Praying for Help


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.”


Going Home

The day we left the hospital.

The day we left the hospital.

To say that I felt I was not ready to leave the hospital is an understatement. I couldn’t have been more unsure of myself or my state of being. All I could think about was the staircase in our house that I would have to climb. How would I do that with the baby? I was just starting to get out of bed with less pain and I still had 11 staples across my stomach. These people were on crack. I couldn’t go home! My insurance said I got 5 hospital days for a c-section. Well, the hospital really didn’t care what my insurance said. They needed the room. So after three days they sent me home. Now in hindsight, it was probably for the best. I did manage physically, better than I thought I would. And “having” to do more probably made my recovery that much quicker. But boy, my head was NOT wrapped around being at home with the baby yet. I needed help. Didn’t they see that? I felt completely inadequate for the job that lay ahead. All I knew is that I wanted to cry. And then, I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know how much my hormones would spike and fall. I didn’t know just how that would affect me. And mix that with feelings of guilt, because how could I not be elated? How could I be sad? What was wrong with me? I tried to put on a good face, but I was terrified. I can’t imagine what my husband was thinking? He must have been completely freaked. I was the one who was supposed to have it all together. And here I was falling apart.  He didn’t know what to do to help me. Neither did I.

Each day and night, it got worse.  I couldn’t stop crying.  Somewhere in my head, I knew this behavior was ridiculous, unfounded, down right silly.  But the louder voice in my head kept saying, “What have you done?”   I had given birth to this child who needed a mother and I didn’t think I could do it.  No, I knew I couldn’t.  I was doomed.   I remember my husband giving me a list of phone numbers of help lines for women with postpartum issues. I remember feeling so ashamed. Why couldn’t I handle this? I am a Type A woman! I am organized, educated and in control!! I had planned everything. And nothing was going to plan. I finally got the courage to call…and there was an answering machine. A flipping answering machine. I remember when the beep came, I didn’t know what to say….and then it hung up on me. I thought. Well, there you go. Figures. The next day (at my husband’s plea) I called the nursing line at my doctor’s practice. The minute I began to speak, I broke down.  I told her I just wanted to go somewhere and figure it all out. I told her the baby might be better off with someone who knew what they were doing. I have to tell you, it’s not easy admitting any of this, but I didn’t know that I could feel so messed up. It was not on my radar that I could be hit with the “baby blues.” Well, the nurse must have thought I was ready to jump off a bridge. She had me see the doctor that afternoon. When Dr. Singer walked in, he held my hand and simply said, “How are you doing?” I broke out in tears and told him of my plan to get away for a bit and then come back when I was ready. He smiled at me. He said, “You want to come back.” I said, “Of course.” He said, “You’re gonna be just fine.” He then explained to me what was going on hormonally in my body. How the “baby blues” are real. How if they last longer than 6 weeks….it could be postpartum depression,  but he was betting, based on my effort to look presentable that day, it was most likely temporary. He also told me that because I was older, the entire recovery would take longer. Everything. Body and mind. I chose to not use any medication, because it can take up to 6 weeks to even take affect. No, I decided to ride out the “blues” and see where that would take me.

Of course you know, they have all these classes to take when you are pregnant.  Childbirth classes, Infant Care classes, Infant CPR, Breastfeeding 101.  We took everything that was offered.  To be honest, besides the Infant CPR class…they were all pretty useless to us.  What we really needed was a “Surviving the First 2 Weeks at Home with Your Newborn” class.  Like a Baby Boot Camp.  What to expect those first couple weeks and how to deal with it.  They could run a few random scenarios with you, and throw in some variables like hormonal mother, baby losing weight, and oh, it all happens on zero sleep.  If one more person said to me, “sleep when the baby sleeps!” I wanted to hit them in the face. Hard.

It isn’t even possible to thank my wonderful husband enough. He must have been wondering, “Where is my wife? Where did Mares go?” He is not only an amazing father (born to do it)..but a loving, caring and supportive partner. He didn’t know what each new day would bring, as I fumbled around trying to find my footing as a mother. But he has never given up on me. I also had help from my best friend, Jo, who came to stay with us before the baby was born. He cooked, cleaned and took care of us. He was a link to reality and remains a true godsend. And my husband’s mother, who saw me at my worst and lent me a life preserver each and every day. I don’t know how to thank them, except to say I love you all.  I truly don’t know how any woman who has the postpartum blues gets through it without help.  Your impulse is to try to hide it, because the shame is so heavy.  If I didn’t have help, I don’t know where I would be…most likely half way to Arizona, living in my Kia, hating myself for running away.  I’m here to tell ya, these “blues” are real and very scary.  If you have had them, you know what I am talking about.  And if you are living them now, get some help. Talk to someone.  Anyone.  You never know from where you will receive help.  It comes in many shapes and sometimes in the most unlikely forms.  But above all, don’t beat yourself up.  Know, this too shall pass, and you will feel better.  🙂

Next post, I’ll tell you about my breast feeding fiasco, as I like to call it. I think that lent itself a great deal to my wounded state of mind. Until then, keep up the good fight. And remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she’s screwing it up. 🙂 xo

I Had A Baby

I delivered (or should I say Dr. Singer delivered) a beautiful healthy 8.1 lb baby boy.  10 toes. 10 fingers.  Healthy!!  Now I stress this because when a woman is over the age of 35 and pregnant, all she hears for 9 months are the RISKS.   If you are pregnant now and are of advanced maternal age (over 35) then you have heard the statistics.  I don’t need to reiterate and freak anyone out.  I’m not here to discourage anyone from trying to have a baby.  That clock ticks loud enough for most everyone.  But for me, delivering at 44, my risk for having a baby with any chromosomal abnormality was 1 in 26.  Eek.  So, having a healthy baby was a pretty big deal.  I have to say, after the amniocentesis, I hardly thought about the negative possibilities.


The hospital we delivered in was brand new.  I actually went through labor in the room I would be in for the duration of my stay.  Had I not had the c-section, I would have delivered the baby right in my room.  It was pretty nice.   The new thing now is “rooming in” with your baby.  There was no nursery.  From the moment I had him, he was with me.  Right from the start, all through the night, he was with us.  I had thought that was a wonderful idea, until I had a c-section. There I was,  unable to even sit up, completely drugged out of my head, and the baby has his first poop.  Poor Ian, had never changed a diaper (that little morsel wasn’t covered in all the freakin classes we went to…Really?)  We had to call a nurse (who was all annoyed that we did) to come help him.  I have to say, hospitals should really let a woman rest at least one night after a major surgery or if they had a particularly tough labor.  I truly have not had a full uninterrupted nights sleep since before the baby was born.  That is not an exaggeration.  And I have a husband who takes “Ollie duty” at least a couple nights a week or more!

Now this is something really important that no one told me before I went into the hospital.   When you have a c-section, you are going to need pain medication.  This is no joke!  My amazing Dr. Singer told me, “Stay on top of your pain medication. Don’t let it wear off.  It is most important that you don’t feel the pain so you can start to get up and around.”  Sounds good.  Except, the nurses don’t stay on top of the pain medication for you…you MUST ask for it.  They CAN NOT offer it to you.  ???????? Well, I didn’t know that.  I’d fall asleep and wake up in such pain, cause I was two hours over the time I should have taken it.  My husband kept up on it as best he could, but he was sleep deprived as well.  It wasn’t until the last night I was there, I had a really nice night shift nurse who told me the score.


Another thing to watch out for in the hospital, is who comes in and out of your room to check on you or your baby.  Because the hospital was brand new,  the pediatrician we chose didn’t have privileges at that facility yet, so we used the pediatric neonatal  group the hospital provided.  The hospital was in our insurance network.  But the pediatric group was not….?? What?  It’s not like anyone asked us…or we had a choice.  Well, we didn’t find this out until bills started coming to us in the range of $12,000….just for this group.   There were exorbitant charges for the baby’s subsequent hospital care, but the only people in to see him that we remember were the nurses that took care of us both, who were employed by the hospital.  Anyway, we wound up having to get hospital records, etc., blah blah blah. Point being:  If I had it to do over,  I would have had a visitors log for every single person that came into our room to sign. Name – Time- Purpose of visit.  I’m so not kidding.  It seems almost silly…but it would have saved so many headaches.

I remember looking down at my legs the day after I gave birth.  I was numb still…but I was NOT prepared for what I saw.  My legs were swollen beyond recognition.  I told the nurse, “Excuse me, these aren’t my legs.”  She just looked at me, and said ” Yes, they are.”  I said, ” No, you don’t understand, these aren’t my legs!”  I swear, they all thought I was crazy.  But, again!, no one told me, I would swell up like an elephant after I had my baby!!  The anesthesia makes it horrible!  Why did no one tell me!?  At least I would have been slightly prepared.  Do they think you are going to turn around and decided to not have the baby?  I mean, really.  By month 9 you are begging for someone to get the baby out of you.    Geez, it would have been nice to know.  And I am not the only woman I know (NOW) that had this issue and was completely freaked out by it! For the love of God, women, we need to share this information! It took a couple weeks at least for the swelling to go down.  My friend Joey said to me after the fact…”Holy $%!#….you looked 7 months pregnant when you came home!”  It’s true.  The swelling went down and I lost about 25 lbs in the first couple of weeks.  My mind took a little longer to recover. 🙂

2 weeks after the birth! Can you imagine what it was like before?? OMG!

A week after the birth! Can you imagine what it was like before?? OMG!

In my next post I will share the blur of my first couple weeks at home with the baby.  It’s actually hard to remember, as I feel like someone else had taken over my body.  Like an alien.  A freaked out, terrified, exhausted alien.  🙂 xo  Until then, chin up!