Archive for the 'post-partum depression' Category


by Amanda Skjeveland

The doctor has sewed my wound
and you lie beside me in a plastic crib.
Your father is asleep, exhausted
from being up all night
watching your birth.
I can’t see you in the dark but
your sudden wails
make my nipples ache.
The nurse comes in and asks
me if I want to hold you.
I say yes but I mean no.

My arms still shake from exertion.
I clutch you awkwardly as you cry,
knowing that if I drift into sleep
you will fall from the bed
and become damaged.
Months earlier, in your baby book
I wrote a letter to you:
I will love your Kool-aid stained lips
and dirty summer feet.
Your eyes are unfocused and flat
like those of a fish struggling out of water.
You are not the one I wrote the letter to.
I cradle you at my breast but you turn away.

I am broken, torn and still bleeding,
dazed, fatigued, and terrified.
I am primed for epiphany.
The dark hospital room echoes
with your wails
and I wait in vain.

At home I cry straight through days and nights;
your refusal to recognize the difference
invalidates my clock.
Your father goes back to work early because
construction sites are less dangerous.
When my epiphany finally comes it is not
sweet and languid like a blossom unfolding
on a summer day.  Nor does it come once
during a heated climax and transform me.

I wallow, changing diapers, feminine pads
and nursing pads.  For days we lie filthy
on the sofa in a warm puddle
of breast milk and tears.
I imagine hot steaming showers but
I am afraid you will die out here alone
while I am enjoying the water.
One day we both stop crying at the same time.
I no longer know where I end and you begin.

Amanda Skjeveland teaches English at a community college in Maryland and is the faculty adviser for the college literary magazine, the Hedge Apple. Recent poetry publications include Literary Mama, Flutter Poetry Journal, Eclipse, Melusine, Frostwriting, and the Tonopah Review.

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