I fell in love with Carli before she was born. The same thing happened with Violet...love was there, was real, and when they finally exited my womb...it was home. It was warm. I know there is but one importance in my life - mothering these two girls.
But for days, weeks after she was born, I was fairly certain I had made a huge mistake.
I didn't know how to pay attention to Violet while I was feeding my newborn. I hated telling her I couldn't do something because her sister needed me more. And the crying...oh, the crying. Even with a good-natured baby like Carli, who giggles in her sleep and wakes up thrilled to see you...there is crying. There is middle-of-the-night screeching for a bottle, there is wailing for a wet diaper, there is caterwauling because she knocked her binky out of her mouth again. Violet had been talking for so long that I had forgotten how to deal with a child who can't communicate. And her crying turned into my sobbing in the middle of the night, begging Jason to wake up and hold her so I can sleep for 20 minutes.
I retreated to bed. Carli and I stayed in bed all day, leaving only to pee or grab a snack...though not often-my appetite was gone. I stared at the TV, I breastfed when Carli was hungry, I changed her diaper, then I fell asleep again. The two of us were averaging 20 hours a day.
Thank God, Jason was home on leave. He cared for Violet during my dark days, he made me take my meds. He asked me whether this was a leave-me-alone cry or a hold-me cry. Because I was crying between every nap.
Returning to my full dosage of meds helped, but only barely. I was still awash in a fog of sadness. After many many long, boring conversations about our options, Jason and I decided to wean off breastfeeding. The (imagined) guilt of taking meds while feeding my girl combined with the flood of hormones required to create the milk on top of the pressure of being the only person responsible for the well-being of my precious new cargo was crushing me.
I realize my choice is controversial. Many women actually experience a decrease in PPD while breastfeeding. Many women feel they cannot bond properly if they formula feed. I just know that this was the right choice for us.
But this is not about breastfeeding. This is about emerging from the cave of my PPD.
It was not immediate. There was a large measure of faking it till I made it. Everyday, I told myself I was a wonderful mother who knew what was best for my child(ren). Everyday, I told myself I was a good wife, that Jason hadn't made a mistake marrying me. And eventually I began to believe myself.
Today, I was on my way to the grocery store. Jason was home with the girls; his new job is a night job that allows us to see him during the days. I thought of how I had left them: Carli on her play mat, Jason and Violet on either side of her, trying to teach her to kick the toys. Carli was grinning, Jason and Vi laughing. And I realized I have everything I could ever want for. Our life is not perfect, and I make mistakes every single day. I won't be happy every day, and there will be times I will forget that moment of clarity.
But today, for about 15 minutes, I was deliriously happy.