Airing Dirty Laundry

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It’s not all good all of the time October 19, 2009

Filed under: friends,secrets — airingdirtylaundry @ 7:48 pm

I think it’s time to get back to being a “real” blogger.  I spent the past 10 or 11 months writing almost exclusively about being pregnant, and then, since her birth, Maggie. Everything was happyhappyjoyjoy.

I loved being pregnant.  I loved every minute of it.  During the times early on when I felt sick to the last few days when I started to get uncomfortable, I really couldn’t complain.  I had difficulty getting pregnant and staying pregnant, so every moment of my pregnancy with Maggie was cherished and never taken for granted.  Throughout that time, I learned that it’s not all about ME anymore.  I was carrying a life, a precious life, inside of me, and my discomfort ceased to matter.   I would have done whatever it would have taken to carry her to term and make sure she was healthy, regardless of how it affected me.

And now that she’s here, it’s easy to write about the wonders and joys of having a beautiful, healthy baby.  It’s easy to post pictures of her, to document her milestones, to capture the essence of her NOW, before she changes and grows with the passage of time.

It’s not as easy to write about everything else. It’s not as easy to admit to the changes in my life since Maggie’s birth that aren’t positive, or that I haven’t reacted positively to.

It’s easier to post a picture of a happy baby.

(Even one who is losing her hair in weird patches.  Why can’t it ALL just fall out at once and be done with it?  It didn’t start falling out until the day I made an appointment to have her pictures taken . . .c’mon kiddo, we’ve got a deadline on the hair loss situation here!)

Anyhow, the bottom line is that I’ve struggled a lot in the past six weeks.  More than I expected to.  More than I’ve let on to ANYONE, except Mike, because, well, he has to deal with me on a daily basis.  It hasn’t had anything to do with being capable as a parent; it’s not that kind of struggle.  It’s more of me being an emotional, mental, and physical wreck.

It’s never been so severe that I thought it was post-partum depression.  I’m still healing–in a lot of ways–and I expected a certain amount of recovery.  And I know that a lot of what I’ve experienced over the past month and a half can be attributed to hormones.  I guess I just never realized that hormones can be so . . .powerful.

There have been days that I basically curled up in a ball on the couch with Maggie in the bouncy on the floor next to me for hours at a time.  There have been other days where I’ve been a whirlwind of accomplishment–successfully juggling taking care of Maggie with everything else that needs to get done and feeling on top of the world about how capable I am of doing it ALL.

I never thought that the highs would be so high, or that the lows would be so . . .low. 

A friend of mine said to me once that she went through what she called a “mourning period” after the birth of her first child.  She mourned for the way her life used to be.  Independence. Spontaneity.  Freedom.  They were all gone.  She was responsible for another life.  Would always think about someone else first.  When she said that to me, I first thought “how selfish”.  Now I think I have a better understanding of what she meant.  And it’s not about being selfish, it’s more about adjusting to the changes that come along with having a baby.

I am not “just myself” anymore.  Mike and I aren’t “just a couple” anymore.  We’re a package deal.  And that package is now high maintenance.  Is always at the forefront of our thoughts.  Is always our number one priority.  Our “go with the flow” lifestyle is a lot more structured than it ever was before.  And that’s not a bad thing; it’s just an adjustment.

I’ve always been one to make a decisions quickly and to move on, confident in my choice.  But now some of the decisions I have to make don’t affect just me, or just Mike and I.  I can’t just adopt  my “devil may care” attitude and laugh it off if the decision is the wrong one, shrug my shoulders, and carry on.  Because now Maggie factors in, and my decisions will affect her too, and us as a family unit.

[Sorry to be so vague, but I have reasons for not being more specific.]

To complicate things, I’ve never been one to readily admit to a struggle.  It’s always been easier for me to play it up that everything’s rosy and that I have everything under control.  It’s rare that I would go to someone, even a close friend, and admit that I need any kind of help.

But today, I called a friend.  One that I’ve been meaning to call for weeks.  One that I haven’t talked to in a few months.

And, somehow, without me asking, and–I think–without her knowing, she helped me.

After talking to her, just having a conversation catching up on each other’s lives and hearing about her experiences after having her son, I feel so much better about some of the things that have been bothering me.  I feel . . .refreshed, for lack of a better word.  I feel like I can cope a little better, and make some decisions that need to be made with a little more confidence.

Michele has always had that effect . . .she gives me perspective.  Always at a time when I need it most. 

And she makes me laugh.  Always at a time when I need it most.

Michele and I posing as iguanas (inside joke!) 2 years ago when she came to visit for a weekend.


8 Responses to “It’s not all good all of the time”

  1. Katie Says:

    First, thank you thank you thank you for talking about this aspect of parenting. It’s good to know the reality. Caring for a baby is HARD though its rewarding and you want to do it. Some of my friends who waited for a long time into their marriages to have children talk about the difficulty of adjusting to a new person in their life when for SO long they had developed a routine of just the two of them. It’s not easy. It doesn’t mean its not worth it, but we can’t assume there is no adjustment period. I think about that sometimes. How we sit and watch TV, or I am on the laptop, or we sleep in until 11 on the weekends, and just hang out with friends until 2am….. these things will all change and that will be an adjustment, not to mention work schedules, finances, etc etc etc etc.

    I read a study somewhere one time, and I can’t think of where, but it said that women who suffered Infertility and loss have higher rates of Postpartem depression. Im not sure why that is, maybe its because our hormones are funky that caused our issues to begin with sot hey continue to mess with us after birth. I’m not sure. Even if you dont think you’re in serious sad territory, please talk to someone you can trust and confide in and let out your worries and frustrations. You are not the only new mom to have the worries and concerns that you do.

    And ofcourse, it goes without saying, I’m always here by e-mail (or phone) if you need an anonymous outlet to vent to.


  2. Sydney Says:

    That first couple of months after baby arrives can be so overwhelming. I remember when Alex was born, I couldn’t tell which end was up. I had issues with breast feeding. I was dreading going back to a job that was slowly sapping the life out of me. I didn’t want to go back to work period at that time. And while he was a good baby… it was so much work! I felt like I couldn’t get into any kind of routine. Single friends or friends without kids would call to check on me and the minute I started to talk about how hard it was… they clammed up and wanted to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Then one day my grandma called me. And she said “How are you doing… FOR REAL?” And I broke down. She just listened to me and comforted me over the phone. It was just what I needed to hear. I also think it’s great you’re able to communicate your feelings to Mike.

    I agree with the above comment… does your hospital have a new moms group? I only went to the one at my hospital for about 5 weeks, but it was great to talk to other new moms who were having the same feelings I was.

    And it does get better! And worse. And better! Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed with my 4 year old, I think to myself… “Sheesh… at least he can tell me what’s wrong, even if what’s wrong is that I’m a meanie!”

    Hang in there. You’re doing great!

  3. Therese Says:

    Motherhood is quite an awakening, isn’t it? Call me if you need to talk!

  4. Jamie Says:

    This entry is exactly why I like you – because you’re honest and real. And because it takes a lot of balls to admit you don’t always have it under control. I swore I’d never admit that…. but I did. But sometimes I still like to act like I do ;o)

    Parenting and having a baby is an adjustment. It will get easier and harder but don’t neglect yourself. If you need a chat with a friend or a date with the massage therapist, do it. Don’t forget to spend one on one time with Mike – you need each other just as much now as you did before Maggie. Jeff was always my go to person and he has pulled me from many down days.

    Oh and you could always do barrettes for the picture…looks like she has a bunch up there!

    Hugs and I’m here if you need me.

  5. Nobody ever really tells you that the first few months of being a parent are frustrating as you learn to balance all of the new responsibilities of life. Yes, they are the most amazing days watching your baby grow. At the same time it often hits hard and makes you mourn your carefree days when you didn’t have to spend hours remembering what you need to pack for a simple drive to the store. Know that it does get easier and just the fact that you wrote this shows so much about you. If you need me you know where to find me and I am always up to chatting.

  6. Holli Lund Says:

    Shawna, you are going to be just fine. I can tell. Your attitude and personality is going to help you adjust faster than most and I’m happy to see that.

    I don’t know anything about what you are going through first hand because, as you know, I never got to this part. I will say though that I would be feeling the EXACT same way. Being a parent is a huge life change and it takes time to turn your life upside down and inside out and then figure out which way YOUR right side is now. Just remember that what you think is right for you and your family is ALWAYS going to be what’s best. No matter what others say or think…… you know what’s the best thing for your family. Trust your gut.

    In my crazy medical life I’ve had to have the pregnancy hormone measured once a week for a month to make sure it was leaving my body and it took two months for it to completely get out of me! Two months and that was only from 8 weeks of pregnancy. Can you imagine how high the hormone levels are in you after a full term pregnancy? No wonder they say it takes a year to feel normal again!! You are doing just fine with all of that…….. its hard to manage those feelings with that hormone floating around so I give you lots of props lady!! LOL

  7. I hope you feel better soon, Shawna. Maggie is looking cuter everyday!

  8. Fellow Iguana Says:

    I LOVE YOU!!! 🙂

    Sweetheart, this is a whole different world you are in now, one that no matter how much ‘pre-planning’ and expectations you might have…it is all literally thrown out the window…because it will be what it’s going to be…regardless.

    The High’s are so amazing…you feel invincible! But, damn, the low’s suck the big pickle. Try to remember when times are at the low period…it’s only temporary…because the damn pickle is only so big before you’ve sucked it gone!

    Honestly, I think it’s way better than…”This too shall pass”…yeah? But when is it going to pass? Hence the Big Pickle reference…when the damn thing is gone!

    I’m glad I was able to make you laugh…because I sure miss laughing with you hon!

    Friends for life…good times…and the Big Pickle times…

    I miss you and love you…all of you! 🙂

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