At eight months pregnant, a close friend asked me, "B are you worried about any postpartum depression stuff?" I quickly replied, "Of course not! That would never happen to me. We are so excited about the baby." I couldn't have been any more wrong! And I wasn't just wrong, my case was textbook. Do you like to be in control? Duh! Did you move to a new house right before the baby was born? Of course...we couldn't fit a tiny human and all the crap that comes along with him (and multiplies over time) into our apartment! Were there lots of people around when you had the baby? Um, it was Passover...how about at least 20 Jews arriving in the South to wait for this baby while doing the Seder thing. Did you have a long or traumatic labor? Hmmm...does labor for 20 hours, pushing for two, and then a C-section count? And the list of questions the therapist asked me at my first went on. And the answer to each one was always a big fat yes.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning...the night my son decided to begin his journey to grace us with his presence.
I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy...easy...no complications. I passed the gestational diabetes test with flying colors even though my diet was pretty much made up of mac and cheese and chocolate. And cookies and brownies. Lots of brownies. Slutty brownies, the ones with Oreos in the middle!
I'm a Jew. This means I'm very superstitious and therefore did not bring anything into the house before the baby was born. Things could be ordered but not set up in the nursery or anywhere else. Really this means my mother and mother in law are superstitious and I preferred not to fuck with their superstitions then deal with their guilt and commentary over breaking Jewish tradition. So obviously I just ordered a ton of baby shit and hid it at your best friend's house during all nine months of pregnancy.
This also meant that while I was in the hospital trying to push a baby out of my vagina and ultimately evicting him from my stomach, my mother in law and sister in law were at my house building strollers, putting away clothing, overseeing furniture deliveries, and decorating and organizing the nursery. My mother was with me...because I needed my mommy when I became one.
So my due date was March 25, 2013...also known as the first night of Passover that year. And since the Jewish holiday fell on the same day as the possible birth of my first child, his soon to be grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles all trekked down to the South to ask "Why is this night different from other nights?" and wait for his arrival.
Well that first night of Seder was different than any other night. And any other Seders I've been to because I went into labor...at the dinner table...in front of almost 30 people. I should have known. I lost my mucus plug earlier that day. Have you ever googled a mucus plug? Don't! It looks exactly how it sounds. I'm still traumatized by those images. Who are these pregnant women taking snapshots of their mucus plugs? Why?
So there I was, sitting next to my sister, discreetly squeezing her hand in pain, timing my contractions with my iPhone, and texting my three best friends just to confirm I was indeed in labor. I never experienced contractions 15 or 10 or 5 minutes apart. That video in birthing class was bullshit! When one friend told me to "call the fucking hospital" because my contractions were three minutes apart, I listened.
I'm not sure if the majority of our family was more excited that this baby was on its way or that the Seder concluded early. You see, my husband's family's Seders are extremely long. They read every word and say every prayer. And when you finally get to eat and feel so full and are just so happy it's over, you have to go back to the table for the "after the meal" portion. That's not how we roll in my family. Short, sweet, at what page do we eat!
Since I had my suitcase packed and in the car just in case, we were ready to go. I can still visualize that moment...the hopeful faces of our parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers and their significant others waving and cheering as if we were going off to battle. I guess in some ways we were.
I remember getting to the hospital, the nurse wheeling me up to a labor and delivery room...my husband lagging behind with the suitcase. I was 4cm dilated. Phew, they wouldn't send me home. The contractions and the pain…where were the drugs? I was always getting the drugs. I'm not a martyr. My birth plan was one word: epidural. When it came, the entire mood of the room changed. Peace...and exhaustion.
The doctor came in and wanted to know if he should speed things up or just see how they develop. I was spent. It was almost midnight. How could I push a tiny human out of my vagina when I was that tired. We chose to see what developed over night. We watched Friends reruns and fell asleep until morning...just like a quiet night at home.
To be continued...
Disclaimer: For the next few weeks, I'm going to be blogging about surviving postpartum depression. This is a serious topic that needs to be talked about without fear, shame, or embarrassment, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm sharing my experience with 100% honesty...all of it...the entire first year of my almost three-year old son's life. I'm hoping this will lead to more women doing the same. Every post I will add more to the story. During my postpartum depression, all I wanted was to find and read about others who went through the same thing I was going through...to believe I would get better...that I wasn't alone. I know each mom's experience is different but I had a difficult time finding anything I could really relate to. And so I share my story hoping I can help even one mom know she is normal, not alone, and can get better. Please keeping reading and sharing.