Ways to Escape

There was a moment about a month ago when I realized, while making the half-mile walk from the train to my front door, that I wasn’t dreading coming home.

And as each subsequent day passed by, and with each new picture I printed out and posted in my office, I really and truly found myself looking forward to walking in the door to see Abigail.

It wasn’t until I felt that excitement to go home did I realize I hadn’t been feeling excitement in relation to my child at all. And only then did I realize that the postpartum depression had lifted.

Few things are harder to admit than that up until recently I dreaded going home to my daughter. I always loved her, but it was hard to feel excited. I can’t begin to tell you how many times people at work came up to me to ask me if I was wishing I was home, every single last one of them assuming that I wanted to be with Abigail. And, you know, it’s not an off-base thing for them to assume, of course. But I was perfectly happy and content, and while being in the office was at first an adjustment, I was happy to have some place else to go.

I’ve learned only recently what a connection colic and postpartum depression have with each other, and how it’s not at all surprising that women with “fussy babies” are more likely to develop PPD than not. Abigail’s hours of screaming, for two months straight, were just life-altering for us. And for someone like me, who clings to routine and schedule and order, it could not have been a more terrifying wrench thrown into what was an already terrifying time. I was tired, sad, unfilled and scared.

I knew back then that the only way out of it was through it, even if I didn’t know when or how that would happen. I knew I had to lift from my days as many good moments as possible because I’d never get back that time, and there was no way I’d start her time on this planet with no good memories, no good stories. I would charge on. I would get on with it already.

And so I have.

When Abigail was born and in the subsequent weeks, everything connected with my daughter was painful. It’s not just that it was fuzzy or clouded with a lack of sleep. It was painful and sad. I have moments, and not-so-coincidentally when Abigail is at her most hot-tempered and displeased with the injustices of not getting her own way at every millisecond, when I wonder if she’s, well, the way she is, because I wasn’t loving enough or patient enough or simply was weighed down by so much sadness. In saner moments, I know that there is little my postpartum depression did to effect my girl’s personality: she is, without a doubt, to quote my dad, a little stick of dynamite by her own accord. I can’t take any credit for her disposition, other than there was little chance any child of mine was going to take this journey passively.

And of course most days? Every day? Oh, I couldn’t be more pleased to be the mother of such a spitfire of a girl.

And therein lies the improvement. I am not emotionally wrecked day in, day out, by the act of parenting this girl, but see the joy instead. Her screams don’t knock me over into the proverbial black hole. These days I roll my eyes and tell her to suck it up already when she goes into a full-blown tantrum. I have to figure out a more constructive method of discipline for when she’s older, I know, but for now this approach keeps me from turning inside out when she doesn’t get her way and expresses it in the only way she knows how.

Today I physically ached at having to leave Abigail for the day. Yesterday she was baptized and our friends and family – all of these amazing, splendid, generous, loving, boisterous, crazy people – came to bear witness. We had nearly 50 people in our home after, and at one point I stood out on our back porch to see kids teeming all over the place, their parents sitting in lawn chairs with drinks in hand. The chaos was unreal. And awesome.

Both the deacon who baptized Abigail, as well as my father, mentioned yesterday about how it truly takes a village to raise a child. I’ve heard that phrase so often I’ve lost track, and I know it’s a cliche, but there we were, surrounded by our village, and I knew that each one of those people had helped us, helped me, helped Abigail, get to this state of grace. I couldn’t help but be moved to tears by all of the love we’ve been shown.

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.- 1 Corinthians 10:13

I am grateful beyond measure for the blessings of our loved ones, who helped me over and out and through, so that the best part of my days now are with my girl.