I burped the baby on my left shoulder as I sat on the couch, shh-shh-shh-ing her in her ear as I timed the taps to her back simultaneously. She nestled herself within my neck; the scent of her sweet-smelling head sent trickles through me as the tears welled, dripping down my cheek and onto her head, splashing back as they landed. Each tear would cause her to jostle a little in response. I used her burp rag to wipe them off her peach-fuzz head.
My five-year-old was busy making me a fake food feast. “Enjoy your food, mommy! I’ll be wight back!”
Meanwhile, Baby Dude was typing away on battery operated toy at the dinner table, pretending it was his “puter” and he was “worting” (working) like I usually do.
The play food my daughter prepared sat before me on the ottoman, next to my nearly untouched iPad and laptop, and all I could do was cry looking at her spread. She’s pouring her heart out into this pretend meal she’s fixing for me, calling to me a list of ingredients she finds, using a paperback kiddie book as her menu. “Say you’d like to order ice tream, steak with cheese on it, and a chocolate bar, otay?”
I should be savoring this more, I said to myself, and stop beating myself up for not getting to work out, or showering, or leaving the floor unmopped. I can’t help she is running a slight fever and ornery and won’t be put down.
But it feels like the weight of the world is upon me, with a colicky feverish baby who can’t be consoled, with eleventy-billion kids who need my attention and love and good food prepared and chores and laundry and a computer that needs words and pictures and updates that I can’t find two hands to type them with. My tears spill forth more.
The baby began to fuss, and the shh-shh-shh-ing resumed, as I tap-tap-tapped away and bounce-bounce-bounced to the beat. I gazed at the window blinds closed, staring off, trying to protect my reddened eyes from my daughter’s, who has returned with more food prepared for me. “Look! I made you coffee, mommy! Yours is too cold.”
“Thanks, baby,” I muttered as straight-faced as I could, hoping she didn’t hear my choked up voice. I glanced over at my now-cold cup of coffee, wishing for heat vision to warm it up.
And a few extra sets of arms. And a nanny. And a cleaning lady. And for the fuss and fever to leave my Baby V’s baby body. And for sleeeeeeeep.
I got lost in a sea of wishes that kept popping up in my head until I was interrupted. “Mommy? Why are you crying?”
I didn’t want her to see me like this.
“Mommy has a headache, sweetie.” My throat closed up on me as my eyes filled. “Will you come sit with me?”
Her hugs made me feel temporarily better, but she still had “food to cook or it’ll burn,” she said to me.
My little mini-me, how much I adore her sweet face and loving intentions. Thank goodness she is so smart and eloquent. Some days, she is the only adult conversation I get.
PPD doesn’t give you forewarning. It doesn’t give you a note that says, “Hey! Today we’re going to make your life suck hard. Plan accordingly.” It comes at you in waves, striking you when you least expect it. And after a busy, busy weekend followed by a few rough days, my ability to fend it off was worn down.
Right then, a gas bubble rocked Baby V hard, and she became startled. She began to fuss once more.