Being a first born, I was always skeptical of the idea that second (or subsequent) children get shafted in certain respects. But, try as I might, there was nothing I could do to stop this stereotype as a parent. Number two is just not the same! One way I have noticed this is in my journals. My big boy has pages and pages of entries - documentations of milestones along with daily reflections. Baby girl on the other hand has about half of a journal from the course of her first year. Oops!
Reading through my thoughts from when my big boy was first born, I see an interesting pattern develop. One day I’ll write about how hard the day was, give myself encouragement for the next day, and come up with some sort of resolution. But the next day I comment on how great everything was and how we must be reaching a turning point.
August 5, 2013 - We’ve been having a pretty rough week and today fit the mold… Sometimes I just miss my happy little baby and I have a hard time seeing how I can keep going.
August 6, 2013 - It’s so amazing how different one day can be from the next. We had an awesome day today! It was the first day in a long time I haven’t cried!
August 7, 2013 - The month has definitely flown by in some respects. But days like today make it feel like it’s also dragging. It was another rough one so yesterday must have just been the eye of the storm.
And this goes on for pages and pages - couple of bad days here, good day there, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, finding that light blocked. Even though I don’t have it documented, the same was true from the first months of baby girl’s life. I knew I was struggling and I recognized there was an issue, but then these good days would come which would prevent me from taking more action. There must not be anything wrong with me if I’m not feeling bad all the time, right?
I brought this up to my doctor at my 6 week postpartum appointment. She completely understood but had a different perspective on the subject. “I see this happen frequently with women who come to me with signs of depression. They have good days and they have bad days, so when the good days come, they think they must be fine and decide not to pursue any treatment. But then they end up having years of these ups and downs rather than ever feeling healthy.” Her words captured exactly what I had been experiencing. Those good days were masking the fact that I still didn’t feel like myself, that there was still something going on with my mind and emotions. I still needed help.
This appointment was the turning point for me. I had reached out for help through counseling, which had been very helpful, but I was still not feeling completely well. I had been holding on to a hope that these good days would come and stay but that just wasn’t happening. I needed something more, even if that something was what I had been avoiding for 2 years.
To be continued...