Thursday, May 10, 2012

how motherhood wrecked me.


The title of this post sounds completely awful. I am well aware of that. But it's honest. And before you jump to conclusions and decide, "Well now, she's not the gal I thought she was" - hear me out...

A few weeks ago my friend Tracey posted this blog post, and asked us share about the good and bad of motherhood, and what we are learning to value. I read through the comments and was almost finished with writing my comment when it occurred to me that what I was writing sounded really awful and downer-like compared to the other comments. So, I highlighted and clicked delete. Instead I told Tracey that everyone else said it better, and that I had written something and decided to delete it. She replied to my comment and said that she still would love to hear what I had to say. 

And this is what I told her (my exact email back to her)...

I'll try not to ramble on too much... ;)

Having a child wrecked me. I know that sounds awful. Horrible. But it sums-up how I felt and still feel at times. I had horrible PPD. I was so lost. Still am really. It's called Maternal Depression at this point - when it lasts this long. I read an interesting book about it called The Ghost in the House. Very good. I could relate to just about everything in it.
Motherhood has shown me that I'm not all of the things I thought I was - like patient and calm and nice all of the time. I had no idea I was a screamer until I had Max. It brought out a lot of negative characteristics in me. A lot of things that make me hang my head in shame like I've never done before. And not a day goes by that I don't think, "You aren't mother material. You never should have been gifted this wonderful child. He deserves more than you could ever give him." (that's why my struggle with not being able to have a second child hurts so much - because even though I want another, I don't think I'm deserving of another one.)

That said, I think it wrecked me for the good. I think He is working in me more so now than ever before through Max. He is showing me unconditional love, and to look at the world with wonder, and to ask questions about everything and anything, and to laugh at the silly stuff that we learn to not laugh at as we get older. He is showing me His grace every single day.
And the greatest thing He is teaching me is that I am worthy of love. I am loveable. He is teaching me - through the depths of Max's love for ME - to love myself. To love myself through all of those things that make me feel ugly and make me hang my head in shame.

Yes, the greatest lesson motherhood is teaching me is to LOVE MYSELF.

(And now I am crying while I drink my Coke and eat my fries...)

I thought long and hard about sharing this with all of you out there.
My words aren't pretty. I'm almost ashamed to have written them out and sent them to someone (whom I haven't even met in person) to read.  But having been one of the many moms who attended regular meetings for moms with PPD, I know there are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence. It's the elephant in the room that moms are so darn afraid to talk about or even acknowledge. And that kind of makes me mad and sad all at the same time. 
Being pregnant for nine months and giving birth to a child is life-changing for a woman. Sure, men change when they become fathers, but it is nothing compared to the change that women endure. It's hard, it's painful, it's exhausting. The Andrea that went into the hospital and gave birth to Max five years ago is not the same Andrea that is sitting here typing this. That Andrea was left at the hospital and is wandering the halls. The Andrea that went in those doors did not come out. I used to jokingly tell my friends this after I became a mom - when we would complain about missing our former selves before kids. There was really a lot of truth behind those words for me though. Within hours of coming home from the hospital with Max I was in full-on identity crisis mode. I had no idea who I was anymore or who I was supposed to be. I was thrown into the role of mom where I had no idea what I was doing. I longed for the old me - the me who knew exactly who she was and what she did. I still long for the old me some days - the me who was settled and comfortable with who she was. The me who was confident and independent and knew what she was doing. She's still in there somewhere. I just have to find her again, and I have a feeling that may take awhile.

There is so much more of my story I could tell, and I do plan to tell it one of these days when I get my thoughts in order. Of course I hope my honesty here hasn't shocked any of you. I think every mom worries that other moms will think she isn't a good mom, or doesn't love her child enough. I love my son to pieces. So much so that it hurts sometimes. I have one child. One. I get to devote every ounce of my being to just him. This one little person with the 'stache is teaching more than any other person has about how to love myself just as I am: through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the shame.

***I have to say thank you to Tracey for reaching out and asking to hear what I had to say, even if it wasn't pretty. Thank you for listening, friend.***


Anonymous said...

You have made such a great point here. Having children changes us. How could it not. And the changes are as varied as we are. I identify so much with "the identity crisis" experienced as a new mom. I embraced being "mom" so much that I lost myself for a time. A long time. And boy howdy, kids are the BEST TEACHERS. The best. They have an ability to reflect back the parts of ourselves that we least want to see and acknowledge. *sigh* I get it.

I think you are brave and awesome for putting this out there. I think that by processing these thoughts you honor yourself. And you make it easier for others who are struggling with the same thoughts. This post is a gift Andrea. :) And isn't Tracey the best at simply allowing us to be ourselves and share our hearts? She is a gift, too.

I look forward to reading more of your thoughts as you get them in order. :)

Tracey said...

A, you have no idea how many women have felt as you do! Your honesty will give permission to those who suffer in silence, to do so no more. Hugs for your bravery and courage to just own it for what it is and to be willing to say motherhood is hard. This is YOUR story and God is writing every sentence with you. He wants to meet you in the middle of it!
Big hugs for you!

Carla said...

I'm glad you wrote this. That you put yourself out there. It's a very brave thing to do. I understand some of what you're saying. I think I had some PDD with James (self diagnosed). The first time around I really felt pretty much the same but now I had this great little baby. The second time was different. After I gave birth to James and was able to get out of the hospital bed I wouldn't lay back down. I couldn't get out of the hospital fast enough and get back to things the way they used to be. Everything changed but I was not expecting it. By the time I started feeling better my marriage was already on the rocks. I never realized what was going on until after the fact. I was irritable, distant, angry, etc. I had to do some self reflecting before I figured that out.
So brave for telling your truth. ♥

Naomi said...

I love this post andrea. I love it for your bravery, for your honesty. I have a friend who went through ppd, pp psychosis and Pp ocd so it is familiar, in a way. This post gave me chills. Being a mom is not all unicorns and bon bons but i could not agree more...these little beings teach us SO much and sometimes i sit in awe. It is awesome. You are awesome! And love this pic. Darn cute!

JennD said...

Thank you for sharing all your words. You are so loved and accepted - even by those of us who haven't met in person (though hopefully that will change soon *S*).

We have had a screaming week here. And it is ugly. And I know you said most of all you said motherhood is teaching you to love yourself, and I guess as a whole I'd say that it is for me too, but those screaming moments make me feel as ugly as ugly can be.

You were given stewardship over that little soul for a reason. You were born to be his momma.

I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your story once you're ready to write it.

Hugs from the other Vancouver.

Sarah said...

This is lovely and honest. Thank you!

Heather M. said...

Your words resonated so strongly with me, Andrea. Thank you for your honesty and bravery in sharing them. Motherhood is so, so, so hard. I've learned things about myself that I wish I never knew and gone to bed so many nights in tears feeling so guilty for things I've said and done. I've struggled with depression for years and felt like it was finally under control until my daughter was born and then PPD hit and it was terrifying, being fully responsible for this tiny babe but feeling so out of control. And you're right, nobody talks about these things and I've felt so alone so many times in the midst of it, wondering if anyone cared or anyone loved me. Sigh... I still struggle so often with those things. And as much as I wish neither of us were struggling, it's nice to know I'm not alone. So thank you for sharing. And I love what everyone else wrote (and said so much more eloquently than me). You were born to be Max's mama and God is in the midst of all this, loving you, loving me and loving our kids. Big huge hugs to you, Andrea. I wish they could be in person.

ZeldaMom said...

As you see, you are nit alone. I didn't have depression, but I was a screamer with a short fuse. I've heard wise people say children are resilient, and thank God for that. They forgive and love you, but they don't forget (at least mine haven't), but then I haven't either. Being responsible 24/7 for another person who needs you to survive is an enormous responsibility, that no one ever really tells you about. They tell you all the good, pretty, fun things, not the lack of sleep or colic, or your husband being out of townor teething, diapers, mounds of laundry, crying, temper tantrums, etc. You know you love Max, he knows you love him, God knows you love him.
:-) Hang in there and anytime you feel like talking...we are here!

stacey said...

I so appreciate you and sharing your heart, being real and telling your story. Thank you for your honesty! It's refreshing and doesn't shock me one bit. In fact, it just makes me love you more. This post made me so want to give you a big hug.

Praying for you, friend.

Jessica said...

Oh girl I can relate. Not only has having kids led us into this crazy Navy life with Matt being away (had to have that paycheck to feed those kids!), but now I'm parenting ALONE. I am a wreck a lot of the time.

Shawntae said...

I can relate as well!

I have never learned as much in my life as I have in the last 5 years of having Shaun. It's amazing how much he teaches me. I still have A LOT to learn! :) But don't we all? At every stage in life? Just when we get all good and settled into motherhood, they'll be grown and out on their own. Then we'll have to get used to that! Then hopefully they have many grandchildren for us! I don't think that'll be too hard to get used to though. :)

{Amy} said...

i am so glad you wrote this andrea. i really am, for many reasons. your honesty will help others, i truly believe that every time us moms/women tell the truth about these thing we are giving "permission" for others to do the same with their stories--maybe not on a blog but maybe in their every day life. second, i think that being honest out loud, with other people and especially the online world where it is in writing, allows us to be a little more honest with ourselves. it is scary but i think it can also be empowering and can help you in your journey.
i do not relate to your issue specifically but you know about my struggle with anxiety and panic and how it seriously threw me into a tailspin last year.
i did not recognize myself or who i had become all of the sudden and thought i would bever feel normal again. whatever that is : )
it is a journey.
lots of love to you. i am proud of your bravery and honesty!!