I never fancied myself as someone who would ever start a blog. But after the staggering amount of feedback I received from my work with The Dialogue Projects, an amazing organization that is aimed at taking the stigma out of mental health issues, I realized that there are not enough of us talking about the physical and mental hardships that we mamas go through. We are ashamed, or embarrassed or feeling guilty... whatever the reason, the more I personally have opened up about the various difficulties I have gone through, the more it comes to light that others have been through the EXACT SAME THING. Turns out that at multiple times during my short period entrenched in motherhood, I was sitting right next to someone feeling equally as lonely as I was. If only we had just taken the time to talk to one another...
And so, here I am. Opening up. Talking. Waving my arms in the air. Sharing the hard stuff that would normally cause me to stick my head in the sand, or address with my signature style of sarcasm that everyone can't get enough of (this is my blog... I get to believe what I want to believe). And with all of that said, I turn to my first topic...
Let's Talk: POST-Postpartum Depression
Trust me. It's a thing. It's what I refer to as the PTSD effect of having suffered through long-term postpartum depression: The fear of reoccurrence. Of going to that black hole again, but not being able to climb out this time. The paralyzing trepidation that actually keeps you from wanting more kids. Which is hard to believe, because look at my kid. She's insanely awesome. And awesomely insane. She's the love of my life, outside of her father (on most days...when the mood is right...and he's not driving me batty...).
"You don't want more children??" "Your kid is going to end up spoiled... or weird". "It's not healthy for a kid to grow up alone". "You're going to regret this decision when you're older". Thanks for your opinions, peanut gallery we never solicited advice from! Shaming AND judgemental! Well done!
We got those comments a lot. And as a result we talked about more children for years, ultimately deciding to take the topic off the table. We were scared of the possibility that my mental health would suffer again to the extent that our family would once more lose a wife and mother. At my lowest, I was so destroyed and so absent that neither Mike or I were willing to go back there. Talk about guilt. I was single-handedly preventing the growth of our family. Thank goodness Emily seemed to relish the spotlight, never asking why her friends were having siblings and she wasn't. It was hard, but eventually we got used into the idea that our little threesome would be our "normal" and we settled into the good life.
Skip to October 2016: "Mike.... I want a baby". Never were there more shocking words to escape my mouth, or for my husband to be prepared for. "Mike, I'm joining the circus" - sure! "Mike, I think I was abducted by aliens last night" - a possibility! But, "Mike, I want a baby"????? What in god's name...??? Even I couldn't believe I was saying the words. Needless to say, poor hubby needed to sit down and process for a few days. I processed too... over wine. So much wine. And two very quick months later, an early morning pregnancy test read positive. It happened so quickly that Mike and I are still not sure we were actually both present at conception...
And so, I'm pregnant. We're having another baby (coming soon, from a vagina near you!)
And we are scared. And worried. And probably not as excited as we could be. Also processing... and wondering if this possibly happened through immaculate conception, because I swear, all Mike did was sneeze near me. We have spoken at length to my OB about how to be prepared for the worst; have the therapist on speed dial, hire the night nurse until we're broke, keep family and friends on standby, make Mike sign a contract in blood stating he'll never leave me. You know, the usual. Not exactly your typical exciting way to prepare for a newborn, but necessary nonetheless.
"Congratulations!!!!" People scream as we slowly share our news with the world. "You must be so happy and excited!!!!" "We are!" I reply, with equal enthusiasm. But inside I think, "Am I?" It's postpartum all over again - feeling embarrassed to admit the lurking fear of what's to come, and the sense that I'm not as thrilled about this new little life as social protocol dictates I should be.
But, I am hopeful. Which is truly the underlying selfish reason I began this blog. I am hopeful about not only touching someone who is currently experiencing the same fears that I am, but also that those who have previously felt these same anxieties will feel brave enough to speak out and reassure me that they came out the other side unscathed.
I'm looking to you, mamas. Share your stories. Show those like me that there is light at the end of this pending (birthing) tunnel. In the very least, there's a bottle of wine in it for you (I'm apparently not allowed to drink until this kid arrives, so we have reserves in bulk).
Until our next uncomfortable convo...