While vacuuming my bedroom the other day, I moved the Pack 'n' Play where Caleb slept for the first two months of his life. In moving it, I accidentally bumped the button that plays soft, classical lullabies. I used to press that button so many times a night hoping he'd sleep a little longer or go to sleep at all.
Hearing the music again absolutely froze me in my tracks. I literally had to sit down on the edge of the bed because I was overwhelmed by the raw, vulnerable emotions that came flooding forth at the instant I heard those first few notes. I immediately remembered those first few weeks of never sleeping more than two or three hours at a time. I could feel the sharp anguish of trying desperately to get Caleb to nurse. I remembered the deep frustration and anger of losing my internet connection for three weeks and feeling so unconnected with the world, and more importantly, my husband in Iraq. I sat there for a few minutes, just allowing myself to remember how difficult life was for those first few weeks.
In retrospect, it's clear I was suffering from more than baby blues, that I had a pretty good bought of post-partum depression frantically trying to drag me down. And while I never felt like I was a danger to myself or Caleb or anyone else, I was just so wicked sad and emotional and unstable during that time.
I've said it before, but it's so true: My mom saved my life. My mother's 24-hour-a-day presence, support and help kept me alive and marginally sane. I remember crying so often in my mom's arms. I remember being so exhausted that the stupidest thing would set the two of us off laughing, and we would be so punch-drunk that we'd laugh for ten minutes until we forgot what we were laughing about to begin with. My mom made me meals and brought them to me in bed on the third floor of our house. She came with me to every doctor's appointment (which were frequent then) and kept Caleb when I had to make vet appointments after Zeus started having seizures just ten days into Caleb's life.
I remember a follow-up appointment with my OBGYN where I wept because of the nursing problems I was having. Dr. A was so comforting and reassuring about my efforts without being pushy. As she told me that it was okay to let go of nursing, she said, "Before you know it, he'll be five years old and pulling a box of Triscuits out of the cupboard to feed himself." And although he's not eating even Gerber Puffs yet, I think of this comment every now and again as I feed Caleb his green beans or bananas, and it makes me smile.
All of the stress and struggle was so momentary, so fleeting. But in the moment, it was the most soul-wrenching, overwhelming experience of my life so far. To be able to say that makes me a very fortunate woman. And as I sat on my bed, remembering all the emotions of that time, I am glad it is behind me. But I am even more grateful that it wasn't worse than it was.