Category Archives: postpartum depression

But I Can Imagine Life Without Her

There’s this thing we do with unexpected blessings. We say, “Now, I bet you just can’t imagine life without her!”

But I can imagine life without her.

In that life I’m a more robust partner to my spouse. He doesn’t have to watch out to save me from despair. I don’t have to be relentlessly vigilant against the resentment that builds between partners as logistics take the place of deeper connections. In that life I can be left alone at home with the kids. Instead, we have a family rule that I can’t be left alone with the baby, or the baby and Boy Woww—the two youngest—because I’m likely to be lying on the floor catatonic when my husband returns, having tried to make dinner but instead been destroyed by whining, tugging at my clothing, screaming, and gnashing of teeth.

There’s a dark side to maternal mental health that we wash over with things like “But they just grow up so fast and in the blink of an eye they’re gone,” and, “Life just wouldn’t be the same without them.”

And we put things into extremes: either you’re a selfish mother who aborts a baby, or you are stalwart and your life is better for your gentleness and morality.

None of it is true.

Or maybe all of it is true. I’m increasingly holding two opposite beliefs and reckoning with the fact that both are true.

I would be the selfish mother to abort a fourth baby. It would destroy me, but I would do it to save myself, my marriage, and my family. Things I consider to be sacred. But at the same time, I chose life with this baby, and I wouldn’t wish her away even for a hillside full of horses and a kitchen overflowing with bacon and ginger.

I want her. She took my heart of stone and cracked it open. She was made in God’s image and her life is precious.

Being a mother defines who I am. I feel a deep sadness imagining a life with my spouse without children. But that doesn’t mean that motherhood hasn’t almost broken me.

We make hard decisions. We make mistakes. We try to survive. We have to stop pitting one group of women against another, when it’s all true. Given the right circumstances, we are always the other whom me judge.

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In the End, It Was Not the Summer of Postpartum Depression

I just finished cleaning the car from summer, taking out beach toys and swimsuits, dozens of granola bar wrappers and an air-dried Jack In The Box cheeseburger remnant. Now I’m prepping for muddy fields. I’m checking our umbrella count and fleece supplies. I’m washing the sand and caked-on peanut butter from picnic blankets.

One week ago we were here.

Oregon Coast Summer 2016. MomsicleBlog

I took this piece of sea glass from the ocean’s dance.

Sea glass on sand. MomsicleBlog

I’ve been rubbing it softly between my fingers, and it takes me right back to the cool air of the coast blowing in off the infinite sea.

I had been worried about summer. Summer could have been a fire lookout far out in the forest in need of repairs—timber beams creaking, a stair on every case rotted, nails coming loose from the freeze and thaw cycle of postpartum depression.

Instead we enacted my get-into-nature plan. We bolstered the lookout with steel and replaced the old nails and the softened steps. We had a nanny with us four days a week; we kept the car ready for the beach at a moment’s notice; we didn’t coordinate much, we just went.

And I made sure I was never alone at the top of the tower.

We headed out from base camp and toward water wherever we could find it within a two-hour radius.

In the Water Summer 2016. MomsicleBlog

We didn’t do a single camp.

Summer 2016. MomsicleBlog

I look at our checklist and feel proud.

Summer 2016 Checklist. MomsicleBlog

We captured summer and held it in our arms and rode on its back through the sand of what seemed like a thousand beaches.

Oregon Coast Summer 2016. MomsicleBlog

I want to draw our treasure map again and mark all its special spots. I want to go out with passion and purpose.

But it’s time to focus on fall and school and soccer. Autumn feels crisp and dead to me: Its smell makes me nauseous.

I have to change the way my senses respond—to look for how routine can ground and nourish us. Somewhere in me fall’s small ember burns. I have hope for early bedtimes and good books and hot baths and getting my body stretched out and my muscles strong. I have soccer practices to help run, I have freelance work that’s exciting and scary.

Summer wasn’t drowned by postpartum depression. It’s time to find oxygen to blow into fall.

This Will Not Be the Summer of Postpartum Depression*

*Every post these days has “postpartum depression” in the title. I don’t care. Some people have postpartum depression and don’t feel comfortable sharing about it. Some people think they may not survive another day. Hey you, with the brain meltdown and the life-sucking baby—it’s not okay. But you’re not alone. I have really great days and I have bad days with good moments and I have horrendous days with hard cider and 85% dark chocolate.

*

Summer with Postpartum Depression. MomsicleBlog

Summer is an interesting beast. Many things that I loved as a child I hate as an adult. Bath time. Birthday parties. Bubbles.

But summer. It has retained its exhausted, warm-skinned glow. If summer were my neighbor’s wife, I would covet it.

Summer with Postpartum Depression. MomsicleBlog

I started thinking about summer back in March, when I realized my amorphous plan of being outside for June, July, and August needed a backbone.

You know K-Pants—he’s intense like Roquefort with royal jelly. Nature is the Allen wrench that fits perfectly into the hexagonal hole of his soul.

Summer with Postpartum Depression. MomsicleBlog

People kept asking me what camps we were doing for the summer. “K-Pants doesn’t like camps, and he does really well out in nature, so we’re going on day trips.” As I filled my piggy bank with this sentence, I realized that the no-camps, out-in-nature plan was also for me. Maybe mostly for me.

Nature, adventure, exploration…these are my magic. Camp would destroy it all. Camp would tell us when to wake up and leave the house and when I should wake up the baby from her nap so we could get in the car to get the gremlins from f*cking camp.

NO CAMP.

So when K-Pants uttered the magic words, “I don’t want to go to any camps this summer,” I turned on the disco lamp and danced. All of our summer money would be allocated to nature, and hiring summer nannies to join us. God bless you, summer money.

Summer with Postpartum Depression. MomsicleBlog

I was tempted when K-Pants’s friends’ parents asked about a few camps that The Pants might have loved if he could have warmed up part-way through. But no. I want every week for me, and the beach.

Summer with Postpartum Depression. MomsicleBlog

And now when I’m home exhausted at the end of the day, I don’t feel like I’m waiting for anything. We’ve been out somewhere with sand and water. I feel like we’re here. 

Summer with Postpartum Depression. MomsicleBlog

A Postpartum Depression Love Letter in Photos to My Feisty, Old-Soul Daughter on Her First Birthday

This year has been too real to stop at “I love you to the moon and back,” so here’s a postpartum depression love letter in photos to my feisty, old-soul daughter on her first birthday.

Her birthday is a celebration that we’ve done it, we’ve made it, we’re here. Soon the toughest times won’t sting like they do now, and the beautiful photos I’ve taken over the year will remain bright and tender.

These photos, here, I’ll keep just for me.

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog

Fairy Pig First Birthday. MomsicleBlog