Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Finding Peace

I remember shortly after P was born, in the midst of my struggle, my own mother telling me, "She's too little to give right now; all she can do is take." And in those first few months my mom would tell me this and I would roll my eyes because how stupid, but over the last year I have found myself saying this over and over.

{don't you just hate it when your mom is right? She really is, like, all the damn time}

So I waited for P to grow up and I wished the days away (no, I do not regret that) and wanted her to be older so she could hug me and miss me and appreciate me and give. And a few weeks ago the clouds broke and my little girl grew up. I asked her for a hug, and wouldn't you know she actually gave me one! Then she started blowing kisses. And now, she leans forward for me to kiss her tiny little forehead. I could hug that girl forever, except after about two seconds the hug is over and she pushes me away and starts pointing at a piece of lint on the floor and reaches out for that instead of me, but as soon as I ask her for a hug again, she willingly gives one.

Were the horrible days of wanting nothing to do with my baby worth it to get to this place of appreciation and love? Probably. Would I want to go through it again? Hell no.

But what I have learned is that in our short lived hugs together there is peace. When I sit with her on the floor and she builds her block towers and squeals and points for me to see it, there is peace. When she lays still in her crib while I tuck her in at night, there is peace. When we're driving home from a fun filled weekend at Nana and Papa's house and she's sleeping in the backseat, there is peace.

These moments do not happen multiple times a day. Some days are filled with cries and tantrums and her attempting to throw a toy at me because I told her no or won't let her eat my shoe, and some days are filled with boredom when she has no interest in her toys and relies solely on me or Hubs to help her climb to dangerous heights on furniture (no dear child, no). Some days are harder than others. Some days I need to walk away from her and just have a moment to myself. Some days I wish she would just watch TV and give me a break for an hour or two (too young?). Some days I get frustrated. Some (most) days I make Hubs do most of the dirty work (literally, because some of those diapers I just can't even). Some days go too slow and I count the minutes until bedtime. And some days I never want to end because I can't believe how amazing this is and I fear tomorrow will be a poop-filled, crying over my dirty shoes kind of day that I won't be able to handle.

I take those moments of peace I have with P and I tuck them away for when days like that happen. I keep them close to me for when I'm having a bad day. I remember them when I'm struggling. When P was born, she was only able to take, but I was too sick to give. I'll spend forever trying to make that time up to her and to myself, but I will find peace in knowing that I am well enough to give now, and on the days when she can't that I am more than happy for her to take.

Monday, February 8, 2016

When You Lose the Battle

I was standing by the kitchen sink. Hubs was standing next to me telling me about his day, when our two dogs entered the kitchen. And that's when it happened. My blood pressure sky rocketed, my mind went blank and I could no longer hear what Hubs was saying. I lost it. I began screaming at the dogs to get out of the kitchen, get out of my way, get out of my life, they were ruining everything and always in the way and couldn't I just please get a moment to myself for ONCE! The dogs ran away, clearly in fear. 'Why are you yelling?' Hubs stopped telling his story. Because they're always in my way and I'm sick of it! I lied. The real reason?

I didn't know.

I had no idea why I irrationally flew off the handle, flew into a rage and screamed. And that wasn't the first time, nor was it the last. Yelling was normal in our house now. I yelled (yell) constantly. At everything. At the dishes, at the laundry, at the dogs, at the weather, at the bathroom sink, at the water in the tub, the food on the floor, the dogs not eating when I wanted them to....you name it, I found a reason to be mad about it.

But it wasn't just the anger. I distanced myself from others and didn't open up much about what I was really going through. I went through the motions, but the real stuff stayed in. The stuff I wanted to say and ask and find opinions on what my friends thought was going on, but I couldn't. I wanted to know if it was normal to follow your baby around when they played and put their toys away behind them, or to constantly feel the need to be cleaning something up, to get mad when dishes weren't washed right away or put in the dishwasher, to feel utterly irked by the fact that melted snow made a tiny puddle by the door. Is it normal to be completely annoyed by a puppy wanting to cuddle with you? Was it okay that I didn't want anyone or anything touching me, unless it was P giving me a hug or sitting on my lap? Was that alright? Is it normal to go on a weekend getaway to the lake, but constantly feel the need to be cleaning something or moving? To wipe down restaurant tables after eating and tidy up? Are these just normal 'mom' things?

I honestly felt that these little quarks, these feelings, these worries and annoyances, were normal to mtoherhood.

The first time I became of how out of control I had become was when P started to fear me. I had yelled at the dogs for something or another and P started to cry. I hadn't yelled at her, she had done nothing wrong, but she felt like she had. She sat on the dining floor crying, refusing to reach her arms out to me when I tried to pick her up to comfort her. And that's when I knew. I was causing fear in my own child of me, the person that she's suppose to be able to count on, to feel safe and comforted by, to receive love from. This wasn't an end all that made me see the error of my ways. This same scenario played out multiple times and eventually P cried almost every time we were alone together. I told myself it was just a phase, but deep down I knew it was because she was afraid of my temper.

It was February 3rd, 2015 when I was first diagnosed with postpartum depression and it was August 4, 2015 when I deemed myself well enough to stop taking medication. But sometime after that things blurred. My recovery turned into anxiety and my anxiety turned into anger, an anger I couldn't control. I pushed it away and thought if I ignored it that it would fix itself. I was afraid of relapse. I was afraid of old feelings. I was afraid of letting everyone down around me that I wasn't better. I preach to women on a daily basis that they are warriors, that there is no shame in seeking help and that the sooner they get that help the sooner they would feel better. But I couldn't take my own advice. It was too hard to accept that I wasn't over this.

When I started this blog, it was mostly to help my recovery. Writing has always been an outlet for me and I thought if I could write my entire life about everything and get through it, then I can write my way through this too. Over time, my outlet turned towards a bigger cause: helping others. I wanted to be honest, even if it was embarrassing or intrusive, because I wanted other women, and society, to see the truth in PPD. So here I am again, being honest, being open and letting everyone intrude themselves into my life. I am not better. I still struggle. I find it hard to ask for help and accept when I need it. I struggled for months before giving in.

It was February 8, 2016 when I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and my recovery has no set end date. I won't stop fighting for this. I may have lost this battle, but I am determined to win the war.