Writer’s Workshop: Mourning the loss of me

I’m not even sure where to begin this post. I know what I want to say, and why I want to say it, but every single time I start the post…the words just seem to fall flat. I imagine them being spoken and taking form, floating to the ground to pop like bubbles. I don’t know where to begin, but it’s an experience that needs to be spoken about. My personal experience, needs to be written down. Why? Because it was ignored and hidden when it was happening Because I’m terrified of this experience happening again. Because it happens to so many people, and just like me, they ignore it and hide it and sometimes, it doesn’t heal itself…

“I will do my best to describe what was the worst time for myself and my family…but also a time when I unwittingly experienced the most growth in my life…” I’m not sure who spoke these words, but they could not be any more true.

When we found out we were having Caitlin it was a surprise. An exciting surprise, not much like the surprise I felt when we found out we were pregnant with Kinley. We had just gotten married, I just started a new job, and turned 21, and we were beginning out new life together. We were eager to meet her, we did a 3-D/4-D so we could see her face. We were so excited, she was the start of our family.

I went into labor beginning at 34 weeks, and was promptly put on bed rest and mandatory hydration (I have an  issue with staying hydrated. I’m not a water drinker normally and even when I do, I deplete it rather quickly for some reason, so I’m always thirsty and semi-dehydrated). At 36 weeks my doctor’s decided to stop trying to prevent the birth, but instead prepare for it. At 36 weeks and one day, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl.

And the first time I saw her, the first time I held her…I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel this immediate love for her I assumed I would. I knew I had to take care of her, I knew I was her mother, but the motions were more…mechanical and out of responsibility than they were out of love. Everyone kept asking me how I felt, and if I’ve ever been in love as much as I was with her. I responded the way I knew they would “No, I’ve never felt this way before,” while really I was thinking “I’ve loved stronger than this before.” I was scared that I didn’t love her. I was scared I never would, but every time someone asked, I just gave them what they wanted to hear. I told her I loved her, even tho, at the time, I didn’t mean it. I told her she was beautiful, even tho, at the time, I didn’t see it. All I saw was a baby. A baby I had no connection to.

Three days in the hospital came and went, and suddenly I was home, faced with the reality that soon Chris would be returning to work and I’d be alone with a baby that was my responsibility that I didn’t love. I was too embarrassed to go to my mom, being a mother came so naturally for her, and my sister was so far away, starting a new life of her own with her family. I didn’t even know how to bring the subject up to anyone, so for a couple of days I ignored it. Until I couldn’t any longer.

I sent my sister a text. I can’t quite remember what it said, but it was along the lines of “Is it okay if I don’t feel anything towards her right now?” She called me right away. She told me it was okay to not love her, she was a stranger, we had to get to know each other. She told me I was normal and that media lies, the love you feel when they are inside you disappears when they come, it’s hormones, it’s your life changing. It’s okay. I sat in the closest and cried on the phone with her for what seemed like forever. She knew I wouldn’t tell my mom, so she did for me. And my mom called me and told it was okay, I was normal, it would take time.

For days I walked around in a kind of haze. I only bathed because I knew I had to, I only ate when people were watching, I only took care of Caitlin because I knew I had to. If I could have slept all day and not been bothered, I would have. My mom helped me adjust to living with her, taught me the best way to bath her and the easiest way to nurse her at night. She encouraged me to get out of the house and came over to help with the baby so I could shower during the day, instead of having to wait until Chris got home. But I still wasn’t feeling much towards her.

I cried, a lot, I hated myself. I wanted to die. I contemplated what Chris and Caitlin’s life would be like without me and considered running away one night as they slept. I considered killing myself. I only didn’t because I knew Caitlin needed me, even if I didn’t love her. I couldn’t imagine leaving her life that. Every night was an endless struggle to fall asleep and every morning was a struggle to get out of bed and take care of not only a baby, but myself. I hated myself for feeling this way. I hated Chris for not seeing that I needed help. I didn’t hate Caitlin, but I still felt nothing towards her.

Then I started having thoughts, the most horrendous images played in my mind. The visuals of me dropping her on accident as I took her out of her car seat. Seeing her falling out of her swing or roll off the bed in my mind’s eye. Imagining the dog stepping on her or someone hurting her somehow. The thoughts sent me into panic attacks. I didn’t want to hold her. I didn’t want to be around her. I just wanted her to lay safely somewhere and have no one disturb her.

I remember the day I knew I needed to ask for help to receive it. It was Caitlin and I’s first day alone together all day. I was tired and scared and unsure of how to do anything without the help of someone there. I didn’t bath all day. I didn’t bath her until Chris got home. I cried a lot and tried to keep her calm. I was sitting on the bed and she laid there looking at me, whining. I didn’t know what to do, so I just cried. Linux was excited and jumped on the bed and to this day I’m not sure he even touched her but she screamed. I got scared he hurt her. I scooped her up and cried, begging her to be okay. Begging to god she wasn’t hurt. I hated Linux for making her cry, for making it worse. I hit him. I hit him hard and chased him around the house screaming at him how much I hated him. I wanted to kill him. I chased him into the back yard, returned to the bedroom and cried as I held and rocked the baby, and tried to find the courage to call Chris and tell him what happened. Finally, I managed to pick up the phone and dial his number, but could barely do anything other than sob when he answered the other line. I scared him. I know I did, even if he acted calm and collected on the other line, he had no idea what was going on. Luckily, he was already on his way home.

When he got to the house, I was still in the same position. The dog was still outside and I was still sitting on the bed rocking and sobbing with the baby cradled in my arms. He walked in and asked if I was okay. “No,” I sobbed, “No I’m not.” He asked what happened and I managed to squeak the story out. The dog jumped on the bed, the baby screamed, I panicked and chased him around, it took me forever to get her calm, I was scared. I was angry. I was depressed. I was a lot of things, but I wasn’t happy anymore. I wasn’t myself. I was fading away and I could feel it. I felt myself detaching from everything around me, just wanting time alone but never receiving any. He encouraged me to make an appointment with a doctor, and so I did.

I embarrassingly called my doctor (where I happened to work) and asked for my closest friend there and told her why I needed to come in. She was understanding. She told everyone it was personal issues. No one asked questions or judged, they smiled and took the baby so I could sit back there alone with Chris for a little while. When the doctor came in and asked me what was going on I sat there in silence for a few minutes, I didn’t want to cry. “I wanted to kill my dog” I choked out, trying to laugh it off. Chris could tell this was difficult, I had to work with these people, so he told her everything I had told him. The story about the dog, the depression, the not being me. Thank god he was there, otherwise I would have just sat there crying, praying she would understand from my tears I needed help.

She didn’t judge, she didn’t ask many questions, she told me it was okay and it was good I was asking for help. She reminded me I didn’t need to be worried what people thought about anything, it happens to the best of us. The onslaught on hormone changes can send a woman into a deep black hole, and the hardest part sometimes isn’t asking for help, but realizing help is needed. She gave me a prescription and told me if it didn’t help, we would keep trying until we got it right.

It took days for the medication to kick in, and when it did, it was great for a few days. I felt normal, for a little while. I could smile and laugh and I started to feel a connection with Caitlin for the first time. We started to become friends and then I started to love her. After a couple of weeks I could cuddle with her and tell her she was my everything, and how much I cared for her and not worry because I knew in my heart I really did mean it, and wasn’t just saying it for others to hear.

I ended up not refilling the prescription after two months because, while it made me feel normal most of the time, there were days where I was just angry. I knew it was from the medicine and to be a good mom I needed to be there. I had lost myself to postpartum depression for so long after she was born, I didn’t want to lose myself again due to the medicine to help my PPD. I decided the best course of action was to get my emotions under control long enough to fall in love with Caitlin and learn how to take care of her alone. After I did that, I stopped taking it and relied heavily on writing to help keep my emotions in check, talking to Chris and ensuring I took care of myself so I could take care of Caitlin. And it worked, for the most part. There are times where I feel like I’m losing who I am to what I am now, but I know how to change that hurt. The visuals still come from time to time, only different. I don’t see myself dropping her on accident, but if she’s near a fireplace, water, or a staircase, I panic. The images flood back. I have to remove her immediately, or if someone else is watching her, remove myself from the situation. But I’m getting better. That doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happen again, but I can’t stop my life and growing my family because I’m scared. It just means that I have to not be scared to ask for help when I know I need it.

I’m thankful I was capable of recognizing that something was wrong. I’m thankful it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I’m thankful everyone survived in one piece, albeit I was broken for a long time and still feel that broken-ness from time to time. The worst part wasn’t the depression, or the anger, or even the images. The worst part was the debilitating loneliness I felt, the fear that consumed my every action. The feeling that I never had the chance to say good-bye to my pre-mommy days. Caitlin came so unexpectedly, I wasn’t able to go dancing before she came. “I” just disappeared in a haze of anesthesia and three pushes. It took me a long time to realize that “I” wasn’t gone, “I” had just transformed, grown. I was still there all along, just different. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, especially after a long day or night, but I know I’ll be okay.

This didn’t start out this way, but after I got the email for Mama Kat’s writing prompts it turns out it was the best thing for one of them. The prompt I chose this week is 2) What did you once lose?  Write about your search to find it again.
Mama's Losin' It

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10 Responses

  1. Thank you for putting this into words. You are so brave.

  2. You aren’t the only one. It happened to me, too.

  3. God, PPD is such a monster. I’m glad you’re finding yourself a little a time. We’re all here if you need anyone.

  4. Awwwww, you with the cute little dinosaurs and happy-looking blog.

    Who knew real monsters lurked beneath? And monsters need vanquishing. I am so happy for your triumph!

    But also? Monsters sometimes return to fight another day.

    So be vigilant.

    And take care.

    • That’s what I’m worried about, is it coming back even more fierce than it was before. But I’m lucky to have gained a lot of “invisible friends” through blogging. Hopefully, understanding myself better this time around will help ease into a new transition.

  5. My heart breaks for you. I just feel awful when I hear about moms suffering like this. I had the baby blues with each of my kids and if PPD is an extended version of that then I bow to you. I don’t know how anyone survives it. I’m SO glad you sought out help!

  6. Pua,
    I have to say that I love your blog. I read it just about every day! This post had me in tears. I had a lot of the same feelings you did with Caitlin. Instead of depression, I had debilitating anxiety. I couldn’t leave him alone with my parents for more than an hour without bursting into tears and having to go home. It was horrible and it makes you feel so out of control. I am so glad you posted this!

    • Aww, Addie I’m so glad I have a fan in you!! *Hugs* That means a lot to me, because I’m a loser and this has consumed a lot of my time now that I’m getting into the groove of staying at home. Hahaha
      The anxiety was a bad part, especially with the images but I grew used to them. And it really does make you feel helpless and just awful and icky inside. I’m glad things are better for you tho.
      I hope you and Cooper are doing awesome, and tell everyone at the office I miss them. Even tho I’m glad to be out of there! Hahaha

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