So, I'm watching my 8 year old get ready for bed the other night. What a mature, independent girl she is turning out to be. She does everything on her own (most of the time) and usually without me begging more than 5 times.
I can't believe how far we've come.
Dancing with her is still my all time favorite thing to do with her...It started unexpectedly, in the living room and we've been doing it ever since...
You see, when she was born. I was afraid of her. I was afraid of her cry, her helplessness and most of all I was afraid I was hurting her. Not physically hurting her, I would never do that even in my darkest moments. I was afraid I was hurting her in the way that when two people are so connected and one is, how do you explain, "off"? The other gets screwed up too. Kinda.
I started crying the second she entered this world. Non stop. Crying like I couldn't breathe crying.
Crying like I had lost my mother all over again and I didn't cry right the first time 13 years ago.
That first night, I lay in the hospital bed in the middle of the night hysterical. The nurse came in and told me I had baby blues. I'd be okay in a few days.
But I kept crying.
I didn't get out of bed until they threatened they would catheterize me in order to pee. I peed.
I was really suffering physically, my body was a mess. I had a flabby belly, jiggling, painful boobies...a severe swelling in the *ahem* area that really hung down like a penis (no joke, ask my husband). Physically, I was so wrecked no one thought to check out my mental state.
Until I realized they weren't releasing us into the real world until the "social worker" came to talk to me. We talked. She gave me her card and said she'd call me in a few days.
She never called.
On the way home from the hospital, I secretly prayed that my husband would get into a car accident so we could all die and and I wouldn't have to feel this pain anymore.
So I cried.
I was afraid of this little baby who needed me to stay alive, and I knew in my head I wasn't right. I have been diagnosed with depression/anxiety prior to childbirth so I knew this was possible. But the things I was thinking! This wasn't the blues. And I knew it.
I couldn't breast feed. So I was guilty for being a disappointment to all of motherhood. I couldn't comfort her so I was guilty for being an unfit mother. I felt guilty for bringing her into this world. I just felt dark.
And I was afraid of the dark, because that was when the thoughts were the clearest. I would envision my sweet, little newborn slamming against the wall the way paint, or blood splatters and dripping down in chunks. I would envision her being thrown into a wood chipper (by some random person, it was never me) and coming out the other end all bits and blood and pieces. I would create these elaborate soap operas in my head (all the while, awake) that the house would burn down and we couldn't escape. That she would be kidnapped or I would be killed by intruders.
I saw her face change in the dark, into something unreal, evil like. I would see her mouthing to me that she knew my real story and she would tell everyone the shit job I was doing. I saw creatures watching me in the dark corners of her room so I relinquished the midnight feedings to my poor, overtired husband.
I saw her staring at me as something judgmental and cruel. Like she was sizing me up and realizing that she was dealt a shitty deck. Hence, her colic. It was totally my fault. She cried because she was trying to warn whoever would listen that she needed help. That she was being raised by a lunatic and she needed out.
I cried. She cried. I used to beg her to answer me. "Are you crying because I'm crying or am I crying because you're crying?" She answered with more crying.
Then, after a few weeks, my husband threatened to call a doctor to have me committed and he would raise her himself because he was literally afraid to come home from work every night to find me or worse, the baby, dead.
But I would never hurt her. I knew that. I didn't leave the house alone with her until over a month after she was born. I was afraid I'd get into a car accident and kill her. If I hurt her physically, I had a plan to kill myself because I wouldn't be able to live with that amount of guilt.
Eventually, I called the doctor. I dont know what took me so long. I truly thought this was "normal". I guess my version of "normal" is already skewed, losing my mother at 17 did that to me. But I knew, for her sake, I had to fix things. And things weren't fixing themselves.
It was a long process. Finding the right doctors to really hear me. Finding the right medications that really brought be back to reality. Finding the right frame of mind to accept that there was an issue. The day I was diagnosed with Post Partum Psychosis, I was relieved. I had a real symptom with a title and a progress plan. I could feel joy instead of pain? Over my baby? I could be in love with her? Really?
While during this recovery process, eight years in the making, I still carry much guilt over not getting help sooner. Missing out on those awesome new baby smells and milestones. I just wanted them all to be overwith quick. I rushed her babyhood away. I regret that. But I do not regret getting help. I got the help I needed when I was ready and I have to take that inside of me and savor it. I have to covet the thought that I was able to enjoy toddler hood and beyond.
I see now, that she never noticed all those insecurities in the beginning. How could she? All she needed was a good swaddle and some formula that worked for her. We finally clicked. One day it just happened. I was having fun with her when my husband came home from work and he couldn't believe his eyes. We were "dancing" in the living room to Bon Jovi and she saw our love radiate for the first time ever.
I still suffer from depression and anxiety, and I'll be on medications the rest of my life for that. And I never did have another child. But I do have this gorgeous little girl with a heart of gold. Who loves animals and music and art and reading. Who has friends and play dates and loves her school with a passion. Who loves me with an immeasurable amount of vigor. And in return, I adore her every pore.
So every night we snuggle in bed together and talk. We bond. We laugh. And those memories come slipping back once in a while, but then I look over at her gorgeous brown eyes and see through them, that they are filled with love. My love. And there's nothing in the world I would change that for.