By: Katie McAllister, Mother of Two
I often jot down “things to remember” on anything I can find in the midst of our hectic days. I know I will forget the details.
How Ana (20 months) drops everything in her hands and runs to us to dance when we turn on music. How Amadeo (7 months) holds my hair, my scarves, my skin while he nurses. How they love to play together. How she tries to feed him and dress him and carry him although they are practically the same size.
I try to focus on the small joys, but too many of these paragraphs are followed by words of dark sadness and overwhelm, the desire to escape this thing called motherhood which is supposed to be so ultimately fulfilling.
This Mother’s Day I celebrate myself, a woman sculpting her life. I celebrate my slow climb out of a long descent into postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD, which went untreated after my first baby, got a little better with time, and then dug its heels in hard a few months after my second child was born. I celebrate the act of asking for help.
Advocating for myself has been the hardest part of getting the help I need. I’ve had to utter words I never wanted to say, answer “yes” to questions to which I wished I could have said say “no.” The beautiful piece is that as I reached out I was received with care, viewed as resourceful, undoubted as a good mother, seen as a whole person, unquestioned in my love for my children.
I spent 10 days at the Women & Infants Day Hospital, and in that time I went from not wanting to be there to not wanting to leave. The experience lives in me as something I draw strength from daily. The support lifted me up like a life raft, the change in rhythm to my days gave me confidence in my ability to handle my children alone, but also the wisdom to ask for help, and to keep asking. I filled my toolkit with tools of self-care, planning, goal-setting, and above all, remembering to breathe. It was like hitting the reset button with a whole team to aide me.
I found solace and validation in the other mothers I met there. We struggle with so many of the same things and are tied together by the knowledge of the depths we have gone to in becoming something other than what we were before we had our children. We bring back gold from the dregs. We face the mess, shush the voice that says “I can’t,” and proclaim over and over, “I’ve got this.”