Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grieving and Coveting

I'm currently reading a book called MIA Missing in Action: How Mothers Lose, Grieve and Retrieve Their Sense Of Self.  It has shed a lot of light on why I've found it so hard to adjust to motherhood.

I'm grieving.
I'm not only grieving the loss of my pre-baby lifestyle, I'm grieving the loss of who I was before as well. 

As I scanned Facebook recently, reading happy birth announcements and seeing pictures of ecstatic new parents with their bubbas, I realised I am also grieving for the loss of those precious first few days and weeks after Rory's arrival.  These new parents 'can't get enough' of their babies and 'feel complete'.  I never felt any of that (well, I don't want Rory to 'complete' me.  Even if I didn't have PND, I wouldn't want that; that is idolatry).  While reading some of the birth statuses and seeing the newborn photos, I began to cry.  When Duncan asked me what was wrong, I told him I wished I could have that time with Rory again.  I wish I hadn't been so depressed.  I wish I hadn't felt so indifferent towards him, felt he was ruining my life, and just wanted to be free of him.  I wish I could have those newborn cuddles again and soak up every moment.  I wish I could have just told myself it wouldn't last forever and ridden the bumps.

I see pictures on Facebook of new parents going out and about with their bubbas less than a week after they were born.  I was so depressed and paralysed by anxiety that I struggled to have a shower and get dressed let alone go out to a restaurant.  We have friends who have a month old baby and already they are back at church regularly and life doesn't seem to have changed that much for them.  I don't think their baby is 'easy', but they seem to just go with the flow.  In my heart of hearts, I'm envious.  I wish that could be me going out and about without becoming stressed or tired.  I wish God could have given me more coping abilities.  I can tell myself that Facebook doesn't tell the whole story, I even re-read Karen's post, Myths of Parenthood #1: Everyone Else is Coping.  But some parents genuinely seem to be doing quite well and not just putting on a mask.  When I was in the depths of despair, I didn't even have the strength to pretend everything was ok, it was just so blatantly obvious I wasn't coping.

Yes, I think it's time to re-read The Envy of Eve again, especially the bits about coveting gifts, abilities and circumstances.

Duncan and I 'lost' the first part of our relationship too because a third party was intent on breaking us up.  I grieved that for a long time.  Although ultimately Duncan and I married and have had six and a half wonderful years together since we first started dating, it took me a long time to heal.  I am thankful that I still have that chance to make good memories with Rory now, but I still think it's ok to grieve.  This photo was taken on the day he was born.  The reason I love it so much is that it reminds me of those wonderful first cuddles before depression struck two days later:

This quote I posted last year sums it up:

It does not mean that there will not be times when I am so overcome with sadness at memories in my life that I must go outside and find a place to be alone and just cry for an hour....but that God is good.
- The Secrets of Heathersleigh Hall by Michael Phillips


Wendy said...

My struggles with comparison and envy have been different to yours, but still I've had them and continue to struggle with them at times. As this blog post (which you've probably already seen) testifies:

Joanna said...

Hi Sarah,

We don't know each other, but I just wanted to say that as someone who developed post natal anxiety, I have the same sadness. I still feel quite anxious when I see or hold newborns, even though my own sweet boy is a two year old and I am well and off my meds. It is a grief to lose a time that is constantly promoted as the most amazingly special time.
Facebook was a particular curse because as you say, it is full of apparently blissful mums cuddling their newborns and saying how marvelous it is! I didn't leave the house for months except with a support person or to get checked into the mother and baby unit. It was horrible!
And yet, without wanting to offer cheap comfort, the reality is that God willing, we have a lifetime to mother these children. There will be times we can do that we'll and enjoy it - and times when we really struggle and there is mainly pain. While I grieve that early period, I have accepted that some mums who loved their sleepy little newborn find them incredibly irritating and difficult as toddlers - whereas I have enjoyed this second year as a privilege now that the horrible anxiety has lifted.
And it is very true that Facebook is misleading. The more open I have been about my story, the more I have found that many, many women struggle deeply with that first few months/year. My sister-in-law, who has three lovely kids, said she still feels physically sick when she smells that ' newborn smell' because it was such a difficult time. Good for you for blogging about your PND - we need to be gentle with ourselves and with each other about this potentially traumatic time. And thank God for drugs!

Blessings on you and your family as you recuperate - I hope you can be kind to yourself and have hope that this hard season will pass.

Sarah said...

Hi Joanna and welcome to my blog. Thanks for your encouraging comment and I'm sorry to hear you've had a similar experience. What you said about others admitting they've had similar struggles is so just takes one woman to be the brave one.