One Year

Today is Milo’s first birthday. This past year has been wonderful and exciting, full of firsts for him: sitting up, eating solid foods, crawling, walking, first tooth, and even his first words. Yes, “fff, fff!” counts as a first word, especially since he says it any time he sees a dog (“woof, woof!”). I love watching my son grow and learn.

There are many parents who love the baby stage. I used to think that’s how I would feel, but I was wrong. Yes, I’ll miss the feeling of nuzzling my newborn. I’ll miss the tiny clothes and socks, and the toothless grins he spoiled me with. I will miss those moments that were precious and fleeting. Even so, I’ve been waiting for this birthday for some time. This year has been painful for me and I’m ready to move on. The physical and mental sacrifices that I made in order to make it through were almost too much to bear. And I don’t feel bad saying that. I’ve left my guilt behind me.

As much as I wanted to cherish every moment with Milo, most of the time I was anxious, scared, angry and joyless. I tried to keep Beatrix busy while I fed him, put him to sleep, changed him and bathed him. I learned how much independent TV time I was comfortable allowing her, in order that I could do all these things and try to catch up on my sleep as well. I got angry over how much Milo spat up, every day, at every feeding. His and my clothes were on a very steady rotation through the laundry. I fretted over the best way to get him to sleep and dreaded night time because it meant that when I dozed off I would be awakened only too soon by his cries.

I was dealing with Postpartum Depression (PPD) and learning which medication and how much of it would work to make me feel normal again. I thought about escaping to a hotel by myself many nights, leaving Stewart alone with the kids. I called myself a bad mother, wished I never became a mother, then felt guilty about thinking those things. I thought about harming myself, and even tried on one occasion.

At the end of 2010, I felt broken.

But through the past three months, I have felt the power of support. I laughed and cried with the women in my support group. I talked more openly about the challenges of motherhood and PPD, and gained encouragement from my family and friends. I began to write and share my stories and realized I was helping others. I became confident in who I am, as a mother with faults and a myriad of emotions, both positive and negative. Everything I was doing to get better – therapy, medication, support group, writing – started to work!

There is a quote by Ken Gire that expresses, in some part, how I feel now. Okay, I have no idea who Ken Gire is – it’s a quote I saw on a family member’s Facebook status – but I love it.

“When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But he doesn’t put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, he sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project—a mosaic that tells the story of redemption.”

By no means am I on solid terms with God at this point in my life, nor do I think my life and mental health are perfect, but I do feel like I’m a different, better person than I was a year ago.

I always loved my children. Now, I not only love them, but I enjoy them and feel happy about being their mother. When I see Beatrix and Milo playing together, I remember why I had another child. They are a gift to each other. They make each other laugh. They love each other.

The other day, I was rushing around to get Beatrix to preschool on time. I was busy cleaning up breakfast so I asked her to bring her tennis shoes into the kitchen and I would help her put them on. She came in and sat on the floor, and toddling after her was Milo, socks in one hand and both of his blue Robeez shoes in the other. He wanted to be just like her. It made my heart melt.

I’m happy now. After a year of feeling like I’m missing out on life, I’m looking forward to the next. I know there are challenges ahead, but I also know that I’ll be able to face them.

Today is not just Milo’s birthday. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the hardest year of my life. Our whole family has come a long way in that year, and I’m proud of us.

Now, let’s have some cake!

Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MamaRobinJ
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 22:05:52

    What a great post! I found your blog earlier and then lost it again and wanted to come back and visit. As a fellow PPD sufferer, I know just what you mean by this post. I wasn’t nearly over it – or even being treated – when my son turned one, but I can see how that would be a major milestone. Good for you!

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    • lorixmom
      Apr 22, 2011 @ 22:22:22

      With my first child, Beatrix, I didn’t really confirm that I had PPD until she was 20 months old. By that point, just talking to someone about it made me feel better. I never got treatment the first time, and I sometimes wonder if I had would it have gone on as long as it did?

      With Milo, it started getting better in January, so he was about 10 months old. But this, of course, was after I had my medication increased and after I had my experience with cutting. It’s too bad it had to get that bad for me to realize I needed more help than I was getting. I’m doing well now, and I’m sure you will be feeling better soon. It is not forever, thought it can seem like it sometimes.

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  2. tricia
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 16:13:36

    Congrats!!! Sounds like this is a cake well earned. Make sure you have several pieces 🙂

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  3. MichelleD
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 13:35:14

    We can only appreciate the wisdom of platitudes such as “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” well after the hard times have ended. Happily, it sounds as if you’re nearing that appreciation point. I’m sooo happy for you, and I really enjoy reading your posts!! I hope Milo’s birthday was Super Fun!

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  4. veronica
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 20:29:05

    Congratulations! I am very proud of your progress this past year! happy birthday Milo!

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  5. Norma Hook
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 14:17:35

    Thanks for sharing. You are a wonderful mom. Hope you and Steward have a great time raising these two kids!

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  6. carissa
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 12:04:03

    My husbands mom had PPD extremely bad. After she had Ben (my hubby) she dealt with it on a minor scale. When she got matted 13 years latter she had 2 more kids back to back and she had some really rocky moments. I Know from an outsiders prospective that battling PPD is NOT easy. In the end once you brake through it you feel stronger and happier and you love more! As for my husbands mom she still has her bad days but now that she has her grand baby (Asher) she can love on a baby the way she wanted to love on her own but couldn’t. The joy he brings to her on her bad days just says it all!

    God does give us tests that seem mean or unloving but he will never give us more than we can handle.

    I wanted to share with you Asher’s story.

    When i got pregnant with him he planted 1/2 a centimeter away from my cervix. They couldn’t believe i was even pregnant. I was a high risk pregnancy and my placenta was covering my cervix.
    I lost my job during my pregnancy because they couldn’t accommodate my doctors order by going on bed rest. I lost 56lbs in 6 weeks and they were concerned that he wasn’t getting the nourishment he needed.

    When i went in to labor they said they were going to try to have me give birth rather than a sea-section. When i started pushing he was being slammed into my pelvis bone. Over and Over again,

    after he was out he looked healthy and normal. It was a success…. Then all of a sudden i was being told to take pills and i was given 3 shots in my legs… i didn’t know what was going on and i was worried. My husband and son were sitting across from me watching and being told “this is normal.”

    I was hemorrhaging. Then kept saying things like this is normal your doing great congratulations. I was in and out of consciousness and in a lot of pain.

    I lost 1,000 cc of blood and almost died. The placenta wouldn’t come out, and Asher had ripped my in 3 spots.

    Not even 24 hours after having him i had put Asher in the nursery because i had only gotten 3 hours of sleep in 46 hours. We went to bed with a healthy baby and were were woken up at 4am being told he was being transferred to the RNICU because he was having seizures and he had stopped breathing. …

    He spent 9 days in the RNICU and i watched my baby boy who looked healthy turn blue 3 times. They took a MRI on his brain and found that he had brain damage comparable to the damage on that of a brain in an adult who suffered a stroke. They told me he would never be normal, he would have major defeatists, never be able to talk properly, develop personal skills, and much more.

    We prayed and prayed and believed that god would heal him. we had people all over the USA praying for him. from the tippy top of MI to the middle of FL people in NY all the way to CA 6 weeks after Asher had his first MRI they had him undergo another MRI. There was No damage to be found! They couldn’t believe it and he has another MRI tomorrow at 7am.

    That was the hardest thing i have ever had to go through! Now my marriage is stronger and Asher is healthy, happy, smart, and developing normal. He has already shown that he has no defeatists.

    My relationship with god has gotten stronger because of this.

    I am so happy that you made it through the hardest year of you life! There will be many more accomplishments to come! Happy Birthday Milo! and Happy Anniversary to this BIG accomplishment!

    *~*carissa*~*

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    • lorixmom
      Apr 22, 2011 @ 22:30:17

      Wow. I meant to reply to this so long ago! Thank you so much for sharing this story. I cannot imagine what you went through. That must have been a horrifying and scary experience. I’m so glad that Asher’s second MRI showed no damage, and I pray that future MRI’s show the same!

      I think my faith in God has become stronger because of my struggle with PPD. Sometimes the old saying is true – what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

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  7. nikki
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 10:03:45

    I am so proud of you. You bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for the beautiful quote. It gave me chills.

    Love, Nikki

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  8. Millie
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 09:39:43

    Dear Mandy, I teared up with joy and sadness as I read your post. Do have a delightful 1st birthday for all of you. Celebrate the coming months and years with your wonderful children and husband and wonderful you.

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  9. Larissa
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 09:32:29

    I am so incredibly proud of you, Mandy! And I am so thankful to you for sharing your stories. While my journey has been nowhere near as difficult as yours, I have struggled with many of the same feelings and emotions. It’s such a relief to know that we are not alone. I hope you have an amazing time celebrating this day and just how far you’ve come!!

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