Wednesday, November 23, 2011

U is for 'Unpredictable'

When you think of the word thankful, negatives don’t usually come to mind. All the stress, bad luck, hardships and heartbreak are not usually the first things you think of. When I found out I was pregnant my whole world changed.  My once very predictable life changed tenfold.  Needless to say I was far from ready for it.  I wasn’t ready for the UNPREDICTABLE battle I was about to endure.

I found out I was pregnant in January a few years back; I had just gotten back from a girls weekend out of town. I had been taking a test a few days before my expected period for almost 6 months, only to have a negative every time. My husband and I were not preventing pregnancy. When I took the test I treated it as it was already going to be a negative like all the tests I had taken before. So I left it on the counter and went about my daily routine. I was shocked to get that + sign when I finally looked at the test! I was pregnant; I was going to be a mom! It was my dream come true. The only thing I had wanted in life since I could remember was to be a mom.  I had all these images of being this perfect mom, always put together and the mom other moms wanted to be. I was going to do it all, be the best mom and wife I could be, I wasn’t going to raise my voice to my kid, lose my temper or anything. (Go ahead and laugh) I would have this perfect family. I sailed through pregnancy and even had an easy labor, and delivery. I had this mom thing down….it wasn’t till my daughter was actually in my arms that I was hit with reality.

I didn’t love my baby the moment they laid her on my chest. I didn’t love her the first time I nursed her. I didn’t love her the entire time we were in the hospital. The feelings of overwhelming love didn’t arrive until we were home from the hospital. For a very long time I felt so guilty that I felt so indifferent about my child. I still cannot explain why I didn’t feel that immediate bond. It obviously did eventually show up and we were inseparable. Part of the reason we were inseparable was because I was also the only one who could calm her, I was breastfeeding, I was stay at home mom, I was everything to her and it was exhausting.  My husband turned out to be not as hands on and as involved as I thought he would be.  There were many nights I would be upstairs consoling a crying baby while he was downstairs with the TV louder than normal to drown her cries. That created a lot of resentment and anger towards him. He had every excuse on why he “couldn’t” help. He couldn’t feed her because I was nursing, he hated the cloth diapers and he had no idea how to use a baby carrier even though I had showed him countless times how to use it. Our marriage grew strained and we started to fight all the time. I wanted to go to marriage counseling and he wanted me to get on medication for depression so he didn’t have to get “yelled at all the time.”  He would ignore my “honey-do” lists and requests for help around the house stating because he went out and worked, and I stayed home the housework was my job.

Along with a strained marriage, also came a very strong willed infant/toddler; I won’t call her difficult, instead I will use “spirited.” She tested my patience like no one else had done before. I unfortunately often got furious at her for certain small misbehaviors. I took a lot of stress out on her.  I was exhausted, I couldn’t wait to hand her off to my husband and escape to the grocery store or target and wander up and down every aisle just for time alone. I was beginning to dislike my own child. I loved her, but I didn’t like her. She was so well behaved for other people but with me she was a monster. She didn’t sleep; she would wake up every 45 minutes to an hour every night. My husband would not get up with her and if I made him it usually ended up in a huge fight, which would last for a few more hours. My dreams of being this perfect wife and mother were shattered and I felt defeated.

On top of that I hadn’t gotten use to my post baby body. I didn’t have the time or the energy to put any thought into my wardrobe. I wore stained t-shirts, jeans or sweatpants every day threw my unwashed hair into a pony tail and skipped make up all together. This only caused me more anxiety because before kids I would never leave the house without my hair done and wearing at least mascara.

I reached out to people who were also moms, went on online forums trying to make connections. I still didn’t know anyone in our area even though I had lived here now for almost 3 years. The friendships I found with other moms were not true friendships. There was always the competition of whose kid did this or they always seemed to try to “one-up” each other. And the gossip and trash talking that went on was unbearable. I fell into their toxic pattern and my stress mounted. If I shared personal struggles with one of them all of a sudden all of them knew my business.  I was no better. I gossiped about them as well.  I eventually couldn’t take it anymore and my “friends” and I had a falling out. I was back to being an isolated stay at home mom with a child I didn’t even like, and a marriage to a man I didn’t even know, who I couldn’t talk to about all these things because his solution was always the same, get on drugs for depression.

I hit my breaking point last year. I was going to have surgery for a double hernia. Because my husband was so uninvolved in our lives I had to have my mom come in from out of state to drive me to the hospital and to take care of me afterwards. She stayed the weekend and then took my daughter back home with her, while I recovered because my husband refused to take off any work to care for me or our child. So when my mom left for home that Sunday I was on my own for a whole week, learning how to move to not cause myself pain, getting my meds, preparing my meals and cleaning up after not only myself but my husband as well.  It hurt too much to cry, so I didn’t even though I missed my daughter (it was the first time I had ever spent the night away from her let alone a whole week from her.) I was on a strict no lifting for two weeks, but our daughter was only going to be gone for one of those weeks. So when she came home I still couldn’t lift her. It killed me that I couldn’t pick her up or take care of her how I wanted to. What made it worse was the lack of help. That’s when I decided I had had enough.

I made my husband go to a marriage counselor. I even had him pick the counselor out. I told him it was counseling or I walked. He made it through 2 sessions before he decided he didn’t need to go anymore. I was the one with the problems and I still needed to be heavily medicated for severe depression. So at the beginning of this year I took my daughter and we left. We went home to my parents. Two weeks later he asked me to come back. I did thinking he would change. We continued to fight, it didn’t matter when or where, in front of our daughter we would scream at each other. He would tell me he wished he could hit me. He would call me every name in the book and tell me how worthless I was. He accused me of cheating on him, lying and stealing from him. I was a horrible mother and wife. I had failed. I had failed at the one thing I ever wanted and it killed me. I had a child I disliked, I had a husband who I didn’t know and didn’t love me and I had nowhere to go but back to my parents. I had no friends to help me (I shouldn’t say no friends, I do have a few that have been amazing support and you know who you are!)

My daughter and I have been through hell and back in her short life. I have so many parenting regrets that I can never take back. She is still a spirited child, but since I made the choice to leave permanently she has become a whole different person (I truly believe now that she was acting out and feeding off the stress of her father and I) I love her and she is my whole world. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without her. I am slowly becoming the mom I want to become. I don’t yell as much (work in progress) I am learning to be independent and to manage life as a single parent. Luckily I have the support of my family (who were a state away before).

 When I look back at my life as a parent I don’t dwell on the negative, on the hardship and strife. I am actually very thankful for them. I am thankful that these last few years happened. I am so thankful for the UNPREDICTABLE life that was thrown at me when I entered mommy hood. Without it I wouldn’t be so strong and independent. Without it I wouldn’t have found who I am as a person, without these last years I wouldn’t be a mom. Without the UNPREDICTABLES that come when you become a parent I would have never been strong enough to stand up for myself and my child. I would have never discovered who my true friends were.  I would have never chased my dreams and found my voice. I know there is a lot ahead of us still, and life won’t be easy as a single mom, but instead of fearing the unknown and the future I am embracing the UNPREDICTABLE knowing that I have the strength to forge ahead for my daughter and me. 

Submitted by an Anonymous Guest

1 comment:

Emily Schultz said...

I want to hug you, dear momma. I can't imagine the pain of not having the person who is supposed to be your partner and co-parent even show his family basic compassion. You are so strong.