I'm so excited to be a part of Patterings Friday Fiction today! I haven't done so in quite awhile. I've been working on this story on and off in my spare time for over six months, and it's finally finished! I pray it reaches the heart of a family that needs the message it has to offer...
For more great fiction, go knock on Yvonne's Back Door. She's hosting the story-telling this week.
I always knew my bedroom closet was small, but now its walls were closing in on me. It was as though the blouses hung there only to smother me, the belts to strangle me.
What is wrong with me? How did I get here? I could hear the baby screaming in the next room, but she sounded miles away. Echoes of “Mom?” “MOM!” “Where are you, Mom?” came from the voice of my preschooler, but his voice was getting farther away, almost to the place where I could hear the Sesame Street theme song.
I just need a few minutes. Pleeease, Lord, please give me a few minutes. “God, what is happening to me?” I whined.
In double time, the activities from the week gone-by sprinted through my mind. I sat curled up and hunched over my knees on the floor, shoving the stinky shoes as far away from me as I could with my fists.
My heart was racing as I recalled each day, though I don’t know why. I spoke at a MOPS event on Monday. Couldn’t have gone better. Tuesday was Amber’s 18-month immunizations. Lots of tears, but no side effects like Joey had at her age. Wednesday, laundry and church. Now what happened on Thursday? Thursday was a blur, and my heart began to race faster. Thursday…was that yesterday?…Oh, I talked to my mother on the phone, then a nap. Or maybe that was two days ago…
I tried to breathe deeply, but I couldn’t drink in enough oxygen. A pain went through my forehead, while the pounding and thumping of my heart continued. Now the phone was ringing. I wanted to get up, but couldn’t. I heard my mother’s voice over the answering machine in the room beside me.
“Lori, hey, this is Mom. This is the third time I’ve called, and I tried your cell phone too. Are you okay? I’m starting to get worried. Please call me.”
I wanted to pick up, but knew I couldn’t. She’ll think I can’t handle being a mom—again.
Joey was nearer than before. “Mom, where are you?”
Bare footsteps squeaked on the floor next to the closet. It was as if he could hear me breathing. Then a trio of knocks tapped on the door.
“Just a second, Honey,” I squeezed out of my falsetto voice, the only way I could fake a calm.
“Gramma, I found her. She’s in the closet, just a second.”
I heard him plunk the phone down on the bathroom counter and then tiptoe clumsily out of the room. Why did he have to pick up the phone? Pulling myself to my knees, then to my feet, I steadied my stance against the closed door. I took a deep breath to calm myself for the realities that lay ahead of me as I opened the closet door. The piercing sounds of Amber’s cries, no longer muffled, shot straight to my nerve endings.
“Hello?” The mirror in front of me reflected a plastic smile, but it couldn’t reveal my bitterness toward this unwanted phone conversation. “Yes, Mom, I’m fine.” I combed through my matted, tangled hair with trembling fingers and rushed to comfort the baby. “I was in the closet because I was getting dressed, Mother,” I snipped, nearing Amber’s room.
It was as if I were fifteen again, and no one in the world could understand me. Not even me. But especially my mother, I thought. Her words fell on deaf ears. “How long has the baby been crying, Lori? Has she eaten? You know you’ve got to feed her more often than you did Joey, right? She’s not like Joey. Each child is unique, Lori.”
“Um-huh,” I said, trying my best to ignore the experience I detested in her. I knew I could never measure up to her perfection.
“Lori, are you listening? You know I love you, right? Is Dave helping you around the house? I’m worried you might have post-partum depression, Hon. Do you feel sad and overwhelmed?”
What would she know about overwhelmed? “No, Mom,” I huffed, “I’m not sad, and I’m not overwhelmed.” I bounced Amber up and down across my chest, nearly gagging over a whiff of her reeking diaper.
Joey walked in and handed me a remote control. “Mom, I can’t understand the TV. Can you fix it?” The sound of Spanish voices blared from the next room. “Hurry, Mom, I’m missing the best part,” he whined, pinching his nose to avoid the smell.
Interrupting her unsolicited expertise, I announced, “Mom, I’m gonna let you go. I gotta fix the TV and change a diaper, okay?” I paced back and forth as she droned on. “No, I don’t need your help. I’m fine. You just called at a busy time, that’s all. But I really need to go. I’ll call you later.”
Before she could start her next sentence, I handed the phone back to Joey, and I fought back the tears.
Two more of Joey’s favorite shows had passed, as well as two more tantrums from my toddler. And now the only sobs I could hear were my own. The bedroom closet, which held close my secrets of overwhelming sadness, had now become my closest companion.
Author's note: If you need help with postpartum depression, PLEASE stop lying to yourself, and do NOT hide. Your husband, a family member, your church, a licensed Christian counselor or a reputable doctor can help you find a solution. Even if you have not had postpartum with previous children, it can happen. I know, because it happened to me...
Also, I'd be happy to pray for you or even share my personal story if you need extra encouragement. Just press the "Email Me" button on my blog sidebar.
In the Key of HE,