Tuesday, November 24

post natal

Dear Eurphoria,

When are you going away?

I’m still waking up and having these heart exploding moments, and there are no man made chemicals involved. Do I seriously get to look after this tiny human today? The oxytocin gushes; it is such a ridiculous sensation, this full bubble inside, this i’ll-eat-you-up-and-protect-you-from-lions kind of feeling. How on earth is this pleasantness my daily reality? It is fiercely fulfilled.

Fulfilled is not a word I have been applying to my situation for the past five years. I’ve spent well over a thousand days waking up to my creaky house, and not getting ready for work, and not getting ready for uni. I rose and showered, for the purpose of survival, and grit my teeth as I progressed through a mundane rountine my health could handle, day after boring lonely day. I hopped into bed at night; tick, stayed alive, tick, possibly didn’t destroy my autonomic system or adrenal glands any further.

And then came the all consuming decision of whether to reproduce with such imperfect health. In an attempt to improve my situation, it worsened severely.

“Ben, do you honestly think that when this is all over I’ll be happy again?”
“I honestly do.”
“You really think I’ll feel light again?”

I wonder if I would have felt the way I do now, if I hadn’t thrown up for months and spent the rest of the days hearing ghastly news and nearly wetting myself whilst facing fears in the Courage Doesn’t Always Roar kind of way.

When I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to have a baby, I was really asking him whether he could give my mind a stamp of approval. Usually psychiatrists don’t like us asking insecure questions, but this time he answered without making me fumble around for my own answer for half an hour. Of course you should be a mother, he said, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you get post natal depression and you should make a plan for it. It made sense that I could. Ben and I were genuinely expecting that I would be tossed into a sea of messy, teary, self doubt and confusion.

But it didn’t eventuate. It just didn’t.

I got post natal euphoria and no one warned me I could get it. I don’t know how long it typically lasts, or if the risk factors are incredibly-boring-life-before, or sad-bad-pregnancy, or wanted-babies-forever, or placid-baby. I have a suspicion I had all the risk factors for this state.

Naturally there are events which snuff it out at times. Being up in the night has been compounded by a heavier social load than my sick body can handle, and it’s resulted in vertigo. I could write an epic on the evils of vertigo, it’s very life altering. I can’t drive because of it, and I miss my independence.  It’s slightly anxiety provoking telling people that I can’t see them because my body is destructively dizzy, and I need every last drop of my battery power to recover for my teeny tiny dependent. But it’s not about feeling well, or driving, or hosting guests, it’s about my new role as milk, song, and hug to a beautiful child. And those things I can do.

Throughout the years of solitude and sickness, I’ve wondered what exactly was being gained. I can find one thing though, which enhances my new job; the realisation that in the end, the little things are the big things. That vulnerability and flowers are a match for achievement and having-it-all. Mothering is a series of small incredibly precious moments with no pay or accolades. And my heart is exploding with every nappy change, night feed, finger squeeze, contented moan, and morning snuggle. These moments are fleeting, and formative, and I delight in them. And I’m so glad that the bleakness of before has rendered these moments beautiful to me. The city lights were long ago, and the darkness which followed them has been training me to see the stars.

There are so many stars.

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