Honest afterbirth

6 Jan

Since I only have three entries in this month’s Pulsate Olympics event, and in an effort to encourage more, here’s a reprise of one of the posts I’ve written about my own PPD experience.

And I want to encourage all of your to write not just about PPD, but the depression, the scary rage, the creepy worry that comes in to your lives intrusively at any point in your children’s lives. Tell us your stories-many of us have been there.

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After the birth of my second daughter, I wanted to walk into the woods behind my house, and kill us. I had a plan, and almost did so. I had to stay away from the kitchen and the medicine cabinet, due to knives and pills. I’d stare longingly at the giant economy bottle of painkillers that seemed to taunt me from the windowsill as I did the dishes. I’d dream about my daughter not waking up, of smothering in her sleep, of just going away.

I let her sleep on her belly. Part of me wanted her dead.

Sometimes I’m so disgusted with myself for these thoughts I can barely believe it. I wanted my own daughter to die! I wanted to kill my own daughter!

But lord, I remember those moments. I was thinking this morning about the first few days after I had Rosalyn, and I was still in the hospital.

And I remembered, the numbing depression started within 6 hours of delivery. A friend came to visit and I couldn’t even work up the will to say hello. Tears were streaming down my face when I tried to nurse, even the slightest bit of letdown triggered a torrent of emotion I couldn’t handle or prevent. I asked the nurses if this was normal.

I don’t recall them saying much, if anything.

I felt so fucking abnormal. I was supposed to be feeling maternal and empowered, breastfeeding my child. Instead, I felt sad and small and alone, and fat as I tried to guide my seemingly giant boob into this tiny mouth. I stared at the white wall, at the light, and felt nothing but sadness and horror.

I hated my child. I HATED her. Immediately.

No one noticed. No one saw anything, no one considered that I might be in trouble, that it wasn’t “just” the baby blues. No one even bothered to ask how I was, if I was ok. Although they were very concerned about if I had peed or not.

I had a post partum hemorrhage as well (one of the many reasons I’m not meant to give birth) and as they tried to manually convince my uterus to give up it’s dead, I screamed and screamed for the D&C. I had already been through this before, after almost bleeding out. (When nurses start giving each other that “look”, and you’re lightheaded and rather delirious, you know it’s a bad thing). The doctors only gave up after I kept screaming and the nurses kept reminding them I had done this before.

I remember one nurse being nice, and telling me she couldn’t believe they’d do what they were doing without painkillers. I would have rather given birth again.

You want honesty? Here it is-the hospital system for birth is not a good one. I felt alone and ignored most of the time. I couldn’t express how utterly alone and sad I was, because there was no one to listen to me. I couldn’t tell them I wanted to get rid of my child-they would have treated me like a pariah, or at least that’s how I felt.

Why am I honest?

Because I don’t want anyone, to go through what I went through. Looking back, I should have demanded care, my husband should have. I should have demanded it well before giving birth. I should have screamed it from the roof tops, demanded a midwife, anything, something.

I trusted my health care system to take care of me, and it failed me. And I don’t want that for anyone else. Because I have never felt as alone as I felt in that hospital, hoping the bleeding would stop, begging myself to stop feeling so sad when I should have been so joyous.

It occurred to me that I talk about my post partum depression a lot on this blog. And I do. Because my battle in it, and through it has helped me to define myself as a parent. I got through it. I found my love for my children. But not before I had to slog it out, and not without some heavy therapy to try and fix me. I already had issues, from my motherloss, from adoption, from sexual abuse, (lord, the list seems like a hallmark special doesn’t it…) My personal demons made it so I don’t ever feel like I deserve help-asking for help is the hardest thing I ever did. Admitting where I was within the PPD was terrifying and ultimately, freeing.

So I’m honest about this, and other things in my life, as an example for others who are where I was a few years back. I thought I had dealt with it all.

But after the sadness, after the storms of crying and begging for my mother, I realized I hadn’t ever dealt with any of it, and it just compounded on itself, and I was adrift, and wanted to die.

So I am honest to act as a life preserver, and be there when someone asks “Does it ever get better?”

Oh yes. It does. Sometimes my life is filled with so much joy and beauty, I think my eyes and my heart might burst. It’s so worth it…

10 Responses to “Honest afterbirth”

  1. jkdufair January 6, 2007 at 11:12 pm #

    Thanks for posting this, thordora. There’s so much shite in the world and in my day in particular. It’s nice you ended it by remembering the joy and beauty you do have.

  2. Magdalena January 7, 2007 at 1:23 am #

    I’ll get going on this one. I’ll link soon.

  3. thordora January 7, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    It was rough, but ultimately, life was better for it (although Ros will likely get whatever she wants for the rest of her life due to my ever loving guilt over those first few weeks) i remember the dullness of my hatred for her. I wanted her dead, plain and simple. I tried to convince everyone we could just give her away, that someone else could have her.

    I wish more women would write their stories. I’ve never been ashamed of telling my story. It happened, and if more women talked about it, maybe it wouldn’t.

  4. kassiemae January 7, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    I am planning on writing my piece on this subject soon. My son is now 6 months old and I am still struggling. It helps to know I am not alone. When I find the courage and the words to express myself I will send you my link.

  5. crunchy carpets January 7, 2007 at 7:19 pm #

    You know…I posted a while back about my hell and have since deleted that blog.

    I know more and more people NEED to talk about PPD and depression.
    I still suffer from depression and the worst is dealing with my family who look at me in ‘that’ way.

    It has been over four years since my birth experience with Adam and it is still a nightmare for me. And full of regrets.

    And I am in so much doubt about myself every single day.

    That is my burden to deal with.
    I guess I hide instead.

  6. katsplace January 8, 2007 at 9:57 am #

    Thor, I am finding hard to write any of mine for this. It’s not because I have so many regrets but more because I don’t. I had distinct issues going on with each (different with each actually) but never felt like many of you are describing.

  7. Jen January 8, 2007 at 10:42 am #

    I’m still working on mine. Or rather, working up to working on mine 🙂

  8. liprap January 8, 2007 at 11:16 am #

    Keep at it, y’all. I found it to be highly cathartic.

    I’m also sick and tired of holding it inside. And I’m beginning to get a little too old to care.

  9. thordora January 8, 2007 at 11:38 am #

    I’m thinking of extending it another week anyway, since I take forever to get to the post office in the first place.

    And not everyone went batshit like I did, but I think even the simple stories that convey the reality of the post partum period, be it crazy or just tired and annoyed, or even happy need to be explained and talked about. Most of us don’t have “womenfolk” around us to explain that they had this happen, or your Aunt did, or whomever. We’re all so alone with however we do feel, and that’s the part I hate. Happy, sad or crazy, we end up going it alone, and not finding the stories we need to hear.

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