Sprout is two months old today, and I am happy to report, I think we can officially say the Delirious Early Days are over. Phew.
I say The First Six Weeks Are The Hardest, like a mantra, to myself and others, so often, it becomes (more than) a little cliché. And when you are in those six weeks, it is beyond cliché, well into trite, and mostly just not believable. Some days (nights... usually the nights...) it feels like everything is the hardest forever and ever and nothing will ever be easy again and how could you ever have thought that anything was easy about anything ohmygoshwhenwillthisend.
And then it’s week seven, and you finish feeding one kid, and then you feed the other, and you smile at your husband over your breakfast cuppa, and the smile feels Real. And a little angel chorus sounds somewhere quietly behind your head (is that a glow?) Or maybe that’s just the oxytocin and sleep deprivation singing... cuz the sleep deprivation don’t stop. Y’all know that.
Here’s the Good: for the most part, in a very loose and general way, the Delirious Early Days were easier this time. I wasn’t healing from stitches, and Sprout is easy to breastfeed – these things are Revolutionary. Also, we didn’t have the crash course in Baby Logistics – babies are blessedly all pretty much the same, you feed/clothe/change/clean them in pretty much the same way. So, we weren’t floundering around feeling baffled by the complex technology of diapering. Go us. And then, of course it helped that I was expecting the Crazy, so it didn’t sneak up on me. I knew the hormone crash out would come. I knew it would be like PMS times a bajizzillion for ever-too-long. (Although, I did kind of fool myself for a few days into thinking it wasn’t going to happen. But the birth endorphins and adrenaline did eventually run out, and it all came crashing down. What a lovely layer to add to the Delirium – realizing you were only lying to yourself) So. In hindsight, yes, it was easier the second time, but I’m not gonna test it and see if it gets ever easier with a third...
Here’s the Bad: I found this time the hormonal crash-out manifested quite differently. With Bean, I primarily became weepy and hopeless feeling. Very sadsack, in my sticky clothes and weak body, feeling pathetically incompetent at motherhood. This time, there was all of that and also anger. A lot of anger. I mean, this should not surprise me, because it really is just PMS on overdrive. In a non-reproductive cycle, the hormones that sustain the build-up of the uterine lining stop being produced, which tells your body to menstruate. In pregnancy, you make bucketloads more of those hormones, to sustain the pregnancy/placenta, and when the baby leaves, the buckets of hormones leave. And you bleed, on overdrive; and you get irrationally emotional, on overdrive. So, I was really peevy and tetchy and angry. Here is where you feel bad for Papa Bean, because he bore the brunt of this.
I imagine the Delirium preys upon each mother’s particular insecurity. For example, if you have a lot of insecurity about your looks, your DEDs might contain a lot of anxiety re: the havoc wreaked upon your body by growing and expelling a human. For me, my insecurities centre on feeling Good Enough, creating much anxiety about not being Good Enough, and in fact being distinctly insufficient. This time, I also found the feelings of incompetence were magnified by having two children; I felt like I was failing both of them. Even though the Baby Logistics are the same, Sprout is still a different baby than Bean (duh.) She cries differently, she burps differently, she sleeps differently. And everything she did not quite the same as Bean made me feel like I knew nothing about raising a baby¸ and that made me sad and scared and pitiful.
At the same time, we are taking a crash course in Toddler Logistics –new feeding/clothing/toileting/cleaning/communicating/disciplining/etc. needs that are a mystery to discover with each new day. And I didn’t get to put that on pause just because I’m trying to figure out a new little beastlet. This led to many moments of feeling pulled, physically and emotionally, between opposing demands that could not be simultaneously satisfied. And toddlers aren’t good at the concept of Waiting. Leaving me feeling like his needs were too frequently sacrificed for hers, but I felt like Newborn trumped Firstborn, or something, I don’t know. I just felt like I was failing them. (I still feel this, but not in the intensely overwrought way that Delirium produces.)
Here’s the Ugly: I became convinced that people wanted to see me fail. I was sure that everyone else felt I was as incompetent as I felt myself to be, and that any sign of weakness or challenge or overwhelmedness would confirm this to them. And they would gloat. And be happy in my failure. And I was bound and determined not to give them the satisfaction. Contributing to the anger mentioned above. But also leading to me thinking they might be right. And then contributing to me imposing upon myself a great deal of isolation. Which was not helpful. Leading to Papa Bean suggesting I seek treatment for PPD. Which was not all that off base. And I am grateful to him for the suggestion. But I think we're out of the proverbial woods now.
Yes, I believe the Ugly has passed (phew) along with the Bad (yay) and the Good was, well, Good as Delirious Early Days can be, so I hereby declare me Free From Delirium, forever and ever. Amen. Thank-you all, especially Papa Bean, for surviving it with me.