The weeks following coming home from the hospital with Little O, were my bleakest ever. That sounds horrible, but it’s true. I knew I had the postpartum blues, but a diagnosis doesn’t make the day to day struggle any easier, except to know that it would eventually pass. Getting through those days of tears and self doubt was pretty much the most difficult time I have ever encountered. I remember, my husband had to fly up north for a job interview and was going to be gone overnight….about a 24 hour trip. I was going to be alone with the baby. Just me. I was terrified. I couldn’t tell him not to go. That I couldn’t handle it. The interview was for a job he wanted badly, and I couldn’t say ” don’t go!” like I wanted to. So I lied. I feigned a smile. “Go. I’ll be fine.”
I remember holding little O, rocking in my nursery glider…crying. I just couldn’t stop. I remember trying to quietly cry, because I didn’t want to startle the baby..or scare him. Could I scare an infant by crying? I didn’t know! I felt like I knew nothing. I remember feeling hopeless. But somehow I got through the 24 hours. My parents came to stay with us a couple days later. Instead of relief, I felt stressed beyond comprehension. My world was completely topsy turvy. Every reaction or feeling I was having was the opposite of what I was supposed to be having. I kept feeling like I was spinning. Like I was in a bad dream and I was desperate to wake up. I had such shame. Such feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t want my parents to see me like this….I think they thought I was very stressed, but I don’t think they truly grasped how bad off I was, Thank God.
My husband was always trying to get me to take some time for myself…or do something to de-stress. This particular evening was no exception. He told me to go take a long hot shower and I agreed. I remember the scalding hot water running down my back…and the hot tears running down my face. I was silently sobbing. Heavy silent sobs. I wanted to hide. I wanted to stay in that shower for the rest of my life. I remember looking up and asking God for help. Would he please help me..because I didn’t know what I was going to do without some serious celestial assistance.
The next day, again at my husband’s plea…I went to get a manicure. I remember thinking that a manicure was not going to solve anything…but I would go…maybe it would relax me? My usual guy was finishing up with another customer and he told me to come sit down by them. He was congratulating me on the baby…and asking all about it. The lady he was working on was nice and started asking me questions too. I remember telling her that I was having a difficult time. How I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be. She said sweetly, but very matter of fact, “You just have to hold him and love him.” Like it was THAT easy….huh. She told me about her grandchild. I asked her how many children she had. She said,”two.” A son and a daughter. “My son lives in Colorado and my daughter was murdered.” I was stunned! What?! “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!” She went on like she hadn’t said something so horrific, so terrifying…telling me about something her granddaughter did recently. She got up and gave me a smile and said, “Remember, you just have to hold him and love him.” And she was gone.
My nail guy told me she lost her daughter in a highly publicized school shooting, years ago. She had since relocated to South Florida. She had done the talk shows and interviews about it afterwards, talking about gun control, dealing with the loss and how to move on. And there I was complaining to this woman about how hard it was to have a beautiful new born baby! How awful of me! And then it hit me. I had asked God for help…and what I got was perspective. I proclaim that I am a spiritual person, but I am not very religious, per say. But no one can tell me that God didn’t put me in that seat next to that woman. Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe. And my talking with that woman was the mental shift I needed to get me over the bluesy hump. I can honestly say, that my whole mindset changed that afternoon. I looked at O differently after that. I could see the incredible gift we had been given. I knew I had to cherish it. Every time I would feel like things were hard, I’d remember that woman…..and my perspective would shift. 9 months later, I wish I could thank her and let her know the huge impact she has had on my life. How she helped me so profoundly. How I follow her simple advice each and every day. “Just hold him and love him.” I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… You never know from where you will receive help. It can come from very unlikely places. In unlikely forms. In the most random person. In a thoughtful kind word, a prayer answered, or a simple piece of advice. “Just hold him and love him.”