I realized today, as a yoga pose that is meant to open the heart opened instead a floodgate of tears, that things have gotten really bad. For me. For Mi.Vida. For us.

I recognize the tell tale signs of depression. The apathy, the anhedonia (not finding pleasure in that which you usually enjoy), the whisper of “what’s the point” in the background of everything I do. My fuse is short. My patience thin. Everything is overwhelming. I can’t quite get my footing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mi.Vida is suffering from situational depression as well, though I’m not in a position to diagnose him. I’m no doctor for one and I’m no close, for another.

Except I don’t feel close. I feel unfathomably far away.

Tonight I reached out to Mi.Vida and he didn’t really have anything left in him to reach back. I’m not angry or disappointed. I’m not even surprised. I don’t know what I expected but when I saw the defeat in his face I did nothing more than let it settle in my heart.

Defeat is etched in each of us, indelibly.

For the first time in my life I’m genuinely worried that we won’t survive this. That our relationship will be irreparably damaged by this transition. That as a couple we will not survive our journey through parenthood.

I don’t understand how this happened. I don’t understand why it’s this hard. I’d read that it was difficult. I was told it was a challenge, but nothing prepared me for this. No one described it this way. At the end of each day, when there is nothing left to do but count the struggles that lay behind and ahead, I wonder how I got it so wrong.

This thing I wanted with all my heart, this life I thought was not worth living in the absence of what I have, it’s making me miserable. Did I not want it enough? Do I not love her enough? I feel so unworthy of this incredible gift we were given. When I think of all the people who want what I have and yet are denied it, it makes me sick with guilt and grief that I squander the miracle of my own good fortune.

I read article recently on NPR, that we should talk about how hard parenting is. That admitting it’s hard doesn’t mean your admitting you don’t love your kids. That good parents can struggle too.

Is this the kind of struggle they mean? Is this bone-aching fatigue what every parents faces? I don’t see it in the faces of my friends, I don’t detect it in their voices or hear it in what they say. But then again, they probably don’t in mine either. I hide it well.

I’m too embarrassed to admit how much we’re struggling. I’m too embarrassed to express that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not patient enough, not tough enough.

I’m too embarrassed to tell someone else that I don’t love my daughter enough to make everything else be okay.

19 responses

  1. I know you love your daughter very much. It radiates from every pore when I’m around you guys and it is very inspirational to me: I’m always thinking of how great you are at interacting with her and engaging her when I’m parenting my own kids. And she is the happiest child I’ve ever seen.

    Parenting is really hard. Unimaginably hard, sometimes. Someone discipled my children in front of me today because they were out of control. It made me feel like a real shit: I mean, that’s the ultimate in poor parenting. Wanting to be a parent very badly maybe softens the impact of the difficulties. Maybe. For a while.

    Do you have a physician you could go see? I wonder if maybe you are suffering from anemia. I had that kind of bone-tired fatigue and anhedonia when I was diagnosed with that. And massive fatigue certainly can lead to depression…

    Anyway, I am thinking of you and sending many, many hugs.

    • I have been checked for anemia (and thyroid issues) a few times and every time the tests came back normal. I think it’s basically depression that makes me feel that way, the symptoms can be very physical and my history shows that that is the case with me. Thank you for sharing that you’ve also struggled with difficulties during parenthood, despite a long road to get there. That makes me feel much better.

  2. I first of wanted to give you a virtual ((hug)). This post rocked me to my core, enough to open up my laptop and type out an immediate comment after sleepily reading the words on my phone.

    Let me do a virtual shake down first: Don’t you ever say you don’t love your daughter to make everything okay. Your love for Isa pours from every word you write. You and Mi.Vida might be struggling, but Isa isn’t the cause nor the solution to your problems. You and Mi.Vida would still struggle at some point if Isa wasn’t part of the equation.

    You and Mi.Vida have some gut wrenchingly difficult situations that would rock the foundation of most partnerships. The financial struggle is the first and foremost reasons that couples fall apart.

    I’m depressed too, if that helps you to have someone else admit it. I recognize that K isn’t the reason I’m depressed, but my professional situation, which adds to my stress, which has pushed me closer and closer to begging for drugs to shut off my over-worked brain.

    I meant it when I said I’m here for you. Feel free to reach out anytime.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I was realizing after I posted this that I don’t really think it’s that I don’t love my daughter enough, it’s more that how much I love her is not enough to overshadow all the difficult things. Does that make sense?

      Before we struggled with money I didn’t understand how insidious money problems could be in a relationship – now it’s seems to obvious. I can totally see how money issues could take down a relationship. It’s so stressful when money stuff is at the forefront of every decision.

      I can imagine that your professional situation makes you depressed. It sounds so stressful and hard. I can’t imagine how you put up with it! I hope that a new professional situation makes itself available soon so that you can get out of that job. My heart goes out to you being stuck there. You are a rock star for enduring that.

  3. Not that its particularly helpful coming from a total stranger, but you just wrote what’s been in my head & heart over the past few days & I wanted you to know that you are not alone. I have a challenging challenging toddler and one month away from having another boy. With 2 full time jobs, no family around, and pretty much no social life (and our house flooding over & over again the past few weeks) its just getting to be too much. I make it through the days but there is little joy, and “what’s the point” is running through my head constantly. And this after we fought so hard and so long to create our family!!

    Just last night, my husband rattled off a few things he was feeling & they encompassed several signs of depression. My heart went cold, but I still didn’t even have the physical or mental energy to reach out to him they way I should have. Because I’m just trying to keep my own head above water.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and from what you write (which to me seems to be completely honest & from the hear) this is NOT about not loving your daughter enough. Its just NOT, so don’t even think it!

    So, I have no help for you, only sincere sympathy, and gratitude for putting it out here.

    • I’m sending sympathy right back to you. What a difficult situation! I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with a challenging toddler while pregnant and dealing with the insane weather and flooding. And I’m so sorry your husband is struggling too. Not having support from your partner when you are struggling is so difficult. I hope you both find some relief soon. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Knowing that others struggle too makes me feel less alone and less of a failure.

  4. I will echo my peers here: your love for Isa is a palpable thing. It’s evident to every one of us.

    Parenting IS hard. Some days it’s a cinch, some days it’s the heaviest load you’ve ever carried, and some days fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve found it immensely conflicting to blog about parenting strain as a member of the IF community. We’ve talked about this. You know how I feel. Your feelings about parenting and its influence on the quality of your partnership are valid, so normal.

    If there is one thing that stands out about you, in these times that we’ve been blogging together, it’s that you are honest and owning. It’s an admirable quality, really. There comes a point, though, of too much self-accountability, when it slips into dangerous self-reproach, and that’s where you are right now.

    Your relationship with Mi.Vida… I am deeply sorry that you feel it may not rebound. I hate this for you.

    You recognize these familiar drowning feelings of depression… You owe it to yourself to take care of yourself. It’s trite, but true: you have an obligation to take care of yourself; you can’t take care of Isa if you’re in shit shape. I offer that not only as a friend, but as a professional. Please find someone–a professional someone–to throw you a line. There is zero shame or blame in taking care of your emotional self.

    I am here for you. X

    • You’re right, I do owe it to myself to do something about my current depression. I’m looking into therapy/medicine options that are financially feasible for us right now. It’s going to be hard but I’m sure I can work something out.

      As for Mi.Vida and I, I have faith that we have a good chance at getting through this but the realities of how hard this has been and how much damage it has wrought are hard to ignore. Things are not great between us and they haven’t been for a long time. I hope we can pick ourselves up, I really do, but with no changes in our situation in sight, I don’t know how we’ll do that. Hopefully sheer determination will be enough.

  5. I’ve been grasping for something truly helpful to say, some way to support you in a concrete way but I can’t seem to find it. I’m so sorry that you are going through such a hard time. As Trinity says so well, it comes across very clearly from your blogging that you can be terribly hard on yourself. I hope that you can reach out for help wherever you can find it. And also, I do believe that these early years are the most difficult. From everything I hear, parenting does get easier.

    • I hear that parenting gets better too. I sure hope so. I know I’m hard on myself. That is definitely a problem I’ve had for a long time. I’ll try to remember that when I’m feeling particularly down. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  6. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs of all. there is no lunch break and you are expected to be on call even when sleeping. if you saw the specs on a job describtion you would probably say no thanks. Except that we love our kids and want them to thrive in life and that is why we sign up. We love our kids and always put their needs ahead of our own and our husbands. But sometimes we need to be selfish and look after us too. I regularly put Munchkin to bed before her bed time so that Hubby and i can make some popcorn and watch a DVD at home. or open a wine and have an adult conversation that you cant do with a 3 yr old present.
    Go see your doctor get your iron levels checked and tell them about how you are feeling. But remember the best thing you can do for your daughter is to make sure you take the time to look after your marriage too.
    i hope things improve soon take care

    • Thanks for giving me permission to put myself in front of my daughter sometimes (within reason of course). I think I need that every once in a while. Parenting is so hard. I hope it gets easier.

  7. Your love for Isa is so complete, and so evident … and yes, parenting is full of struggle, and bone-aching fatigue. And those feelings are something everyone experiences … no matter how you struggle to get that baby you want so much. But what you describe does seem like something more, and if you recognize those feelings as depression, you’ve already taken an important step forward, and you owe it to yourself and to your daughter to seek help. This has nothing to do with not loving Isa enough. It has to do with *you*, and loving *you* enough. You can only find your own line; while you can throw one to Mi.Vida, you can’t make him take it.

    I wish that this weren’t so hard and so painful … and I’m so, so sorry that it’s feeling right now like your relationship with Mi.Vida may not survive this struggle.

    I’m here. Please know that I’m thinking about you, and would offer you whatever I can … an ear, a hug, or just presence.

    • Thanks for your support. I will seek out help, in the ways that are available to me right now. And hopefully Mi.Vida and I can too. I’d be so devastated to loss him. I can’t believe I’m even typing that. I so hope this is just a hard patch and we’ll bounce back from it. I have more hope that that is the case now.

  8. I have been following you silently for a while now, grateful to have someone feeling something like how I feel about marriage and parenting after IF/loss. This post has hit especially close to home, and I wish that I could just sit with you and hold your hand.

    I find that both online and IRL there is very little support and understanding for parenting after IF. If anything, the notion of “you got what you wanted, so what’s your problem? Just get over yourself and BE HAPPY” is heaped on us even more so than if we had never struggled to build our families in the first place. One dare not complain, one must only be endlessly grateful. For me, getting this in various forms from other IFers has been devastating. I understand the feelings that are behind it, but it is still hard on the soul after all the pain it took to get here. I struggle with wondering if I didn’t struggle enough, long enough, suffer enough. Do I not “deserve” my baby? The idea of “deserving” to be pregnant and parent out there is crushing.

    I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage for you to admit that life is not what you thought, not what you hoped. That no matter how much you love your child (and holy shit, I can see how much you do), having her did not fix your life. It doesn’t guarantee a happily ever after. Parenting IS HARD. It is amazing, and wonderful, and rewarding. And it is exhausting, difficult, and thankless. It challenges your marriage in new ways. But we love our children and we ARE eternally grateful. In the daily grind of life, it is easy to lose site of that.

    I won’t offer platitudes and tell you to just hang in there and it will all work out. But I will tel you that I think you are very brave to admit these things, and even more courageous for putting them out there. This is so important to working them out, and it takes real confidence to do this. Moreover, you are not alone. Not just in terms of having some support here on your blog, but you are not alone in your feelings. They are real. I have, and do feel so many of the same things. You are not a bad person, you are not a bad wife, you are not a bad mother. You are just going through a bad time. You are only human.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, for your support and your sympathies and your story. They mean more to me than I could ever say. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels these things. I wish none of us struggled this way. I wish there were more sources of support, especially in the parenting after IF/loss community. I’m keeping you in my heart and in my thoughts. I hope things get easier for both of us.

  9. Oh my, I’m so sorry I didn’t get to read this until now. Esperanza, I’m so incredibly sorry. I can’t imagine how scary this is. But please know it has nothing to do with how much love you have for Isa. If it doesn’t work out between you and Mi. Vida, it will never take away the love you both have for her…a love that is so apparent. Your happiness is so very important, and I hope you find a way to get that. And know whatever road you take, you have a friend to help support you through it.

    Love you. xoxo (See you Sunday when I give you a very big hug)

  10. I’m so sorry to hear about your struggle. I know situational depression has been so much worse for me than the plain old clinical depression I’ve had for most of my life, but I think a lot of that stems from shame. When you feel something like this and no one else dares to talk about their own identical feelings, it only makes things worse. This is my first time reading your blog, but I’m glad I’m able to add to the people telling you that you’re not alone. While no one will ever understand what you’re going through like you do, I’m glad to see that you do have a strong support group of people who care about you. I hope you can come back out into the light soon.

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