In the last 3 months, I have 9 friends who have had babies and I personally know (at least) 15 women that are pregnant right now.
That’s a lot of babies.
I am genuinely happy for my friends. I love to bask in their big-bellied glows and hear their birth stories.
I am glad I am not one of them.
Among the 25+ women I have mentioned, there are 6 who were pregnant around the same time I was pregnant with Ava. That means I am officially getting passed up in the baby-making department. Initially, this thought made me feel a little bit of pressure and incited panic and shock. After mulling it over though? I am totally okay with it. This is not a race and I am not superwoman.
Like I said, I do love reading my friends’ birth stories. Well, ¾ of their birth stories. I hang on every word while they rehash the dilating, the contractions, the insane, indescribable pain, the pushing, and that amazing relief when they get to meet their teeny, tiny humans. It’s after that they lose me. They’re generally sharing their stories a week or more after they took place and by then are incandescently happy with their babies. I know they are sleep-deprived and probably still in pain but they are happy.
I didn’t feel that way with Ava. I loved being pregnant (one plus to being an amazon – it wasn’t as uncomfortable for me as it is for a lot of women) and I loved her actual birth but after that….?? Instead of being exhausted, happy, and a little scared that I was responsible for another human being, I was exhausted and devastated. I spent a good portion of my time alone wither her sobbing. I bawled the whole time my mom was at our house thinking about the day she would leave and I would have to take care of this kid all by myself. It was like I had a giant, ugly monster sitting on my chest, squeezing all the happiness out of my heart. I loved my baby but I mostly felt an obligation to keep her alive more than an overwhelming urge to love her. I had moments of happiness and contentment but they were few and fleeting.
It was clear, after weeks of weeping and being unable to feel spiritual comfort, that something was terribly wrong. I made an appointment with my OB (I loved my OB). When he came into the examination room to see me, he took my baby and held her. He commented on how beautiful she was. Then, he looked up at me and asked me how I was doing. I had a hard time answering through the tears streaming down my face that I was trying so hard to hold back but all I said was, “not good.”
I wasn’t prepared for this. I hadn’t done any research on it while I was pregnant and I was such a naturally happy person that I thought I didn’t need to. But everything in my life aligned to create the perfect storm – Danny was in his final and busiest semester of law school so we never saw him. Ava was a seriously high maintenance baby with acid reflux and a need to be older and busier than she was. We couldn’t figure out the breast feeding. I was trying to adjust to being a mom while being a hormonal mess. My body was done. Everything was out of my control. I was out of my control.
My OB prescribed Zoloft. I’m not really sure how much it helped. I know I should have had a follow-up appointment or seven but my insurance was up 6 weeks postpartum so I didn't. The meds generally made the horrible thoughts go away and allowed for more joyful moments but the monster on my heart was still there. He kept squeezing, turning my devastation to anger. Unfortunately, I unloaded most of that anger onto my sweet husband (who I’m pretty sure was wondering what the heck he’d gotten himself into). I was medicated until Ava was 8 months old and my body decided it was done with the meds (sudden weight gain).
I adjusted. I finally fell head-over-heels in love with my baby and couldn’t get enough of her. The ugly monster stopped squeezing my heart and let me breathe again. But then he relocated to my head. He nestled right behind my ear and taught me the fine art of negative self-talk. I constantly told myself that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, attractive enough, that I wasn’t worth a thing. That thought process? caused so much marital strife because I usually interpreted everything as an attack. It was Tiffany vs. Danny, not Tiffany and Danny vs. The World. The PPD pretty much dissipated by last January but the negative self-talk habit still lingers.
I am working on it. I am working on everything. Our job and living situation did a 180, in the best of ways last May, and it threw me out of my catatonic indifference to the quality of my life. I mourn the loss of my daughter’s infancy and the fact that I was unable to enjoy her during her littlest moments. But I have to move on. I am moving on. Danny and I can both breathe and think and laugh again. I feel as normal as I think I will ever feel. The ugly monster is tucked into the recesses of my subconscious but he isn’t gone. He will never be gone. Depression like that leaves scars. And broken parts. And unshed tears that surface at a memory you can’t completely bury.
So my baby train is on a different schedule than everyone else’s. And you know what? I don’t care. I don’t need my own tiny baby to hold right now, not when there are so many around me already. One day, that may change. Heavenly Father will slip some forgetfulness into my morning smoothie and I will want another one. But that day isn’t today and it isn’t tomorrow.
It is finally Danny and Tiffany and Ava vs. The World and I just want to enjoy it for a while.