I’m standing in the middle of a room, screaming at the top of my lungs and no one notices.
I’m surrounded. Surrounded by a husband and family who love me. Friends, both on-line and in real life. But no one ever says anything.
I want to yell, Can’t you see how much pain I’m in? Why are you ignoring me?
WHY? WHY? WHY?
Do they think I’m just asking for attention? Do they think I’m faking it for pretend sympathy? Do they think I could fix it but I don’t because then I would have nothing to talk about?
I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose to feel helpless and alone. I didn’t choose to have to battle with myself every single day to just get out of bed.
I have to talk myself into getting up. Talk myself into feeding myself breakfast. Every single day is broken up into tiny increments. Small goals to achieve. I say to myself, I have to make it through this hour and then it’s time for a nap. Just a couple more hours and then the husband will be home. One more day until the weekend.
I fight the urge to cry and do nothing but lay on the couch. I fight the urge to go into the kitchen, late at night, and pull a knife out of the block and put it to my wrist.
No one wants to hear me say this. No one cares.
I keep screaming. And screaming. And screaming.
All I hear in my head is the screaming.
You know that question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Well, here’s my question: “If something you don’t want to happen is taking place and you don’t blog about it, is it really happening?”
I thought if I didn’t blog about this and kept it a secret then I could save myself the agony of actually admitting that it is.
But I can’t not blog about it.
It’s my story and it’s important to me. So here it goes.
My breastfeeding journey has unexpectedly come to an end. I am devastated. Heartbroken. All those words that describe anguish? This is where I would place all of them if I had the time or space or energy.
I’ve known this day was coming. Fretted over it. Worried. Nervously paced back and forth trying to figure out a way that I could make it work for longer. But I have finally come to a point where I know there is no other choice but to stop.
I went off my depression medication in early August. It was the same medicine I had taken for depression while pregnant with Brigham. I took it for seven months and it was successful in keeping me stable during and after pregnancy. But over the summer I became increasingly anxious with the prospect of renting our house and buying a new one. I jumped head first into this exciting conquest. When it didn’t work out it upset me and I didn’t handle it well. To me, I lost another game. And I hate losing.
I spoke with my therapist about how I started to go downhill within about a week of coming off the medicine. I told her that my body reacts very quickly to meds whether I’m coming off or going on. It was hard to believe that coming off medicine could affect my mood so fast but since I’ve done this quite a few times already I knew where this was headed. And it wasn’t good. But I kept it to myself anyway.
My therapist is smarter than that though. She sent me to new psychiatrist. I was nervous to see anyone or go on anything. She knew that I was still breastfeeding and that my goal was to continue for at least six months. But she told me that at the very least I needed to have an action plan for when we knew it was absolutely necessary to go back on my meds.
So I went to visit a new doctor. He was every bit the mood disorder expert my therapist claimed he was. He actually listened to me. Took notes. It was obvious that he truly cared about my health. If you’ve ever been to a psychiatrist you know that is most definitely not the norm. For any psychiatrist worth seeing, it can take weeks if not months to get an appointment. But due to a cancellation and shamelessly name-dropping my therapist, I got in within a week.
He was unlike any doctor I’ve ever seen. Not too quick to over-medicate. As a full-time working mom of two little ones the last thing I need is to be more tired than I already am. Together we came up with a good plan of action. I left his office with prescriptions in hand. And told him that as soon as I felt the need I would use them.
After Labor Day, Brigham came down with his second ear infection and decided that the whole sleeping-through-the-night thing was a terrible idea. He would wake up screaming two or three times a night. He could not be consoled. I can handle the no-sleep thing for maybe a week. But a month? Not so much. Add to it that I had pneumonia in both lungs and the downhill slide became steeper.
At first when Brigham cried I felt compassion. But throughout the month of September the sound of his screams morphed into the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Many a night I would throw up my hands in desperation screaming that I couldn’t do this anymore. Let me just say there is a reason why they use lack of sleep as a form of torture during war. A month of no sleep and a baby screaming is enough to drive anyone insane.
I felt myself becoming less patient with Landon. I was snapping at Naaman. I couldn’t concentrate at work. All I wanted to do was drive away from my life. Hop in the car, gun it to 85 and make way for Mexico. All the while I felt incredibly guilty for feeling these feelings. I knew I wasn’t supposed to feel like this. It wasn’t normal.
I remembered back to when Brigham was born. I was so happy. In a state of bliss. I remember people asking to hold him and I didn’t let them because I didn’t want to put him down. I was in love with my baby boy. But by the end of September it was all I could do to pick him up when he cried. The constant screaming was just too much. When he would start crying I would too. I was way more emotional than usual. Lack of sleep is my biggest trigger for falling back into a depressive episode.
My mom recognized I was not myself and stepped in to help. She took the boys for a night so Naaman and I could get at least one night of sleep. When Naaman got home from work we went to bed early. But before we fell asleep I broke down in tears. He put his warm hand over my cheek as I lay sobbing.
I sobbed thinking of the countless times depression has robbed me of simple joys throughout the past seventeen years. Each time I have miraculously survived. Even when I thought I’d never last. Even when I didn’t want to. I stood up to him. And if I couldn’t someone stood up on my behalf. But here he is again. Knocking at my door. Threatening my life and my happiness. Even though he knows full-well that he is unwelcome. Even though he knows that I have slammed the door in his face before. He returns anyway. Once again, the battle to reclaim my life begins.
Naaman told me that we’re just going through a rough patch and it’s going to get better. And deep inside I know that. Deep inside I know that Brigham won’t always cry and I won’t always be sad. And then he said the words I needed to hear the most.
“I’m worried about you, Molly.”
That’s all it took. Because Naaman knows me better than any other person on this earth. If he is worried about me then I know it’s true. He is my mirror. I can look at him and see far more than any sliver of glass could show. We both knew that I was at the beginning stages of postpartum depression. But I decided I am not going to let it happen. Depression has already stolen too many precious years of my life. I refuse to hand over more. Especially not the first year of my baby’s life. No, my boys are too important.
The next morning I found the crumpled prescriptions at the bottom of my purse. I dropped them at the pharmacy to be filled and picked them up after work. I stared at the warnings on the bottle for quite some time: Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Damn it. DAMN IT! I was less than 30 days from my goal of six months. I didn’t make it. DAMN this depression for ruining yet another part of my life.
I wish I could describe how I felt when I took that pill. I’ve taken it before but it never meant the end of something so important. The end of one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The end of breastfeeding.
I thought about the last time I breastfed. It was Sunday, October 3rd. We had tried to feed Brigham a bottle at a birthday party but he didn’t like the formula. So I went out to my mom’s car. It’s amazing to me that I really didn’t care who walked by and saw. All I really cared about was getting my baby fed so he didn’t cry at the party.
The whole process was effortless. I pulled up my shirt, he latched and my milk flowed. Just like it’s supposed to work. Just what I had wanted. It was a beautiful moment between mother and son.
I wish I had known that that would be the last time I would breastfeed my son. I wouldn’t have been in such a rush.
The next day, when I got home from work my breasts were full and aching. Nature had come to an abrupt stop and it’s clear my body didn’t get the memo. Even though I thought I wanted to drive away from it all, truthfully I missed my baby when he was gone. I swooped him up in my arms and kissed his forehead. I sat down on the couch and started to pull up my shirt. The urge to nurse was instant and strong. Funny how it only felt like a duty in the beginning. But now, now it was mother’s instinct in its purest form.
Then reality smacked me in the face . . .
Molly, you can’t anymore. The medicine is already coursing through your body. But it can’t be in his.
That night before I placed him in his bassinet I held him. I gently rocked him to sleep. Tears dripped from my cheeks. A consolation prize for what should have been my milk. But I could no longer offer Brigham my milk. What I could offer him, however, were my words. I began to whisper . . .
I’m sorry, Brigham. I’m so sorry that mommy can’t feed you anymore. I know when you’re rooting at my chest wondering why I won’t let you nurse, you won’t understand. But I hope someday you will understand why I had to stop.
I hope you know how much I love you. If mommy didn’t need medicine to make her better I would have nursed you as long as you wanted. Please know that I’m sorry. Mommy tried her best. I want to thank you for giving me the chance to breastfeed. It was a dream come true.
He was fast asleep when I finished. Naaman walked in as I was wiping the tears away and asked why I was crying. I told him that I didn’t want to stop nursing yet. He said, “It’s okay, honey. You did great.”
I did, didn’t I? My journey to breastfeed my sons was not at all an easy one. While trying to breastfeed Landon, every single thing that could have gone wrong did. I was unable to nurse him for many different reasons. And even though Brigham was a latching champ, I had other breastfeeding roadblocks that I never imagined I would encounter. I still cannot believe I kept nursing after I had two huge MRSA-filled abscesses drained. And a case of thrush. And a new job started at eight weeks postpartum. And pumped in cars and bathrooms and supply closets. I kept nursing. For my son. For five months. For 150 days. I did not fail. I am scarred to prove it. Physically and emotionally scarred. And both my boys were worth it.
I have to get better. I have to stay well so I can take care of my family and myself. It’s just another part of my journey. I must accept.
I will miss breastfeeding. But depression cannot break the bond between mother and child. I won’t let it.
Cancer took my Daddy not even three months ago. The rest of the year hasn’t been much better.
2010 was supposed to be a fun year. A great vacation with my little girl – she was turning 5. We were so excited. First inkling that 2010 would NOT be cool? My 5-year olds dad would not allow me to get her a passport to take her on a cruise. The bastard didn’t think I’d bring her back! Wha? Obviously he knows me even less than he did when we were married. Idiot.
So my dreams of a Mama and Gigi vacation were put on the back burner.
February 2nd, I turned 32 and I wasn’t happy about it.
Where was my life? Not where I wanted it even though I did everything the right way. I graduated high school, went straight to college, graduated college, married college sweetheart and waited the right time after the wedding to have baby. We thought that three years was a good amount of time.
Uhhh…not so much.
Marriage was not a happy thing for me. Every day, I was put-down. My self-esteem shattered. I found out I was pregnant (because, you know, that’s what happens when you have sex and don’t use protection. After, all it was “cheaper” to use condoms instead of birth control pills. Or something like that).
All my life I wanted to be a mother. My pregnancy was awful. Not because I was sick or anything but because my husband was an asshole. He called fat and crazy, I started believing him while I wondered what the fuck I was doing with this bastard? Well, I needed to work things out because we were having a baby. And not just a baby…MY daughter, the one that I been waiting my whole life to have.
She was born on a freezing cold St. Patrick’s day. Came screaming into the world and was…perfect. This child was sent to save my life, I knew that the moment I saw her. We named her Grace (I call her Gigi online for “privacy”). I promised that little girl on the first night of her life that I would never let ANYTHING hurt her. ANYTHING or anyONE.
Life went on with a colicky, very super-attached-to Mama infant. That child cried more than I thought anyone could ever cry EVER. I wore holes in the carpet walking with her jiggling her and whispering “shhhhhhh shhhhhhh” to get her to sleep. We moved to a brand-new city when she was five months old. Because it’s REALLY a good thing to uproot a mom with severe postpartum anxiety and depression from her only support system (her family) and move her with her colicky infant to a new place where she has to “bring home the bacon” while he leaves at 6:00 am every day to get a fancy-schmancy MBA. I was in a really good place in life. /sarcasm
Two months into the hell that was this move, I was on the phone with my mother while I was pumping in a dark, cold, hidden office at my work. I told her how awful The Husband had been. I told her that he’d said he would “rather me be dead than be Grace’s mom.” (Now there was more that happened but I’ve blocked most of it out. Some broken closet doors, a night spent sleeping with 911 dialed on my phone in front of my daughters crib and some other stuff)
Somehow, this didn’t concern me for ME…but for her. My mom decided that she and my father would hook up their trailer that night and make the 3 1/2 hour trek and move us home the next day.
The next morning I got up and dutifully kissed my husband goodbye. I called my parents as soon as he was out and could no longer be seen on the road. By 12:30 we were headed “home.” I called The Husband and told him that we were gone and things needed to change before we came back.
I fully believed that we WOULD be going back. But then? Then my colicky cried-all-the-time-unless-she-was-attached-to-Mama’s-boob became Super Happy Confident 7-month old. What? My child was picking up on every single source of stress in me and reacting from that. Weird. I’ve always said she is my heart and she truly was…we have been cosmically connected from the moment of her conception.
Anyway…4 years and much angst, tears, anger, hurt, hearings, court sessions, lawyers and judges later – I was declared free and divorced from The Husband. Whoopee! But yet I still had to hand over a piece of me every other weekend and every Tuesday evening. Grrr. I still hate him even though he is now The Ex.
Anyway…2010 was a year of promise. It was going to be good. I had a job that was as close to my dream job as I could get (or at least as close to my dream salary being somewhat geographically challenged). This was going to be a GOOD YEAR.
And then? It wasn’t.
February 4th. My Mama took a slip on the ice. A couple of scary moments where we thought she was bleeding in her brain. BLEEDING in her brain. That was bad. I took off work and ran to rescue my child (whom my mother took care of and didn’t know if she was at school or not because she wasn’t quite sure when or where she fell – a severe concussion will do that to you).
February 5th. I got fired from my job. FIRED FROM MY JOB. I’m a single mom who bought her very first house not even 5 months before and my jackass bosses FIRED me. I won’t get into reasons but let’s just say they aren’t exactly all “legal.”
Then my Daddy starts having health issues while we are still dealing with my Mama’s issues. Now yes, I’m 32 years old but when I say I’m close with my family – I am CLOSEWITHMYFAMILY. Multiple conversations with each of them a day. These people are not only my blood relations but my best friends.
So…winter turns to spring, I may or may not be enjoying a bit of unemployment fun and playing the “stay at home mom” gig. Never thought it would happen as I’m a single mom and well, I have no sugar daddy.
April…my fabulous Daddy is diagnosed with fucking brain cancer. BRAIN CANCER. It seriously doesn’t get much worse than that. He died not even three months after diagnosis. Motherfucking cancer and the motherfucking staph infection that came with his surgeries. I am not prepared to be half an orphan. I’m too young for this crap.
Then my sister…ahhh…my sister. There are not enough words or space on this site to even get into her. I love her, she drives me crazy and I love her 4 children as my own. She moved them 3 hours away. 3 hours away! Not the best choice given everything going on (and by everything I mean that this storyline could rival any soap opera…I’m NOT KIDDING). So my dad dies, my sister moves, my daughter-my heart-my sidekick in everything starts real life school and I have NO FUCKING JOB.
Add onto this that my nephew (0ne of the 4 that my sister has birthed) has leukemia. Yeah…unfortunately after everything we’ve been through this year that is an afterthought now. Poor kid. But he is doing well so that’s always a positive.
So…that’s my story. I have no “home.” This story could go under abuse (which I grazed with my marriage to The Ex), Divorce, Cancer, Parent Loss, Grief, Economic Struggles, Infidelity if I got into my sisters story, chronic illness if I went into all of my back story (Ulcerative Colitis), Depression, Anxiety, Postpartum Depression, Family Relationships, Pediatric Illness and it could go on and on. So I just choose to categorize it as “Things That Are Bullshit.”
So my Band friends, this is a small piece of the fucked up-person that is me.
I’m in a full scale “life sucks” moment now and just hope eventually maybe I can shit rainbows and see unicorns again. Maybe after I kick this damn strep throat that I have right now. School cooties.
My father is a terrible person. I’ve written my story before and I’m sure you will absolutely agree with that statement. What he did changed my life forever.
I’m in therapy right now. I started in April, three months after I was given the diagnosis of postpartum depression. I started anti-depressants right away, but I was too scared to go to therapy. I didn’t want to see what would come out.
But I went. And last month, something happened that I wasn’t expecting.
Anger. Lots of it. So much anger.
Towards my mother.
I didn’t know where this came from. I know it isn’t her fault that my father did what he did. She had no idea. How could she? It was actually because of her that it stopped.
So where is this anger coming from?
It could be from the talks we had after everything came out. She told me never to tell anyone about what happened, especially any boy I was dating. If they knew what happened, they wouldn’t like me any more. Boys don’t like to date, as she put it, “damaged goods.”
It could be the times we talked about marriage. She told me she took marriage vows seriously. In sickness and health. She believed my father was very sick, which is why he did what he did. If she’d had her way, she would have stayed married to him. The only way she would have left him was if he ever hurt us kids. But, like I said in the previous post, I guess what I went through didn’t count as being “hurt.”
It could be all the guilt she would make me feel any time I did ANYTHING with my father. I’ve never wanted a full father-daughter relationship with him, but it wouldn’t be so bad if we had SOME relationship. But anytime I talked to him on the phone or had lunch or dinner with him or invited him to anything, I would get a guilt trip.
It could be the fact that depression is bullshit. In high school, I was very depressed. She told me to knock it off and get over it, This family doesn’t turn to drugs to help us.” Enter extreme guilt when I started taking Lexapro for my postpartum depression.
It could be the fact that she uses me as her personal therapist. I’ve heard everything about her current marriage; the ups, downs, and (lack of) sex life. And when I tell her I don’t want to hear these things? “When my mother was alive, she and I were best friends and I always hoped that I could be best friends with my daughters. Sorry for wanting to confide in my best friend. I guess I’ll just have to go back to living in silence.”
It could be the fact that she told me several times that if it hadn’t been for my sisters and I, she would have killed herself a long time ago. She even “jokes” about committing suicide. But she masks it by saying she doesn’t want to take pills or anything. She wants to kill herself with chocolate. That way no one will know she’s trying to actually kill herself.
I wonder where this anger towards her is coming from?