Riding waves of doubt
Turns me inside out
I will exhale primal shout”
Of postpartum blues and depression; anxiety and PMADs. Unfortunately, there’s always been a sense of “Will I survive this?” after every baby I’ve had. The two with post birth trauma and the two without. I don’t think you can really get off easily and there’s always some sort of splitting apart and sewing yourself back together, whether just physically, or mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. I cried myself to sleep from sore nipples through weeks of Scarlet’s young life. There was a breastfeeding fever or two, as well as a weaning one. I had a legit existential crisis when she was almost three-months-old, and it started to melt away from the stars in the sky on our way to Logan Airport, faded more into the clouds on our early morning flight to California, and then popped as a bubble somewhere under the wine country sun. It stayed away for awhile.
The fire had come
Not for the end of days
Not for the faithless ones
Not for vision understood”
The postpartum anxiety I had with Des was so warranted after his ridiculous NICU stay that I don’t even know if I should call it postpartum anxiety. More like a “postpartum reality that is totally warranted after a ridiculous NICU stay.” And with Rider, it was mostly just physical pain, but how irksome repetitive pain or soreness or discomfort can be, day after day after day. And it’s enough to drive you batty, but also enough to know that it’s the only thing plaguing you right now, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a reprieve. And of course I did; not at six weeks, but at four months. My time at home in 2021 with all three kids, and then our vaccines, and then them happily going back to school, and then that time at home with just the one wiggly and growing baby (and our vaccines) was a happy and hopeful time. Sometimes I forget that it’s all cumulative. That Rider doesn’t do the things he did a year ago, but he does more now, and will do more a year from now, and somehow it’s not heartbreaking. You gain more than you lose.
Change will happen whether we
Are still or moving
Breathe in waves of doubt”
So I read the signs and symptoms, and they are plentiful. Anger, anxiety, and guilt. It’s a loss of interest in your life, mood swings, and panic attacks. Crying, restlessness, hopelessness, weight gain or weight loss (which.. makes sense after a baby), loss of appetite, gain of appetite. Intrusive thoughts or inability to think. Feeling distant from baby. And to be honest, it seems so basic. Not that people who have PPD or PPA or PMADs or the blues are basic. No, no, they are mostly all of us. It’s that these signs and symptoms basically don’t describe what I feel. I’m almost jealous of them in their simplicity. My thoughts and fears are spiraling and heart-racing, often at night, as I seem to be in a race with myself to just feel like myself. The hopeful thoughts and the negative thoughts are constantly in battle, within a day, and even an hour or minute. It’s not me; at least the me I’ve grown to know. The hope shines in that I’ve been here before; learned something.
You will exhale cinnamon clouds
When it is quiet and still
I can feel older here
Change what I can and pray”
I don’t feel disconnected or unable to bond with the baby; instead have a love ferocity for him. There’s also a sadness and a stillness that it doesn’t feel like it did when I had Rider. And those were different circumstances with different hopes and different lights, and different weights. I wasn’t broken down daily by aging loved ones, school shootings in Texas, and the polarity of current politics. That it’s all about the insides against the outsides. How we feel about ourselves and our situations, against the greater backdrop of other people’s problems, local problems, national problems, global and universal problems. Sometimes our inner cores are strong and protected, and propel us towards action. And sometimes we’re wide open and grieving, with no filters or distractions applied. Everything hurts, or everything doesn’t hurt. Everything is numb, and somehow, that hurts on a far grander scale. There is no filter or distraction on heartbreak. On baby birds falling from nests, and my own baby bird calling to me. I love him so much and sometimes I’m all he has, but I feel trapped that I can’t be all that he has, because I am broken.
When we are not denying anything
Nothing is an enemy
Right now it’s many squishy feelings; it’s aging loved ones. Handkerchiefs and burp cloths. I miss the happier me with such a fierce abandon, that it viscerally hurts. I miss being much younger, but the old me didn’t have all that I have today, and there’s no reason that you should ever stop improving and self-actualizing until the end. I miss the me from a year ago with fierce abandon because I remember thinking we had more time. Now I have to re-shift my thinking to be more present in each moment, and not start thinking about their temporariness. It’s a bit of a panic, rapid-fire fear and anxiety during the slush and sludge of super ordinary days. I have done this before, and I’ve succeeded at this before, but then I got distracted by COVID and pregnancies. Pushing off the inevitable panic that they’re growing faster than I can keep up with, and what is the point of anything, if you can’t take the time to sleep and dream in the hopes and breezes?
Ride these waves of doubt
Bitter in your mouth
You will exhale cinnamon clouds”
All you can do is be more loving and connected and kind. Be better. Believe in magic and miracles; rhythms and destinies. Take big chances, on work and opportunities, but mostly on your heart. Patching up broken pieces. They form an imperfect patchwork, but the framework is strong, and you can find all of the beauty and the hope in the glistening and silent pieces.
I worry that my life is spiraling and heart-racing by at an alarming pace. I worry that I’m fading, fading, disappearing and I won’t be able to find myself again. And I worry that my life is forever altered, and will never look the same again. And you know what? It is forever altered and it will never look the same again. Although from what I’ve learned, it’s an ok thing. It’s an inevitable thing. An opportunity for new, altered growth. There’s new, altered resilience and strength too.
Special note: I’ve been terrible at replying to comments over the last year or two, but I read every one and I want you to know that I hear you and I see you and I love that you hear and see me. I save the emails that contain the comments, because they are a balm to my soul.
The fire will come
Not for the strength of will
Or passion of anyone”