Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's just a wall in the maze

Two weeks ago my husband accidentally dropped our 8 week old son on his head, causing a skull fracture.  I saw the whole thing and it was completely an accident.  I had to talk to two social workers after, one who came to my home and insisted on meeting my daughter.  She hung out with me for an hour and told me I should have my own radio show.  As if making jokes and being charming were normal things to do after your baby's head injury.  My husband wore our son's hospital bracelet for a week.  Every time I close my eyes, I see him hit the floor again.  I'm amazing in an emergency, but the truth is that I never recovered from the accident.  My son is doing amazing: eating, growing, developing as usual.  I don't think I ever calmed down.  Over the last two weeks I've felt so overwhelmed, incompetent, anxious, and incredibly guilty.  I've felt like I can't care for my own children and I don't know what to do with that.  Yesterday I was smart enough to get some help.
I'm extremely lucky to have a counselor that I see regularly.  I started when my last husband left me and never stopped going.  Why would I? It's an amazing feeling to have someone to talk to who knows you and your history and doesn't judge you. It's their job to be impartial.  As soon as I walked in and began to tell him something was wrong he pinpointed the accident.  He said I never left that state of mind and I'm suffering from PTSD.  I used to think that was something that only deployed soldiers had.  He said I have to finish the story...my son fell on his head and has a skull fracture and he's ok.  And he's ok.  He's ok.  Just because I handed my son to his father who dropped him and I couldn't save him doesn't make me a bad mother.  It doesn't mean that I can't take care of either of my children.  Apparently my confidence shattered when he hit the floor as well.  It's funny, just knowing what it is makes me feel better.  Of course I'm upset from the accident!  Why wouldn't I be?  Why did I think the single worst moment in my parenting experience would have no long term affect on me?
So now I'm chemically imbalanced and I need to do something about it.  I've been told that I need to do 150 minutes of cardio a week, which is probably a good idea anyway, but also to go for medication counseling immediately to take something mild to get myself back on track.  I've never taken any sort of medication before and I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was scared to death.  I don't want my mood controlled or changed.  But then again I take birth control synthetic hormones and that does just that, doesn't it?  Today is a new day.  Today I will take my son on a walk out in the sunshine and start to feel better.  Tomorrow I will leave him with his dad at night for an hour and go to yoga.  In two weeks I go back to work and I will go on a walk, exercise at my desk, and one day make it back to the gym twice a week for power yoga like I used to.  I guess a lot has gone off the rails in my life since I had a baby.  I'm home, not working, and just thinking myself crazy.
I don't think there's anything worse I can do for myself than to sit alone and think with no interruptions.  I will roll a thought or scenario around in my head and examine it from every angle until it doesn't make sense anymore.  Like when you were young and you used to say the words "ambulance" or "dracula" over and over until they didn't make sense anymore.  That's my life right now: it doesn't make sense anymore and I don't feel like myself.  So I'm going to start exercising again and I'm probably going to take some sort of drugs my dr prescribes me because I need to get better.  I'm contemplating stopping nursing as well, which is also causing me to feel extremely guilty. I nursed my daughter for 6 months and the thought of stopping with my son after 3 makes me feel like I'm depriving him of something, which I know is nonsense.  There are plenty of formula fed babies who are healthy and happy.  But if I can't get ahold of how I'm feeling because my hormones are making me insane, then I won't be doing anyone any good.  I have been reminded that I need to take care of myself.
Now that I know that I've hit a wall, I can find my way around it.  I have learned the hard way that repressing my feelings and not asking for help always end terribly. I'm resolved not to ever be that person again. I'm going to get better.  I'm worried that my husband is unfortunately avoiding his feelings and pretending that he is fine.  I can only imagine how terrible he must feel being the one who dropped him.  All I did was watch.  But I've also learned with him that you can't force him to talk about his feelings or make him get help.  He told me that he doesn't even want to go and see our couples counselor anymore, which I feel is a huge step backwards.  It's proof to me that he's running from whatever is going on in his head.  I think the accident itself was terrible enough.  I hope that both me and his father can get past this and back into a healthy state of mind.  Today is day 1.  It's time to start feeling better.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The struggle is real

I don't know what it is about Christmas that I've always disliked.  My family used to drive from Camarillo to Palm Desert to see my grandparents when I was a child so that everyone could hate each other face to face.  It was always a miserable time in my family and somehow the year that my mom's aunt died from alcohol-related complications it just seemed fitting.  I remember looking out the window at the xmas lights hung from the roof.  That was my happy time.  I used to pretend I couldn't sleep to sneak a peek at the adults filling the stockings.  When I got older, the loud arguing made the rouse not worth it.  Now Christmas is about sales and shopping and trying to decide how much to spoil the children.  Lots?  Aren't they already spoiled?  I don't really believe in presents for holidays.  Life is hard. I do presents for surviving.
These days, life is especially hard.  I'm going back to work in two weeks and I can't decide if I'm happy or sad about that.  A part of me wants to stay home with my baby and the other misses my desk. Naturally I use the times I want to return to work to tell myself that I'm a bad mother.  Who would want to leave their baby?!  One that feels overwhelmed.  Let me tell you how I do postpartum depression: I guilt myself for not being good enough.  I know so many stay at home moms.  They have multiple kids, manage to keep the house clean, bake, and smile from time to time.  Me?  Not even close?  I'm completely out of my element.  I nearly died with one, never mind two.  I have no idea how to give my daughter attention and care for my newborn.  And my daughter will be 5 in three weeks.  My God. FIVE.  Have I been at this mommy game that long?  Seriously, why haven't improved?  Let me tell you what happens these days.  Wednesday and Friday night roll around when my daughter is with her father and I breath a sigh of relief for having a break.  And then I cry.  I cry because I miss her. I cry because I am relieved she's gone for the night.  I cry because I feel like I'm not good enough and my kids deserve better.  Why won't the baby go to bed so I can give her story time and some attention?  Why can't I get through an evening without losing patience and yelling at her?  It's vey hard for me to believe that I'm good enough these days and I hate that.  I hate guilt and I'm guilting myself.
I've managed to let the weight thing go.  I'll get back on weight watchers and live in yoga pants after the holidays.  I'll consider it a win if I get to work, stay awake the whole day, and manage not to embarrass myself professionally until the baby is a year old.  I know there are some limitations to what mom can accomplish in a day and I'm ok with some of those.  I guess I just don't know what is normal and what is not.  What should I really be expected to uphold in the realm of motherhood when it comes to raising two kids?  I don't know.  I can tell you the idea of getting them both up in the morning, to daycare and preschool at two locations, then myself to work seems impossible.  Then I have to pick them both up at a reasonable hour, nurse the baby, make dinner, do the dishes, bath time for both, stories, and bed.  Can I do that?  Yes I have a husband who can help me some, but he works late with his new job and can't be there as much as we expected.  Luckily my daughter's dad is willing to help pick up the kids with me.  I'm so grateful for the help and I feel like shit for not being able to do it myself too.  It takes a village, right?  Except I seem to be the other one who needs the whole damn village on speed dial.
I don't remember how I was hormonally after my daughter was born. Her dad tells me I blamed myself for everything and resented her.  Something else to feel bad about.  I don't resent my son.  In fact, I love him to death and I'm grateful he's here.  But I worry I have screwed things up for my little girl by giving her a brother when I was trying desperately to do the opposite.  I had him for her.  I want them to have each other for a lifetime.  My sisters are the cornerstone of my world.  I couldn't make her an only child, even though my younger sister did point out that we both failed to give our little girls sisters...just brothers.  I don't really think either of us knows what that means just yet!  We've always had each other and the brothers came later when we got married.
When you have a baby it changes everything. We have all heard this over and over.  I guess I thought it wouldn't be so bad since I already have a child.  I was so wrong. I think about how I haven't traveled since last April.  I never go out anymore and see any friends--no dancing, no brunch, no shopping.  I'm home all day taking care of the baby and it's a lonely life.  This will change when I go back to work, but not much.  I look forward to my next trip this upcoming April when my sister has her baby.  The funny thing is I will leave my situation to enter into the same one there: home with the new baby.  I wonder why I'm so excited to go there, but unhappy here.  Maybe because it's not my everyday life.  I don't know.
At least I'm not having identity issues this time like I did last time. I'm Mom.  I started that way and I wouldn't change that.  I just don't know what sort of mom I'm expected to be or where those expectations come from.  Should we smile while we carry our burdens? Are we allowed to cry?  Do I still deserve time off and help when I've had two monsters now?  I don't know.  I don't know if my daughter understands that mommy is stretched thinner.  I don't know if she prefers her dad's house now to mine where she has all of the attention.  I sit home and think and think and cry and make myself insane.  And I can't stop.  I've always been the kind of person to sit down with someone and listen to their troubles and tell them it will be ok and mean it.  I always have the answer.  Today, I'm not feeling that way.  I'm feeling so overwhelmed and lost and alone.  The greatest fear I have is failing as a mother and role model to my kids.  It's a slippery slope and I feel my feet sliding.