable.
Again, easy pregnancy. Not as enjoyable labor and delivery but it wasn't awful. And when they put Jackson in my arms? My heart grew. My chest hurt from all of the love beaming out of me. I cried, and I cuddled him, I could not get enough. And I was so sad because it was then that the full impact of what I missed with Olivia hit me. And maybe that's why I still feel like I struggle so much with Olivia. I love her to my core but it will always be a different love than with Jackson. Not bad, it's still equal, but it's different.
So what held made me keep it together? Support. I had a mom who helped me every time I'd cry and say I couldn't do it. I had a husband that despite thinking I was crazy and being sick of me being crazy, stuck in it with me and picked up the slack that I left. I think that's also why our marriage works- he's really seen me at my absolute worst and just stayed there right with me. He didn't yell at me, didn't tell me I should do something a different way, never pushed his opinions on me, he just helped me at every turn.
So now when friends have their babies I get angry when I see a bunch of breastfeeding crazies push it on a new mom. That shit is hard and not everyone is cut out for it. I really feel like that really fucked me up the first time around. I didn't want to fail as a new mom and they made me feel like I was when I couldn't do it. I also get annoyed when people I know who are damn well not ready to have a baby do it anyways. I want to shake them and say this is not something to fuck around with. Everything about life you love as a child free person is now over. Forever. Or until your child gets their own life without you. I was 23 when I had Olivia and that is so grossly young it's unbelievable. Incredibly stupid to do that. And to be frank, it's selfish to have a baby because you love babies. You have to really have a need to mother and be totally selfless.
And not everyone has that. I really struggle every day with it. And that's OK.
So if you're pregnant- good luck to you. I really wish you a good birth and singing angels and glitter and unicorns and all of that. If you're thinking about getting pregnant, eyes wide open. Really think about why you're doing it and it's totally OK to decide kids aren't for you. If you already have kids and struggle? It'll be OK. Don't let people (especially other moms) judge you and make you feel like less of a mom. Women are bitches and they'll tear you down. Just do the best you can for you and your baby and things will be OK.