Mothers Can’t Carry the Burden Alone
She looked at me over her clipboard, and for the first time she looked scared. “I can’t help you.” She shook her head, fear in her eyes, “You just need to get some support.”
I sat staring back at this woman who had always seemed bored when I spoke of my ills. She rolled her eyes and sighed asking questions like, “Are you sure you want to quit graduate school?” and “So, have you had any progress with that condescending woman who drives you crazy with her need to be contrary?” Sometimes she seemed a bit too hungry for gossip.
But she was supposed to be my therapist.
She was the one who could tell simply the way I smiled as I sat down on her couch that I was about to reveal my pregnancy. She was the one who seemed to respect me up until the point when I expressed concern over dishonesty in the pharmaceutical industry.
But during our last appointment, she admitted she couldn’t help.
I was moving across the country. My husband had gotten a new job that he had started via telecommuting, while still doing his old job, while doing several freelance projects.
Oh, and we had a newborn at the time.
I didn’t have an opportunity to heal physically before being on a deadline. The movers were coming, I had no choice but to pack.
I have already documented how alone I felt on the night of the Cat’s birth, and how our moving experience was difficult. But here is the thing: motherhood is stressful regardless of the specific circumstances.
Surprisingly, I did not end up with post-partum depression. Rather, my malice was considered “situational.” After all, everyone would be stressed after being torn apart "down there." Everyone would be stressed to face the Dean of the Medical School to tell him that “Gee, I’ve decided to move to California and I don’t feel like doing science anymore." Everyone would be stressed if their husband got a new job. Everyone would be stressed to move across the country.
And everyone is stressed when they have a baby, especially a first baby.
I was lucky. Although I had quite a lot to heal from physically and emotionally, I never felt the same “depression” that I had experienced starting in the summer before my senior year of college. I know the difference between that crushing feeling of despair versus being exceptionally overwhelmed.
Babies are overwhelming, regardless of the hormonal impact of the whole trauma. And it is usually difficult for anyone to “help,” since the father is going through stressors of his own.Continued on the next page