the one that’s hard to write

It’s taken me a while to write this post, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to write it. But as a writer, this is how we heal. Writing, in a weird sense, gives permission to move forward. So here I am, writing this post, in a place where moving forward seems hopeful and happy.

Postpartum depression is a real thing, happening to around 3 million moms each year, some may even be reading this right now. When my son was born, I found myself in unknown territory that went beyond the baby blues. The feelings of being inadequate, hopeless, sad, resentful and even selfish overwhelmed my already stressed out mind.

I knew something wasn’t right early on. I had plenty of help, my baby was sleeping well, and although I was recovering from a c-section and my toddler was adjusting to a new situation, she handled not being the center of attention better than expected. Yet with all of that, I was sad all the time. I wasn’t connecting with my son while also feeling an aching need to spend more time with my daughter. When I had the opportunity to do either of those things, I wanted to crawl under the thickest blanket and hibernate instead. I constantly reached out to friends and family to see how their life was going in order to give me some kind of normalcy to the whirlwind I was inhabiting.

The many questions of the unknown would constantly travel to a negative, dark place and grow branches at warp speed. My daughter and I had found our groove as a twosome. Having a newborn on top of an active toddler seemed so daunting that I was afraid I would never leave the house again or have fun with my kids. For the first time since becoming a mom, the idea of going back to work in an office and leaving my kids with someone other than me seemed interesting, almost exciting, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the struggles of caring for two children on my own. I stopped doing things with my toddler even though my mom was there to watch my son, because I was just too tired, too sad and felt hopeless.

At first the depression centered around my daughter. Not being there for her, not being able to hang with her and do fun things at the drop of a hat because of my son. My husband and I always wanted more kids, and we were certain that adding to our kid quota was the best thing we could do for our family. In all of that certainty, I wasn’t able to shake off the sadness with enough vigor to look at anything in a positive light. As the depression continued, I started to feel selfish about those feelings. I remember one evening my husband took my daughter outside to play while I held my sleeping son on my chest, my favorite baby thing in the whole world. In a matter of seconds I was sobbing, feeling every emotion I possibly could in relation to my son. I felt selfish. Selfish for having negative feelings. Selfish for wanting to spend time with my daughter, selfish for not taking the time to rock him to sleep or spend every waking minute of my day with my new human. After all, this world is big and bright and loud and as his number one protector, I couldn’t give him my undivided attention. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

I ended up seeing a therapist that specialized in postpartum depression. I appreciated her stance on not wanting to put me on drugs right away (a lot of them wanted to do that at our first meeting) and listened to my plea for help on sorting through these feelings so that I could be the strong mom my kids needed me to be and the strong woman that I needed me to be. She urged me to be present in every moment with both of them, no matter what the context and no matter what feelings they would conjure up. After a couple of sessions and a crap load of money later, I was starting to feel like myself again.

Being a mom of two kids is already tough, and I still have feelings of not being enough for both kids and asking for help. Both demand my full attention in completely different capacities, and that’s hard. I struggle with splitting my time when I’m outnumbered on the daily, but we are finding a groove that works for all of us. After 3 months I finally ventured outside the neighborhood by myself with both kids. I needed to do that on my own, at my own pace, in order to move forward.

My family and friends have been super supportive and non-judgmental throughout this whole ordeal and I owe them so much gratitude for that. They loved me until I was me again. The topic of postpartum depression is being discussed more and more without the stigma of weakness or mental illness. It’s more common than we think, and the best thing that can be offered is a listening ear while walking through the fog.

My kids won’t remember this rough time in their lives, but I will. I still struggle with the daily demands of a newborn and active toddler and being enough, but I look forward to the memories we will build as a family and the friendship they will form as brother and sister. I make time to spend with my son and daughter individually so I feel like they are getting just me for a while, something that I think helps both of our souls.

One day at a time.

photo credit: Rosie Parket Photography

the sound of silence

Newborn. Toddler. Dog. Husband. Right now all 4 are sleeping, taking naps to re-charge for the rest of the day (except my dog, that’s all she does these days).

I’m on my keyboard, that being the only sound aside from the snores of my beagle and the air conditioner. I miss this silence. When things are quiet and I can actually sit with my own thoughts, embracing and soaking in the stillness. It doesn’t last long.

At this particular time we are maneuvering the demands of a toddler and the needs of a newborn. Both happening at the same time, and both carrying the same amount of importance and priority. My husband’s paternity leave is ending this weekend and on Monday it’s me + the kids. God help me. Oh, and did I mention we decided to potty train my toddler this weekend? Yeah, we’re doing that too. Cue head shake.

If someone should ask how I’m doing, I would say its complicated. With a moderate case of postpartum depression, missing my family and juggling to find my new normal come Monday, I would say I’m a *little* overwhelmed.

The real reality sets in when the dust settles and everyone goes back to their before-baby routine. Family goes back home, husband goes back to work, and just like that it’s just you and the kiddos trying to figure out how to get through the day. As a stay at home mom, Monday is staring at me with a “so what are you going to do?” look.

I’ve got no choice but to figure it out. It was daunting how me + new baby were going to get into a groove, and we figured it out. Me + toddler + new baby will also figure it out. It’ll be different, but eventually (after much trial and error), we’ll find our groove. To all the mamas out there freaking out about the same thing, trying to wrap their heads around how they are going to get through the day, believe me when I say it’ll happen. At the end of the day, we have no choice but to make it work, and we will.

In the meantime, I’m just going to sit here. Basking in the silence. Before the chaos commences once again.

Welcome to the world

There is something to be said about being able to plan your baby’s birth, even if you only get 24 hours. Dylan was welcomed into this world as an early arrival on a Sunday morning, making today a week since we completed our family with a beautiful baby boy!

It’s a known thing that I am not great at being pregnant, my body doesn’t like to play host, (which come to think about it, neither do I, a sign maybe?) and my placenta likes to give out after about 35 weeks. So when I started to feel sick again and went to my doctor for the normal checkup, I was asked to go to the hospital for general monitoring. A “couple of hours” turned into a 2 night overnight stay, only to be discharged to go home for a night and then return to the hospital the next day for a c-section to get the baby out because of incredibly high protein levels. Pre-eclampsia, we meet again. This time it was caught before things got out of hand and before HELLP syndrome could show its nasty face. I now see that my doctor let me go home so I could get my shit together because everyone knew this baby needed to come out. Luckily, he was thriving and happy, while my body started the paperwork to try to kill me again.

It all worked out the way it was supposed to. My condition was caught at just the right time, I was able to get my doctor to perform the surgery (she came in on her day off which I will be forever grateful), my favorite nurse was working that day, and my family was able to be there with me.

I’m so happy it was Dylan that decided to complete our family, to be the last puzzle piece of our unique little crew. The intimate cuddle time I get to spend with him in the early mornings while my toddler is asleep and the house is quiet is becoming one of my favorite times to spend time with my new love. His facial expressions are the cutest thing ever and I can see his curiosity of this new world as his blurry vision takes it all in. He likes to be held, loves the mamaroo and is a hungry little guy. With no need for the NICU or any other medical problems, our job is to feed him, keep him warm and love on him.

It’s different the second time around. I know how to change a diaper, but no idea how to juggle two kids at the same time. I’ve experienced the “first baby firsts”, but it still feels new and uncharted because every baby is unique and a new experience on its own. A baby boy will be different for obvious reasons, but right now, it’s all about showing him that he is super loved, protected and comforted in this bright, big, overwhelming new world. I make the same promise to him that I did for his sister: to be his protector, advocate and whole-hearted mama bear. I got you. Everyone else better watch out.

Mommy loves you so much, Dyl. Thank you for choosing me to be your mommy and for completing our family.