Our new house is mostly picked up. The boys are, in a rare moment, tandem napping. The dogs have been walked. I remembered to eat. I have showered, brushed my teeth, and am dressed to leave the house. These are all major accomplishments before 1 PM on a Wednesday. But I am struck with an immobility, a weight that I need to share, and haven’t, because of embarrassment and shame (my phone autocorrected “shame” to “Shane”, and I don’t place any blame on anyone named Shane, so there’s that disclaimer). It’s time for me to come clean.
For a myriad of reasons, I’m going through some postpartum depression that I can’t shake, even seven months after having my little guy. There are plenty of good days but the bad ones peppered in make it hard to pull myself out of bed and into the kitchen. The sweet blue eyes of my boys, their squishy little kissy cheeks, their smiles- they are what get me through the day most days. And when I don’t feel like I can go on, waves of guilt wash over me for failing them. For not being the mom they deserve. I’m run over by a semi truck of inadequacy when I think ” I hate breastfeeding ” or “please watch something on Netflix so I can sit here for ten minutes quietly”. And at night, when sweet mini Gwinn tells me he ” wubs” me and snuggles against me on his floor before bedtime, instead of reveling in the moment, I am reminded that I am so undeserving of his love. When 2.0 lights up when I walk into a room, and then begins crying if I don’t pick him up, I feel horrible for meeting my own needs before his, even if that need is going to the bathroom. This depression is irrational, heart wrenching, and most days, unfightable.
My therapy used to be going to the gym and pushing myself until the sweat poured out and endorphins kicked in. Picking up my body weight and walking around the gym, muscling out 200 Russian basket twists, or running would remind me I have some control over my life, that I was strong and healthy and my family could rely upon me, or that when I had to wear a tank top, my arms looked more like Sarah Connor’s and less like pizza dough. But now? I’m on restricted physical activity.
I’m just sitting here, willing myself to write the next sentences. And they won’t come.
Even though I didn’t have any stitches after delivery, and I felt fine after coming home, my body hasn’t healed the way it should. I sustained a very slight prolapse, mild diastasis recti, and a lot of pelvic pain. Walking through the neighborhood now causes enough discomfort that I can’t pick up my kids without gasping for air. I’ve been going to physical therapy for it, but my doctor has told me that, until I’m done breastfeeding, I won’t return to my previous strength, ability, or endurance. And the pain will continue, although it may improve, until then.
My husband has urged me to see the bright side of things: I’m better than I was, I can walk, and I can do some limited exercises (the elliptical and rowing). I’m four pounds away from where I was when the doctor told me to gain weight to get pregnant (body composition wise, I’m probably eight pounds of fat to lose/ five pounds of muscle to gain away from my goal). And I think I could see the bright side, I really do, if I didn’t have postpartum depression. Someone looking into my life would think this depression is selfish. I agree. We have a gorgeous new house, two precious children, a wonderful marriage, CLP has a great job and I don’t have to work, and I fit into my skinny jeans. My kids are healthy. The rest of the world should be so lucky to have everything we do.
I want to know why these things happened physically. Not “why me” in an existential, “I have cancer” kind of way. I want to know the science behind why some athletes rebound from pregnancy and can run a marathon three months after delivering twins, and why I can’t walk around our neighborhood when I was in such great shape before. I emerged from delivery seemingly unscathed, but now? I can’t even do a pull up without pain.
Why do I have postpartum depression when almost everything in my life is going the “right” way? Why can’t I shake this cloud?