It was 2004 and my son Richie was just a few weeks old, it was dark, I was on the couch nursing, disheveled, sleep deprived, a leaky breast, a bowl of cheese-it’s in reach, and the glare of Little House reruns lighting my way as tears rolled down my face and wishes that sun would shine as Postpartum Depression was kicking my ass. And in flash I was back to 2010, seven years later, PPD was hovering over me once again and I did not like it one bit. I was actually terrified, because people PPD Sucks. SUCKS.BIG.TIME. What I was experiencing had nothing to do with just giving birth and my hormones being all out of whack. I was close to suffering from PPD again because Santa brought my soon-to-be seven year old a bearded dragon for Christmas, and because Santa is a busy dude he had to drop off this little lizard three days early. As soon as the thing, um lizard was in my home I had flashbacks to 2004.
The feelings of inadequacies on how to care for this lizard were just as overwhelming as it was seven years ago – when I had no clue on how to care for a little itty baby. It was like a wave crashing down on me, I couldn’t breathe, I was confused and just had to get up from being tossed around in a sea of confusion and the inability to function like a human being; all because of a three inch lizard. When my son was born, I had my sisters on speed dial with absolutely every crazy question I could come up with. I obsessed about poop, hiccups, breastfeeding and any other thought that popped into my mind at 2:00 a.m. I had a breastfeeding log that outlined what side the baby nursed on, the time of day, duration, and how he responded. I was INSANE. INSANE. Think I’m kidding? I remember calling the pediatrician’s emergency number so many times that my Doctor actually said to me “This number is for emergencies, the temperature of your home is not really an emergency”. I definitely had a red flag in my folder, a la Elaine Benes on Seinfeld. Insane, right? Not Convinced? How about the time I dragged my 65 year old mother out of bed, to shove a thermometer up my son’s ass because he hadn’t pooped in two days, now are ya convinced? I can go and on with all sorts of insanity.
And it was happening all over again, and I was not a happy camper. First, it was so difficult and extremely stressful to care for this lizard without my son noticing. I felt like I was on a CIA mission every time I escaped to the laundry room. I lied to my son countless times and told him I was doing laundry when in fact I was feeding this little guy (live crickets mind you), changing water, changing lights, and cleaning up poop. Ya see, just like a newborn! I called everyone and anyone I knew that had a bearded dragon; I asked so many questions, and became even more confused. I also googled that crap out of Bearded Dragons with searches like: “what does a bearded dragon eat?”, “should a bearded dragon poop every day”, “what does a bearded dragon poop look like”; “do I need to bathe a bearded dragon”; “How warm is too warm for a bearded dragon.” I actually contemplated breast feeding the fricking thing – cause the tossing and turning, and the sneak peeks at the clock in a drowsy gaze were frustrating enough, why not attach a three month old bearded dragon to my boobies? I mean, I was so fearful that the lizard wouldn’t make it through the night I would do anything. If I didn’t have to walk down two flights of stairs in my sleep with the strong possibility of me tripping and falling, I would have definitely checked to see if it was still breathing. Distance and sleep definitely won, I was not going to get out of a warm bed, and be sleep deprived for a lizard, Mama had some limits.
By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was so done with playing CIA agent, and just wanted to care for this little thing out in the open, it would make my life so much easier, and I knew my feelings of PPD would dissipate if I could but the onus on someone else, even if that meant my soon-to-be seven year old son may not even like the damn thing. When midnight finally struck, a huge sigh of relief came over me as we took the little lizard from his hiding spot and promptly displayed him in the living room. Although I was still nervous about him making it through the night, I was totally relieved that the secret was out in the open, the feelings of PPD disappeared as magically and as fast as they came rushing towards me. I could sleep, well, sort of, I did have a three year old leg in my side, but besides that fact I slept.
On Christmas morning we woke up to screams of “Santa brought me a lizard, Santa brought me a lizard, MOMMY, DADDY SANTA BROUGHT ME A LIZARD!” as my soon-to-be seven year old ran up the stairs and jumped on our bed in pure excitement, happiness and joy – this was worth in and of itself every sliver of doubt, inadequacy and moment of PPD that I ever had.
You may be asking yourself why Santa would even think about a present like this when it causing Mrs. Claus so much stress. Well, my son is an animal lover, was dying for a pet, and his Christmas list consisted of: peacock, turtle, lizard, parrot, parakeet, a carabo and a frog for his brother. Since I certainly do not have enough room for a carabo or the strength to shovel carabo poo, Santa and Mrs. Clause opted for a lizard.