The Annual Calendar, The 10 Month Fog, and Postpartum Depression
In 2005, I started making calendars for the grandparents (and for ourselves) every Christmas. It’s this wonderful, neck cricking tradition where I pour over all of the photos from the year, trying to pick only the 20 or so best ones. I always end up in a very melancholy place while doing this because looking at the moments that are gone and the children that just keep growing is terribly sad to me. I know. Perhaps this should not be, but I can’t help it. I look at these fun old moments, and my favorites really aren’t calendar worthy, so I choose the ones that look like calendar pictures.
This year Amy is in charge of the calendar for that side of the family. She has asked me for six or more photos. Well, you know I can’t narrow it to 6, but I did my best.
For some reason, as I went back over these, this one memory stuck in my head, so I feel like I should share it.
I was sitting at my 6 week postpartum appointment, (14 months ago) feeling much better than I’d felt in…..well, 6 weeks. I had finally started taking iron pills again, and it was making a world of difference.
The midwife and the doc-in-traiing-of-the-day gave me the good ol’ postpartum depression questionnaire. “Do you have feelings of hopelessness?” “Do you want to hurt yourself?” “Do you feel depressed?” etc. etc.
I answered the questions as truthfully as I could, while still trying to maintain my integrity…..can’t be done….
She looked at me, wearing my biggest, brightest April smile, and she said, “Well, you failed the quiz, but you look okay. Are you okay?”
“No, I haven’t really been okay,” I told her, “but they sent me home from the hospital with no iron pills, and I was too far gone to understand the mistake and fix it. So I have four small children, I’m breastfeeding, I’ve been in pain, not sleeping, and I’m anemic. Who wouldn’t be depressed? I’m just so incredibly tired, and I’ll be fine now that I’m taking iron again.”
My midwife also had four children, so she got it. We agreed I’d be fine, and that there was no way around the funk.
I wasn’t totally fine until THE WEEKEND. What happened on THE WEEKEND? Nonna came and weaned John David to bottles for me. She sent me out into the town while she stayed home and fed JD.
It was the strangest experience. It felt like leaving your house and forgetting your left arm. I jumped at the sound of every baby. I cried sometimes. I felt like I had done something terribly wrong, and I should run home and feed my baby! I was a little bit nuts!
I tried to enjoy it, and I did, but it was all so strange. My hormones were out of control. It was an experience I cannot describe. Eventually, we got him completely weaned, and suddenly it didn’t matter if I forgot my iron pills that day, or if I took only one instead of two or three. (I had a serious anemia problem).
I’m always telling postpartum women to not forget to take their iron. Ha! They probably think I’m crazy because not every woman needs them.
So most of the photos I chose for the calendar were from after the fog lifted. It was a 10 month–oh yeah–10 whole months– fog of crying, breastfeeding, dreaming about laundry, trying to get 4 small children out the door to take the kids to school or wherever. It was a year of learning how to multi-task, learning to accept my messy house, apologizing to Betty who was probably the only cleaning-lady in the neighborhood that knew and understood I could not get it all de-cluttered before she got there.
No, I don’t even have a cleaning-lady now, but I do hand out chores to the kids like candy.
It was a beautiful year, and it was the most stressful year I’ve ever been through, which is saying a lot considering all the year-long and half-year deployments we’ve weathered.
God got me through. Should I have been medicated? huhuhuhuhuh uh-huh. Yeah. Definitely. But I really wanted to breastfeed my baby. Why? I don’t know. I can’t explain it. The same reason I want to do every little *best* thing there is to do. I like to drown myself in self-inflicted-pressure.
Am I okay now? Absolutely. I am more than okay. I am happy, blessed, and thankful. My house is still messy, but see, I’d rather have a fun blog and lots of children than a perfectly clean house. I was the girl that snubbed home-ec class (jokes on me) to take band and honors classes. My heart will never really be in the housekeeping. It’s important to me, but it’s not my gift, that’s for sure.
I love how God gives us all different gifts. We all complement each other, and that is how it is meant to be.
Amy, let me know if you have any trouble down loading the pictures from here.
(There are also several great ones on the About Us page that we could use for the calendar.)
This one is my favorite, Amy. It was taken by a really sweet friend in Virginia, and it reminds me of a super fun phase of our life. I want to go back, but I know the right thing to do is to make this place happy too. I think we’re doing a good job of that. This is like a two-year vacation at the beach, really. Then it will be off and away, to where– we do not know yet.
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
What do you think about when you look at your past year?