The third day after Madeline had her casts off and her feet were placed in a foot abduction brace (FAB) affectionately referred to as Boots and Bars (BNB) in the clubfoot community, I was so sad I couldn’t cry. I had wailed my sorrows out the two days before and while Madeline was doing better, I wasn’t. She was sleeping. I wasn’t. She was eating. I wasn’t. My darling little C even said to me “you look like you’re feeling sad” which is a very obvious statement but the concerned expression on her face and the cautious tone, she understood the depths of my sadness. Very scary to recognize in a child, let alone a child who is only two.
After I had C, I was sad. I was tired. I didn’t know who I was or how I was going to do anything. People kept telling me it was normal and so I assumed it was. But in preparing for a second kid, and then thriving after she was born, it became blatantly obvious that what I went through with C wasn’t normal. While not the most severe or lasting case, it was undeniably postpartum depression. Armed with that knowledge, we put some extra precautions in place to monitor my frame of mind this time around. Fortunately, they seemed foolish and unnecessary… until we wented into the BNB phase.
It takes a lot out of you to manipulate your daughter’s foot into an appliance designed to hold it in a position her body is unaccustomed to and causes your child so much distress that she vomits all over herself. And while it should be a process that only happens once a day, it takes time to figure out all the tricks to make the shoes fit properly, that some days, we were removing and replacing every couple of hours.
I would be concerned if it didn’t bother me.
Suddenly our precautionary strategies became utterly important. We set a minimum amount of sleep I needed to get in a 24 hour period. We made sure I remembered to eat, even when I felt too sick to want to. We insisted I shower regularly. And we made sure that even if Maddy was fussy with anyone but me, I still had the opportunity to get some time to myself.
It’s not easy asking for help. It’s especially not easy asking for help so you can go do something seemingly frivolous, like going to grab yourself a coffee from anywhere but your own kitchen. But the cliched airline example is right: you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help someone else.
Even with all these checks in place, there is still a pervasive sadness. But I don’t feel nearly as resigned to allowing the darkness to engulf me. And when my darling C says to me that I look sad, I can take her in my arms, give her a squeeze and a kiss, and let her know that while it’s ok to be sad, that she and her sister help make me happy, and quietly remind myself that trying to make yourself happy is important too.