As the title suggests these are two separate things. One did not influence the other. The same way in which, one will not fix the other. That being said let me start very early on in this tale by letting everyone know that having a child together is not the answer to any of your problems. However that is not the moral of this story. Nor is this the uncovering of my marital secrets. Quite frankly, to me, a relationship status is not a death sentence. Instead, this is a memoir of the loneliest, scariest time of my life. Something I have to recount so that I may let go of the nightmare that still haunts me when the sun is shining. A chance for ME to acknowledge what everyone around me chooses to ignore. This is MY platform, MY therapy and the one space I vow to never apologize for saying what I am feeling…
Prior to being a parent I envisioned the suffering of this disease as a crazy new mom dangling her baby over the edge of a cliff while holding a gun to her own head- a manic, sleep-deprived animal who was beyond help. Post birth this image in my head has altered dramatically. I’ll tell you what it looks like. A new mom that although sleep deprived has not yet reached the stage of mania. Instead she weeps spontaneously, silently, while watching her baby sleep or drink. She smells her baby’s hair at least five million times an hour and wonders why she is not overcome with happiness. To avoid the awkward stares of her family she rushes to the bathroom a few times a day to cry into a roll of toilet paper. When she sees the cute puppy imprints on said roll she cries more deeply. It goes on this way for weeks. She stops eating because food doesn’t taste like anything. She doesn’t laugh because jokes mean nothing. She doesn’t feel because although it comes across as sadness, she is simply running on empty.
Except this wasn’t postnatal depression. This was my life post becoming a mom to the most amazing, beautiful, perfect little girl. This was a way of life that had come into existence just days before she was born. It just so happened that the action of giving birth, the signs of baby blues and my ACTUAL DEPRESSION had all aligned so beautifully, I had the perfect cover up story. Like I said this went on for weeks, then months and now almost a year. I chatted animatedly when guests came over, I agreed with everyone’s advice, I struggled with breastfeeding and sleep patterns and therefore I was not “depressed-depressed like-fo-real” just a “new mom”, textbook by everyone’s standard. My emotional state had nothing to do with hormones, or birth or looking after my baby. My hormones were always raging; Ally’s birth was very similar to nights at my favorite trance parties I was pretty much the best mom I knew so… excuse me for being hella confused as to why this was classified as postnatal depression when in fact I was just depressed.
It’s an easier pill to swallow-plain and simple. It’s easier to say I am suffering because being a mom is hard than to say I am suffering because my marriage the way I knew it was over, to say that my future was uncertain. To say I couldn’t make any decisions because I had the responsibility of an entire new life in my hands. Blame the hormones they said, it will be fun they said. Guess who wasn’t having fun; guess who it wasn’t easy for? ME! And as a direct extension of me, Alaia. As a result of my world being turned on its head by someone who had promised to protect it, I DID suffer with breastfeeding, I had become manic and I was about to jump off the edge of a cliff. But not for a second did it have to do anything with my baby. This is why writing this is so important for me.
For all those who didn’t know what I was really going through and looked on sympathetically while we spoke about postnatal depression I need to say this is not my daughter’s fault. This is not what birth and post birth is. The beauty of my birth experience might be tainted by what had happened to me prior but it was beauty nonetheless. Before she had emerged I was alone in that theatre; emotionally, mentally. Once she was born I would never be alone again. Although this is a fact I have only understood recently, it has healed me.
I do not love less because I am out of love. I simply have a different, more meaningful love, a new valentine and the only partner I’ll ever need. In my own way and in my own time I am dealing with everything else but it will always be second to her. She is enough and a lot more. For a long time although I knew I was a good mom, I felt like half a mom. Today I look at her and feel like a superhero. On my terms. That’s all that matters.