I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t an Aha! moment or even an acknowledgement of these individual feelings of confusion and loss and grief. My life was over. At least, the only life I had ever known was over. It was no longer going to be my own and I would be expected to share everything with another human being. I would be expected to love someone more intensely than ever before, so much so that I’d be willing to die for them. Or that’s what would be expected of me, at least. I would be expected to make a connection, an emotional attachment so powerful that only others like me could ever understand it. Oh, so you’re one, too? Then you know exactly what I’m talking about! But that never happened to me, or for me. Or however it was supposed to happen. I felt like I’d already failed.
I fell into a deep, deep mourning. The kind of mourning that leads you to solitary confinement in your closet, your body heaving in sobs and your eyes so dry because there’s nothing left. In every sense of the word, there is nothing left of you. The kind of mourning that makes you cradle your belly and cry for the helpless person inside of you because you can’t get your shit together enough to even leave the house. The kind of mourning that leaves you so panic stricken and on edge because you know something is wrong but all of your friends are telling you It’s normal. Because, while you’re a big, sobbing hormonal mess – you still have enough sense in your broken state of mind to know something is really, REALLY wrong here.
Nobody seemed to be as worried as I was. This worried me even more. It was almost like I was asking my friends, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and, because no friend wants to hurt another friend’s feelings, the usual response would be, ”Wow! You look great!”
For pretty much the last trimester of my pregnancy, I was running around asking people, ”Am I a freakin’ looneytoon?!!” to which the usual response would be, “No! It’s totally normal!”
They lied. I was a freakin’ looneytoon.
My doctor diagnosed with me post-partum depression (more like a pre-post-partum depression) and started me on an anti-depressant 6 weeks before my scheduled c-section. He assured me that the 6 weeks would be sufficient time to allow the drugs to kick in and give me some kind of an emotional crutch for the difficult weeks that are expected after giving birth. Like my pregnancy, the c-section itself was riddled with difficulties and complications. My epidural was pumped up because I wouldn’t get completely numb. When your body begins to return to normalcy after certain anesthesia are administered, your breathing becomes muddled and slow and heavy and scary. I’d just had a baby, for crissakes! Can I please just get some air!? The nurses placed my minutes-old daughter on my chest so I could get a good look at her before she was whisked away for examination.
The first words my daughter ever heard me speak were, “Get this baby off of me! Get her off of me!”
Not really a great start. It had nothing to do with not wanting her and it had everything to do with wanting to breathe. Already I was worried about being labeled a bad mom. I’d just told my kid to take a hike.
Ironically, when my own mother gave birth to me nearly 25 years earlier, she was given the option of keeping me in her hospital room so we could bond. My mother told them to take me out of the room, if only so she could actually get some rest. However, it’s in my chart as: MOTHER REFUSED CHILD.
This always makes me feel better.
Though my mother suffered from some depression after having us kids, she didn’t suffer from the same kind I suffered from…the throw-your-baby-out-the-window kind of depression. I give alot of credit to Brooke Shields for bringing it out in the open, allowing people like us to not feel like freaks and horrible mothers and being able to talk about it. I hope I can somehow help another soon-to-be mom through the craziness of being crazy.
The crazy doesn’t last too long, though. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is, at least in my case, I pretty much stood around for a good 9 months waiting for Elle’s real mother to come pick her up from my apartment. There was no bond. I didn’t have it while I was pregnant and I certainly didn’t develop one with her immediately after she was born. It was a difficult time, for everyone involved.
It’s pretty obvious that my kid means the world to me now. I can’t stop talking about her or thinking about her or worrying about her or wondering about her. I sometimes like when she kicks the bedroom wall in her sleep and wakes me from mine because of that damn thump, but all that means is that she’s with me. Right next door to me. And she’ll be there the next morning asking for strawberries and sugar, chocolate milk, french toast, and a hug from me. Her mother.