Disclaimer: This blog goes to dark places and may unnerve you. If you are easily upset I strongly advise not reading paragraph 6.
A lot of people would assume that since I have my emotions well under
control at nearly all times regardless of circumstance, that I may
somehow be less affected by them. Or perhaps even that I do not feel or
have emotions, since I've got mine on such a tight leash. Let me assure
you: I feel emotion the exact same way you do, whether you see it or
not. When I say, "Only you can decide when to be happy, angry, or sad," I
mean just that. This wasn't always an easy thing, it took time to
master. As with all disciplines.
I did not get hormonal mood swings during my pregnancy. At worst I found
myself mildly agitated from time to time. So I figured postpartum
hormones would be no different. This deduction was wrong. I found
controlling my emotions much more challenging after labor than before
it. Your mind wanders to really extreme places under that amount of pain
and stress. Things you'd normally only think about for a second you
find yourself thinking about for hours, maybe even days, as you have
nothing else to really do to distract you from such thoughts. Your job
is to nurse and nap. That's it.
I never once felt bad about my post-pregnancy body image or got mad at
Aaron simply for having a penis. However I did manage to somehow take
every single criticism given by anyone, constructive or not, personally.
Sometimes even if it wasn't directed at me. I didn't outwardly show it,
of course. True to nature I realized the illogical nature of these
feelings and did not act upon them, but I still felt them.
When my milk didn't come in until almost a week after delivery, I felt
like the most useless human being on the planet. When the eye dropper
from our necessity kit didn't work, somehow I felt like that was my
fault too. Even though I had no hand in even buying it! When I dared
take a walk a week postpartum only to pass a huge blood clot and be told
by nurses to I would need to take it easier... my fault! I knew better,
I truly did, and I withheld these feelings because of that. Yet things
like this still happened. No amount of reasoning could prevent it.
Many new mothers experience resentment towards both their newborn and
their significant other. From the books I have read, it is actually
totally normal to want to throw your husband, your baby, or both out of
the god damned window at any given time -- so long as you don't actually
do it and the thoughts don't linger. This I did not experience. Instead
I distinctly recall while nursing Jude well into the wee hours of
morning, how very tragic it was that any mother anywhere could abandon
her offspring. I was just overwhelmed by sheer love looking at his
little pink face as he peacefully nursed and could not fathom ever
dumping him off somewhere and walking away. I wondered how many new mothers had done this only to regret it hours or days later, too late.
Then I got to thinking of even worse things. Such as mothers who
actually harm their new babies. Their completely helpless babies who
depend on them completely for survival. What utterly desperate mindset
they must be in to do something like that. Then the terrible realization
of just how simple it was: to place a baby into the bathtub and just
turn on the water. I wondered how many mothers who had done this
regretted it minutes too late?
These weren't things I was considering, mind you, not ever. As I said, I
began this sombre mental journey by being overwhelmed by contentment and love.
Yet somehow my hormonal postpartum brain thought it up anyway. As if I
were too happy and that wasn't okay. I needed something to depress the
hell out of me.
Any time I missed out on eating dinner with my family, I'd get sad.
Whenever I thought about how my mom could not be with me at the
hospital, I'd get sad. When I thought of my mom, I'd think of Booka and,
you guessed it, get sad. When Aaron would play video games, no matter
for how long, without me -- yep: sad. When I realized all of my friends
who could help me most during this period were 3000 miles away, more
sadness. It was a horrible experience. Nothing you say or do seemed to
make it any better. Every extreme high of new motherhood was countered
by a self-inflicted low. Like Nature's way of making sure you don't
overdose on happy.