Thursday, December 31, 2009

party like it's 2009

This time 10 years ago, I was getting ready to head back to the Vermont Legislature to finish up my first (and only) term as a representative. The only thing on my mind then was figuring out where I was going to stay in Montpelier for the next few months, knowing that there would be several late nights as we planned out the historic Civil Union bill that passed that session. It seems strange to me to look back on that now, 10 years later, and think about how much has changed for me this decade. So since everyone else is doing a retrospective...

In the past 10 years I finished my term in the legislature, got married, had three kids, left two jobs, became a stay at home mom, sold a house, moved twice, added two sisters-in-law (Tim's sister and Aaron's wife) and one niece, gained 8 cousin-in-laws, and helped welcome 13 new cousins into our family. I've attended several family weddings and missed several others, which I will always regret. I skipped a few funerals because it was still too hard to go, even though it's been over 11 years since we lost my dad.

I spent a total of 12 days in the hospital following three C-sections, and countless hours awake with the boys. I've been peed on, pooped on, and thrown up on more times than I wish to count. I've "kissed it better" at least a thousand times. I've made about 200 meals that no one would eat. I've fake laughed at the boys' bad jokes, and really laughed at the good ones. I have spent hours crying over the guilt of being a mother and not knowing what to do. I have cheered Griffin on at about 50 baseball games while trying to keep the other boys from running onto the field. I have known the sadness of hearing that Henry needs extra help, and have felt the fierce desire to do whatever it takes to get him what he needs. I have burned approximately 30,000 calories chasing after the boys, and offset it all by eating their leftover chicken nuggets and goldfish. I've sent Tim 600 e-mails asking him what time he's coming home from work. I have been lucky enough to have spent over 3000 days as his wife, and am amazed everyday at what a wonderful husband and father he is.

This past decade was a monumental one for me. Over these 10 years I have gone from just being "me" to becoming "me plus". The world no longer revolves around me, but around my husband and three kids as well. This decade defined who I am, and who I will always be. In the year 2000, I was alone. In 2010, I am now a wife and a mother of three amazing boys. I know that all I have to do is look around me and know how lucky I am to be in this place in my life. This is the "me" now for every decade to come. And I am looking forward to every one of the next decades, years, days, hours and minutes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The imprints of Postpartum Depression

So its been 19 months since the birth of my son Lennon and some remnants of the postpartum depression I experienced still rears its ugly head once in awhile.

Yep, I said it, postpartum depression, that three letter word that a lot of women don't want to admit to. Which I was one of those women at first.

I knew the night that they called to say I could come in for the induction that things were not right. As my 4 year old took my face in her little hands and whispered, "Mommy, I wish you didn't have to go" I knew things were about to change.

I don't know why but I just had this feeling that this little creature inside me was not going to make a normal appearance. After about 2 hours of pushing, they decided a c- section was the way to go. They drugged me up some more and whisked me away. I felt like I couldn't breathe and everyone else was just going about their day.

We had no idea of the sex of the baby so it was going to be a great surprise. But, I didn't think I was ready for that surprise.

As Lennon made his entrance I felt drained and not excited. I felt all the happy emotions disappear and a new Maria walked into my head and body. She wasn't happy, she wasn't anything..

We stayed in the hospital for the 3 days where I became visible sad. I think that my husband, Stephan, saw it, but didn't know what to say. I was angry and frustrated because I couldn't move without hurting. I didn't feel like I knew this little person like I did when my daughter Stella was born. I was numb.

We came home with a screaming, not sleeping and not really eating baby. The feeling of "oh my God what did I do" was an under statement. I was beyond that. I am not sure who cried harder or more during that first week...Lennon or me.

After several long weeks of screaming and not sleeping I remember standing at the window in our living room at 4am holding a screaming (not baby cries but screaming) baby just wishing I was anyone else but me. I looked out that window and just wanted to get in the car and run away.
People would ask about the baby and say "oh he will be fine", they had no idea. I didn't want to hear their stories, I wanted sleep! Oh and to stop looking like I was 6 months pregnant.
The doctor discovered that Lennon had bad acid reflux and put him on medicine. It worked almost immediately! Bang! He was better but I wasn't.

I went to my OB and she prescribed some anti- depressants. She kept saying "don't put yourself through this, take some pills to help". I stared at the pills and cried. I was afraid I was going to lose more of me. I knew deep down that I would come out of this fog, but really could I? Every morning and night had become one. There was no end of the day, "going to bed, see you in the morning" didn't apply to our lives. It was a continuous day with no end in the sight. Would the pills really make me have a night?

I decided that therapy would be the first step. I walked in, cried for an hour, walked out and did that again and again for a couple of weeks.

Then, one sunny day Stephan was at the gym and Stella wanted to go to the park. I hadn't ventured out with Lennon because all he did was cry. I looked at him, he looked at me and I said "I am taking you out". We got the snuggly, Stella got excited and off we went. We went for about an hour and actually had a great time. I walked home from the park and actually smiled. NO, I beamed! I got back that theme song that everyone has in their head when they have accomplished something (we all do right??). Maria was walking back in to my head singing off cue and dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld.

For some reason that trip to the park was monumental. I have no idea, but it helped me see that I could beat this feeling and start the war against PPD.

I still have days where his whine can send me back to that window staring out and longing for a new life, but then he smiles and shakes his booty. The bond I was searching for is a secret bond that him and I share. He will snuggle into me and just exhale. It's like he is saying "we made it mommy, you and me"

I was lucky, I was able to pull myself out of that dark hole but I still slip at times. And you know what, that is okay because its just temporary.

My heart goes out to every woman (and man standing there not knowing what to say or do) dealing with PPD. But you know what, you have to embrace it to fight it!