Sunday Thoughts

I don't think the perfect mom would be having a meltdown right now about her daughter not sleeping. She would just rock the sad child back to sleep with a lullaby. Her three year old child would obediently go to bed at eight and also take an early afternoon nap. If you guys don't start sleeping soon I don't know what will happen, but it won't be good.

I was talking to my sister the other day about some moms she knows who tell her she will have kids as soon as she isn't afraid of them anymore. They ask her if she realizes "the church" meaning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints tells you to have children. They remind her that as a working woman, she has no idea what it is like to be busy and tired. My sister questioned why all these women were so unhappy with their lives. Their husbands- their children.
I love my children so much, but I feel like having children is the hardest thing I've ever done. I never thought I would just wish for it to be easy- to stop feel like I am fighting for control of my own sanity.
After Danielle was born I found myself crying a lot. For hours a day I would sit there and cry after the baby went to sleep or when she was awake. Almost all the time when I was alone. I felt like all my worst fears had come true. I couldn't breastfeed. I was so tired. I wasn't going to work. I was fat. She wouldn't stop screaming at me. She had reflux and seemed to always be angry with me. She didn't let me feed her rice cereal. She kept throwing up on me. I remember wondering if I would always feel so empty inside. I hated all the moms that told me how easy having just one child was. then I moved to a place where some of the moms at church had sick kids.
I feel like those sick children changed how I felt about motherhood. I would be terrified if my child died. Maybe I started coming out of the tunnel of sadness with the help of some great anti-depressants. I never bonded with my baby. I knew I wouldn't do anything to hurt her and would take care of her needs, but it was hard to talk to moms about how great it was to have children. I never wanted to admit that I wished I was dead but I didn't want to do anything about it because that would make me an irresponsible mother. I'm glad I got professional help to start to feel like I was alive again.
My first labor was terrible. I wanted to have another baby. To prove to myself that I could do it. People started telling me that two wasn't hard, three was.
Having baby Mark changed everything. I've never been so tired. Staying up for a few months in a row will really make you crazy I'm convinced. Mark tried to stay up all night and sleep during the day. But he took a bottle for a few weeks while I tried to figure the breastfeeding/pumping thing out and then he switched back to breastfeeding. He let me feed him. He LOVED me. I immediately felt like I loved this baby more than anything, in an intense way I thought must be a hormone released in new mothers and maybe more in breastfeeding new mothers. I have no idea what it was, but it made me feel terrible. Because I didn't have it the first time. I just felt lost. I filled my emptiness up with cute little dresses and matching shoes. This time was different. I was connected to Mark but still sad. I never anticipated waking up with children and forgetting who I was. What I loved to do. When Mark was a week old I sat in his room in the middle of the night and cried about how easy he seemed. Then I cried because I had grown to love Danielle but wondered if she would ever forgive me for not loving her immediately.
I'm different now. But I'm also still the same. I've had an easier time deciding the commit to the care of my children than I've had feeling alive. I tried not to blame my religion for telling me motherhood is a holy calling. I knew I shouldn't blame my children. I tried not to blame my husband for being busy and emotionally exhausted with school. I tried not to blame my mom for not coming to help since she was sick. I tried not to blame the church ladies for saying they would love to help but never doing anything. Except Paula.

I'm grateful for my friends. I think they saved my life. After Mark was born I remember feeling horrible and having Melissa from the med school come over and watch the kids while I slept. She cleaned my whole house. Sarah watched the kids and I went to the dentist. Melissa came again when I was sick with a breast infection. Holly came and John and I went on a date to the grocery store. Best date ever. Melissa watched them again. I have no idea how she can clean any house in 30 minutes and keep the children happy, but those kind of skills might be why she's in medical school. Then Carlie came and watched the kids and I went to the gym and took a nap every day for a week. At the end she probably felt like dying but I felt like I was a person again.

I feel really sad about how hard it is to have depression after having kids. To feel like you are lost somewhere in a sea of what you wanted your life to be and what other people say. When I became a mother I didn't understand the lost feelings at the beginning of the day, or the anger I suddenly had. Taking anti-depressants made it possible for me to love my daughter and start to feel alive again.
I know in the end I will make it though unbroken. I will know who I am and love my children. I will be a different person. I don't know if I will always live under the cloud of depression that I've carried since my first pregnancy. I don't know if I will ever weigh what I did before I had Danielle (Oh wait- yes I do and I will.) I didn't know what to tell my sister when talked about those mothers who hurt her feelings. I don't always know if I will be able to fit in to my religion as a mother who doesn't feel that holy or fulfilled. But I know that I will always be a mom and I will never give up on them. I know that even if I am broken inside and lost, I can pick up the pieces and start over again.

I love the people who helped me,
including my little kiddos.

NaDell (December 20, 2010 at 2:20 AM)  

I think motherhood is a holy calling and all that, but it IS also one of the hardest things to do. Mothers who can't admit that are lying or have a really easy kid or something.
Most moms with one kid still have a hard time. It's all the adjusting to someone else's schedule (or lack thereof) and new routines and trying to make friends outside of work and "do it all".
I'm sorry you get so sad after having babies. We are all a little crazy for a while. Some people are crazy happy and that's all they show and others are crazy sad and still others are crazy tired (that would be me...along with the others a little too.) I remember with Elizabeth imagining what would happen if I just decided to drive off the road one day. Of course I'd never do that for real, but that those thoughts were there was scary.
I'm glad Mark was a better baby than Danielle. I think it's harder when the first is the worst, but also better because then you sort of know what you could be getting into when you have a second and hopefully, you appreciate them being better. I did for sure!

Carlie Madsen (December 20, 2010 at 2:56 PM)  

I think a lot of people feel like they don't really fit in. I sure don't feel like i fit the mold, but I suppose that is the point. There shouldn't be a mold, but yet there is one...but yet there isn't one.
Have you seen the new videos. They interview all these cool mormons...all kinds. Working women, artists, designers, musicians, business men...a lot of people who fit the "mold" and a lot who don't. I like the videos a lot. I probably wasted an hour watching them.
My grandmother suffered from clinical depression her whole life. I know she struggled with being told she could be happy if she lived the gospel, which she did, but her depression didn't let her feel happy.
Your sister should know that children still terrify me, especially my own child, and especially the thought of unborn children. And, those women at church should mind their own business and look on the new and see that there are 25,000 different ways of being a mormon.

And, I felt elated after visiting you. :) Warm fuzzies!

And, sorry this is a commercial for

karen and cameron (December 20, 2010 at 8:59 PM)  

I think you would be suprised at how many women share your thoughts, Janae. No one wants to say it out loud. Motherhood isn't joyous all the time. Not even most of the time. Is it terrible that my most anticipated time of day is when my kids go to bed? I love them, but I too struggle to find me in the midst of being mom. I've had people say I'm selfish for running, or sewing, while raising kids. These same people told me that my kids should be my only hobby right now. I don't believe them because one of the women who said that has had multiple nervous breakdowns because she devoted herself to her kids and never did anything for herself.
And, I do believe that motherhood is a holy calling. I believe that because it is so hard, and takes so much out of a woman to accomplish. Even doing a mediochre job takes a great amount of effort!

For the record I think youre doing great. And kudos to you for finding and doing what you need to do to make it work. :)

Missy (December 21, 2010 at 1:36 AM)  

Your posts are so honest!
A lot of people feel the same way you do, but maybe don't feel comfortable talking about it. Motherhood is the most challenging thing I have ever done, and I love my child to pieces, but sometimes I need time for myself.
My mom has told me a million times that you have to be a person first and wife and mother second, or else you will and up not knowing who you are anymore. So while I feel bad dropping my child off at daycare, I know it is better for our whole family in the long run if I am working, feeling balanced and have some time for myself.
Like what Carlie said, there are a million ways to be a good mormon, and a good person.
Hang in there! You are not alone!

Brooke (December 23, 2010 at 2:33 AM)  

I have this urge to go look at! haha. no really! Oh Janae, I am so sorry. I so know how you feel. That lost feeling in the morning. for real dude. You are so strong. I shouldn't say it but honestly, so many women at church are so full of shit. They are often pretending to fit the mold too. I firmly believe that. Love you. I'm sorry I didn't come to help you. I was a nutburger during that time.
-love Brooke

Saralou (December 23, 2010 at 1:34 PM)  

I really appreciate how you write about sensitive/tabu with honesty. You are a good mother, and a talented writer. Keep writing. I'm not a mom yet, but I know that writing brings me clarity, (and therefore renewd strength), when I am depressed.

Saralou (December 23, 2010 at 2:12 PM)  

Sorry, I just realized that my last comment might have sounded like I was suggesting a solution. Unsolicited advice is the worst, and wasn't my intention. I just love you is all.
Once a notetaker, always a friend.

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