The Importance of the Mundane

Donna Bruschi, emotions, friends, imperfection, kindness, meltdowns, new baby, parenting, postpartum depression, sick, sleep -

The Importance of the Mundane

"I was the loneliest person in the world. My baby and I were spiraling down into a living hell..."

My baby cried all the time, refusing to be held by anyone but me. I cried all the time. The pain of the surgery amplified by cracked, burning nipples and the agony of frustration, sadness and betrayal.

And then it got worse.

Once the emergency of an unplanned C-Section, a dehydrated baby, and mastitis faded into the past, my husband went back to work, and my mom went home.

My baby and I were alone. Our day settled into a routine. Feed my baby, rock my baby, feed myself and try to get him to sleep. Showering was infrequent and unpredictable as to when it might occur. I looked out the kitchen window onto the summer lushness of an empty suburban neighborhood. The window frame rocking back and forth with my chair.

All the cars left in the morning and came home at night.

Occasionally, the two neighbor children would tire of TV and ride by on their bikes. UPS would leave a package at a house or a lawn company would return a neighbor's lawn to its trim green square. The roar of mowers and blowers brought life to an otherwise uninhabited landscape. The hot July breeze sent dribbles of sweat down my face and from under my breasts into the waistband of my shorts.

I rocked and rocked my baby.

If I stared at the oven, I would see see him in a roasting pan, roasted to a golden brown. I shuddered and pushed away the thought. I put him in the baby carrier and walked to the corner and back, through a hot, still, alien landscape.

"What is wrong with me?" I thought, tears rolling down my cheeks.

I started to avoid the kitchen, especially the big knife. I put it in the back of the drawer and stopped cutting things up.

"Do you have thoughts of hurting your baby?"my OB asked in a matter-of-fact way. I blanched; Paused; Shook my head.

"Liar." The voice in my head said scornfully. 

I didn't know what might happen. Would she understand? What if she didn't? Would they take my baby away? It was not worth finding out...

"You still seem really angry about your birth. You should get some help." My doctor continued.

"Help? Where? What kind of help?"

I was clearly beyond help if I was having these kind of thoughts. What kind of mother thinks those things about her baby? I knew I would never hurt him, but I could never tell anyone what kept popping into my head.

So I went home, cried some more and kept crying.

My husband came home from work. I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't tell him why I was crying. He looked scared. He started making phone calls. I refused to be separated from our baby so we didn't go to the Emergency Room.

I ended up in a checkup with an male Internist who gave me a full exam and ordered blood tests. The good news was, everything was OK. Physically, that is. He recommended a therapist.

As we left, I imagined my baby flying out of my arms and down the stairs.

We went to the recommended therapist. She was younger than us, kind and goal oriented. I didn't particularly like or dislike her, or find it effective, but it helped me feel like I was "Doing Something." 

I hadn't slept more than 2 hour stretches in more than two months. I was so tired. I loved my son. I cried every day. 

One day, I finally found comfort.

I was at a La Leche League meeting and I wasn't the only one whose baby cried all the time. Another woman's did too.  I made friends with her. We talked about babies, breastfeeding, baby poop and not-taking-showers.

At the next meeting, I started telling people my birth story and it felt good. They all listened and comforted me. Some of them had had terrible births. Some hadn't, but they were all empathetic to the disappointment I was carrying in my heart.

It was such a simple thing, telling that story, but the difference it made in how I felt sticks with me today. Having friends with new babies gave me solace and our conversations about babies, poop, spit-up and sleep were unremarkable but they made me feel normal and that my new day-to-day life was normal. 

This I feel, is what made the strange visions disappear.

 


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