“No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it,” he said. “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” – Rubeus Hagrid
Evelyn Rose Brownlee entered the world surrounded by Dutch salutations and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me”.
It was a Gentle Caesarean (get with it, America). So, we were allowed to play our own soundtrack while lavender was diffused throughout our quaint, aseptic surroundings. My second rodeo; the biggest difference this time (besides doing the deed in a foreign country), was that she was handed to me immediately upon arrival, ready to rock a tit.
I had lost a lot of blood. Too much blood, I was told in Dutch/English—Dutlish?, Engltch?—neither sounds/looks pleasant, but the message was made clear in their heavy eyes. My husband just stared at them as they discussed my options for a transfusion. Scary stuff.
I wasn’t scared.
She was here. She had made it. And she was mine.
For the first time in almost two years, I wasn’t overcome with unnecessary dread or worry. I trusted that everything would be fine. Because I was concentrating on something else, something beautiful. And when I looked at my spawn, I wasn’t filled with some hopeless, scary feeling (which I did I have with my son and I fully expected to experience again). I was giddy. But I suppose excessive blood loss can do that to a gal.
Also, dem drugs were strong, cher. No complaints here. I knew the panic would come soon enough, so I sat and listened to my husband talk to the doctors.
They would wait on the transfusion. Good decision since my blood count would kick ass later in the day.
And our newest doll was perfect. Sticky. Sleepy. And only a little impatient with the lack of boob time.
She looked like her dad.
This was my second Caesarean. But world’s better than the first. The pain, still intense, but expected. And handled better; even with significantly less medication.
We had three visitors during the hospital stay. Compared to the 129872 for my son’s birth in the states. Things were different. Obviously.
So, I waited. I waited for the anxiety to hit. I figured it would come and reintroduce itself with a slap across the face, as soon as I got home and was officially on my own with a newborn and a toddler.
And I kept waiting.
At the beginning, with my son, the thought of being alone with him was more dreadful than many of the circumstances I made up in my head. I imagined a million things happening that would be out of my control and I would be the one they blamed. It would be MY fault that I hadn’t double, triple-checked every possible harmful situation before placing him in his crib. Or before heading to the park. Or before hiring the sitter. Or before breathing…
With my daughter, I just felt lighter. The burden, guilt, doubt, fear — not gone, but not as present or loud.
I even found time to shit in peace.
The first four months after Evie entered the world were the sweetest I have ever known as a mother. And the first time in my life that I felt I might actually become a good mom. Not one merely content on keeping my children alive; I wanted to really live with them, do crazy shit like not check the monitor every 5 minutes and forget to pre-chew their food (kind of joking). And I began to look at the future without such a horrific sense of foreboding; I began to feel peace. And excitement. Certain things that my first bout of postpartum anxiety had tried so hard to rob me from.
I felt like I finally understood what my fellow mama friends were talking about. Any why someone might want to have 5+ kids.
Of course, because I am human, I had to rationalize all of this and I assumed most of this new bliss was just a result of this being my second go ‘round with a child. That’s why things were different, better, than before. Because now, I was MOTHER: calmer of all tantrums, champion of bath time, expertly executing the perfect breast out/tit on maneuver at brunch without anyone noticing.
Get this. People even starting asking ME for advice. Like, you know what girl, you totally look like you slept at least 3.75 hours last night and you are getting shittttt donnnneeee with two kids on your hip. Come ova here and tell me your secrets while I buy you a beer and comb your hair.
My fantasies are significantly less kinky than they use to be. But, you get it.
Sure. There were still worries. But I politely told them to CALM DA FUCK DOWN.
At least, for those first four months.
She decided she loved to sleep. The beauty queen would attempt to sleep allllll night long. And I was more rested than I had been in years. I should have just smiled and poured my wine. But. That little nagging inner asshole voice would start in, “hmm… do you think she might be sleeping too much, maybe you should be concerned. Oh, fuck. Is she even breathing…”
I felt myself slipping.
Anxiety runs in my family. I have seen people I love more than anything, suffer. I have seen them try to rationalize before finally accepting and seeking the care they need.
They were so brave.
I didn’t want to be.
And for awhile, I thought I could ignore it.
And then, right when I was becoming quite cozy in my ignorance, shit hit the fan and then the fan fell on my head and the aforementioned shit found its way into my children’s food and no one ever found us again.
In other words, the anxiety returned.
Let me paint the motha fucking picture.
It’s 3:00 AM and my husband is in Paris. All week. The lucky bastard.
My 2.5 year old is screaming for me to come get him out of his room. My 6 month old, who sleeps right next to my bed in a bassinet (and will continue to do so until she is 1, because SIDS scare is basically the worst friend of an anxious mama), was also awakened by my son’s screams. I am tired. So fucking tired. Because I have been getting up every hour since 8:30 PM with one of my tiny tyrants. No coffee. No wine. But I can see thoughts. Smell words. And I am pretty sure I’m drunk texting friends and I haven’t drank anything since Saturday.
And both kids are crying. Loudly. A duet.
I am sitting in the hallway. Between the two rooms, currently keeping my children hostage. Not sure what to do. Softly singing, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” to myself as I rock gently back and forth.
And this is the moment where I realize I can’t do this. I am terrified because I know this means I will be a mess tomorrow without sleep. And I’m nervous something will happen in my delirious state. And it will just be me, them, and Frozen on repeat all fucking day.
I can’t breathe.
I start imagining all the shit that can go wrong. Tomorrow. I can’t even concentrate on what is going on right now.
I go to my son’s room first. Calm him down. Tell him I will be right back. Go to my daughter. Stick my boob in her mouth. Literally, the only thing I have any energy for. She falls asleep. As if given permission, my son starts wailing immediately. I run to his room with the monitor.
I guess we all end up sleeping. At 6:00 AM — the day begins. And I am more hopeful than I was at 3:00 AM.
I have many more nights like that. I still have nights like that. And that incident was almost two years ago.
But I’m still here. So are they. And I’ve added a whole lot of good and awesome and wondrous things to this journey.
I talk about my anxiety a lot. Maybe, too much. And that’s a good thing.
A few important things happened that contributed to me handling my shit better:
1) A new friend. Her name was Nicole. I am fairly certain she would punch someone in the tit if I asked her to. If provoked, of course.
2) Noticing something was wrong and immediately being vocal about it. I don’t even care if I made that barista uncomfortable.
3) My son actually showing independence and becoming a little human being. THIS was a game-changer. You mean I don’t have to play with you 24/7!? Hell yeh, put on mama’s stories and peace out, my small friend.
And your new mantra: It. Gets. Better. It. Gets. Better. It. Gets. Better.
I wish I had prettier words or more diagrams to show you. Something tangible that you can believe in.
But. I can offer you these truths: You are not alone in feeling like this. You are not crazy for feeling like this. You are not less of a mother for feeling like this.
The first season of motherhood is a real shit storm of emotions. It pours down. Some glorious broads, dance through it without catching a single drop. I, however, was almost washed away. And I was supposed to be a good swimmer.
I can’t recall the first time I heard about Postpartum Anxiety.
I can tell you that after thoroughly researching it, I knew I had it, and I was happy.
Happy, because I had a name for what I was feeling. Happy, because it was the first step towards something better.
For most things, I am an open book. Ask away. Leaky tits; pull up a chair. Poop around balls issues; pour the coffee. Don’t know what the fuck you are doing; join my club, we have snacks.
This matter was no different. I wanted to talk about it. Needed to talk about it.
And this is me, being pretty dramatic and talking about it. On a blog.
To be completely transparent here, I know it’s one of the biggest reasons I am not ready for another child. Why I might never be. I am finally at a good place managing my anxiety and being a mother. My children are 4 and 2 and I’ve been a mom long enough to realize that worrying will always be in our house, but it does not have to rule it.
So, no new baby yet. I am enjoying the extra sleep too much. I just really miss those boobs.
Part three is next. And it’s the last part (for now). If you missed part one, read it here.
Oh, and the next part begins with policemen finding a criminal hiding under my back porch.
This shit writes itself, folks.