Saturday, October 17, 2015

An Open Letter to Everyone Else

To Whom It May Concern,

My daughter is pretty awesome. And I'm not just saying that because she's mine. She's happy. She smiles and laughs....sometimes, when you tickle under her chin, she does this deep belly laugh that seriously melts your heart. She scowls, she waves, she claps....she dances to rap music and falls asleep to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. See, she's pretty cool. 

She has a best friend (whose a boy, but he's a gentleman, so we're not getting too protective yet). She loves long stroller rides and falls asleep during car trips. She really doesn't care much for TV, but can't take her eyes off the screen during crime shows and Resident Evil. She sweetly says dada when she's happy, and yells mama when she's mad. She walks now too, did you know that? Probably not. She still needs to be holding on to something, but otherwise she pretty much has the walking thing down. She loves her puppies and forgives everyone. Lucky for you. However, her mama ain't quite so laid back.

Her mama is one big protective bear.

Unlike my innocent 10 month old, I have life experience. I know what you're doing. It's too much work for you now. You have your own life, your own family, your own stuff to do. I get it, and I understand. Things come up, people get busy and sometimes it just doesn't always work out to visit. That's okay. But if you do choose to be a part of my daughter's life, it cannot be later. As her mama bear, I took the oath the day she was born to protect her and teach her and make sure I do the right thing to ensure she grows up strong and successful. Please don't think for a second I will make an exception to that oath for you. No, no. I will protect her from the heartbreak of the revolving door of people that claim to care about her. She's 10 months old. She's not new. The door is slowly closing and pretty soon you'll need to get through me to get to her. 

This isn't personal. It isn't mean or malicious or comes with some type of personal agenda. It's a mama bear, with life experience, refusing to let her cub get hurt.

I have volunteered this delicate information about my daughter to you. You have not asked. You don't stop by. You weren't there to lend a listening ear when we were dealing with the very real case that our awesome daughter could potentially have a hearing disability (she's fine, by the way). You've never changed a diaper or pushed her in a swing at the park. You haven't taken her on a walk or tried to soothe her cries. Luckily, other people have. People I have not had to ask, people who I have known for mere moments of time....and I encourage you to remember this if the day shall come where you decide to accuse me of purposely keeping my child from you for my own personal gain.

You have met her less than a handful of times, if you've even met her at all. The only pictures you have are ones you've seen on Facebook. This will be all you will ever have. So enjoy it. Soak it all in and accept it. We'll be okay here; we're not missing you at all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Thank You Note

Christmas 2014 was one of the most eventful days of my life thus far. My parents were visiting since I was days away from my due date and couldn't travel, and we were celebrating Christmas in a small apartment, playing games, eating food (and more food) and spending the last few moments together before a new little baby would join us. My water broke on this day. Luckily, we were able to open presents before this happened. I can't recall one thing I received as a gift last year, but I do remember that well over half the gifts stacked in the corner of that apartment living room were for a person that hadn't even been born yet. Amongst her many gifts was a sweater. This adorable, hand-knit, baby pink sweater that my grandma's friend (whom I'd never met) had made for P. It was a little big, it wouldn't fit her until the next winter, but it was absolutely adorable and mostly unexpected.

The day after we got home from the hospital my parents brought the many, many Christmas gifts over to our house. As we went through them putting everything away my mom found that sweater. Tucked inside of it was a letter from my grandma telling me about her friend that made it, along with her address so I could send her a thank you note. I hung the sweater in P's closet and put the note on the kitchen counter as a reminder to send a thank you. My mom reminded me not to forget to send that thank you.

About two weeks later my mom saw the letter on my counter still and reminded me to send a thank you. Yeah, yeah, I'll get to it. I have a newborn, I don't have time for a thank you, I'll send it soon.

Two more weeks went by and my mom again asked me if I had sent that thank you. I hadn't. The letter was still on my counter, completely untouched.

I stared at that letter for two months before giving up and throwing it away. Every day I would look at it and tell myself to send the thank you. It wasn't that hard. I had blank thank you notes in a kitchen drawer, stamps and return address stickers....literally all I had to do was write Thank You on a card and mail it out. But I couldn't. The act of writing something down and mailing it out just seemed so crippling. I was physically incapable of doing a simple task that would take me less than a minute to accomplish. When I finally threw that letter away I felt so much relief. It was like this burden had been lifted off my shoulders because I finally didn't have to worry about sending out a thank you note anymore. If I couldn't see the reminder to do something then I didn't have to do it, right?

Here's my point: PPD is not in your head. It is not something to 'get over.' It is not overreacting. It does not mean you are weak or lazy. PPD is serious, in some cases severe and fatal, and can make even the most simple task, like a Thank You note, become daunting and impossible.

The sweater fits P now. She wears it to day care on chilly days and on long car rides for extra warmth. It looks adorable on her too. It was the first thing anyone had ever made, just for her, and by hand. And the most meaningful part is that it was made by a complete stranger who was also waiting and preparing for her arrival just as much as her parents and family. I don't have the note anymore, I don't remember the ladies name, and I will probably never thank her, but what I am left with is the reminder of how crippling PPD was in my life and how far myself and my family have come. And one super cute girl in one adorable little sweater.