I arrive home from work, plop the little guy on his play mat and arrange the toys around him so he’s got a selection to choose from; some toys further away so that he has to work for them (come hell or high water, we’re going to learn how to crawl or scoot). I walk into the kitchen to get dinner started. As I’m washing the produce, I hear the little guy testing the range of his vocal cords…much to the dismay of the cats. The shrieks and guttural noises make me smile as I start chopping carrots.
Are you maternal?
In my twenties, I did not want children. I just couldn’t imagine what the benefits of having them would be. I didn’t like being around other people’s children, ever. People told me that I’d change my mind.
They were right, in a way. In my thirties, my biological clock started going off. Not alarmingly so (pun INTENDED), but just a couple little ticks or pings every once in awhile. Generally I found that within an hour or two they resolved themselves. So, I kept hitting snooze. When my husband and I finally decided that we wanted to start trying for children, I remember how icy fear and panic cloaked my whole body. The thought of actually pulling the trigger and going for it was terrifying.
Ignoring all the warnings screaming in my head, we decided to try. The first time, it didn’t take. Loud thoughts of “maybe you’re infertile” sounded in my head.
While this made me feel agitated (not knowing if there was a problem or not) I also felt that if children weren’t an option…I would be fine with that. I thought of all the traveling my husband and I could do. I felt at peace. I figured all of these feelings were indicative of whether I should have kids or I shouldn’t. But it wasn’t that simple.
Sorry (not sorry) for the provocative statement. Perhaps I should have added a caveat, but in the interests of not being ashamed of my motherhood, I’m going there.
It’s such a strange feeling when you don’t have this overwhelming blissful emotion that so many men and women describe. I remember feeling alien and isolated. Everyone had promised me that I would experience a love unlike any other when I had a child. When I didn’t, I was angry. Angry at them, angry at myself – I felt like a robot. Why did I do this if I was going to get nothing out of it? What I wish they had told me was that how you relate to your child in the beginning is different for everyone.
One of the things that irritates the crap out of me is this obsession with putting perceived risks to babies’ (or fetuses, depending on your bent on the abortion debate) health over the mother’s needs at all costs. We see this in all aspects of pregnancy. We inform women of this long, long list of things that they can’t do during their pregnancy. When women rebel and actually eat, drink or do some of the forbidden items, we judge the hell out of them and ask them how they could risk doing that to their babies.
Dear Little Buddy,
Your arrival into this world was complicated. When you burst forth into the sterile light of the operating room with loud gusty cries, I cried with relief. Relief that the part of growing and building you was now complete. Yet I had no idea that I was in the midst of battling a demon that would only strengthen during your first months in this world. Continue reading “A Letter to my Son”
I think that one reason that it’s hard to detect postpartum is that the arrival of a new baby to any family creates a new normal. Particularly for first time mothers and fathers, the lore of how a child changes your life is chilling. Mothers and fathers tell you about how you’ll never sleep again, they tell stories of blow-outs, horrifying travel tales, terrifying trips to the hospital – it doesn’t end. Each phase of your new child’s life will be fraught with new types of exhaustion and challenges. Or so they say.
When you’ve been loaded up with these terrible stories, how are you supposed to see the signs of postpartum depression? You expect to be sleep deprived for life. You expect to be in a hopeless grind, wearily wondering if this is all life is now. Extracting actual depression from new parent myths seems impossible.
The only thing I knew was that if I had depression, I would just cry every day, right?
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
**Warning: depending on where you are on Jane the Virgin, there could be spoilers in this post**
On Monday night, Jane the Virgin possibly alluded to the character Petra having postpartum depression (Season 2, Chapter Thirty-Seven).