I’m exhausted. AM is having trouble adjusting to staying in her own room through the night. I have been up with her (patiently) for an hour, and I think she’s finally asleep. I sneak away, hoping I haven’t just cursed myself by typing that.
I lay in bed and marvel at the fact that I didn’t raise my voice to her, didn’t cuss under my breath, didn’t consider just locking her in her room so she would leave me alone.
I held her.
That might not sound like much, but after fighting postpartum depression and anxiety that manifested as rage for almost two years, I was beginning to wonder if the monster would ever leave. Part of the reason she’s only just sleeping in her own room is because a year ago (when I intended to make the transition) I recognized that I would not have the patience for crying or middle of the night wakings. We continued cosleeping so that I could get an almost full night’s sleep most nights.
But tonight, I held her. And I rocked her and sang to her. I calmed her tears and reassured her that I was there. I stayed with her until she fell asleep, curled around her stuffed elephant. And I took the risk of waking her to tell her goodnight one more time. To say “I love you, baby girl.”
And now I’m in my room, exhausted. Mentally and emotionally drained. And yet so proud of myself. I have come so far.
I hate admitting that this is progress. In my mind, in my distorted thoughts, this is what motherhood is supposed to look like: Patiently answering every cry, question, and tantrum, meeting every tough moment with grace and never raising your voice or losing your temper.
I’ve lost my temper so many times it has broken me. It has defeated my soul and made me feel unworthy of my children. I considered leaving them so that they could have better than I could give. I have hated myself with every fiber of my being. I have yelled at a month old baby, screaming with colic. I have told my 2 year old to “get out of my fucking face”. I slammed doors, broke toys, and once or twice had to concentrate extremely hard on not shaking or squeezing the baby I held. I have raged in front of family, friends, and in front of no one at all.
I’ve had to learn to repair the damage, try to teach forgiveness even when I hate myself. I have self-harmed out of guilt after raging at my children. I have told my husband that I wouldn’t blame him if he left as long as he took the kids so I would stop destroying them.
It is terrifying to publicly admit this. I was terrified when I told my therapist. I was simultaneously afraid to lose my children and hoping someone would rescue them from me. Part of me still is.
I am crying. I am raw. And I want to tell anyone who has had postpartum rage that you’re not alone. I’m being honest because you are worth my honesty. You are more than the monster you feel like, and one day (hopefully very soon) you’ll have this moment where you are in awe of your child(ren) and yourself. You will sit in bed and try not to blame yourself for the past weeks or months or years where it was all you could do to survive.
The guilt is still there. I don’t know if it goes away. But my kids are happy. They love me.
They always have.
And I’ve always loved them.
Tonight, at least, the monster is asleep, and I can finally rest my wary eyes.
If you are struggling and need help, please use one of the following resources:
Postpartum Support International (PSI) (800) 944-4PPD (944-4773) www.postpartum.net – PSI volunteers are trained moms who’ve dealt with anxiety or depression. Support, resources, and information are free and confidential. Messages are retuned within 24 hours.
Erikson Fussy Baby Network (888) 431-BABY (431-2229) – Provides both Spanish and English support and advice for parents regarding infant fussiness, crying, and sleep issues.
University Of Utah Neuropsychiatric Unit Crisis Line (801) 587-3000. Free confidential support, including a mobile crisis team able to come to a residence when needed.
National Suicide Hotline (800) SUICIDE (784-2433)