Friday, April 05, 2013

Notes from the Underground (of the PPD that's Eating my Brain)

It's true: it's easier the second time around. Everyone who would know told me so, and they were right.

Mothering this baby has so far been easier than mothering the first one. I spend too much time playing that game, comparing things that are similar but not really comparable. Some days, all I do is compare Infant Max to Infant Santiago, and it's a maddening, pointless game that I can't see my way out of. They are different human beings, each born into this world under very different circumstances, so what am I comparing, and why? How much less sleep I had then? How truly awful S's acid reflux is vs. M's happy spit-up?

Well, yes, that is what I'm comparing. When I'm able to run an errand and the baby remains fast asleep in his car seat, therefore enabling me to get it all done with no trouble, I slip into comparison mode: I was never able to run a single errand in peace with Max. When the baby is wailing for no apparent reason, and it's 2 a.m. and I'm so exhausted I could tear my hair out: Max never did this, why is this child punishing me like this??? On and on, I catch myself comparing even as something new occurs to me: what if it's not the babies so much as it is me?

For I am a different mother now than I was at newly-turned 28. The despair that ate at me for so many months then is not here now. I don't feel crazy at the avalanche of thoughts and worries; now I have as many worries and can get overwhelmed by my thoughts, but it's very easy for me to rein it in and move on. Or maybe I'm  just doubly exhausted and can only muster a few minutes of worrying before nodding off. Or maybe the experiences of early motherhood are buried somewhere deep inside and the lessons learned so many years ago guide me now without my being truly aware of it. Whatever it is, something in me is different and this I am truly aware of. I'd like to think I'm older and wiser, and I know I'm in an overall better place in my life, emotionally, mentally, financially, matrimonially-speaking.

So yeah, I'm a calmer, more competent, less apt to freak out mom. It is for this exact reason that I'm perplexed to find myself muddling through post-postpartum depression - all things considered, it just doesn't make sense.

I am surprised and feel caught off guard because this seems to have hit me late, a few weeks after the baby was discharged and even more weeks since his birth. My crappy feelings aren't even about the baby, really. I'm hit with these thoughts and feelings about myself and my life, and I can't really tell if they are realistic or ridiculous or typical of being postpartum or just the tip of something deeper and darker. Right now I cannot properly gauge this.

First there's all the negativity I feel about my body. It's such a strange feeling, and I tend to criticize myself whenever I slip into "oh jeebus my body is so hideous!" mode, but this problem persists. It's neither fair nor realistic to compare my post-Max recovery to this one, but I do. I want my flat tummy back, damnit. I want what I've always had and am used to. I started exercising last week, these intense 20-min daily workouts that suck, but which I'm committed to. This week my old clothes started fitting again, though how, I don't know because I don't look any different than I have these last weeks.

Then there's this one incredible feeling that's been making me all kinds of crazy: I'm devastated that my pregnancy was cut short. I miss being pregnant; I feel gypped that I couldn't see it through to the end. While I felt more tired and uncomfortable than I did the first time, I loved being pregnant and wasn't ready for it to end when it did. The week I spent in the hospital, about four packages arrived at my house, full of maternity clothes I'd purchased to see me through to the end. So much for that. I didn't have a baby shower, since it was scheduled for two weeks after everything happened. I'm actually not a huge fan of these, but I was looking forward to the bonding and the fun. Belly-bump pictures? Didn't happen. How big was I ultimately going to be? I'll never know. Most painfully, I didn't have a Blessing Way, which I was looking forward to the most and during which I'd hoped to make a cast of my belly.

There were all these things, however small they seem, that I didn't get to experience. This was my last pregnancy, and these things meant a lot to me.

Finally, there's my marriage. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm bummed at how all these things are affecting it. We're technically still newlywed, and it feels like this experience has cut into that, like we have been forced to be long-married people instead of newly married ones. And we are not long-married people, we are a couple who wants to last, to experience everything together, but who have just started this part of the journey. And for this part of the journey, I wanted a normal pregnancy. I didn't want to get sick and have the baby early and feel the fear of possibly losing the baby. I didn't want the stress of the NICU and pumping my milk 3,000 times a day and then the stress about breastfeeding and if the baby was taking in enough. What I want now is to be attractive and desirable and not so wretchedly hormonal, and I'm pissed and aggrieved at all this. Ugh. It was going to be enough to have a baby so early into our marriage, but all these other factors have changed everything for me. Maybe not in a terrible or negative way, but changed nonetheless. 

Blegh, now I'm just whining.

Even so, I write now from what feels like the beginning of the end of the depression (that's a bonus of spending a good part of your life battling depression: you recognize its stages and can plan accordingly). It could be that darker days will return, and there are still days that really do feel hellish, but ever since I admitted to myself that this was happening and that I needed to factor that into my thoughts, feelings and daily life, it's all been a bit better. Better, but not resolved. 

What would resolve it for me? My baby continuing to thrive as well as he has since we got home. Getting my body back, and with it my overall confidence. My marriage staying healthy and happy and growing stronger. Oh, and it'd be awesome if my hormones would normalize, too, because I'm pretty sure they're largely responsible for this craziness.

And, of course, I've written about it now. I've unleashed the demon, and as usual, that will do its part to make everything better. I hope.

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Posted by Tere @ 4/05/2013   | |

5 Comments

  • Blogger Mary Gilmour posted at 4/05/2013 9:18 PM  
    Each decade of your life, they say, after your early twenties brings slower recovery, longer recuperation, all that. So, not a surprise that the depression and body recovery are taking longer. You sound to me as if you are handling it pretty dern well.
    And there is nothing more lovely, more desirable, more strengthening for a man, I think, than a woman smiling at him and nursing his child.
    Give both of you some time, eh?

    Sleep deprivation is the pits. I am struggling with coming home from a six hour time difference and feeling sulky and ill-used. Normal, if not fun.
  • Blogger Jeff Ronci posted at 4/06/2013 9:55 AM  
    Nothing profound to offer, except that you and yours are loved, by me and mine and by many others. All is well and will get better and better in time. xoxo
  • Blogger Tere posted at 4/06/2013 12:33 PM  
    Thanks to both of you!

    I'm trying to stay above the crappy feelings, and I guess I can about half the time.

    There are other factors, things that've happened over the last 4 or 5 months that have left some negative/hurt/bitter feelings, which adds to all this and which I'm trying to get past.

    But, as with everything, I'm sure it'll pass at some point. Sooner, rather than later, I hope!
  • OpenID 4283ff0e-7f82-11e2-b6a2-000bcdcb2996 posted at 4/06/2013 1:11 PM  
    You are wonderful! Oh, and fabulous too! All shall be well!
  • Blogger Chocolate Angel 3 posted at 4/16/2013 5:58 PM  
    I am new to blogging but I came across your blog & I love how you share your life experiences in it. My blog that I just started is a lot like this, though I still am not sure what I am doing yet with certain parts of blogging. But I just want to say, I think considering everything, you are handling things well with motherhood, body changes and those dreadful homomes. I can relate to a lot of with comparing pregancies and babies. My kids are now 13 & 10 but I remember how I with my oldest, any little thing that happen I would run to the ER with fear but thank God it was nothing serious & when I had my twins and something would happen I would say well my other son had the same problem at this age and it was whatever it was so I would treat my twins with whatever the doctor said about the first one. I compared sleep patterns, feeding habits, everything. I also compared my body. I gained a lot of weight with my first but not so much with my twins. The thing is that my weight wasn't back to where it needed to be from the first one when I found out I was having another baby (not knowing at the time that I was having twins at the time). I just loved your post and I like you on facebook & I will follow you on twitter & instagram. I will to invite you to my blog, doingwhatmakemehappy.blogspot.com
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