I had just finished congratulating myself for getting up and walking to the grocery store for some snacks. The baby was quietly sleeping in the stroller, I had a bottle of breast milk in case I needed to feed him and best of all, I felt like I could handle it. “I felt like I could handle it” was the result of a herculean effort over the past eight weeks to normalize my life and feel like I could handle this huge responsibility of keeping this tiny baby alive.
“Enjoy every minute! It just goes by so fast”, a woman said, interrupting my thoughts as I pushed my 8 week old at the grocery store.
The woman interrupted my thoughts with that trite phrase that I had heard over and over again. I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to tell her that I couldn’t enjoy it. I was too tired and anxious to enjoy it and I was desperately hoping that Little Buddy would grow up faster. I wanted to tell her about how I watched the clock tick by and how I would start to get agitated if my husband didn’t walk in at six pm on the dot. I wanted to explain how I felt that it had been years since my son was born. How I regretted having a child every single day if this was what my new normal was. How I’d sit on the couch watching TV because it was all I had energy for, and wait in fear for my son to wake up from his nap, crying out for love that I felt I couldn’t give.
No doubt this woman had good intentions – she never could have known that I felt like I was dying inside.
She wouldn’t have thought that when people told me to ‘just exercise – that will make you feel better’, that I felt embarrassed that I needed more help than just exercise.
It didn’t occur to her that when I was told “you’re just tired, you’re a new mother!” it made me feel even more isolated.
She couldn’t have possibly guessed that when people asked me if I thought I’d have another baby, that my blood would run cold as I had flashbacks to being pregnant, delivering a baby and struggling through those first months.
There’s no way that she could know that I felt as if I had PTSD from my journey into motherhood.
She couldn’t have felt my confusion when I read about how women felt sadness when leaving their child in daycare as I simply couldn’t relate.
She didn’t see the awkward shuffling away from me when people would ask me how I liked being a mother and I just didn’t have the energy to pretend.
She just didn’t know that when people asked me if it was all worth it, my brain screamed “NO” internally as I deflected the question with humor.
She wasn’t thinking about how when parents condescendingly said, “you’ll never sleep again!” it made me want to slam the door in their smug faces.
She didn’t realize that when people told me to just “snap out of it”, that I agonized about how I couldn’t seem to talk myself out of my depression. That I felt as if this was my new life and nothing would ever change.
No doubt this woman had good intentions.