Mom, I see you. The world has been lying to us. We have spent our childhood watching TV shows and movies depict life as being a certain way. We see the future as bright as we think of getting married and having children. We see the other couples who walk with their babies, and they are so incredibly happy, and they talk about how “blessed” they are. How this is all they ever wanted, and they can’t wait to have more babies. We see all this, and then we get there, and we have that fleeting thought in our mind of, “I hate this.”
It’s OK. There is no shame in hating parts of postpartum motherhood. It does not mean we do not love our babies. It doesn’t even mean we don’t love being a mom, but we are suddenly faced with a life that we don’t recognize, and it is not what we seemed to have been promised growing up. Where is the sunshine and rainbows? All we can seem to see is darkness, lost hope, and tears. We can’t see through our own eyes well enough to even notice a glimmer of joy.
This is for you, mama. The mama who is struggling with postpartum depression. I see you. I am you. While the world has come a long way in recognizing that this is a part of the postpartum journey and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help, there is still so much work to be done. It can feel like we are stuck in a deep hole, and there is no one there to throw a rope or to help us climb out.
I remember those days when I was deep in the trenches, and the mere mention of “getting help” from my husband sent me into a spiral. I immediately took it as an insult to my parenting. He must have thought that I could not handle this motherhood thing, and then the voice inside my head told me that it was because I could not.
If I thought that my husband thought that (which he – of course- – did not), then what I imagined society thinking about me was so much worse. Here’s the thing, I never did get that help. I never spoke to my doctor about it, and while this is not something I advise, I was able to pull myself out in some semblance of shape. However, I now realize that I put myself through months, and years of torture because I was afraid of how I would be viewed.
So, to the mamas with postpartum depression, please get help. Reach out, ask someone to help, speak to someone you trust, and know that this is not a reflection on your ability to be a mother or the love you have for your child.. This is a medical side effect of giving birth.
This is no different from someone getting an infection following an appendix removal. It is a side effect of the most traumatic thing your body, and your hormones, have ever been through. This is not something you chose, this is not something that you wanted, and this is not something that defines you as a mother.
I feel we take it very personally, because why wouldn’t we? Those voices come from inside our own heads, but they are not our voices. They are definitely not the voices of our children or those who love us, so why should we allow them to consume us? Why should we let them get in the way of us bonding with our baby?
One of the ways I coped was holding my baby, skin-to-skin, in a quiet room and just staring at her. Studying her, in a way, every inch of her body. Sometimes, we would make eye contact, and I know that she did not define me by my postpartum depression. While this may not work for everyone, it worked for me.
All I can add to those mamas out there is that you are not alone. It may seem like you are sitting in the corner of a dark room, all by yourself, but that is not true. You have so many people around you, if you would just look up and look around. They are shining a light, and while every tip and trick may seem easier said than done, it can be done. It is not easy, but it is so worth it. Why is it worth it? Because you, YOU, are worth it.