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Scripted Motherhood

When you think about motherhood and reality shows, most people automatically think about the Kardashians, Real Housewives, Teen Mom, or one of those shows where there are like 15 kids in the family. However, what most of us don’t think about is ourselves. Why would I lump myself into the same category as a rich Hollywood family whose life is obviously so scripted for our viewing pleasure. Well, besides the money, famous face, and television contract, the reality of motherhood is just as scripted for any of us.

When you sign on to social media, you will see photos of smiling children, funny #parentfails, and usually a selfie with wine after the kids are put to bed. (Obviously there are many more types of photos you will see, but I am generalizing the family ones strictly so this post would take 17 years to write.) What many of our timelines won’t show are the tears, not from our kids, but from us. Facebook won’t show the fears of putting our kids to sleep at night. Instagram wont show the guilt from not being able to breastfeed, or the pain of having to pump at 3AM. What they will show is our child’s first day of school outfits, baby’s first smile, and maybe, if we are really lucky, a photo of a kid-free date night.

This is not a bad thing, only seeing the happy moments. I mean, would I really want to be scrolling through a newsfeed everyday filled with just crying women and parenting drama? Well, no. However, having that reality out there may make me feel better about what I’m going though. So today I did just that. I posted a (vague) status about everything I have been going through for the past three weeks. Not just for my own benefit, but more because I feel like if I saw something written like that when I was at my lowest point, I would have felt less alone.

facebook-status

Being exposed like that is hard. I wanted to write it out there because today is a better day. Three weeks ago, I was in a place where I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get back from. Who knows where I will be next week. As soon as I hit “post” I said out loud  to myself, “Well, now it’s out there.” (I’m out a coffee shop and the guy next to me gave me a weird and concerning look.) But it is. It’s out there now, no taking it back. Part of me feels relieved. The other part of me is having another panic attack.

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When I leave..

It’s a weird feeling to have anxiety just pop up at random times. Before baby, I would have no problem going out on my own. To the store, to work, to meet friends for drinks. Anywhere. Right after I had my first, I would call or text to check in randomly, mainly to see how he was doing. After the first year or so, I stopped checking in. Not because I didn’t care, but more because I felt comfortable knowing he was fine without me.

Now it’s totally different. While I know the second is fine without me, I am having panic attacks whenever I leave him. But for the weirdest reasons.

The last two times I have gone out to meet friends, the boys have stayed home with m husband. He is an obviously 100% attentive and capable parent. That isn’t why I worry. I worry because I think I forgot something. I literally call a few blocks after leaving my house to ask my husband if the baby is ok. I ask him because I can’t remember how I left the baby. Was he happy? Was he fed? Did I forget something? Did I leave him somewhere and not tell my husband? My mind goes into serious panic.

There are mornings too where I will be getting the oldest ready to bring him to the bus stop and walk out of the house. As I walk down the front steps, my heart jumps in my throat. I grab my chest. And there he is, wrapped up on me. Totally fine. But I think I forgot him.

We have all heard the stories about parents tragically forgetting their children in the car. I used to think that was crazy! How could you forget your child? Now I completely understand this type of situation. And I live with the panic and fear every day that I will be one of those parents.

After Baby, I am broken. 

Giving birth is such a majestically terrifying thing.

Giving birth is such a majestically terrifying thing. And essentially something we have absolutely no control over. When I was pregnant with my first, I did everything by the book. I dreamed of the day my water would break and I would call my husband saying “It’s time!!”I would jump in a cab and meet him at the hospital, where I would have an all natural birth, which I knew would hurt like hell, but bringing my baby into the world purely would be worth it. Then I would take him to chest and he would latch. We would bond and I would breast feed until he was at least three, but maybe longer.

Well, not a single one of those things happened. Not. A. One. After being about two weeks late with no signs of prelabor, my husband and I took the subway uptown for a scheduled induction. After eighteen hours of labor, my water having to be manually broken with what looked like a giant knitting needle, and having an epidural (which I didn’t want at all), the baby got stuck and we both when into stress. I had to be rushed to the OR for an emergency c-section. When he was safely delivered and monitored, he was handed to my husband, not me, and given a bottle of formula because his glucose was low. Needless to say, he never latched and I watched in one day all my dreams crumble. However, this magical little human came in and changed my life completely.

While I went through a bit of postpartum with my first son, it hasn’t been anything like this. Which is even more confusing for me, since I had little to no expectations on having control of anything for the birth or after for my second. I didn’t want to get my hopes up like I did with my first. However, life has a funny way of still throwing you for a loop when you are trying to go with the flow.

The first few weeks were easier than expected. My husband also took two and a half weeks off to be home with the baby and help us all get in a routine of a family of four. My main worry throughout pregnancy was how my relationship would change with my first. I was terrified. I didn’t want anything to come between us. For the past five years, we have done EVERYTHING together. At the same time, he felt like the sole reason I was having a second. He was so involved coming to sonograms and preparing the bedroom and apartment. He counted the months, weeks, then days down. So when he automatically became the most compassionate, protective, and amazing big brother, we were not surprised at all. I have watched their relathionship over the past two months grow into something unimaginable.

But that’s when I started to notice it. That feeling. Like I’m watching my family from the sidelines. I was there for all these special moments, watching and vigorously taking photos of them all. But I didn’t feel like I was there. I wasn’t as happy as them. But why?

Well, while I started to worry about this feeling, I wasn’t even ready for what I was about to get hit with. In early September, my mother in law had a stroke. Miraculously she has made a full recovery. We are beyond thankful for that. But I started to worry about my husband’s health. While worrying about him, I end up getting sick. I got mastitis. I struggled since day one to breastfeed a baby that has little to no latch. I pumped every two hours day and night since coming home from the hospital. And I still had to supplement. Now with mastitis, my supply was even less. I could feel the disappointment I had after my first creeping in. With all of this, my first baby started kindergarten and got left on the bus and brought back to school on his first day riding it. We all cried that night. 

And with all of that, I still wasn’t prepared for the blow we were about to get. 

The day before my MIL was to come home from the hospital, I  found myself at the ER with my six week old with viral meningitis. I still can’t write about it really. I still cry. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life. I also have never felt so guilty. It’s my fault. I failed. I couldn’t protect him. I still cannot shake that blame. 

After we got home from the hospital, we found out our first was being bullied on the bus.  I am failing! Why can’t I protect my babies?! Again, I am feeling so defeated. Then he got fever, and I got mastitis again. 

At this point, I have lost my entire milk supply. I said I was going to go with the flow with this one. I said I wasn’t going to stress myself out with breastfeeding. Well, I lied. I have failed again and I’m broken over it. 

After having what felt like a few normal days, the next thing to happen broke me completely. We noticed Vedder had a few bug bites. First we thought they were just mosquito bites, then we found bugs in the bed. Thankfully they were not bed bugs, but we did have an infestation of carpet beetles. 

I lost it. Completely. I went into a paralyzing panic mode. I was having panic attacks walking down the street. I felt broken and paranoid. And no one knew. 

Ok, family knew. And my husband and sons. Boy, did they know. I had to look at my sons while they watched mama cry. And not just a normal cry. I was physically and mentally paralyzed. I don’t know how else to explain it. I felt broken. Like I would never be myself again. I took the boys and ran away to my sister’s for a few days to try and recover myself. It worked only a little. 

Tomorrow begins something new. I will start to get help to get back to normal. I will be starting therapy sessions to deal with PPD/PPA. I will also be taking the baby with me to work on our relationship. It’s needed. I am not sad or anxious all the time, but enough that I know I’m not me. And I need to get back to me for my boys and for myself. 

So tomorrow it begins. The hike back up to the top. 

Hopefully. 

Before Baby

Before this baby, I had already been well immersed in motherhood for the past five years. Make that close to six if you’re including pregnancy. So I should have known what to expect, right? Well, not really.

Before this baby, I had already been well immersed in motherhood for the past five years. Make that close to six if you’re including pregnancy. So I should have known what to expect, right? Well, not really. Everything about the second child was different, from pregnancy to birth to my feelings about it all.

I didn’t want a second child. It’s hard to write that with him wrapped up on my chest right now, but it’s true. In my public pregnancy announcement, I wrote about it. I was a one and done mama. I didn’t apologize for that. But now I am. Everyday through tears, apologizing. Mainly because I feel like that is a main reason why my postpartum is hitting me so hard. And why I feel so disconnected from him. 

A year ago I was embarking on a creative career changing journey. I had quit my full time job and was throwing myself into the freelance world. While the jobs came slowly at first, over the course of ten months, I had theatrically filled my resume with everything from Burlesque to off Broadway, from making cocktails to managing productions. It was an extremely creatively fulfilling year. And I did it eight months of it pregnant! To be honest, I felt like a force to be reckoned with. I did everything from power drilling sets together to running full off-Broadway musical productions, all while growing a human being inside me! 

Now, just four short months from stepping off the stage and back into motherhood, I have never felt do defeated. While I know that I’m not entirely given up my career, it does put a pause on things and I think that’s really hard for me to deal with since I worked so hard and climbed so far over the past year.

Then there’s our family before baby. My husband and I barely knew each other before getting engaged, married, and pregnant with our first son. And it worked perfectly for us. Our first son was such a perfect reflection of our relationship in every way. Our trio felt so perfectly balanced to me. And for four years, I had tried to convince the other two thirds that three was the perfect number. They didn’t buy it.

So I got pregnant, had a baby, and now I am here. I am not saying I don’t love my child. I’m saying I went from a year of feeling my highest highs, to now my lowest lows, and in between all of that came the baby.

Now I’m just trying to figure out what all that means.