On my darkest of darkest days, after weeks of no real consecutive sleep and a constantly hungry baby, wondering what kind of mother raises her voice and tells her brand new baby to shut up…because he’s tired, fussy, wants to be held and coddled and loved…but his sister is ill and just vomited and needs to rest and his crying may disturb that rest and he needs to stop. Rocking didn’t stop it. Pacifier didn’t stop it. Nursing didn’t stop it (at first). New diaper made it worse. Then Mama reacted and made it even worse. Mama thought, for a split second, if nothing else works…Mama understood why some parents shake their babies who won’t stop crying.
And Mama cried.
I rocked him more with a more steady rhythm, close to my chest and moving my whole body to compensate for my own wrenching sobs. When he calmed some, we moved to my nursing chair where I nursed him to sleep.
What kind of garbage piece of shit mother says that to her baby. Weeks old. Needing, communicating the needs. Being a baby. And his piece of shit mother doesn’t deserve to live. He could, would, will do so much better without her. I visioned how it would be possible. Where I would go, what I would do. Then, in the next instant, I thought of all I would miss. And how much I wanted to be around for it. And how much of a blow it would be to my husband and daughter, to be in the house where I did it, to keep her away, to have to clean up and go on with my stupid selfish …
I put Witchling to bed, sound asleep, and shared everyone with Hubby.
That was then, darkest moment.
This is now.
A few days of very interrupted sleep. Witchling was up for most of the night, Refusing his pacifier, refusing my breast, refusing to take comfort in anything. Water cup, bottle of pumped milk meant for Monday at work. Nothing. He would rest on my shoulder, upright, and I stood for as long as I could. But it was 4:30 a, and he had been crying since 2:30 and I couldn’t stand, so he could lay on me except when I went into a non-vertical position, he cried again. Hubby finally got him back to sleep at 5:30. Witchlette, who slept through the whole thing was ready to go at 7:30, but played nicely in her room until 8:30. I brought Witchling in for a doctor’s appointment at 9:30 because, with him being up all night, there had to be something wrong.
Ears clear, gums not inflamed, chest clear. He has a diaper rash, highly sensitive skin plus overnight poops lead to contact recurring rashes that easily become infected. He was likely uncomfortable. We never thought to check his diaper.
And down I went.
What a piece of shit mother.
I knew I was short on sleep. I know why he keeps getting rashes and I know how to prevent them but I also know they will cease sooner than later, when he is potty trained. One year of diapers down, one to go. He’s fine.
But the lingering feeling remained.
Monday, mid mornings the director of the preschool called to let me know that the diaper rash looks awful. The judgement was dripping in her voice. What a piece of shit mother you are to let it get this bad. He had nothing Saturday night and awoke inflamed Sunday morning. It came on so quickly, there was no avoiding it. I explained I knew how bad it was and had taken him to the pediatrician the day before. Oh well, no one knew he was already seen by a doctor (because that morning neither director was on site when I was there to drop off the kids- there was no one to tell).
Piece of shit lingered all day. I’m hurting him. He knows it. He can feel how unloved he is. He knows it.
I called Hubby and cried. He laughed that I was crying over diaper rash.
I sobbed all the way home. I had a thought, for a moment, of how Witching would be better without me. How he would be better without his piece of shit diaper rash causing mother hurting him. I though about how, since I was alone in the car, I could just drive into a tree. Single car wreck, no one hurt but me.
But then, logic hit.
You’re fine, you’re just tried.
Even more logic.
Suicide is like Schrödinger’s cat. You won’t know if your presence, or lack thereof, will be better for the people around you until you are no longer there. And then it’s too late. The box is open. The cat is dead.
I went into Witchling’s classroom and his teacher, who was Witchlette’s teacher first, immediately know something was wrong. Witchling, did not. He saw me, crawled over with lightning speed and gave me his biggest “mommy smile”. I held him and cried. And I told his teacher what had happened. What I imagined his rash looked like, based on the phone call, pussing and bloody, was not. “He was worse last time. He adores you. You’re good.” When I said everything out loud to her, the ridiculous of it all set in.
When I went into Witchling’s room this morning, I got that “mommy smile” again. And again when I got to my mom’s house to pick up the kids. And again when I unbuckled him from his car seat after dinner. Those smiles are my drug of choice. They are one of my main joys in life, and I am living to see them…to see the joy in my children. That’s what I live for.
About a month ago, I read an article on one of my support groups discussed the concept of surviving postpartum depression. Many women who have a glimpse of those thoughts, follow through with them. Maybe not at first, but eventually. I did not. I also did not have the hounding ideation a day in and day out. I’ve had them twice. But twice I have immediately switched gears to fighting to turn away from that dark place. Twice I have decided to not approach the box. I don’t like the idea of me being a “survivor” since my battles were few and short. Twice it could have gone the other way, but I’m still here.
All for that “mommy smile.”