Melancholy March

SAM_0030The snow is piling up. It began early this morning and has steadily fallen since then. My husband estimates that we’ve accumulated a foot and a half so far, and the weather forecast promises another five to nine inches through the night.

This snow storm has given me a gift: time to write. The storm has also given me melancholy memories. Three years ago, a March storm much like this one descended on Vermont. My husband, the avid and passionate skier, welcomes these storms. And while I find a big snowfall beautiful and slightly romantic, I’ve never liked snow in March. Winter has had her turn, but by March, it is time for her to begin her departure.

Yet this year, winter’s putting up a strong fight, much like she did in March 2011. That year, a huge storm was predicted to arrive on Monday, March 7. I’d heard about this storm a week before it arrived. My father was particularly concerned. I was 9 months pregnant. My due date was Friday, March 4, and the hospital in which I planned to deliver was about an hour away. I remember having a conversation with my father about the potential problem I could run into.

“If you don’t have the baby by Sunday, maybe you should drive to the hospital that evening,” he said. “Beat the storm. If the baby comes on Monday, you won’t need to make a long drive in the snow.”

I dismissed my father’s worry, and it was just as well that I did because the weather didn’t interfere with my labor or the drive to the hospital. Our son arrived on a clear and sunny day, March 3, 2011, one day ahead of schedule.

But that much anticipated storm still had quite a relationship with my transition to motherhood. The day before it arrived, I began to feel a strong and ominous fear. I can’t even really explain what the fear was about and that is unlike me for I am often quite capable of describing my varied emotions and dissecting my most complicated thoughts. But these feeling did not have intellectual thoughts backing them up. It was pure feeling, and it was heavy, foreboding and unsettling.

I was up for most of the night before the storm, nursing and soothing a fussy three-day old infant. I peered out the window each hour.  Is it snowing yet?  Has the big storm begun?  At some point that night, I went outside with the dogs.  It was so still, so silent. I knew the storm was about to begin and I knew winter was about to perform an impressive closing act.

When I woke up the next morning, I looked outside and everything was covered in the thick white blanket a heavy storm brings.  Fine crystals fell down all day, fast and hard.  As each inch of snow smothered the earth, I felt like the woman I was before giving birth was being buried. I felt trapped, convinced I’d never leave my house again, never smell fresh grass, never escape the mental monsters assaulting my mind. My son was merely four days old, but I knew I was experiencing something more serious than the baby blues.

That was the day I asked for help. That was the day I called my midwives’ office and said, “Something’s not right.”

So in the midst of the current storm, I think about where I was, both physically and mentally, three years ago.  I think about March 12, 13 and 14 especially because those were the three most difficult days of my life.  And while these memories do bring tears to my eyes, I am also in awe of the journey I’ve made in these three years. Today, it snowed and it snowed and it snowed. And it’s still snowing. But I don’t feel buried.  I feel gratitude.

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15 Responses to Melancholy March

  1. Melanie Kadlic Meren says:

    Great post!

    Sent from my iNcredible iPhone


  2. Sara B says:

    Incredible how quickly you realized something was wrong and acted on it. That is going to inspire your readers – to acknowledge the problem and not hide from it. Can’t wait for the book’s debut!

  3. What an interesting story! I’m glad you shared it. I think we don’t talk enough about the mama bear feelings that surface after we give birth. Anxiety and sometimes panic set in due to hormones and having an unbelievable new responsibility. I recall being annoyed at all the warning stickers everywhere. If the car seat’s in wrong, your child will DIE! If the airbag deploys, your child will DIE! The warnings make sense to me, don’t get me wrong. I just wasn’t prepared for the panic/anxiety feeling in those first few days and was shocked at how often society tells us our child may DIE! Not comforting to a new mom. Glad you survived your snow storms – both of them.

  4. Denise says:

    This was so well-written. I loved our snowfall today with snowflakes as big as butterflies fluttering down outside my window. I am so glad you asked for help, and that you can enjoy the snow now.

  5. Wow. You brought me back to something forgotten and ignored. Did my postpartum depression in the California sunshine. The beauty of the snow, the oppression of your solitude brought those feelings back again. Now following this blog.

  6. Carryl R says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a snow storm the same way again. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Brought back memories for me too. While having a complete meltdown in the doctor’s office, the only diagnosis/response was “it gets better.” Glad you were helped and glad you write about it so beautifully.

  8. I’m not a mother, so haven’t faced that, but I have friends who went through it. Your post is helping me to understand more. Your story has much potential. Great topic.

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