History Repeats Itself Part 4

10/Jan/2009

I’m starting with part IV of a series. Think of it like Star Wars. I’ll be bringing you up to speed in installments. Trust me, it’s better this way.

The story of my daughter’s birth week is one I don’t often try to remember. It’s full of painful memories I feel are best kept locked away. I hate not being able to say her birth was The Moment I loved her. It’s hard to explain the circumstances surrounding that first week that landed me in the ER 12 hours a day, two days in a row, until finally being re-admitted for a three day stay. Perhaps one day I’ll share this story with her so she can avoid the same fate, should it come down to it, but for now, I’ll wait to dispense that information until necessary.

The next part of the story, however, is one I’ll share only in-so-much that I hope it’s helpful to her and anyone who may find it.

With such a rough start to motherhood, it’s no surprise I struggled to gain my footing. I was lost for a very long time, angry, hurt. I had expectations of coming home with my daughter and holding her to my breast and feeling a gush of love and emotion. None of this transpired as I’d pictured, not the birth, not the week following, and most certainly not the gush of emotions of love.

Instead, I was afraid.

Nearly paralyzed with my own fear, I gripped her tightly as I walked past the fireplace, picturing her tiny body falling on the bricks in a repeating nightmare. Unable to sleep more than 15 minutes at a time, I checked her breathing on the rare occasion she slept at night. Exhausted, emotional, and a complete wreck, my mom showed up to help out.

She would hold the screaming baby unaffected by her high pitch wail. She would lay her down in the pack-n-play and take a shower leaving the sleeping baby for a full 30 minutes to get dressed. I gasped when she told me this and asked her to check her breathing.

She smiled, rubbed my back and said, “I used to do that with you, too.” I relaxed as she went on “I used to sit and hold you and look at you and cry. I didn’t know what to do with you. You were so… tiny.” My eyes filled up involuntarily as I related. “I was worried you’d die in your sleep or someone would take you. You slept two inches from my bedside and still I worried.”

I didn’t realize how much she would understand that first transition until we were both there, watching history again.

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Three months later I was diagnosed with Postpartum depression. I sought refuge after three months of hiding, crying, regretting. I finally wanted to say the words, “I love my daughter” and mean it. My mom’s story was told to my therapist and she nodded quietly saying, “there was nothing you could’ve done to prevent this given your birth experience and your Mom’s history. It’s not your fault. It’s just your story.”

My story.

Her story.

Time is forgiving and memories wash in to each other. I remember that time but it’s not as crisp as it once was. I never went back to that place. But when the time comes, I will share the story with my daughter, when she is ready.

If we’re lucky, history will not repeat for her. Not for her.

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Comments

  1. Beautifully told and so touching. I too hope the PPD skips a generation (or, even better, dissipates completely!). That said, there’s no shame in showing your kids (at the appropriate age) that parents are human and struggle. She’ll love you more for all that you suffered through for her.

    By Fear & Parenting in Las Vegas on 2009 01 10

  2. This brings back a lot of memories, but I’m glad you wrote it.  You wrote it well.  I didn’t know that PPD could be a generational thing and now I’m wondering a lot about my own mother, little snippets of conversation that I recall from my own time under the cloud.  Huh.

    By rimarama on 2009 01 10

  3. Wow, Leslie.  Your story will help your daughter and many others.

    By Angella on 2009 01 10

  4. I wish more moms would be vocal about this. It’s a difficult thing to admit that you don’t magically and instantly bond with your baby because that is what everyone expects. Things can be different for each person. Hugs to you.

    I didn’t have PPD, but I AM paralyzed with fear for my babies when they are born.

    Turns out I was right to be. Also turns out that all the watching and fear and worry in the world didn’t prevent it from happening.

    This post really hits me hard right now because I’m paralyzed with fear all the time history is going to repeat itself.  It’s a lot rougher than I thought it would be.

    By Loralee on 2009 01 10

  5. I agree, thank you for this post. It took me a year to admit to my husband and family doctor what I was feeling. It was a horrible year and I feel like I have missed out on so much b/c of it. I wish more people talked about the varying depths of PPD. I think often we try to talk ourselves out of what we are going through because we don’t think it could be happening or that we aren’t feeling it severely enough??? does that make sense?  Again, thank you.

    By April on 2009 01 10

  6. I agree, thank you for this post. It took me a year to admit to my husband and family doctor what I was feeling. It was a horrible year and I feel like I have missed out on so much b/c of it. I wish more people talked about the varying depths of PPD. I think often we try to talk ourselves out of what we are going through because we don’t think it could be happening or that we aren’t feeling it severely enough??? does that make sense?  Again, thank you.

    By April on 2009 01 10

  7. Like Star Wars *snort*

    God Bless ya love.  Thank you for sharing this.
    Wow.

    By Rachel on 2009 01 11

  8. “It’s not your fault, it’s just your story.” Oh those words are beautiful.

    I was so full of anxiety I couldn’t sleep - ever. Every bad thing that happened to any small baby I had ever heard about - I saw Alex’s face. I had SIDS fear from the moment I put him in his crib and he screamed (and he never did sleep in his crib) It took me nine months to get help the wonders of Zoloft and Xanax.

    And now he’s standing on a tall chair in front of my stove cooking. I’m gonna Xanax my whole life with this kid.

    By Dawn on 2009 01 11

  9. It’s great to share such a story, especially if doing so helps it not become your daughter’s story as well.

    By patois on 2009 01 11

  10. you make me weep, woman.

    bravo

    xoxo

    By VDog on 2009 01 11

  11. I came here because I read your “Blogging without guilt” and laughed so hard.  “See there are 12 more people out there just like me”:).

    But this story is so sweet in that weird way that “bad” things can be sweet.  I worried sick over my babies too, for a myriad of reasons.  I was never diagnosed with PPD, but those tiny little beings are so helpless.

    With the last one, I took him to Africa when he was 6 weeks old.  Ghana, to be exact.  A country that has malaria.  Yeah, I freaked out a bit for about a year with him (and the whole two years we lived there with the others).

    By Kylie w Warszawie on 2009 01 11

  12. Did you have to make me cry so early in the morning?  Beautifully written.

    By MariaV on 2009 01 12

  13. What a beautiful post.  I have had to deal with my own demons but I don’t think I could have said it as eloquently as you…

    By snarflemarfle on 2009 01 12

  14. Beautiful post, Flinger… I love the pictures, too…. And, I know. I experienced all this DURING my pregnancy. I understand the paralysis, the pain, confusion. My mom didn’t experience what I experienced during her pregnancies. But, if she HAD, she would have understood it and been able to say the right things—instead of all the wrong things (during the first pregnancy at least; she learned from it for my next pregnancey). Not her fault—how could she understand!

    So, it’s so important to be open, and not proud, and not to forget. So that if the same thing happens to your daughter, you’ll know just how to comfort her, give her strength and guide her…. smile

    By Haley-O on 2009 01 13

  15. amazing post sweetie.

    By Aimee Greeblemonkey on 2009 01 13