Friday, July 24, 2009

Crazy?!?!?!?! I was crazy once....

( on title to go to Post Partum Support Society...) How's this for roughly 3 weeks I will be the mother of a five year old. Geez, where did the time go? Where did my baby go? Life wasn't always so peaceful... Q was born on Friday the 13th. I was hoping to hold on for another 2 hours, but when you're in labour you a) don't have a choice and b) really just want to get that thing out of you as soon as possible, so he was born on Friday the 13th. He was 10lbs 6oz, 21 inches long and his head was 14 inches in diameter. And it was his shoulders that got stuck. Yep, I gave birth to a 3 month old. He was huge. After the doctor painstakingly put me back together she told me that if they had known he was that big the would have done a C-section. Are you effin' kidding me???? Strangers on the street commented on how huge I was, you think she would have noticed too. Thus began a difficult journey for little Q and momma. For the first six weeks after he was born I was terrified I was going to die. Or that he was going to die. Or that something horrible would happen. I would obsess about it for hours, usually instead of eating or sleeping (or anything else that would have been actually useful!) And of course, I was his mother so I could do everything better than anyone else. I would hover over his dad. It didn't help that I was a perfectionist, so being a perfect mother meant I had a baby that didn't cry. Makes sense, right? Ya. So, I drove myself nuts. I would feed him before he was hungry, I would change him before he was wet, I would bathe him before he was dirty. All of this left little time for me, so days would go by without a shower or brushing my teeth or hair. If I were in the shower, who would look after Q??? Did I mention I would hover... Six weeks crept by and I had my follow up appointment with the doctor and guess what...I was perfectly healthy. Q was perfectly healthy. What would I worry about now??? The first thought popped into my mind the next day, 'What if I threw him down the stairs? What would happen?' Of course I didn't WANT to do it. It was just a thought. The thought became an obsession. 'What if I put him in the microwave? What if I put Javex in his bottle?' The thoughts just kept coming and the more I obsessed about it, the more they came. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I would bawl uncontrollably. This was not the 'baby blues' folks, this was post partum depression, and I was in deep. I would beg my partner to sit with me but he had 'a life of his own, you know' and couldn't spend all day with me. Of course. I was alone. My parents were 'back home,' my best friend there too. I was in a new city, and I had no one, save for the one friend I had met since I had moved. She was wonderful, but couldn't understand what was wrong. I had a beautiful, healthy baby...why was I so depressed? A few frantic calls to my mother and she put me and Q on the next flight home. That night they took me to the hospital to be sedated. I spent the next 10 days in the 'observation ward' (haha, they don't call it the psych ward anymore!!) while they regulated my meds, convinced me I wasn't evil (nor was my baby,) gave me strict orders to sleep and eat (and shower), and watched me interact with my son. I was diagnosed with severe post partum depression with generalized anxiety disorder. My partner never once came to see me. I spent 3 weeks with my parents as I learned to be a mother to my child. When I came home, I had a message waiting from the Post Partum Depression Society. The night of my first meeting, I was so nervous I almost didn't go. I couldn't admit to these strangers that I was depressed, that I was a horrible mother who thought I was going to harm my baby. They wouldn't understand, they couldn't know what I was going through. Maybe, they would take my son away. But my brother showed up at my door, with keys to his truck, and said, 'I'm looking after Q. You're going to this meeting.' So I went. You know what met me on the other side of those doors? Kindred spirits. Women, just like me, who loved their children. Women who were well educated, women who were normal, women who were wives and sisters, and teachers and nurses. Five years later and I am fortunate to still call these women my friends. They saved me in more ways than one, and often times they didn't have to say a word. We listened, we spoke, we cried together. We gave each other strength and courage. The biggest thing for me was fear. If I couldn't control my thoughts, how could I control my actions? I didn't want to harm my baby. I loved him more than anything. He was everything I ever wanted. His smile lit up the room. He was the meaning of my life and the core of my being. I learned a lot on those weekly meetings, in the circle - things I use to this day. I learned breathing techniques to calm my body and my mind. I learned that medication wasn't a crutch, but a tool to help me heal. I learned self care - that is by taking care of me, I was taking care of Q. It could be small things - an extra long shower, enjoying a hot cup of tea, reading a book. It was time for me. It meant letting go. Letting go of this stupid perception I had of a perfect mother. I learned that I needed to believe in God, that being a mother wasn't something I could do on my own. Having post partum depression didn't mean that I didn't love my baby. It didn't mean I was a horrible mother. It meant I had a mental illness caused by a number of factors - hormones, exhaustion, dehydration to name a few. I despise the stigma attached to mental illnesses. I was not the woman on the news drowning her babies. I was not the crack addict who just didn't care. I did care. A lot has changed in 5 years. I still worry over silly things, that will never change. But, I'm no longer with Q's dad, obviously. Ours was not a healthy, supportive relationship. I now make time for me. As Q gets older, I can feel my uterus flipping over, my clock ticking. And I wonder, if circumstances were different, if I had a supportive, loving partner, if I didn't sweat the small stuff, could I? Could I go through post partum again? Would it be different? I would love to have another baby, and I hope that fear wouldn't stand in the way. I've learned so much...about compassion, about love, and patience -and Q has taught me all this and more. The wisdom of a child is beautiful. Happy Birthday, Q!! Thanks for teaching me how to love. Love always, Momma

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