I know how hard it is to lift that one foot in front of the other.
Meeting a new little person’s every need without even thinking about your own—much.
You feel as if you cannot move, as if there are bricks tied to your feet instead of shoes. You see the pamphlets from the doctors, telling you to call if the anger or anxiety or sadness gets to be too much—after all, everyone’s hormones shift after birth.
There is something more to what you’re feeling, a deep and complex sadness. Maybe a hopelessness even because your life will never just simply be “yours”. You feel the pressure to be happy and that thrusts you deeper into the sadness. How could you ever capture and savor every moment when you can hardly stand to exist in this one?
I understand because I have been there.
I remember looking at the glowing clock on my side table as I dragged my feet to another feeding; slowly I felt the dark creep in and I was naïve as to how long it would take to fade. I didn’t dread the baby, I simply dreaded the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and the harrowed thoughts screaming that I would be better off dead.
I have walked where you have. Up and down those hallowed halls at two in the morning—not with a baby in arms fussing but with tears in my eyes fighting my anxiety and this horrible weight and dark thoughts on my heart that I am simply just not meant to be a good mother and that my baby should be anywhere, literally anywhere else.
I have sat in those therapists’ offices who cycle through every antidepressant out there only to feel little to no sunshine piercing your darkness.
I have cried to my partner on the floor in the middle of the night because I simply cannot take the numbness anymore, I want to run away from myself and everyone around me, but at the same time this tiny little bundle owns me, heart and soul.
Although these words may feel ugly, they ring true for more women in the world than doctors would care to mention. It is not just you.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
I have also been there as I hold my baby, swaddled, as the morning sun rises and kisses his face. For a moment, my heart knows peace and contentment and I don’t want to ever move.
I have been there in my husband’s arms as he offers me comfort only he could, holding me through the darkest months of life I have ever known.
I have been there for that moment when the sun does peek through the clouds and I feel like a human again.
For the first time today, 10 months later, I felt some of the weight being lifted. Some of the chasm closing in on itself. I did not feel so completely hollow and sad.
I looked at my bouncing boy and appreciated all the details that I couldn’t bear to before. I saw the sun hit the gray flecks in his blue eyes, giggling, patting my face and chanting “Mama, Mama” almost like he knew I needed the reassurance. The permission to dare to see the dark lifting.
It. Does. Get. Better.
You are going to be OK. Please. Hold onto that line and make it your mantra. Your child, your family, and yourself—they all need you. Like air or like water. You are integral and irreplaceable.
I can now bear it. I can see him growing now at 10 months old. Eyes of his father, hair with my highlights—I savor his laughs and his breathy little coos. I study his movements and his little wiggles and stumbles, learning how to be human and in command of himself. And I look around and I am so thankful—so, so thankful—for every single person who told me to stay and take hold of the fact that it’s going to be alright.
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