Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Truth on Motherhood


I have been waiting to do this post for a while, and I am finally taking the plunge.

Motherhood x 2 has been rough for me....It all started with the horrific birth that I can't get out of my mind. The week in the NICU separated from Ellie, worried sick about our little girl. And then coming home. I just thought things would be calming down and we would go about our merry little way as a family of four. THEN we got a phone call from the doctor that changed our perspective on how lucky we are. We had to wait and worry forever. Time seemed to tick by slowly wondering if Ellie was going to have some version of Galactosemia. After two weeks of hell, finally we got some answers. Ellie was going to be fine. She is a carrier of Galactosemia and has a lowered enzyme count than the average person. But she can drink milk, and she will live a normal life.

Ellie, oh sweet girl you have put us through A LOT in just the first two months of your life!! It is no wonder that through all of that I wasn't feeling good. Right around week nine or ten I started crying. I cried a lot. All the time. I wasn't even sure what the crying was for. Usually I was tired. I would cry because I felt like I couldn't do this, I couldn't be a mom to these two beautiful kids. Chris would call and check on me at home, and I would cry. Ellie would be crying in the car and I would call Chris crying. Saying this is too hard, I can't do it. I would nurse Ellie and sob. Chris and I would have long talks when he got home. I would say, I want to go back to work. I don't want to stay at home anymore. The more we talked about it, it didn't make sense financially. We would actually lose money each month if I went back to work. He said, look into it if you want. It is totally up to you. I knew I didn't want to leave the kids, but I also didn't want to be at home anymore either. I was losing my mind. Every day felt like a marathon to keep my head up, and try to do fun things with Bradley.

I started sharing how I was feeling with friends. I told them about the crying and the disconnect I felt towards Ellie. I loved her so much deep down, but I didn't want to be around her. I know that is so sad to share, but it is the truth. I couldn't wait for naps or bedtime. Just a break from holding the baby or nursing the baby. Once the babysitter started on Tuesday and Thursdays I got even more worried. I felt this sense of freedom to leave her at the house. When I took Bradley to the sprinkler park one morning I actually had a sick feeling while I was there. I was beyond happy to be somewhere without her. Bradley was so fun and so easy. She was so hard and demanding. It felt sick to admit it, but it is the truth. I told a friend at the park that I was so glad to be somewhere without her, and she said I am sure that is normal. This is comfortable with Bradley and familiar. Don't worry you will get back in the swing of things with her.

I started losing weight and feeling hopeless. We were getting ready to move and our life was in shambles. I had boxes around the house, Chris was crazy finishing the new house, and Ellie wasn't sleeping at night. Finally by week 13 I went to the doctor. I sat there and told her everything. The horrible birth, the health scares, and the crying. I was completely honest and open, and said, I need help. After a month of being on medication I can truly say I am a different mom. A better mom. A stronger mom. A happier mom.

Granted a lot has changed in the past month too. We have moved...whew. Ellie is sleeping better at night. I have some distance from her in our new house. In our rental townhouse our bedroom shared a wall with her nursery. Even with the door closed at night I could hear ever. little. thing. Now Ellie and I have some space. When she is sleeping, I am able to sleep better too. If she is crying to fall asleep for a nap, I can't hear her in the kitchen. It is much less stressful. I have also decided that I will not take on the world. We don't venture out to do all that much in the heat. We make little trips to the library or the new gym close by. We take LONG walks around the neighborhood in the double stroller. We play outside in the backyard. But, within the window of Ellie's naps. Everyone is happier and there are much less crying in the car. I wanted to be more "on the go" this time around. But, it just hasn't worked for Ellie or I. She was very portable in the beginning, but much less so now. I would try to run out to the park and stay for a few hours, but only to come home with a screaming baby in the back seat. She would be too worked up to eat and totally stressed out. It wasn't fun for anyone. I know my limits and I know her limits too.

Part of me found myself missing last summer. I missed the easiness of our days. I missed my friends. Bradley and I would go to the pool for hours on end. We would hit Bodo's Bagels on the way home for some lunch, or pop into the grocery store. He would take a 3 hour nap in the afternoon, and all was right with the world. Those days are over. Maybe next summer. Right now we are just doing what works for Ellie and I.

After a long talk with my good friend Debbie she said something that really stuck with me. She said, "clare it doesn't really matter what you all are doing as long as you are happy and enjoying being with the kids. they won't remember 'what' you did, or the museums you went to. they will remember the feelings they had when you are together." this really helped me. Bradley and I have had so much fun playing around the house. We started writing books together after he brought one home from school. He made an obstacle course in the basement with his old slide and tunnels. We really have had fun, and I have been much more relaxed.

A part of me wants to go and do things. Fun trips for Bradley. As much as I would love to do a repeat trip to Busch Gardens this summer. I'm not sure if it is in the cards. The thought of dragging her through the heat, or having her fuss all day, or nursing her on the benches. Ummm doesn't sound like fun. So we probably won't be going this summer. And that is OK.

I am sharing all of this because at first I was ashamed. I felt sick about how I was feeling. Especially how I felt towards Ellie. Here is the beautiful baby girl that I hoped, prayed, and cried for, and I wasn't enjoying having her. It was heartbreaking. But, Chris brought in the mail the other day and there was a pamphlet inside. It was from the insurance company, a standard mailing they send out to new moms. It was all about postpartum depression. It listed some of the factors that often contribute to postpartum:

difficult delivery....check
child in the NICU or monitored after birth.....check
health complications after birth.....check
past history of depression....check

As basic as the pamphlet was, it made me feel better. Out of the seven or so contributing factors, I had four. Well, I guess I wasn't crazy for feeling the way that I did.


Motherhood I know is filled with many highs and lows. Tough times and easy times. Long days and fast weeks. Months fly by. I wanted to make sure that I was enjoying this time. This precious time with Ellie. I know I will blink and this will feel so far away. She will be walking, talking, running and playing. My days won't be filled with naps, dirty diapers, and baby squeals. These days will be long gone. I will blink and Bradley will be getting on the bus in a few years with Ellie looking out the window asking when is it her turn to ride the bus. I will probably go in my room and cry because it went by too fast. I wanted to cherish it, not wish she would grow up quicker.

I am getting there. I am a work in progress. I have already come a long way in the past month. I know I still have a long road to fully feeling like myself again. But, each day I am getting a bit better. Baby steps...literally.


amanda said...

so proud of you friend. for sharing. for being brave and talking to your doctor. you did everything right.

baby steps each and every day.

and ps - she is adorable :)


Lindsay said...

Love you! Glad I could be there for you to chat too.. Wish I could have helped more! You are a great mama and Debbie was right all that matters are the emotions of the day not the events of the day. Now if you want to go to bush gardens you give your little sis a call.. she can handle Ellie for a day if you provide the milk ;-)

The Devols said...

What a great thing to share for yourself and other moms out there! You are a brave woman and an amazing mother, you can see that on your kids faces. I went through a similar situation with Landon (and I had just ONE kid and he was VERY EASY) so dont feel bad at all! The more you talk to people about it, the more you realize lots of moms go through the same thing. Praying things keep going smoothly for you :)

Jennifer said...

Ellie is such a doll! I am so glad you are felling better. Thanks for being honest and sharing.

Jodee Leader said...

Clare -- I always tell everyone that the baby stage is overrated. I loved my babies but I had such a hard time slowing down, and it was impossible for me to take both of them out while trying to keep the baby on a schedule. Therefore, we stayed home, got a sitter, or did one on one time with Carson until Kamree was old enough to take out and about -- like age 2 or even older! Trust me, it will get easier!

I am so glad you were able to get some help. Depression can be soooo scary. Hang in there!

Stephanie said...

Hi Clare. I went to high school with Chris. I think we are friends on facebook and that's how I saw the link to the blog. Anyway, thanks for sharing this and know you are not alone. When I had my second child (who is 2 now) it was a huge adjustment for us all. Much harder than just having the one. I was also really sick before I had him (I have lupus) and he was born early and with some minor issues. I had terrible depression and had to go on medication and do some other things to help. It gets better. Hang in there and go easy on yourself! Blessings to you and your family.

Christy said...

Change is always hard. Adjusting to life with a new baby was tough for me the first and the second time. Right after I had Porgie, I swore up and down that I would never have another baby. After I had Izzy, I made the same promise to my husband. And here I sit 2 1/2 years later thinking about having another baby (just thinking, not acting on my impulses).

You are right that it goes by so fast. It seems so hard in the moment, but you blink and it is over. Where have my babies gone?

Don't feel too bad. I think most people who have a new baby feel this way sometimes. You mourn the loss of your old life. I think that is normal.

Anonymous said...

Clare - you are such a strong mom and woman. I am so proud of you for recognizing your feelings and talking to your doctor. I love you!


laura said...

oh clare...if i only lived in your neck of the woods...we could commiserate together, my friend.

what an amazing post...thank you for sharing the hard this all really is. some days are good, other days are bad. i, too, have had days where all i wanted to do was cry. i, too, have looked back nostalgically on last summer and thought to myself - wow - how easy would things be if we just had sydney...

but - like that guy from hootie and the blowfish says, "it won't be like this for long" . . . bravo to you for recognizing that something wasn't right. that takes a lot of courage. i'm so happy to hear that you are feeling better. a better you. a better mom. baby steps!


Anonymous said...

Sweet girl!

It was was so good getting to see you in your new home with your little ones. I know that the past few months have certainly been an adjustment for you, but you have handled it with strength, courage, and grace. I am so proud of you for recognizing that you needed help and that you're willing to share your story with others. Motherhood is not easy, but knowing each day will get easier helps a lot. You are a wonderful Mama and Bradley & Ellie are so very blessed.

I love you! - Janna

3 Peanuts said...


First, I am so sorry that you had to experience this at all. I am sure it was awful. I went through some tough times when our children entered our family (but did not have ppd) BUT I have many friends who have had it and it is rough. And they felt guilt on top of that too.

I am so glad you had the instinct and courage to get the help you did. Take it easy on yourself. You don't have to do everything a certain way to be a good Mom. In a few years you will look back on this time as a "bump" but you will have it all together again.

I am praying for you. I wish you would have called me....I wish I was praying about this all along.


joven said...

beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..

Debbie said...

Clare - you are an amazing woman! I am so proud of you for being true to yourself and what you were feeling and being brave enough to talk to doctors and friends. I am so glad you are feeling better now and hope each day gets a little easier. Although you don't feel like a super-momma for not going and doing every activity in the book, I still think you are amazing, as do your kids! I hope someday I can be half as great of a Mom as you are. I seriously mean that. You have been such an inspiration to me - the opportunities you strive to provide your children, how you handle various situations, the values you are teaching them. I could go on and on. Just by being you - and taking care of you - you are giving your kids the greatest gift possible - a happy and healthy Momma. Hope you guys have a fun and relaxing week at the beach. I love you!!!

Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

Clare... your posts are always filled with such honesty. Catching up with your blog, I'm glad to see that you are doing okay and enjoyed your trip to the beach house this summer. (Darling pics of all the kids!)

As moms, we feel such a huge responsibility to take care of our children. But we need to remember that in order to take care of them, we must first take care of ourselves. Continue to take care of yourself and feel confident that your children will not only survive, they will thrive!