Someone like you

I started writing this post back in December of 2011.  By “started writing,” I mean there was a title (inspired by Adele’s eponymous song) and a bunch of white space.

So, December 2011.  I was five months postpartum.  I’d been seeing a counselor, which was helping, but I was still well-stuck in the snares of postpartum depression.

Adele’s hit song, “Someone Like You,” was released in 2011, and from the beginning, it was a tear-jerker for me (apparently I’m not the only one, see this interesting WSJ piece on the use of appoggiatura in music).  In the months after G’s birth, it became deeply personal.   And I don’t mean I got a little bit teary, I mean sobbing, to the point that when it came on in the car, I probably should have pulled over.

For me, the words weren’t about finding another lover, but about finding myself again, and not the sad, depressed, wanting to go back in time self.  I couldn’t go back to my pre-C-section, child-free self, I had to figure out how to move forward.  Slowly and surely, with help from a lot of people (and with a few bumps, like the winter of 2012), that has happened.

For me, 2014 felt like a real turning point.

Matthew and I acknowledged the many ways that my depression had affected our relationship (in addition to the normal affects of having a child), and we sought help.  We had already started working with John Gottman’s book Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work, and we found a local therapist who had trained in Gottman’s methods.  Turns out that staying married, especially staying happily married, takes work, ya’ll.

Individually, I completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course and integrated mindfulness practice into my daily life.  This, too, is work.  It’s not a cure-all, and it requires real commitment, but I’ve seen real changes.

Back to the title of this post — in late October, I was driving home from the final MBSR course.  I often enjoyed driving in silence after class, but at some point that night, I turned on the radio.  When I was within two blocks of home, “Someone Like You” came on, and it felt like a sign.  I parked and the tears flowed.  But it felt different this time, mostly happy tears.

Sitting there, I felt like I had finally found the “someone like me” that I’d been searching for — someone scarred, but stronger.  Someone who wasn’t wishing for a different, long-gone life.  Someone living in the present.

Blue Green Mama update

It’s been a few months since I wrote about my struggles with postpartum depression (though not officially diagnosed, my symptoms and their duration seem consistent with actual PPD and not just postpartum adjustment disorder).  I met with a counselor soon after I wrote that post and continued to see her regularly for 3 1/2 months.

During that time, we worked on a lot of issues surrounding my derailed home birth plans, the unplanned Cesarean, and life as I’d known it being completely altered by the addition of a new little person.  After about ten sessions, I felt I’d accomplished as much as I could in therapy (at least for now), so I checked myself out at the end of February.  Here are some things I’ve learned in that time.

This caring for a baby shit is hardContinue reading “Blue Green Mama update”

Blue green mama

In a recent post, I mentioned the possibility of starting another blog, one entitled Blue Green Mama.  While I don’t intend to start another blog, the title is worth a post, because it alludes to postpartum adjustment issues.

Ironically, I started reading blogs, and later writing my own, because of a blogger who wrote very openly about her own struggles with postpartum depression.  Yet, when my blues set in 2-3 weeks postpartum, my initial reaction was denial.  I’ve taken psychology classes, my mom’s a social worker, I’m somewhat familiar with the depression screening inventories – nope, not me.  Sure, there are some pretty low lows, but sometimes I feel okay, and I’m still getting out of bed in the morning, and semi-functioning, and I’m an exhausted new mom . . . this is normal, right?

Normal only in the sense that many women experience some form of “baby blues,” but not in the sense that it’s okay, or just something I had to struggle through on my own.  However, in my denial, struggling through it on my own is more or less what I did for several weeks.

Gabriel’s smiles finally snapped me out of my denial.  He started smiling around nine weeks, this adorable little grin, yet I found myself so emotionally drained that I often couldn’t return those smiles, and that made me feel even worse.  Until that point, I didn’t think my problem affected anyone other than me, but now it limited my ability to interact with my baby.

I contacted Mother-to-Mother, a local postpartum adjustment resource, and started to realize that maybe I didn’t have to feel this way – I only wish that I’d made the call earlier.  After calls to various counselors, wading through insurance coverage issues, and some deliberation, I settled on seeing an “out-of-network” counselor who came highly recommended.

I’m pretty sure (and this is not just the denial speaking) that I don’t have full-blown postpartum depression, but some degree of postpartum adjustment disorder.  Either way, there is help available — I don’t have to feel this way.  I started counseling last week, and while it won’t happen overnight, things ARE going to get better.