Now I know my A,B,C’s continued…
“G” is for God… please help me
I believe prayers should come from the heart. My concept of the ‘Siddur’ (prayer book) is that it’s a tool manufactured to help us find the words to communicate with God. A way to make sure we cover all that we are grateful, thankful, what we need and also sorry for. From the moment we wake up we have this outline to go by. Thanking God for our first breath of the day, to what we eat, for the healthy functions of our bodies and more. It’s a very useful tool for the God fearing Jew, I respect it greatly. With that said, I’m gonna go out on a limb here (don’t judge me please) and tell you that I rarely open one. Now don’t get me wrong, I do pray, and often, in my head and out loud, but in my own words. I consider my relationship with God a pretty tight one. There is one holiday’s prayers that I read directly from the Siddur, Yom Kippur. It has always conveyed exactly and eloquently how I feel during that special time of redemption. It covers all the bases, and truthfully I couldn’t put it better myself, so I do “go by the book” in that case. In the months to come I found myself praying allot.
“H” is for Haunted
The days and weeks following the birth of Ally and Mateo my “baby blues” were replaced with sort of a haunted sensation. It lingered ever so quietly, like a fly on the wall. I blamed it on exhaustion. I fought the feeling. Feelings are just feelings and nothing else. As long as I don’t succumb to them everything will get better, I thought. On I went, as I do, straight back to my everyday. Hot meals…clean house…nursing the twins, check.
Then summer came and the kids were on vacation from school. My mother in law came to spend it with us as she usually does. The summer sped by, her help was welcome with the babies. There were nights when we would endlessly rock the babies as they screamed till midnight. I’m grateful for her help. The twins were quite the tag team. Ally would sleep and Mateo was wide awake, when she woke he fell asleep. When he cried, she was calm, and on it went.
Quite a few people commended me on how I managed the six of them with no summer camp. When I think about it, the chaos was actually my safe zone. I was busy – cooking, cleaning, wiping noses, changing 5,000 diapers..my mind was occupied. It was when it was quiet when it was the hardest. When my husband or MIL took the big kids to the pool, or they would go run errands to give me some quiet time with the babies. That quiet allowed that icky feeling to creep in. My mind would race – “check on the baby, check on the baby again, and again…” , “your blessing quota is full, expect bad to come”, “Ally’s cry is weird”, “you can’t do this, you’re too weak”. I would wait for the sound of the girls running up the stairs to fill my mind again. Being alone, for the first time in my life scared me. I hated it. I’ve always trusted myself with my babies, and always felt safe in my home, in fact I loved it. But now, it felt like someone, something, was lurking around the bend. Something horrible was going to happen, I have so many blessings in my life – something’s gotta give. I cry when I write this because it brings me back to a darkness that I resent. A loneliness that seems impossible when you are surrounded by loved ones. Even when Camille, my seven year old, would stay home to be with “Mommy” when everyone else would leave for some outing, I was secretly happy I wasn’t alone. As if my seven year old was my protector. I was supposed to be her protector.
“I” is for Isabella
I remember this one time when I was home with the babies and my eldest daughter Isabella. I was going about my business, organizing things for Isabella’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah. I put both babies to sleep, tucked carefully in their stroller for their nap. Ally with her sweet pink blanket and Mateo with his blue one. About 15 minutes went by, I was on the phone with my sister and I thought it was time to check on them. As I approached the stroller there was a blue toned shadow, that at first glance looked like Mateo was completely blue in the face. I felt the blood leave my body. “Here it is, this was it, I knew something horrific was going to happen” I thought quickly to myself. I screamed, and I ran to him, yanked him out fast enough to give him whiplash. “Hello?!? Ruth? Is everything okay?!?” I heard my sister say nervously through the phone. Isabella ran out into the living room to find me shaking Mateo who was in a deep slumber “Wake up Dammit!” I screamed with tears streaming down my face. “Mommy, your scaring me!” “He’s fine, he’s just sleeping!” She yelled. And then I heard a delightful scream from him. He was piiiissssed. I woke him from a delightful nap because the blue blanket was casting a hue on his beautiful healthy skin. In that moment I knew something was wrong, my rationality was exchanged for such extreme anxiety that I secretly decided I’m not to trust my own feelings anymore. My sister calmed me down, while Isabella wrapped her arms around me, caressing me like the sweetheart that she is. ‘Mommy, everything is fine’ she said. And yet again, my daughter was my protector.
“J” is for Judgment
September was approaching and I kept myself busy readying the girls for their new school year, and the upcoming Bat Mitzvah at the end of October. My mother in law went back to New York and I kept moving forward. I tried to ignore my thoughts and just kept praying that this wasn’t my judgement, for something I may have done in the past. That it would go away.
“K” is for knowledge
I should have seen something coming. ‘Ruth, you’ve always had great insight’, my father has repeatedly told me through my life. I wish I had the knowledge to recognize the signs.
‘L’ is for List
There is a list of standardized questions that was created to help recognize signs of depression after birth. Do you have trouble sleeping? “Yes, I have twins”. Do you find you’re exhausted most of the time? “Yes, I have twins”. Do you worry about little things that never used to bother you? “Yes, I have twins”. Do you wonder if you’ll ever have time to yourself again? “Yes, I have twins”. Do you fear leaving the house or being alone? “Oh, wait…yes”. Do you have anxiety attacks? “YES”. Do you have difficulty concentrating? “Yes”. Do you think something else is wrong with you? “Yes, but I’m EXHAUSTED”. Do you feel like you will always feel this way and never get better? “I’m starting to…”. The above is how I should have answered. But in the moment, all I could think was – “How is this any of their business?”. I answered, “NO” to all of the questions.
“M” is for Moments
I don’t want you to think that it was all bad for me at the time. I had many moments of love, happiness, and laughter. My husband and my children are the light in my life. One night when my MIL was still here, Ian took me on a “date”. He packed a cooler with some beers, sandwiches and snacks. We drove quietly to the beach near us, sat in the cold sand, and looked at the stars. We reminisced about when we were younger, and listened to the waves crashing. It only lasted a couple of hours but it was romantic and truly needed. I missed my husband. We rarely had time to ourselves, so when we did, it was precious.
“N” is for Nerves
The girls finally started school, which happens to only be a three minute walk away. I would wrap up the twins in my carrier and accompany the big girls to the gate of the school, kiss them, and walk home. I’d care for the babies with my nerves on a constant high. I just counted the minutes until it was time to pick up the kids. At 1:30 I’d put the babies in the carrier once more and gather my crew.
“O” is for Oxygen
A couple of weeks after school started I began to feel sick. My body ached, my head hurt, I had fever, and I was miserable. I kept making plans to go to the doctor but before I knew it 5 days had passed. I was very weak but continued nursing the twins because I didn’t want them to get sick, I hoped the antibodies from nursing would protect them. One morning, as I walked the girls to school my weakness took over me. My eyes went white, and a tidal wave of dizziness came over me. My lungs felt like they were opening up wide, strangely suffocating. My legs went limp, and my chest tightened. I yelled to Pearl that was a few steps ahead, “Come here Pearl! Take the baby! I can’t hold myself up!”. She ran over quickly with Mia and Camille at her side, she pulled Mateo out of the carrier as I collapsed to the ground. Ally was in the stroller sleeping soundly. I could barely breathe but my first thought was to call Ian. “Ian, I feel like I’m dying, call an ambulance for me, I’ll be in front of our building”. He quickly asks, “What Ruth!?! Why!? What’s wrong???”. I get the words out, “I don’t know, I can’t breathe, I can’t walk..my chest hurts… I love you… I’m scared”. He then tells me that I “MUST” call by myself, that I’ll need to answer questions, and that he’s on his way home. “Ruth call now, I’m on my way back, I love you”. I called the ambulance and crawled to the front of my building,this way, if I lost consciousness the paramedics could find me. My kids followed me like little ducklings. I sat on the floor with them as we waited for help, and I prayed.
To be continued…