(A new excerpt from my book - this will be the introduction to a chapter on asking for help and why so many women are stuck in a pattern of "doin' it all, makin' it look easy.")
When they ask how I'm doing, I say things like "Oh good....tired, but good." I put on my best fake smile, make some kind of joke about newborns being sleep terrorists, then deftly change the subject so I don’t break. What else would I say? The truth?
The truth is I'm falling apart. I’m slowly slipping away from myself. At some point each night I am doubled over, heels of my hands pressed into my eyes while I sob over my breastfeeding baby, thinking to myself over and over again, "I don't think I can do this."
The sleep deprivation is all consuming. Sometimes it’s just a simple fog hanging over me, but when it’s really bad my entire body feels like it is being poked by hot needles as waves of nausea move through.
At around 8pm the panic sets in as I realize it’s almost time for me to be on my own, in the dark, with this beautiful tiny human who is completely dependent on me and completely unpredictable. I may get some sleep….and I may be breastfeeding for four hours straight. I have no idea what each night will bring and it is terrifying.
As the days go on, the panic sets in earlier and earlier until it feels like every moment is a possible landmine of what he might need. I am a prisoner to him.
I'm sitting on the couch rocking the baby, my arms, back, neck, and shoulders all throbbing with new pain, when Chris mentions offhand that he may have to travel for work soon. All of the air leaves my lungs and my heart sinks into my stomach.
There is one woman at the school who looks at me and I can tell: she knows. She can see past my fake smile and my jokes. She looks at Me and says, "I remember how hard those first weeks are. I can come over and watch the girls while you get some sleep. You have my e-mail, right?"
I smile back at Her and reply "Thank you so much. That's so nice of you." And I mean it.
But I know I’ll never e-mail her. I don’t even really consider her offer. At this point in the game there’s no conscious thought behind it.
I’m going this alone because that’s just what I do.
“Even from a young age I understood that when a girl is unlikable, a girl is a problem.” - Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist