Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music Dam

I've always been a singer.  I haven't always been a particularly good singer.  I can carry a tune, occasionally sound pretty, but as it goes I'm pretty common.  Regardless, I love to sing and I love songs.

Part of this must come from my mother who loves to sing too.  She is like me, a common singer, but she makes up for it in quantity.  Some of my most precious memories are of her singing lullabies while we rocked in a chair or singing christmas carols as we drove up and down the mountain on Maui.  We sang a lot.  We sang constantly.  We sang with happy abandon.  Life was good when we sang and I treasure that she shared songs with me.  I always imagined that I would do the same with my own children.

The other day I had christmas music on in the car.  I looked back and saw Emily, sitting expectantly in her carseat, on the verge of boredom.  It was the perfect opportunity to burst into song and have her join in.  I could sing the same way my mother sang to me.  We could caterwaul as loud as we wanted and giggle when we were done.  Except I couldn't bring myself to sing at all.  I could tap my foot to the beat, I could recall all the words, but I couldn't make my mouth open and say the words.  Or the notes.  Or even hum.  Somewhere between my brain and my mouth was a giant wall of silence.

That's what postpartum depression has done to me.  It's created a permanent wall of silence.  As a new mother I knew I should be constantly talking to my newborn, getting those language skills started, engaging her with the world - bonding.  But even though I knew I should, knew it would be great for the both of us, I couldn't speak.  I'd gently rock her, I'd kiss her and snuggle her, but I couldn't speak to her.  I had a thousand thoughts to tell her, but nothing would come out of my mouth.

Similarly, I couldn't sing.  I'd start a song, begin the first verse, then all of a sudden I'd fall silent.  I could hear the music in my head.  I had all the words and notes flittering in my brain, but nothing would come out of my mouth.  I don't know how long the silence would be, it would take a long time before I noticed I was silent.  I'd keep dancing with Emily, moving to the music.  But she never heard it.

And last christmas.  There were no carols at all.  Not on the radio, not in my head, not out of my mouth.

This year I'm obviously much better.  Emily and I sing lots of different songs.  I play christmas music and usually I sing along.  Emily sings along too and we both dance as much as we can.  But every so often, like the other day, I lose it.  The wall comes back.  The music is stuck, hidden, dammed up.

I feel like postpartum depression stole this from me.  Something that was so precious to my being, something that made me very me, something that I could have passed on to my own child.  Instead all of the love that comes out in lullabies and songs was hidden.  I've been robbed of the joy that used to come with singing and Emily has been robbed of a joyful mother.  It makes me incredibly sad that it seems to be gone, even as I get better, it's still gone and I wonder if it will ever return.

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