It’s been eight years since Shorty was born. I was thumbing through some pictures last night trying to find an image to use for a post later this week and while I was looking, I stumbled upon an interesting observation.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of Shorty when he was a baby. I owned a camera. I know I did. I have pictures of his first birthday and years after that but that first year and half (not to mention most of my pregnancy) is a blur to me. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t remember much of it because what I do remember was not pretty and not fun.
The first few weeks with Shorty were fine. He slept, ate, pooped and did all the things a baby should do. He wouldn’t sleep in his crib though and so his car seat was his bed. He wouldn’t sleep with a stinky diaper either and had the habit of filling it right after he fell asleep, thus started a vicious cycle of not sleeping.
I remember being sleep deprived, sore from nursing, and angry a lot. Bebe was only 16 months old when I had Shorty and Bug was five. You would think that I had things set up quite nicely right? I’d be home with the two little ones while Bug was in Kindergarten but I didn’t feel that way at all.
Instead I felt mad at myself for getting pregnant and I felt guilty because I thought Bebe was getting robbed of time with me. Bug and I had four years to bond, get to know one another and build our relationship. I was just beginning to discover how fun little girls were when Shorty came along. Getting pregnant with him also cut my nursing short since the milk seemed to dry up. Bebe was a great nurser (my best) and it hurt me to no end to have to wean her at 10 months. I felt resentment at the baby growing inside me during my pregnancy, while I realize now that it makes no sense to resent an unborn baby, I couldn’t get my stupid self to understand that then. All I knew was that my plans were about to be shook up once again. I regret it to this day, but I even asked the hubs, “is there any way we can not have this baby?”
But what’s that saying…. Life happens when you’re busy making plans? Well, if it was true, I was the poster child for it.
Shorty’s first year was not one of my more glorious. I barely slept, eating was ridiculous, trying to find five minutes to shower, brush hair and teeth went out the window and as badly as I wanted things to fall into place, I also wanted to run. Far. And Fast.
That wasn’t the worst of it though, I had bouts with thinking I was terrible mom (hence the slacker mentality I have now I suppose), I could waste a good hour or more a day, plotting my escape from motherhood and spouse, and searching for freedom. As much as it scares me and shames me to say it, there were moments when I felt I just wanted to die. I can’t say why, except that somewhere in my mind, I felt like if I was gone, if there was no me, then I could spare my kids from being raised by a woman who could barely take care of herself. I was sad, I was depressed and I didn’t even know it.
I don’t quite know what moment it happened, maybe one of the hundreds of fights the hubs and I were having, or I was crying over something ridiculous or silly but it was the hubs who said “I think there’s something wrong with you.”
To which I of course replied, “No shit. What was your first clue?” That sparked him telling me that I wasn’t myself, that he’s noticed I spend almost every day in my pajamas, that I haven’t showered or brushed my hair or teeth. He suggested that I do something. To find help because he didn’t know how.
At first I went to see my OBGYN because I didn’t know who else to see. He wasn’t much help. I told him how I would panic if more than one child or person demanded my attention, how I couldn’t sleep, how Shorty wouldn’t sleep, how I didn’t even want to leave the house with all of the children. His answer was tiny pills that I cut in half and took as needed.
But it didn’t help for long. I was feeling more anxious, jumpy, and rotten all over.
It wasn’t in the hubs personality to say I needed professional help because he’s staunch disbeliever in any sort of mental health problems but he practically begged me to find something else. I didn’t think my friends would understand because when they saw me, I was pretty well put together, and my family just thought I was adjusting to life with two children under two years old. But the hubs and I knew better.
For a year I spoke with a wonderful woman who let me cry about being so overwhelmed, my distant relationship with my mother, who only wanted the hubs to help me but would rarely offer her own assistance, the lack of outside help I felt I had, my detiorating marriage, my feelings of doubt, lack of self worth, inadequacy as a human and a wife and mom, and even the traffic on the way to her office. She let me talk about the baby I barely knew but who seemed to cling to me desperately. Shorty wouldn’t take a bottle or let anyone else stay with him longer than an hour so sessions with her were perfect, because about the time he figured out I was gone, I was on my way home.
I can’t tell you if that year talking to her really helped but at the time, just telling someone how I felt and how scared I was, and mad I was that I felt like I was on my own in all of this seemed to put me at peace a little bit.
Unfortunately, while I was gone (because I’m fairly sure I wasn’t really “there” to begin with), my family and hubs paid the price. The hubs, for all my complaining and constant irritation kept the house moving somehow. While he didn’t really change a diaper or do the dishes, he kept reminding me that I had to keep moving whether I wanted to or not. He took over the discipline, ultimately making him the forever bad guy and me the good guy (when it was just Bug, we were equally bad and good). He took over making decisions that we would have made together. Maybe to keep me from worrying or giving me more on my plate, I’m not really sure but things were decided without my input and I never really complained. Over time, we fell into this new routine and new roles.
I don’t know why but a couple of weeks ago it hit me.
I never really came back. I mean I function OK. I get the kids where they need to go, they get fed, (sort of). I take care of them and the house (for the most part; I’ve learned to delegate some things) and I work. So I’m here right?
Wrong. I don’t think I ever came back completely. I think I just accepted things for what they were seven years ago and let the hubs take over, whether he wanted to or not. After a lot of thinking, and even being mad at myself I have finally realized that even though I felt better and I learned to deal with things (a little) better than I used to, I still struggle. I get anxious, sometimes I don’t sleep, and it’s not uncommon for me to feel like my heart is going to explode when multiple kids want my attention.
I’ve let a lot of things slide over the years and while I don’t think I can blame it all on the depression I had while pregnant with Shorty and the post partum depression I went through after he was born, I do believe that there’s a good part of it still lingering in me. It comes out every now and then and when it does I have to fight to keep it from taking over. But it’s still here, I can feel it.
I’m not ever going to get the mom I was before back. Bug remembers someone different and in many ways, I’m sad that he doesn’t have her anymore. I’m sad that the other kids will never know who Bug had for a mom. She was a great mom. She was funny, energetic, better organized and she smiled a lot more.
But I can’t focus on her. Instead I try to bring little pieces of her back. I smile when I don’t really want to, I’m still funny (I dare you to tell me I’m not), and I’ve embraced the disorganization but try not to let it take over.
As for the panic and anxiety? I take a minute, breathe, and tell everyone I can only focus on one thing at a time.
That’s all any of us can do right? One. Thing. At. A. Time.
Image Credit: stock.xchng