Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of Laughing Through the Chaos - 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.


Anonymous said...

Very valuable message

Traci said...

I have read this book also. I have to say that as a 'survivor' of PPD myself I was really appreciative of the way Brooke wrote her story. The book was so truthful and even a little funny sometimes. I laughed and cried with her!

Laura said...

The best I have read of this genre is "Operating Instructions" by Anne Lamott. Check it out if you haven't already.