Thursday, May 29, 2014

finding my way back


Hi again. It's been awhile. 3 months, actually.

Hugo arrived 13.5 weeks ago and it's been a blur. I honestly feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone, never quite knowing what day it is, never totally sure if the story I'm telling to someone took place the day before or the week before. It's a completely surreal time.

The last 3 months have been filled with all the usual stuff-- breastfeeding hell for the first month, many sleepless nights, enduring the first infant illness, as well as so many laughs and cheers as Hugo learns a new skill or smiles his enormous smile, a million cuddles and kisses, a love deeper than I ever thought possible.

And then there was the postpartum depression.

It's actually misleading to call it postpartum because, now, looking back, I realize how badly I was suffering from anxiety all through my pregnancy. Essentially, the last year has been dominated by near-constant worry and fear and sadness so bad that it robbed me of much of the joy that I was "supposed" to be feeling as a pregnant woman and then as a new mom. I started seeing a counselor several months ago, in my second trimester, because my OB was worried about my anxiety level. I exercised, meditated, ate well, saw friends, watched funny movies. I did everything I knew to do to avoid going on antidepressants until, finally, one month after Hugo was born, I knew I hit bottom because my husband told me he was scared. Not concerned, not worried, but SCARED. So, I swallowed my pride and my fear of pharmaceuticals and saw a specialist. And, here I am, 2+ months later, on an antidepressant for postpartum depression and anxiety, and I feel human again. I wake up actually feeling optimistic about the day. I feel calm. I found my sense of humor. I have perspective. And I realize just how much of my life I have missed out on for the past 12 months.

I've always been a worrier. It runs in my family. I'm also an emotional gal, who feels things very deeply. But I gotta say, the level of anxiety I've experienced this past year totally knocked me on my ass. Never before have I felt so completely incompetent because I couldn't just think my way out of the darkness. Never before have I felt like such an enormous burden on my husband and family as I sank lower and lower into a place from which I wasn't sure I could emerge.
But I'm back now, and I'm finding my groove in my new role as mom/wife/creative person/business owner/friend/daughter. It's definitely a balancing act, and I have a newfound respect for all those (unbelievably amazing) single parents out there. I have NO CLUE how they do it.

Since becoming a parent, I've also learned the meaning of the word "guilt."

I've never been a person who carried around a ton of guilt but, man, has that changed. I feel guilty that I love my work so much and that I have missed my time away from it. I feel guilty that it's hard for me to spend hours on the floor dangling toys above my baby because I'm so freakin' BORED. I love Hugo SO much, and yet some masochistic part of myself thinks that I should be enjoying every single minute of this whole parenting gig and the fact is, I don't. I love Hugo more than pretty much anything, but I also love my creative time, my work, my friends....the rest of my life.

Intellectually, though, I know that I am a much better mom when I am paying attention to the other parts of my life, so I make sure I do that. And having Hugo at an older age has, I think, made me more balanced overall and not at all interested in trying to achieve some unattainable ideal in mommy world. In other words, I pretty much trust my gut on things with my kid and don't really care what a lot of the "experts" or other moms are doing. But all that being said, I still struggle with doubt sometimes.
Isn't that just part of the job? :)

So, what happens now?

•I'm making a new list of goals and plans for my business, my workshops and my studio, and I am PSYCHED to implement those things.
•I'm gearing up for a busy summer of photo shoots and family time.
•I'm learning how to be okay with getting less done in a day.
•I'm continually reminding myself to appreciate every single second with my baby because he changes by the minute.
•I'm learning how to spend more time in gratitude because I am so lucky that I get to spend as much time with my kid as I do and still do the work that I love.
•I'm learning how to let things go. (Well, at least I'm TRYING.)
•I'm learning how to be more forgiving. Especially of myself.

I'll be back soon with non-baby-related photos and news but, for now, thanks for reading.

(Thank you, Lily West, for the B&W photo of Hugo and me. xoxo)