This tired, perpetually sleep-deprived, emotional wreck in maternity sweatpants and a spit-up stained hoodie simply can’t be the put-together, stiletto-sharp career woman from a few months ago. Add to that a daily dash of an aftershave-ridden, Zegna-clad husband on a perfectly undeterring schedule, and I’m plagued by skyrocketing insecurities and new realizations about why it is men cheat!
What a difference a day makes…the day before I gave birth I was well dressed, made-up and accessorized. The day after I gave birth (and everyday since then) life has been one moving target; my hair is washed on average once a week, my teeth are brushed on average once a day (Yes, “Ewww” I know. But it’s twice if I can manage to not just fall into bed in between night feedings), and the highlight of my day is getting 20 minutes of beautiful alone time for a scalding hot shower, before applying a generous layer of Lansinoh to my chew-toy boobs, stuffing my ever-so-important sleep bra with matching pads, and donning my freshly laundered button-down pajamas. Freshly laundered because of the well-formed crust of dried breast milk across the front every morning, that is. Ah, motherhood at its finest.
From my three weeks of motherhood I’ve come to realize that devilish term, postpartum depression, takes on many forms and is utterly acceptable. How can you just go on as normal when normal doesn’t exist anymore? Your body is wracked by pain and discomfort, you’re the main source of nourishment for the tiny little life you’ve created (no pressure there, darling), and no matter what you do your house is a mess. Oh, and add to that the plethora of family, in-laws, and friends offering advice about the way you feed the baby, plan your diet, change a diaper, et al, and you soon become one miserable mommy who seemingly just can’t get it together.
I only feel blue sometimes, but it’s always when I’m nursing. As much as I love how happy and dozy my little bundle of joy is when he is nursing, I find it incredibly overwhelming. Perhaps it has to do with my panic that I’ll never again be able to go out; after all, the baby needs to be attached to me at all times so my life is now over. I’m sure eventually I’ll be able to go hands-free and just have him dangling off me by his gums, while I unload the dishwasher and balance the chequebook. I don’t ever balance the cheque-book, does anyone even do that anymore? Is that a thing? Still, that doesn’t solve the whole “going-out” issue. Will I ever be able to leave my house without a stroller, a diaper bag, or a baby in tow?
Luckily a small portion of my brain still functions as my now more practical best-friend and screams out that these feelings shall pass, of course everything is upside down, it’s going to be like this for a while and things will eventually settle down (her billowing drapes are tattered, her finger waves are disheveled, and she needs a nap). And the wonderful British boarding-school upbringing I received reminds me to keep a stiff upper lip (at least until no one’s looking). This tiny trickle of clear thought is the only thing that keeps me somewhat sane in a life turned inside-out.
During the duration of my pregnancy all I wanted was to be at home. After devoting most of my time to the rigours of the fashion industry, this parenting thing was going to be super-easy for me. A holiday, if you will. All I looked forward to was the “golden period” when I would be on the sofa nursing a cooing baby, whilst watching old movies, with my dog at my feet and the fireplace roaring. The apartment was spic and span, with the setting sun casting its golden rays around my living room, framing our profile, a la Madonna and Child.
Instead I’m living a slightly altered version of that dream – the help quit because she was nipped by the dog, the dog was sent away for some extended behavioral training (I miss him intently), the baby is a bit moody, the golden rays of the setting sun are obscured by the apartment building in front of me, but sometimes I do get a reflection of them off the gleaming glass, and the only thing on TV are reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Also, everything smells slightly of old butter.
However – I shall persevere! I am determined to live the dream! That organized, super-woman shadow of my former self is in there somewhere and will come flying out to the rescue.
Just give her a few months.
Looking back at this before publishing it brought back a lot of memories. I wrote this after my husband came to say goodbye to me one morning. I had no glider yet and was nursing hunched over the edge of our low bed. I was tired, felt horrendous, and looked like a third-world beggar. He stood in the doorway and was…perfect. I remember looking up at him and just wanting to burst into tears. Who else was going through this? Feeling like this? I was so bewildered. Why did it feel like only my life had changed? Who was I? I couldn’t even answer that anymore. Pasting a smile on my face, I would listen to helpful suggestions such as “You should take the dog for a walk” and“nap when the baby naps,” while fighting the urge to shove them back down well meaning throats with a vengeance.
What should I have done with this internal and seemingly eternal struggle (probably taken the dog for a walk and napped as much as possible?) I’m not admitting anything. But fresh air and some “me” time wouldn’t have hurt. At the very least I could have bought a new toothbrush. And waited for time to reconcile the old and the new me, us.