A Watched Pot Never Boils

Or does it?

Either way, that is not what this story is about.

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When I was twenty two, I gave birth to my daughter. And at twenty six, my son. I immediately slid into a very deep postpartum depression after each birth. I did not recognize it at the time.

I wore the same clothes for six months.

The same knot in the back of my hair that was the size of a bird’s nest.

And for one of the births, the same shirt (honestly, my brain is so riddled with memory holes, you would think that that knot of a bird’s nest in my hair was filled with woodpeckers who drilled into my brain and stole my thoughts), I cannot remember which child this happened with, but I believe it was my daughter.

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This shirt.

It says, “A Watched Pot Never Boils.”

I bought it for my husband as a gift (ain’t he the luckiest?). I believe it was from The Gap (which is what made the shirt gift worthy at the time). I know it was $3 (see lucky comment).

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It was soft. It had fuzzy letters. I did not give a cadoodle about either of those things. All I cared about was that it was easy. I would like to describe the pants I was wearing with the shirt, but to be quite honest, I probably wasn’t wearing any pants the majority of the time. See “lucky husband” comment above.

I am sure hoping I put on pajama bottoms if the occasion called for it.. Or if it was an elaborate affair, some black stretch pants.

But I cannot fathom what occasion or affair that would be.

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One day my husband came home from work. I, of course, was wearing the shirt.

He could not take it anymore.

And he said the meanest thing he has ever said in our entire marriage.

I will never forget it.

It came out of the blue. I think it had been boiling inside of him for months.

“That shirt is awful! It is the most unflattering thing ever created. You do not look good in it.”

I was crushed.

I sobbed.

I tore at the knot in my hair.

I snapped. The snap. Out. Of. It.

As much as those words hurt, he was right. And the truth is, I would have kept wearing that shirt for who knows how long. Maybe to this day. I was stuck. In a rut. And I could not see anything past the day to day.

I began to care about what I wore a little more. Oh, not right away. I believe after that comment from my husband, I changed into another one of his clearance-bargains-of-a-phrase shirts. I did not have enough self confidence to wear my own clothes yet. I felt frumpy and I looked the part. It is sad and funny to me that I thought putting on a different t-shirt of his was what he meant for me to do.

My husband wanted his wife back.

And slowly, it happened.

I remember being awake with our baby at 3:30 in the morning and sneaking out to the living room. In the dark. There I sat on the floor and watched t.v., while I brushed the knot out of my hair for an hour and a half and sobbed. If “a watched pot never boils” than an unwatched soul can drain away.

I caught mine just in time.

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You would think that I would have burned the shirt.

Thrown the shirt away.

But I did neither of those things.

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You see, it never was about the shirt.

It hardly ever is.

I still take the shirt out of the drawer about twice a year.

And I wear it.

I’d like to be funny and say it is mostly to mess with my husband. And, oh, my dears, there is much truth to that. The look on his face is priceless each and every time this shirt is worn. It goes from mirth to ashamed to alarm back to mirth and than to love. And that is always a good time.

Sometimes, the shirt is worn because it is comfortable. I see it folded in the drawer. I know how soft it is. It is like being wrapped in an easy hug.

But sometimes.

Sometimes I put that shirt on as a dare to myself. A test, if you will. It is a challenge to see if I can be trusted to wear the shirt for only one night. I need to know that I will.

Because a part of me. A part of me still lives in the depths of the drain. I need to know that the rest of me will not join her.

I need to be able to put the shirt on.

And I need even more to be able take the shirt off.

Because an unwatched soul will drain away.

I need to know I am watching.

18 thoughts on “A Watched Pot Never Boils

  1. Wow, Jenni. This hit me like a sucker punch. You are just the bravest person, sharing something like that. I am happy this story has a happy ending. Post-partum depressions are so scary because often, the woman who has one never seems to realise something is wrong. As I am trying to get pregnant now, it’s important information for me to store away, so I am doubly appreciative that you shared it. You are just too awesome for words, Jen!

    • Thank you, Gwen! I hoped in sharing this it would help someone. This blog is my whole story. Even the gritty parts. I never want anyone to look at my blog and think that I have it all together. Because I don’t. But I try really hard to find the joy in every single day. I am glad this helped you. Thank you for sharing. I am sending good pregnancy vibes your way. I am so hopeful for you.

      Have a happy day!

      Jenni

  2. powerful post! wow! my wife also went into postpartum depression and nearly into postpartum psychosis after our first boy was born and after our two miscarriages, she also went into the downward spiral. like your husband, it was tough to deal with and watch. fortunately, we made it through each time. we met many a woman who also dealt with this and it is nice to know you aren’t alone. thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for sharing, Mark. I am so sorry both you and your wife went through that. I am so glad that it all had a happy ending. Depression is a scary thing. It is a sneaky creeping creature. I try to see and be as happy as I can be. Sometimes that is hard.

      Thank you again for sharing. I hope you have a happy week!

      Jenni

  3. Brilliantly written!

    I applaud you for keeping the reminder of one of the darkest periods of your life.

    I love that you shared this with such an open trusting heart.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Thank you Suzanne! I just wanted to share in case anyone was going through this in the hope that they can see “this too shall pass.” I don’t have the answers but I can show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

      I hope you are having a beautiful visit.

      Jenni

  4. Well that took my breath away. How you came out of that yourself is amazing. Depression is such a black hole. And post partum depression must feel so much darker for so many other reasons. Thank you for sharing this, Jenni. Are there other places you can share your story? Mommie blogs? Pregnancy blogs? You wrote it so beautifully – it’s powerful.

    • Thank you Cynthia. I had to overcome it pretty much the same way two times. I have dealt with the regular depression, too. It is a different beast. Postpartum is hard because you never have a chance to catch your breath. To get better because all of your energy is going to another human. It is a quick slope coated with oil. Thankfully, as the baby gets older, it usually means you get more of a chance to reflect. Get sleep. But it os hard.

      I am so bad at networking. I would have no idea where to share. But I hope it helps someone. They are not alone. It does get better.

      Have a beautiful week!

      Jenni

      • Good idea. Although I have submitted to Blogher before and never heard back.

        : (

        Aw, well, as long as it helps someone. : )

        Jenni

  5. Jenni, you write beautifully. Thank you for sharing your heart here with us. It’s so hard to realize you are in need of help until you come out of such a thing, look back, and hardly recognize yourself. You’ve described your journey poignantly and with grace.

    • Thank you so much Kindra. Your words were so kind. They touched my heart. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. You are right. We did not realize for many years what it was that I had gone through. There are many more instances during that time where I lost it. But it is hard to recognize it when it is happening. We were so young. We had no idea.

      Thankfully that time has passed but I hope if someone going through this reads this, they will know they are not alone.

      Have a peaceful and sweet week!

      Jenni

  6. love your honesty. the ability to look back and share this is heartwarming….we have to talk about this stuff and help others know it’s ok and things get better…and if they don’t get better it’s even more important to tell someone you need help!!

    • Thank you Melodee. That is such good advice. Yes. If you are not feeling better, than definitely get help. Us humans should never be scared of being truthful. I try really hard to make sure that I am. Plus, if something happens to me, I want my kids to have these posts as a way to know me better. And if my daughter ever has a baby and goes through this, I want yer to be able to know she is not alone.

      Sweet dreams!

      Jenni

  7. Beautiful post. A great reminder. While I never really had bad postpartum depression, the getting dressed, the new body that the new baby brought with him, the feelings all resonate. I had a pair of my husband’s basketball shorts that I wore every day, all day. I finally caught a glimpse of myself in them and they just were awful. I asked Ryan about it and he didn’t say a word. He didn’t answer. That spoke volumes to me, more than if he said he didn’t like them…so I stopped wearing them. BUT, I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for writing such a beautiful, poignant post.

    • Thank you so much Alicia. And thank you for sharing. Being a mom of a baby is so hard. They rely so heavily on you that there is absolutely no time for yourself. I completely understand the basketball shorts. We have to grab whatever is easiest and most comfortable and then it becomes a routine without even realizing it. Plus, the sleep deprivation does not help. I am so glad you appreciated the post. I wrote it last week when I opened the door and saw the t-shirt. It brought back so many memories that I had to jot down.

      Have a restful and sweet week!

      Jenni

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