Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Holding the Envelope - My Messy Beautiful

The mess started with falling in love- it always does, doesn’t it?  I got engaged, moved in with my fiancé, got a new job, bought a house, got a dog, got married, went on amazing Italian honeymoon, got pregnant, got pink slipped, got rehired, had a baby, suffered from postpartum depression and voluntarily checked myself into a behavioral health unit for treatment: All. Within. Two. Years. 

Yep. That’s a lot. You’re thinking it. It’s ok.  I totally agree.

If I am required to talk about emotional chow-chow my feelings, I usually say I had a “rough time,” after my son was born or my son had a “slow start.” It sounds, …..well…glossier....almost “status update”-worthy.   But truth statement: it was pretty freakin’ gritty. 

You would never guess by the way my son and I currently interact that:
I spent the 1st week of his life in the hospital recovering from preeclampsia while he was taking his sweet ass time regulating his body temperature, weight, red blood cell and glucose levels.  I spent the second week of his life in a casserole induced haze and the 3rd week of his life in legit denial that I had produced another human.  By the 4th week of his life I was having exhaustion fueled hallucinations as well as suicidal ideations and his fifth week voluntarily in a psych ward.

….I returned home from the hospital on a Monday – (I think).  My co-worker and his wife stopped by to meet my son. (Just to be clear I had no idea that they were coming because we had made plans during week 4 and my phone was confiscated when I entered the unit during week 5.)  I thought I held it together pretty well during their visit. Hahahahah! Later on my friend told me I spent the entire visit walking around my house, holding an envelope, trying to decide where to set it down. 

You see.. I descend from two family lineages, which lovingly converge into a large artery of addiction, depression and anxiety.  Thank goodness my husband is a patient, kind and light hearted guy, otherwise our mini-humans would be doomed! But I am not my past or my genetics.  

In this moment: 
I am a bold youngish mother.  I am a slob. I am practical. I am impulsive. I read Star magazine, make my own baby food and adhere to the 5 second rule.  I force myself to do sentimental things.  I am a science teacher -kind to my students and hypercritical of myself.   I am a firm believer of God AND Evolution Gasp!  And even though some days my lows are so low, that I put myself in time out/throw things/question what the heck am I doing ……. I love my son so fiercely that I ache.  By the time he was about three months old, I felt like things were a whole lot more manageable.  Turns out, the love I have for my son trumps the tense grip anxiety and depression have on me.  So, when my son was about a year and a half- the hubs and I decided to have another baby…..because our lives weren’t busy enough. #sarcasm.

  It wasn’t until the final trimester that I had time to stop and think hey, I am preggo, perhaps I should reflect about this and naturally I started to panic.  I would cry hysterically and mutter to my husband:  What am I thinking having two mini humans?!  What if I go to the bad place again?!  What if the depression is even worse, what if I can’t do it? what if, what if, what if?

His response? “Well if we did it once (meaning survived the bad place), we can do it again if we need to.” Good point hubs.  And that was that. 

My daughter’s birth was uneventful.  She came out super healthy, went right to the boob and knew what to do.  She rarely cried.  I snuggled her.  It was peaceful.  While my hot tempered two year old was literally hanging from the light fixture as I daughter was so incredibly laid back, it was laughable!  I am still exhaling.  I did it!  It was nothing like the first time!  My past did not dictate my future!  My heart explodes with joy as I see my two children interact, neither of them knowing their beginning stories and how different they are – unless my 2 ½ year old reads my blog.  Honestly…I wouldn’t put it past him. 

  This essay and I are part of Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project.  To learn more  CLICK HERE! 


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! It was difficult to write, but in a way so very helpful.

  2. Meredith...thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I can relate to pieces of your puzzle, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Meredith, I LOVED this! I so connected with many of your feelings, especially about your second motherhood experience being so vastly different from your first. Your daughter sounds just like mine was as a baby. I remember thinking "oh, this is why people have babies, I get it now". Lol at your 2 year old swinging from the chandelier while you nursed your happy baby. My experience exactly! Love your writing! So glad you found your way back after the PPD, I'm sure it was quite scary to feel that way.

    1. Thank you so much Dena! It was kind of therapeutic to write it out finally. I have not been "holding the envelope" since, so that is a huge sigh of relief. I am glad you enjoyed the entry. Stop by the blog anytime!

  4. Thank your for your infinite courage is sharing this important story, your story! Justine

    1. Thanks for stopping by to read Justine. I think if women and their partners can change the way we feel and acknowledge that this was a biochemical thing, not a weakness thing, then I have done my part.

    2. I love this point. There is still such a stigma around the struggles many moms have postpartum, even though they have nothing to do with our love for our children. I appreciate you doing your part to bust that myth. Stopping by from the Honest Mom blog linkup!