My little too-big-for-her-britches-and-smart-as-a-whip booger graduated from preschool last week. It’s officially “summer vacation” around here.
And you wanna know what I found this kid doing this morning as I made a lazy exit from my soft bed in my upstairs bedroom? I walked downstairs into the kitchen to find her and her little sister celebrating her new educational freedom by scooping ICE CREAM into bowls. And popsicle wrappers winked at me from the table. They both stared at me with HUGE eyes when they got caught red-handed.
I am the amazing, negligent mother. What makes the whole scenario even better is that after I almost died laughing, I finished scooping a small amount of ice cream into the-half-finished bowl and let them eat it for breakfast while asking Julie not to do it again.
To think that my postpartum depression with these girls was crippling, varying from unbearable all the way to flat-out paranoia and suicidal psychosis, is inconceivable now that I am past it. I have never been the girl who suffers from PMS or hormonal-related mood swings. I’ve always just quite level-headed. I get to play with my dear co-pilot, Bipolar Disorder instead. But at the time, it wasn’t diagnosed, and I had never experienced what role postpartum hormones can possibly play in an unstable mind. I found out, and I suddenly understood why mental hospitals are packed with people wandering the halls with vacant eyes or sitting in the corner batting at imaginary bugs.
I breastfed both my girls because I knew that it was, beyond a doubt, far healthier than shoving a bottle of formula in their mouths. Hindsight is 20/20. I should probably have risked the slight possibility that their IQs might drop, you know, a whole point on the scale if I let a cow or soybean feed them instead. Because what I later learned made so much sense that I probably could have avoided the whole trip to the psycho hospital had I just listened to my body in the first place.
I HATED breastfeeding. HATED. In fact, there was one solitary moment where I kind of enjoyed it- and that was when I nursed my friend’s foster son, a newborn drug baby who had just been weaned from meth. I babysat for him one day, and it broke my heart seeing a baby so listless and pathetic. I scooped him up, shoved his mouth on my boob, and that baby didn’t want to let go. After that, his eyes were open, he looked at me, and my friend was thrilled to see a new baby when she came to pick him up. That moment was so special, so amazing, because I knew that for whatever reason, my boob was a comfort for a baby who needed it most.
That was the one time that the horrible hormonal manic rush didn’t shoot through my body when I nursed. Most women like, even love, the way it feels. I couldn’t stand it. It tickled my nipple to the point where I wanted to scream or cry or throw my shoe through the wall. Once the let-down happens and milk starts to gush, I’ve seen dozens of moms get this sleepy, smily, dreamy, relaxed look in their eyes due to the release of prolactin, a supposedly awesome hormone that makes moms fall madly in love with their baby and forget the fact that they haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time in the last 6 days.
That whole prolactin thing? Yeah, that was a myth for me. Instead of relaxing, I felt like I could hardly breathe while electricity shot its way up my spine. Night time feedings always forced my mind and thoughts to run a marathon, and I became the amazing, unsleeping insomniac. I’d get a burst of negative, manic energy, and I’d stare at the clock, sometimes shaking, wondering how long that freaking baby at my breast was going to feed off of me like a leech. See, that’s not a normal reaction. I didn’t think of my girls like that when they were off the boob, just on it.
Later, during all my treatment, I learned that for women struggling with a postpartum mood disorder who have that kind of reaction to nursing frequently have prolonged and more severe difficulty with depression, anxiety, and psychosis. My uncomfortable mental and physical reaction to breastfeeding? That was most likely my body’s way of trying to tell me, “This isn’t healthy for you… your kids will be just fine sucking off a bottle. Give it up and stop being such a stubborn brat.”
In other words, if I hadn’t breastfed, I probably would have gotten away with a minor version of the extreme postpartum mood disorder that I experienced. Almost three years after my little stinker was born, though, I can hardly remember what I was actually going through during that time. My mind was a black hole.
But see, that was then, and this is today. That picture above is me, truly proud and happy to have just watched my 5-year-old walk across the stage and accept her preschool diploma. Somehow, I survived those miserable postpartum crazy hormones, and now I’m just as happy- if not more so since I know what it’s like to be on the other side- than the “other moms” to be a mother.
Yay me! I’ve really gotten somewhere!
And as a side note, I love that color blue on myself. Normally I tear myself to shreds when I have to look at a picture of myself… but this time, I just see a happy mom with two amazing girls wearing a lovely blue top.
Current Mood: Happy