I will never forget the feeling I had one day when Andrew was leaving for the closing shift at work. I felt helpless. I literally felt like I couldn't do it. This mothering three kids thing. As I hugged him goodbye I remember tears building up and such a sting of loneliness. I wanted him to stay. I didn't want to be left to deal with the chaos. I remember lying in bed, texting my mother in law. Asking her if she had any plans for the evening. She so graciously came and had dinner with me, and helped me while I did the bedtime routine. I could have done it alone. I would have made it. That's what feels so confusing about postpartum depression. I knew somewhere deep down, in my head or my heart that I was just the right person for the job of raising my children. And maybe for me it was somewhat hormonal, maybe exhaustion or anxiety... All I know was that it was a great combination of things, all adding up to make me feel as though I could not do it.
Foster is now four months old. I wouldn't call him a laid back guy, but he is comforted for a few minutes by having a sister lay next to him. Sometimes he sits in his bumbo chair and watches the action. He is growing. Things are changing. There are still hard elements, like his nap never lasts more than 45 minutes. I also think he literally doesn't know what to do with himself. But I think that's part of being four months old. Either way, I think I can safely say I am on the other side of the hard things I have been going through. That doesn't mean I don't have moments of anxiety or really hard days, but I think I am out of the slump. I am almost me again.
During these first few months with three I have been in survival mode. Like so many new moms, I have mostly fed my kids and kept them safe. (Or should I just say alive since Rosemary did happen to fracture her skull?) So much of the beginning has felt like feeding the older two snacks while nursing, wiping someone's bottom and lining the other one up for a diaper change. And even though those things seem unimportant, they truly are important. Sometimes when I lay Foster down to change him and he is crying, I think back to a pamphlet I was given after Blanche was born. It talked about attachment and connection. And that when your baby is crying, and you meet the need, something happens in the brain. There are connections and emotions in that tiny baby's brain. He is not only feeling loved, but his brain is developing and registering the care. Often times after Foster is in a dry diaper he smiles, and I kiss his belly. This is important. It is all important. And so, I really think I started right there, and have slowly climbed my way back up. One simple step at a time.
It started with meeting their physical needs, and my own. Giving Andrew the kids and going to a coffee shop. Sitting there and writing and drinking my latte until that fuzzy feeling in my brain went away. I also started watching Gilmore Girls every night while Andrew put the girls down. Sure, judge me. But to me, there was something I connected with. The three generations of women and their complicated love and relationships. I think this for me was allowing myself to zone out. Foster needed to be rocked and nursed, and I allowed myself to relax and let the dishes go for awhile. It really was what I needed. I am sure there were so many little things like this. I remember throwing a ball with Blanche outside. And how happy she was. Andrew rearranged our entire house too. And actually, I feel like ultimately that was the turning point. Almost every item in our house was moved. The next morning everything just felt different. Now, I'm not saying rearranging my house cured my postpartum depression. It simply gave me a new look. I had always been pushing the girls into their room "to go play." Once we moved their play area into the living room, I sat there drinking my coffee and watching them play. And for once, the thought "Hmm what should we do today?" came into my mind. I wasn't just trying to stay above for air anymore. We went to the park. I posted it online, and another mom told me about meet ups that she and other moms have at that park. And then, all of the sudden, I had a new connection. A new successful experience and hope for the future.
It was really just a hundred small little things. Just leading me in the right direction. And maybe I am just rambling. But I can feel how good it really is to do so. As life has become a bit easier (not to say the chaos has left... because it hasn't) my mind is starting to clear. Simple ideas and solutions are coming back into my mind. This last week we have sang a few times during lunch and the girls loved it. All we did was sing. Or we throw juggling balls into a basket. Or play pretend campfire and roast pretend smores. These are simple things, but big in so many ways. When I was in the midst of trying to find our new rhythm I remember just sitting down to play with a mind that was completely blank. So blank that I felt like I didn't want to be there with my kids. Not that I didn't love them, but that I didn't want to play. Or do anything. I told my counselor this one time and felt guilty. She simply responded, "That just sounds like someone who is exhausted." And that completely freed me. Yes, exhausted. I am. When things are hard so many things feel hard and unsolvable. I become like a small child before nap time.
All I know now though, is I'm so thankful for those hundred little things. I'm thankful for my mom and her phone calls and funny stores. For my mother in law and her physical presence and love in our lives. For the trip my dad, step mom and meme took to see Foster. And how we had a shopping trip, just me and my stepmom and meme. For our get away weekend to San Antonio. For my dear friends, those two especially with newborns who let me text them all day when things were hard. For my other friend from Arkansas, who figured out how to have a latte delivered to my doorstep. For friends who prayed and my husband being the greatest and most loving supporter I have ever had. Yes, this is my acceptance speech. But I want to remember these things. I want to remember how hard it was but what it felt like to come out of it again. For the new friend and her weekly hikes at the Wildflower Center. And for the Hike it Baby group I get to reconnect with. Life is chaotic but good. At first every day was hard and I was really just trying to get through the day. Then, I started mentally keeping track of my good days versus bad days. And then, the good outweighed the bad and I stopped counting all together. Sure, I am a work in progress. But I am thankful that I now can understand even just a small part of what many people go through with depression and anxiety. It is so hard to explain what it felt like for my brain and body to be doing its own thing... almost seeming out of my own control. But, with so much support there's always hope. All these pictures of Christmas and the New Year just show so much of the happiness in my every day. And as cheesy as it may be, I love starting the New Year with hope.