November 22, 2010

Breakdown

          A year ago at this time, I was a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I'm not kidding. I was seriously in bad shape. The transition from career woman to stay at home mom had been far more difficult than I had anticipated. And I was coming undone.
          I had been home with my daughter for almost a year. The feeling of isolation was intense. My world had shrunk so severely it was essentially limited to the four walls of our house. When I did get out, it was usually only to run errands. With baby in tow.
          I nursed my daughter for that entire period, during which she refused to drink from a bottle. So I was never able to leave her with someone and take an extended break. Sure, I could get away for an hour or two every once in a while, but that was it.
          Motherhood is exhausting, and I got to a point where I was very close to burning out. One night after putting SB to sleep, I went to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of wine. Upon seeing this, my husband asked, “Rough day?” 

I glared at him. “How many vacation days have you taken this year?” 

Not realizing where this was going at first, he actually started trying to calculate the number of days he had taken off work (and after 20+ years with his employer, he has close to eight weeks of PTO a year). Then it hit him and he simply replied sheepishly, “A lot.” 

“And how many days have I had off in the past year?"

Silence. 

“Wait, I can tell you. Exactly NONE," I screamed. "ZERO! I HAVEN’T HAD A SINGLE DAY OFF SINCE I GAVE BIRTH TO THAT CHILD!!! Hell, I haven’t had a single HOUR all to myself that didn't involve running some sort of errand!” 

       Granted, at that particular time I was in the process of weaning SB and was without a doubt the most hormonally imbalanced I have ever been in my life. My emotions were out of control. But I wasn’t wrong. 
          As is often the case with moms, I had neglected to care for myself in the first year after SB was born. Everyone else came first. I didn’t get enough sleep. I didn’t get enough exercise. I didn’t even get much fresh air. It was a recipe for a breakdown.
          Shortly after that, I booked a day at the spa as a birthday present to myself. Massage, body treatment, facial. A few mimosas and a lovely lunch poolside with the ocean breeze blowing. It was just what the doctor ordered, if by doctor you mean psychiatrist. At the end of the day I was truly relaxed and refreshed.
          I'm in much better shape as I approach my birthday this year. Mentally, emotionally, physically. I'm more settled now. But I do feel run down. And a little edgy. I decided the spa visit should be a new tradition. An annual indulgence. This year I am trying out a different seaside spa. I'll let you know how it goes...

20 comments:

  1. I went through the same thing. I thought I was going to go crazy. Wouldn't it be nice if there was some sort of support group for new stay-at-home mothers?

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  2. Motherhood is a huge adjustment, isn't it? So glad you started taking a little time for yourself. It's better not only for you, but for your whole family. :)

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  3. I'm right there with you. My daughter is 13 months and I'm weaning and it's been a year of no breaks. I also have a 3year old boy. I've got one foot in the nuthouse! A seaside spa day sounds lovely, I'm going to go book it. :)

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  4. Totally and completely know what you mean. I had three kids in less than three years - and it plum wore me out. The hormones, the sleepless nights, the constant nursing, missing out on going anywhere because the girls wouldn't take bottles. They're much older now (10, 11 and 12), but I still look back at that time in my life and thank GOD it's over. I love my girls - they are my life - but the feeling of being bogged down with the day to day life of being a mother of young ones was overwhelming. And finding ways to get out - even if it's just a walk around the block - well, it helps. A lot. (Which for some reason most of us don't figure out until way too late.)

    Glad to see things are getting easier. The older your daughter gets, the better off you'll be. Sometimes it takes a while to get things into a routine, to find a way to get back to being yourself as a person, not just a mother. Time will help with that. And so will talking to people who've been through the same thing. That's one reason I love blogging - because the camaraderie with people on here - the understanding, advice, and opportunity to hear other people are going through the same things (parenting, writing, et cetera) - they're wonderful things. =)

    Jessica

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  5. Some people say that motherhood is a full time job. But with a full time job you get nights and weekends off and sick time... not to mention vacation. Motherhood is so much more than a job. And you are great at it.

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  6. YES. All I can say is YES. And DITTO. And AMEN. That is all.

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  7. YES. Yes. Yes. yes? YES.

    Um...just in case it didn't register: YES.

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  8. YES, all the time!!!! I think it rings true to SO many moms!!!

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  9. I couldn't agree with you more, and I think the spa day tradition is a wonderful idea. Whatever your "you" time needs to be, figure it out and make it a priority. I loved when my boys were little, but I am so grateful that they are older and need less moment to moment hands-on mothering now. You can't give to everyone else who needs you, if your own tank is empty. It's not selfish, it's taking care of yourself, and it's the kindest thing you can do for your daughter and your family.

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  10. good for you, mama! we *all* need to take care of ourselves! relax away. you *so* deserve it! :)

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  11. I could have written a lot of this myself. Enjoy the spa and have a very Happy Birthday!

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  12. Oh. My. God. Yes! Almost time to wean #3 for me. Can't wait. Enjoy the spa, you deserve it.

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  13. I totally relate to this post. At one point I had three under fives, but I think the first year with my firstborn was my hardest year of Motherhood as it is such an adjustment to make from just being "you".

    I smiled at your spa visit. That is exactly what I try to do once a year and it makes such a difference.

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  14. I think every mom can relate to this post!! Well written and well said! It's so easy to burn out when you don't take the time for yourself. I've really started forcing myself to, so that I don't burn out (and start to feel resentful off everyone else in my life).

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  15. oh how i agree with you. i worked for BIG companies making animated feature films and then sahm within my four walls... HUGE change!

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  16. Motherhood is hard, hard, work. I'm on my second baby and he's almost six months and still not sleeping. I know that feeling well!

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  17. I hear ya! I stayed home for a year with each of my girls. It was the most exhausting, draining, frustrating period of my life. I was so glad to go back to work. I am not cut out to be a SAHM.

    I had rough days. Many of them. And like you not a single day off. Flash forward a bit:

    My husband is currently out of work. He is being a SAHD for now until the market picks up. He whines and complains about how difficult it is to take care of two kids (one of which is in school half the day) When I get home from work I am INSTANTLY expected to take over. Fine. But did he EVER do that for me when I was at home? No. Never ever EVER.

    It is always unbalanced. I'm glad you got your spa day :)

    Visiting from Red Dress Club

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  18. Yes, yes I get it. I 100% get it. Can I come on your spa day too?

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  19. Not being a mom, I can't say that I know exactly how you feel, but I understand what you're saying. I think moms need to be better taken care of. They have the hardest job of all.

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  20. I don't have any kids, but I thank you for keeping it real!

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