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.
I realize now why becoming a mom threw my world into upheaval and sent me spiraling into the black hole of postpartum depression in that first year. The answer is actually very simple. I was completely unprepared for motherhood past the act of giving birth and I had a false notion of what having a child actually entailed. Well duh…because no one talks about any of that.
No one told me about postpartum depression or that I would wouldn’t fall in love with my baby immediately. No one told me that breastfeeding could kill my spirit every time my son refused to latch and screamed in the process. No one told me that I would rather stay in bed asleep all day then smile and coo at my new little one. No one warned me that motherhood could strip me of my identity in a matter of minutes. And I definitely had no idea then when I got better, my version of motherhood would be completely different than the one I had pictured during pregnancy. I had no idea I would spend the first year of motherhood on antidepressants, talking to a therapist who finally convinced me that my identity as a mother was good enough and to not give a fuck about the identity I thought I should have had based on moms I knew, celebrity moms I followed on social media, and Pinterest boards.
All I knew was the vision of motherhood I had created for myself based on what I thought others experienced. I would welcome my baby into the world and feel an overwhelming sense of love, joy, and amazement the minute I brought him home. I would happily breastfeed him while supplementing with formula at night for the baby nurse so I could sleep. I would spend my days outside walking him to the park and meeting other moms with new babies. As he got older, I would make his baby food, sit on the floor and play with him, read him books, and continue smiling and cooing. Time would pass, and he would be my little buddy, coming with me everywhere. We would do crafts together and build towers out of blocks and legos. I would be supermom, master and lover of all things motherhood.
What does your perfect Mother’s Day look like? If you could have any gift you want, what would it be? I’m sure I could list a bunch of materialistic shit like that Navy Chanel I believe belongs on my arm. Or those way overpriced but equally hot Aquazurra red Wild Thing sandals that would just look amazeballs on my pedicured feet. And what about that pave diamond owl necklace perfect for layering that my neck is just screaming for to symbolize what a wise woman and mommy I am? A girl can never have too much jewelry or bags or shoes and I am one of those girls. I own it. I know I can be spoiled and materialistic, but it’s okay because I’m a nice, thoughtful person too and there is so much more to me than the stuff I like to wear. And I really don’t want any of that stuff anyway.
Do you know what I really want on Mother’s Day? To be alone! I love you husband and son, but if you want to give me the best Mother’s Day gift you could possibly think of, then go away–just for part of the day–together. Or send me away somewhere–like the spa. Sometimes this mommy just wants to, okay needs to be left alone. Does that make me a bitch? Maybe. Do I care? Absolutely not.
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.
When I first launched my blog back in January, I made an agreement with my husband. He knew I was writing but he wouldn’t try to find my blog or read any posts until I told him I was ready. I had always planned to talk to him about everything right before I decided to go public. He fully supported this. He wasn’t concerned. He didn’t ask questions. My close friends and sister? Not so much.
If you know me, you know that there is no bullshit. No sugar-coating. Just open, honest truth. I’m not afraid to share, tell you how I feel, and I own my shit and who I am. I always planned to bring this to my blog. As I started writing my truth about motherhood, marriage, and sex, in came the frantic text messages and phone calls from various friends and family members.
Does my husband know what I’m writing about? Does he know how I feel about our sex life? Do I talk to him about what I write for the world to read? Jen, are you okay? Jen, are you going to do something impulsive like have an affair or run away? Jen, should we be concerned? Jen, do we need to come down to the South for an intervention?
Valentines Day is so different when you have been with the same man for over 12 years (married for seven). I remember the first time I went to visit him at school. We were newly dating and it happened to be Valentines Day. Oh the pressure! Do I get him a gift? Do we even acknowledge it’s Valentines Day? Is he going to get me anything? If he does, is he into this more than I am? If he doesn’t maybe he’s not into this at all?
It turned out to be the perfect Valentines Day for a new couple. We had dinner as if it was any other night, but when we got back to his apartment, he surprised me with homemade molten chocolate cakes. Um, a guy who not only cooks, but can make his own molten lava cake? I probably knew I was going to marry him right then.
I’ve always hated Valentines Day. I never had a proper Valentine. I swear I was jinxed by my 8th grade boyfriend. We will just call him asshole. Asshole dumped me the night before Vday when I was in 8th grade. And to make it even worse, my so-called best friend knew it was going to happen, went with me to buy him cards and a gift, and didn’t tell me. What a bitch! And what an asshole! Who dumps his girlfriend the night before Valentines Day? I had already picked out my outfit. It was going to be my first real Valentines Day. Of course my life was over. I couldn’t show my face at school the next day. My mom made me go anyway and I hated her for 48 hours.
Equinox, what the fuck is with this ad? It’s fucked up. I don’t know how to say it any other way. I’m not sure what your message is. I get the tagline COMMIT TO SOMETHING. It’s a new year and you want people to join your gym and commit to their health and fitness. Fine! Or maybe you are saying, “commit to anything, just commit to something.” Great! I’m all for that too. But why the model who doesn’t even have children, breastfeeding twins who aren’t even hers? Oh and she just happens to be in an LBD looking very glamorous. What does this possibly have to do with your gym?
Are you advocating breastfeeding now? I read in the New York Post that supporters of the ad like that equinox is “normalizing breastfeeding.” I’m confused. Please explain to me what is normal about breastfeeding twins that aren’t yours in haute couture at a party. Maybe I would get it more Equinox if you used a less glamorous image. Show what it really looks like when you commit to breastfeeding. Way to go joining the ranks of mom shamers.