Sleepovers are still relatively unusual for our kids, but last night we had a couple of cute kids stay over. This morning, the children woke us up at 6:00am. As I try and whip out a blog before 9:00am, they’re eating porridge, laughing and watching Christmas music on YouTube.
Not sure about the rest of the parents out there, but I generally feel like a bit of a phony or an imposter when these amazing little humans call me mum. Mums are smarter, older have their stuff together way more than I do… don’t they?
So today I’m going to talk about parenting. Kind of.
I’m currently in the midst of attempting to drag myself out of what has been diagnosed as a fairly impressive spell of pre-natal depression. I wasn’t familiar with pre-natal depression, despite having post-natal with both of the older two children. None with the third child. This has been a very real and heart wrenching struggle, for Grumpy and myself. The guilt, self-loathing and total despair that comes with whatever chemical cocktail is working its way around my brain at the moment has been, on occasion, completely debilitating. I want to enjoy this pregnancy, and I want to be excited to meet the miracle that will be joining our family. Yet, no matter how hard I cognitively reason with myself, or how deep I dig, I keep running into feelings of being unprepared, terrified, overwhelmed… even resentful.
I had mentally prepared myself to be finished with breeding, and the older three children are at a point where they are all very independent indeed. No more nappies, or ass-wiping, breastfeeding or separation anxiety. We have three communicative and entertaining little people who, for the most part, we’re able to rationalize with. Having my body, my emotions, my life and my plans hijacked by the responsibility of a new person messed with my head and made me feel things I am really not proud of.
We all take different paths and have different experiences on our parenting journey. I had wanted children more than any other single part of the plan for my future, from the time I was a very young and lonely child growing up in a fairly desolate wilderness somewhere smack dab in the middle of Alberta Canada.
Prior to meeting me, my husband was quite decidedly opposed to getting married and/or breeding.
Second “official” date I laid down an ultimatum:
You either consent to having children one day, or don’t waste my time.
Three months later he’d proposed, a year later we were married, and three months after that we found out we were going to be parents, well ahead of our planned schedule.
Grumpy experienced many symptoms of Couvade Syndrome. This is essentially a “sympathy pregnancy” with varying symptoms. He put on weight, felt nausea, was moody and even had strange cravings if I remember correctly. Some men go so far with Couvade Syndrome that they even lactate. Not the case here.
So where was I?
After gaining nearly 40kg and (not surprisingly) giving myself gestational diabetes, the day finally arrived for us to be induced and meet our first son.
I’ll spare you the details of the actual birth.
When he arrived my mother cried. My husband cried. Daniel didn’t cry. He was gorgeous, and small and perfect in every way. Grumpy was hooked, my mother was hooked. People came from far and wide to coo at the first heir to the Hobbit throne.
But where were these feelings of Love and joy?
I felt confused, shell-shocked, and quite numb. The whole experience was surreal and not at all what I was expecting.
The weeks that followed saw me fall into a deep dark depression indeed.
I did not feel any of the feelings of maternal bliss or completeness. Was something wrong with me?
I felt like a fat, sad, sore, and miserable feeding receptacle. I was sleep deprived, overwhelmed and saw the best years of my life swallowed up by a mewling, puking, little parasite.
Then, one night… at absurd O’clock, a very sleep deprived and bedraggled 26-year-old mother snapped. I looked down at the small and helpless creature I had finally managed to feed and rock to sleep after HOURS of crying. He was breathing peacefully in his sleep, and occasionally wincing with the pain of his terrible reflux, or perhaps just still sobbing in his sleep after his epic crying session. Helpless, delicate, peaceful and… mine. He did not ask to be here, yet here he was. And he needed me. He needed me to protect him, to nurture him, and for the time being just to survive. And I fell truly, madly and desperately in Love and have never recovered from this deep and absorbing state.
He’s going to be 9 in a few short weeks. He’s a gentle, engaging, and imaginative boy. At times he drives us batty with his tendency to faff about, or his chronic daydreaming.
Thinking back on all of this and sharing it with you here today has certainly given me some food for thought.
Not a lot in life is what you expect it is going to be. Of all the feelings I’ve felt as a woman, a mother, a friend, a person even; guilt is not a particularly productive or useful emotion. I bang on to everyone that they’d be better to count their blessings than their challenges, yet here I am, wallowing in a sea of chemical and situational self-pity.
I’m going to try and stop that now.
From this moment I am going to celebrate every little ninja kick, every hiccough, every roll that I can feel. I am going to celebrate and care for my rounding body and myself. I’ll feel sad if I need to and as happy as I possibly can because oh lawdy lawd I will regret squandering these moments when they’ve passed.
So this blog didn’t turn out at all as I’d planned.
I wasn’t going to talk about depression as I do feel I bang on about it a bit, yet, there it was. Exposing itself in black on white on my screen, waiting to be read and used however the reader chooses.