No one told me about The Hormones. The Hormones, these strangers that come and take residence in your body and mind during pregnancy. I liken them to The Jones or Smiths. Houseguests that come to stay for a while. Typically I love houseguests, they come we share meals and long conversations, we enjoy each other’s company, and then, after a few days they leave just as quickly as they came. But The Hormones, they aren’t your typical houseguest, oh no, The Hormones are the world’s worst houseguest. When you’re having a quiet moment they jumble your thoughts. A much needed conversation, they jumble your words. On a hot summers day they crank the heat higher. They do strange things to your body as well, mysteriously causing some areas to inflate and others deflate. There seems no rhyme or reason.
And all the while you do everything you can to keep these houseguests in check, knowing full well that they’ve come for a long visit.
I didn’t realize these “guests” were at my house. How silly of me not to realize. There was a life growing in my body, shouldn’t I have known?!
He plated dinner. Our lovely basket weave plates. A wedding gift. We were deep in discussion. Without even realizing our discussion was turning into something else, I felt my body warm, boil, my brain get hot, and suddenly I had no words, they wouldn’t come out. I heard a shrill, which I know now was my own voice, as I watched my plate filled with food fly across the kitchen and smash to pieces on the floor.
I looked at the plate, looked at my husband, and ran to our room, hurling myself upon the bed weeping for no logical reason.
He cleaned up the shattered plate and food, came into the room and scratched my crazy back.
And this is how it was while The Hormones came to visit.
We got in the car and went to our favorite coffee shop. This was us before parenthood, two creatures bopping from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of the perfect brew, atmosphere, comfy chair. We owned and read these things bound with glue called books. We sat in long silences.
These days were coming to a quick end. My body got bigger and ached. Summer to Fall, Fall to Winter, and on a snowy day in February we became parents.
I foolishly expected our houseguests to pack up and leave, but each night as I woke drenched in sweat was reminded of their presence. For Father’s Day I wanted to decorate my husband’s office, but the store didn’t have the shelf I was looking for. I wept stupidly in the parking lot. Over a shelf. I had no control.
I’ve shared this before and feel it’s important to keep sharing: That while those unwanted houseguests wanted to rob the joy of my first child, while they played tricks on my body telling it it wasn’t hungry and that I didn’t need to eat, while I began wasting away body and mind, while everything felt like it was falling apart, in the midst of it all, I stopped and I got help.
Help looks different for everyone. My help came in the form of friends to watch my son so I could sleep. It came in the form of long talks with trusted family members. It came in the form of a holistic vitamin consultant. And it came in the form of a little tiny pill that help ease my anxiety and calm my nerves.
I understand that there has been, and can be, a great deal of stigma assigned to this last form of “help.” I’ve heard it can be particularly bad within the walls of the church. Fortunately for me, this was not my experience. I wasn’t met with judgement or destain. In fact, those who knew what I was going through held my head above water and protected me.
As we meet these struggles head on, as we fight for the health of our bodies, minds, souls, it is particularly important not to forge the path alone. If you find yourself here, whether the result of postpartum, change of life, anxiety, or if the weight of life just seems to much to bear, seek help, seek safe people, seek the right solutions for you personally. It looks different for all of us, but for all our uniqueness we have the commonality of need for community. Do not go it alone. You are not alone.