Saturday, December 08, 2007

Motherhood Sucks

Long time readers may remember that I have an old friend named Pat who I knew at university. At the age of 42 years old, it was clear that she was never going to find the right man, and she went to a sperm donor clinic and got pregnant by herself. At the time, we were thinking that she might come to stay with us for the birth, but she decided to stay at home and have help from her mother instead.

My one fear with all of this was that Pat is inclined to depression. She has struggled for years with the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and other issues. I was worried that having a baby alone would put her at risk of another bout of depression.

Unfortunately, this has turned out to be true. She had a very bad birth, followed by the baby having to be in intensive care after it was born. But when she seemed okay for the first few weeks, I thought it was a false alarm. But, a couple of months to brood about it all, of isolation and a baby on her own, and she is sinking fast. It is so bad that she is not sure a therapist can help and is thinking of checking herself into a psychiatric ward. Post-natal depression and/or psychosis, here we come.

There is so litle I can really do from here. It's so frustrating, because we ought to be enjoying our babies together, happy as clams to have triumphed over circumstances, and instead she is having a shitty time.

But also, it really makes me wonder why motherhood is so hard. I love my Little Dude, but I still remember how bad it was in the beginning. I am mostly a boringly sensible person, but to be honest, I think I went a bit mad. I had the most ridiculous, psychotic thoughts - that the baby would die (I was surprised every morning when he was still alive), that everyone in the supermarket was staring at me because I was so ugly (I was barely coping with the effect on my body), and even that the devil (who I don't really believe in) would try to possess him. I actually knew the whole time at some level that none of things were true, but I was so out of my head with sleeplessness and worry and hormones that I had these crazy, intrusive thoughts. I don't think I really felt normal until I stopped breastfeeding.

Somehow, the whole process seems kind of flawed. The babies with such huge heads that mothers are at risk during the birth, such a long period of dependence that they are incredibly vulnerable to abandonment and neglect, the high rate of failure with breastfeeding. No wonder so many babies used to die.

Quite honestly, I think everything about motherhood sucks except the actual child.


Blogger Sailor said...

Postpartum depression, even though I've heard a fair number of people "pooh poohing" it, is as real as any other form or cause for depression.

With the incredible stress pregnancy and birth puts on a mother, and the raging hormonal changes throughout, it's amazing that so many more don't feel it.

It is the kids that make you a mother, so if that's the part that doesn't suck- that's pretty good!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Fusion said...

My wife suffered a little bit of depression when our son was born, and that compounded with complications from pregnancy and additional surgery after the birth left her feeling disconnected from him for a long while. Hopefully my daughter won't have this problem after her daughter is born in April...

4:35 PM  
Blogger Charmed said...

This dark time will pass for your friend. She should see a doctor for some medication for her depression though. Raising a baby is hard with a mom and dad. I can't imagine doing it alone.

5:08 PM  
Blogger FTN said...

I'm amazing how low the infant mortality rate has become in the last 100 years or so. It really says a lot about how far we've come medically and technologically, BUT...

...The other issue is that we've gone to the other end of the spectrum psychologically. There's really no data that I know of about postpartum depression from 200 years ago, obviously, but life was much more community-based in the past. Now, so many stay-at-home mothers of babies are essentially on their own. They rarely go out, they might only see another adult at night when the husband gets home. Some even have to schedule "play dates" just to get together once every week or two with someone! It's kind of crazy, isn't it?

I'm a guy, so I really don't know what I'm talking about here. But I think if I was a SAHM of an infant, I would crave an abundance of adult interaction.

10:19 AM  
Blogger hasarder said...

I agree with FTN. There is tremendous physical stress in having a baby, and the psychological stress and isolation new parents experience in modern society builds upon that until many feel like they're cracking up. Having conversations with other adults, having help with the day to day care, heck even just getting a few hours of uninterupted sleep can do wonders for the physical and mental health of new mums.
I don't have kids, but everyone I know who does says it really does get easier and stops sucking once they are a bit older and you have time to scratch your arse.
I really feel for your friend, going it alone. I hope she gets the help she needs for her depression. I don't know where she is, but many psychiatric hospitals have a special post-natal unit where you can be there with your child. If she's that far gone it could be a good idea, I've known a few people who've gone down that road and said it really did help them.
We only get told about the warm fuzzy feelings of new motherhood, not how bloody hard it is. We get told how we're supposed to feel when we have a baby. It takes great courage to stand up in the face of all that and admit it's just not working like that for you. But it's more common than people realise.

5:47 PM  
Blogger C-Marie said...

My sister had a bout of the Postpartum after her first little one.. she sought medical attention immediately and got the help required to see it through.
It would have to be fair to assume most mommy's go through some degree of it. It's not just a joyous occasion but a very scary and stressful one as well.
I hope things get brighter for your friend.

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that women of a certain age should not have children - especially with fertility assistance.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Tina said...

This post really hits home...I'm a SAHM of a 10 week old screamer. It definitely sucks. I don't crave the adult interaction as much as I crave time alone by myself. Since my hubby works nights, I don't even have the opportunity to leave the screamer with him and take a walk alone. Makes for a crabby mommy, let me tell you!

8:54 PM  
Blogger flutterby said...

Such an honest post, Em. I can relate in many ways to those "crazy" thoughts, and reading yours brought a smile to my face.

I hope your friend can find the help she needs.

6:17 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

Hi Em, this is serious stuff!

Please get your friend to a psychiatrist asap.

After the miscarriage, my poor Lovey got severe postpartums to where it took meds to get her out of them. I have known gals who got suicidal over this!

As someone else said, these are profound chemical changes in a womans body!!!

I know I am dealing with the igmorant IF they confuse routine baby blues with actual clinically diagnosed PPD.

I know I am dealing with an asshol_ if they deny such PPDs exist!

I gues we as a people are just not doing so well in how we provide a good social structre for raising children?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous mrs p said...

Anon those are extremely harsh words from you. So does that mean that anyone with any form of depressive illness should not have children either? What about bipolar women?

Depression is an different to diabetes, cancer or heart disease. It is both treatable and manageable.

Having suffered PPD I know how it sucks and am so pleased that she is seeking help for herself.

Hopefully she will soon be well and enjoy her precious bundle of joy.

4:12 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

Hi anon, i can think of a few good reasons why a person MIGHT advice women of a certain age to consider not having children by birth.

The presence or abscence of post partum depression after birth is not one.

Can you cite a legit study showing a higher rate of PPD in women of a certain age.

WTH is a certain age anyhow?

I am guessing you meant no offense or insult to anyone, but please remember, this is a very charged subject for a lot of us!

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog, and I like it. I just typed in "motherhood sucks" because my son only slept for an hour nap, and the prior 2 days with my husband he slept 2 and a half hours! Not fair I say! So now I am quite annoyed because that's my only break. The house is a mess, the fridge is in the dining room, and a wire runs across the balcony and through our living room at the moment because there's no time to get things done. My son is a doll, but just never been a greaat sleeper. So I'm quite done with this sleep deprivation. I'm telling you, I understand your thoughts. I think I'm going to go out of my mind. I just left him in there and turned off the monitor (which I've never done). Otherwise, I'm going to be a raging mommy, throwing shoes at the wall (which I have done in the past!). It is so the toughest job ever.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hehehe.. I'm another person who found this blog by typing in "motherhood sucks" to google. I love that I'm not the only one. :)

I think it sucks because our society is so screwed up, like FTN said. Just imagine if you actually knew your neighbors, and hung out with them. Walked out your front door, while the kids were playing with neighbor kids, sat around, and chatted with Other People.

BTW, I was googling "motherhood sucks" because my kids were driving me nuts this morning. :)

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Motherhood is a curse. Thank god for birth control and abortions. Don't pressure the next generation into thinking the "most important thing in life is to get married and make babies" because we all know what a crock of shit that is!

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Motherhood is a curse. Thank god for birth control and abortions. Don't pressure the next generation into thinking the "most important thing in life is to get married and make babies" because we all know what a crock of shit that is!" This is a bit extreme.......... Mothehood is both a blessing and a curse, those who see it as one or the other need to wake the hell up!. I am one of those who googled mother hood sucks. I have 6 children and know first hand how much this job sucks. i suffered PPD after my first and third kids. I dont believe that medication is the way to go for your friend Emma. Not exclusively anyway. I think she needs to sort out alot of other stuff before she can get better. You said she was abused as a child and that stuff never goes away and having the emotional upheavel of becoming parent can bring otherthings that we thought were dead and buried. This i say from experience.

2:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my beautiful,clever,affectionate daughter to bits. But being a mother is a bloody nightmare. It's an endless,thankless job. I feel so scared that I'll scar her for life because maybe she can sense the bad vibes coming from me at times. I fully intend to discourage her from having any kids unless she is absolutely determined.
Good luck to all you parents out there.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally! So happy to hear women who are honest about how hard motherhood really is. Thank you all!

9:18 PM  

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