The Darkness of Days Past
A post popped up on my Facebook Memories feed from this day last year: I’m not sure I’m ready to be snowed in with a toddler and a newborn.
The baby was five days old. We’d been home from the hospital for three. My milk hadn’t come in, and the pediatrician was pressuring me to supplement with formula. My toddler didn’t know what was going on, but he knew he wasn’t happy about it. The weather forecast called for six to twelve inches of snow.
Another person might find this setup cozy: trapped inside with your family! Nowhere to go and nothing to do but cuddle your newborn and watch the snow fall!
How do I possibly communicate the darkness of those days?
I cried nonstop; hyperventilated constantly.
“It’s just hormones,” my husband said. “This will pass.”
But it couldn’t pass quickly enough. Every second felt excruciating.
On January 26, I typed into my phone:
It’s like a labor that doesn’t end. The waves of emotions come washing over me—despair, grief for the old life I’ve lost, regret, cold dread. In real labor though, the pain is contained within my body. After labor, the pain is in the world. It seeps in through the windows, traveling on certain slants of light. It hums from the haze of early dawn and the midday glare. I try to breathe through it, but how to breathe when you’re being ripped apart? In my worst moments, I see suicide as a kind of epidural. A quick end to the senseless pain. A needle to the spine or a knife to the wrists. The method doesn’t matter, only the numbness that will follow.
I’d been through the same thing before with my first son. I thought I’d be able to see it coming and head it off: with sleep, with exercise, with healthy foods and meditation. But the postpartum depression—the borderline psychosis—crashed in with the same unwelcome intensity of that January snowstorm.
I think back to that day with relief. I will never have another baby. I will never have to go through that postpartum hell again.