Tuesday, January 21, 2014
In a month she will be welcomed into this world. Into the Roth and Meisgeier families.
It still feels a bit surreal.
I took Max to the Family Birth Center at the hospital on Saturday for a Siblings class. The kids learn a bit about what to do and not do with a newborn, how to help change a diaper, and get a onesie on and swaddle the baby. They also got to see a patient room so they know what to expect when they go see mom. Max handled it all so well. Even the diaper changing - though I'm sure he's not going to be interested in doing that when it's the real deal.
As I stood there in the patient room which was down the hall from where I delivered Maxwell, anxiety started to creep in. It wasn't a panic attack or anything dramatic. But seeing the room and having it all come back to me brought about feelings of worry and anxiety and fear. It's not like anything bad happened when I had Max. I did pretty well physically, considering my blood pressure was quite high and remained high after delivery. Mentally, between being tired, having major surgery, and the pain meds I don't remember feeling much of anything really. I remember doctors and nurses coming and going, a few visitors, knowing that I looked hideous from not showering for days.
I do vividly remember crying when it was time to be discharged. The nurses had taken such good care of Maxwell, why would I want to leave and do this at home on my own? Couldn't I just stay or take one of the nurses with me? They were all so kind.
I remember shoving my elephant sized feet and ankles into shoes and shuffling off to the hospital pharmacy in a daze to get my prescription for pain meds and blood pressure meds while Max had his car seat test. He passed.
And then we all got in the car and left.
As I recall the days I spent at the hospital with Maxwell, I've opened the door for anxiety and worry to creep in. Yes, I previously wrote about how I had moved on from those things. And for the most part I have. They are no longer a part of my daily life. I no longer have daily vicious cyclical thinking in which I catastrophize everything. But it does happen on occasion - I am a work in progress. Saturday was one of those days when all the crazy thoughts came back:
- How will I function on no sleep again?
- Will I again be up at 5am and watch from the guest bedroom window as Eric gets to go off to work while I hold a crying baby?
- Will I be isolated at home for months again?
- Will the PPD be as crushing and long-lasting? How will I survive it?
- How will I be a good mom to Maxwell when I'm so busy with a newborn? Will he be mad at me? How will I handle the emotions he is feeling?
- How will I get to do all the things I want to do when I'm so busy with baby?
Yes, I know a lot of the above may sound completely ridiculous to you. The logical side of me thinks I'm silly to worry about such things. I did this once, I can do it again. But the cold, hard truth of the matter is that when I think back to my time with Maxwell as a newborn - those first few months - most of what stands out for me is the hard stuff - the PPD, the lack of sleep, the trying desperately to calm a fussy baby, the constantly having to hold him to keep him from crying, the holding him while he napped, the not knowing what in the world I was doing, the being jealous that my husband got to go off to work every day do something he knew he was good at, while I was at home clueless and struggling.
But when you struggle with anxiety and depression on a day to day basis. When you work hard each and every day to keep those two beast at bay - the questions above suddenly don't seem so trite.
Here is what I know:
I will have this sweet baby girl, and I will fall in love and love her to pieces, just as I love Max.
I will struggle. Probably daily - at least for awhile.
I will know what I'm doing this time around - most of it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to me as it did last time.
I will have help - from my husband and my parents and my in-laws.
There will likely be a lot of tears those first few weeks. And that is okay. I am allowed to have my feelings and then move on from them.
I will make time just for Max.
I will take a ton of pictures.
I will have the thoughts and prayers of good friends near and far to help me through.
What I am continuing to learn about mindfulness and my emotions is that instead of trying to push them away or squash them, it's best to let them come, feel them, and then let them go. All the while validating that those feelings are real to me and it is okay to have them and express them. (Funny how we don't really learn this growing up. Instead we learn that some emotions are "bad" and we need to learn how to squash them and not feel them at all.) It sounds easy, but trust me it's not. After years of putting myself down for being an emotional gal - I'm learning to just sit with the emotion and feel my way through it.
I can't predict exactly what will happen this time around with this birth and newborn experience.
No one can. And I'm learning that it's okay to not know.