Posts Tagged: Mom Guilt
I wrote a few weeks ago how, in the days following Goldie's birth - when I feared a relapse of the postpartum depression that I'd suffered from after Indy arrived - I was prescribed a low-dose medication to combat the chronic insomnia and anxiety that I've been dealing with for a good decade (and hopefully make PPD more unlikely). It's been two months, and I figure now is as good of a time as any to write about how it's been going.
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Growing up, my parents taught me that no one would handle my problems for me; it was on me to face them, and then fix them. If I had an issue with a teacher, a fight with a friend, an essay that I just couldn't seem to get right, they were there to listen and offer suggestions, of course, but they were not going to storm the gates and take over; finding a solution was my job. And I'm grateful for that.
I went into the birth of my second child absolutely convinced I'd experience at least some degree of the postpartum depression I dealt with after Indy was born. It was something I brought up at my very first appointment after finding out we were expecting, and something that I touched base with my doctors about over the course of the next few months. I didn't want it to catch me unguarded and without a plan in place, because with a toddler and an infant to think about, being that emotionally out of sorts even for even a day didn't feel like an option.
My primary concern: you know how I've written extensively about my insomnia (which is largely related to my anxiety)? Well, when you have a newborn, you sleep even less. And less sleep = a greater chance of suffering from PPD.
At the mid-point in my pregnancy, I went to meet with a psychiatrist (which I should have done a long, long time ago), because even though I didn't want to start any new medications while expecting, I figured you know what? I've been dealing with this problem long enough. I've tried lots of different things - some that have worked for a time, and some that haven't worked at all - and if there's a longer-term, more stable solution, I'd like to find it. What we decided: that I'd start on an extremely low-dose daily antidepressant immediately following the birth. I don't suffer from depression, but apparently this kind of medication can help to shut off the sort of ruminative thinking that characterizes my particular type of anxiety.
(As a side note, this decision to try medication wasn't something I was going to talk about here - it feels so, so personal - but then I realized: am I ashamed that I suffer from insomnia and anxiety? No. Am I ashamed that I've tried lots of different things over the years, and that now I'm going to try this? No. And I know that these are issues that a lot of people suffer from, and that a lot of people feel ashamed about, and I believe with all my heart that there is no shame in being open about your struggles and seeking out help wherever you can find it.)
The below is an excerpt from Ramshackle Glam. I wanted to share it on the site because it explores a topic that I've touched upon a lot here - the anxiety that I felt during my pregnancy, and in the weeks after giving birth - but that I felt like I never really got to the bottom of until I wrote this essay.
(Read the full book on your Kindle here.)
Early on in my pregnancy, when I was busy tying myself up in knots about things like strollers and closets and finding room for bottle drying racks on our nonexistent countertop, one of the things I actually didn’t worry a ton about, oddly enough, was . . . the baby. I just kind of figured he’d be okay. I mean, of course I went to all my doctor’s appointments, ate decently well, and avoided the stuff you’re supposed to avoid, but mostly I just sort of got on with it and trusted that everything would turn out fine. He’d be born, and be loved and happy and ours, and our little family would roll on into wherever it was we were headed.
I mean, I'm afraid of lots of things surrounding the family expansion that's on the way. I'm afraid that I won't be able to find the time to do my work (which does not involve maternity leave). I'm afraid that I'll be so overtired and stressed out that I'll take it out on Kendrick, and that our baby's first months in the world will be full of yelling rather than joy. I'm afraid that I'll be so busy and worried about everything that I'll forget to notice what's really happening, which is that my daughter is right there in front of me, learning where her fingers are or how to reach for a toy, and then it'll be over, and I'll never have a baby again, and I'll spend ever day for the rest of my life wishing I had just stopped everything to be with my child and watch her watch the world.
I'm afraid of all of those things.
But right now, right this moment, what I'm afraid of is this: nearly every new parent I've spoken to has told me that part of how you make it through those first few months with a toddler and an infant is basically by dividing and conquering. I've heard from more than one new mom of two that - in the beginning, at least - her partner is generally the one "responsible" for the older child, the one taking him out, playing with him, feeding him, heading out to the park with him, while she stays home with the baby (because, of course, there are some things that Dads just can't do for a newborn; breastfeeding, for example). I've also heard that the moment your new baby arrives, something changes in the way you see your first child: they seem so big, all of a sudden. So capable. And that's wonderful, and also a loss: where did my baby go?
Three screenings of Planes (for real; I think someone was excited about flying), one waffle, one banana, one cup of blueberries, one cup of pasta, one cup of cereal, one cup of dried green beans, two applesauces, three crackers, one yogurt parfait, and one McDonald's egg-and-cheese biscuit later (what can I say? the child can eat), and we're in San Francisco!
Of course, the first order of business was to head straight to In-N-Out Burger for some animal style action. Because we were starving.
A few days ago, shortly after I made our announcement, I got an email from someone who said that I was "crazy" for having another baby now, with a husband who's in business school in another state. And while I'm not sure the comment was especially well-intentioned...I still thought that it was interesting, because it brings up a question that everyone wonders about - worries about - when it comes to when to begin (or expand) their own family.
How do you handle childcare for your son and working from home? I am expecting my first child, and own my own business. I have a home office but spend about 15-20 hours a week out and about meeting clients. Also, when I'm working from home, I actually need to work, of course.
I'm feeling like I will need full-time childcare in order to get everything done but also feel like there should be some benefit to owning my own business/working from home that I could get away with less. I'd love to hear how you balance things?
You know how child actors are always going on about how they "skipped their childhoods"? Well, I didn't do that. I was good and irresponsible during those key formative years. But I did have some expectation that six or so years spent traipsing around on sets alongside people twice my age followed by four years of pretty excellent education would spit me out on the other side capable of...you know...being an adult. Not through any effort of my own, mind you. Just because I figured someone would implant that knowledge directly into my brain with zero exertion on my part.
...What, that's not how it works?
I started acting professionally when I was twelve years old and a director who lived in my building asked me to audition for a commercial he was shooting. I got an acting agent, and then hooked up with Ford to do some modeling, and within a year I was going on auditions and go-sees more days than not. I went to a relatively arts-friendly high school, and they let me rearrange my schedule so that I took the majority of my classes in the mornings, leaving me free for work in the afternoons.
And it was fun, mostly.