Raining Petals

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids

I went into the bookstore a week or so ago looking for a potty training book and came out with this instead. The title caught my attention immediately because I have often expressed this same sentiment to myself many times since having Carter. I am only 60 pages in but so far I am really enjoying it! It does two things...makes me not feel so guilty and alone and number two makes me realize I could be way worse off than I am.

This book is written by two women (mothers) and has a lot of blurbs from other mothers around the nation....being *GASP* honest about how they feel and the daily struggles mothers face.

One lady says "I love being a mother, I just don't like doing it"...we all love our kids but the truth is being a modern day mother is tough.

There are different types of mothers. There are the ones who "were born to be mothers" and always are smiling and shiny and so happy and everything is perfect...they can have 6 kids under the age of 2 and tell you it is paradise.

I am not one of them.

One mother in the book states "I thought having a baby would be like having a pet-oh, this will be cute, we'll be this happy little family." (p.21)

That is how I was. So naive.

My pregnancy was a dream pregnancy. I never felt pregnant...the only sign was when my stomach got enormous and Carter was doing karate. Other than that I felt wonderful! (until the last few weeks when Carter was the size of a truck and sitting so low I could hardly walk to the bathroom...which I had to do every 5 minutes!) I was blissful with so many expectations and hopes. I thought everything would be glittery and fluffy and so nice and fun and we would romp through fields of flowers and bake cookies and play with cars and read books and then we would slumber peacefully until it was time for our next adventure. Why was I so naive?...I don't know. I thought I was one of "those" mothers who would always have it all together and I would never want anything more.


Labor started horribly painful...after a good 7 or 8 hours I finally progressed enough to get an epidural. And the Angels in the heavens rejoiced! Seriously...that is how wonderful that stuff is! It made the worst experience of my life simply the best. I am not one of those women who beat themselves up for not going all natural. Sorry...you just won't find me giving a medal to women who do. I mean don't get me wrong...good for them for doing it their way and how they want...that is great...just don't try and make others feel like you went through "more" than the women who opted for meds...You opted for the pain...I opted for the being able to talk and laugh and really enjoy my experience...before hand I was seriously dying and Josh was right along side me freaking out...he was as happy or even more so than I was when the anesthesiologist walked in...darn...I needed to send that guy a Christmas card...after all he is my best friend.

The first couple nights in the hospital were great. I had plenty of help and food coming to me at regular intervals. So far things were pretty fluffy...no signs of things getting hard.

The first night at home was awesome. Carter slept a lot. I awoke refreshed got up and got dressed, cleaned and organized a little and waited for my family to arrive. That was about the end of all the glitter and gold.

From there I slid into a depression that consumed by entire being. On top of that I contracted a pneumonia! I all of the sudden couldn't breath. I would fall asleep and then jump awake because I was suffocating! The doctor sent me directly to the ER because he was worried it was a blood clot in my lungs. After putting on a gown and sitting in the waiting room for HOURS...my milk decided it was time to come in. Imagine me sitting in a gown with 2 nice wet circles leaking through so obvious that people couldn't help but stare...classy huh...so much fun.

Oh but it gets so much more fun. I get wheeled into the room to get a CT scan. They inform me they will be injecting me with a dye that will taste like I have pennies in my mouth and will make me feel really hot and may cause nausea. Perfect! I will take 2 please!

So I am trying to lay perfectly still while being scanned and meanwhile my body just starts to flush and I am getting so hot and the nausea creeps in and then I am yelling that I am going to puke...the guy dressed in all white comes rushing from behind the glassed in room just in time to hold that tiny, little, kidney bean shaped dish up to my mouth as I gag...I had a very empty tummy so I was just dry heaving...violently...and as many of you mothers know that after pushing a watermelon out of your lemon...things are loose and everything is just out of whack. So as I am heaving I am peeing all over myself...nice huh...so much fun. I bet I was just a real charmer to those two men who were helping me. I was producing all kinds of fluids that day. The body producing fluids is not embarrassing...it is quite essential...but throwing them out there for all to see...not so much.

So I go home with my pneumonia-ated lungs just in time to see my mom off and be left alone with Josh and my baby.

During this depression I wanted to see NO ONE! There were two people that I wanted. Josh and my mom. Anybody else's appearance only frustrated me and made things worse. Of course Carter was with me. The mothering instinct was able to break through some of the barriers and allow me to care for my son. Not without bad thoughts and wishing him away. How horrible is that? This is supposed to be the happiest time of my life. I wanted a baby for so long. I couldn't wait for the day Carter arrived. And here I was just a few days later wishing him away. The main culprit for my feelings was exhaustion. The lack of sleep makes me into a completely different person. I cried and cried and cried. I could not find joy in the daily things of life. I couldn't ever imagine going to the grocery store again or going to a movie or playing games...all of that seemed pointless and life was hopeless for me. Julie came by, my sister brought me lunch...and it breaks my heart now..but at the time I just wanted them to go away. That is how I know this wasn't me...I would never want that! I would have good moments of calm when we were together as our little family...but then I would just start crying again. My poor husband. I can't even imagine what was going on in his mind. He was probably looking up the numbers to a loony bin to admit me to. He was so wonderful though and just let me cry and held me and loved me. He was my voice for me because I couldn't communicate with others because I was just crying and crying. He called my mom and told her to come back when I asked him to. He then called my doctor on my prompting to get me some help! (I have to interject here with a shout out to my mommy! She dropped everything and came right up when Josh called her. She came in with bags of groceries and made sure we ate. She kept the house tidy and tended my precious bundle while Josh and I tried to catch up with our Z's. She is my hero. She was my lifesaver. Thank you Mom. I don't know if I could ever express how much I needed you then and how so grateful I am that you were there.)

Luckily, this kind of thing happens quite often to women. The doctor told Josh to come right on up to his office and get some "happy" pills I as affectionately called them. They were a lifesaver. They didn't take away the pain completely, but they help me so much that I could start working though things on my own. I was only on the pills for a week or two. I think my body was just so out of balance, hormones were off the charts crazy, and I just needed a little help getting realigned. Thank goodness for medicine. I am no Tom Cruise on this matter and I know what I felt was real and that I needed help. If I kept going how I was I don't know if I ever would have gotten back on track. I am glad I was not too "proud" to seek help. That saved my life.

So slowly but surely things started to get better. The first 3 months were so hard. All of these people would say "Oh aren't kids so much fun!" "Isn't being a mom the best!"...and I would just smile a nod but in my head I was saying "Are you kidding me? What is fun about all of this?" I was wondering if I was alone...all the other mommies seemed to be having so much fun. What was wrong with me? I was so disappointed in myself. I had high expectations of the mother I would be...and here I was at rock bottom just trying to make it day to day.

Over the next year things got a lot better! Once Carter started getting more independent things got easier. He was never the newborn baby that slept all of the time. He started out active and ready to go! That was tough because I never got to nap. He always wanted something and wanted me in the room...if I wasn't there or giving him what he wanted he would scream. I remember once I decided to watch a movie...it took me about 8 hours to finally get the movie watched because of the demands of Carter. Once he started moving though and could get things he wanted (in some respects) I was able to have more free time (which means being in the Kitchen while Carter is in the living room) Things have progressed a lot since then. However, I think it seriously took until Carter was 17 months old to feel like my body(hormone wise) was finally back to normal. I had episodes over those months were I would be so happy and then just all of the sudden be so blue. I fought off all of those feelings myself though by self-talk and talking to others.

Now I am scared to death to have baby number 2. I have heard many times that depression gets worse with each child. I never want to feel that way again! That was the worse feeling I have ever experienced. I was not in control...I was in a dark, sad place that I never want to visit again. At least now I am aware and will be prepared for next time. I am finally at a place now where I can think about trying for another baby...it was a long road...it took a long time...but I am finally there!

Carter is amazing. I am upset about how things started...how it wasn't ideal and I didn't have the feelings so many of my friends who were new mothers were having. But I can honestly say I would do it all over again for him. I love him so much. He makes me laugh everyday and his smile just sends flutters right to my heart. He is so much fun. We do have tons of adventures and so many good times...but being a mother is still the hardest job I have ever had.

I wrote this because I felt I needed to tell my story. I never wrote it down. I felt so alone. Everyone kept telling me how wonderful their lives were and I couldn't relate at the time. I do know that other women can relate to me. That is why I wrote this. Because I wasn't alone...but this is just something that doesn't get talked about enough. Often times people will pretend all is well...when really the best thing we could do for ourselves is be honest. By being honest we find truth in all aspects of our lives.

Julie and I were talking about how everyone's blogs are always so much sunshine and smiley faces (which is a good thing! People blog about what makes them happy)...but we decided a little honesty and showing the rough times, and vulnerability might be a benefit to ourselves and others as well.

So here ya go! This is one for the records! If you made it through this thank you for sticking with me!

I recommend the above mentioned book and will most likely comment on it again. If any of you read it...lets have a discussion session.

To all you shiny, happy mothers...keep on sparkling...you are good at what you do. To everyone else...no need to pretend. There are a lot of us in the same boat who could use a friend to vent to who understands where we are coming from...all judgments aside...to let us know we are still sane and we are good mothers. In the end we all love our children and want what is best for them...we just want to be happy doing it.


Ashley said...

I'll be honest, I am not jealous. Dave and I both thought that I would probably get depressed after I had Kinsey and I was very glad that I didnt after hearing your story! Ugg. I would be scared for baby number two also! The main problem I had that I feel bad about is when Kinsey would wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning I would despise her. I used to be a big sleeper. I loved to sleep in as long as bloody felt like, and when that was ripped away from me...boo. At first I didnt mind becasue it was all new, but after a while it got old and I would just scream in my pillow and stomp my feet against my mattress (yes, like a three year old) because I wanted to get all my frusteration out before I went to get her out of her crib. Now, she sleeps like a champ, so I don't have to many problems with that anymore. Now you know my dirty secrets:)

Bradbury Trio said...

Thanks for sharing Laura (although, you should warn people to maybe have a kleenex near by before reading!)I had no clue this was how you felt. I had the blues for the first week is all, so I can't imagine feeling that way for months...bless your heart! I remember a sister in the ward brought over dinner to us and she asked how I was...and I just burst into tears, so bad I couldn't breathe...ya know the huhuhuhuh. But then in a minute I would be fine. It's so weird how our hormones go through so much! You are such a wonderful Mother! You are so much fun, and Carter is so blessed to have you!! I think a lot of people do paint a picture worrying that they can't be honest or they'll feel judged! I might go get this book, I would love to be in on a discussion about it! Thanks again for sharing...I love you Laurita!!!

julie said...

How ironic! I just started a blog. And I mentioned the honesty thing, before I read your blog! So there ya have it! So go check out my blog. And I love you. :)

Cheri said...

I have to say, I've been lucky. I've had a lot of girl friends get post partum depression and I guess as I've not experianced it, I'm not able to fully understand. I can understand that it's a real, physical problem and I can have sympathy and commpassion, but I can't empathize as I've never gone through it. I really, truly hope your next baby is a wonderful experiance all around. Honestly, the time when I felt like (word that rhymes with Bell) is when I'm pregnant. Constantly being deathly sick and puking several times every day for almost a whole year is probably the worst thing I'll ever go through. So I'm afraid that after having gone through that nightmarish experiance for the third time, my blogs will be full of nothing but sunshine because the sun has truly come back out for me now that Lily is out. However, if you want to read my more witchy posts, go to my post November blogs.

The Van Noys said...

Don't get me wrong...I love reading about sunshine and smiley faces! I love to hear the good happenings in people's lives...I just want women to feel like they can talk about the rough times and not feel like they always have to paint a picture of perfection and "have-it-all together-ness" attitude.

I am certainly happy that most those who have read this haven't had to experience what I went through...I wouldn't wish that on anyone! Cheri, I can't empathize with you on the rough pregnancy...but I am really glad it all ended for you once Lily was born!

Thank you to the four of you have read and commented! I love you all!

Cheri said...

Love you too, and I agree completely.

Todd & Laura said...

Laura, you are so great...and why not, you have the best name ever! :-) I so love your honesty and wish I would have known you better in high school. But it is fun to know you now through your blog. Say hi to Josh for me!

Annie & Jake said...

Hi Laura. This was a really good post. I appreciate how honest you were. I can't relate just yet to any of the baby issues but I can tell you've been through a lot, so thanks for sharing. You have inspired me to be more honest on my own blog--living abraod is great but it's probably not as easy or as glamorous as I may make it seem so from now on I'll talk about the good and the bad...equally as important and definitely more true to real life!

Mommy said...

Oh, Laura, I so understand. I've been through some rollercoaster moments since our girl was born, and it's really rough going. It's hard enough to have the chemicals in your body freaking out, but then we add the guilt for feeling the way we do and it's like, hey! Want to come to a my-life-sucks party? I'm so sorry you had to endure it too. The meds can really help, like you said. My mother-in-law would say, "It's like walking around with a broken leg. You can do it, but it'll hurt like crazy and you COULD be a lot happier. So why not go get a cast and some crutches?" That's how I think of the "happy pills," as you call them!

It really is good to know others feel this way. I had no idea how valuable that could be until K was born. I, too, was looking around and just seeing the idealized moms, looking so happy, in control and most of all, RESTED! But you know, I'll bet they spent some time those mornings using concealer over their baggy eyes, too, I just couldn't see it.

Anyway, it looks like you're doing great. Carter is so adorable! Congratulations on starting your family.


CwazyLawa said...

Oh Laura I know so many people that would benefit in reading this! I totally agree that honesty helps everyone. Back before I got pregnant was when I was having a hard time- it took us 3 1/2 years to have a successful pregnancy and I felt SO alone. People just don't talk about that stuff I guess, but I NEEDED to!
So props to you in being forthward in your story (even though different than mine - but it helps me understand the ppd thing). I know it'll help others. :) Glad you're back to feeling like yourself. Love your blog.

Lara (and JD and Jax)

Kristin, Jeff, and Michael said...

I'm so glad you shared your story! I love the honesty! And you!! Thanks for your input on Michael! And I am also glad that I wasn't the only one that had a hard time after having a baby! Mine was more with recovering and no sleep and very hormonal but...you know! I know we have talked about this before but It was really nice to hear it again. And Casey looked so Beautiful! I am sad that I didn't get to come to her Reception...:( Tell her I love her and congrats!

The Dayley Fam said...

You don't know me, but I am a friend of Nickie Bradbury. I came across your blog when I was reading hers. I felt compelled to comment about what you said.

My son was born in March '07 (he was a big one, too, at 9 lbs, 13oz)and I struggled for a very long time after he was born. My husband and I tried to have a baby for 5 years before we were finally blessed with our son and it was a horrible feeling to go from wishing and hoping and dreaming of motherhood to wishing him away once he was born. I felt like the world's worst mom and I felt truly and completely alone.

Why am I telling this to a total stranger? :-)

I just wanted to thank you for putting some honesty out there for all to see. I wish more people were upfront anf frank about what motherhood can feel like and how it doesn't always match our ideals. I appreciate your story and felt far less alone while reading it than I have in a very long time. Thank you.