After we got married, I stayed in college, switching majors from math to computer science (in an effort to find a career that would make more money), and worked part time to help make ends meet. James worked full time and went to school part time, and we scraped by. My high anxiety and fear of failure, once again, fueled my master plan of good grades and a good job – I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and went straight to work. I accepted a job at a software development firm in Alpharetta (a northern suburb of Atlanta) that customized engineering software, and threw myself into being the best, most amazing employee EVER.
I was also 5 months pregnant with our first daughter.
I waited until I had the job offer in my hot little hand before notifying them of the pregnancy. No take backs now fellas. Gimme that paycheck.
I had my first daughter 4 days after the towers fell on 9/11. All of my fears and anxieties and uncertainties just multiplied that day as I watched the world change and I felt my child move inside me. I remember lying in bed crying that night, so completely afraid of bringing child into such a world.
She was born on a gorgeous fall day, in a gosh-awful hurry to enter the world once she decided to show up 2 weeks late. She was beautiful and perfect and I had never known such fear, nor such joy.
I went back to work when she was 3 weeks old, afraid to take any more time off, and those first few months were a blur of work, sleep deprivation, baby kisses, nursing, unimaginable love, and exhaustion. But about 5 months after she was born, I realized that something was wrong. She was sleeping through the night but my energy wasn’t returning. In fact, my exhaustion was getting worse.
I would stumble home from work, holding my eyeballs open to keep from falling asleep at red lights on the way home, crawl into bed and James would bring her to me to nurse. After she ate, I’d fall asleep and he would bring her to me again at 11:00 to feed her once more before putting her to bed. It was all I could manage.
I went to the doctor and told him how tired I was. “You have an infant.” “You are a first-time mom, this is totally normal.” “You just need to catch up on your sleep.”
I went back to the doctor, and they eventually agreed to run some tests. I was low on a few vitamins and he was sure that was the problem. A few supplements and I would be right as rain.
The supplements didn’t seem to help. The B12 injections didn’t seem to help. And as my exhaustion got heavier and heavier, I felt that old familiar darkness creeping in.
“This is because you aren’t a good mom. Everyone else can handle being a working mom, but you are a failure. Suck it up, this isn’t worth complaining about. YOU aren’t worth complaining about.”
“This is how it will always be. Tired, run down, barely able to spend time with your child because you are broken. They would be better off without you.”
And the darkness settled in around me, and wrapped around my heart, and told me all the lies I had ever wanted to hear.