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can’t get it out of my head

You know when you have a song stuck in your head and you can’t for the life of you get it out?  You find yourself humming it while you’re washing dishes, singing it off-key in the shower, and hearing the lyrics run in your head when you’re trying desperately to fall asleep.  There are two things that are really annoying when this happens.  The first is that it is never a good song by someone you like.  For me, it always has to be Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus or someone equally annoying and untalented.  Sorry, not a Belieber. The second thing, which is completely a result of the first, is that I never know all of the words.  Sometimes I only know a line or two, so I am singing the same two horribly written lines over and over and over until I just start making up my own verses.

Something my therapist said at our last session has been running on a continuous loop for over a week now.  Except it was said by someone I respect and trust.  Which makes it much harder to ignore.

We were discussing how to put a plan in place so that I could keep my depression and anxiety in check when I return to work full-time in the fall.  She asked me to think about what I think is going to be the hardest part about that transition.  The tears started streaming down my face immediately, surprising both of us.  I answered without any hesitation:  “Missing out on my daughter’s life.”

That’s when she said it.  “You have a lot of balls up in the air right now.  And you’ll have even more once you go back to work.  You have to decide which balls to drop.  You can pick up the work ball again.  You can pick up the education ball again.  But you can never get back your daughter’s childhood.”

Ok, I’m no detective, but it sounds like she’s trying to tell me not to go back to work, right?  Which is confusing me because it was never a question.  I’ve always said I’m going back to work.  I love what I do.  And I need the structure and routine to keep triggers at bay.  I’m going back to work.  Right?

But now she has me questioning everything I thought I knew.  Am I doing the wrong thing?  Am I dropping the daughter ball?  Is that selfish?  Am I going to completely regret my choice?

So then in my mind, I used her own words against her.  She told me once that, with the exception of a very few, no choice or decision is permanent.  I can change my mind.  If I go back to work, and I realize it’s no longer the right thing for me, then I can make a change.  Because the only thing worse that could happen is that I don’t go back at all.  And then I will always wonder what if.  So for now, I’ll keep all of my balls (this is starting to border on inappropriate), and see how good I am at juggling.  I can always change my mind.

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one step forward…

Life with PPD is the epitome of the saying, “One step forward, two steps back.” I had a great weekend.  My daughter took great naps during which I was able to run, write, shower, and eat. We even took her to a party on Sunday where she took a whole half hour nap!  In someone else’s swing! Life was looking up.  I felt human again. I felt like me. I thought I had made a turn.

Then Monday came.  It was also the day of the dreaded four month check-up.  That means shots.  Four of them.  Since the last time the doctor gave her shots, he turned her into the red-faced screaming demon she now is (really NOT a result of the shots, but the coincidence gives me an easy target to blame), I had understandably been worrying over this appointment for weeks.

It started out great.  My daughter was smiling and cooing and charming the whole waiting room.  Her head is now in the tenth percentile!  She is three inches longer!  And even though those things have absolutely nothing to do with me, I was a proud momma. I had to be doing something right.  Look at how my baby was growing. 

And then they weighed her.  Between her two month and four month check-up, she gained…a pound.  Just the one. My husband and I looked at each other in shock. Look at those chunky thighs!  Listen to her guzzle when she eats!  And although we were surprised, we weren’t concerned.

Until the doctor came in.  She asked if we had any questions, and I immediately pulled out the notes I had taken on my phone with a dozen or so questions. Most of them had to do with her sleep.  The doctor’s response?  Her feeding was the problem.  She wasn’t eating enough, which is why she only gained one pound, and which is also why she’s having so much trouble sleeping.

My heart sank.  I was doing something wrong.  I did this.  My baby girl was hungry every time she woke up at night and I didn’t always feed her because I thought she was just mad we wouldn’t give her the pacifier.  The one area in which I thought I was actually doing pretty well, nursing, was essentially causing all of our problems.  It’s my fault.

And then she dropped the other bomb.  No more sleeping in the swing.  Not safe.  Crib only.  Just when I had gotten my arms back and a couple of hours every day free, she was taking it away from me.  My daughter doesn’t nap in the crib.  She was barely napping in the moving swing.

The world that had seemed to be getting a bit bigger with each passing day shrunk back.  The tears I had been so good at holding back the past couple of weeks came pouring out.  I had just started to recognize glimpses of my old self again, and I felt that this doctor had taken that all away from me.

The whole ride home I was wracked with guilt.  My poor girl just wanted to eat and I’ve been depriving her.  I am not fit to be a mom.

When we got home, my daughter was clearly exhausted from the shots and the dose of Tylenol we gave her.  My husband took her upstairs, swaddled her, and laid her in her crib.  She cried for a few minutes, but then she fell asleep.  I stupidly allowed myself to hope.  Maybe this can work.  Maybe she can do this.  Maybe I can too.

Exactly one half hour later, she woke up wailing.  I knew I had to go upstairs and try to get her back down.  She’s clearly tired, and a half hour nap is not going to cut it.  I had to go into her room and get her to fall back asleep.

But I couldn’t.  I couldn’t get myself off the couch.  Even though she was screaming, even though I knew she needed me, I couldn’t do it.  I felt so overwhelmed with guilt, fear, worry, and despair that the thought of actually taking care of my daughter felt like too much.  I wasn’t up to the task.  My husband graciously took over.  The rest of the day I spent in bed, crying, sleeping, unable to make a decision about even the smallest things. 

I was in mourning.  Taking that one step forward made those two steps back so much harder.  I mourned the loss of my confidence.  I mourned the loss of a baby who woke up from naps happy and smiling. I mourned the loss of finally feeling like maybe I could manage this whole mom thing. I mourned the few days I felt like a real person again.  I mourned for my life pre-baby when I felt like I knew who I was and what I was doing.

But I am a mom now.  And being a mom means that I am no longer the most important person in my life.  I have a daughter who needs me.  Whose very existence depends on me.  So I will get up.  Because my depression?  It isn’t me.  I will not let it win.  I will not let it prevent me from the most important job I have ever had: being a mom. If I need to cry, I will cry.  If I need to rest, I will rest.  But I will keep moving forward.  I will keep taking baby steps.  I will keep my eyes on the woman I know I really am.  I saw her last week; I will see her again.