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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.


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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