I don’t remember what day it was, or even what month, but I do know it was sometime during the dark, cold winter of 2009. The snow and the ice heaped their weight on top of my already unbearable load of new motherhood. It got dark early, both outside and in my heart. The date may escape me, but the details of that evening are emblazoned on my memory. We had just hit an impossibly large bump in our already rough road of infant sleep and it took everything I had not to fall into a crying heap on the floor.
It took everything I had.
It seemed like every night, without fail, our son would wake up crying moments after our heads hit our pillows. It was frustrating to say the least. Some nights it was relatively simple to help him return to sleeping, other nights it took everything we had.
This night it took everything we had.
Walking. Rocking. Nursing. Bouncing. Cuddling. Nursing again. More rocking. Walking around. Singing. Swaddling. More nursing. More cuddles and rocking.
Everything we had was not enough.
Somewhere under the incessant crying, the feeling of failure, the hopelessness, the darkness outside and in – I snapped. I yelled, I screamed, I was irate and completely incoherent. I could not believe this was happening to me and I wouldn’t take it anymore. I kicked a wall and threw things. The world around me blurred, my hands and legs moved without my bidding.
I was scared of myself from inside my own skin. In a fleeting moment of clarity, I remembered seeing a hotline on a form I was given by the pediatrician the week before. A crisis hotline.
It took everything I had to go get that form, find that number, and call it.
I sat on my phone on the very edge of my bed while DanO held our precious first baby in the living room. A warm female voice was soon connected to me. I explained the feelings of complete emptiness and insufficiency. Of losing touch with reality. Of wanting to implode. Simply the presence of another person via phone line was enough to bring my feet back to earth.
This all unfolded well before I knew I had a postpartum mental health issue; at the time I just thought I was a horrible mother (and person) who had absolutely no self-control and a very serious anger problem. So much has been done to address my postpartum depression and anxiety since then, praise God. But I will always, always remember the night at the very bottom of my struggles when I called a crisis hotline.
With everything in me, I am so glad I did.