That one time being a giant butthole made me a nicer person.

There was a screaming baby in the observation area of the gymnastics center.  Like inside the building where people with ears were present. The mother was staring into space, mindlessly bouncing and sshhing.  The baby screamed louder.

I took the Asshole Express to Judgementville, and then went outside to wait for the class to end.

While pacing in the parking lot, here’s what went through my mind.  Wtf ?  Infants live on the lowest rung of the hierarchy of needs ALL THE TIME.  Work it out.  The only problems they have can be solved with a diaper, bottle/boob, pacifier, nap or medicine.  It’s not like the baby’s having some existential crisis or it’s pissed off at another infant for cutting them off at the diaper changing station. The shit it not complicated yet.  They just GOT here. Anything a baby could want can be found in a well-stocked diaper bag, inside a bra, or on a shoulder.  If unrelenting unhappiness persists, distract it with something.  ANYTHING in a common purse will do.  Babies are dumb.  Seriously – they’re fascinated by a pen.

Because I’m usually not a heinous individual, when I go on a horrible assholey rant like that it gets my attention.  Unless I’m in the car, and then it’s completely warranted and requires no additional thought.  I’m an excellent driver.  When I’m not lost on my own street or rear-ending people while texting.  My point is a crying baby should not set me on the course to be crowned Miss Intolerance USA.

But it does.  I go from oh, to ohmygahhhhdshutthatkidup in four seconds.

It makes no sense because I’m not a mean-girl mom.  I’m a nice and supportive mom.  When I see an exhausted mother in the grocery store negotiating her toddler’s mind-bending meltdown, I don’t look down my nose at her and think she sucks.  I think poor lady.  I know she can’t wait to get home and get that child in the bed.  I hope the dad is there so she can pack her things and move out I mean take a bath.

No I really think that, and then I want to recoil from myself, which is really hard to do.

Here’s the craziest part:  I’ve had a baby myself – witness below.  Therefore, I should be patient and understanding – even offer to help.  I should be an it-takes-a-village experienced maternal peacemaker lady.  Not a giant butthole.

Evidence.

I did not eat her.  She’s 9yo today.

So I dissected my really awesome attitude at the gymnastics place that day (this is an exercise you can do while you’re practicing how to recoil from yourself) and learned something.

I don’t like to hear babies cry because when Anna was an infant I had postpartum depression. The sound of an infant shrieking takes me right back to that dark and hopeless place where the walls of my mind collapsed in on me.  I was so overwhelmed I didn’t want to go to the store alone.  I was afraid if her father gave me the car keys I would leave and never come back.  I couldn’t hold my own baby in the dark because I had hallucinations of her mouth being filled with jagged metal.

When Anna was crying, I wasn’t thinking about a Snow White ballet-run over to my majestic diaper bag.

I was thinking about disappearing.

I suffered and struggled for almost six weeks before I finally called my doctor.  She knew me well – I refuse medication more often than I take it, and I try to solve ailments with nutrition, exercise, more water, more rest, and vitamins.  None of that worked for me with postpartum depression.  As soon as I heard the doctor’s voice on the phone I blurted out that I needed medication and started sobbing.  She knew I was in trouble and called in Lexapro.  Within 24 hours I started to feel some relief – less panic.  Within 48 hours, I was back to my normal self.  I was okay.  I could manage the day-to-day –  it was even fun.  I was finally enjoying being a mother the way I had always imagined I would.  Life was good again.

That was my first experience with depression, which is very often the case.  45-65% of ever-depressed women have their first episode of depression during their first postpartum year (National Institute for Healthcare Management Foundation).  I am not unique.  One in seven women will get postpartum depression (JAMA Psychiatry).

I took Lexapro for several months.  Calling my doctor that day was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  My only regret is not calling her sooner. Medication may not be the solution for everyone, but it was for me…

It only took me nine years to figure out why a crying baby turns me into a giant butthole – I’m super fast like that.  But now that I know, I believe my experience will be different.  It’s kind of like the boogie man in the closet.  Or the baby in this case.  Except babies aren’t in closets.  Or they shouldn’t be.  If your baby is in the closet please call me…Once you turn on the light and see there’s nothing there, it’s not scary anymore.  I hope so anyway, because right now I’d really like a do-over with that lady at the gymnastics center.

This time I would pay more attention to the vacant look in her eyes and not be so quick to assign it to indifference.  I would consider there might be a reason she’s unable to make the baby stop crying.  Maybe it’s not because she can’t be bothered.  Maybe she’s so bothered she can’t.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Comments

  1. But it could be that she was a bitch and couldn’t be bothered, right? I’m glad you got some help. That post partum stuff ain’t no joke. My wife never did get too too bad, but she had moments where I thought she was losing it for sure. Babies are hard work. I think my dad takes Lexapro for something now. He calls them his crazy pills.

    • Hahaha – yes it totally could be that she was just a doosh. I’ll keep that in mind also…Lexapro is a super helpful drug. I’m so glad we live in modern times : )

  2. Is that you are A in that picture? I can’t tell. Is she wearing a hospital bracelet? am I being too nosy? I also never had the Snow White ballet run to ….well, anywhere. Never will. Great post.

  3. I also had post partum after the birth of my 14 yr old..Only, instead of being mad at crying babies, I want to hold all of them and make everything better..:)

  4. I had that pre-partum depression until my dr told me that babies looooove to marinate in serotonin. I have THE chillest little baby (and a prescription) as a result. This was a great read and I’m so glad you wrote it.

  5. Great post! I have to say, I think butthole is one of the funniest words ever, and it has the ability like no other word to make me giggle like I’m 12.
    My immaturity aside, this is such an important topic and something I think so many moms experience and are not prepared for that first time around.
    Well done, as usual!

  6. I guess I tend to be a huge butthole, too. *sigh* I always think mom’s just don’t wanna be bothered but I’ll keep in mind post-partum and not be a butthole about it, haha!

  7. So well put. Thank you for writing about post partum depression. From about the day after they delivered my son seven weeks early, very unexpectedly, I was beyond sleep deprived. I didn’t even realize I had been depressed until my son was about five. I knew it was not normal to need a nap by 10am every day, and feel like I was hanging by the skin of my teeth, praying for my son to fall asleep every night. My son had issues and when he was 8 weeks old, if he was awake, he was fussing or crying. He could go on like this for 8 hours easily- and nothing calmed or soothed him. I was beyond exhausted all the time. As he got older, we got him on meds for reflux and soy formula for a milk intolerance, but he still needed to be held all of the time if he was tired (he was diagnosed at about 2 1/2 yrs. with Sensory Processing Disorder).

    And it wasn’t until years later when I was talking with my mother that I learned that this is how she experienced depression (she was bipolar)- as having no energy and being so tired she could barely get out of bed. For my son’s first 2 years, I was a fried mess.

    When he was 4 or 5, I had been reading and suspected for the first time that I was depressed. When I brought it up to my doctor, she basically blew me off. It wasn’t until I was doing a bunch of energy work (hypnotherapy, specifically) that I experienced not being depressed for a little while- long enough to realized that I had been depressed. I’m so much better today- having done a butt ton of energy therapy, and having a new doctor who discovered I needed thyroid and hormonal support (that I now have).

    • Wow you had a really tough go of it for sure. I’m so sorry your doctor blew you off – that’s so disappointing. But good for you finding alternate therapies. Energy work is really amazing. And yay new doctor for noticing the thyroid and hormonal imbalances. It’s so great to read you’re in a good place today. I’m sorry it was so incredibly hard for you, but I congratulate your spirit for pushing on when you probably felt you couldn’t. Well done my friend. Big love to you. Thanks for reading and sharing : )

  8. Great post. I’m so glad you made that call. I’m also super critical when it comes to medication, but severe depression seems to need it. Go you for reflecting on the reasons for your anger. I’d say that eeeevvveeeery time I find myself ridiculously angry, there’s some kind of fear hidden in the background, poking the anger with a stick, edging it on…

  9. Terrific post, Molly. It brought back memories of our first child, and how nursing turned into such a negative and painful experience for my wife that she didn’t want anything near her breasts for many months, which led to depression. I mean, I eventually got over it once she wasn’t sore anymore and things returned to normal. But yeah, I know exactly how you feel.

    (Ok, seriously — an excellent post that I know a lot of mothers, and their husbands, will relate to and appreciate. Well done.)

  10. Good call on the Lexapro. If only I’d been wiser at the time I would have made this my morning cereal after my first kid was born. I really liked your revelation at the end: makes more sense when we can appreciate that sometimes moms just can’t, even if they could.

  11. Really well done–the blend of humor and the honesty about postpartum depression is done perfectly. Somebody should be paying you to write.

    • Hey thanks a million!

      I don’t really know you but I think you’re one of the coolest people ever. Changing sexes and giving birth? You’re a modern miracle – I love it!!!

      Thank you for reading and commenting : )

  12. If being bitter made a better person I would be Ghandi.

  13. Melissa R O'Rourke says:

    Hey Molly! I’m so glad you wrote that…so many women have this after birth. and yes, you need to be getting paid for writing! I’m super impressed with how you incorporate humor with such a serious condition, Awesome! You are a great writer! Love ya too!

  14. Oh my goodness. What a great way to make sohmneitg that could have been so tragic into sohmneitg that you could laugh about later on. Thanks for the blog! Remember, it was 3 years ago that we agreed that 5 years, we will all be at the beach drinking margaritas and laughing about all of this crap’. Two year, Betsy. I am still looking for it!Redfizz

Trackbacks

  1. […] Ages 26-35:  if we’re lucky enough to find that special someone, both parties are usually focused on buying their first house, contributing to their 401k and building a stable future together.  Not super sexy topics. It’s double trouble for those who choose to start a family during this decade.  Sex life goes off the rails completely because new moms are drenched in baby snot, slobber and their own tears for the first two years. […]

  2. […] this quiz.  Postpartum depression can be a very subtle thing, right up until it’s not.  I had it myself.  It’s almost impossible to have any fun when you’re suffering from depression of any […]

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