After I recovered from the birth, I began to attend a new moms group. For 6 months, once a week, I would sit in a room with other moms and talk. I was elated when a group of moms invited me to join them for lunch. Although they didn’t understand why I dressed weird and went to so many church services, they accepted me. I began to feel better about myself.
The husband struggled. Dealing with the pressures of a difficult boss, a depressed wife and a baby was too much. He began to spend more time at work and less time at home. When the opportunity came for him to open an office in Bend he took it. Every Sunday night he’d drive to Bend, about 4 hours from Portland one way. During the week he’d stay on the floor of the office, taking showers at the local gym. Most weeks he’d come home on Fridays, just in time for us to attend service. So, in a 7 day week, we spent Saturday together. At least 1–2 times a month we’d spend Saturdays at church for work-worship day. The number of days we actually spent together in a month I could count on one hand.
Normal families move when a member is transferred. Not us. We couldn’t leave the church. As there was no church in Bend, I had to stay in Portland and the husband went to Bend. I really struggled during this time. I spent the days busy with the boy and the nights lonely. If I would complain at all I would be reminded that at least I was not a single mom. This lasted about a year until I had enough. The husband finally let his boss know that he had to be home. I was thrilled that the husband was home but I resented having to change the way I had done things when it was just the boy and I. I struggled between being a submissive wife and doing what I wanted.
The husband knew I loved the mountains and planned a trip for us to explore the Bend area. It was a happy time. The husband was attentive and made me laugh. He willingly pulled over so I could take pictures of the mountains. I loved watching the way he intereacted with the boy. I remember leaving Bend wishing that we could stay there forever. For the first time I felt optimistic about our future and I began to feel like we had actually begun to reconnect.
Then one day I took a pregnancy test. We were going to have another baby. I was thrilled. The husband was actually pretty happy too. I was convinced that I was going to have a daughter. I wanted to call her Zoe and the husband agreed. When we found out she was a girl he looked at me and said, “You have your Zoe.” Unfortunately, his family did not like the name. The husband put his foot down. There would be no calling her Zoe. Any ground he had gained with me was lost. I began to revert to my childish ways.
January 2001 my daughter came into this world. It is…was the most beautiful experience of my life. I had given birth, on my own terms and it was amazing. The husband was smitten immediately. The boy wasn’t as impressed with his new sister. When people asked him about his little sister he replied, “I’m tired of talking about her.”
Gabby, the husband and I
The second day of her life I knew something was wrong. When I went to burp her after a feeding she vomited everywhere. I told the nurse I thought something was wrong but she just told me, “You’re a new mom. It’s nothing.” But it was not just “nothing”. Gabby would nurse, vomit and then spend the next 2–3 hours screaming. At three weeks old she landed in the NICU after losing too much weight. We left with a diagnosis: Gastroesophageal reflux disease. My life became busy with managing the Boy and advocating for my daughter. I spent hours in doctor’s office trying to find the right balance of medication, diet and therapy. Because I was in complete survival mode I refused to take birth control. It’s probably no surprise that nine months later I found myself expecting another baby.
We were both exhausted by months of non-stop screaming; the thought of another pregnancy and birth was overwhelming. My parents had divorced and my mom remarried. My sister had graduated and moved back to Ohio with my siblings. My father-in-law got a job teaching in Pennsylvania. The husband was working 12–14 hour days. The group of moms who had befriended me the first year had left me behind. I felt utterly alone and completely inadequate to be the mother of three children. I was falling apart. The more I fell apart the more the husband dreaded going home. The less he came home the more desperate I would feel. I became trapped in a viscous cycle of depression.
Bella, the husband and I
In August 2002 Bella was born; I was now a mother of three. The husband’s boss was a jerk; he demanded the husband return to work immediately. I was livid but we had no choice. Days and nights became blurred. Then the husband quit his job to start his own company. I was proud of him. Until he decided to hire the snake and I protested. The husband exploded. He let me have it. His words slammed into my fragile psyche, slicing me into pieces. I had lost so many people that year; now I had lost my husband. I quit fighting against the depression and let it take over me.