Monday, November 18, 2013

Dealing with PPD and PPA

Three years ago I gave birth to my second beautiful son. I was so looking forward to his arrival, I day dreamed about having him, giving Brock a brother, and completing our family.
After giving birth to Brock I dealt with the baby blues, but nothing major, life was great. Being a mommy was great, I loved every minute of it.
Having Jude rocked my world in every way. About a week after he was born I started feeling very overwhelmed. Everything was big to me, nothing was small or easy. I started to sink into myself and cut everyone, including my husband out. If you know me, you know Jude was a really, really hard baby. The word hard doesn't even come close to describing his first 18 months-2 years of life. The more he'd cry the darker I became. I saw life in tunnel vision, my whole world was closing in on me. I couldn't sleep because I was so anxious, my muscles twitched every time I would lay down to rest. I dreaded my child waking up in the mornings. The depression and anxiety consumed me. I wanted to pack up Brock and run away. I went as far as to get a bag out a handful of times. I could not handle my new reality, everything was collapsing around me, I couldn't breathe I was so overwhelmed.
Then came the time I thought I had reached the end of my rope. For several months I seriously considered ending it all, I had it all planned out. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of someone having to discover my body. I was sane enough to know that would destroy my husband or boys. Thank God I had that tiny sliver of sanity left, without it I am sure I would no longer be here.
I would lay in bed and cry every night. I heard the saying all the time, "God won't give you anything you can't handle." The saying pissed me off. Surely God was wrong, I was not strong enough, I could not physically crawl out of the dark despair I was in on my own. I was a shell of the person I once knew, I would look in the mirror trying to recognize myself.
I got on medication and I became determined to get better, and I became to determined to make something of this. It could not have all been for nothing. There had to be a reason I went through 18 months of extreme darkness. As the fog began to clear I began talking about my struggles and I found a 50/50 mix of moms astonished I'd say anything negative about motherhood, and moms who were so thankful someone was being honest about the struggles. It became clear to me then to not glorify motherhood, but to tell the nitty gritty details from the struggles to the joys. Motherhood isn't bad for everyone, but for some, it is.
Looking back on that time in my life is still very painful for me. I missed a lot. There are gaps in my boys lives I simply do not remember, I have blocked out so many things. What remains fresh for me though, is how fragile a new mom can be. How one judgmental remark can make a mom feel like she is worthless and failing at being a mom. How being a mom is NOT easy, it is rewarding, but sometimes the reward is on the horizon, not right in front of us. I feel like my life's purpose is to not only be a wife and mom, but to be a voice for the moms too afraid to speak. To be an ear to the moms that are willing to share their struggles, and to be a voice of strength as someone who knows there is light at the end of the tunnel. To tell moms it won't be hard forever, there will come a time that you can laugh again, smile again, and enjoy the simple things in life again. To tell moms it won't always be so overwhelming, you won't always feel swallowed whole by this new life. That it will, without question, get better, and they without question are not alone in what they are going through.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Grief

Grief is such a funny thing. It is powerful, knock you on your butt powerful, but eventually it looses it's power.
Today would have been my moms birthday. Her 52nd birthday, sadly I had to pull out my calculator to figure that out. In the years right after her death the day of her birthday would consume me. I could not stop thinking about how old she'd be, what she would be doing, etc. She only had 43 birthdays. 43. That is only 15 more than I have currently had. I cannot imagine only having 15 more birthdays.
The grief when she first died was so strong I swore it would kill me. I could hardly breathe, I physically hurt from grief, my world was literally spinning out of control without me while I watched on. It has morphed since then into a dull ache that only appears every now and then. Especially when big life events happen, my wedding, when my boys were born, when my oldest son started school. The ache then was stronger, I miss her, I wanted her there to experience those things.
A few months after she died I remember crying to my dad about the physical pain and he said to me, "Amber, there is a day where you won't be consumed by the grief, you won't think about her every single day after awhile it will hit you that you haven't thought about her in days." I looked at him with the look that only a scorned teenager can give (sorry about that, dad) and spouted off, "I will NEVER not think of my mom all day. NEVER!" I was nothing if not dramatic, and I was nothing if not very wrong. He was right. I am no longer consumed with the death of my mom. Losing her suddenly when I was 19 does not, and will not define me.
The fact that I am no longer consumed with her loss does not mean I did not love her. It means I am choosing to live even though she died. Sadly, life goes on, things and people change, and those who have passed on settle nicely into our hearts, but out of our immediate thoughts.
I still think about her all the time, I do wonder what my life would look like if she were in it. There are a lot of "what if's" that I will never be able to answer. The only thing I know for sure is there is currently a pretty awesome party being thrown in heaven for her 52nd birthday.
Happy Birthday, Momma.