The other day I advertised that I was doing “so much better,” and that is true. Still, there are ways in which things are bad.
I knew I wanted to introduce this post with these two sentences. Now I am at a loss. I’ve been staring at the screen for the last 10 minutes trying to figure out how to proceed. There’s so much to say, and it’s all so much harder to put into words.
For the last couple months I’ve carefully considered how much of my joyride with postpartum depression to disclose. There are things I just cannot share. They’re too personal. These things make me look bad, or crazy, or both. Or maybe they don’t, but I’m still too sensitive to invite judgement.
Yet it’s important to me to remain genuine. I want enough of the ugly to shine through in case someone else suffering from postpartum depression stumbles on my blog. I want that person to feel a little less alone. For God’s sake, I want a little something good to come out of this mess.
So how about this for starters? Remember when I casually mentioned that I have intense anxiety over Ruby’s developmental progress? Let’s talk some more about that.
Obviously I worry about whether Ruby is meeting all her developmental milestones. But not because I worry about a little delay. I worry that she will never acquire a particular skill.
Lately, I’ve fixated on her vocal development. She just doesn’t seem especially vocal. I remember her cooing some a few months ago, but now she mostly only grunts or grumbles when she’s tired. She doesn’t ooh and aah like my cousin’s baby who’s two months younger. So I worry. I worry that she won’t learn to make consonant sounds and that she won’t start babbling. I worry that she won’t say her first words or begin forming simple sentences. I worry that she will never talk.
We were giving her a bath the other day. My husband was singing a narrative of the operation when it hit me. Straight in the gut. I felt immediately sick to my stomach. I could feel my blood pressure rise, and started to sweat. What if she never sings? Singing has been such a huge and influential part of my life. What if she is never able to sing?
This is just one example. As soon as she learns how to do something I fixate on the next milestone. What if she never talks? What if she never walks? What if she is unable to form relationships?
I can’t picture her as anything other than a 5 month old baby. I can’t imagine her ever playing on a playground, going to school, driving a car or getting married. I don’t let myself because I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. What if she never does these things?
The worst part is I have pieced together a way in which it will be all my fault, should any of these what ifs come to be. The guilt is crushing. I feel as if I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, for everyone to realize what a horrible mother and person I am.
The only way to be sure I am not horrible is for her to develop normally. Something that will take years and years. I have, in essence, fabricated an endless anxiety loop for myself. If I take a step back and survey the damage, I actually have to applaud my genius.