- Rebecca Tumason
As I sit writing this story, I ponder my reasoning..I wonder if this is solely my own personal tale of woe or if this is my battle cry to shake up societies norms and push boundaries of what us mamas are allowed, or owed. As women, we are strong beyond measure. Push a human into the world and tell me you don't feel it! Catch that little human, and tell me what you “can’t” do…I did that. I roared and yelled and caught my son in the basement of our Bozeman home with snow all around outside…and I felt like I could lift up a semi truck if need be! I felt my power! I felt love…I felt the love of all my women ancestors, the healers and mothers who lived before me. I felt a bound so strong to my husband, my son and to mother nature…I felt this for three months…but I also felt distant. My son’s birth was the first time I felt like my body did what it was “supposed” to do, in terms of being a badass. I had trained a lot when I was younger, I was “athletic” but I always hit a ceiling. I played sports, and rock climbed… but I always felt like there was something wrong with my body, physically. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease at 8, but that was “taken care of”. I had traumas. Death of dear family members, my best friend at 18, assault, sexual and otherwise, and it seemed like countless other things, but I was strong…too strong, no one noticed me suffering.
At three months postpartum, I felt myself slipping, but I distracted the fear with little trips up to Canada for example alone with my baby… I pushed the feeling away… “everyone gets tired doing this right?” “everyone gets insomnia and stays up until 5am when your sweet baby’s quiet cry shakes you out of your daze…right?” By six months family started noticing that I “looked so thin!” But due to my societal conditioning I took that as “you look so great!” At a year postpartum we moved to Seattle for my husband’s work… I knew I had to stop breastfeeding, I was losing too much weight…but I didn't until eighteen months! A week after I stopped breastfeeding I took my son to get his 18 month well baby checkup at the Naturapath’s office down the street from where we were living. The doctor checked my son thoroughly and said he looked wonderful! Then she turned to me and took a deep breath. I am forever grateful to this woman. She was the first one who held space for me, and noticed “no, you are not ok.” “Yes you are thin…but there’s something more…” Not just the fact I was floating through the 18 months since my son was born, but she validated that “no, you have not been ok for nearly 20 years.” Realizing my issue was deeper then postpartum depression (which in and of itself is plenty to have to navigate!), and a hypothyroid, that test came back quickly, she also (because of my history) re-tested me for Lyme disease…The chronic kind, that I learned people die from. I had started to have weird neurological things that turned out to be seizures a little time before my positive test result came back…Then with the news that I had a highly evolved bacteria in every system in my body, the seizures came more and more. I was a seizure factory. It was like 20 years of hiding little twitches and shakes and aches came flooding out in a wave of uncontrollable neurological and physical mess. After another head specialist who didn’t know anything about Lyme didn’t really rule out MS, I started to see a Lyme specialist in the area…one of the most world renowned doctors on the topic turned out. The seizures eased up, and symptoms stopped progressing. I learned that it is very common for women who have had a history of Lyme disease to have an epic relapse after pregnancy and birth, even after living “mostly” in remission for years…I learned that they say “remission” when talking about Lyme patients being A-symptomatic. I learned more than I ever really wanted to know about my body, mind, emotions, strength, vulnerability and most importantly I learned how to submit, and ask for help, instead of just waiting for someone to notice I was drowning. I am proud, often too proud to acknowledge my weaknesses, but through the past few years I have been literally unable to move some days, having to be carried to the bathroom with my baby boy watching confused, while he learned to walk I had to lay in bed smiling through tears I had never cried for 20 years. Becoming a mother rips you wide open, postpartum emotions are the rawest most terrifying things to deal with, and owning up to them is scary. Many times I felt weak, pathetic, lazy…just laying there post “seizure” (I put in quotes because I don’t identify with them anymore) unable to get up and play with my son. Hypothyroid, depressed, tired, feeling as if I was hit by that semi I thought I could left a mere year or so before…My story is personal because it happened to me. But it is not my own. I was alone a lot in those first months, my husband traveled with the job that later moved us temporarily to Seattle. My family and most of my close friends were back in the Bay Area. I didn’t think that that isolation would push me to my breaking point. I didn’t think closing my eyes and floating through space not paying attention to my basic womanly needs, rather my humanly needs… would be the hormone crash my body needed to wake me up to the bigger problem! I was asleep in my life, in my love, with my son! Yes, I had bugs in my brain that were helping this happen, but emotionally I had given up! This is a story about waking up…this is a story about waking up again and again and again…it’s a story about failing miserably. And moments of clarity. It’s about holding on to that faith that I am healthy and that my son deserves a mom who can chase after him and laugh hysterically with him. It’s a story about holding onto my dream of being a mother to more than one amazing soul…it’s about letting go of what I thought my life in my late twenties would be..and it’s about embracing each new day as best I can! I still get mad, I still have moments where I think “why me?” “why didn’t anyone help me sooner?” …because I didn't ask for help! I grew my hair out…I always grow my hair out…for a couple years then chop it off and donate it. When I was 15 I shaved my head, not out of rebellion but to show support to my aunt who was dying from cancer. The reactions were varied. But mostly it was positive from men and women saying they saw it as strong and beautiful. Since then I knew I wanted to do it again. I wanted to do it for me! Not for strength, or to have others think “wow I could never do that” But because this hair I’m letting go of reminds me of my weakest hour. It played as a mask. As long as my hair was long I could hide my shame, my weakness, my illness, my inability to care for my son. I’m shaving my head 8 months pregnant! Because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get pregnant again! There are still so many unknowns. I may have another relapse. I may pass this sickness on to my babies. I may get postpartum depressed again…But me chopping my hair off is a way of letting go of all that fear and guilt, and facing all of life’s glorious challenges with a face that is unable to hide behind long locks, or a styled bob, or short badass doe. I may grow my hair back out long, longer than before…but it will be healthy hair, it will be hair that is excited for life and love and mamahood! I am free of most of my illnesses symptoms for now, and I am free to love life as it comes. I am a powerful mother, and my wish in life is that I show my children that their mom is human faults and all and that is super!
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