motherhood manifesto

3 women came to our postpartum depression support group today. one lady said something that struck a chord in me. she said "everyone tells you what to expect of labor and delivery, but no one tells you that you're going to feel so bad after you have the baby. it's like a secret or something."

well, i am here to spill the beans. for all you moms out there who think motherhood is grand and have never had a bad day in your life, then skip this entry. you're deluding yourself anyway. get professional help.

labor and delivery is the easy part. then you go home to a house that looks different somehow, though nothing has changed. if you're stubborn, you keep trying to breastfeed, even though your nipples are cracked and bleeding and the kid seems to be eating constantly. if you give up and bottle feed, you feel like a child abuser because breastmilk is best. the whole time you are second-guessing your every decision and consulting 37 books with 37 different points of view. your perenium is still sore from your episiotomy or your incision is still hurting from your c-section but you don't want to take pain pills because you don't want your baby to get high from your breastmilk.

you are up for most of the night feeding, diapering and soothing because your partner has to work tomorrow. everything seems monumental because of the sleep deprivation, the trauma your body just went through, and the complete loss of structure in your life. you are overwhelmed constantly by the things that need to be done: laundry, shopping, cleaning, and -oh yeah- the baby. after a few days, the trickle of visitors stop and you are by yourself. not that you matter anyway, because you no longer exist. when people call you up or stop by, their only question is, "how is the bay-bee?"

pretty soon you know the plot line of every soap opera and are addicted to the people's court. you try to sleep when the baby sleeps (like the books say to do), but you lie there thinking of all the things you could be getting done right now. so, not only do you not sleep, but you waste a good 2 hours lying there doing nothing but worrying. you speak in baby talk constantly - even when your mother calls and when you are talking to your partner. you get ready to run out to dinner and then remember that you can't - you have a baby and no sitter.

you cry at diaper commercials, growl at bally's gym commercials, and live off of macaroni & cheese or soup. you finally get to shower at 2pm and are happy that you got to shower at all today. your partner hints that he/she wants sex and you have to lock yourself in a closet so you will not physically abuse him/her.

all the while, you are wondering if you are a good mom, when does the baby sleep through the night, am i feeding him/her the right formula, is it colic or just a tummy ache, is it normal for a baby to have a b.m. only once per week, what kind of diapers should i use, am i doing anything that will send him/her to therapy when they're grown up, etc.

so there you have it. and this is just the first few weeks postpartum! every age has its own set of obstacles. maybe you're thinking "why in the hell would anyone go through this?" i have often asked myself the same thing. but then i look at my daughter, my legacy, and i have my answer.

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