I think it’s vitally important that you know who you are. Does that sound strange?
Let me explain.
I got married young and I had kids young. I always knew, from as young as I can remember, that I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to spend my twenties barefoot and pregnant. I wanted to deliver my kids naturally, nurse them until they were twelve months old and only use cloth diapers.
It’s a nice dream, right?
Unfortunately, I was banking on that dream and completely unprepared for the possibility that it might not work out exactly as I expected.
Eighteen hours in to my thirty-six hour labor, I finally caved and got the epidural. Seventeen hours later, they took me in for an emergency c-section. I’m not saying that one had anything to do with the other, just that sometimes, things don’t go as planned.
After my baby girls was born – happy and healthy – we took her home. I nursed her until she was twelve months old and I used cloth diapers.
I also suffered from severe postpartum depression stemming from my perception of my c-section as a failure on my part. I consoled myself with the belief that I would have a VBAC on my next child. I didn’t recognize my depression for what it was, but a few months later, I got pregnant with my second daughter.
At my three month appointment with her I discovered that my health care provider had changed their rules regarding VBACs and I would have to choose between my (beloved) Doctor and hospital of choice, or having a VBAC.
I chose my doctor.
Six months later I had another c-section. Scheduled this time, but a blow nonetheless to a girl who still hadn’t reconciled with her first one. I nursed my second daughter for five months before my milk dried up and I was forced to switch to bottle feeding.
When my younger daughter was three and a half, I gave birth, by scheduled c-section, to my son. I struggled for eight weeks to nurse him, but he never figured out how to latch on and for the sake of getting some food into his belly, we finally switched to bottles.
When my son was a few months old, the depression, which had always lurked around the peripherals of my psyche, came back in full force.
I decided it was time for some self discovery. And what I found was disconcerting.
I had no idea who I was.
I was “Mrs. Hildreth”, and “Jocelyn’s Mom”, but I didn’t know who I was. I no longer knew what I liked, or what I wanted from life. I had three happy, healthy kids and that was as far as I’d ever thought about my future. I had completely lost myself to my dream of being a wife and mom.
Imagine waking up everyday and not knowing who you are, what you like or what you want in life. It’s terrifying.
I started by cutting off twelve inches of hair. A few months later I started what would be a six hour tattoo on my back. Then I dyed the back of my hair blue. I added to my collection of piercings and started writing again – something I’d stopped doing after college.
I added to my piercing collection again and after I published my first novel I added to my tattoo collection. At some point in there I bleached my hair platinum blonde – I’ve been coloring it since high school and no I won’t tell you my natural color – and added streaks of magenta to the front.I won’t give you the full list of mental health drugs I’ve been on, but trust me when I say I’ve run the gamut. I can now say that not only do I know who I am, but I like who I am.
I love piercings and tattoos. I believe in self expression. I believe that love is love is love. Period. I don’t like seafood. I believe that smart is sexy. I’m a coffee snob and a beer snob. I love flowers, but don’t buy me roses or carnations. I love to read and write. I need music to survive. I love my friends and family.
I’m still on meds for my anxiety – it’s pretty severe – but I’m off the depression medication.
And I know who I am.