May is mental health month, so let me shout this from the rooftops–I AM A MEDICATED MOMMY! Yes, I take antidepressants. No, I am not ashamed. Not even a little bit. And if you do, you shouldn’t be ashamed either.
Let’s start at the beginning. On day six of being a new mom, I was overcome with crippling anxiety and non-stop tears. I had no desire to leave my bed ever again. All I wanted to do was sleep or go back to the hospital where people would take care of me and I didn’t have to be responsible for the well-being of another human. Obviously something was very wrong.
After a diagnosis of postpartum depression followed by three rounds of different anti-anxiety medicine and two rounds of antidepressants, my therapist and psychiatrist finally found the right drug cocktail to help me.
Happy third birthday to me! Did you know this past Saturday was my third birthday? Okay, it was really my son’s third birthday. He was evicted from my stomach on March 26, 2013. I heard a stand up comedian say that once–that he was delivered via c-section, meaning he was evicted from his mom’s tummy. Hilarious! So I stole his line…because if you know me, you know that I love my c-section…because all my lady parts are still intact. No tearing, no peeing when jumping or laughing, just the same old ‘gina from from before the days of pregnancy. Moms, do you hear me? There is no shame in a c-section. There is nothing weak about undergoing major surgery to get that baby out. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman. The only thing that makes you less of a woman is making others feel like that for not being able to push a tiny human out of their vagina.
And now I’m getting off topic. Okay, back to my birthday…
So my yummy, delicious, adorable, loving, funny, hyperactive, wild and crazy, master manipulator baby boy just turned three. And he is all those things and more. It really is an amazing thing watching him discover the world around him. He is so curious. We call him the observer because he takes everything in. We have also entered the “why” phase, which is both charming and extremely annoying at the same time. Mommy knows a lot, but she doesn’t know everything. Sorry buddy, I don’t know why Goofy’s feet are so big or why we can’t see the power coming out of the power lines and poles on the sidewalk.
His two’s weren’t so terrible, which makes me fear for his threes. In addition to being all those things above, he is also bossy, demanding, and stubborn…your typical threenager. So many moms have warned me that three is the year of asshole. Great! That also means three will be the year of drinking more wine, eating more chocolate, and engaging in more retail therapy for mommy. Sometimes I wonder how all moms of toddlers don’t just magically turn into overweight alcoholics with too many shoes.
Let’s talk about Grandy, Tammi’s momma, the creative writing/journaling savant, and all around life of the Campowerment party. Grandy the fabulous, fierce, sassy, adopted mother to all us campers. Yes, that is her in the above photo, wearing her crown and basking in all the birthday love bestowed upon her at camp. She is my woman! The brilliant, compassionate, and kind woman who brings light and joy to everyone she meets. I told her I would be sharing this on my blog so here it goes…
One of camp’s signature circles is Journaling with Grandy. During this session, Grandy gives a prompt and you write whatever comes to mind for a set number of minutes. When time is up, you put your pen down, no matter where you are in your writing. No prepping, no outlining, no editing, just the raw thoughts inside your head being put to paper. The results are powerful. The women who write and choose to share or not share and just listen are brave. No-one judges ever. It’s a safe space with Grandy as the leader and protector of our words. We all group hug at the end because after sharing such personal truths, hugs are needed. We leave the circle sharing a new closeness with each other and feeling freed by the words we didn’t realize needed to come out.
So there we were, awake and still in labor after a decent night’s sleep. I was loving the epidural and my husband was too. It made me very pleasant and easy to be around. I remember saying, “This is nothing like the movies. Movie labors and births are pretty…this is bullshit!” The only pretty thing about this was the green paisley hospital gown I brought to wear. And that didn’t end up mattering. I didn’t feel prettier. It just got covered in blood and who knows what else while I pushed.
Nobody tells you the truth before you have a baby. It’s like you can’t be privy to this secret club until you physically experience it for yourself. Sure women write articles such as “The Seven Things No One Tells You About Labor” or “Myths of Childbirth.” But they all sugar coat. I’m even sugar-coating right now…and I do not like to sugar coat…but no future mom really wants to hear about the blood and shit and screaming and fear and pain and overwhelming emotion. They just want to think about precious little babies and rainbows.
Maybe no-one would want to have babies if they really knew the truth. Perhaps that’s why we don’t tell you moms-to-be until after you have actually gone through labor and delivery.
At eight months pregnant, a close friend asked me, “B are you worried about any postpartum depression stuff?” I quickly replied, “Of course not! That would never happen to me. We are so excited about the baby.”
I couldn’t have been any more wrong! And I wasn’t just wrong, my case was textbook. Do you like to be in control? Duh! Did you move to a new house right before the baby was born? Of course…we couldn’t fit a tiny human and all the crap that comes along with him (and multiplies over time) into our apartment! Were there lots of people around when you had the baby? Um, it was Passover…how about at least 20 Jews arriving in the South to wait for this baby while doing the Seder thing. Did you have a long or traumatic labor? Hmmm…does labor for 20 hours, pushing for two, and then a C-section count? And the list of questions the therapist asked me at my first went on. And the answer to each one was always a big fat yes.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning…the night my son decided to begin his journey to grace us with his presence.