Sunday, February 3, 2008

Letting Go

Since it took me so long to be able to have kids, I spent the first eight years out of highschool examining and harshly judging my friends.

I had a looooong list of things I would "Never do!"

One of them was take my babies out in public in just a onsie or a diaper. And I am proud to say I never did.

I swore I would never take my kids to the store without socks when they were babies and I never did, then later as they got older... without shoes, and I never did.

I swore my child would never be seen with snot caked under his nose and they never were.

I swore I would never go to the store in Pajama pants and I failed. I went to Walmart in pajama pants at 4 am to get rick rack of all things to complete a craft project. I was in and out of there so fast I was a blur. I saw only two people, one of whom was the cashier, and I was totally mortified that I was seen in public in my pajama pants (Which incedentally are NEVER worn as actual pajama's, just comfy hanging around the house pants).

And most of all, I SWORE to the very depths of my soul that I would never let myself go. After the twins were born, I drove myself to the brink of suicide (literally) trying desperately to maintian the appearance that I had it all together. The truth was, I didn't have it all together. I was hanging on by a thread. I felt like a miserable failure and had a deep fear that I didn't really know what I was doing and was going to mentally and emotionally scar my young offspring. I felt like the world was tilting at a crazy angle and it was all I could do to hang on for the ride.

But the good news was, no one had any idea. I would go out in public with my beautiful boys in their charmingly matching outfits. In their pristine stroller, with their coordinating blankets and me, I never had a hair out of place, my make up was always perfect, I never had snot on my sleeve or caked babyfood stuck to the thigh of my pants. I was the model of the perfect mother.

Only I wasn't. I had set the bar too high and it was exhausting trying to keep up the charade. I made up for this by letting my house go. I wouldn't let anyone come over because my house was a hovel and my kitchen could have probably been declared a toxic waste depository. But hey, the minute I walked out that door, I was the stepford mother.

Then one day, it was too much, I couldn't face one more day of trying to keep up appearances and I nearly gave my family their worst nightmare come true. I planned to kill myself. I was all set to go. I had a bathtub full of lukewarm water (All the better to stop the clotting you know) and a serrated knife sitting on the edge (Clean slices are easier to repair if caught in time, I didn't want any repairs, I was ready for this all to be over.)

Now the sad thing is... I had hinted to my OB on multiple occasions that I wasn't holding up very well. Granted, this wasn't my normal OB, Dr. Hull who is one of the most amazing men I have ever known, nope, not him, he was in a tragic accident shortly after my twins were born, we were still in the hospital when he ended up at the same hospital fighting for his life after breaking his kneck. No, this was the NEW OB that I had to see for all my follow up appointments after I was released from the hospital. His answer to my distressed admissions of being massively overwhelmed and feeling like I was falling apart....."Oh, you just had twins and a life altering illness, it's normal to feel this way!" "Ummm yeah idiot, thanks to you I could have been dead by now, thanks for totally blowing me off!"

So there I was, kneeling infront of my five month old twins, feeling like I had let them down and that they should have been born to another mother, any mother but me (I still feel this way from time to time). And at that very moment, another of the many miracles in my life occured. My tiny, very sick, massively premature infant son smiled at me for the very first time. I had been ready to throw all this away, walk away like it had never existed? What was I thinking???

I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the phone and called the only person I could think of to call in my greatest hour of need. The second, most amazing doctor I have known in my life Dr. Rebecca Levine, my chilren's pediatrician! She told me to grab my kids, put them in a car and come to her office RIGHT NOW! I did as I was told and we got there in record time.

Her nurse took the babies and Dr. Levine took me into a patient exam room where I proceeded to sob out my emotions. She listened. She cared, and she saved my life. She gave me resources, medication, and the phone number of a counselor.

Down a long and emotional road I learned that not only did I have post partum depression and post partum phsychosis (Let me tell you some time of the halluciantions I had regarding my children, I could write horror movies about the things my mind saw, I kid you not) but I also had post traumatic stress disorder from the whole pregnancy/birth ordeal.

Anyway... all of this to say that I have learned the hard way that setting the bar too high, is only setting myself up for failure. If I set goals I have no hope of acheiving, how do I expect to feel when I fail?

With that being said... I have totally let myself go. I have been known to leave the house on many occasions wearing no makeup at all save mascara *gasp*. I have been known to go all day without doing my hair. Especially now, while trying to grow it out, it looks awful, but I refuse to judge myself harshly based on the fact that my hair isn't curled and I don't have blush on.

I have learned that there are many things in life more important that looking my very best and giving the best impression 24/7.

My kids know beyond doubt that they are my greatest joy. That everything I do, I do for them.

I may not always look my absolute best, I may not always have a spotless home, but my kids have a mother who cherrishes them and I hope that some day they can appreciate that, because they came very close to having something entirely different.

So on this day, I am thanking God for the two doctors in my life who gave more than medical aid. They gave love, support, and an open door when I needed one most.

To Dr. Hull, you are one of the most amazing people I have ever known. Your strength and courage inspires me. You make me want to be a better person than I am.

To Dr. Levine, thank you for all the times you listened to me, gave me advice, shared your life with me and made me laugh. I consider you a friend and a guardian angel.

PS, I have to add that at one point, we were at my grandmother's house and I was having a particularly bad weekend. My mother asked me what on earth was wrong with me and I burst into tears and told her I was unhappy, I felt like a failure, and I wanted to kill myself.

Her response was "Oh Jeanette! You are being ridiculous, if you would just think happy you would feel much better and quit being so upset all the time."

Mom... I love you, you are my best friend, but that little piece of sage advice STINKS! If I ever have the guts to tell you again that I want to kill myself, please take me seriously and try to help me, thinking happy doesn't really work, trust me, I have tried it. I truly wanted to die that day and you let me down and made me feel like I was wasting your time.