After my daughter was born, I struggled. A lot. There was anxiety and fear. Feelings of being so overwhelmed and incapable. And there was crying. Oh there was so much crying. In her first weeks of life I am certain that I cried more than she did.
And though the struggles began to wane as she neared her fourth month, they didn’t completely dissipate until we neared her first birthday.
Yet, when I went to my postpartum appointment six weeks after pushing her out, I was all smiles. It was a good day. The nurses greeted me with congratulations and smiles and repeated remarks about how great I looked. My Mom was at home with my girl and had plans to babysit for us the next evening. Life, for that week anyway, was looking up. I don’t even remember if the doctor asked me how I was doing but, if she did, I’m sure I answered confidently with a smile.
This time, I have not struggled. Much. I’ve had my rough day here and there. Who doesn’t? And I don’t feel great about every interaction I have with my daughter right now, or every hour we’ve had with my son. But I have the gift of experience. I know that today’s tough day is tomorrow’s memory. And next year, when I look back, the pain of this difficult time will fade and I’ll be left with the lessons I’ve learned and the good memories we’ve made.
Yet, when I went to my postpartum appointment this week, I struggled. When my doctor asked, not as a check-up item but as a part of pre-check-up idle chat, how it was with two kids now, I nearly melted. I felt the tears brimming in my eyes. But I smiled and eked out an ‘It’s ok.’
“Busy, isn’t it?”
“Really busy!” I sighed.
“But,” I continued, “I know it get’s better.”
Because that’s what I do. I focus on the positive. I convince others that I am OK.
“That’s the great thing about the second!” my doctor replied, “You know it gets better!”
I smiled and nodded. She did her exam and less than five minutes later, I was on my way out the door.
And, you know, I really am ok. My appointment landed at the tail end of a pretty rough morning. Crying and screaming and tantrums on the way to school. The realization that I’m now on the path back to work and it’s time to begin sorting out schedules and hours and preparing to return to my packed days and incredibly tight routines. It weighed on me that morning. M and I have since talked it all out and though I’m still anxious and nervous about work and weary of crying and tantrums, I know I can handle it and we’re working through. I don’t feel tears hiding behind my eyes, threatening to fall. I’m OK.
But what if I wasn’t?
What if I wasn’t ok? What if I still felt like crying? And what if I’d been crying for weeks? And what if I simply didn’t want to bring that up to my doctor yesterday? Because I was scared or ashamed or simply didn’t know that I could feel better? Or because I was having a good day amongst the bad?
What if I needed her to be looking for the signs?
I wonder these things. I wonder because I know there are women out there who weren’t ok. Who aren’t ok. Who need help but aren’t asking for one reason or another.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. But these ‘what-ifs’ are bouncing around in my mind. What if I needed help?
What do you do when the what-ifs turn into what now?