The Mothers’ Room / What you didn’t know about me

I have worked at the same company for 8 years. Shortly after I was hired, our office was completely redesigned and renovated, so in a sense, I have been in this space “since the beginning.”

Tomorrow we are moving to a new building. Cue the music and the montage; normally I’m an oversentimental wreck about “seasons ending.” But for once, I’m actually not.

One year ago, the Nelson Gang moved out of the house we took our firstborn home to.  I remember repeating “don’t think about it, don’t think about it, don’t think about it” as I packed up the nursery that week. My heart squeezed to see that bright orange room empty because the memories I made there with my baby boy could never be recreated. He would never be that baby again. I relived all of them in that moment as I shut the door.

This move isn’t like that. It’s not that I don’t like the job or care about the people, but they’re all going with me, and we’re going to be doing basically the same thing we have been doing for 8 years. We’re in the same office park, with the same lake and local restaurants. I can actually see the new building from my window at the old building. I’m not emotional at all. In fact, I Just. Wish. It. Were. Over.

Except… there is one thing… the one picture I snapped as we pack up this place…

The Mothers’ Room.

This isn’t about breastfeeding. Really.

However, I have been unbelievably blessed to have had a peaceful, private space and generous quantities of time to sit quietly in that room pumping away as long as I desired. I nursed Charlie until he turned one, and Jase and I are eight months in, so I have spent hundreds of hours in that room and listened to the WHOOSH-up of the breast pump over a thousand times.

And though I will continue this practice after our move like always, I AM leaving something behind. This is Round Two. During Round Two, I am emotionally stable and in good mental health. What I am leaving here in this space, telling myself “don’t think about it, don’t think about it,” is bucket after bucket of Round One Tears.

I told you, this isn’t about breastfeeding. This is about depression.

If you know me at any level, you know I am intentionally optimistic, and I’m pretty darn good at discovering even the most spectacularly-hidden silver lining. I have practiced controlling my attitude and I know what the Bible says about trusting and praying.  I show off my highlight reel online, not to try to look perfect, but to uplift and encourage and for something positive to go back to on hard days.

But during that year after I had Charlie, I was completely faking it. A YEAR, YOU GUYS. I don’t know who could tell and who couldn’t, but I was an utter and total mess.

Screenshot_2013-01-01-15-32-42

(See that woman? Depressed. Can you tell?)

I can put my finger on the time the veil was lifted. It was the week I finished weaning Charlie in July of 2013. Clear as ice, I thought, “Oh my gosh… I’m me again.” My follow-up realization surprised me, “I had postpartum depression???” I woke up from a nightmare I didn’t even know I was having. I had truly believed my world was crashing down, that nothing I could do would fix it, and it might be forever.

I have speculated this condition was caused by the contraceptive I was on, since I changed it when I was done breastfeeding. I originally thought the breastfeeding lifestyle itself was the culprit, but Round Two has produced zero symptoms. I can say that crazy-making-hormones are THE REAL DEAL. It was probably part identity crisis and part failure-guilt, as I wasn’t the stay-at-home-mom I imagined I would be and hadn’t gained the financial success I knew I would have had by then. For sure there was an element of being vastly overwhelmed with learning everything new about babies and all the decisions that seemed ABSOLUTELY LIFE OR DEATH that I had no idea how to make, and once I made them, I second and third and fourth guessed myself.

My poor husband. He got a call one day at work from our child care provider saying she was concerned about me. He met me for lunch and told me in public. If I hadn’t been so busy trying to hide my ugly crying face I might have sucker punched him for telling me in public and causing the ugly crying face.

God bless that poor child care provider. She was just not ready to handle me. We had to go our separate ways and then I was forced to choose a new person who would have sole power over the wellbeing of my son for 50 hours per week WHILE I WAS DEPRESSED. It was agonizing. Ask Lyle. IT WAS SUCH A BIG DEAL.

I was so self-absorbed that I must have missed so many sweet moments. That’s what depression looks like. You can’t get out of your own head and then you hate yourself for being so selfish. You wonder why in the hell you can’t just believe what you’ve always believed about God and his promises.  Maybe you believe it in your head, but you can’t make yourself act like it’s true. Christians aren’t supposed to feel this way – they’re supposed to lean on Jesus. So you hate yourself for that too.

If you are not yourself… tell someone who will listen to you, and try hard to believe me that the nightmare you’re living in may not be the true world. Maybe I should have seen a doctor and taken a pill. I’m not kidding. Looking back, if that would have helped, I would totally do it. Maybe I should have stopped breastfeeding just to see if it made anything better. I definitely should have quit protecting what {I thought} people thought about me. My perspective is so different now than it was in the midst of it. Please talk to a good listener, because I promise you’re not the only one who has ever endured what you’re going through.

And if you’re a Christian worried about your issues marring God’s image, remember this: He pulled through King David’s adultery, Samson’s ego, Moses’ doubt, and Peter’s denial. He is far bigger than our biggest emotions.

Can we give each other grace? We can listen well and intentionally ask… “Tell me what’s going on right now, I would like to hear.” And can we be honest about the dark places?

The Mothers’ Room.

I have a lump in my throat just writing about it. I won’t miss it.

But I am emotional as I leave it behind.

Adieu, Mothers’ Room.

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See my followup thoughts on this post.

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About Carolyn Nelson

Just trying to spread a little grace. I am in love with 4 boys (married to one, mother to three), and I think you're stinkin' awesome.
This entry was posted in Our Life, Things We Have Learned and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Mothers’ Room / What you didn’t know about me

  1. Pingback: Seven Year Itch | ELEVATE / perspectives to lift you up

  2. Pingback: SALTY / The Mothers’ Room, part 2 | ELEVATE / perspectives to lift you up

  3. Wow. Thank you for sharing this intimate time. I, too, had ppd. And I, too, didn’t know it. I remember telling my ob/gyn how depressed I was and I remember *her* (yes, a ‘sister’) poo-pooing me. The burden increased because I had taken my concerns to my health care professional and she failed me. Eventually the fog lifted, not sure how or why, but with three children under the age of 6, I was thankful to be in the clear again. ((Hugs)) to you and every other mom (and dad) out there who’s ‘been there’.

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