Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Manic Depression is Catching My Soul*

*With Apologies to Jimi Hendrix.

Help! I'm trapped in the house with a very mobile baby! It has been raining almost every day for the past 3 weeks, and I'm starting to wonder if we've been transported to the Northwest. I love rain, and I'd much rather have it be cool than blazing, but it doesn't help the cabin fever much. Fortunately, this week has been a little better weather-wise, and Penny and I have been able to GET OUT.

But last week, I was struggling.
Penny's Grandma and Grandpa M are in Iceland for 3 weeks, and since they provide Penny's childcare, I haven't been working, except for feeble attempts to check email and write reports at night after Penny goes to bed. I don't like to admit when things aren't going well, but I was really feeling down and I came to the alarming realization that I might actually be missing work. This is the first time I have felt this way. I have never missed work, ever. I know, poor me, right? I only work part time and have family look after my baby while I'm away. Can I even complain? Maybe not, but I'm still going to.

We had fun together the first week. But then I had a birthday (which left me feeling slightly old), my dad left, and the party was over. I was entertaining and chasing Penny 10 hours a day, cooking and cleaning endless messes, tackling the never-ending pile(s) of laundry, while trying not to feel trapped and resentful. And then I felt guilty for having those thoughts. I felt terrible. I tried to go for a walk, but my feet were too heavy. I could barely lift them off the ground and push the stroller forward. I felt like there was an incredible weight pressing down on me. I called my sister, and told her I was worried I might be depressed. I wondered, "Does postpartum kick in this late?"

There are a couple of things going on here. One, Penny is practically weaned, except for one feeding in the morning and one at night, depending on whether or not she's into it. So I think there may be some underlying hormonal issues. Another issue (and I'm delving into my psyche here), is that at work, I feel important. I get reinforcement. I am appreciated. Which isn't to say that I'm not getting that at home, but it's not as overt. I know Penny loves me. She can't say the words yet, but she hugs me and cuddles me, and follows me all over the house because she can't stand to be apart from me. She's going to go from being my constant companion to a surly teenager who thinks I'm the biggest square (and only a square would use that word), and that's going to be hard for me.

Lastly, I'm being furloughed for the month of July, so the state can save money. This means no paycheck (and no work) for me for a month, so Britt is putting in more hours at his job. Some days, I would almost rather have him at home, even it meant less money, just to have him occupy she-who-shrieks-and-flings-food while I make dinner.

Me? Fling food? Never!

Since then, we've had some sun, and I'm realizing now that I'm fine, I'm not clinically depressed, I was just having a rough couple of days. But that was scary. Britt would come home at the end of his 10 hour shift to an exhausted and despondent wife, hoping to catch a glimpse of his sweet baby before her bedtime, and try to feel some empathy for me. But the truth is, we each wanted to trade places with the other person.

B and P in the yard, in the few precious minutes before bedtime.

Before Penny was born, I wasn't sure I wanted to work at all. Now I'm realizing that working part time is the right compromise for me. But that doesn't make me immune to all of the subsequent conflicting feelings.


sharnee said...

Awwwwww, I know how you feel - I swear that I could have written some of that myself. Thanks for the nice comment on my post too by the way. It's not nice that you feel so crappy but I am almost glad it's not just me that's feeling these kinds of things.
Shitty weather is hard to deal with too - cabin fever isn't much fun.
Also.. re: important, re-enforcement, appreciated - yeah again I know how you feel. I guess our babies growing up happy and healthy is proof enough of this. It's just hard that they don't say it like a boss would. I'll take a baby over a boss anyday though.

w. wilson said...

Katie, I appreciate your honesty. I also wanted to add that the first couple of weeks I am home full-time (in the summer) suck. It's a big transition, and we both no being a true stay at home parent is not an easy gig.

Sheree, J, + j said...

Is it wierd that you described how I felt when Jack was Penny's age, and I'm a guy? It does get easier as they learn to entertain themselves. Hang in there! (Jason)

Lo said...

Jason's right. And Pretty Penny's probably a little hyped by the good fortune of having gal-pal mommy home all the time.
Just roll with it. This, too, really will pass (always happy to help you with a platitude, friend).

April said...

I don't know if you remember, but I really struggled with weaning Gray. I think it's the end of something you love doing, as well as your hormones getting all wacky that causes it. It passes pretty quickly, although it doesn't make it any easier at the time! Good job for nursing her for a YEAR!!!

Alisha said...

She looks very much like a small person in that top picture. Not a baby anymore. *sniff* They grow up so fast!