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Bad Mama....

I know this theme day was supposed to be more tongue-in-cheek, but I needed a place to vent and confess.

Well it looks like I'll be giving in.

A few years back I was diagnosed with mild depression and anxiety. Depression an alcoholism runs in my familiy on both sides. (I don't drink anymore, quit when my dad quit about 5 years ago.) I've always kind of worn it as a badge that I've never been on medication, it's always been very controllable. It gets bad, but then it gets better. Kind of like making a dentist appointment for a toothache and then cancelling because by the time the appoinement comes your tooth feels better. Does that make sense?

Well, I've decided after a week of being "in a funk" it's time to do something about it. At my 6 week checkup, my doctor's office gives a PPD quiz (standard procedure for any new mom) and my answers were such that we talked then about medication. I told her I'd rather hold off until I'd gone back to work, that maybe returning to a semi-normal schedule would help. And it did at first.

The other problem I've had is that it's hard for me to imagine how pills would help. Since I rationalize myself into my moods. If I'm mad about things, the pills won't make those things go away, so how could they help, right? I finally realized last night that it's just that my perceptions of the situations are wrong, not the situations themselves. Sure, some things suck, but the perception that it's because the world is out to get me is the real problem, not the actual situation.

Here's where we get back on-topic: My funk has a lot to do with the baby. Sure, I get to go out and do things, but everything is now planned far in advance. There's no spontenaity once you've got a kid, or at least there hasn't been much of it for me. And I don't want to end up resenting Lily because I'm feeling this loss of freedom. It's not like I didn't know this would be part of the deal when we decided to have a baby.

Also I'm having problems with being angry at my husband. And I shouldn't be angry at him. He does so much for me. In the last week he's even decided to start making dinners for us when he gets home, which is so wonderful. He keeps the yard looking nice, straightens the house before I get home, takes care of the cats and the fish and adores our little girl. He changes diapers and feeds her when he needs to, since he's home with her for nearly an hour before I get home too.

But I feel like he's still got more freedom than me. And he's always needed quiet time after work, so that's not new. But I find myself getting frustrated with him, and I shouldn't. He's just more straightforward. He'll say "I'm going to the gym and then out to get groceries," whereas I'll be more likely to say "Would it be okay if I....." whatever.

Back to the baby part, and please don't judge me, since this is hard for me to admit, and I've already said I'll be getting help. I find myself getting impatient with the baby. And when I get impatient, I find myself doing things I know I shouldn't. I don't shake the baby obviously, or hit or yell at her. But for instance, if she fusses and I'm already angry, I may pick her up a little faster or slightly rougher than I should. This is awful. I know that I'm not doing it even close to rough enough to hurt her, but even just this tiny change is a warning bell for me. I'm sure there are a lot of parents who don't think their actions would ever hurt their children, and then something happens and they do.

I don't want it to get to that.

I'm actually a bad parent. What happened? I thought I was going to be good at this, and I'm totally not.

ETA: I'm not sure I even need to say this, but I love my daughter dearly and wouldn't trade her for anything. She's easy and mild, not a crier, never been colicky, her smiles could melt glaciers, and I've been blessed beyond comprehension to have such a beautiful little girl. I know it's not her, it's just me. She's an angel.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
I could have written this entry myself. I love my daughter, so much, but I find myself getting so angry sometimes. There have been times when I've actually had to put her down (in a safe place) and walk out of the room to gather myself.

I have wanted to be a mother my whole life, and now I am, and all I can think is that I suck at it.

One thing I can say is that I am taking medication for a panic disorder...and the medication does help. I HATE the idea of being medicated, and went without for 2 years before I got pregnant...but the hormone change made it unbearable...and I had to give in.

I'm still trying to find the right balance...but I feel much more in control when I take my medicine...

When I read your entry, I don't think of you as a bad parent...I just see you as human, but seeing as how I feel the same on a lot of things, I also know that no matter how many times you hear that you're not a bad mother, you'll still feel like one.

I have found that really setting some time aside for my husband and I to spend together has helped. I think that some of my frustration also comes from not having any time with my husband...so when we have time alone together, it centers me a little...
Aug. 31st, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I got a little teary reading your response (not good when I'm at work *grin*) but it's always nice to hear I'm not crazy and I'm not alone.

Thank you so much.
Aug. 31st, 2007 03:22 pm (UTC)
I know what you are talking about. There was a time over the summer that I really thought that I was going through PPD. I was crying all day and had horrible thoughts about my daughter and my husband. I am sitting at my desk tearing up just thinking about it. I am starting to go through something right now too. Since I have been back to work, I am so tried and I feel like I can't go run to the mall afterwork or meet up with friends or just stay at school and get things done if I want too. I have also been really unfair to my husband. He and his friends have had a weekly guys night for years. He is still doing it but comes home by 9pm to help with bed time then goes back (the one friend is up the street) He has offerd to let me go out, but what am I going to go do? Who am I going to go out with? My friend that lives the closest to me is a mom too and has money issues. I feel like I am drowing this week. I am torn between wanting to have my baby in my arms and wanting to just be by myself. I think we all go throught this. As the Mommy we feel the pressure to be the main care provider.
Aug. 31st, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
This is probably the worst I've felt since I gave up on breastfeeding.

Even when my husband has offered to let me go, I usually don't. I feel like I shouldn't leave him with the baby, because (as much as he adores her) he has a tougher time reading her.

And then I get frustrated because it's not like I've done this before either, you know? I figured it out on the fly. He can too. Except, as long as I've already got a lot of it down, why make him suffer and feel bad? So many thoughts just flyin' around.
Sep. 1st, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
I'm sort of jumping in in the middle of a conversation...sorry.

You figured it out on the fly because you had the time to figure it out. If your hubby has time with her, he'll figure it out, too. Don't feel bad about leaving. He won't suffer...in the long run it will help him be a better parent. And it will make you a parent parent to get a break and come back refreshed.

And, for the record, I don't think you're a bad parent. You're human. It's HARD to be a parent...and it ain't all sunshine and puppy dogs. Crying sucks. Period. Don't beat yourself up over it...your little girl loves you!

As for medicine - I took meds after my daughter was born and wished to god I'd taken them sooner. I don't know *how* they work, but they did make me "better." I felt better able to focus and stay organized, which reduced stress and made me better able to handle stressful situations. It was totally worth it for me.


Aug. 31st, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)
I think most of what you said is very valid and I would think most mothers go through that from time to time.

The number one thing that helped me get through the trying times was always reminding myself how fast time goes. Before you know it your baby will not need you right away. Do you have friends with older children? Look how fast that time when by. This will happen to you..and as much as I hate the saying "this too shall pass" it is so true. Remind yourself, that yes, the baby is driving you bonkers right now, but these times are just a drop in the bucket and will be gone before you know it. It's almost as if to say, embrace the crazy moments. and when you can't just walk away and take a time out.

As far as medicine and being one that has taken it, still takes it. What is wrong with a little help. If a pill will help you from losing it..and having more patience and lets life become a little more bearable? Why fight it? I really don't think it makes you weak or less of a person. Helping yourself and taking care of yourself, lets you take care of your child better.

(At least I am told this by my father all the time, "You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others" and no matter how hard I fight it at times, I think its true.

And my girls are 2. Terrible twos, so my mantra of "this too shall pass" is like a revolving door in my head right now.

Aug. 31st, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
I think part of the problem is that I don't have ANY friends with kids. I've pretty much got two friends outside of work. One is a single guy friend, and we used to go out at least once every couple weeks for dinner, but now he's working overtime and I've got the baby, so it's tough to find time.

The other friend has three jobs (also single and no kids) so I haven't seen her in ages either.

I've got a couple cousins I'm close to, but they live across the cities from me, and again, no kids.

It makes for awful lonely evenings while hubby is unwinding from work in front of the computer or XBox.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 31st, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
LOL. My most dreaded words are "I'm going downstairs to read for a bit." Oy.

Has your husband started using the computer/game system with the baby in his lap yet? My husband is a pro at snuggling the baby facing the TV while he plays XBox360. Apparently that's a pretty common daddy thing, I've seen a lot of pictures of guys doing that.

Oh yay, my daughter will be addicted to the XBox by age 16 months. LOL
Aug. 31st, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
Doug plays Medal of Honor, a first-person shooter, with Miles on his lap. :)
Aug. 31st, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
Heh. My husband is currently playing Two Worlds while waiting for the next Grand Theft Auto (yeah, that's going to be appropriate for her to watch!) or Oblivion sequel.
Sep. 1st, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
AH! Me too "I am just gonna go read for a bit." Bite me!
Aug. 31st, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can totally see how that is tough. My husband drives me nuts because he is a golf freak and will golf as much as he can. Even though he too is a great father it does get so frustrating.

Next time you need a break, just drop the baby in his lap at the computer and say, well..I will be in the bedroom for a couple of hours or...I'm outta hear..be back soon. Heh. Someties, we just have to beat them too it!
Aug. 31st, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
That one line should read...and when you can't, (embrace the crazy moments) just walk away and take a time out.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 31st, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure my husband gets why I get frustrated either. He feels like he's doing a lot, and like I said, he's really good about changing diapers (though changing her clothes took him a while, LOL) and talks to her and feeds her, but he's not so good at interpreting her cries.

Actually, I went to the state fair with my brother and best friend on Sunday. From early morning until early afternoon. My husband knew I'd probably be home around 2pm.

So we made sure my mom would be available to watch Lily if he got overwhelmed or needed to run errands. He dropped her off at about 12:30 so he could mow the lawn, and run to the gym and to get groceries. That sort of thing would never occur to me to do. I mean, he could have put those things off until I got home, or at least done the grocery shopping with her. She's 3 months old! It's not like he's totally new to all of this daddy stuff. I wait for him to be available if I need to get out to do something without her, sometimes I wait a week or more! *sigh*

That's where I get mad, and then don't say anything, because he really does try, and I don't want to make him feel bad. He's doing WAY more than either of our fathers EVER did, you know?
Aug. 31st, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
I also do the rough pickup when I'm over-tired and cranky and trying to do a billion other things and on a time contraint or whatever reason else when things aren't going the "right" way for me. And it is scary and then sometimes I get angry at myself for letting my emotions out in my actions.

I have found that when I'm really pissed/tired/cranky/etc., it helps to call Miles "baby." It helps remind me that indeed he is a baby and he can't help his crying. It's like a reminder. Baby. This is a baby.
Also, when I'm in this mood and he needs to be held, I hold him very close and be still for a moment before moving to feed/change him.

These are the things that people don't talk about so you always feel like the "bad" parent, when really you're a normal parent. It's scary. Who wants to admit that their actions if not kept under control could hurt a baby?

I'm with you.
Aug. 31st, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
That's also one of the few reasons I love the internet. Most of the time the internet is bad for me as a mommy. (Way too much panic and guilt. Because everything is bad for your baby, and you could be doing everything better than you currently are, if you weren't such a lazy selfish slacker. LOL)

But when it comes time to confess things, to vent, to say things you really don't feel comfortable telling friends and family? That's where this thing is the best.
Aug. 31st, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
Amen 50 times over to what you posted. I was so guilty of the rough pick up thing the entire first month because I just so completely OVERWHELMED. I'd never been around a baby before and had no idea what I was doing, combined with 4 hours of sleep or less a night (that wasn't consecutive). I'm so much better now but I still have moments where I have to stop and breath. And to be honest, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has felt this way.

I was home on maternity leave for two months while my husband worked and I don't think he fully understood how freakin hard it was. I couldn't get anything done during the day because Stephen constantly wanted to be held and he hated the hotsling. So whenever James came home, I passed him off so I could clean/fix dinner. James griped at me one night for doing that because in his words "he worked all day and wanted to come home and relax" ie-sit in front of the computer or TV and do nothing. I FLIPPED. I started crying and yelling that taking care of Stephen was a 24 hour job that I NEVER got a break from and he was getting a full nights sleep because I was breastfeeding at the time so I was the one getting up every 2 hours while he slept. I was the one cleaning and cooking dinner while he basically did nothing. It definitely opened his eyes because he never said anything else after that.

Now our roles are reversed and I'm working full time and he's at home with Stephen. Stephen's also easier to handle now-he'll sit in the bouncer or swing and be perfectly happy to let you get stuff done. But I know how hard it is so the minute I get home, I grab Stephen and give James a break. Anyways, said all that to say this-I completely understand cause I've been there and you're NOT a bad parent.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 1st, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad it's gotten easier for you with your second. My husband and I joke (and we're only kind of joking) that the only reason we've gotten through this as well as we have is because we keep telling ourselves that if we just get through this, we'll never have to do it again. (We're only planning on having one kid at the moment.)

I called my doctor's office today to ask her about getting a prescription, but she's not in until Wednesday. I actually feel a little better already having worked through whatever guilt and shame and whatnot I had in my in regards to finally asking for medication. Now I just have to remind myself not to do the "dentist thing" and not take action because I already feel better. I need to call Wednesday, or it'll get bad again, I have to realize that.

(It's funny it took this long to convince myself. I can't tell you the number of times I thought my dad would be so much better off if he would give in and get treatment/medication for his depression.
Sep. 3rd, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
I know that when breastfeeding started to go awry, when I was spending days and days trapped on the couch, constantly sleep-deprived, and the baby was frustrated and yelling because my milk production was lagging behind her demand, that there were a few times where, reflexively when she started mangling my nipples, that I was ready to fling her away from me. Intellectually, and even emotionally, I didn't want to do that, but my body had had enough, I think, and just had the urge to protect itself. And I never actually did it (I just yelled "OWWWWWWWWWW!!!!" really loud instead and released the energy that way) But at that point I understood that if I was going to retain my sanity, I was going to have to do things a different way, i.e., start bottle-feeding, at least as a supplement.

I think it was a metaphor, though, for everything I was going through, of just feeling like I'd been completely drained of everything by pregnancy, and now I had nothing more of myself to give. (I think maybe if I'd just had the C-section and not lost all the sleep and energy I did during 12 hours of labor before that C-section that I probably would have had more reserves in the way of energy. But with breastfeeding, I was never allowed to even recoup that during those first couple weeks).

I went through a phase where I was just constantly telling everyone how much life now sucked and how I couldn't do this parenting thing. I felt like I was losing the essence of what made me /me/ because I wasn't working, wasn't doing anything interesting or intellectual. (You may have remembered some of my rants about that stuff on june2007, which weren't even all that long ago). I just had all these images in my head of what I was supposed to be doing to be "successful," whether it was as a mother or in my profession, even as a wife. I didn't have the energy or will to address even ONE of those areas properly, and here I was torn between all of them, and failing miserably. I'd had a lot of really bad things happen to me in the past five years or so (and really have always been something of a cynic and pessimist), and I'd finally managed to start recovering from all of them and gotten my life on track. A week or so after I was home from the hospital, I began to feel stupid, like in deciding to have a baby, I'd just taken a hammer to my life and shattered it into a million pieces, all my progress gone.

I complained and lamented constantly and didn't bother to hide that I was feeling trapped and hopeless, that everything had spiraled out of control. And then my mom said something to me one day that helped me put everything in perspective. She said that I shouldn't worry about anything except myself, my husband, and my baby, that our little family and our happiness is all that mattered, and that I had a right to do whatever I needed to do in order to enjoy this time. That it was a big adjustment in the first place and that I'd been doing a very difficult thing in even breastfeeding exclusively for the short time that I did, and that I needed to stop worrying about the future and just focus on the here and now, and that everything would work itself out, it would just take time, that this it was just a transition.

(More below)

Sep. 3rd, 2007 04:03 am (UTC)
Perspective (continued)
It has helped me immeasurably to just focus on the here and now. Really, so few people do that. Someone at my baby shower told me that birth and motherhood were all about surrender, which I took in an extremely negative fashion, thinking she meant some kind of mommy-cultist thing about martyring yourself for your children and lowering your expectations because once you become a mother, you have no control anymore, just accept it. But after what my mother said really hit me, I realized it's more about surrendering up the habit of worrying excessively about the future, and even more importantly, letting go of all the weird ideas I've picked up from other people, and from society (all that "perfect" parenting garbage).

The point I'm trying to make with all this long-winded maundering is that we all deserve to enjoy our lives and our families but that we get so damned caught up with all this stuff we're "supposed" to be doing to be “doing it right” that we're unable to be happy because we're so "flawed." We're not flawed. We're human, and we shouldn't be afraid to do whatever we need to do to be happy. Those women who sit at their computers taking potshots at the parenting of all the other people who haven’t joined the Mommy Cult™ like to cover up their own insecurities and their own failure to cope by bullying others, hiding behind the righteousness of all the overzealous sacrifices they’ve made for children to keep you reeling so that you won’t notice the chinks in their armor and they’ll distract themselves from how miserable their parenting choices have actually made them.

You should never feel weak or stigmatized because you’re taking steps to help yourself and your family. It takes a lot more courage and strength to do that then it does to simply pretend there are no problems and do nothing about them!
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