Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(2 Karats and a Kid) Post partum RAGE!!! (...and why its a very good thing!)

Mommy-ism #10:  Pick your battles.  And don't get a divorce during your first six months post-partum. 

You hear the devastating stories every few years.  A mother suffering from post-partum depression does something that noone could ever comprehend.  For a moment in time, the nation’s attention is brought to the very real pressure, stress, emotional and physical toll that childbirth and motherhood puts on many women.  For a brief moment in time, the mental and physical health of mothers is given the attention that it deserves.
Yet, I would argue that more than post-partum depression, post-partum psychosis, or even the “baby blues”, there is a quiet epidemic that has a near 100 percent infection rate amongst new mothers.
This dangerous epidemic is called, post-partum RAGE (also known as Post-Partum Pissiness, Post-Partum Get that Penis Away From Me-Itis, and Post-Partum Angry Overworked and Underappreciated Woman Syndrome).

The story is almost always the same, the characters just change names.  

After a 40 week pregnancy, a couple greets their lovely bouncing baby into the world.   The woman, armed only with intuition and instinct quickly becomes an expert at newborn developmental milestones, illnesses, eating habits, sleeping schedules, and learns to interpret hungry cries from tired cries and gassy cries from bored cries.  Since the woman is likely off of work for 6-12 weeks on maternity leave, she considerately tells her husband to not to worry when the baby awakes at 12:00 am, 2:00 am, 4:00 am, or 6:00 am.  

“Go back to sleep,” she will whisper as she numbly gets out the bed to stumble through the dark to take care of the wailing baby. 

“I know you have to go to work in the morning, don’t worry, I can take care of it,” she will tell her husband kindly night after night.

And through the day, while the husband is away slaughtering the cows and hunting lions, the woman will be at home, tending to a crying/hungry/gassy/bored baby.  In the fleeting moments of quiet, the woman will surely find herself washing clothes or dishes, preparing a home cooked meal, while making doctors’ appointments, going grocery shopping, and curing everything from constipation to cradle cap with nothing more a thermometer, vasoline, and a soft brush.

Just before the husband is scheduled to come home, the exhausted woman will hurry in the shower, shed her hair scarf, brush her hair, and gargle her mouth just so her husband can for a fleeting moment acknowledge all that she has done while managing to look as beautiful as the day that they first met.

Then the moment of validation and appreciation comes.  The door knob turns, and the husband walks through the door only to stop and say, “You cooked spaghetti, AGAIN?”

Disappointed, hurt, exhausted, and slightly irritated, the woman dismisses and even laughs off the comment and sits on the couch next to husband in hopes of reconnecting, if only briefly, on an intimate level while the baby is napping.

As the woman moves closer to the man on the couch, he quickly retracts and says, “I’m tired babe.  Give me a second, I just walked in.  You’ve been here all day.  I need to relax.”

?!!!!! Muthaf***** what!!!  The woman thinks to herself.

On cue the baby wakes and begins to cry.

Just then the man turns on the tv to play an x-box game/look at the Lakers/or a Yankees documentary when you realize that he is either oblivious to the fact that the baby is screaming or suddenly his legs have become paralyzed from a rare and sudden muscle disease.

Feeling dejected, you get up to tend to the baby when the straw breaks the camel’s back.  

“Hey babe, since you aren’t doing anything, I’m going to run to the gym/go watch the game/go turtlewax my car,” the husbands asks since apparently you enjoy being at home all day, working like your name is “Miss Ceilie Mae,”  without anyone to talk to and without any recognition of the sacrifice that you make of yourself.

Finally, all you can see is RED.   

The conservation that you have tried for weeks NOT to have is upon you.  You don’t want to be a nag.  You swore you would never be a nag.  You always thought of yourself as the cool and understanding wife.  Yet, you find yourself at an impasse between the wife that you were and the wife that you must decide to be.   You are pissed.  No, you are ENRAGED because you are exhausted, sleep deprived, with sore boobs, and trying to be sexy despite having the least bit interest in sex.  And the person who you thought of as a friend, a partner, and your better half is being anything but those things you need the most.
Yet, at that moment, you also recognize something that makes you uncomfortable.  You recognize that despite your great efforts to appear otherwise, you can not do it all by yourself.   And with that revelation comes a little bit of freedom.  Now, you recognize that you must ask for help and be okay with whatever form that help looks like if you want to maintain your sanity.  What you recognize through your rage and subsequent epiphany that you are not superwoman but are indeed merely human.  Yet, by acknowledging your limits you allow your husband to recognize his abilities to fulfill his responsibilities as an equal parent and partner in the household.  

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