I have voluntarily checked myself in to the Taconic Hotel in Manchester, VT for a brief two night stay, solo. It feels frivolous, self-centered and dramatic but also like the last station before I landed in crazy town.
I guess I’ve known for a while that I boarded a train going in that direction but recently we took a slight detour where the scenery was nice and I was distracted enough to forget where I was heading.
Lennon turned one year old in November. Matt and I have been broken up since August. I’ve been in weekly therapy sessions since September. I originally sought therapy shortly after Lennon’s six month pediatricians visit. His doctor was the first person in the medical field who seemed concerned with how well I was dealing. I had seen my OB a couple of times since birth and nobody had seriously asked, “so how are you?” I chalked my feelings up to a normal symptom postpartum and only started questioning it when the incredibly negative images and thoughts were disrupting my life and at times, scaring me.
The first therapist I saw was incredibly well-educated and she must have thought the same because she talked a lot of psychological theory at me but helped me very little. She gave me the name of a $60 textbook that she said would help me understand that these negative, obsessive thoughts were “normal” and how to move on past them.
“Have you tried meditation?” she asked.
The closest I’ve gotten to meditation in my entire life is praying to God over and over again that Lennon fall asleep, or stay asleep, or at least stop crying. I’ve clasped my hands together, looked toward the sky and chanted please, please, please, please, please more times than I can remember in the last year.
I left her office feeling defeated and also guilty. Had I presented as too put together? Should I have let it all come out in that first meeting? Listen lady, I can’t sleep at night because I imagine what would happen if I accidentally dropped Lennon down a set of stairs… I picture his skull coming apart and brains splashing everywhere… blood on the walls… and then my disgusting mind makes me imagine cleaning it up… sweeping bloody brain bits into a dust pan…
Is that normal? Cause that wasn’t even the worst of it.
That was when Matt and I were still together and the fighting was constant. The stress levels were insanely high all around and we had been told by more than enough people what to do with a “colicky baby.” Lennon would not sleep unless my boob was in his mouth which meant I never got more than 20 minutes away from him unless I was working. And even in that circumstance I served tables like a zombie but in a perpetual state of fear regarding what was going on at home. I know it did not include Lennon sleeping and that meant Matt was frustrated. I felt guilty because I was the only one that could make it better and how selfish I was for going to work so I could pay my bills instead of sinking into an even deeper debt. I’d arrive home from work, physically and emotionally exhausted, to a scene of a screaming baby and his daddy holding him close and dancing him in front of a stereo. I’d barely have time to take my coat and shoes off. I’d grab the baby and run upstairs to our bed, lay him down and start nursing. He would slowly drift off as I felt like I had spiders crawling on every inch of my body. I would’ve screamed if I knew it wouldn’t wake the baby.
Sometimes when I arrived home there was silence, an angry silence. Matt lay on the couch with the monitor propped in front of him. He would shush me as I tried to quietly close the door. He would nag me for making too much noise with my bag which contained my breast pump: my personal 10lb ball and chain I had to drag with me whenever I left the house. I’d sit there in the living room on alert. Lennon would be waking up screaming at some point, whether it was a whole hour or 5 minutes was the question. It was impossible to try to sleep or even relax when I knew at any moment he would call for me.
Between the horrible, intrusive images, fighting with the man who I love, caring for an incredibly difficult baby, not sleeping and feeling more isolated than I could have ever imagined… there was finally a day when something bad was bound to happen.
I had been up late fighting with Matt, even though Lennon was actually sleeping pretty well and would have been a good opportunity for me to do the same. After Matt left for work, Lennon was awake and we would usually lay in bed for an hour or so just nursing and snuggling. At this point he had really been learning to wiggle and roll so I would usually keep him in between me and the wall. But I was so tired that day I switched him to the other side. And then I fell asleep.
I woke up to the thud and then quickly the screams. It took less than a second for me to realize what had happened and I jumped out of bed to find my little baby laying on the floor screaming. I immediately picked him up and tried to put him to my breast as that had solved all over crises before, but he would not latch and then I saw the blood coming from his nose. By the time we got to the emergency room, Lennon was totally fine but I was not. I did not tell anyone that I had fallen asleep. I just said it happened right in front of my eyes. I mean, it did but they were closed.
I guess this was the first time I learned the lesson that by not taking care of myself, I was not going to able to properly take care of my babe. Unfortunately, I wasn’t left with many other options to make a change to better myself. I’d been sort of shot down by the only local therapist who specializes in PPD, my “partner” didn’t understand a fucking thing that was going on in my head so he stopped trying, my mom was a great help but even a few hours of extra sleep wasnt going to touch these really intense psychological issues I was dealing with.
I changed the one thing I could at the time, which was no more co-sleeping. So we had to sleep train Lennon, which was hell for 3 days and then it was a magical cure. All of the sudden he would go down without the boob and then sleep for 6 hours stretches. It finally gave me time to myself so I could make dinner, have a glass of wine and try to get to sleep early. But I never could. I just lay awake thinking what happens if, what do I do if, if this happens I’ll….
The baby was getting more sleep but I was not.
Fast forward to current time: I checked into the hotel yesterday and woke up today with bags under my eyes that were less navy blue and more of a light purple. I’ve spent the last 24 hours feeling like I’m supposed to be having some major breakthrough and then feeling guilty that I don’t feel it. And now I’ve just noticed that I mention guilt several times in this post. I guess that’s a concept worth exploring…