It was a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon when Bentley made his grand entrance into this world. One of those days that chills you to the bone. Makes you want to curl up in bed and not be bothered. I look back now and can’t help but wonder if it was a sign of things to come.
Bentley was a long-awaited blessing, a prince born into a family of all girls. The first boy to make his debut in my family since my father in 1965. My labor and delivery were normal and Bentley was absolutely perfect. The spitting image of his daddy but with platinum blonde hair reminiscent of an angel’s halo. Words could not express the overwhelming love I felt for my son.
I spent the customary three days in the hospital, recovering from labor and delivery, being woken up three times a night for blood pressure checks, Tylenol for the postpartum contractions and my husband snoring away on the pullout bed beside me. Still, I was happy. Bentley was an absolute joy. He was so quiet and subdued, not to mention beautiful.
The longer we stayed in the hospital the happier I felt. I was thrilled to introduce him to his big sisters and could not wait to bring him home. This time it would be perfect. Finally, we were financially stable enough for me to be a stay-at-home mom, something I longed for when my girls were born. I had this image of “Suzy Homemaker” in my mind. I would be supermom. I would be actively involved in every aspect of my children’s lives. I would keep a clean house and have dinner on the table when my husband arrived home from work. I would do it all.
I remember my husband going to get the car out of the parking garage to pick us up on the day of discharge. I sat perched on the side of my hospital bed with swollen ankles, tired eyes and Bentley in my lap. A smile plastered on my face was just a hint at the euphoria I was feeling deep inside. I was proud as they wheeled Bentley and me down to the hospital lobby, passersby smiling down at the little piece of heaven I was holding in my arms. I was going home! WE were going home! Two days later I awoke to my own personal hell…
What was this feeling that I was feeling? This child that brought me such joy in the hospital was now a stranger to me. I didn’t want him. I wanted to give him back. He was disrupting my girls’ lives and we simply could not keep him. He would cry and I would cringe. He would coo and I would gag. He would look at me with those big blue eyes and I would shutter with disgust and fear. His needs were so different than the needs of my toddlers and I could not possibly meet everybody’s needs and expectations. I was just one person.
I had thoughts of harming Bentley. I was afraid to bathe him for fear that I would drown him. I was afraid to use a kitchen knife for fear that I would stab him. I was even afraid to microwave a bottle because I just KNEW that I was going to put him in the microwave.
I had dealt with anxiety in the past and knew that I was experiencing was some form of PPD. I knew I needed help. The next few months are a blur to me. I remember only snapshots … bits and pieces. I remember being curled up in a fetal position on my bedroom floor. I remember panic attacks and vomiting until there was nothing left to vomit. I remember nightmares and tears and hour-long bouts of crying. I remember my girls asking me why I was so sad. I remember my husband looking at me with a look of concern in his eyes that I have never seen. Taking meds, going to twice-weekly therapy appointments, changing diapers and teaching ABCs became my daily routine. Just when I thought that I could no longer go on, I began to feel a sense of relief. Slowly but surely I was returning to myself, but with a new outlook on life.
Bentley will be two years old in April and I am no longer a prisoner of PPD. I am a survivor. My family and I, we made it out alive, though not unscathed. I will never forget how I felt during my battle. I will never take another day for granted and I will love my children with all of my heart … from this day forward.