PPD. PPA. PTSD. PPP. How many acronyms can we label a post-partum momma with to make her feel overburdened on top of her usual burdens?
Post-partum stuff totally sucks. I can’t even begin to explain how it feels to be caught between the joy of a newborn and the darkness of PPD/PPA. I have no official diagnosis, mostly because I have carried these burdens on my own with the support of my husband and friends who have been there. My doctor never asked how I was feeling emotionally. No nurse ever called to see if I was doing okay. I went to 3 appointments- 5 day staple removal, 2 week incision check, and 6 week release check. And not once did someone mention my emotional state.
Even though I was screaming inside.
For me, post-partum stuff didn’t start until little man was about 4 weeks old. The first 4 weeks of his life were spent in and out of the hospital and I was so focused on making him healthy and strong that I didn’t think about myself or my void. I had a purpose- it was taking care of his medical needs. But then we were released from the final hospital and I was home with this baby by myself. Hubs was back to work full-time(ish). Family had come and gone. It was just me and Baby J. And it was dark and lonely.
I would spend midnight to 4am either sobbing while Baby J cried in my arms or stuffing my anxious belly with crackers and snacks. It would swing from uncontrollable sadness to the kind of anxiety that makes your skin crawl and your belly clench. The first week of feeling like this, I hid things. I didn’t want my husband to worry- he had to be focused at work and needed sleep. So I spent those nights alone in the nursery or on the couch. My baby wouldn’t sleep and I couldn’t sleep when baby slept during the day so I was beyond sleep deprived.
Finally, I broke. For 4 weeks, I had spent every moment with or near this child. I had not been away for longer than the length of a speed shower. And even then, my brain was constantly engaged around baby- my body was a physical reminder that I could not escape the major change that happened in our lives. I had the stretch marks, leaky boobs, and C-section scar to make sure I never forgot who I was living for.
For Target. For an hour.
But I still left. And enjoyed that hour to myself to clear my head of the new chaos in my life. I have no idea if I bought anything, but I remember the drive away from the house that night with no baby in tow. No crying in the background. No demanding child. It was just me. I could just be me.
Baby J is almost 5 months now and I have struggled off and on with this. Every so often, I hit my breaking point and call out to my husband that I can’t go on. The overwhelming darkness seeps in and I have to fight to get out again. Sometimes it’s a few hours away at work or a quick trip to the store. Sometimes it’s setting baby in his crib and walking away.
Personally, I don’t want to take any meds for my post-partum stuff. I know that therapy is recommended, but I can’t find the time. Therapy only works if I can take that time to not be mom and just be me. But finding a block of time each week to do that feels more overwhelming than dealing with my issue. I am working on doing a better job of advocating for myself. My motto lately is that I am taking care of everyone while no one is taking care of me. And that includes myself- I have done a terrible job in the last 5 months of taking care of myself (other than my actual physical recovery).
So today, I searched for part-time nannies and called a maid service. I don’t have the final answers yet but I am hopeful that I can find a routine and feel organized. Being a work-from-home mom is an incredible blessing. I took a conference call holding my sleeping baby this morning. I am here for him 24/7 and able to support our family financially. All that extra love, as my mother-in-law says. But it is also an incredible challenge to be here 24/7. To lose the separation of mom versus Lindsey versus career woman. At most moments, I am all things rolled into one. The lack of separation leaves my brain fried and my soul feeling a little suffocated at times.
I know that things get easier over time. I know that having a high needs baby won’t feel like chaos forever. I know that I will find a path at home that makes sense for us- whether it is someone coming in a few days per week or a daycare or something. I started working from home to avoid full-time daycare, but I know that doesn’t mean I can do this 24/7 on my own. I have to have a village to help and right now, I am searching for the right members in my village.
I’m not sure what my answer is for the post-partum stuff. Will it resolve on its own? Will I find a solution in getting outside help more regularly? Will I rot my brain with coffee? I really don’t know. But I know that I am not alone. Work-from-home, stay-at-home, working-outside-the-home moms, we all struggle. Hormones suck. Pregnancy is hard. Motherhood is freaking overwhelming. Babies cry. Babies don’t sleep. Babies teeth. We are not alone in this battle.
We were made for this battle. We were made for the fight to be the best moms and the best wives and the best daughters and the best employees. We were made to stand up and say we can do this. To inspire other moms. To fight for other moms. We were made for motherhood. And we can do this.