There used to be a swing set in our backyard. It was an old metal one that came from our neighbour Jimmy – the very tall round Scottish man with such a lively kick to his personality that I smile so hard during our conversations that my face hurts. It first belonged to his kids and when they outgrew it, it became his grandkids. Well, they outgrew it too. When he saw that our son was just about ready to start playing and getting into a heap o’trouble, he wanted to give it to us.
It was a funny sight watching Shawn and Jimmy trying to pass that piece of mangled metal across two, almost three yards. The set rested in the middle of ours. We didn’t really look it over before we accepted. It was the type of metal swing set that had been painted 4 times over to cover up rust spots and sun damage.
The kind where if you swung too high, the opposite side of set would lift off the ground and then would land with a giant thud. I could just imagine all the secrets shared between mates hung upside down by their skinny legs and how many wet bums soaked from summer sprinklers slid down that slide. I can picture towels hung from the rungs and kids begging for band aids for their calluses made on the insides of their tiny little hands.
It was a bloody eyesore and it was probably unsafe but oh the fun we had.
Shawn tore it down.
It was time.
Chunky was far too big for it and Champ, our blind wonder dog, was starting to do his business around it, on it…
Looking at that empty space I feel saddened. Letting go of things that signify happy memories is hard for me. I think it’s hard for a lot of people. Then there are other things that I don’t even know why we held on to – infancy things.
Shawn kept them, tucked them away and out of my sight.
Old onsies, blankets, bouncers, nursery things – they make my stomach turn.
I love my son.
I love him to the moon and beyond and then all they back.
But I didn’t love infancy.
I was incredibly sick with postpartum depression and anxiety. I admit to wishing that moments during that time would just hurry up and pass.
Shawn put up those things for sale –
A woman came to buy my breast pump the other day. She sprinted up the stairs of the front porch and quickly knocked on the door. She was tall and slender and had gorgeous long dark hair. Aside from her tired eyes, you wouldn’t have guessed that she had just had a baby.
She clutched the money in her hand tightly. I only fielded two questions, “Why did you stop? Did you like it?” and it flooded me with hurt.
“Loved it. I had to stop because I needed medication for my bad back.”
She said, “Oh. I just need to get all this milk out of my boobs.”
My son looked up from the floor and giggled.
She handed me the money and thanked me. It was a good deal. None of the bottles were opened. None of the freezer packages were opened. Nothing was opened.
Everything I hoped for postpartum – we hoped for – nothing happened the way we planned – it was a nightmare.
She ran out as fast as she ran in.
I wanted to tell her, “Be good to you.“
But I never did.
I wish that I could let go of that time but every August, it haunts me. Smells, sights, sounds – triggering memories. That’s the beast of the illness.
I keep telling myself over and over that my life is right here and now and even when it is full of big ugly emotions and feels like one hell of a messy solo navigation, I can still see the good.
It is all there Kimberly.
I know that it will get better.
***Please, if you are pregnant, know someone who is pregnant, if you just had a baby, know someone who just had a baby — know the signs of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety and postpartum psychosis.
A good place to look is Postpartum Progress http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english
If you are in the trenches:
Hang on Momma. Hang on with all you’ve got and then some. You have so many people who love and care for you and this I promise you. Keep fighting. Look at this guy – he’s my postpartum babe and he’s 8 years old. He tells me he loves me every single day. He doesn’t remember a single thing…if I breastfed, bottle fed, co-slept, put him in a crib, if I used generic soap, organic soap, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, if I forgot to kiss his head one night….
I fight for him.