this is the post i vowed to write and subsequently decided not to write. then i realized that this is not something unique to me. thousands of women deal with similar issues everyday. perhaps it is presumptuous of me to think that a blog post could show a total stranger that she is not alone. then again, perhaps it isn’t.
the best place to start is the beginning. two or three weeks after sylvie was born, i began to cry often and at length. we’re talking multiple times a day, everyday. i chalked it up to hormones and sleep deprivation. it never stopped, however, and it began to worsen. somewhere around three weeks ago, i realized that i was terrified to be alone with my baby. i felt out of control and completely incompetent as a mother. i agonized over every little parenting decision i made as if somehow each tiny mistake would screw her up for life. my self-confidence was at an all-time low. i was not able to sleep, even when sylvie and travis were sleeping. i let the anxieties of the day swim around in my head. i fixated on them and my mind never shut off.
i began to hear sylvie crying when she wasn’t. i know this is normal to some degree. my husband will often hear her too, at night or in the shower. the difference is that he can distinguish the real from the fake. i cannot. i woke up every hour or so, all night long, thinking i heard her cry. i heard her in the grocery store, when i knew that she was home with her father. i heard her everywhere i went, whether she was quiet or sleeping, with me or not.
i dreaded being alone with her, especially at night. everything gets harder at night. sometimes, like any other baby, she will cry and cry and cry for an hour or more. some nights, most nights, i couldn’t take it. i just sobbed with her in my arms. i screamed. a few times i put her down in her crib and bashed my head into the wall or slapped my face as hard as i could. i didn’t understand why i couldn’t do this. i truly believed i was failing her as a mother. i never got the impulse to hurt her. only myself. i felt as if i needed to be punished for losing patience or not knowing how to cope.
a couple of weeks ago i was alone with sylvie while travis was at class. it had been a particularly trying night. i put her down to sleep, but she wouldn’t stay down for more than 5 minutes at a time. i tried to tire her out and put her down again. she wasn’t hungry or wet, hot or cold. then she got over-tired and the crying began. 45 minutes in, i lost it. i put her down in her crib and just screamed. not at her or at anything in particular. i just screamed. i hit my head into the wall. hard. i sat on our deck in the cold, while she cried inside. i called travis and he came home early from his class. i called my parents and told them how i had been feeling. i cried a lot that night, but i came out of it feeling so much better. i found the number of a large psychiatry practice nearby. i wrote down that number to call the next morning. i had a plan.
i called that office the next morning (a friday) and set up an appointment for the following monday. i have been seeing a licensed therapist once a week and will likely start with a psychiatrist to discuss medication options. i am feeling a little better, but i know we’re not out of the woods yet. i love my daughter and my husband more than anyone or anything else. i want to get better for them. i want to be the best mother and wife that i’m capable of being. i want to be the mother and wife i know i can be. i don’t want to hurt myself anymore.
this blog started as a touchstone to keep my friends and family informed during my pregnancy. i has become so much more than that. it has served as catharsis after sylvie’s birth and now for this. it is an outlet on the tough days. writing here is something i always looks forward to, despite how sad i may feel. my experiences are not unique, but they are mine.