EMERGING FEMINISMS, Postpartum Pain – The Feminist Wire


By Elisabeth J. Ferrell-Horan



“Wellbutrin in my Brain”

There is Wellbutrin in my brain,
and I’d like to get it out.

It has stayed far too long –
the formidable clout
of its club fisted edges,

That pried out my eyes
and deftly snipped stitches
from my brain –

In dreams my teeth
have mostly fallen out.

“And I wonder,”
I whisper aloud, too loudly:
Where I was, what I did?
Yesterday in a cloud….

Where’s my phone or my wallet,
my mind, my disguise?

Who took them?
Was it you or that stealthy NDRI?
Who can’t hide its alias of dopamine chatter –

Eating all my grey matter
with tea like Mad Hatter.

I’m fat and puffy yet endlessly hungry,
my hair in my hands and
my back to the wall of a cliff;
then falling, falling
into a Dali sea –

Rife and roiling with
lunatics like me.

All I did was try;
but life at times proves hard –
With little sleep, little babies, little men.
Or maybe a Leprechaun did it to me –
While megalomaniacs
with their perky careers,
nod their heads, dot their I’s –
then turn from me in fear.

I am dying in here.
I can’t seem get out,
from the weight of the pain
And horrendous gout –

Like the snout of a ghastly Frisco seal –
I’m snorting smoke signals
In a hopeless appeal –

Could I make this up?
God saw me not –
Nor heard me screaming:
“I forgot!”

How to go on? And go on I must,
For there is nothing
in the skies you see –
At least nothing that’s just.

No Angels no demons,
nor circles with Dante;
No pearly door
nor red horns on Satan;
Not even your naughty Minotaur –
with its head of you, man
and the flesh of my breast –

No matter how much you study for that test.

Only worms and dirt, coffins and me,
our own little babies and the
endless sea –

I rose adrift on a raft of twigs;
a sinking hull with whipstitch lashings:
a remnant of what I learned while falling,
no sail, no compass –
Nets endlessly trawling.

In a storm for the ages
I’ve washed up on shore
battered and broken yet
drowning no more.

Begging for water;
Fresh – not salt laden,
I’ve enough in my well
of the tears now abated.

So what will become of
my huge frontal lobe;
of my life, or my heart –
so woefully splayed,
spread eagle on rocks –

Seagulls ripping away
the entrails and innards
of my body’s own pockets –
Paired with once fruitful wine
that’s gone dry in my crotch –

They pick clean the memories
of you, sad man, and me –

Remember us once and our glassy eyed stares?
Glowering back from the page –
Now, no one’s there.

I alighted the rooftop
couldn’t leave, couldn’t jump
So I held on and waited
I had nipples to pump –

Cough me up, spit me out!
I leave in my wake –
Bottomless oceans of grief
And tsunamis of guilt.

The Painful divide
of perceived demise.

I’m alive and I know
there’s no place to go back to.
Our pain is only as deep
as we practice.


“Stay Mommy”

I have walked through low valleys
with the shadow of death as my ally.
I have met what might take me across.

I did fear the evil –
deep down in my toes.
It smelt like charred bones;
smoky and rancid as burnt pig nose.

I felt the close breath of its chant in my ear:
“Come on, come on”, I’ll show you the fear –
Tickling my throat with its
white, bristling whiskers;
gripping my neck for a kiss or a strangle.

I felt its relentless pull on my ankles
dragging me under, swirling eddies of rancor,
drowning in the rain
of riptide currents in my brain.

I felt the sticky threads of spider webs
crisscrossing my face, begging me to play;
foreshadowing decay.

I held onto the thought
of your soft little hands
cupping my cheeks;
the warmth of your fingers
tore me free from my cohorts –

Quieted their urgent calls;
echoes rippling into the fray.
God wanted me I’m sure.

For although I was a demon in my own right,
wandering through the dust and darkness in
the lonely corners of my mind –

A little angel named you,
alighted on my shoulder
and softly whispered:
stay mommy”.



Author with son, Peter.

These poems address the pain of postpartum depression and my struggle to overcome it, despite feeling alone and misunderstood by the world around me. I have been in the darkest places, yet still had to get up every morning and care for my young children. I have lost friends, felt alienated by my small community and been difficult beyond words to get along with for my husband and family.

I also connect this pain with nature in her fight to stay whole and sane in the face of constant pain and suffering. “Mother nature” has so many threats from mankind and in my mind mirrors the violence against women every day. Nature offers me a means to express my own pain to the world when I could not find sufficient words in my own personal vocabulary to describe the profundity of it. The struggle goes on but with medication and therapy, I am seeing the light and surviving. I want to tell all the mothers out there suffering in pain and perhaps alone, that they are good mothers, and that it is possible to get better, if they can just hold on, and find the right help. – they too can make it through the darkness.

img_20160903_084446Elisabeth J. Ferrell-Horan lives in Vermont with her husband and two young boys. She is happiest in her barn with her horses and being surrounded by the sounds of nature in its raw beauty and form. She has a BA in American Literature from Southern Oregon University and an MA from Southern New Hampshire University in English and Creative Writing. Elisabeth is a stay-at-home mom searching for happiness and finding the light with the help of a loving family, the gifts of nature, and her poetry.