When I was pregnant with baby number 4, I remember eating and just not caring about what would happen if I ate more than was healthy for me or the baby. I was certain that the weight would just fall off after he was born and that life would just be fine. I wasn’t worried about juggling 4 kids under the age of 5. And I certainly wasn’t concerned about how I was going to feel as a mother. After all, I had been through twins so one baby wasn’t going to be a problem.
Turns out I was wrong and I wasn’t just a little wrong. It was more like two years of living in a fog and feeling that I probably should care but I just couldn’t. I knew that if I took better care of myself that I would feel better but it was too hard to do anything but sit on the couch. I wanted to be a better wife but if felt like so much work. I wanted to hate the fact that my house was a mess but having a clean house meant actually caring and I just couldn’t do that.
Before the baby was born I joined a gym. It had 90 minutes of free daycare, each day and they seemed to be pretty good to the kids. So 6 weeks after Nathan was born I loaded the kids up and we headed to the gym. I signed them in and escaped from 9 to 10:30 every weekday morning. For the next 2 years we went to the gym every day, Monday through Friday. People would find out and they would say things like “wow, you are so dedicated, you must love to exercise”. What I never told them was that while the exercise was fine, what I really cared about was that I didn’t have to be a mom for an hour and a half. Doctors will tell you that exercise is one of the things that will help you to manage your symptoms of depression. I’m convinced that if I hadn’t gone to the gym like I did, I’m pretty sure that we would have lost me or my children. That little bit of exercise made it so that while I didn’t care about taking care of myself or my family or my home, at least I never did them or myself any harm.
I kept going to the doctor and telling him that I just didn’t feel good. I was tired and I wasn’t losing any baby weight. I just didn’t feel like myself. He diagnosed me with postpartum depression and prescribed medication to treat the problem. I’m definitely not against pharmaceuticals but I kept saying “no, no, I’m fine” and “it’s just the weight, that’s the real problem”. I never took the help that was offered. Instead I went to a state of barely functioning. My relationship with the man that I loved so much suffered. I think we just went to our separate corners and simply existed. He was working all the time and he wasn’t around. I had 4 little kids, all 5 and under. I couldn’t talk about what was happening because I didn’t really understand the problem.
Finally I was able to pull out of that awful place. I don’t know what really made the change happen. I think that it was a combination of lots of things. Number one was probably time. I also went from a state of knowing that I should do better but not caring to actually caring and being proactive about the problem. I remembered why I loved my husband so much and I worked to be a better wife. I tried to take better care of my body by being careful about the things that I put into it. I made a consistent effort to nurture my spiritual health by reading my scriptures and praying and attending the temple.
When I was pregnant with Maggie (number 5), I was terrified that I was going to go back to that place. I didn’t want to put my family through that hell. So I tried to stay active during my pregnancy. I was careful about what I ate and what I read and what spent my free time doing. I think that I was also aware of the possibility of the problem so I made sure to ask for and accept help. After she was born I went through the normal new baby crazy. You know where you never sleep and you hate your husband (sorry babes) and you’re not sure why you decided to become a mother? But even with all that crazy I didn’t slide into that pit again.
Here we are, ten months after she was born and I feel so good. I think this is the best time of my life. I keep thinking that this is the absolute best that life has to offer and the next day I’m surprised all over again by something even more wonderful than the day before. Sappy, but true.
PS- My husband is such a great guy. He’s never called it quits even during those crazy times. He’s one of the good ones and I love him so much. Also sappy, I’ll quit now.