Something You Should Know about Me First
Before this baby came I had a four year old and my husband was working hard in medical school. If anyone’s ever been here, you can appreciate the time (and lack of husband) that is spent in studying in med school. When my baby was four month old, my two kids and I traveled across the country to be with family for Christmas. While on the trip, I once again got food poisoning (thank you IHop). I was throwing up all night, bed ridden and the cherry on top – I still had to nurse a growing/starving boy I couldn’t even pick up. Instead of offering to help me with my kids, my family criticized my parenting and were very little help.
A couple weeks later back at home, my kids and I were hit with the flu. It’s so unfair when mom’s get the flu! I remember taking my oldest son to and from preschool, then piano lessons, sitting in the parking lot, nursing the baby and throwing up on the pavement. A month after that, my husband had to move two hours away from us for the next month to do a medical rotation. Now, I was in full single-mom mode– this was the height of my undiagnosed depression.
My Darkest Moment
The baby, now six months old, was always a horrible sleeper. If he napped, he’d only sleep while being held. Swings, bouncers, dock a tot, carriers… all used and nothing helped. He also started the phase of screaming for hours upon hours. Compounded on my little sleep, my oldest son’s school was twenty to thirty minutes away, so we couldn’t sleep in and I continued to teach an early morning group fitness classes. I was functioning on very little sleep, while trying to uphold all my other responsibilities as a single mother and felt myself slipping.
I distinctly remember it was 2am, on the second night in a row of constant baby screaming right before my 32nd birthday. We were hours into the baby’s unnecessary deathly curdle screaming when I had the clear idea. I could visually see myself get the gun out of the closet. It’d be easy to pull the trigger on the baby. And then it’d be quiet. I was so tired that if I just pulled the trigger on myself, I could rest. Like really sleep, forever. I wouldn’t have to be a mom anymore. My heart wouldn’t hurt anymore. I wouldn’t feel the loneliness anymore. My oldest and husband would be so much better off without the baby and I…. Y’all – the visual was so clear, I could see it happening. I could feel the peace of rest. Oh my gosh, what am I even thinking or saying? What kind of person does this make me?
Thankfully, the Spirit was stronger than my weakness in this moment. I heard the whisper to put the baby into the crib and walk away. Even with my baby screaming his head off, I gently set him down and walked away. Then bawling, I called my husband to tell him good-bye. He immediately picked up, (which never happens). “Thomas,” I began, “I’m killing the baby and then I’m killing myself.” In a calm voice he lovingly told me to leave our son in his bed, close his door then lay down in our bed. Bless his heart, he drove through the night to give me the rest I needed on his day off.
Asking for Help
I didn’t write this story down to whine, in fact I cringe when I think about others reading my story. Hopefully this post will reach other mamas who might be struggling or in these same shoes. I wish I could say things got easier after that scary night. I did go the our doctor and talked to him about my desire to sleep or kill myself. And how I was SO over nursing this baby who I truly believed hated me. It took everything I had to feed him. My doctor gave me the best advice and together we decided that I had fed this baby for six and did a fantastic job. So, I didn’t need to feel guilty for not wanting to nurse him and to give him formula- so I did. Can I tell you the relief I felt being able to give him a bottle vs trying to manipulate my clothing to feed him? My amazing doctor also recommended an anti-depressant and gave me his personal number to call or text him if I needed anything. I never called him, but it meant the world to me that someone cared that much.
I wish I could say all my problems were solved after my doctor visit and life became filled with rainbows and restful nights. The six-month old needed to be held- always. Continued to scream for hours at night, the fight of trying to get him in the car seat, etc continued and truthfully continues even at his current age of two. To clarify, I don’t hate my baby. I really do love him. But that love came after many long nights of crying and praying for the help. And now that my little guy is two, people keep asking me, “When are you having more kids?” If only I could explain the daily hell I go through with myself and my child! Maybe my exasperated sigh in response wouldn’t be seen as dramatic, but rather a cry for help.
How to Cope with the Never Ending Post-Partum
If any of the above rang true to you- here are ways I’ve coped through this never ending post-partum.
- I exercise daily. That is my number one. Even on those days it takes me two hours to get out of bed because I literally can’t get the energy or motivation to do so, I will work out. Getting my blood pumping lets me know I am strong enough to handle this.
- I write down the funny things my kids do daily. It allows me to reflect back on the good things they did that day. By writing a sentence or two at the end of the day, I find myself looking for good and funny things throughout the day. Make the dark clouds that seem to follow me, not so gray.
- Writing out my goals as if they have already happened. What you continue to say to yourself, you believe. So it makes sense with ones goals too. So I write out my goals with phrases like: I am, I have, I do….
- Realize that there is a problem and talk to someone, anyone, about it. I once chatted away with the grocery cashier, who’s eyes totally glazed over, and I kept talking!
I have realized that even though I don’t consider myself a depressed person, I am. It’s incredibly hard for me to process the emotions, to keep motivated and to feel other emotions than: feeling sluggish and continuously bummed. I got professional help and as much as I hate to admit it, I take an antidepressant to help regulate my emotions and get out of my pajamas or house. Take care of you mama- do what you need to do!
- Have something where I am me and not just mom, mom, mom, MOM!!!! Teaching group fitness gave me that opportunity a couple hours a week to be Jesi- a professional. Not the cleaning patrol, someone that needs to nurse or cook Mac and Cheese. So, even if it’s a girls night or walking around beloved Target looking for clearance treasures ALONE, do something that makes you feel human, sexy, and important.
- Pray. Boy do I pray, continually. Speak openly with my Father in Heaven about what’s happening in my life, what I think, what I feel, or what I may need, or think I need in that moment. I can testify that there is a legion of angels that are supporting me daily. Sometimes it’s whispers of confidence, sometimes it just reminders that I am a wonderful person and Daughter of God. Sometimes it’s picking me up off the floor because the burden is too heavy to carry. Whatever it is, I know I am not alone. I am surrounded by earthly and heavenly angels helping me.
My kid is literally screaming for me to hold him as I write this—but, I write to tell you … you are doing a great job. You my friend are doing your best with your best. And yes, these days feel long, hard, and for me at least, gloomy, there is joy in them daily. Do things for yourself because you need to be top of your priority list. You can’t give from an empty vessel. Continue finding the joy and know you’ve got this! You are strong enough and good enough. And in case no one told you today, you are amazing! Go get them mama!
Jesi is the owner and creator of The Santa Boot Company where her mission is to inspire family traditions and empower women to be confident in their own abilities. She is married to her husband of twelve years, they have two kids together and they are expecting their third boy this June. Jesi is currently supporting her husband through medical school, teaching group fitness classes, sub-teaching at a local elementary school, hand-crafting boot styled stockings and is finding daily joy in being a mom.