I'll be the first to admit it. When I read about the impending Tom-Kat baby, my first thought was, "Ha, I hope she gets post-partum depression. Maybe then the Tom half will get a clue." But as quickly as I had that thought, I repented.
I don't wish PPD on anyone.
I have had seven pregnancies and given birth to seven children. I never had any serious post-partum depression with the first six pregnancies, I had no reason to think the seventh would be any different. But it was. I was depressed, overwhelmed, and angry. I couldn't sleep, convinced that something would happen to my son. When I did fall asleep I would wake up panicked that he was dead and I would have to rouse him. I wished I could disappear. Well meaning people told me to get away, but they couldn't see that my children were my lifeline. It was beyond depression and into despair.
I wrote many things during that time that I never published anywhere. I was recently reading some of things I wrote and came across the following, which I think sums up the feelings better than I could ever do now. I have resisted to the urge to go back and edit it and clean it up; for better or worse, here it is.
There are good days, and then there are others.
The fog surrounds me
and I can't seem to catch my breath or see clearly through it.
The times when I am reading a story out loud
and my voice wanders off
finally my 6-year-old reaches up and touches my face.
I can feel him willing me to look at him
and when I do he smiles.
"I love you, Mommy."
And I have to remember to smile back.
We go outside and feel the warm sunshine on our shoulders
the heat on the back of our necks
We pick blueberries off of our bushes
So many blueberries this year
a rebirth, of something, I hope.
We gorge ourselves
until we feel that sick sweet sticky feeling in the pits of our stomach.
It's the taste of melancholy.
I put down the bucket and stretch out on the grass
On my back, arms straight out,
the crucified martyr.
The children run around the bushes
Around and around
Screams mixed with laughter
"Look at me, Mommy!"
I close my eyes and am taken back 30 years
the smells of sunscreen, berries, and freshly-cut grass evoke memories
of days like this day,
only without the profound sadness.
A place when time stretched before me as an eternity
And I could be anything I wanted,
I open my eyes and I am here.
From this day on
Will blueberries always taste like tears?
A small sticky mouth kisses me
and tiny purple stained hands grab my face and pull it close.
pulling me out of myself.
"Mama," the voice says.
And I have to remember to smile.
So much to be thankful for
Why can't it be enough?
Chris is an artist, writer, wife, and mother of seven children. Nine months after the birth of her seventh child, she no longer has to remind herself to smile.