I drove to pick up Kaya from pre-school and on the way home I pulled over to try and nurse Malik. I thought that maybe if I nursed him he would calm down enough and let the last 20 minutes of the car ride be peaceful. I pulled into a parking lot, got him out and started nursing him. As he quieted, I started talking to Kaya about how her day was. I couldn't help but notice all of the normal people walking around as I sat there in my car, in a parking lot, nursing a baby and talking to a four year old. Good God I thought, this is my life now. My life is my kids. I felt like I was in a hole with them secluded and alone. I felt that no one could relate to what I was going through. I felt that my situation wasn't that bad but that I was bad from not being able to handle the pressures of motherhood better. I felt that I was isolated in this condition and that the only way out was to be more of a mom, to push myself harder, drink more coffee, and to remember to take my little blue pill.
Thankfully he slept and the ride home was peaceful for once. I drove home those 20 minutes in complete external silence. But nothing could calm the thoughts that were raging in my head. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I was driving home in sweats, hair in a bun and my glasses on. I looked down while at the stoplight and realized that I had a stain on the front of my shirt from God knows what. I’m such a mess I thought. Then I hit the breaks and the sound of my prescription bottle shook the silence.
What was that mommy? Kaya asked
It’s mommy’s medicine. I told her
Are you sick mommy? She asked concerned
I’ll be fine baby, don’t worry. I reassured her
And then the tears started welling up in my eyes. I adjusted the rear-view mirror so that Kaya couldn't see me crying and turned up the music so that she couldn't hear me. It had been just her for almost four years and now this little guy came around and completely rocked both of our worlds. Kaya was such an easy going baby. She hardly cried, and was very content to have tummy time or rock in her swing while I got house cleaning done. So to say that I was under-prepared for the amount of time that it would take to tend to Malik, is an understatement. She deserves so much better I thought. She is such a perfect little girl and she deserves a mom that isn't crazy and one who doesn't have to take medicine. Why can’t I shake this sadness? Why am I not happy? I have a good life, why can’t I just be normal? Why can’t I just accept that this is the way that my life is going to be and be happy with it? The guilt that overcame me at that time was painful and debilitating. I felt guilty that I wasn't doing more yet I got so stuck in the guilt that I wasn't able to move past it. These are all thoughts that came and went through my brain until we arrived at our house.
I got the kids out of the car. I threw the prescription hastily on the counter and turned on a cartoon for Kaya. I left Malik sleeping quietly in his car seat while I opened the freezer and got out frozen lasagna that I had made three months before. A glimmer of hope shot through my veins as I looked at my handwriting on the outside of that frozen lasagna. I remembered how prepared I was to have this baby. I had made a month’s worth of food beforehand so that when I had him I wouldn't have to worry about cooking. I had done hours and hours of research about natural child birth and was able to successfully have Malik the way that I wanted to, with no interventions, completely naturally. If I was strong enough to endure natural childbirth, then I should be strong enough to kick all of this emotional foolishness.
Then I looked over at 30 days worth of blue pills sitting in that orange bottle and remembered that the doctor told me I had post partum depression and the only way out of this hole was to take this pill and to start coming to terms with my new life. But I didn't want to take the pills. Then my inner voice went into frenzy: Who am I to argue with a doctor? She’s been through a decade of schooling and knows what post partum looks like. I've already taken the first pill, what’s another 29? Maybe I do need help getting back on my feet. Maybe if I take the pills and make a better effort to be happy, I’ll be well again in no time.
Even with the noise of all of this rationalization and self judgment that was going on in my head, I couldn't shake this one thought. I kept thinking, if I do have post partum, if I am depressed, then why wasn't I relieved when she diagnosed my problem? Why was I resisting this, if it was the cure to all of my problems?