Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Maybe I'm Like the Hulk or Something?

I was once told by a co-worker that deep down inside, I was evil. At the time, in the midst of a first-time standing up for myself conflict, I kind of laughed it off. Evil, really? Evil is a word reserved for murderers, dictators, and horror movies. Evil is not a word used to describe an elementary school teacher. But it was said.

Now, many years later, I'm beginning to wonder if she wasn't correct. I'm beginning to wonder if I am evil.

It seems to have really started when nothing else would grow inside me. Instead of babies, I got really good at growing jealousy and anger. I stopped being happy for other people's successes. It didn't matter if that success was a pregnancy, a newborn, or even a job promotion. I would of course put on a happy face and congratulate them but inside I was hateful.

When I did finally manage to stay pregnant, I assumed the jealousy would dissipate. Instead, it remained and continued growing. Now, I wasn't just jealous of other's successful conception, I was jealous of their easy pregnancies. Throughout my pregnancy, every twitch or ping of discomfort, not to mention dribbles of blood, sent me into a panic. I was sure I was going to lose my baby. I was sure there was something out there just waiting to crush my happiness. I knew that other pregnant moms had fears, but their's just didn't seem justified when compared to my actual 50-50 shot.

But, I forged ahead promising myself that once my healthy baby boy was born, things would be better. They didn't get better. Yes, I had a gorgeous (I'm completely unbiased here) blue-eyed infant, but I wasn't happy. My anger wasn't helped by the fact that Linus had colic and/or acid-reflux. He was a child who could not be calmed. He screamed. I comforted. He screamed. I comforted and cried. He screamed. I began to wonder if it was me. I began to fear (a thought that has never gone just buried deeper) that I wasn't really cut out to be a mom.

Linus's colic was so bad that there were days (and nights) where Adrian and I did a five minute trade-off. Five minutes was all the longer either of us could sanely continue to provide comfort. We were shushing, swaying, side-holding, and swaddling ourselves to the brink of insanity. There were nights when Linus would finally pass out at 1 AM just long enough for us to realize we hadn't eaten anything all day. Adrian would run out to a 24 hour fast food joint, returning with food just in time for the five minute tag team to begin again. And we were alone. Our families had already completed their new baby tours and returned home eagerly awaiting new photos. Our only saving grace at that time was that we ignorantly thought all babies were like this. (Score one point for pessimism.)

At three months, when Linus did settle into life and began sleeping longer stretches, I hoped I was home free. I no longer had reason to be jealous or angry. Our life was better.  There was no reason to be angry or jealous. Except, the evil was still there. It had hunkered down inside me for a little vacation, but it was still there.

This weekend I was reading a Postpartum Depression Progress blog rally. To help bring awareness to this issue, posts were written by moms who have suffered postpartum depression. Many of their stories rang true for me and opened all the old wounds. Now, I can't claim to have had postpartum depression but I can say that my own new mother experience has left me absolutely terrified of having another child. I can't even imagine going through all that again while trying to maintain a healthy environment for Linus. I mean, Linus has to eat more often than one fast food meal at midnight a day.

Anyway, this is just my long-winded way of saying, I'm still here but if my posting is light, it's because I'm dealing with stuff. I've got all this plus a nearly potty-trained kiddo who now wakes up at 5:30AM because he has to pee. I'm here... just busy.


Chelsea + Jonathan said...

Wow- read your whole post and I'm still amazed that someone could say that to you (about the evil). That's just horrible. I know that Jonathan and I have so much respect for you and Adrian and we really admire you as parents. We talk every day about how much different parenthood could be if E's temperament was different. I think we're both grateful, but scared that the next one won't be the same. But then we have you guys to show us that even though it can be beyond difficult, you can still raise one of the sweetest kids. I don't think you are evil. You might be working through all the feelings at the core of your personal onion o' feelings, and that is a good thing to do (with lots of hugs and support and chocolate), but don't forget to give yourself credit for what you do so well as a parent (and an aunt!). And that's a long, long list.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You are so brave to write this. Naturally there are no guarantees, but each of my pregnancies was different and each of my babies were different--all demanding, but in NEW ways! Somehow we absorbed those early years and now? I tell you life is bliss with 3 boys at the ages of 5, 7 and 10. But getting to this point was no picnic.

Convertible Girl said...

Oh, Abby -- you're not evil, and you're definitely not alone.