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Ellis just. stopped. crying. After far too long. She normally goes to bed without too much fuss. I’ve been weaning her from her before-bed feeding, and she still hasn’t screamed & cried to this extent. She called for me….mama, mama, mama…over and over again. I couldn’t take it. It was breaking my heart. The anxiety continued to swell until the tears blurred my eyes. I wanted to sit & have a good long cry but for some reason, my body wouldn’t comply.
Right now I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to listen. I don’t want to think. Can’t I just sit and watch Flight Plan? Except that A., now my husband is pissed because I just told him I didn’t have it in me to conversate right now (doesn’t stop him from trying), and B. watching movies where children are missing/harmed/killed causes me anxiety in ways that I never experienced before motherhood.
My former boss and I once shared a hotel room in Vegas while there for training, and after spending the first few nights at the casinos, we opted on the last night to stay in with pay-per-view. Get your minds out of the gutter, we watched Minority Report. A few minutes into the movie, my boss says, Oh, I just remembered I didn’t like this movie because of what happens to his son. At the time I thought it was so strange that a movie could affect her so deeply. Little did I know, right?
My mom sent me a link to a video of some company in Arizona that teaches babies how to roll themselves over and float on their backs if they should fall into a swimming pool. I watched the video clip of a toddler, probably just about Ellis’ age, walk to a swimming pool, fall in, roll himself onto his back and float there, waiting for someone to rescue him. I was having a hard enough time watching the clip until I was insane enough to turn the volume on. I listened to this poor child babbling away (not even crying, really), and my anxiety reached such levels that I had to stop the video halfway through. I knew the baby was going to be fine and I couldn’t take it. Not only could I not take it, but I promptly e-mailed my mother & asked her to please, never, ever, not ever, send me anything like that again. I worry puh-lenty about something horrific happening to Ellis that I don’t need to worry about babies I don’t even know.
So, just in case it wasn’t clear before, I have emotions. Lots of emotions. They live really close to the surface all the time and can come out of nowhere, often causing me to do or say things that I later regret. Lately it seems that my capacity for handling these emotions, good or bad, is diminishing. (One of) my mechanisms to deal with that, is to simply shut down. Retreat. Withdraw from the world in general, except that which is absolutely necessary to function.
When Ellis was first born and in the months after, I was fueled by a need to be a better person; to be the best person I could be for my daughter. I wanted her to be proud of her mother. I had dreams. Dreams that in true Tracy fashion, never made it past the early excitement phase. Now I feel like I have lost that drive. I feel…..blah. I have found myself squarely in the middle of a depression-cycle that, if I were to be completely honest with myself, has been going on for months. I know it is partially due to external factors that are out of my control to change, making me feel like I’m in a rather hopeless situation.
It’s difficult to verbalize this, but lately, I have found myself thinking…how did I get here? Is this really my life? Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my daughter or husband. I know that in my heart I am not disatisfied with my life but when one is in the midst of depression, it’s hard to see things objectively.
Instead of being able to see all the wonderful things, I see (on the days that I’m home with Ellis): wake up, change a diaper, put Ellis back in her crib with toys to keep her occupied, take a shower, take Adam to work, stop for a non-fat mocha on the way home (my Monday & Friday treat), come home, put on PBS Kids, keep Ellis from pushing all the buttons on the tv, watch as she trashes the living room in under two minutes, make breakfast, watch helplessly as she throws half of her food on the floor, listen to Porter whine outside because I won’t let him inside while Ellis is eating because she tries to feed him, wipe Ellis’ hands & face, let Porter in, let him eat Ellis’ leftovers, chase Ellis around the house to send her into fits of giggles, change a diaper, Swiffer the dog hair, playtime, naptime, pick up Ellis’ toys (why do I bother with this?), crafttime for mama, kiss Ellis after her nap, change another diaper, lunchtime, change a diaper, pick up toys, errands if my mood allows me to leave the house (don’t forget to pack snacks & sippy cup of water!), (don’t forget to take off slippers and put on shoes!), come home, change a diaper, chase Ellis through the house to encite giggles, keep Porter from “protecting” Ellis from my tickling, will Ellis have an afternoon nap today?, pick up toys, pick up Adam from work, come home, hope that Adam is understanding that I don’t have anything left in me to give to him, fix Ellis dinner, change a diaper, playtime, change a diaper & put on jammies (jammies on Ellis; I am most likely already in jammy-bottoms by this point), brush her teeth, look at books, wonder if I’ll have the energy to do all the things I had planned to do after Ellis was in bed, have Ellis kiss dada night-night, put her to bed, hope that she goes down easily, wonder if I’ll have the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.
Again, PLEASE don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my daughter. I LOVE MY DAUGHTER WITH MY ENTIRE BEING & WOULD BE LOST WITHOUT HER. I love taking care of her, I love being with her, I miss her like mad when I’m at work. That’s the sucky thing about depression: feeling such intense & contradictory feelings simultaneously. How can I love Ellis so freaking much & still feel so disatisfied with my life?
Sure, I have hobbies & they help keep me occupied. I clean. I organize. I try to create order to calm the chaos in my head.
But I think the bigger picture is that Ellis is my constant reminder that time is passing. Every day that goes by is one day closer to her leaving me & that’s just too sad to think about. One week ago today, I started Ellis’ final weaning . We were down to 2 feedings a day; before bed & when she woke up oh so early in the morning, so mama could get another hour of sleep. Once I’ve eliminated that early-morning feeding, that will officially mark the end of my pregnant body and that has hit me hard.
Ladies, how did you cope with weaning your little ones and moving onto the next chapter?