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  • Writer's pictureShannon Reyenga

Postpartum Pokeweed

If you're from the South, you make have heard of poke salad and pokeweed. But, if you're like me and you prefer biscuits without gravy, pokeweed may be new to you.

Pokeweed is a hardy perennial plant that reaches up to 10 feet in height. Its habitat is scattered across the continental United States, but it is typically only eaten by humans in southern Appalachia. Pokeweed is poisonous to touch and takes root very quickly. Much to my delight, after having a baby, our yard became infested with pokeweeds I was unable to pull.

My nemesis: the poke weed.

It started out with just an overgrown yard. Yard work became difficult during the late stages of pregnancy when I couldn't bend over easily. My eyes became so swollen from CME made it difficult read, much less to pick out weeds. After giving birth, like most postpartum moms, I spent all hours of the day feeding my child. The problem was the recliner I used to nurse our son faced the window. I spent all day watching the pokeweeds grow. A mix of tunnel vision and hormones made the me unable to focus on much else when I looked out the window. It became an intense source of rage. We hosted visitors constantly and heard helpful comments such as

“Did you know pokeweeds are poisonous to dogs?”


“Has your yard guy texted you back yet?” (the answer was always no.)

What you don't see in these photos is the four to six foot weeds in our yard, threatening our dog and our sanity.

Willie’s group lost a staff member and he was busy as ever. He too could not pull the weeds. It took seven weeks for me to be able to walk down our block and after that I was determined to pull the biggest weed outside the living room window. I tried and failed. It was too strong. I was still recovering. Willie had to help me. I cried and ranted.

Getting rid of the pokeweeds has been a bit like getting through my depression over the past few years. It keeps popping up and poisoning my outlook. It’s been a long time since I’ve published anything on this blog. Pokeweeds and other things like it have gotten in the way.

Here's an update:

I had my baby, he’s two now!

Since I last posted, my feelings about motherhood and blindness have gotten increasingly complicated. My essay in the Huffington Post received mixed reviews. Comments like these did not help my confidence and fueled the growth of this depressing state I’ve been in and out of over the past few years.

I try to remember we can’t control the comments other people make or what they do. When you're a new parent, you get a lot of unwarranted advice. But when you're deaf and blind, people have more outlandish things to say and do. Generally, I try to react with humor. Like in the videos willie and I have made:

But, somehow I keep feeling like I’m stuck in a rut that I can’t get out of.

Ah, I need to leave to pick Fitz up from preschool. I'll continue to check in when I can.


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