in the late, late, late night.

In the late, late, late night anxiety whispers to me, it’s voice feather quiet and razor sharp.

You don’t get to keep him. He won’t stay long. He is to precious for this world. He will be leaving you soon.

This is different than the anxiety I suffered from earlier, a World War Two air raid siren screaming through my head THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN! THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN!

The baby was not in the oven. He was safe in my arms, sleeping peacefully and making the sweetest sighs and little smacky nursing noises.

But it rang through my soul with an urgency of absolute fact that it was happening. THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN! THE BABY IS IN THE OVEN!

Again, the baby was NOT in the oven.

That same baby, now seven months old is sleeping – for the moment anyway- in his crib, tucked in the next room which seems miles away. He is safe. I hear his sleepy sighs over what his big brother calls the ‘momnitor’. And I lay there with these steely whispers in my head.

You don’t get to keep him. Anxiety whispers again.  He won’t stay long. He is too precious for this world. He will leave you soon. And worst lie of all: It will be your fault.

I’m watching Law and Order in the late, late, late night. Anxiety not only whispers but it wakes and won’t let me rest. I hear the character say “He was doing so well. On his meds but then he thought he didn’t need them anymore and went off of them” An often used plot device I used to find amusing. Who would stop taking medicine that was making them so…normal? Then I realized, I haven’t taken mine in days.

I didn’t make a decision to stop taking it. I just…forgot.

It happens every so often, as I am pretty open about my struggle with postpartum anxiety, that someone will say with a heavy sigh and not a small amount of judgement “I just wish you could have tried meditation or something before you turned to those drugs.” I want to scream out, but I just try to think of Jesus. Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.

I wonder how well it would go over if I said to someone who had, say, a kidney problem “I just wish you could have tried meditation or something before you turned to drugs” or asthma “Do you REALLY need drugs for that? Can’t you just do yoga or something? Why don’t you try acupuncture, I mean do you really need those life saving drugs that let you be present for your children, participate in your life and laugh and smile again?”

Forget judgement. Screw judgement. I have postpartum anxiety, which means something in my brain is misfiring, my body is releasing adrenaline incorrectly. Our brains are our bodies, it isn’t a mental illness. It’s just an illness.

I reach over and thankfully take my pill. This little pill which let’s me be me. Then I hear the baby waken, hear his sweet mewling cry and the beginnings of speech- the mamamama. Gratefully I pull back the covers and hurry to his room, scooping him up, kissing his sleep warm cheek and stealing the heavenly scent of his freshly washed hair. We settle into the rocking chair and I tell myself he is here, he is safe, he is staying.

I thank God for him. And for Zoloft.


19 thoughts on “in the late, late, late night.

  1. My stomach turned reading this.
    Brought back so many memories from when my son was just a newborn. Those thoughts are vicious.
    I take medications and still do. I am not ashamed of it. I have to. I need to.
    It angers me when people tell me things just as you mentioned above. Those are all great as adjunct therapies but for me, medication was absolutely needed.
    Kudos for posting this.
    It gets better. I promise
    Giant hugs.

  2. My heart dropped when I read those words your anxiety speaks to you. Those thoughts come unbidden to me somehow, sometimes (infrequently, but they do), where I think the worst, and my heart speeds up and I can’t breathe.

    And I don’t have postpartum anxiety. So I know it must be hard for you. Thank goodness for those life saving meds.

  3. As the parent of a diabetic child, you have no idea what a chord this struck with me. How often have we heard of this root, or that plant, or some other half-brained idea that Type 1 diabetes can be cured?!?! There is no cure, people! There is treatment. So you treat yourself the way you need to, love.

    No condemnation here. The baby is not in the oven. Keep telling yourself that!

  4. I thank God for zoloft, or prozac or whatever too. Jer wouldn’t be able to function in this world without it. I’m glad you have it to take and that it can calm your anxieties. So sorry you have to deal with those.

  5. The Feminist Breeder just wrote about a similar problem over on her blog. I don’t get it why treating a medical condition can illicit such judgmental responses from others. Do what is right for you and your babies. I’m glad that there is help!

  6. You keep at it Mama! And remember Huck is not leaving you! That is until some biotch girl tricks him into marriage but that’s a long time from now and then? You’ll always be his favorite and instead of Zoloft? I’ll buy you a drink!

  7. Really important post. Thanks for writing it. I had the same conversation with myself when my son was diagnosed with ADHD. I wished he was diagnosed with a medical condition instead of a neuro one because then there would be no choice, no conversation about whether or not to medicate. You are brave for being so open about this.

  8. I know I have said it before….WOW! This was amazingly beautiful. Your voice is so very smooth and moving. It has a way of smoothly moving into my heart and making a powerful point. You cadance and pace are beautiful and strong. Your message is meaningful and impactful. You opened your heart, showed us a piece of you, took us into your world, showed us what we really know … how beautiful you are with your warmth, deep love and helped us understand this illness with a moving and advocating message. Thank you!!! -LV MWAH

  9. I thank God I wasn’t too proud or foolish to not take Zoloft. As it is, I have no plans to get off it; it has made these past 2 months livable. Echoing others: you are brave for your openness.

  10. Welcome to the real world, where people everywhere need help and support of one kind or another to make it thru life from day to day. Those who say they can do it on their own are NOT real. Your post is so quietly and surely written, delivering a much-needed message to us all…judge not, that ye be not judged. I’m leaving now to go to the pharmacy. My meds ran out and I need refills so I don’t fall over puking in vertigo from Menier’s. My meds let me live a pretty normal life and I really NEED them. 🙂

  11. I fought against taking medication during my post-partum anxiety – my psychiatrist was supportive and met with me twice a week instead. It was hell. In retrospect, he did me a disservice by not trying to show me how much it would help. All the signs were there – I had been medicated successfully before and in fact WAS taking medication when I got pregnant. I stopped because that particular medication is not good to take in pregnancy, but I could have and should have gone on something else.

    I spent so much time fighting the thoughts that I was robbed of my daughter’s babyhood. I left her twice a week with a complete stranger from CCAC – a nice enough woman but a stranger none the less – so I could attend my appointments which mainly focused on why I was so angry in my life – which is what my psychiatrist thought was leading to the thoughts.

    I had images, flashes of thought/images, of suffocating my kids with plastic bags. I spent the better part of the first year terrified of myself. Everyone that I confided in reassured me that I would never act on the thoughts, but I was not convinced that I wouldn’t someday have a psychotic break and wake up later with two dead children.

    My memories of that time are all negative. Me ignoring the kids so I could go on the Intrusive Thoughts forum on the Post Partum Anxiety website, desparatly looking for reassurance that I was not a monster. Me ashamed of my thoughts and my inability to control them. Me feeling bad, evil, guilty – what a waste of a year.

    I DID eventually go on medication, about two years after her birth, because my pyschiatrist eventually went crazy himself. He began missing appointments and telling me his problems. I stopped seeing him and told my doctor about it. She immediately put me on medication and reported him to the college.

    The medication helped, but I never got true relief until she switched my medication – six years after my duaghter’s birth – to Clomipramine. It is like night and day. I am very grateful for the new medicaiton , and I am now trying to work through my anger and resentment that I didn’t do this sooner.

    So – all that to say – YES! YES, please DO accept medication if you are having nasty thoughts. No one has to suffer through it.

    • Sue, I can’t thank you enough for sharing. What an incredibly open and honest comment you’ve left. I am SO grateful that you did eventually find what works for you. (whoa about your doctor!) Let go of your anger at yourself. Every day you blame yourself is another day you miss with your beautiful daughter. I had to work through being angry with myself for missing the first 18 months of my son’s life…I don’t remember lots of it and most of what I do remember is utter panic that he would die, horrible visions. I thank my GP every day who randomly asked how I was and got me to talk.
      There’s a saying “anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”, the other person in this scenario being past you.
      Thank you so, so much for sharing. Truly.

  12. Pingback: Mid-Week Balance: 1 February 2012

  13. I’m not a mother, yet, but this is one of my biggest worries/fears is dealing with all that can come with postpartum. Thank you for being so open and honest about your struggles. I’m sure it helps you to get it out and it helps all of us to understand, and helps others dealing with the same issues. You rock! ox

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