June 3, 2008

Last night, I snapped.

Yesterday was my first day totally on my own – husband gone from early ’til late, me alone with a boob-chomping infant and, for the latter part of the day, after daycare, a spirited toddler – and I just couldn’t do it. I made it until dinnertime and then – nips and nethers aching badly, infant squalling endlessly for more booby more booby more booby, toddler chucking her pizza to the floor, stripping off her clothes and embarking upon her own, unsuccessful, toilet-training regimen (a story that might be funny in another lifetime but cannot even be recounted here in barest outline because I will start crying again) – I snapped. Snapped.

Which means, only, that I ended up immobilized in the corner with infant fastened like a vise to my ravaged boobies, sobbing helplessly and uncontrollably while my beautiful and entirely naked daughter laid waste to our living and dining rooms. I stayed there and sobbed until HBF walked in the door and took charge. Then I went to bed – infant still clinging to tit with his gummy iron grip – and wept until I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t fling myself under a bus, I didn’t have quote-unquote intrusive thoughts – I just collapsed under the weight of the feeling, however misguided, that I cannot do this, not on my own. That however much a blessing is the birth of this most-beloved boy – and it is, truly, the greatest blessing – it is overwhelming. That however capable and sane I think I am, that capability and that sanity crumble under the weight of pain and stress and the awful, terrible feeling of maternal helplessness.

I know that these are extreme circumstances – I’m recovering from a physically traumatic childbirth, I’m struggling with breastfeeding, my husband is away from home for long hours, and I have a history of PPD – and that I’m doing the best that I can. I know that this is different from the first time, when I just got anxious and sad and huddled in the dark feeling lost and alone. I know that I’m not lost, that I’m not alone. But the painful difference, this time, is precisely this: I am not alone. As I huddle in the corner, infant clutched to breast, sobbing uncontrollably, I have a companion, and a witness: my daughter. Who understands that tears mean pain and fear and sadness. Who worries for her Mommy. Who, last night, in the fray, shushed her brother loudly, saying don’t hurt Mommy. Who asked, do I hurt you Mommy?

Oh, sweetie, it’s not you, you haven’t hurt Mommy; Jasper hasn’t hurt Mommy; neither of you hurt Mommy, not ever. It’s just… a special kind of Mommy-hurt… but it’s okay. Mommy’s okay.

Truth, and lies.


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    red pen mama June 6, 2008 at 3:04 pm


    you’ve written an amazing post, a post almost all of us mothers could have written.

    you’ve gotten good advice, and I hope you don’t find it even more overwhelming. maybe you just had to vent.

    but if you need help, please get it. I distinctly remember crying as my parents were walking out the door, after two weeks, leaving me with a newborn and a two-year-old, and thinking, “No way can I do this.”

    But I did. I was fortunate in several regards: no boob pain; in-laws nearby; no PPD. But that overwhelmed feeling will keep happening. I hate to be redundant, but: it does get better. Seeing my two girls together now (1 and 3 years old) is so overwhelmingly wonderful now, that I know those early days of pain and panic were worthwhile. I look forward to reading the posts that you tell us those stories. You will have them.

    you are in my prayers. hang in there. And don’t be alone!


    Kori June 6, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Lexapro saved my life after I had the last one, literally. And I can’t add anything here that all of these other great, strong wise women have said, really. Just-keep on keeping on.

    Her Bad Mother June 6, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    You all are so amazing, I just don’t even know where to begin. Just – you’re amazing. I wish you all lived next door, I really do.

    I’ll update soon, I promise. I’m hanging in.

    iheartchocolate June 7, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I have been there, right there! When I brought Drew home Madison was 14 mo. I thought I was going to die my first day alone. It was terrible. I felt guilty for being so overwhelmed.

    For me, Zoloft never really helped-just kind of gave me a disconnected feeling. From everything. I never found the miracle drug…I wish I had. Life is a lot easier now, with them both able to walk. You will get into a rythm and everything will fall into place.

    Karen MEG June 7, 2008 at 8:11 am

    C, just wanted to sent you a huge cyber hug … it IS so difficult, especially during this time when baby #2 is first here…and I didn’t even have as difficult a time as you with childbirth nor painful BF (mind you, I was frustrated with lack of milk, another story). And your history of PPD compounding it.

    My husband travelled a lot the first year little G was here; I lost it in front of the kids more than a handful of times, believe me.

    Hope things get better for you soon… I believe they will.

    Anonymous June 7, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I can’t really add anything that hasn’t already been said. Our society doesn’t carve out the time for women after birth that we need to heal. My in-laws are Ethiopian, and their tradition is that for 40 days after birth, the mother does nothing but nurse the baby. Community and family take care of all housework, etc. I hope you can get help with the house, the cooking, your lovely daughter, and the BF issues. Hang in there! As an aside, I think it’s amazing that you are continuing with the breastfeeding – even with a perfect latch, it is still painful at the beginning, regardless of what the LCS say (in my case, anyway!). And, once there is any damage to the nipple at all, it is excruciating, even if the latch is corrected. When my first child was one month old, I woke up thinking, “I can’t bear this pain any more, and I am quitting.” And, that day, it suddenly hurt 50% less than it did the previous day, so I kept on. Maybe she grew, maybe the latch was better, I don’t know. Hugs and comfort!

    Haley-O June 7, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I know…. I have those moments now. When she won’t listen and he keeps crying.

    The breastfeeding will get better. You’ll get some sleep and it will get better. The first weeks are, indeed, HARD (in so many ways). Trust me. It’s hard, but you will adapt. And, if you can’t, I have the best postnatal psychiatrist in the city — at Mount Sinai Hospital. She got me through both my pregnancies. I will happily give you her contact info….

    No Minimom June 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Your son is so beautiful. And being someone who is less than a month ahead of you with my second child, I’m sure you’ll appreciate my mantra: “This too shall pass.”

    twelvekindsofcrazy June 9, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Thank you for your honesty. Always.
    After reading this post, I thought about you all weekend and was picturing you crying in the corner. It really broke my heart. I am glad things are going a little better.
    I have had issues with anxiety and depression all my life. I am currently not taking anything because I’m still pregnant (and while some meds are fine to take while pregant, it’s just not for me)and want to hold off. My doctor has zoloft waiting for me the moment I deliver. Some people have diabetes and need insulin. Other people have depression and need anitdepressants. That’s how I see it now. Not sure if you are in the same boat as me but if you think you are, the medicine works.
    Take care,

    Mom101 June 9, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    for Feck’s sake Cath, makes sure you’re getting whatever help you need, will you? I remember the first time T asked me if she hurt me (when I was crying) and indeed, it nearly shattered me into teeny bits.

    Be well…

    Her Bad Mother June 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    xoxo, all of you.

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