I went a little bit crazy after Grady was born.
I don't use the word crazy lightly. And I don't mean any harm. If you are a little bit crazy - or a lot crazy - please know that I don't use the term in a negative or derogatory way. I think maybe we hesitate too much when it comes to talking about mental health. Much in the same way I refuse to refer to my cancer as "the big C!" or ::whispering, check over your shoulder to make sure it can't hear you:: "the C word," I won't be cute about my postpartum anxiety.
I was obsessed with this idea of fitting my life back together the same way it was before Grady was born. I felt like an orange. I'd been peeled. I'd been separated into pieces. I could fit a segment or two back in place but there was no way I could put myself back together, wholly, completely, unscarred, and unscathed.
A few weeks ago we ended up in labour and delivery after Lady Baby was suspiciously still for 12+ hours. I know that 12 hours is too long to wait but I've not felt a ton of movement throughout this pregnancy (thanks to an anterior placenta) so it wasn't obvious right away that something was off. Anyway. We got to the hospital and the nurses hooked me up to the monitor and within a couple minutes we could tell that everything was fine. My nurse was brusque and managed to both tell me off for not coming in sooner, and make me feel like a hysterical woman for coming in at all, all in the same sentence. I had to stay to be monitored for a few hours and the next time my nurse came to check me, her tone had softened. "Your chart says we're keeping a closer eye on you," she told me. I was bored and lonely and exhausted from being alone with my thoughts (hospitals make me panic) and I wanted her to stay and chat, so I asked if she was referring to my low iron. No. My low calcium? No. My molar pregnancy? No. My cancer? No. By this point we were kind of eyeing each other up like, what is this bird on about? "Your mental health," she finally told me. "We're watching out for your mental health."
It was strange and unexpected and a little comforting, if I'm being honest. I don't know if I'm going to go crazy - a little or a lot or maybe not at all - after I give birth this time but it's reassuring to know that my chart can be my voice, even if I don't know how to ask for help. Part of me feels like I've been through too much since Grady was born, there's no way postpartum hormones can bring me down if cancer can't. But as I approach my third cancerversary, the realistic part of me acknowledges the cumulative effect of the medical struggles I've faced. It has been exhausting. It has been challenging. It has shown me I possess strength I never dreamed I had, but it has also worn me out. Sometimes it is all just a little too much.
So. As Lady Baby's birth day approaches, as I cross things off my list and think calming thoughts, and as I prepare to unpeel the wonky and slightly lopsided orange that is my put-back-together life, I'm trying to remember that we all struggle from time to time and it doesn't mean we're ungrateful for what we have. I feel like the luckiest person in the world, even if I am a little bit crazy.