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.