I’m grateful for the gift of November. It seems strange to write as it’s a month I dread due to the dark days – but I’m grateful for the gift I have given myself for the last five plus years- the gift of daily gratitude during the month. It sets me up for the next year to ponder over the little things: blue sky, running water, friendships, family…
This year it has been especially needed. The joy of having little Finn in my life is amazing. Every day is a blessing. At the same time, I see most of life through hazy colored, postpartum glasses.
Postpartum is a different experience for everyone. I’ve tried to reflect on how to describe what postpartum means to me. I’ve always had levels of depression, and the postpartum depression is that same depression- but enhanced. I feel like I’m underneath water and everything is hazy, or slightly distorted because I’m looking out into the air above that water. And the only times that I’m able to bob above the waves is when I’m with Finn. Even in the most tiring moments, or the moments where he is crying and angry – at least I’m holding him and I can see above the water.
I’m grateful for the gift of holding him.
Some women resent their baby or can’t be near them in their postpartum. I’m fortunate. I am grateful that isn’t true for me. Finn gives me clarity. At the same time, I worry I’m missing something. I worry I am not being the mother I should be- or love him as much as I need to love him. I take deep breaths and think of everything as a day at a time. And that as long as I’m loving him with all I have in the moment- then I can rest my worries.
I’m grateful for the love that swells in my chest when I see him.
The anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness is extremely high. About all sorts of things. Is he breathing? Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? When I’m not with him, is he okay? What’s he doing? Is he upset I’m not there? Are we safe? My mind races with all the worries.
I am grateful I have an awareness of my surroundings.
I have scary thoughts- thoughts that I don’t know where they are coming from and I can’t get rid of scary images. I see things, terrible things, on the news and they stick with me for weeks…and when they enter my mind I don’t always know how to rethink them. Even when I have Finn in my arms and safe- I worry about the babies that aren’t safe. How can I control their safety? I can’t. So I just hold Finn tighter.
I am grateful I have a vivid imagination.
I worry I can’t do this. I can’t do my job at work. I can’t be a mom at the same time. I’m somehow failing when I haven’t even started. My mind races. I just have to hold on. Breathe.
I am grateful for pauses.
I know I’m not alone. Both in my own life, but also as a person who is experiencing postpartum. They warned us in our birthing class that postpartum is real and would happen to at least one of the four women in the class. In fact, postpartum can happen to men and men are 50% more likely to experience it if their partners experience it. I fear it’s my fault if Tim experiences the postpartum. I think of the other women in my class- was I the only one? Do I hope they too experience what I am experiencing? Or should I feel relieved that I was the statistic?
I’m grateful to have peers. Somewhere out there.
I am not alone. And the gratitude of that truth is beyond what words can describe. The literature available about postpartum- treatments and support- is abundant. One particular site I have found helpful is Postpartum Support International. My doctor has also referred me to some resources and had a Social Worker come in to talk to me during my doctor’s appointment. The Social Worker provided a lot of support and we continued our sessions. Just having a person to be completely honest with and open to my concerns is invaluable.
My stepmom told me that she heard somewhere that “Gratitude is knowing things could be different.” That has stuck with me all month. No matter how thick this haze is that I’m living in, I am so grateful that I have this little baby to cuddle and be in my life.
I’m thankful for the dark days of November so I can remember to live in the light of gratefulness.