Baby Blues: I’m A Full-On Smoker Again And I’m Not Beating Myself Up About It

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cigarette buttsBaby Blues is a column about raising my daughter in the windstorm of postpartum depression. Though discussing the dark spots of postpartum depression, I also share my successes.

I am choosing to smoke again.

It’s strange wording it like that, because I’ve never felt like it was a choice before. When I first started smoking cigarettes in my early 20s, it just kind of happened — a cigarette here and there, usually at a bar, sometimes on the drive home from work. It evolved into a pack a day habit. Then I quit a month before getting pregnant with my daughter and remained an ex-smoker for nearly two years.

Around the time my daughter turned one, I guiltily puffed on a clove cigarette from time to time with friends, thinking I could make it a casual thing, a social thing. But of course that turned into a pack a day, and I worried myself sick about it. Guilt and a wicked sinus infection got me to stop again. I didn’t smoke for three months.

Physically, I felt okay during this time. My lungs felt warmer, my blood more alive. It was nice not smelling like an ashtray or having to step onto the patio in extreme weather to feed a habit. It was nice not having to dig around in drawers to find a functioning lighter or scramble to the gas station upon realizing I was out of smokes.

But without cigarettes, my brain felt like it was moving in slow motion. I replaced cigarettes with sugar, and when we didn’t have dessert in the pantry I became just as irritable and insufferable as a toddler throwing a tantrum. I carried on having extreme mood swings, panic attacks and sugar cravings for three months, trying to remember when it was supposed to get better. It got better, right? I mean, I had quit for two years before. I had some really good times in those two years, so I knew it was possible.

I waffled back and forth with the idea of smoking for weeks, trying to find other activities to do that might help me feel better. One day, I hit breaking point. Nothing was helping. My husband said, “just make a decision. But once you do, be okay with it. Either smoke or don’t.”

I did.

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