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August 14, 2008

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That's the kind of image that i really thing is super image like. If more images very real like this were out there we'd be super full of graet images in the world.

It made me understand it much clearer now.

Thank you for this, even if I'm reading it a year after you posted it.

Sometimes I feel like a complete failure because I see my friends who have kids that actually get a chance to shower, cook, and clean (all while they're home alone with the kids). I just have one baby and I barely manage to wash my dirty face more than 3 times a week.

Then I remember that I'm breastfeeding, which means being strapped to the couch all day...and then co-sleeping at night. The boobs are starting to give out (maybe...we're hoping it's just a glich) so more bottles are being given, but I still do all but one in the evening. I feel like I NEED to nurse all night since it's the only time my little girl feeds contently.

I am tired....

So many here have already said 'thank you' for this post...but I think it deserves at least one more.
Beautifully written, honest, heartbreaking, stiring...familiar.
Communal permission! Yes.
And permission to start looking toward other mothers for support instead of hiding away fearing judgement.

Well said, Momma. Been there. I'll be thinking about you as your new one arrives...

Thank you. It's great to see all the honest comments here. I remember those horrifying first months so distinctly that whenever I know someone who's just had a baby, I offer to help them out. And guess what? Every single offer has been turned down! They all say, "Oh, no, I'm fine, I don't need help. I'm handling it." There needs to be a shift in the way we think about this. It's ludicrous that we are ashamed to accept help!

On another note, I'd also love to hear more mothers admit that they've lost it with their little ones when they were at the end of their rope. I've done this, and the guilt I've felt is totally overwhelming. I've considering suicide over it, reasoning that my kids would probably be better off without me. I need to know I'm not the only one who has had "Mommy Dearest" moments with her kids, but no one ever talks about this either.

Sometimes I actually look for news stories about mothers who have hurt their children because it's a good way of making me feel like I'm not the worst mother in the world.

Nobody talks about the gray areas. Thank you.

Thanks for posting this. I have been there, done that, and I am entering this territory again. I have 5 week old twins as well as a 4 and 5 year old. I was treated for PPD after the birth of my 4 year old, and Prozac helped me get through it. This time I have more realistic expectations and hope to avoid meds, but damn this is hard. I need a nanny but can't afford it. And my twins were unplanned, the last thing I expected. But it gets better, I keep telling myself. The waking up every 2 hours at night, attempting to tandem nurse or be crucified by the breastfeeding police if I use formula. Thank god for blogs.

This is why I turn to mommyblogs. For the gray area, for the sleepless nights that are too hard, for the weekends the hubby is away and I think it's too hard, for the days when the baby/toddler fusses all day and won't be put down and I'm ready to go insane. Thank God for you and other wonderful mommybloggers who talk about these things and support each other.

For the full-blown PPD, a good therapist and meds! But how did I know it was time to seek help? Mommyblogs helped me figure that out!

Great post. It's really important that new mothers and their families understand what you had just said. It's difficult to continue to be yourself while also being a mom. We really need to make sure we learn to take time for ourselves and not worry about being the "perfect" mother.

WOW, THAT JUST BLEW ME AWAY! I have been trying to explain EVERYTHING you just said to my husband for years. And it's so hard to ask for help sometimes. And usually when your having a major breakdown, no one is there to help. At least someone that understands completely. I admire how you just put my whole entire life into words that couldn't be said better! Actually, I've been doing good the last few years, but back when my kids were younger, I almost went insane. Glad those years are over with. Not looking forward to the teenage years though. Again, WONDERFUL POST!!!!!!!!
BTW...I just started blogging and wish someone had told me to do it sooner. Nice way to get things off your chest!

I think this is the reason I started blogging in the first place...to try to describe that space between.

Really good to know we're not alone. I was pretty lucky not to have PPD, though I did develop HMSS (Hate My Spouse Syndrome). Baby crying, too many dishes, broken nail, rainy day.. it was all entirely his fault. That lasted for 2 months after baby was born. Then I didn't find myself having ridiculously angry or desperate moments again until she became a toddler. I've since cut the caffeine and taken up yoga. It doesn't help.

What a great post. We have to start loving the village, and helping the children!

Very well written! After my first son was born, I had a very unconventional - dare I say, normal - doctor. At his 2 month check up the doctor told me " If he is dry, and fed, you are not a bad mother if you have to leaving him crying in his crib while you take a time out outside for a few minutes" Its amazing what a sense of relief that gave me that I wasn't screwing him up if I couldn't make him stop crying. I wish more doctors had the balls to tell moms what they need to hear before they have to ask for it!

What a great post, and an important post. I still wish I'd gotten help when I had PPD. But 15 years ago, it was not talked about, or if it was the mother was made out as a terrible mother. And I thought, how could any new mother with a beautiful baby be depressed? That's horrible. So I couldn't face it.
I'm so glad times are slowly changing.

Girl, I was the poster child for gray. About six months after my second child was born I remember looking in the mirror and freaking out because I didn't recognize myself. I called my mother crying, and in turn freaking her out, because I just couldn't see myself. Thank God, it passes, but it's definitely real and shouldn't be ignored. Kudos for speaking up.

I'm seeing more and more bloggers speaking out about this, and it's wonderful!

This post? SO NECESSARY. Because, yes, they're not always clear, the lines between mom stress and mom blues and mom depression. Between 'I need to get out' and 'get me the fuck out of here.' Taking care of US, no matter what, is the most important thing. Because they need us whole.

That was a great post. I had PPD after I had my second child. I felt so overwhelmed by having two children only fourteen months apart in age. And she came one month prematurely. I just wasn't ready and I crumbled and thought I was a bad mom for being scared to be home alone with both of them.

Having a history of depression also put me at a greater risk of developing PPD. I've also developed PPD again recently as a result from my miscarriage last month. Fun times, I tell ya.

Bossy agrees. They need us, even if that means Us going outside of the house with friends to have a good time and release. After all, they are looking to us and our relationships to learn how to be adults. Happy adults.

Thank you!!
This post could not have come at a better time for me. My dd is 5 1/2 months old and I just went back to work at the beginning of the month. I've been debating whether all the time and effort pumping is worth it. Formula never killed anyone...thank you for the permission!

Many moms need this. Need to hear truthful words about having babies and that they (me) are not alone. You are brave and a good mom.

First: That blog talk radio on the side is SUPER annoying because it auto plays. (sorry i had to get that outta my system)

Anyway, when you said this:
"It's the breastfeeding and the lack of sleep and the shedding uterus and the stitches and the annoying family and the other kids and the guilt and the lack of sleep and the bleeding nipples and the crying baby that JUST WON'T FUCKING STOP.

And it's the pressure to do your best because you don't want to fuck your kids up from the very beginning because you just can't keep up. "

I thought - My GOD, someone who understands it PERFECTLY.

You hit the nail on the head with that one sweetie. That is EXACTLY how it feels, exactly.

From one mom to another... thank you.

I'm seeing more and more bloggers speaking out about this, and it's wonderful!

Wow, you summed up something I've been trying to explain to friends who are "in the gray" for a few months now. Very good post! Thank you!!

Well this takes me back. Incredibly well said and needed. Thank you. Despite knowing that my mother suffered from PPD for years, it still caught me off guard when I was diagnosed. I could only breast-feed for a month before I had to stop as it was exacerbating the situation. I refuse to feel bad because the end result was a much happier, healthier mother, marriage and baby. Formula-fed and all of us healthy.

Great post. I, too, was stuck in that in between place for way too long after my four year old was born. I knew it wasn't severe enough to qualify for a DSM diagnosis, so I did nothing. It was stupid and irresponsible of me and that's maybe the only thing I really regret from those first two years of her life.

This baby 'round, I insisted on some pharmacological help even though my doctors were dubious. I still have bad days but it's nothing like the despondency I experienced before.

I think much of the problem is we're led to believe that if we need help: advice, a parenting class, a babysitter, hubby to get his butt out of bed once a night... then we're lesser mothers. I know I fall victim to that thinking a lot.

Beautifully said Kristen.
You just brought me back to a place I hope not to visit again.
For me it hit after weaning my second. Only my husband knew and I don't think I've ever felt more alone.

you make my heart hurt. Yes, to all of that. that's totally my theory. Do what you can, and when you can't hand it off. That doesn't mean it's easy, but you have to HAVE TO be 'there' for your kids. God, Kristen.

xo

b.

You rock. From the heart, this post was amazing, just like you. Power to the moms, all of the moms. Let's kick those perfect moms outta our heads and just live. xoxox

You need to read A Little Pregnant's latest post and the comments. She decided to stop breastfeeding at 10 days.

I will always be convinced that if all the people who voiced strong opinions about breastfeeding or sleep issues or parenting decisions with an intent of shaming or angering other women, if those people would spend 90% of their time with their mouths closed and instead offering that time to form a Mothering Community that assists new moms for THE FIRST SIX MONTHS AFTER A CHILD IS BORN - as they do in Amish and Mennonite communities where new moms do nothing but rest as much as they need to for 6 weeks and then a teen girl is sent to live with the mom for the next 6 months to cook, clean and help with chores - then PPD, the blues, depression would be relatively unheard of. Women would breastfeed longer. Women would parent better all around.

Mothering has become a solitary act, and we're just not evolved to thrive that way. That some women have soldiered/suffered through on their own and then judge and hold other women to some standard of perfection of being able to "do it all" makes for a twisted POV; what I believe is happening is that the women who are doing it all on their own and who then openly judge others for not being able to do so are only reacting from a place of anger and sadness and unfairness and *biological outrage* at having been forced to suffer the *indignity* of solitary mothering.

thank you for such an honest post...

You knocked it out of the park with this one! I have 2 under 2 and a husband about to leave for Iraq for a year. Of course being military we are all alone with no friends or family around. It sucks for me, sucks for the kids. My daughter is high maintenance to put it mildly and I have no idea how I will explain daddy being gone for so damn long...thanks for reminding me to catch my breath and let go of some of the guilt!

I think there should be a movement among women to say perfect is out and healthy is in. It's healthy for you and the baby to take the time. Forget those who say we should do it all. Whatever happened to the damned village??

De-lurking for a moment to say AMEN sister!
Must be something in the air but I was thinking about this very subject the other night (wrote about it in my blog too, btw...) These are issues that are particularly relevant to new moms, but unfortunately, they are issues that never really go away. My kids are 10 and 5, and I still find myself struggling daily to balance their needs with my own. I thank the good lord and the good Worldwideweb, for smart voices like yours that provide reassurance to the rest of us that it is normal to feel a bit crazy at times. I enjoy reading your stuff. Thanks for giving us moms a moment of sanity each day.

That's very true--we give up so much of ourselves in the beginning because they need so much from us. I never realized how hard it would be.

Beautiful, true post. Thanks for putting it out there.

Kristen,

long time no lurk! It's good to come back into the blogsphere and see you're still here. Looks like I need to catch up- you have a new husband? OY! Gotta read those back posts.

Regarding your post- I had a friend that fell into that gray area, actually my best friend. She has since digressed into serious depression, alcoholism, had an affair and destroyed her family and has pushed away all her friends. I tried my best to pull her from the abyss, but she has repelled me and her family although we are truly trying to help her. She went to rehab for a short stint, but is back to her old ways.

It is so sad that she didn't get help sooner. I think she suffered from serious PPD after her third child and was undiagnosed for so long, it really fucked up her life.

K - this post made me cry. I was like this with Nate when he was first born. I was sleep deprived and in an insane amount of pain from an unplanned c-section, during which I felt them cut me open until the anesthsiologist knocked me out. My incision kept re-opening. I was struggling to breastfeed and I hated myself because I couldn't do it and I hated having a baby and I hated my husband and my mom and everyone else because it felt like they were judging the whole time. But I tried not to cry around Nate, because deep down I knew that a part of me loved him. I so wanted to be the perfect mommy - who breastfeeds easily on demand, who is always perfectly peaceful. And probably insane underneath it all. Thank you for this post, it really made my day...

You are so right. I turned out just fine and I watched A LOT of TV. No preK crap for me. And I'm getting my PhD. So :P on society that puts too much pressure on Moms.

The post made me want to reach through the computer and hug you, but the comments themselves and how you've touched people are making me cry. This is why what you do here matters.

"If we don't take care of ourselves, then we won't be around to take care of our kids."

The quote that will live on in infamy.

What a powerful post, brilliant, just brilliant. Thank you.

Wow, what a great post! I definitely was in that gray area when I went back to work at 6 wks pp. Wish I would have read something like this during that time.

well said. I am just coming out (hopefully) of my third bout of PPD. I didn't get help the first two times and regret it now. This time I got help right away and it has made a world of difference.

Reading that was like a cleansing breath.
Thank you.

Damn. Where were you when my youngest was first born? I knew I wasn't PPD, but knew something was wrong. I needed this then, as I'm sure many other moms need it now. Thanks for writing it.

Dam this is an amazing post Kristen. The thing that I find hard is that we hide how hard it is from each other for fear of the trolls in life. We spend more energy pretending it is okay than finding help to fix what's not okay.

I've been in the gray before and still kinda am, but I'm done pretending. My kids will live if they eat cereal (or hot dogs with no buns) for dinner some nights, my home doesn't need to be clean and I'm not even going to pretend that I'm going to breastfeed this baby. Because honestly it's fine for him and definitely better for me.

That was really powerful, well done. Women are people, not robots.

Wow-what a wonderful post. I echo your wish for all the moms and moms-to-be to know that they are ok and to be a good mother is not the same as being a perfect one. Perfect doesn't exist.
My boys are 10 and 13 now and I still struggle to take care of myself first. I am pretty sure the depression that I constatnly flirt with now is partly from not taking care of me when they were babies and toddlers.
Thank you for the powerful post. I love reading you every day.

Yes, I was in that hole too. But so many of the solutions (sitter, maid, take out...) involve money that when money is one of your worries, it all gets worse. I waited five months until I could no longer get out of bed, and then I was medicated. I needed help much sooner.

So well stated!
I lived in that gray area and because I never did anything about it it turned into an all out panic attack that forced me to seek help. It truly knocked me on my ass.
Eight years later I still struggle to keep my anxiety in check sometimes and remember to take care of myself first.
There is a reason the flight attendants tell passengers to put the mask on yourself first, then assist young children.
Impossible care for others when you can't breathe.

I resemble this post.

Well said. I have been there - playing with my baby wiping away tears.

It's ok to take care of yourself.

Oh, the gray area, I'm there often. Glad to know that even a mom who seems to have it as together as you do struggles internally with all the shit motherhood throws at us. If only other moms could be open and honest like this then we could help each other through it.

Amen sista! I've already upped the cleaning person to every week and I am considering hiring a post-partum doula, even though, seriously-we cannot afford it...better than me in the looney bin and I told hubs last year that if we had another baby that we would have to hire someone to help, because I just.can't. do. it.myself. (translation:get off your ass honey)

Wow, well-said! I have so been there. Great post!

Bravo!! There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago (wish I could find it and link to it here, but I can't) that said this: per research, the "best" mothers (the ones whose kids grow up healthy, happy, etc.) spend only 30% of their time with their kids. The other 70% of their time is spent on themselves (incl. work) and their marriage.
Something to keep in mind. . .

Man, this is soooooo true. Thank you for saying it out loud.

I also want to add that mothers and motherhood does NOT have to be perfect. We are human, not some crazy worn out robots that are happy to do anything and everything for our kids, even wiping the shit off their ass.

Being perfect also gives our children the wrong idea of what a mother or woman should be.

Okay. I think I'm done now. =)

Thanks for saying it's okay. I knew it was, because it's making me a much better mother, but it sure helps to hear someone say it out loud.

http://notesfromthesleepdeprived.blogspot.com

wish someone had said this to me when i had my kids. Really good post.

can i just say thanks.

really.

thanks.

YES YES YES. I quickly learned that an occasional bottle of formula is FAR less "poisonous" than a crazy, tired, crying mama.

Amen, sister.

I never got help when my kids were babies because I too was in the gray area - and sometimes wish I would have.

Hi!
I'm a long time reader, first time commenter! :) Thank you for this post. I am a PPD survivor. I am one of those women who lived in the middle for a very long time. It's a terrible place to be.
You are so right in every way. Regardless of how bad it may be or may not be, we need to support one another in any and every way possible!

I wasn't a head whacker but I so know where you are coming from. I am so glad that you posted this, many women need to hear that.

Kristen,
I'm delurking to tell you that your words today have made a difference in the life of a dear friend of mine.
Thank you for your honesty and willingness to be so open on this.

Amen to that.

Go Kirsten. Thank you. From another head-whacker (in the physical as well as mental sense of the word). It IS hard, and Mom always seems to come last. A brave post.

Deep down, we know what we need. If only we can drown out the dissenting voices, listen to ourselves, and take care of ourselves.

As always, Kristen, thank you! It IS hard! Thanks for being so open and letting us be more able to admit, too, that no matter how much we love our kids and love being moms...it still can really suck...and we're not along in those tears in the shower and head banging. I'm on a new crusade of trying to take more time for myself (and not feel guilty about it), but it's really hard to make happen sometimes. Necessary, but hard.

I wish I hadn't been so damn hard on myself when my son was born. I suffered horrible PPD and could have definitely enjoyed the baby part of his life more if I had just chilled the hell out.

I don't feel so alone and horrible now. By reading this post and the comments following, I am not the crazy one!

It is so hard to be in that limbo and with nobody directly around you to understand.

Thanks for posting this and allowing us mommies in "gray areas" to realize we are not alone and that we are not weird for being this way.

amen. We do need a community of "You are not a bad mom", in fact that might be an excellent title of a book.

Thanks so much for this. As I sit here holding my 4 day old, wondering how I am going to do "all of this", the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I found, sobbing in the shower works, temporarily. And I understand the husband issue. Just because I planned for this baby, doesn't mean I can't be tired, frustrated, irritable....

Manic Mommy -- For me, the anxiety can be suffocating.

Well said, CarolynOnline.

WELL SAID.

xo people. You rock.

So, I am in the toddler years now and I do the hitting myself in the head thing even now. It's better than cutting, for damn sure.

(and thanks for posting this, I feel a little more... normal now)

YOU here that - that is me clapping ..... THAT was amazing and so much needed to so many moms right now. My daughter is going to be 11 years old in two weeks and I still shudder when I think of most of her first year:(

Thanks

it's blogs like yours that help to shed a little (if not a lot) of light onto a subject many women are afraid to talk about . . . when i was there, in that dark and later grey place, i remember wondering how 'everyone else did it so much better than i did' when in truth they didn't. once i got the courage to confide in someone, it was like opening the floodgates!

thanks again for "keepin' it real".

My youngest is 3.3 and still kicking my ass. I worry constantly about the boys, the house, the food, the family, the husband the dog.......then myself.

Unfortunately, it's not PPD - unless post-partum is still an accurate term three years later. I think the ailment is called 'motherhood.'

Yeah, remember to put your own oxygen mask on first.

Amen!
Thank you for writing this. There are too many out there that are hiding in the dark because they're afraid that they're alone.

Well said.

I'm still in that gray area (where ever the hell that is) and fighting off the urge to feel guilty about all the little things I do to keep myself sane.

Sometimes we just need another mama to give us permission to not be fucking perfect. Thanks for being her today.

Amen sister. My kids aren't babies anymore, but I absolutely kill myself sometimes "doing" for them and everyone else. I work full time and drag myself in some mornings (like today) when I probably should've called in "dead".

They tell you to put your oxygen mask on first but we never do.

Great post. So true.

I absolutely love your blog. You are deceptively "susie cream cheese" looking, but you are so real and I think you are really helping people to know they are not alone.

My kids are grown, but I absolutely remember those days of trying to do it all at the expense of myself.

Keep doing what you are doing!

I completely understand where you are coming from. I have been in that dark, dark hole before (although not PPD) and it sucks. Thanks for posting this.

All I can say is Thank you for this post. *sigh* I really needed it.

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