I am beyond thrilled to introduce to you the very first regular contributor to My Postpartum Voice. Miranda and I met via Twitter and #PPDChat. She blogs regularly over at Not Super Just Mom in addition to hanging out on Twitter, teaching, being a Mom and a wife. I hope y’all will enjoy reading Miranda’s voice as much as I have. Welcome aboard, Miranda!
I spent the first year of my diagnosis alone and hurting, partly because I was too stubborn to reach out and partly because I didn’t know there were so many people to whom I could reach out. My only two sources of support were my mom and my husband, and neither had much experience in dealing with postpartum. (By “much experience” I mean “none experience.”)
And then I found Twitter. And Twitter brought me people like Lauren. And Lauren has given me the opportunity to help her help you.
So here I am, nearly two years out. And the cool thing about this is that PPD/A isn’t a war I’ve lost. If anything, I’d say I’ve pretty well conquered my main demon—anxiety. I have WAY more good days than bad lately. I find myself rolling through toddler tantrums like a seasoned professional, despite the fact that he’s not two yet and the fun hasn’t really even begun (or so I hear).
But the relative goodness of my life right now doesn’t mean that I’m scott-free and that I never have to worry about anxiety. There are setbacks. I still fight battles. And those battles still frustrate me. And if I’m not careful, that frustration leads to nastiness and anger and guilt and ::insert your negative emotions here::.
As I write this, we’re on our first full day of a long-weekend getaway with friends. No internet. No cell phones. No noise. It’s quiet here. Peaceful. Relaxing. Or at least it should be.
We are WAY outside our normal routine, y’all. Way.
And that’s when things get hairy for me.
Joshua fought me on his nap yesterday. We spent the morning traveling, practically throwing Joshua in the car the minute he woke up. We arrived and he explored our cabin and then it was time for a nap. Dan and his friend were gone to the grocery store to get supplies. My friend was upstairs tending to her toddler. And Joshua and I were downstairs in our bedroom with me quickly spiraling into a case of Mama Fail because he wouldn’t settle down and take a nap, despite the fact that we both knew he needed to sleep.
He cried. I put a pillow over my head. He cried harder. I felt my throat clench up. I got up and patted his butt in the pack-n-play. He settled. My throat unclenched. I turned to go back to the bed. He cried again. My spine stiffened and my mind started racing. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! Wash. Rinse. Repeat. For nearly 45 minutes. And there was no one here to help me through it. There was just me and Joshua, figuring this out like we’ve done time and time again.
I can’t stand to let Joshua cry. It’s one of my triggers. Colic and reflux made sure that he spent the early months of his life screaming his little baby lungs out. And the early months of his life were, by far, my worst. When he screams, I go into fight or flight mode just like I did two years ago. I get irrational. And cranky. And angry. And hurt.
Why can’t I fix this!? What is wrong with me!? Why does he hate me!? WHY ME??
Do you see what’s wrong with those questions?
The questions are completely irrational, folks.
I can’t fix anything about this situation unless I never leave my house again or never break our usual, customary routine.
Nothing is wrong with me. I am not broken.
My son does NOT hate me. He’s too little to even know what hate is. And if I have it my way, he won’t know what hate is. It’s certainly not something I plan to teach him.
There is nothing I’ve done or not done to deserve this. Nothing. This is punishment for any wrongdoing in this or any other life I may have lived.
It’s times like this that I have to remind myself that I am a mother. A mother with postpartum anxiety and depression, yes, but a mother. I am not postpartum depression and anxiety first and a mother second.
Yesterday afternoon, I got a sippy of milk and brought Joshua to bed with me. I got him settled down and he eventually flipped over onto his stomach, head on my shoulder, and I sang to him the song I always sing to him when he’s crying.
“Don’t worry…about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright.”
And it was.
We napped together, Mama and son, curled up on the same pillow, for two hours. And when we woke up and he smiled, my soul smiled back.
I know that I have what it takes to cope with setbacks in my progress. I know that setbacks are going to happen. I never expected to just wake up one morning and POOF! no more postpartum. That’s unrealistic. But I also know that everything? Is pretty alright most of the time. And “most of the time” gives me the strength I need for the times when things aren’t okay.
It will be.
This may have been the past two years of my life. This may be my now from time to time. But postpartum is not my forever. It’s not yours either.
Every little thing is going to be alright.
Miranda is a wife, mother, teacher, daughter, friend, and NOT a super mom. At best, and worst, she’s average. But with a cape and tiara? She could probably save the world. She blogs about life as a mom and wife and PPD/A survivor at the blog Not Super…Just Mom.