What I want you to know: I had thoughts of harming my child

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Karen.

Many times reading the newspaper articles about parents, or caretakers that have done a child wrong by abusing them, leaving them locked in a steaming hot vehicle, or shaking them within an inch of their life deeply infuriates me and straight up makes my blood boil. Very rarely do I find myself understanding why they could do such a thing, or what may have been going through their mind.

Since August of 2010, I still continue to not understand. However, I have been in the midset...but I stopped.

When I gave birth to my first son, after trying to conceive for six years, I was elated! He instantly became my world, my sun, moon and stars. I understood the saying, "Your heart outside your body." He was mine! While we were in the hospital we received a DVD called The Period of Purple Crying. I watched it, understood and knew I would NEVER hurt my precious miracle!

But when I got home it was a whole different story. He was awake almost 24 hours a day. He would literally be awake until somewhere between 3am and 5am - most of those hours spent crying without end. Then he would go to sleep, and thankfully sleep until noon or later the next day, and I would gladly join him.

I remember one night, I was sitting in the glider/rocker in his room, lights off, a small nightlight shining a dim light over the book I was trying to read to my son who was swaddled as tight as the nurses did the day he was born in the hospital. He was screaming bloody murder, and I was silently crying tears of exhaustion and desperation. My arms were wrapped around my sweet little boy so tightly, I just wanted to sleep, I wanted him to allow me to sleep. Just like my husband was in the other room.

I laid my head back in the chair and closed my eyes.

Then it hit me.....

The worst nightmare any mother ever visualized.

While I was visualizing the worst vision ever, my arms got tight around my precious little blessing who was tense and screaming so close to me.

My eyes filled with tears and they shot open and I looked down at my sweet little angel as his tear filled eyes looked back up at me.

I immediately got up and carried him into our bedroom and woke up my husband and through sobs, I told him he HAD to take this sweet little boy, and that, "I couldn't do it anymore", and I continued to sob myself to sleep while my wonderful husband walked into the living room with our little boy.

I had failed as a mother. The one job I've wanted since I was a little girl, and I was miserable at it.

I had more nightmares that night, but they were all based off of that one brief one I had in my son's room. The one where I visualized myself holding my son. Tightening my grip on his tiny, weak body. The vision where I shook him, and almost smothered him until he stopped crying.

Thankfully he didn't die in my vision, but just by visualizing it, I died a little.....no, make that a lot. In my own eyes, I was just as bad, if not worse than those that didn't know where to stop, didn't know right from wrong, and severely injured, or even killed their innocent, helpless child.

Thankfully, I knew better, and had a support system and felt comfortable handing my son off to my husband who was able to take over and give me a break.

Parents need breaks.
Parents need support.
Parents fail....but they get back up again and are better because of them.
No parent is perfect.

I've always been open about my life, my struggle with fertility, my pregnancy, choices I've made in my life, but this is one thing I've held in until recently. Because I was afraid of the judgement, the label people may give me.

But I realized that I suffered from Post-Partum Depression (PPD). That, and the lack of sleep are what gave me these visions, caused the tears and made me unable to care for my son in some situations.

When I tell people, whether I know them or not, about this story, I get a look....you know, THE LOOK.


That's not the look I deserve. I deserve the look of admiration, and pride. I knew when to stop, when to step away from the situation, and from my child, so that I could relax, take a break and allow myself to care for him continually later on. Now I'm not saying I don't have a short fuse, I don't "lose it". But I know what triggers it and when I need to step aside and ask for help, and thankfully it's there.

Depending on who you are you can be a part of this situation. If you're a parent, know when to ask for help, know who you can trust, and who you can ask to help you, someone you can trust your children and your communication with. If you don't have children, or even if you do. Be there to help, be a friend, be an empathetic mother or parent and offer to take the kids, give a friend some time to his or herself. Be a listening, nonjudgemental ear and shoulder and most of all, NEVER JUDGE. Everyone's situation is different, and it doesn't make them any better or worse than you.

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