June 24, 2012 -
I couldn’t believe that I was now in this position; unable to eat, sleep, drive, or hold my own baby without a concerted effort. Getting on the floor for tummy time was impossible; I felt invisible strings tying me back to the couch, my bed, anywhere but where I wanted to be. Everything inside was squirming and if I could have shed my own skin and found a new one, I would have, gladly. I ached to return to the person I had been only a week before, when I was tired and sore, but comfortable within my own body, in control of my mind and my emotions.
Mom came to take me to the doctor today. I sat at Starbucks with her before the appointment; sobbing, not even caring that people saw me and definitely unable to stop asking her to tell me why this was happening? What was happening to me? Between the blur of my tears through sunglasses, I could see people looking; it’s not every day a youngish woman breaks down in front of her herbal tea for all the world to see. It didn’t even matter. In 30 minutes I’d be standing in front of Dr. Lloyd, begging her to help me, make me better. I would do anything I said, just please fix me. I had gone from the ultimate heights of wonder at the beauty of my childbirth experience to something so low I couldn’t describe it to anyone. I was just...existing.
How did I get here?
The path to all-encompassing anxiety was for me, brief and intense. Just like a flash flood, the overwhelming sense of fear and dread that I was dealing with constantly came upon me without much warning, and without time to prepare. I was helpless in its wake. I couldn’t help thinking about the contrast to just a week ago, on my birthday (and Chris’s first Father’s Day), when things were still OK.
I was upstairs feeding Bryce. We loved this time; it was the most amazing I had ever felt about my body and what I could do with it, and I was in heaven. Bryce had latched in the hospital like he’d been through in-utero training on how to get it right, and we never looked back. Even the lactation nurses at the hospital, who have a reputation as sometimes been a little dictatorial about feeding techniques, didn’t have much to say when they walked into our room and I proudly showed them my careful notes on how often Bryce was eating. I knew how hard breastfeeding could be, and was grateful every time he settled in, when I could take the time to look at this perfect, beautiful boy that I had been given, gifted. He was a healthy, happy, chubby vision of love, and all the things that a baby should be.
Even my labor and delivery were, in my opinion and memory, a dream. I couldn’t believe that I had delivered this child through my own deep breathes and pushes from a place within myself that I didn’t know existed. Chris had told me that watching me push for those two hours, he saw a strength in me that surprised him. It was incredible to know what I was capable of, and so far, we had been doing great at home. We had a good routine, and Chris had even gone back to school for his last week of teaching while I stayed home. I knew I probably wasn’t eating enough, but I figured that I was busy trying to manage a newborn. Didn’t everyone struggle to get all those calories in each day? And occasionally in a quiet moment I had flashes of a hot white shot of adrenaline for no particular reason. Now I know it may have been anxiety, but I excused it and went about my business. I had so much to be thankful for; of course there would be a few things to iron out in time. All in all, life was great.
We had a good crowd over that day, at our new house. I’m still thankful we had that one day, when I was comfortable to just be in a room with other people, holding Bryce, and laughing. When I could go upstairs and sleep for a bit, soundly. I held onto that 32nd birthday for months to come as proof that I could be OK. I didn’t know that only a few days later, my world would crash down around me like a burning building, and that strength would evaporate, leaving me scared and unable to do the most basic things alone.