Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Prior to Jack's arrival -- thanks to a hard-won knowledge of my mental wiring and the wonderful fact that both medical professionals and the media acknowledge the phenomenon -- one of the things I worried about most was Post-Partum depression. I took measures to avoid it -- eating well, getting rest and exercise, talking to my doctor, maintaining my network and planning ways to create a new Mummy-town world that would not just keep me from going nuts, but be fun as well. I don't know how much of the victory was my preparation and how much was lucky chemistry, but it worked. So I guess I was a little blindsided when last week, despite the NCT meet-ups and transatlantic calls, despite the healthy habits, wonderful partner and huge love for my kid, I experienced the crash.

I'd heard that cutting back on breastfeeding can cause a sudden depletion of Oxytocin (that's the love and bonding hormone, not the street drug Oxycontin,  or "Hillbilly Heroin" as it's sometimes called), but it hit way harder than I'd imagined. Provided I was within cuddling distance of Jack, I was fine. But wander out of the room or zone out for a moment and it was like someone was wringing my heart dry. I still had plenty of love and enthusiasm for hanging out with him, but when he went to bed I felt I had nothing left. Suddenly, all the things I'd accepted "for now" -- including the fact that Jack is, at least temporarily, growing up without the people who have known me forever and by extension love him almost as much as we do (and more selfishly, that they aren't able to be there for me) were unacceptable. I saw an NCT friend in the store with her mom and nearly burst into tears. The next day, when Jack was crying in the supermarket and a strange woman stopped, looked at me and told me it was going to be okay, she had kids herself and assured me I was doing a great job, I did burst into tears (discretely, of course. I'm in England now).

Despite the fact that Alex has always been an enthusiastic caregiver and bends over backward to make us happy, I suddenly felt I was in it all alone and I wasn't sure I wanted to be there. My son was just over five months old and I wanted a break. I wanted my people. I saw toddlers and ached with guilt, feeling a cold seep of dread rather than any desire to cuddle the little folks. I was honestly scared that maybe I just wasn't cut out for this mommy business forever, but forever it was going to be.

But then I'd look at Jack. And I'd remember the hormone thing. And I knew that despite the feeling there was a family of nefarious elephants lounging on my heart, we'd both be just fine. That I wanted to be his mommy forever and then some. A big, teary fight with Alex that, thanks to largely to his patience and my fondness for talking (and talking and talking) turned into a wonderful honest conversation about all of the above and then some sealed the deal that I was for sure really going to be ok.

And then, just when I needed it most, one of my people showed up on my doorstep from Canada (I was expecting of her of course, but it was good timing nonetheless). She cooked dinner and cleaned my counter tops (even behind the jars!). She took me out dancing and we spent a long sunny day in Greenwich, leaving Jack to hang out with his Dad. And I realized, not many of have the community of women in the same house or neighbourhood like we did in the olden days. But some of us are lucky enough to have them scattered around the globe and willing to come to you when you need them most. To check out your life and remind you it's real, it's beautiful and they're still in it.

Is it hard as hell living so far away sometimes? Yes. But having a loving partner, a beautiful boy and women who love me and get just as giddy about Jack as I do somewhere out there makes it a lot easier to accept and appreciate things as they are right now -- and ride out the things I know will pass.

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