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Archive for November, 2012

Saved by a Stranger

So I was starting to feel a bit down yesterday, maybe from lack of sleep and my mom getting mad at me and my sisters being out of town, so I just tried to nap at home with Charlie and didn’t really go out except to our PEPS meeting in the morning. I woke up today and wasn’t feeling any better, in fact I was feeling worse and dwelling on depressing/hurtful things instead of the wonderful, brilliant, smiley thing right in front of me. It’s not that I’m not trying, I try to make Charlie my main focus every second of every day and maybe it’s the nonstop months of that that finally felt like weight on top of me.

I had to force myself to go outside today, to take Charlie out and to make sure I wasn’t cutting myself off from the world and letting the gloom spread further. So we went to Safeway, to use our WIC checks to get a block of mozzarella to make pizza tonight, but they didn’t have the 1lb. block of mozzarella out so I just grabbed two 8oz. blocks instead. This turned into a huge deal at the check-out line and kept 3 very nice and patient people waiting in line behind us while the checker tried to convince me to get a different kind of cheese. I tried to explain you can’t really make pizza with any other kind of cheese and she took that as, “I don’t want to substitute another cheese and I accept you won’t give me this cheese so I’d like to pass on the cheese today” so she ran my check without the cheese. This means my whole trip: dressing/feeding/prepping Charlie for an outing, strapping him in his chair, loading all our stuff in our car, driving in the rain, parking, collecting all the specific stuff to qualify for the WIC check that had the cheese on it – was for nothing, because she didn’t give me the cheese.

I was so overwhelmed and upset that I couldn’t think of anything else to do other than just walk out into the rain again. I knew that if I chose to speak to a manager, it would take even longer and Charlie would get hungry/upset/start crying and I would be even more upset. So I took him out to the car and just sat there, feeling very desperate and defeated and tried to find my phone to call someone to talk to, but I had forgotten my phone at home. So I just had to turn around and go back home…

As soon as I got through the door I just set down my groceries without putting them in the fridge and went and grabbed my phone. I knew things were bad, I was feeling on the verge of tears, and I didn’t want things to get any worse. I didn’t know who to call so I called the number at the bottom of the last e-mail my Group Health OBGYN sent me. An operator answered and asked how she could help and I said I was trying to reach my doctor and she said “well it’s SATURDAY, she’s not here, would you like to speak to a consulting nurse?” (I had no idea it was Saturday, feeling like even more of a disaster) I said,

“I don’t really know why I’m calling, I’m a single mother, I’m doing this all by myself, I’m all alone and I’m feeling really upset and helpless.”

“OK, don’t worry, let me transfer you to someone who can help you,” and she transferred me to a consulting nurse.

She got on the phone and I still didn’t know what to say.

“My name is Laura, I’m a consulting nurse, how can I help?”

“I don’t even know.” I let out a big sigh. “I’m all alone, I’m taking care of my 3 month old son, I’m feeling a lot of resentment and sadness today and I was just freaking out at Safeway and didn’t know who to call.”

“Do you feel like you might hurt your baby?”

“No, not at all, he’s really good, that’s why I’m upset because I don’t want him to see me sad. I guess I just feel like I’m doing a shitty job.”

“Ashley you are not doing a shitty job. I was a single mom myself and it was ROUGH, I totally know where you’re coming from and how difficult it can be. What you’re describing sounds like the natural, normal baby blues. As long as you don’t feel like hurting yourself or your child, because that’s when it gets into the postpartum depression zone, you are just reacting to the enormous amount of stress that is raising a child on your own.”

What followed was one of the most honest, open narratives of this woman’s own experience with getting pregnant in a casual relationship while she was in college and her decision to keep the pregnancy and raise the child herself. She shared very intimate and personal details with me because she felt that we, as single mothers, were on a level… and I was so relieved, that I was able to be included in the league of women this woman belongs to.

She told me about hitting her stride with motherhood around her son’s second year where she said she finally felt like everything gelled, but how hard it was up until then… ¬†how there were times she didn’t think she could do it… how she thought about giving him up… that maybe she hadn’t made the right decision… for her son or for herself… and I related to her so much.

“But I realized this little guy was the best thing in my life, he and I got to grow into being mother and son to each other, and you two will grow into that too, it takes TIME.”

“Yeah, I hope so. How old is he now?”

“Well, my son would have been 25 years old this year, but he passed away in a car accident when he was 17.”

“Oh my god…”

“…but I got 17 years with this amazing person and I realized that life is such a gift and I definitely made the right decision and you made the right decision too, Ashley, you did. You just have to take time sometimes to make sure you’re taking care of yourself too, but I think you’re going to do really well.”

“Wow, yeah, I hope so.”

All I can say is, it’s been 3 months of continuous, really, truly amazing moments with Charlie (which is why I haven’t stopped to write in this blog) and this is the first time I felt I really HAD TO write because this woman made me feel like I have the most amazing gift, and I am doing a good job, an admirable job, a very difficult job, and I am doing the right things… making healthy decisions for the both of us, every day… and falling into a whole new world of being a parent.

It’s OK to be overwhelmed, it is appropriate in these circumstances. I have resources, I can reach out, keep tabs on myself. I learn more every day. I meet new, intelligent people who help me to grow… and Charlie and I just keep growing… together. We are doing well.

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