Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Right where I want to be.

We've been doing good letting the baby cry it out at night lately. We haven't caved, and we're all surviving.

But, tonight? Tonight I really needed to cuddle my baby. I needed those quiet, tranquil moments when she's cuddly and close, when she's out like a light and even snoring at times.

Yesterday I started reading, Down Came the Rain. The book is written by Brooke Shields, and it's all about her struggle through postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, Rowan. I can clearly remember the exact place I was standing in Barnes and Noble the first time I saw her book.

I was pregnant, picked up the book, and quickly put it back after thumbing through a few pages. Some of the words I was reading were just appalling. I didn't want to read more. It seemed pretty dark, and I wasn't going to go through that - so, I put it back and didn't think much of it. I moved on to other books about fetal development, labor, and baby showers.

But, after having Kaylee and waging my own battle with postpartum depression, I've really been curious about what she shared in her book, and what she went through. I think it's a pretty brave thing for a celebrity like herself to share her story and put it out there.

Well, let me tell you that I'm glued to the book, and although there are things she writes about that I can't relate to, there are plenty of things that are stark reminders of my early postpartum life.

She talks about feeling disoriented in her own home during the few days following her daughter's birth. Feeling like everyone but her was caring for her baby because, physically, she could not. She talks about how the majority of her time spent with the baby was when people would bring the baby to her for feeding. She talks about feeling like the neverending cycle of crying, sleepless nights, and feedings wouldn't end. And she talks about feeling like a failure for not being able to do some of the most basic tasks of motherhood, and therefore feeling disconnected from and unfamiliar with her very own baby.

Those are things that resonated with me. And it took me back. It reminded me how far I've come. It was not a place I wanted to be. It was certainly not where I envisioned I would be.

I remember feeling almost like a bystander in my baby's life for the first week - just standing by and feeling completely helpless. In some ways, I was. It hurt to turn over in bed, to get out of bed, to walk to the bathroom, to go to the bathroom. I was in so much pain that it was hard to focus on anything else.

And my family knew that. And they were there for me every step of the way. They alternated nights staying with Dennis and I for the first week. They assumed full baby duty during the nighttime hours so we could attempt to actually sleep.

I remember thinking to myself that I would never be able to sleep again. I really believed that. I was so exhausted and tired that it seemed that the ability to fall asleep had escaped me. I was too busy trying to sleep and not being able to, that everyone else had to take care of my baby for me. I felt like the show was going on without me. I wondered if my baby even knew who her mother was, because I certainly wasn't the one spending the majority of the time with her. In my illogical and sleep-deprived mind, I wondered if I'd be able to bond with her, or if some magical window of prime bonding time had passed us by.

I loved my baby the instant she was born. She amazed me. I was in awe of her, and I loved her with everything I had. But, not being able to have a deeper involvement in her care made it harder for me to feel that connection with her right away because I physically could not do the things I wanted to do. I couldn't just sit awake - even during the day - and stare at her, holding her, rocking her. I couldn't change many of her diapers, clean her up, or wash and fold her clothes. I couldn't even breastfeed my own child, for pete's sake. I felt like the epitome of failure.

My family was (IS) amazing, and I have no idea how we'd have survived that first week without them. They stayed up through the night and never complained once. They did way more than we ever expected them to do. They were by our sides through it all. And when I couldn't be there for my baby, they were. It was because of them that I was finally able to get to that place of being able to be there for my little girl.

So, tonight, when I read more about Brooke's struggles that mirrored my own, I felt an overwhelming need to just hold my baby for more than a quick hug before I put her in her crib to cry it out. Tonight was certainly not a night for crying it out.

I needed to hug her, and hold her close, and tell her how much I loved her. Because tonight I was reminded of a time when I wondered how I could possibly make it to the place I'm at today.


(This post is a part of Mama Kat's Thursday Writer's Workshop, taking place every Thursday at Mama's Losin' It. Specifically, this post is about prompt #5, which is, "Where would you like to be?")


Summer said...

Awwww, I loved this Sera! I so want to read that book.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful! I read her book too and I loved it.

Days of Whine & Noses said...

great post!

Dan said...

Good to hear that you have found the hearth (as in that old adage, home is where the hearth is)

Enjoy it - the young'un will be grown before you blink. You will eventually even miss those nights of no sleep and all cry and remember them fondly. I suspect that is why grandparents enjoy the grandkids so much.

Deb said...

wow. i can NOT even begin to imagine. i think about how overwhelmed i was with a newborn, and then to be suffering from PPD on TOP of that??!! you are a stronger woman than most to face it and deal with it and treat it.

i think one of our greatest sources of comfort, as humans, is knowing we are not alone. i think how brooke shields handled her struggle and then to write about it is awesome.

Kiki (G.G.) said...

I enjoyed your letter. I haven't read Brooke's book. I didn't suffer from a severe case of depression after the birth of my son. I had the baby blues for about a week. No matter what happened each day I would just cry. Hubby was late for dinner, I would cry. My son wouldn't latch on, I would cry. Got no sleep, cry. Dirty laundry on the floor, cry. I was a mess that first week. I eventually snapped out of the blues, but the bad dreams and scary thoughts started after. Courteney Cox mentioned in some interviews she had the same type of thoughts about someone or something harming her daughter. Hearing that she went through it too made me not feel like such a crazy person. I dealt with these fears for the first few years. I still sometimes deal with my fears. During his first year of school, I would park the car after carpool dropoff and walk out and watch him through the window for about five minutes. I wasn't worried about him missing me, I was worried about someone entering the building to harm him. The door to the building not being locked, etc. At the end of the school year I would drop off and go park, but not get out. The security guard, J, actually asked me "are you ready to let go yet?" This past school year I got better, and would just circle the block a few times in the beginning. J would smile and nod at me. I am getting better, day by day. Take care.

April said...

I am so proud of you Sera for all the posts you have written on this subject. I know you have helped people. I am also proud of you for doing what it took to get yourself where you are today.

Mom said...

To use some of your words, Sera... I think you are brave to put out your story for people to read. New Moms need to know they are not the only one going through the feelings you and Brooke did. I'm so very proud of you.

Your gift of writing is going to help so many people. You really are awesome.

Isn't it great to know you and Kaylee have a great bond to each other now? You definitely are in the place you should be. You're a great Mom!

Dani said...

Beautiful post! I think there are so many women who feel alone in this and need to be aware that they are not! Lovely. Thank you.

Vivienne said...

I didn't have that struggle, but I do want to read Brooke's book. I think any time someone overcomes an obstacle it should be acknowledged. I'm glad things are going well for you thanks for sharing this.

Jen said...

This is a great post. I can so relate. I remember those feelings. Hug your baby again, I am going to hug mine.

Kelly said...

Thank you for your honesty!! I too suffered through much of the same things!! I bought, read and re-read Brooke's book and found it very comforting. I have ALWAYS been up front with the difficulties I had when Tay was a new born, I did not put on that brave face and fake it. I did not want any of my friends to go through the same things I went through and not think that they were okay!! I guess that is why God made me have the first child of all of my friends!

Jenners said...

Lovely beautiful and amazing post. : )

Michelle said...

OH MY GOODNESS. You have me in tears. I'm sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for sharing that.

Holly said...

You are going to help a lot of people with this message. I sometimes forget how frightened new mothers can feel. I'll be linking to your story to help others! Thanks!