Faces filled with suspicion, they lock their eyes on me, "...how are you doing?"
I've given birth to baby number two, and I swear I can almost hear their inside voices speaking on the outside... "and, by that I mean, how are you REALLY doing? Really, truly, like, for real doing?"
And with that, my soul opens its tired wings and begins to fly as I am, this time able to answer them all with this one easy, little word:
“...good ... I'm doing good."
And as soon this phrase escapes my lips, my soul doesn't just fly, it soars, it catches a gust of wind that takes it so very high, above the clouds, and so close to the heat of the sun. This time around, I mean it when I say it. Good, I AM good. I don't just say it because I think it's what they want to hear, or need to hear. I don't say it because I think it's what I'm supposed to say. Or feel.
Sound the freakin' alarm because this time around, I am a part of the Happy Mamas club that I used to look in at longingly from the outside, just wishing for a key.
And, how exactly did I get to this place? Because, trust me, as I've spoken about before, when I found out I was pregnant again, although I was hoping for the best, and doing everything in my power to fill my mind with all of the positive vibes I could muster, secretly, inside I was bracing myself, hard, for PPD, the second coming. I couldn't imagine that something that held onto me as strongly as it had would not return.
So, in saying this, what has recovery looked like for me? Please, if it may help any one of you reading this who has been down a dark road of any sort, let me explain...
Just off of the highway, not far from home, there sits a pretty little park that I became a regular visitor of, just shortly after our first daughter was born. I’d walk its paved pathways pushing her along in the stroller, allowing the rhythm of my steps to put her to sleep and the sound of the wind whistling through the long grasses as the geese splashed in its ponds to mute the restless thoughts that were living like a hurricane inside of my head. Like a zombie I’d do lap after lap, circling the beauty of nature, sucking in the crisp air, and pushing out with it a sense of sadness I could no longer bear.
Last week, I visited this place again. It had been awhile. I stepped out onto its pathways, this time pushing our new little baby daughter in that same stroller and watched as my firstborn, Sav giggled and rode full speed ahead on her little pink and purple strider bike. As I took a breath, something in the air brought me right back to that place 3 and a half years ago. To those many pained laps around the park that were my ill-fated attempt to escape the clutches of what at the time I didn't realize was a strong case of postpartum depression. Something about this place, although beautiful, left me feeling ... haunted. Something about the vivid memories of being that sad Mama, trying to walk away the pain, clung in the air.
And then, almost as quickly as the bitter memories had flooded back to me, an even larger tidal wave washed over me, bringing with it a sense of something much brighter: it carried with it a sense of thankfulness, contentment, and just a little bit of disbelief, and even, could it be, pride ...?, that somehow, now, in this very moment, I had arrived to a place where so much has changed, so much has been overcome...
Thank you to the SUN, not just for your light, but also for your warmth. We had our first baby in January when the cold was nothing but bitter and lengthy. I remember feeling almost ...trapped, unable to open the doors and feel the heat of the sun on our faces. This time around, having given birth in July, whenever a bout of claustrophobia or house-bounded-ness hits - we walk right out of the house in whatever it is we happen to be wearing, and yes, It seems simple, but actually it is not, we walk, and the joy that follows, fed by the warmth of that big, glorious golden globe is, well, indescribable.
Thank you to my TRIBE ... this community that has been born from my blogging journey. Every single time I've put my words out there I am reminded just how far from being alone I truly am. Messages filled with love. Telling me yes, they've felt the same. Helping me to realize that, in fact, there is no real "normal" when it comes to parenthood, and that never will I be alone, as long as I continue to be open and honest. Not every other Mama out there is living in the joy of it all every minute of the day either. And that, you know what, it’s OK.
And, to my friends and family ... all of you who asked me back then why I didn't say something sooner. Why didn't I reach out, ask for help? Because, of course, you would've been there. I promise, this, is completely on me. At the time I couldn't see the beauty through the storm. And more importantly, I couldn't believe that the storm was mine. Each of you, this time around, have reached out. Messages, texts, phone calls, door bells that ring ... like I said at the beginning of this post ... you have all been here this time, asking me such a simple question, but, nonetheless, a question that means so much, "...how are you doing?"
Third (and lastly) ...
To my cutest little FAMILY UNIT. Willow, my newest babe. You arrived far away from the sterile and alien environment of the operating room. You came naturally, with a heart beat that was strong and with a determination that matched mine. We were both able to physically, emotionally go through the course of birth the way it was intended. I had always been curious, after my c-section the first time around, if my body could've just experienced natural birth, and the hormones had raged how they should've, right until the end... would there have been more peace? More joy? For me and for my first born...?
And then for you, my first born - the little girl who has been with me every step of the way - who I am sure has felt every bit of the stress that I have exuded. For everything you have taught me, Miss. Sav. You are truly the reason why, this time I am able to live it all in the moment. You've shown me the destination. And, god, is it glorious.
I've learned through all of this that there is always a pathway to recovery ... and that there are so many pieces to its puzzle, but if one can trust in the journey, hold on to the lessons, and find strength in the PEOPLE, the ones that are brave enough to join along the way, you can best believe that the glory moments, they will eventually, find their way ...