From Another Mother: A Personal Story of Losing My Mind
<Two years ago I told the world that I suffered from postpartum depression, and that I was writing a book about my experiences. Today, I am still slogging through the writing process. As is turns out, it was harder than I ever thought it could be to seriously – and hilariously – reflect on that time. I still feel so much regret, yet still feel the power of my experience and sense of humour will be an asset to moms. I promise you, I am still working hard towards this.
This scar tissue will bear fruit… no, wait a minute. That’s gross. Um. From my loins. NO. Hmmm. Here’s what I wrote two years ago, inviting all parents to share their stories – with me and with others. This is so important to everyone – mothers, fathers, women, men, and children.>
Dear friends of varying shapes, sizes and friendliness who won’t mind my use of foul language,
On May 10th, 2009 at 4:53 am, Mother’s Day, I gave birth to my amazing son.
On May 10th, 2009 at 4:59 am, when the nurse brought me a day old bran muffin and a styrofoam cup of rice krispies, I began my year long battle with postpartum depression.
As I held my son in one arm and nibbled bits of crusty bran with the other, I stared at him. Through the muffin crumbs on his tiny, smooshed face he seemed to say “We’re in for one heck of a ride, mama.”
We would be.
It seems every mother and child share a story like this. The wild ride of emotions faced in the beginning of the journey of motherhood is, I believe, universal.
A gorgeous mix of weeping at the overwhelming miracle of life,
… of weeping at the overwhelming and pervasive exhaustion of learning to breastfeed through reruns of Law and Order at 3 am,
… of weeping at the overwhelming disappointment of not fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans after the first week like your best friend Cindy (that beautiful, beautiful, skinny bitch!!!!),
… of weeping at the overwhelming sadness of when the seam of your sock just won’t line up with your toes and why is he still crying I just fed him and I just want to run into the woods and be crushed by a falling tree and then have my body torn apart by ravenous birds who will take me away from this awful, awful place and ohmygod I’m such a horrible mother seriously though why can’t I stop crying why is this happening to me I am a disgusting horrible person and DON’T TOUCH ME AND WHY HAVE MY TITS BEEN OUT OF MY SHIRT FOR WHAT FEELS LIKE DECADES!?!?,
… of weeping when for a moment you’re distracted from the despair of your crooked sock seams when he smiles for the first time (and no it wasn’t just gas, mom. God. All you want to do is see me fail. ALL YOU EVER WANTED WAS TO SEE ME FAIL!)
If you made it through without similar breakdown, congratulations, you’re officially some kind of magical mama unicorn or something. If, like me and seemingly every other mother I’ve talked to, you struggled with navigating the broad range of hormone and exhaustion-fueled emotions, I offer you this.
Postpartum depression (or “baby blues” or “I’m just really tired because I haven’t slept in one million hours”) is serious, and I am not here to make fun of it. I urge women, all women, all families, to seek the support they need to make it through, and I call out to families and communities to support mothers. We grow humans, and damn well deserve your love and respect! What helped me most through these times were the deeply honest stories of other mothers who worked hard to balance motherhood with wanting to constantly destroy anyone who asked “so, he’s not sleeping yet?”
There are plenty of books and resources new mothers can turn to for ”joyful” encouragement. There are far fewer places for new mothers to read about other new mothers losing their shit, sharing a laugh, and realizing that you’re likely not the only woman in history to yell at your newborn baby for waking up demanding a boob right as you begin to shovel chicken wings in your mouth after weeks of not eating a hot meal. These are the stories I intend to collect and share here.
I’m looking for mothers (and fathers!) who are willing to share an anecdote or two that will be edited into a short chapter. Think “Chicken Soup for the Soul” only with lots of material about cleaning baby shit off the wall while you cry about your old vagina. The final product will be a book that every mother will share with every mother to be (or the unsold boxes will be piled in my garage and eventually burned at my wake.)
And I’d love for you to be a part of it. Granted, not everyone is comfortable sharing these kinds of details, and I understand that. It takes a lot of courage to be honest about those moments that you often, as a mother looking back on your child’s first year(s) might deeply regret (as I know I do.) But know that you are in a safe place. My shoulders are soft and were once covered in baby vomit. I believe that these kinds of stories share strength and wisdom that is often overlooked.
I’m still forming how I’ll collect these stories, and am open to a variety of methods. A phone call. An email interview. Sitting in a coffee shop. A nice box or seven of wine in my living room. If you are willing to share with me, I am willing to listen in whatever venue you are most comfortable. Your names would be changed if you prefer to remain anonymous. You can even choose a cool alias like “Nancy Karatekid” or “Gladys Laser Fists” or “Tim the Enchanter.”
If you are interested, I want to hear from you. If you know of someone who might be interested, please share this with them along with my contact information. Mothers of any age are welcome to participate – fathers, too! I’ve already collected stories from mothers who are still in the throes and throw-ups of their babies’ first year, right through to women who are grandmothers who have frighteningly entertaining tales of transitioning out of their Twilight Sleep into a one room-apartment where the baby slept in a padded turkey roaster.
I truly look forward to hearing from you, hearing your stories, and sharing a good belly laugh (or belly cry… that’s when we compare extra stomach skill and/or c-section scars and cry a little) about this zany, heartwarming, blood-curdling thing known as motherhood.