Several people have expressed concern that I may be suffering from PPD. No, no, I’ve said – I’ve experienced PPD before and that’s not what I’m dealing with now. When I had it before – after Kevin was born, and after Joey was born – it was truly like I was weighed down by a black cloud. Although I never had any issues bonding with my babies, I was profoundly sad. I had no appetite and had to force myself to eat a little something a few times a day so I could nurse the baby. I would sit with the baby in the rocking chair and stare into space for long periods of time, thinking about all the terrible things that could befall him, and I would cry and cry.
To reassure myself, I decided to do a little research. What I found was that, pretty much across the board, the experts say that if a mom isn’t feeling mostly like her old self within two weeks (two weeks!) of giving birth, it’s most likely PPD and not just the baby blues.
This news, of course, left me in tears. Scarlett is two and a half weeks old, and I’m still feeling low.
But the truth is – at the risk of coming off like someone in denial – I’m still not convinced that what I have is bona fide PPD.
I probably don’t have much standing to argue with the experts, but two weeks seems like very little time for a mom to get back to her old self, emotionally speaking. She’s still bleeding, she’s still adjusting to a massive hormone shift, it’s doubtful that she’s well-rested (especially if she’s got other kids besides the new baby to care for), she’s likely still trying to figure out her newborn and get into a groove – in short, she’s still adjusting. It’s a huge adjustment, by the way – even for a seventh-time mom.
There are so many things I’m dealing with. At the top of list are some serious behavior/discipline issues with the older kids – mostly the twins and Finn. Finn is prone to awful tantrums lately – he will scream his head off when he’s unhappy about something (and he’s very often unable to communicate what it is he’s unhappy about, but sometimes it’s as simple as being told “no” to a snack or TV time). Daisy – who is highly emotional to begin with – has become almost incessantly whiny and complainy and screechy. And Annabelle . . . Annabelle. Naughty Annabelle is driving me to drink with her antics. Coloring on the outside of the house with crayons. Digging in the outside garbage cans for god knows what. And the hair-pulling. More on that in a separate post, but it’s worse than it’s ever been, and it’s breaking my heart.
Here I am, alone, with seven kids. SEVEN! My hat is seriously off to all those other moms of large families who seem to hold it all together so easily, and with smiles on their faces. I’m not one of them. I feel like I am barely hanging on with my fingernails.
I’m overwhelmed. I thought it was going to be a real positive for Scarlett to be born during summer break, when we had no schedule to adhere to, when the long, lazy days would make it easier to handle a newborn. In reality, I think the lack of routine is causing everyone to run amok, and I feel like I’ve lost control over all the kids – and with that comes a whole lotta guilt. “You’re failing,” this little voice keeps chanting at me.
I miss being pregnant. This is a feeling I’ve struggled with after every single one of my babies has been born. It’s not that I don’t adore the baby, I just miss that magical time full of anticipation, when it’s all still in front of me, when the baby is all snug and cozy inside, and with me all the time – not crying, not demanding, just along for the ride – all mine, not something I have to hand over and share with everyone. And this last pregnancy, especially, perhaps. It was a bonus, so out of the blue, and so unexpectedly wonderful – I felt like Wonder Woman: who would have thought that a 44-year old woman could have such a positive, easy pregnancy? Now, I just feel old and frumpy and drained.
I miss my midwife. The thing about home birth and that sort of midwifery care is you spend all those months in this very personal, intimate relationship – and then the baby is born, and poof, she’s gone. Onto other clients, other births, other stories. And I’m left sitting here, grappling with the end of something. It’s a sort of loss, and I’ve always felt it keenly.
All this to argue the fact that I may or may not have PPD. I don’t know if I do or not. I feel like, regardless of what the articles say, it’s still too soon to say. Give a girl a chance to catch her breath!
This is part of the path I’m on, and hopefully, it’s just a relatively short detour.