I was smart at one point in my life. I had a high IQ. I could pass thermodynamic tests without studying. I had a BS in mechanical engineering and was a senior design engineer. I was confident in my problem solving ability.
And then I got knocked up.
People, I have reached the point where packing Roper’s diaper bag and showing up to meetings and appointments on the right day and (sometimes) the right time employs EVERY BRAIN CELL I HAVE. That’s right, all three of them!
While I was pregnant I blamed my cloudy brain on the fact that I was getting only three hours of sleep a night. But along with having soup-for-brains, I started having massive depressive episodes. Then anxiety attacks. And Sweet Fancy Moses, the CRYING. I came to terms with the fact that Roper was a not-so-endearing fetus. We simply didn’t get along. But I assumed I would be back to normal after his birth.
It has been a year. Clearly I am not back to normal.
I can only write in simple sentences. I can’t remember why I walked into a room. I can no longer do advanced math in my head. In fact, the only math I’m doing these days is adding up ounces of milk drank, number of dirty diapers changed, and days since Roper’s last bath. And I have paralyzing anxiety attacks in the middle of the night over things like THE LETTUCE LEAVES WERE NO LONGER FLUFFY in the salad I served to a friend. Seriously…commit me now.
Roper is my world. I can’t help but laugh every time he lays his huge, fanged grin on me, or when he holds both arms up to the sky as if to say “I am the victor of ALL.” My heart just about explodes from the sweetness of his sleeping face burrowed in the corner of his crib, or the feel of him snuffling into my neck during a spontaneous hug. However, THAT KID ATE MY BRAIN.
Last night I met my friend Morgan at the Log Cabin in Entiat. Morgan just published a new local cookbook titled Savoring Chelan that pairs local wines with fabulous recipes. I’m wholly impressed with the final product and wanted to celebrate this huge feat with her. Unfortunately, I had to bring the Howler Monkey, who is getting approximately fifty-seven teeth ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And he’s not that happy about it. Weird.
So there I am, feeding my child black olives that have already been thrown to the floor three times, then letting him scream wildly while he pushes a chair into the bar with one shoe on and the other sitting on the floor in the middle of the restaurant, and I’m wearing the same black sweatpants I’ve been wearing since I gave birth, the ones that have a giant hole in the crotch, and I JUST DON’T CARE. About any of it. Because caring would require thought process and consideration of consequences and repercussions, and my brain is no longer capable of that.
I just want to hold up my end of an intelligent conversation.
I would call this state postpartum depression, but it started at conception and the kid is now over a year old. A better description would be brain/identity deflation. The depression and anxiety can suck balls (yes, I’m being treated – much to Tom Cruise’s disappointment) and I still can’t believe most people walk around freely in life without THAT sort of ginormous weight shackled to them. But it’s the degradation of my brain that bothers me the most.
What if I start staring blankly at people when they describe a simple meteorological event? Or stop appreciating witty, intellectual humor? What if I trade in Ayn Rand for Nora Roberts? Or “reality” shows pique my interest more than biographies of Richard Feynman? What if I start watching the local news and take it at face value?
It’s already happening. I feel the wall of stupid coming at me like a tidal wave. THAT’S what should be keeping me up at night. Not less-than-fluffy lettuce leaves.