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February 8, 2011

It’s funny the way the brain works. Usually when I think back to some of my worst moments when Connor was small and I wasn’t coping I think, “Yeah, that was awful. It was so hard.”

But you know what? That doesn’t even begin to sum it up.

This blog is a little over a month old. Only that. I’ve shared a lot, even some of the moments that would seem as though they would fall into the “worst” category. But they don’t. The worst moments are much, much worse.

I’ve recently been re-introduced to Catherine Connors, aka Her Bad Mother. Catherine’s son, Jasper (her second child) is about a month older than my Connor. I was reading her blog quite regularly after Connor was born, and distinctly remember her posts from when Jasper was around six months old and didn’t tend to sleep much. But for reasons  I no longer remember (but that probably have something to do with wanting to be a “good” mother and play with my son more instead of spending so much time reading various things online) I stopped reading her blog shortly after that. The irony in that? It was right after that when the sleep deprivation got to me. Right after that when I lost my mind.

So what’s the point of telling you this? Tonight I read this guest post of Catherine’s on another blog – a post called The Monster in the Closet. On Depression, Shame and Fighting Both. Go ahead. Read it. Even if you only read the first six paragraphs. It’s important.

It’s important because remove the specific details – night, bed, nursing – and that’s my story.

We’re heading into really honest territory here, people. What she has described (“I didn’t have an urge to drop the baby. I had an urge to throw him“) – what she admitted in that post that she didn’t admit in her original post about that night – that’s my story.

I’ll admit something else: I only just realized that – the extent to which that’s true for me as well. The implications of that being my experience. I’ve only just realized it right now. Tonight.

You’re probably wondering how that’s possible. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve read the books and the websites. I’ve heard the stories. One of the symptoms of acute postpartum depression is this same fleeting urge to do something like that. To hurt your baby. Except that I haven’t felt as though any of the other descriptions or stories I’ve read really reflect my experience. I interpret these stories as being about anxiety – worry that you might hurt your baby. And for me it wasn’t anxiety. It was that flash of anger – of rage – that Catherine describes. Except for me it happened more than once.

In those moments, I didn’t want to throw myself out the window. I wanted to throw him out the window. And I said this on several occasions. Voiced it aloud. I remember one day in particular that’s burned in my brain. I can’t remember what came before or what came after, but in that moment Connor was refusing to nap. He just cried and cried and cried. Nothing I did helped, and I couldn’t take it. I needed a break.

In that moment, I reached out to a friend. Crying. Sobbing. “I want to throw him out the window,” I said. I called her because I needed to talk to someone sane who could say, “I know. I understand how you feel.” I think she thought I was kidding. I think I thought I was kidding.

But I wasn’t.

We’ve referenced this conversation a few times since, she and I. Recently she’s admitted it worried her.

In writing this down, it doesn’t worry me, because I wouldn’t have thrown him out the window. I didn’t throw him out the window. Or anything of the sort.

It also doesn’t make me feel ashamed. Oh sure, I wonder what my mother is going to think when she reads this. I wonder if my husband knows I felt like this. That this – this horrible experience – is what my worst was actually like. But I’m not ashamed.

This surprises me, frankly – the fact that I’m not ashamed to admit this and to write about it here where the world can see. But the whole point of sharing my story – the bits and pieces of it, in whatever order they come – is to say this: my experience – and Catherine’s experience, and the experiences of countless other women – is way more common than you’d think. I didn’t realize this, even when it was happening to me. But I realize it now. And it has to be okay to say, “Yes, that was my experience.” And, “This is how I got through it.” And, “It’s okay, you’re not alone.”

In writing this down, what I do feel is overwhelmed. I think my brain needs to process this some more, and think about what it means. And in thinking about that I will no doubt unearth other stories from the recesses of my brain. And I’ll tell those stories too.

When I started writing this post, I looked up at the line at the top of my blog. “Finding the words to tell my story about being a mom and struggling with postpartum depression.” When I started writing this post, I had no words. Only tears. It’s overwhelming to think about this as having been my experience. And not to have realized it. It took me way longer than one night to ask for help.

But in writing this down, the words have come and the tears have gone away. For now.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurel permalink
    February 12, 2011 3:12 pm

    Well light of my life, what your Mom will say is that you did tell me and that I think you are incredibly brave. You will learn to protect yourself and you are going to get through. You had to get to the point where you could take help. All that first year you got more and more tired and then even more so when you went back to work and had complicated things to deal with. Your child is another light of my life but no one ever said he was easy. Be easier on yourself and protect yourself. An hour at the beach. A shower. A special treat. Go out for dinner or lunch. If we forget to do it for you or don’t know you need it, and you can’t bring yourself to ask, do it for yourself. On an airplane you are supposed to don your own oxygen mask before helping your children. Life is like that too. You are better able to deal with “stuff” if you are looked after. In the end looking after yourself means looking after everyone else better. It’s not selfish; it’s sanity. Sleep deprivation makes monsters of us all. One of the things that goes by the wayside is our sense of humor and that is one of the main things we need! There is no perfection. I have warts, real ones, spiritual ones and figurative ones. Maybe you don’t see them because you love me. You are certainly loved and you your hubby and your child are 3 of the best lights in my life. And please, please, please impose on us. I too need to feel needed and it’s not fair that in life it’s either need you all the time or not at all..

    • February 12, 2011 5:39 pm

      xoxo

  2. February 11, 2011 9:26 pm

    Just reading all these comments again and wanted to say thank you to each one of you. It helps to have these responses and to know that others have felt the same or similar things too.

  3. February 10, 2011 1:37 pm

    i think so often when we are in the thick of PPD/A we don’t realize the weight of it. We don’t fully see or understand or grasp what is happening. I can relate to realizing more and more in retrospect the gravity of what i went through.

    thanks for being so open. you will never regret it. the online community is sooo supportive!

  4. Paige permalink
    February 10, 2011 7:30 am

    I have a book club filled with some wonderful (and wonderfully honest) friends. We all had kids around the same time, so we not only talk about the monthly book pick, we also talk about motherhood (ok, maybe more about motherhood than about the books ;). Your post reminded me of a conversation that we had a few years ago when the babies were quite small and sleep deprivation was rampant. One woman said that all she could think one night when her baby just wouldn’t stop crying was: “If I throw him out the window, would he get really hurt or just a little hurt?” The faces and conversation around the room after that comment weren’t of judgment, they were of understanding. Because every single one of us could relate, in some way, to being pushed to the very limits of their sanity like that (usually more than once). Just as we can all relate to your courageous post. Thanks for sharing it — it’s so important.

  5. February 9, 2011 1:44 pm

    Trust me, I have said “I want to throw him out the window”, “Give him to the next person that walks by”, “Put him out with the recycling” and MUCH worse more than once and I know we aren’t the only ones.

    Hang in there, mama and thank you for your courage. This was a very honest and brave post.

  6. February 9, 2011 12:19 pm

    Reading this post reminded me of two things.

    The first is of my mother describing me as a baby jaundice and colicky (badly) and walking the floor all night. She mentioned that she understood how women felt when they did throw their children against walls, they just got to a place of total frustration.

    Second is my experience with baby #1. with severe reflux that no one diagnosed for 4 months. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t be put down. I remember calling my husband, who works 12 hour shifts and crying “I’ve sat on this couch for 8 hours straight trying to feed him, hold him, I haven’t eaten or peed and I just don’t get it” He didn’t gain back his birth weight for 6 weeks so 3 x a week we took a trip to the lactation consultant for info and weigh in, 1 x a week to the Dr’s for checking and stress, stress stress-lots of tears. I ended up figuring out solutions to the issue but ended up with severe mastitis so had to take meds ever 4 hours around the clock and wake him ever 2 hours to feed until he was 8 months old. There were more than one occasion when I raged over my child who I loved and was angry at. Very confusing time, lots of judgment from family and friends. I still look upon that time with sadness for my screaming at 3 in the morning “what do you want from me” but I learned valuable lessons about what I’m made of, what I can endure and that I believe every parent has their “closet” or “bad mummy moments”-as my sister and I dubbed them-but are too ashamed to talk. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Suzanne

  7. February 9, 2011 10:19 am

    Wonderful post. I’ve been there, too, as have so many women. You will definitely be one of the Warrior Moms of the week on Friday! Thank you for your courage.
    – Katherine

  8. Briegh permalink
    February 9, 2011 6:51 am

    XOXOXO

  9. February 9, 2011 6:32 am

    That you’ve shared this is brave and wonderful and inspiring – the more we talk about this, the more we share our true stories, the more likely it is that other women, other moms, will know that they’re not alone. There’s a saving power there. It’s extraordinary. Thank you for contributing to it.

  10. February 9, 2011 6:13 am

    Thank you Robin, for writing this very important post and for being a blogger others can relate to, including myself! I’m so proud of you!

  11. Sandi permalink
    February 8, 2011 9:43 pm

    You are one of the bravest woman I know. Robin, your Mom will be proud of you for telling the truth from you heart and your husband….. loves you more than life itself. He knows you’ve had thoughts like that and continues to support you and love you through this experience.
    I didn’t have PPD but I did have moments of thoughts like you’ve just described. Truly, when anyone is sleep deprived the thoughts that go through ones head are surreal. Keep up the hard work kiddo. You’re doing this ‘one step at a time’ and will come through this experience a much better Mom for it too. I wish I could give you a hug right now…. so considered yourself hugged.

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