the early months / depression

Depression is a funny thing. And by funny, I mean really not funny.

Because when you’re in it, it feels so real. It is real. You feel like life is so hopeless and you lose your motivation to do anything. You lose your enjoyment of the small joys in life (and the big joys too, I guess). You don’t care about what food you eat, or if you see your friends, or what TV show you watch…if you even want to watch TV. You just don’t want to do anything, but you have to, because a tiny human is depending on you.

And by you, I mean me. Let’s just cut to the chase here. We all knew that’s who I was talking about.

I experienced a dose of postpartum depression. It could have been much worse, but it was there. There were moments when I would catch a glimpse of my former self, brief periods of happiness when I was out with friends or, let’s be honest, having a glass or two of wine. But most of the time I just slogged through life, just making it through each day, only to do it all again the next day – and that in itself was daunting.

The thing is, that though depression is real, oftentimes the things you’re depressed about aren’t real. Your life can be beautiful, you can have a beautiful baby girl and a loving husband, supportive friends and family, all your needs met, and you can’t even appreciate it. (Whoops, I’m doing it again. I mean me.) Life can feel hopeless when it’s really not. It’s very crippling.

I remember when Simona was somewhere around 4 or 5 months, and I was still having bouts of crying  and some of those same feelings of hopelessness. I thought, how can this still be postpartum stuff? Doesn’t that go away within the first couple months?

I guess not. I think it can last even longer than I struggled with it, which was about 5 months or so. Maybe even 6. I still have my days, even now at 9 months. But maybe that’s not related…maybe those are my own issues. Who knows? I have problems.

We considered getting help, but I felt embarrassed and like something was wrong with me, and didn’t want to share my feelings with a doctor. I felt like I should surely be able to conquer this…to just snap out of it. But as Joseph kindly phrased, “If your leg was broken, you wouldn’t feel embarrassed about going to the doctor. This is a real thing.”

Depression is real, but it isn’t really you. It may feel like you, it may feel like your new reality, but it isn’t. I remember a particularly bad night, feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and Joseph telling me, “I know you’re in there somewhere.” That was hope in itself to me, because he was recognizing and letting me know that this wasn’t truly who I was.

I’m so thankful for my loving and supportive husband. Without him, I think I would have just been curled up in a corner somewhere, crying, with Simona somewhere nearby, crying too because her mom is a nutcase. Joseph was patient with me, and kind, as he always is. And so was God. And my mom. And now I feel like I’m making an Oscar acceptance speech. I’d also like to thank chocolate.

It’s a little odd writing these things now, especially since I feel pretty much like myself again. But I think it’s important to be honest and to share what I went through, just to prove, as Joseph kept (keeps?) telling me, that it will get better. You may be in a really dark phase, but it will pass. That’s just a fact of life. You’ll probably even get to learn from and it and grow too, or something like that.

the early months / napping

It was a rough first few months.

The ever-growing dark circles under my eyes could’ve told you that though. No amount of concealer could hide the lost hours of sleep and countless crying spells. I even have a really good concealer…at least according to the lady at Ulta. I wonder if she has kids. I wonder if I had mentioned motherhood if she would have said, “Oh, we have something for that,” and led me to a secret back room with Magic Makeup for Moms. Made by elves.

Anyway, it was a trying time, in many ways. I had(have) a good baby though. A beautiful, healthy, happy girl with a strong taste for short naps. She’s 7 months old now, and still, the majority of her naps are 45 minutes long. That’s how it’s always been. I think she may be starting to grow out of it now. We’ll see. We’ll hope and we’ll see.

I fought it for a long time. I tried everything I could think of to make her naps longer. Was she up too long? Put her down earlier. Up too short? Keep her up longer. Not stimulated enough? Take her on walks, dance for her, make her lift weights.

I read so much about it that I finally just gave up reading about it. It’s too tiring. You can find anything you want to find out if you look it up on the internets. You’ll find arguments from both camps on any subject and you can basically just pick what you want to do anyway.

The other thing about researching everything is that every baby is different. You can find a bunch of info, but no other baby is your baby. So your baby isn’t doing x, y and z yet? That’s okay. Nobody else can tell you exactly what works for him or her. Parenting is so much trial and error. You figure out what you can and can’t do, and you survive. There will always be babies and parents that are doing “better” in your eyes, and there will always be someone with a more difficult situation than yours.

So I just accepted the short naps. It took months, but I accepted them. That’s just Simona’s way. And I can’t necessarily change it. But I can change my outlook.

So I learned to become a fierce multi-tasker. Silver lining, people. Those 45 minutes sure fly by though, when you’re trying to do laundry/respond to emails/clean up the kitchen/take a shower/watch Price is Right.

I’m also learning that these times take patience. A baby is not a machine, as my husband likes to remind me. You can do everything ‘right’ and your baby still doesn’t respond as you’d hoped. Babies are constantly changing and growing and adapting. Just when you think you figured something out they change again. This is both frustrating and beautiful. You wouldn’t want your baby to always remain a baby (or would you?). So if you’re in a rough patch, just keep going. It will pass. Your baby will learn and grow, and you will too, in the process. That’s the bonus. Or maybe…that’s the purpose.