The Shape of a Mother The Shape of a Mother The Shape of a Mother The Shape of a Mother The Shape of a Mother

« | Home | »

Struggling (Nicola)

February 3, 2012

Nicola, age 26
1 Pregnancy, 1 Birth
1 Year PP

When I was pregnant, I really believed that I was going to enjoy motherhood. I was sure that I had prepared myself as much as one can. When my baby was born, of course it was difficult from the start. Not only was I recovering from a forceps birth with episiotomy, but I was trying to adjust to life with a newborn. I kept telling myself it would get easier, and believing that it would was the only thing really carrying me through.

It has been a year since my baby’s birth and I sometimes wonder if I might be depressed. I try so hard to be a good mom, but I still don’t feel like the mother I would like to be. My baby has been slowly cutting teeth, one after the other for over six months. She was actually a better sleeper at 8 weeks old. My heart sinks when she wakes up from a nap sooner than I’d like, because all I can think of is how tired I am and how I don’t know how to fill the rest of our day. She is so clingy and gets upset if I leave the room. She hardly ever plays by herself. I can’t even prepare a meal in the kitchen without her hanging off my legs. We have not taken a family vacation since she was born and I have no plans to return to work. My husband works in another state and is home for maybe one week out of the month. He is not on a set schedule so we never really know when he’ll get to come home. If I got a job I would see even less of him than I already do. I feel useless because I don’t make any money of my own.

My mother is of help to me, but she oversteps boundaries all the time. She acts like my baby’s mom sometimes which drives me crazy. I feel resentful and annoyed and yet, I hardly see any of my friends… so if I get lonely enough, I’ll pack up the baby and go to her house. I feel like I only go to her house, the grocery store, and once a week playgroup. I really need to do something for myself, but at the end of my day, I just have a cry, finish up housework, shower, and go to sleep. Then my baby wakes up a few times throughout the night. She doesn’t eat at night, and I don’t go in unless I sense something is wrong… and yet she still wakes up.

I am at the point of exhaustion. I can’t tell my husband how I really feel because he makes me feel guilty. My mom downplays my emotions so I try not to complain around her. I just feel like being a mother has consisted of a lot of shitty days, and not very many good ones. I started out with such high hopes and a good attitude but lately these things have wavered. Before my daughter was born, all I could think of was the kind of mother I would be, and how I could protect my child from at least some of the things that I went through. Now I wonder if I will ever be able to pick myself up and do right by her.

I don’t tell any of my friends about this. To them, I have a great life and a lot of knowledge to share. I was lucky and went back to my old shape after a month. I know that a lot of them are jealous that I don’t have to go back to work… I know how it must look. We have a pretty nice house and my husband brings in an exceptional income. If I see something for my baby, I don’t think, I just buy. So you see, we have it pretty good. This could be why I don’t feel like I can complain. I’ve watched Teen Mom and I can see how dire a Mother’s situation can become, but I still feel down and sorry for myself a lot of the time. I think if I had a hobby, or a part time job, ate better, and got a better quality of sleep, I could have my good attitude back and be a better mom. At the moment, I can’t pick myself up! It sucks big time! And yet, I reach ovulation every month and all I can think about is how badly I want to get pregnant again! What a mind-fuck. That would be the worst thing we could do right now. And yet those silly hormones make me believe I could manage with two. As if.

Giving birth was the biggest event of my life, and I’ve sort of felt this… let down ever since.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

16 Responses to “Struggling (Nicola)”

  1. Anna Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 7:23 am

    My daughter was ALOT like that. She would take these dumb 30 min naps, not enough time for me to nap or do anything else. And when she was awake, she wanted my attention at all times. She would crawl around the kitchen wailing behind me. My husband was in the military and deployed for 6 months, I felt like a single parent and resentful. Things do get better when they get older, my daughter is almost 2 now, and still wants my attention, but is more content to sit and play or watch a movie for a short while. Maybe you could invest in a babysitter once a week, get yourself out of the house either by yourself or with your husband. If you really believe its depression, talk with a doctor. Hang in there!

  2. chris Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Nicola,

    Change is never easy. Becoming a new parent is even less easy!! Your delivery sounded difficult as well. Not a fun way to start a new life.

    Sounds like your daughter loves you deeply, but teething makes EVERY ONE wish they were some where else. Hang in there!!

    Now for you. Yup your time. I can relate to your feeling exhausted and down. It was depression brought on by back surgery. This was my second round with it. A bummer, BUT I caught it before it totally ruined me. The first round was after our son was born. His delivery was very rough for him, my wife, and myself. So much so that my wife and I suffered through depression for the first 8 years of our son’s life. Yes, we finally found some one we could work with to help us understand what brought the depression on and how to communicate with each other to put our depression behind us. The second round I again found some one to help through and put, as I refer to it, my back depression, behind me. YOU can do this too!!! Find a health care provider that will work with you to help you through this time. You CAN DO IT!!! You posted here. That is a great first step! Time to take another!!! Remember, your feelings are VALID, but not every one understands depression. Please, please do not wait 8 years like we did. The mom you wrote about is still in you.

    Hang in there!! I am cheering for you!!!!

  3. katerina Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 8:07 am

    wow. I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling and feeling so isolated. It must be very difficult doing it on your own and only seeing your husband once a month! there must be a way you can discuss your feelings with him so that he understands you miss him and are feeling a lot of pressure too..

    it sounds like you need more of a support network, rather than being on your own most of the month or relying on your mom (which sounds complicated too). the good news is that you CAN DO THIS.

    it sounds like you mentioned that you are pretty well off, financially.. what about hiring a babysitter to come a few hours each week so you can get some headspace and reconnect with things YOU are interested in and want to do? sure your kid will cry at first, but she will get over it and be ok. and the more you are allowed to feel like YOU, the better mom you will be. you don’t have to be a martyr or be with her 24/7 to prove anything. maybe a book club at the local library, join a gym, a sports team, learn an instrument or a foreign language? take an art class or a class in something that interests you at the local university? meetup dot com is a good way to meet people, even a group for new mothers, maybe you can meet some friends who can identify with you at this point in your life.

    sorry I’ve written a novel here, but I just want you to know that it gets better and you have so many options! you don’t have to suffer and be sad the way you are now…

    hope things get better for you soon.

  4. amber Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Keep your head up newborns are difficult. Patience is key. I had very bad pp I understand.. walks with baby really helped me

  5. Mina Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Chronic exhaustion/lack of sleep definitely messes with you in many ways…being sleep deprived for a long enough period of time can actually affect levels of the same hormones in the brain that are linked to depression.
    Everyone needs rest…and everyone needs some time to recharge their batteries – needing that doesn’t make you a lousy mom.
    You mention that you have discretionary income. Have you considered hiring a little bit of help to give yourself a little time to feel like yourself? Maybe start with just a little bit – couple of afternoons a week for 2 hours…and see how you feel.

  6. Amanda Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Completely normal! You will get past this. I had post partum psychosis/depression after our first daughter. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year, I know what it’s like to do it yourself, and that in itself can take A LOT out of you. while he was gone I was pregnant for our second daughter. Sounds like you really need to get out of the house more. Find play groups in your area, talk with other moms more. You can get through this! Take care of yourself.

  7. Ayla Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Wow, its like my life tooo…I totally get that heart sink feeling when baby wakes up before Im ready, is soooo annoying..but in timee it will pass…and we can get a nice sleep!

  8. alexis Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Get a babysitter! I am beyond broke right now (student loan debt, rough economy, bla bla bla) but I beg, borrow and steal money for a sitter because I consider it essential to keeping my family moving forward. We simply crumble psychologically and emotionally if we don’t have a small break. Not to sound like a martyr, I certainly am not, but we don’t go out to dinner anymore and the adults eat a lot of beans and rice and tofu to save the money to pay a nice college girl to give us a little time to remember who we are as adults. And that little time can help energize us to be the parents we want to be again.

    Do yourself and your baby a favor and build a good relationship with a nice sitter who your child can learn to trust and enjoy. It takes a village! When you are depressed your baby can tell and will feel it. The beginning of any sitter relationship is hard, learning to trust someone new, but it is so worth it.

  9. Melissa Says:
    February 3rd, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    The first thing I will say is do not feel as if you do not have a right to express your feelings. I fell into that trap after I had my daughter (who is now 15 months old) and it definitely messes with you. You have every right to express your feelings even if other things in your life are going “great”. Motherhood is one of the best, and most challenging things we women come across. It takes so much time and effort, and often times we feel like we are not good enough. What I found works is taking some “mommy” time. Others suggested a sitter, I would suggest the same, or perhaps let your baby stay with your mom for a short time if you are on good terms, just to get out of the house and clear your head. Find hobbies that you enjoy for you. Invest in yourself, cause mama you’re worth it! I did not bounce back from pregnancy, had PPD and am a single parent. It is not easy, but what is worse is being tired, short, and frustrated/annoyed with you’re child who wants nothing more than to love and cuddle with you. (This statement is by no means a judgement on you, I’ve totally been there.) Take some mommy time, things will start looking up. :)

  10. Stephanie Says:
    February 4th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Do you have a MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) group in your area? Check mops.org for info. They provide childcare during the meetings and you get to hang out with other moms in the same season of life as you. It was a lifesaver for me!

  11. Jan Says:
    February 5th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I can totally relate to this story. In fact, I felt like I had been the one writing it! Which just goes to show, you aren’t the only one feeling these things! You are not alone, Nicola. Just take it one day at a time, even one moment at a time. Don’t look too far ahead, and yes, get some more breaks, but also cherish every moment (even the difficult ones). Babyhood is really just a blip on the life’s radar and it will be over so quickly!

  12. Julia Burzon Says:
    February 5th, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Oh Nicola,
    My heart goes out to you. I’ve felt so many of the things you express. If there is ANY way you can get more sleep, that would be one of the ways to help yourself that will show the most immediate return. If you need to pay someone to watch your baby while you sleep, and you can, DO IT. Sleep is HUGE.

    It sounds quite likely that you are dealing with postpartum depression since this has gone on a year, which is NOT a personal failing or a judgement of your character, it’s just a chemical imbalance in your brain. It’s not something you cause by doing anything wrong. All you need is a genetic predisposition toward it and the right stimulus (a year of no sleep, little support, fear, lack of sleep, caring for a newborn on your own, lack of sleep, stress, and lack of sleep).

    I have it, LOADS of women have it. More than you know. We all hide it.

    Whether or not you are depressed, you can be evaluated for it and it’s no big deal. Check out http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_search.php to find a local therapist or psychiatrist. I have both. I started with a psychiatrist because I couldn’t function well. I was terrified of being alone with my baby in the house because, like you said, the day was one big yawning chasm of not knowing what to do next. I spent all my time out, only coming home once my husband was home. The whole time I had the feeling of extreme stagefright: butterflies to the state of nausea. My primary care physician started me on Zoloft and my OB/GYN suggested a fantastic psychiatrist who was local and specialized in postpartum depression.

    Depression can be helped by counseling or medication or, best, both together. Motherhood, even made infinitely more difficult by not having the emotional support you need from your husband and mom and not having your husband there to help you out, can feel so much better than what you’re experiencing. It’s not YOU. Just like having diabetes doesn’t make someone an inadequate person, neither does this. Please note: There’s no medal at the end for going through this all on your own without getting help for your pain! Worst case, you get evaluated and they say, nope, you don’t have depression. You could STILL benefit from counseling though, given your situation. Seriously!

    Writing this was a fabulous thing to do! How brave you are!

    For more sources of support, please contact me directly or visit my blog: “Dear Diane,” at burzonmom.blogspot.com

    TAKE CHARGE OF HOW YOU FEEL. YOU CAN DO IT. YOU’VE ALREADY STARTED BY REACHING OUT HERE.

    With admiration, love, support, and best wishes,
    jb

  13. katie Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Hi Nicola!
    What you write about your baby is just normal. This is how a majority of healthy 12 months olds behave. I think your sleep deprivation is key here.
    You’re saying you’re quite well-off, and I understand you don’t breastfeed any more.
    Just get a babysitter for the kid for a couple of hours and get some sleep or do the chores so that you could go to bed early.
    Ask your mother to take your daughter for the weekend. Go to the movies and then get 10 hours of sleep straight.
    And you do need to have a life of your own. Is there anything you would like to do for yourself? Learn a foreign language? Dance? Do yoga? You’re lucky because your mother is willing to help, don’t reject her, you should rather tell her where the boundaries are!

  14. Hilary Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child by MARC WEISSBLUTH, M.D

    …changed my life because it helped get my baby sleeping well. Recommended by a lady with twins.

    find some support and let your husband know how you are feeling. This post was a great first step!

  15. angw Says:
    February 26th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Hi. Although several great points were made, I think it sounds like depression and you should consult your doctor. It’s true, your first is hardest and isolating, but without work and a husband around to help it’s even harder. Seek professional help AND get a job if you can. It’s okay to work and get a “time out” from your children. Both you and your daughter will benefit from it!

  16. Monica P Says:
    January 20th, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I would say most moms suffer from some sort of blues-depression after baby, and forget the 2-weeks crap…try up to a year! your hormones have gone haywire, NOT YOUR FAULT. Don’t let your husband make you feel guilty; be assertive and stand up for the hard work you do at home. You are staying home and raising your daughter, which is hard life work, while your husband is providing financially. You’re both working. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself, even though we all do! We’re attached to our babies in spirit, and feel as if no one will provide our level of love and care if we’re gone. Others may try their best, but we’re probably right!

    It’s hard to force yourself to go out there and be amongst people, but it will make you feel better. Limit time with those who make you feel bad about yourself and get together with other moms who are truly supportive, fun, easygoing, and find a way to stay active doing some exercise you like to do. It’s very hard to be the sole caregiver for the majority of the day.

    You’re doing a great job. Thanks for sharing, we totally get it! Proud of you, and don’t be afraid to say what you need when you need it! That’s all part of the job :)

Comments


Support This Site