every new mother

I’m on the watch for it because according to the cloying commercials, depression hurts everyone.  I went for a check-up yesterday with my OBGYN.  He is such a gentle warm man.  With my feet on the floor and my bare ass on the papered table, he asked how I was doing.  Looked into my eyes and waited.  And I couldn’t speak.  I just started to cry.  The nurse handed me a fist of tissues.  “Well maybe we should do something about that, what do you think?” he asked.  The thing is, I explained, I’m not like this every day.  Some days are good.  I get up, run errands, surf for children’s books and clothes and nursery decorations.  I cooked a fucking rockstar lamb stew with cinnamon and parsnips just the other day.  “It would just be easier if they were home with me.”  And that’s when I realized I was full of shit. 

Every new mother finds a reason to get depressed.  Every new mother feels like a failure at some point.  Every new mother, somewhere deep inside, wonders if she’s doing it right and if someone else could do it better.  Someone else would know how to stifle their cries.  I worry Phil will think I suck.  I worry the beans don’t know me or need me.  I worry because Lucas looks like a complete stranger to me.  He doesn’t look like mine.  I worry I won’t spoil them enough.  And I’m so fucking lazy.  I don’t want to visit them at the hospital some days.  When I was iced in, I was relieved.  I didn’t want to walk through the hallways.  And I cried in bed because I was a selfish horrible mother.  I don’t deserve them. 

I cried to my father.  He made me feel better.  It felt good to admit how I felt aloud, to someone who wouldn’t judge me for it.  Phil went to the hospital without me, bringing home new photos (I reminded him to please take the camera), and when I saw their new expressions, they looked like someone else’s children.  I couldn’t tell who they were, and it makes me feel like a stranger, not a mother.  Those babies are supposed to need me, their mother, but they don’t when they’re being so well tended after by a team of professionals.  I know, I know, “I’m there and they can feel it and sense my love.”  But really, I don’t believe that.  Either way, I will continue to hold and love them, every day.  But I’ll do that mostly because that’s what a good mother does.  It’s what I should do.  But most of the time, I don’t want to.  Until I do.

Once I’m with them, holding them, I’m in love again.  And I cry to them and sing and talk to them as if they’re my sweet bean Linus.  But when I’m alone in my bedroom with Linus sniffing at my nipples through my t-shirt, I feel like nothing has changed.  It’s still me and the bean, only now we’re waiting for the kids to come home.  And once they do come home, Linus will have to go (he has a history of biting people–and not strangers, people he dearly loves, like my sister, and Phil.  And even if Cesar Millan came to our rescue, I’d still fear just one slip up).  And this just breaks my heart.  Linus has been through everything with me.  Pregnancies, dates, boyfriends, Hamptons, tears, drunken nights, marriages, an engagement, divorce, broken hearts, falling in love.  I’ve slept with Linus nearly every night of his life, in all the beds of my life.  With my ex-husband, with Oliver, alone on my own, in Phil’s bed, and now in our bed.  But he has to go, mostly because I’d be far too stressed out with him here, terrified he’d go after one of their toys and snap at one of them.  Take out an eye.  Disfigure one of their faces.  You can’t undo that kind of thing.  Even if he changed and became their protector, a part of me would always fear just one slip.  I can’t live like that. 

He’s used to spooning with me, taking up a third of our bed, a half some of the time.  And it’s all my fault for raising him like my child instead of my dog.  He’s my little lover dog and deserves piles of affection and love (and exercise and dominance) the kind I can’t continue to give between the pumping and the two babies in bed.  And even with a muzzle, it won’t stop him from racing and bounding into the bed, perhaps crushing one of the babies.  We’ve read the books on how to introduce your dog to babies.  We’ve brought home their worn clothing.  That’s not the problem.  Lea, thank God, loves him just as much as I do.  And she cannot wait to love him in Montana.  “Dude, I’m totally going to put him in a doggie ski suit, with goggles, and pull him on a sled.”  And I laugh until I snort, which is what happens with Lea.  At least he’ll be with her.  But still.  He’s my real baby.

I have the baby blues, not a full on case of PP depression.  “You’re allowed to feel sad once in a while, as long as it’s not every day, which wouldn’t be fair to you, to the babies, or to Phil.”  And I’m not sad every day, but when I am, I AM.  Mostly I think Phil deserves someone better, someone thinner, someone who fits into her own fat clothes.  And all that thinking is a product of crapass self-esteem and assbackwards hormones.  Exercise will help.  I’ve at least been eating healthfully the past three days, which feels like a start.  And when I read these words, I want to smack myself.  “YOU SOUND LIKE SUCH A KNUCKLEHEAD!”  I am rockstar and loving and passionate, and quite frankly, he’s damn lucky to have me in his life.  But the small girl inside looks up to him and thinks, “how can you love me, when I can’t stand myself?”    This isn’t the kind of thing I want to discuss with friends.  It’s the kind of thing you keep to yourself, or to your blog.   

So now we’re (my boobs and I) keeping an eye on it , my depression, making sure the good days still outnumber the bad.  And if that changes, I’ll make some.



  1. one day at time.

    I am sorry about linus.

    my daughter is now one and I still feel lazy. i recently started on zoloft, and it has helped. it helps me fell more energized, I wish I would have done it sooner.

    Great post.

  2. you're getting rid of your dog? are you kidding me? there are plenty of resources out there for people who have pets and newborns. but getting rid of your dog? when you adopted that animal you made a lifelong commitment to care for and look after him for the entirety of his life. and now you're getting rid of him??? shame on you. seriously.

  3. out of curiosity–have you ever not worried or been so critical of yourself? though you posted a few days back that you give yourself kudos, it seems like you really don't.
    step back. zoom out. you're in one instant of your life, ie., you're letting one minute in your many years take too much control.
    i hope you don't interpret this post as a critical or judgmental post–it's not. i cherish your honesty though i don't konw you. you're definitely courageous.
    keep on keepin' on!

  4. I must have missed something. Why does Linus have to go away? If it's a behavioral issue, stop watching Top Chef and turn on the Dog Whisperer.

    I had full-blown PPD. Common, really, for NICU moms. A few months of Zoloft (which isn't contraindicated for breastfeeding) saved me, because for a while there, "me" was gone, if that makes any sense.

    I never felt like my son was mine until he came home. I felt like sometimes the nurses let me hold their baby.

    I hope your babies are home soon. With Linus.

  5. Wow, Stephanie. Just when I think you can't top yourself you prove me wrong. THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Phil, Abby & Lucas are very lucky to have you and I can't wait until your babies join you at home.

    I spent all night crying after a discussion with my boyfriend of a year (I'm 33, he's 27) that involved the fact that I would one day like to be married and have babies. He said that while he's certain there's no one else out there for him – only me – he doesn't have a time frame for marriage and children, but it's not anytime soon. I am choosing to stay, because I love him and we still have plenty of time ahead in which to deepen our love and change his way of thinking. But deep down I fear that I only have about 12 good years left in which to have a baby. 45 is the oldest I think I could have a baby and I want them with HIM. Thanks for cheering me up today :)

  6. I'm so sorry that Linus can't stay with you. Just when I was ready to send him a ticket to Minnesota, I got to the part about Montana.

    I've read in silence for years, but had to tell you today that you are a very strong woman and you will find yourself again. You will become an entirely new person and you will be comfortable with her.

    You've got growing pains and they'll pass. Don't criticize yourself for it.

    Best wishes.

  7. Oh, you poor thing. I am feeling awful for you and the fact that you have to give up your Linus. Dogs are the greatest (well…equal to babies!) and children should grow up with them. You are doing the right thing, for Linus and your babies. If your sister can make Linus the priority in her life, like he is used to with you, then you can make your babies the priority. Everyone will win. And…eventually you can pick out a dog that will get along with the babies. I would highly recommend a BOXER…they are the greatest and so wonderful with babies & kids! Keep you chin up……the "baby blues" will go away.

  8. A lot of people have this illusion that depression or sadness equals depth, that it's noble in a way. I used to be, and for a long time I think you downplay it, you think you deserve to feel this way, you think it's one of those things you have to go through to be a strong person and to grow. But really? I don't think I learned a fucking thing from it. There's not a reason on earth why you shouldn't be happy every, or almost every day, not just 6 out of 10. I think varying moods do help you to think about things in varying ways, but if you're unhappy and constantly down for no concrete reason, don't hesitate to change it. It's your own situation and you know what's best for yourself and all that, this is just my $.02. Best of luck

  9. To Jessica: I know I'm just some random person posting on a blog, but please, please, please, please, please, don't move on with your current boyfriend under the assumption that he's going to change. Move forward with the assumption that he NEVER will…and if that's okay with you, then great. But don't give up your dreams for him because he will never do it for you. He'll tell you he loves you, he isn't ready, blah, blah, blah, and then before you know it you've given up everything for him and you realize he hasn't made one single sacrifice for you.

    I'm telling you this because I gave, and gave, and gave for eight years to someone I hoped would change, or at least notice that someone besides him lived on the planet. It never happened.

  10. Sometimes, despite my commitment to non-violence, I just want to crack your commenters upside the head.

    Those babies are the most important things in the world. Don't you get that, anon? It would shred Stephanie if Linus (as loving and wonderful he is) ever slipped up.

    (Yes, I know: "don't feed the trolls," but seriously, people.)

    Stephanie, the fact that you take time to post when you have so many things on your plate? Amazing. Thank you for sharing what so many new mothers think/feel and are afraid to voice. There are so many of us out here wishing you well!

  11. So sorry to hear about your doggie. That has to be so hard. I'm happy that you've found him a good home though. Since he is used to being the center of attention it will probably be best for him as well as you this way. Try not to be too sad about it.

  12. Shame on you Anon. Mind your own f*cking business. Stephanie has two infant babies to look after and, rightfully so, cares about their well being more than anything else in the world. So Linus going to the next best place, Stephanie's sister in Montana, doesn't seem so bad to me.

  13. Ive mailed you a few times about this on crapspace and you never responded, nor did I expect you to, but I hope you did read them. Take heart, things will get better, Stephanie.
    Further down the road you'll look back and wonder how you had the thoughts you did, and why you beat yourself up over them.

    I think every new mom goes through this even if it's not PP you still have crazy thoughts from time to time and what makes it even crazier is how random the thoughts are, your feelings, etc.

    It just takes time (and possibly drugs- i mean why not? it doesnt have to be forever), man. Even if they were home with you, you'd just be on a different kind of roller coaster.

    Stay strong, Mama.

  14. No other solution than to ship Linus off to the mountains? How about closed doors in nurseries or keeping a doggy gate on stairs. He can get used to living differently. Perhaps just a short couple of months with the Sis until you get your bearings with new arrivals in the house then invite him back. Seems a bit hysterical and overprotective.

  15. Sorry for the double and it's not often I snap at others' comment but that anon up there is a stupid dickhole.
    You obviously dont have kids, anon.

    Lea sounds like she's going to be an awesome mama, too. Linus will be happy, Stephanie, dont worry. As much as I love my little beagle Dave, I can totally understand your decision and I think it's the right one.

  16. I think my 1st comment got eaten by wolverines on the way through the ether, but if it didn't, sorry for commenting twice on one post. I just wanted to add how wonderful it is that Lea can take Linus. He's going from one wonderful home to another. And if she does dress him up in ski or mountain climbing or cattleranching gear, pix please.

  17. Thinking of you Stephanie- and hoping that you have brighter days to come.

    At least Linus will be with your sister. I'm sure she'll take super care of him, as hard as it may be to part with him- he'll still have a part of you, and you will have a part of you through your sis. :)

  18. I think you are doing a fabulous job at being a mom! My baby is 13 now but I remember the first year and how bad the bad days can be. It's great that you are keeping it all in focus.

    I'm sure Linus will enjoy the next chapter in his life just as much as you will enjoy your's. Please post photos of the doggie ski suit. We'll all miss him too!

  19. You are doing the right thing; you are making a very mature, loving, parental decision. And once the twins grow past infancy and toddlerhood, they will be much hardier, much less vulnerable to potential harm from Linus's playful exuberance. As a parent, I know that many children who are beyond a certain age just love to roughhouse. My daughter is far less delicate than I am. So – something to look forward to. A day when the twins can play well with Linus, when he can become their constant companion and protector (remember Nana from "Peter Pan"?).

  20. I had to give up my very loved dog for the same reason. It broke my heart a million times over, but not as much as seeing something happen to my baby would have.

    I'm also secretly glad now, that the dog has a wonderful new home, that I don't have to deal with her on top of everything else.

  21. stephanie –
    your entire post sounded guilt-ridden. i agree, many mothers do feel guilty a lot of the time, but truthfully depression makes one feel guilty all the time. i guess my question would be: do you still have trouble eating (as in wanting too much) and sleeping? i think as you are going forward, try to see if either of those gets worse or better and that's a big barometer of worsening depression.
    the stress will be very great once the babies come home, but i still think you will be much better once they are there.
    i had post-partum depression and got treated very fast. i went from having a high intensity job to living in the 'burbs taking care of a baby full time. i felt very bonded to my baby but when he started to cry i almost collapsed. i would drive to the pharmacy alone while my husband was watching my baby and didn't want to come back. at one of the early ped. appnts. i tried to get my husband to go alone – because i could barely muster the energy.
    i got help very very fast but it was still bad. thank god for zoloft. good luck and in the meantime try to make sure you always get showered and dressed, keep the lights on, and do 'fun' things that you used to do before the babies came. also i mentioned this previously but i would think other nicu moms might be a good resource, since they are really the only ones you can relate to in this specific experience.

  22. also – if you catch it – dr. phil today (friday) has a mom who is very honest about her feelings with her daughter – guilt etc.

  23. Stephanie,
    I have always been an animal person more than a people person (and I have 3 kids) and Linus really is your first child. I so sympathize with your decision. I don't know if I could be as strong as you are and actually give him away. I wish it were just a temporary thing, but I have a knot in the pit of my stomach just thinking about it. I still love the moments when my kids are elsewhere and I can do what I want, it doesn't mean I don't love them or that I am not a good mom. Stay strong.

  24. i can't believe you're getting rid of your dog. one of my girlfriends asked me when i was getting rid of mine when i was pregnant with my son – and i was shocked. to each their own, but my dogs are not disposable – they are members of my family. and yes, one of mine has behaviour issues – but we are working with our vet and as a family to resolve them – not giving her away – even if it is to a relative. at least your children are far too young to understand – what a terrible lesson to teach about giving up so easily on someone you seem to love so much. i'm glad you realize that linus' issues are soley the fault of his owners – dogs need to be trained – they are not born knowing how to behave, nor are children. i would remind myself of that, if i were you…

  25. Hi Steph,

    I'm so sorry you're going through this. My sister had the same thing once she gave birth. It was a mild case, like you, but she found herself getting worse and worse without treatment. She got better eventually, but the main key is that you acknowledge it- you're intelligent and you will get over this.

    I'll be praying for you Steph. {{{hugs}}}

    Wishing you well,

  26. Wow. It sounds like an adventure. I feel like I'm watching Indiana Jones running from a giant boulder … except Indiana Jones would be a red headed woman with lactating breasts and a smallish dog. And the boulder wouldn't be a boulder but a bunch of insecurities and misdirected emotions. Or maybe the boulder would be the self-esteem and happiness. I get confused sometimes with these analogies, you know. But it's really a lot like Indiana Jones, ya know?

  27. hmmm…i think i am going to cry. this is so sad. i guess this is expected, i wouldn't know though since i don't have any children yet.

    i hope tom cruise doesn't read your site..you would really hear it from him.

    take care stephanie, you'll get through..and the beans will be home soon.

  28. "How can he love me, when I can't stand myself?"

    I hate it when you have lines like these. That are so perfect and so right and so 'I could have said it myself' …only I couldn't. Because then I have to tell you all this … and I feel cheesy and doting.

    I'm not a mother. So I can't relate to a lot of the things you're saying. But I can relate to that. I can relate to .."when I can't stand myself".

    You have such a way with 'feelings-into-words'.I envy you that.

  29. This reminds me of that Scrubs episode of Carla becoming a new mom and she bonds with other moms.

    "You wanted to throw your baby out the window too? ME TOOOO!"

    I honestly think this is way moms tend to bond so well with other moms. We've all had the head miggly at one time or another :)

    And, Linda, I was the same way. Thought I had it all together then fell apart.

  30. "Every new mother finds a reason to get depressed. Every new mother feels like a failure at some point. Every new mother, somewhere deep inside, wonders if she's doing it right and if someone else could do it better."
    I can totally agree to this, it`s exactly what I felt a few years ago as a new mom. And I too think this is natural and everyone has those thoughts… or is lying.

    And BTW, everyone who puts a dog over a child in the ranking should go to a therapist. Don`t go – run.

  31. Hey there, I'm a new reader and I have to let you know that it adds a tremendous amount of *heart* to my day of working at a desk to read about you facing these challenges with such courage.

    Re: the dog. One of the best things my therapist has ever told me is that when you make a committment, any kind of committment, you're inevitably choosing to sacrifice other things in your life. Part of the huge committment you've made to these children is having to give up another love of your life, Linus. He sounds like an amazing dog, and I'm sure you'll grieve his loss immensely, but those "beans" are obviously worth it. Kudos for making a really hard but good decision.

  32. I can’t believe you’re sending Linus away; he’s been through a lot with you. Can’t you find any solution? Maybe start shutting your door at night, put gates up, Anything? I don’t mean to sound judgmental; I know you’re going through a lot right now, and I truly wish you the best but I can’t think that is very fair to him. I Love my dog, incredibly, like a person, I thought you loved Linus the same way. I could never give him up, ever, to anyone.

  33. Oh my god! Linus is leaving! I never thought this day would come. Couldn't he just stay in another room or something? Just put up gates in your room as well as the nursery?

  34. I am so sorry about Linus :(( I know how much he means to you and has for so many years. But I understand your decision and am glad he is going to a good home, one you will still have a connection to.

    I had full blown PPD after my childs first birth. Only got help for it a year after the fact, silly me. Such a year to waste. Get help if you need it.

  35. i'm glad you're giving linus the boot. it's the mature thing to do. although i can't relate to your dog-love, i feel certain your kids will fill the void. and aren't you lucky, he's going to your very own sister! he'll be well-cared for.

    regarding ppd – so very normal. i remember some days i didn't even feel like caring for one of my newborns (i can't remember which kid that was, i think #3). i DID butch up and do it though, even though i wanted to hide in bed all day. you will too! and if you can't, you'll call brooke shields and get her doctor's number.

    if i can leave you with 2 things;

    1. please remember it's ok.
    2. my husband often says, "many times we're DOING better than we really FEEL."

  36. I am pet owner. I have two dogs and one cat. And I love them with my entire heart and soul. I would do anything for any of the three. But, if one of them was a threat to my child in any form or fashion, I would give them away without hesitation. It would break my heart, but anyone who feels that a pet is as important as a human baby has lost their freakin mind.

    You are making the responsible decision Stephanie.

  37. I totally second what Julie said to anon.

    Even though you feel like you're not being a good mother, think of what a hard decision it was for you to let go of Linus. He'll always be your baby, but you made a decision for the health of your children, and that makes you a phenomonal mother!

    And lastly, I think it's perfectly ok to cry when you feel like crying, and to gush out all the insecurities you're having. You said it yourself when you thought of what a knucklehead you sounded like putting all this out there! Sometimes, just getting it out makes it better. And sometimes, you gain some perspective.

    Hang in there.

  38. I totally understand what you are feeling about being a new mother. I had the same feelings but a different situation since my child came home after a full term pregnancy. I feel like so many others mothers have had these same feelings but are afraid to talk about it. It makes them feel less of a mother or that they don't love their children. We as mothers need to talk about the emotions that come with having children…everyone seems to keep it a secret. So, I thank you for talking about it and I will continue to tell my story to others as well to let them know they are not alone in the new and scary adventure of motherhood.
    At first I thought "she's getting rid of Linus?" but I am glad you explained how he is with others. You are making the right choice! Dogs and newborns not a bad situation dogs with babies that start moving…crawling and walking not such a good thing (if they are dogs known to bite).
    I am the mother of two dogs and a 1 yr old. It's tough even when you don't have to worry b/c ANY dog can turn on a baby at ANY time. It's just a fact. But, Linus sounds like he is going to a great place with someone you love and who will love him like you do. You are lucky for that and so is he. You will miss each other and it will be hard.
    I am thinking of you. Hang in there it will get better.

  39. I agree with Simone. Any equating a dog with newborns is a little out there, imho. I grew up with cats and dogs, and as much as I loved them, I wouldn't think twice if I thought they were a threat to the kids. It's not even like you're putting him to sleep, you're giving him to someone he will eventually love as much as you.

    On the depression, I wouldn't sweat it. It's not unusual for people in normal circumstances to have up and down days. In your circumstances, I think it would be unusual not to have some bad days. Like the doc said, as long as it's not everyday, you're probably fine.

    IMVHO, I think that once they're home, you'll be fine, for two reasons. The first is the exercise. You'll be surprised at just how peaceful it is to take them for a late evening stroll, and the exercise will bring balance to your body. The second reason is that you'll find yourself asking 'how did it ever get this late', and falling asleep at 9PM.

  40. Ive been reading your blog since the NYT article but have never commented. I visit your space regularly, especialy after you had your babies. I am 7.5 months pregnant, so I'm eager to see how you and the babies are doing everyday.

    My husband and I have a little dog and he's as spoilt as Linus probably. he sleeps on the bed with us and is the center of our lives. I often joke with friends that my baby will be jealous of my dog!

    I understand where you're coming from about giving him up to your sister, but I sincerely hope that you will reconsider and atleast try to keep him…Im sure there are workable (if difficult) solutions. He'll be happier with you any day.

    I cant imagine life without my pooch….I hope you find a solution.

    Good luck!!

  41. Stephanie, How could you not feel depressed? You are spending your time going back and forth to the hospital. Your life is on hold, waiting to take your babies home. Nothing seems normal right now. Give it time, and when the babies come home and you can spend time w/ them and bond in your own home, hopefully you'll start to feel better, but if you don't, absolutely get help.

    I think you are making the right decision sending Linus to be w/ Lea. It's not as if you're kicking him out into the streets. He'll be w/ your sister in a loving home, and you'll still be able to see him w/o worrying that he might harm your babies. You have enough to stress over right now. You don't need to add Linus attacking the kids to your "worry list". And, for the people who suggested putting Linus in a locked room or behind gates when he's used to having the run of the house, don't you think that would make him more likely to act out? Stephanie, continue to follow your heart. You're doing the right thing for your children. I hope you start having a lot of better days and that Abigail and Lucas are able to come home to you and Phil very soon.

  42. Stephanie, you are a great mom, i see you with these babies everyday and they are lucky to have someone like you and Phil. I can't imagine how you feel, but i can't wait till you get to take them home and love on them everyday at home like you do in the NICU, try not to be so hard on yourself :)

  43. I wish I could give you a hug right now. This post is so beautifully written.

  44. Beautiful post. I never knew how guilty I could feel until I became a mother. It's hard and you'll feel the guilt, but everyone has those same thoughts. And if they say they don't…they're lying.

  45. I have a cat whom I love dearly. He is a total mama's boy; hates everyone besides me; has attacked my father, my husband, the cat sitter, etc. I watched him like a hawk for the first 6 months of our daughter's life. (She is now 14 months), and he was fine — until she started crawling. He has whacked the sh*t out of her precious face twice. There has been no scaring, no biting, and we are super vigilant to keep them apart now.

    BUT this is really to say that he leaves her totally alone now — even when she walks up to him screaming and swinging some large plastic object — because we put him on kitty valium. Yes, the cat gets valium and I don't but it has taken the freakish edge off of him. His anxiety is amped down, so he is a good member of the family. He feels he's pretty beleaguered, but he NEVER acts on it.

    There are many more pharmaceutical options for dogs out there than cats. Your vet should be able to recommend several different drugs that your puppy could use. These are designed to help various forms of aggression and anxiety and combinations there of, so it could help Linus even out a bit . . . and maybe he could stay.

    I know this is a terribly personal choice and it is so very hard to make those decisions. And Montana sounds like a super place for him, too. I am sure you have thought about many options, but sometimes folks don't know about the meds. I wouldn't have known except I worked at a vet for years while getting my BA/MA. But they helped with my little spoiled autocratic cat, so maybe Linus, too.

  46. I don't give out tears lightly, but when I read about Linus they welled. Linus is one of my favourite things about your blog, the silent little sidekick with a heart chock full of loyalty and love :) You're completely doing the right thing, once again a decision that reflects how strong you are even though it might not always feel like it. So glad he's going to Lea so you'll get to visit him…and if he takes Lea up on the offer of a sled ride, there must be photos!

    P.S. Sisters who make you snort with laughter are priceless :)

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