Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gone Away Lake

The year after a baby could be the title of a memoir of mine, so profound and life altering it is for me. I see women who have a baby and briskly, Mary Poppins*ly move onward with a ferocious and single minded movement in their bodies. They aren't fucking around. They are getting shit DONE. I understand these ladies, I so get it, because although I'm not like that I know the motivation, the propelling force behind this baby as much loved but inconvenient accessory to my life movement: sanity. Women want to have a baby and stay in the world the way they were before because the emotions and unsettling, free falling, strange and at times terrifying emotions that come with new motherhood feel as though they will drown us forever.

I'm drowning.

I'm not saying I'm drowned. I'm saying, I'm drowning. I am in the great hormone bath of falling progesterone levels. I am watching bubbles form between my lips and float to the surface, popping at the top of the water like small shotgun announcements to myself: I'm still here.

I'm Still Here

Sugar on my lips, sugar milk in my babies mouth, sugar in her urine, hard on her kidneys, and caffeine, too, hard on my baby girl, and her wet red mouth. The black dog of depression meets the transformative rise of the Phoenix and all hell breaks loose inside of a woman. I have a baby girl and I find my touchstones all accounted for and useless. New ones must be made. New thoughts. New feelings. Old frustrations and insanities and habits come blazing up from the cellular storebank and I become furious at their entrapment.
You must do yoga, I whisper to myself. I eat a donut. You must pray, I hiss. I drink coffee. You must move your body, I implore. I sleep. You must engage in your life, I know. And disengagement is my choice and I ask myself why and I know it's because I am exhuasted, so deeply bone tired that facing hard things, one of those gone away touchstones, is hibernating. I can feel the choices at my fingertips. You must shower. You must eat before noon. A sick baby is a universal experience in work camp. You are underfed, exhausted, overworked, unshowered, on the brink of a nervous breakdown, and the baby doesn't give a shit. Honeybadger doesn't give a shit, right Stacey?

Do you ever feel you are drowning and waiting to be pushed? Pushed to the top? I am drowning inside of this great and watery cocoon and I can hear my husband's husky hard working voice but it doesn't quite reach me. I reach to touch his stubbly cheeks and look into his large hazel eyes and cannot find the ribbon of energy that usually flows freely between the two of us. I close my eyes in the darkness and burrow into his armpits and the great manly smell of him is my safest place but I do not feel safe.

My Dakota is struggling and this means that my heart is twisted metal thing like the remains of the car wreck that happened on Pomerado Road against the back of my house where they had to amputate the teenage girl's leg after the drunk boy in the driver's seat crashed them into a tree.
I can do. I can take care. I can take the right steps. And still there is the high metallic whine of distress emanating from my heart. I am his mother. I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever

stop mothering him. I will stop doing his laundry, making his daily meals, his appointments, being his 'caretaker' but I will never
stand down. Some people get adrenalin rushes in tragedy that enable them to do what seems impossible. Love does this for me.

Two intersections. A new baby and an almost man boy in our house. Two completely different paths and needs and two children in between those.

Some things are obvious to me. I must take better care of myself or soon I will be crying uncontrollably in the grocery checkout line when the nice girl with long blonde hair asks me how my kids are. Some things are not obvious to me. Where to find the strength to do so.

A new life in our family means that I must lean backward, backward, backward, until I am almost completely drowned and gone, before I spring forward for the experience. Like an orgasm. Like a revival moan. Like a great Southern storm.

I'm Still Here.

the title is from one of my favorite older kid books EVER<Gone-Away Lake (Gone-Away Lake Books) i read the first book a million and four times growing up. it has that special magic.
Mary said...

I have no words that do not sound trite, empty. Take a walk, I could say. Or - baby steps. Or you hang in there girl.

Empty phrases.

When you are where you are all you can do is just be.

In my heart though I am with you.

Maggie May said...

thank you mrs moon. it's not empty. you know the power of words, of just saying i am here- that is EVERYTHING.

Elizabeth @claritychaos said...

OH, honey. I am sitting here with chills. This honesty and beauty that you share - that you can describe your pain and struggle and exhaustion and drowning with such heart-breaking, beautiful words just blows me away.

I am sorry you are drowning. I am glad you are still here. This is one of the most powerful expressions on mothering a new baby -- mothering children of any age - that I have read.

I am so moved by this, and I will hold you in my heart right this moment.

Maggie May said...

Elizabeth just hearing that you get it is why I blog about my kids. It's that connection with other moms that makes things so much better than they would be otherwise. THe gettingitness.

Elizabeth said...

Sigh. Maybe you can look upon this time (and it's just a time, ephemeral, not forever, like everything)as your mermaid time. When you breathe water about as well as you breathe air. Therefore, you're not drowning, really, just living underwater. For now. And see all those wavy things above the surface of the water? That's us, mothers who know breathing underwater and we're waiting for you, waving to you.

Love you.

Cassie said...

Hearing you today and sending you the warmest thoughts.



Julia said...


Oh, you must SLEEP. Even if it means Ever has to make do for a night, you must SLEEP. Because everything is easier if you are not staggering through sleep deprivation. You can't think straight without sleep.

And since you cannot pray right now, I will pray for you. And for Dakota.

Leslie said...

Maggie, we don't know each other but I have been following your blog for a little over a year now (since Lola's birth story appeared on MK). I know and understand the things that you are saying; even though our lives are different, I know that drowning after having had a baby.

I don't want to sound weird but I think you are AMAZING. You're an amazing mother, an amazing writer, an amazing wife, and just a wonderful human being. I've read through your archives before and am doing it again now actually because your writing speaks to me. You are real in a world full of smoke and mirrors. I so appreciate that, more than I could ever say, especially because right now, I am totally drowning too. Completely. Your words help me heal and learn to forgive myself. Thank you.

I know that you will make it back up to the surface. I don't know how you will, just that you will, because that is what you do: you survive and you tell your truths. Hang in there. Lots of love coming your way from Riverside.

Lone Star Ma said...

Oh, yes. Their being older does not even seem to help me.

Millie said...

Dearest MM - time to seek some outside professional help for these feelings. Don't be afraid to ask, there is great honour is doing so. Promise me you'll do it, promise.
Millie xx

Maggie May said...

Millie I SO appreciate your words and I know where you are coming from. I have a long close relationship with depression and I know it's hydra headed ways. I do know I am depressed, but I also know myself and have gone through this twice before. After each baby I get depressed. I am taking zoloft but the main and real component here is sleep deprivation. Now that Ever is so sick it's been much worse, I went a couple nights just getting an hour at time. Plus, I ran out of fish oils two weeks ago and never got more, an extremely STUPID thing for me to do, because those pills save my ass. Not only do they help relieve depression they balance my hormones, so I don't have awful cramping and pain before my period like i am now!

Fousty said...

yes. it is a hibernation. the new baby hibernation. it's time to conserve energy. focus on what matters the most. those ladies that run on ahead, they are okay, but i don't think they tell the truth. i want to run ahead. i want to go back to school. i want to go fast and hard. i have to pace myself, though. i had a baby in november, you know.

i struggle with depression, and have for years. the anxiety is even worse. i am depressed. i am a nervous wreck. i am lucky if i get three hours of sleep, not because of the baby, really, but because of my job. i have to be up at 3 am to go to work. i've tried working out a different schedule with my boss, but he doesn't care. that makes me hate my job. which makes me feel like i hate my whole life. my husband works nights. i am up until he comes home. then i struggle to sleep, while the baby sleeps with me, nursing. i start to lose my mind. but then i catch it. back and forth.

back and forth.

i can't handle the blows that come. i'm too tired. i'm on edge. but. it's just a hibernation. i can't be myself for now, but it will come back around. i will come back around. you will come back around. we will come to the surface. wake up. the sun will touch our faces again.

i don't feel it most days, the hope. but sometimes, i have the feeling of it at the edge of myself, like a word that's on the tip of the tongue.

we will breathe again. just a little longer.

Annie said...

Sleep, like everyone is saying, and professional care, if needed, and the lots of love you always give and receive. I remember my first Mother's Day, and being so exhausted, with my son's medical needs, and just the normal deprivation of sleep, nursing and caring for a young baby, and I had to put on some lipstick and a pretty dress, and smile through my tears for the photographs. You will make it through this, and I agree, just saying, "I am here," is an affirmation. You are here- your wonderful, courageous self. Try, try, try to cut back on the sugar and the caffeine, for you and for Ever; but mostly, be kind to yourself. You will have good moments and bad moments. Whenever you can, rest, even for a few minutes. Hugs, Maggie. Sending warm thoughts and hoping things will feel better soon.

Sannah said...

Hi Maggie May, I clicked onto your blog because of your name, as I call my baby girl Molly May on my blog. I'm so glad that I have found your blog.
I'm not where you currently are, and I am grateful for that, but I have been in the past. I hope that somehow, you are able to get some uninterupted sleep and that after that things seem less hard, less foggy, and more bearable. I look forward to reading your next post.

Unknown said...

You are so powerful, your words are so powerful. I know you will find your way back. I did, and I was just as far out there as you, drowning. Not from giving birth but from death, and I so relate to everything you wrote.
xo Mary Jo

mosey (kim) said...

Depression is like that for me - waiting to be pushed upward, wanting to ASK to be pushed upward, but waiting for someone to notice and do it for me.

I don't pray often, but today I'm saying a prayer for you.

Anonymous said...

i'm always so blown away by your writing and vivid honesty. Thank you. I think your readers relate to you, no matter the source of our own depression or struggles or losses. We all love you. Keep writing, please.

The Beckster said...

Is it selfish to say posts like this comfort me? Since I've become a mom, I feel like I'm drowning all the time and it helps to know I'm not alone. You deserve a donut!!

Anonymous said...

There's the physical birth and the post birth transformation. Everything in your life has to move over to make room for the new person and that can be painful and exhausting. Use your older kids to help out- aren't they old enough? It might help them too to feel that awesome job and give you relief?
I thought I would die for the first three years as she clung to me- I thought I would suffocate and be extinguished by worry, love,exhaustion but here I am.
I work full time and find work my me time ironically. Use whatever family is available- loot and plunder whatever resources you can muster - everyone will understand. Even the girl at the checkout when you cry :)
PS- after my baby I craved sugar and put sugar in my decaf coffee for the first time in 20 years! Bodies are weird in their needs.

Ruth said...

Well, I want to say that Gone Away Lake and Return to Gone Away by E. Enright have been my very favoritest books for years!! I used to collect chidren's books and read them over and over. Now I only have the best ones left, as my seven children have moved out and we've moved to a much smaller home.
Books are the best! Have you read Diamond in the Window, and Swing In the Summerhouse by Langton?
Good Luck with the hormones!

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