September 7, 2018

An Attitude of Platitude

When I was single, people would tell me countless times, "You'll meet someone!" until I finally snapped back, "You don't know that!" Then they would assure me that they did despite having no proof nor even a crystal ball. I did eventually meet someone, but that's besides the point. They didn't know that. If they had, they could have warned me that I would meet a nice guy who wants to be paid a thousand dollars a month for his services. Instead, het gets a glare or an eyeroll depending on my mood.

Then when I became a mom, the platitude changed to, "You're doing great!" which was usually following their advice on what I'm doing wrong. I would be soaking in spit up, crying because my baby couldn't latch yet, get scolded for supplementing with formula, have garbage piling up and a mountain of wet diapers next to me, and they'd say, "You're doing great!" The final straw was a baby product that said, "You're doing great!" on the back, and I threw it against the wall and yelled, "You don't know me!"

The baby was doing 'great', but I wasn't doing well. Of course, I had postpartum depression because if there's a way to be nuts, I'll certainly find it. Even though I began seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in PPD, I felt detached from my newborn and was afraid that if I told anyone, they'd take him away. There were things I didn't understand, like if he didn't burp after eating, he wouldn't explode. I would spend a half hour trying to get a burp out of him, sobbing because I just wanted sleep or to run away. I needed my mom to help me with the cooking, cleaning, and teaching me what to do. More than anything, I wanted her to meet my son. My expectation was that I would experience a motherly euphoria, but instead an unexpected grief hit me.

As the hormones shifted, and I got used to being held hostage by a baby, I began growing to love my son better each day. Don't get me wrong, I always loved him. Since he was the size of a waterbear, I've loved him. Even though I wasn't feeling the warm fuzzies, if someone so much as looked at my baby wrong, I would have mauled them then taken a dump on their corpse. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it might not be.

Jason pointed out one day that I was doing great because our baby was thriving. Soon my older sister came to visit and helped with cooking, cleaning, and showing me how to put the baby on the dryer when he won't shut up already. So yes, I begrudgingly admit that I did meet someone, and I was doing great. There's no way that baby box could have known that though.
What mama? I'M doing great? You don't know me!


One of the hardest parts about writing again is missing my mom. She was my biggest fan and offered me honest feedback. Even when I didn't like her criticism, she was usually right. When she liked something, she laughed heartily and listed off reasons why I'm so wonderful. What made her praise feel so good was that she was specific, so it wasn't just general feel goodery.

Of course by this point in my life, I shouldn't need that. I have a better sense of self, my abilities, and could probably use some ego slashings from time to time. Still though, she had the greatest laugh, like happy bells ringing. She also had an eye for detail because the amount of spelling, grammar, and factual errors I make is embarrassing. Maybe not as bad as the president's tweets, but still.

Missing her is one of the hardest parts about being a new mom. She was a midwife, and I needed her help during my unfortunately difficult pregnancy. I was new to Pittsburgh and didn't know where to get my prenatal care, so I went to the one Marc Fleury's wife delivered at, Magee Women's Hospital. It's part of UPMC, so each week I had a different resident. Most of them looked half my age and twice as attractive, which no woman with a geriatric pregnancy wants to see. They decided to induce me at 37 weeks because of my elevated blood pressure.

You kinda ruined my morning, pal. No hard feelings.
You know how every parent says the best day of their life was the day their kids were born? I've had better days. Sure, I was happy to deliver a healthy baby and meet Zach finally, but I also gave birth that day. Giving birth is like your insides have been put on a medieval torture rack. I had been induced and none of the students could get my epidural right. It kept wearing off after 45 minutes, and when I told the nurses, they would give me a lecture about how I'm supposed to feel pressure. Except, I didn't just feel pressure; I felt my inside being ripped apart and just wanted to rock myself or walk around, but I couldn't because I was bedridden with a catheter and strapped up to so many damn machines that kept beeping. Jason even asked if they could unhook me for an hour so that I could sleep, but they said that they couldn't. After three days of no food, no sleep, and squealing like a pig, he finally asked, "What the hell kind of birth plan did you have?"

When I was finally ready to deliver, I pushed my little guy out in 24 minutes. The only babies I've seen born have been on sitcoms, so I was unaware that it usually takes longer. Zachary Adams Klingensmith was born at 8:34am on October 18, 2017 and weighed 6lbs 2oz, then peed on the doctors three times before they had a chance to wash him off. My doctor's name was Abby Stork, so a Stork literally delivered my baby. Jason and I both saw Zach hold his neck up and smile at me when I asked to see him, even though that's probably physically impossible. Wish I could ask my mom.