Guilt-free assessment: months 0 to 7

My momma’s hormones were whack, ya’ll.

I don’t feel guilty when I think about the first seven months of Suzianne’s life, just sad.

Seven whole months with her were wasted on my postpartum depression. It’s not my fault and there is nothing I did wrong, but it still breaks my heart.

It started March 6, the day after Suzianne was born. Before they send you home with the tiny version of your spouse you just made, they make you sit through this class about how to diaper, bathe and generally keep your baby alive. All the other new moms were sitting on pillows, looking attentive. I sat on my pillow and cried. Hard.

I remember the pit in my stomach each evening as “the night shift” approached. Many new moms refer to night feeding as “snuggle time” on their Facebook pages; it was not snuggly for me. It was simply sleep deprivation. Around 7 p.m., my mind would begin to process the “night dread” — I knew what time it was without even looking at the clock.

March 6, 2012

For three months worth of night feedings, I ate grapes, counted the windows in the office building next door (43) and wondered if I would ever sleep again. I did not enjoy this “special time together” as so many other moms seem to. I didn’t even enjoy weekends.

In those first few weeks, when it came to breastfeeding, I experienced overwhelming anxiety and anguish. Knowing that I was only able to produce enough milk for the moment, and not enough to store away for later, like so many of my friends could. Even when I was pumping 15 ounces a day, she needed more, and I had to supplement 10 ounces of her milk with formula. That felt like a failure to me. My friend Olivia (who breastfed her baby for 12 whole months) reassured me that I was awesome, then sighed, and said, “There’s nothing like pumping breastmilk to put a specific measurement of ounces on a woman’s worth.”

***

In April, from my perch on a sitz bath, I called my best friend and bawled as I told her I was a horrible mother. That I didn’t know what I was doing and felt like it was not fair to Suzianne. “I’m not good at this,” I kept repeating. She listened and told me I was a wonderful mother, that Suzianne loved me and all would be okay. Four more months would pass before I believed her.

In May, my back went out. I remember laying in the bed, not being able to lift Suzianne or play on the floor with her. For some reason, I was convinced that those few days of little interaction with me were scarring her for life. I laid on my pillow and cried.

In July, I went back to work; the hormones started to level out and I began to feel like myself again. Until I stopped breastfeeding. Just like my friend Beth warned me about, my hormones went through another insane shift ALL OVER AGAIN. It was like when you are trying to rewind “Smash” on your DVR, and you push the button a little too hard and you have to watch a scene with “Ellis” again… again. Just awful.

In September, when we were in Hawaii (hard life, yeah?), I finally figured out my hormones were still whack. Here I was, five months after Suzianne was born, and still getting emotional and exhausted by trivial things, like not having a white onesie and corresponding bunny for the six month photo. But it was being away from her for a week–and being really, really relieved about the break–that led me to the conclusion that I remained a little off. I felt a little better once I acknowledged it, but I couldn’t shake the fog. So, I sat at the pool overlooking the Pacific and cried.

***

In October, I went with mom to a GNC store and asked the guy, “Do you have anything for postpartum issues? He said, “Sure!” and escorted me to the menopause supplement section.

I said, “No, no. Not menopause hormones, ‘just had a baby hormones.'”

He said, “Your problem is that you stopped taking your prenatal vitamin after you had the baby, amiright?”

Me, “Yes, but this is hormonal, not vitamin related.”

Him, “It’s the vitamins. Take these for two weeks and bring them back if you don’t feel better. I swear.”

I do feel better. Thank you, GNC guy. 

***

From March 6 to mid-October, my head was cloudy and my heart was heavy nearly every day.

I don’t know if it is the vitamins, the perfect San Diego weather, or my hormones finally leveling out, but I’m feeling normal now.

Proof: Thanksgiving week we spent seven straight days with Suzianne in Nashville and I never lost my mind. I never one got flustered or upset about anything baby-related (I did get emotional the last night there, but that is only because I really miss my Nashville friends).

Holiday travel with an infant and no baby-sitter was just the test I needed and I passed like a boss.

I’m me again. I have always liked me, so I’m really excited about that.

***

Dave and I spend more time with our baby than most families are able to. It’s a luxury I do not take for granted (this time). It’s fun to finally feel and experience those new mom warm fuzzies that I’m always reading about on Facebook. I, too, could spend a full hour just starring at Suzianne! She’s remarkable! I didn’t feel this way until recently–there was too much hormonal clutter in the way.

Moving to California has brought with it a most awesome gift: a second chance at spending quality time with my infant. I don’t deserve this do-over, but I’m grateful and am soaking in every moment.

Me and my baby — November 23, 2012

16 thoughts on “Guilt-free assessment: months 0 to 7

  1. Love your honesty. Always remember that Facebook is the social media version of rose-colored glasses. No one updates their status with “I just lost my temper with my toddler because he’s never ever sleeping again ever.” But we’ve all been there. Doesn’t make you a bad mama. Just makes you a human one.

  2. So glad you are getting more time with Suzianne! And thank you for being so honest about the ups and downs. Posts like this one will make it that much easier for other moms to get the support they need.

  3. Lady – If people were half as honest as you are with everyone, most of life would be much easier. The fact that Suzianne will learn this from you, puts you ahead of most moms I know. I’m glad you are feeling like you again. xoxoxoxo

    PS If you don’t write a book, I’ll be depressed (how’s that for a guilt trip and I’m not even a mom to a human!)

    • Thank you, Sam! You are so funny about that book…I guess I don’t see why anyone would want to ready my hormonal blog posts. But several folks have suggested it, so maybe I should give it some serious thought. Miss you!

  4. I love you sister from another Mister. Anyone that can put up with my husband for so many years is DEFINITELY my BFF. I like to tell folks that I am not an infant person. at all. I was depressed and axiety ridden with Avery for the first 8 weeks. I was on medication for anxiety but had to increase my dosage. I know exactly how you feel. It’s completely shitty. Anyone that tells you their child slept through the night at 6 weeks old is full of shitolah and should be smacked dead in the eyeball. Pefectionists are ridiculously hard on themselves. Don’t know if you are one, but I am. I am my. worst. critic. EVER. Wound tight. Type A. OCD. RIDICULOUS. It’s okay to be who you are. That’s why God chose you to be that sweet angel baby’s Momma. He knows how you are. He’s got your whole life mapped out sister.

    • Heather! You made me cry. Thank you for that. I’m equal parts sad to hear about your anxiety, and happy to know I’m not alone! LOL I, too, am quite Type A — “wound up like a banjo string,” as my grandpa says. Please give that sweet husband of yours a hug for me. I love you both dearly!

  5. Hi Margie – I’ve been following your blog ever since Veronica Brown told me I “had” to check it out last spring. My daughter was born May 5, so I always read your blog to see what I will be experiencing in the coming months. And even though I don’t know you in real life, your posts have been a huge help to me – especially when I had to start supplementing and eventually decided to stop breastfeeding. Thank you for being so open and honest about your experiences. Being a mom is not easy, but it is comforting to know that other moms go through some of the same things.

    • Julie, what a kind note! It means so much to know that what I’m sharing here helps you. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment. I hope all is well for you and your baby girl 🙂

  6. I had a whopper of this and almost had Dave admit me to VU. Was totally whacked. So, so not like me. I am the even-keel, together friend who helps everyone else and totally knows what to do at all times. Um, no. Took me a while and some good doctors/meds… but I got through it. Before having my second, I knew how to prepare, medically. Made all the difference in the world. I have one set of warm, fuzzy infant memories to show for two babies… but so many awesome memories since then. Back when it happened to me, I honestly remember thinking I’d never feel better. Thanks for sharing this. (Mine are 7 and 9 now, for those who don’t know me. They are the most awesome kids on the planet. Sorry. They are.)

    • Laura, thank you so much for your comment. This part “even-keel, together friend who helps everyone else and totally knows what to do at all times” is me, too! I felt so badly for not being able to be everyone else’s cheerleader like I normally am; my head and heart were too heavy.

  7. I would like to echo Sam’s comment that you should write a book – something honest about pregnancy and post-baby is missing on the market and you have such an honest, calm and often funny voice from which to tell it. I loved the posts and pictures of Suzianne from the start and now I take many of your posts as lessons on what to expect once our baby arrives as a glimpse into the future – a true help for sure! Thanks Margie!

    • Tina! I think about you all the time. I hope all is well for you and your baby-to-be! I am giving the book thing some thought…like, how to structure it, how it would flow. Still not sure about the mechanics. It’s awesome and humbling that so many people mention it to me though!

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