Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My glass

I'm definitely a "glass half empty" kind of person. And sometimes I'm a "watch out or the glass will shatter into a million pieces and poke out your eye" kind of person.

The bright side? I don't look there - might get a sunburn.

And for the most part this personality trait didn't really affect me. Until I became a mother.

I went to see a counselor shortly after Picklebug was born for postpartum depression. I told him that having a baby was terrifying. Everything about being a mom scared me to the point that I was immobile. There was so much pressure! Feed the baby or he will starve. Swaddle the baby or he'll freeze. Change the baby or he'll get diaper rash and infections. Talk to the baby or his brain won't develop and he will be an antisocial freak! Crazy? Yes! That's why I was talking to a counselor - a very smart counselor who told me I was "awfulizing" the situation.
Awfulizing: Worrying obsessively about the worst possible outcome to the point your are paralyzed.

The inability to see the glass as half full or seeing the glass as a potential threat to one's eyes.

Apparently they make medication for this kind of thing. And while it helps take the edge off - numb the worry, so to speak - I've found an even better treatment in a most unlikely place.

Over the past sixteen weeks I've experienced a physical, mental and emotional ass whoopin'. I experienced sleep deprivation to the point that I couldn't talk in sentences. My depression was so bad that I lost 25 pounds over seven days. I developed cracks in my nipples the size of the grand canyon (so bad in fact I called the 24 hour nurse hotline to ask if it was possible for nipples to become detached). For several days (or was it weeks?) I felt no emotion towards my child other than regret (And I admit this not because I want your sympathy, but because I want you to understand just how awful it was).

More than once I considered getting in my car and driving away.

But by the grace of God (and the discipline of my stepmother) I held on. I held on even though I didn't believe that things would get better. I held on even though I was scared. I was sick with worry. And slowly, very slowly things started to change.

At first it was little victories. Three hours of sleep in a row! Great Holy Day! You'd think I'd won a years supply of chocolate! A trip to Chik-fil-A where baby slept the whole time was equivalent to five course meal at the Biltmore Inn. (Love how all my examples contain food?).

I endured. And my reward? A love so perfect and pure that my very faith in God was reaffirmed all over again.

I've done lots of things in my life that took a lot of faith, commitment and endurance. I've hiked to the top of mountains with my dad. I've earned honors and awards for my academic achievements. I've completed both a bachelors and masters degree. I've searched for, found and married the kindest and most genuine man on this planet. I completed a triathlon. I've even had a colonoscopy for crying out loud!

But nothing, absolutely NOTHING can compare to the faith, commitment and endurance it has taken me to survive these first few months of motherhood.

Being a mommy has helped me (like no medication EVER could) to appreciate small victories. To let go of situations I can't control in the first place (what? doesn't everyone enjoy Lobsterfest with a side of screaming baby?). It has helped me look past the empty glass and come up with creative solutions to keep everyone happy.

Besides, Picklebug doesn't need a glass, he has my boobs.

I still see the glass as half empty from time to time - but now I know that with a little faith, commitment and endurance, eventually my cup will overflow and I will receive the richest rewards.


  1. And, when picklebug is all grown up I am sure he will love that at one time you considered his most prized possession to be your boobs! And, sleeping is way better than chocolate. And, I'm glad you learned a lesson and grew stronger in your faith at the same time :)

    miss you :(

  2. Jen,
    Your honesty and openness is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing with the world. Know that your growing family is often in my thoughts and prayers. Until the day when I join the ranks of saints known as moms (if that day ever comes), I will admire you and the rest of my friends with babies more than you could ever possibly know.

  3. Jen, I am very proud of you, you are such a strong and honest woman. Picklebug is very lucky! :)

  4. You are such a strong and amazing person with an amazing family! People including myself look at you and are inspired! Those who enter your life are very blessed and Picklebug will grow up to be the proudest son around!