Within the past week, I have devoured all things ’round me. This isn’t abnormal, for I tend to over-indulge in all life’s jaunts; an Eat-All-The-Frosting, Lick-That-Plate-Clean kind of feline, I am. But this week, my equilibrium is off from an ongoing ear infection in my deaf ear (oxymoron, I say). Alas, this infection was not the result of swimming with mermaids or running with the wind up/down dunes. Nope. It’s an unseen yet painful infection that rears at its fancy–much like Postpartem Depression. (Or PPD for the women that can’t bear to say they are or were once in any state of depression. Because they’ve been made to feel that that would be selfish or unappreciative of the little bonnie gift housed in their arms. Saying, “I might have PPD” is not only quicker, but oh-so easier to swallow for the strong, sturdy, and maybe even stubborn momma.)
Within the past week, I have felt out of control, that my body was not my own, much like I did when my babe was born.
I am the second floor of a quaint farmhouse. You can buy me but you won’t. See I come with mold under my sub-floors–the result of disuse, of neglect. No one was watching and yet anyone would know. “Let’s just have a look,” they say, the people standing on me, paying me in visits. Then they leave, their plastic water bottles strewn about my anterior spaces.
What I have felt this week recalls my emotional head-space after having my sweet babe:
At night, when Monster Bear wakes (yes, he still doesn’t sleep through the night, and yes, we have tried everything, and no, I refuse to let him Cry-It-Out), my inner ear is a-fire as I try to balance my feet on our wooden floor, clawing my way to his room, all the while just wishing someone would let me cry, hold me, and take care of us all, man-woman-child.
In the morning, when I need to dress and put my face on, but my head feels heavier, engorged like the fat oranges atop our counter.
In the afternoon, when Monster Bear is getting groggy and headbutts my jaw, searing my left side issuing forth white lightning bolts of pain.
It is all too reminiscent of my babe’s first year, where I dove headfirst into my breastfeeding duties to avoid the shameful realities of no longer resembling the woman I had worked so damned hard at becoming. The writer. The dancer. The wife. The friend. The companion. The lover of all things-life. It took every bit of me to play prom queen when people dropped by. It took every part of me to smile, telling everyone my arms held little substance before holding my darling babe. Which was true. And still is. Yet, I couldn’t fully celebrate his blissful being because I was so damned lost within the rabbit holes of breastfeeding, of waking all wee hours, of cleaning and re-cleaning every little confining space we called “home.”
Writing this feels good.
Because it is whole and right and not a bit laced with fiction like I normally dwell in, in order to avoid hurting/offending anyone, in order to bear the weight of my life decisions–the load-bearing wall everyone wants to rip out, to reconfigure. What worries me most is that I, and this post, are in medias res. A trifle ear infection is not the sole narrative, here. The true narrative regards the moments every mother hides, and few are starting to write about. That’s what I wish to get at, for I recall too often feeling like I must silently carry on like mothers before me. I never did seek guidance. Always the stubborn beast, I saw therapy as weakness, and if ever I felt close to imploding, I’d walk down to the basement and throw and kick and punch the piles of laundry until I felt good enough to venture back upstairs, back to the life that is mine.
A little after Monster Bear’s first birthday, I joined a local gym where mommas flock to, in part because of the daycare provided onsite. I started leaving sweaty palm prints on the treadmill, the elliptical, the biking contraption. I attended various classes where I felt inadequate in front of the gigantic mirror that reflected trim nike-clad fembots who’d memorized each routine, each side glance turned inward. For the better part of that year, Monster Bear and I went to the gym six times a week. Apart from looking slimmer, I had also gained
weight muscle and a newfound obsession with workout gear and precisely how much each part of myself jiggled. One morning I woke to find all of my gym-like motivations shoved in the laundry basket along with my workout leggings. While daily gym jaunts busied my day, it wasn’t the kind of healing, the kind of environment I needed to combat PPD.
Fate: a few months later, I found my brainwaves immersed in a story. I hunted down paper + pen, wheeeee! That little diddy led me to my laptop and with some effort, back to my old bones. (This makes my “recovery” sound equal parts magic and ease. Alas, the story of my full recovery is meant for another post. What is truly significant here is that I had PPD, and that other mommas should know that it is more than fine to bare witness to each and every emotion you may feel in association to bringing your wee one into the world.)
Albeit reckless and wrong, for years I have self-medicated through vitamins, food, even yoga. If my stomach is sour, I have a bit of toast. If I’m feeling anxious with work, I stuff myself with peanut M&Ms. If I can’t sleep, I sit up and practice my breathing, eight seconds in and eight seconds out. And if that doesn’t work, I drop into a few yoga poses until I’m yawning.
But let me inform you, new momma of one or three or five, that you are not even remotely alone in your new day-to-day. For I am here. And when all of the bread, cocoa, and happy baby poses in the world aren’t sorting you out, please call on me. I am by no means a professional, but I have been to the darkest corners of losing your heart palps for life while taking care of your wee one(s). And I will do my damnedest to help you find your own road back to who you are, who you wish to be, you beautiful mother-woman. You are so loved. Here’s to hoping we mother-women strike balance both in and out of true time.
Mommas: if you’re silently riding the crazy waves that are PPD, or pre or post-natal depression, and just need to engage in any form, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are so loved, and I appreciate you.