Dear New Mom,
Congratulations on that bundle of joy! What a beautiful blessing you have been given!
But I am writing to you for a more serious reason….really to tell you a story I suppose.
Those first few weeks are a whirlwind! People coming to visit, laundry done, dinner served. The chance to let this incredibly huge life change sink in, it takes a bit. I remember feeling more emotional than normal, crying every time I hear that dang song by Sarah McLahlan and all I can think about is that dag um puppy in the shelter.
A beautiful baby boy! That’s what I got. I immediately loved him and thought he was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen, but something else, something deep inside me, was off!
I remember the first time it crept in. I glanced over at that beautiful baby face and thought, “what have I done?” Wait what?!? Was that my thought? No surely it was someone else. A mother would never think such a thing. So I pushed it aside and carried on.
Then life settled a bit. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed or going out. “It’s because I’m tired, I just know it! The baby wakes me up a lot, this is just normal.” But at night once the husband is asleep and the baby is asleep, I cry. I cry ALOT! I am not even sure why I cry other than I feel like I am mourning something. But again, I push it aside and smile when people ask how I am. “I am fine! Isn’t he so cute! I’m doing great!” But really I’m not.
It’s a social media highlight, Pinterest pinning, photo filtering kind of world out there! I will not, I CAN not be the mom who doesn’t fit in that mold!
So the weeks went on and it got worse, but no one knew. I tried to talk to my husband, but he just didn’t understand. In fact I could tell he was irritated so I knew I would not mention it again. After all, it’s not his burden to carry. He is a good man carrying the stress of work and providing for a new kind of family! He doesn’t need something else to worry about.
So I think about telling my mom. Nope, can’t do that. She would just get really worried and I live far away. Not fair to stress her out. Then there is the best friend, the one I adore! I could tell her, but I can’t. She just had a baby too and she has a lot on her plate. Plus she seems to be totally rocking out this mom thing! Strike 99 for me!
So I stay quiet. I smile. I say, “I’m fine!” And I cry!
Then one day the sadness, the unanswered prayer of it going away, it turns into other thoughts. Terrible thoughts that I cannot even fathom. But I have them still….
“You are a terrible mom.” “They’d be better off without you.” “You cannot do this.” “They deserve better than you.” And that’s when I dreamt of dying.
I know the way I feel is not normal. I know it’s not right. But I also know I don’t have that post partum depression thing. I mean surely not me! I am a person of faith, I am smart, I am educated, my life is full of blessings…yea that’s definitely not it. So I stayed quiet and I suffered longer.
By that time my boy is 14 months old and it still lingers. I go to my annual doctors appointment and just mention, “hey…so…I think I might be depressed.” He seems surprised! That’s when I know I have fooled everyone.
I had been depressed once before, but it was because of a terrible situation I had in college. A baby is not terrible, but yet the feelings and thoughts, they felt eerily familiar.
Fourteen months after welcoming that beautiful baby, I finally asked for help. FOURTEEN MONTHS!!
Post partum depression is REAL! (I wish I had grasped that then). Moms have it more often than we talk about. More often than we are comfortable talking about. Too often not to talk about.
I just had baby # 3 and I can feel those feelings again. I actually began writing this after locking myself in a room away from my kids and thinking over and over, “I just can’t do this! You cannot do this!” This time is different though. Baby #2 didn’t come with these feelings, but I remember them even after all these years.
Here’s what I know…. I am not bad, unwanted, unloved, unworthy….I know that now! So although I know I am in that spot again, I AM NOT AFRAID!!! I’ve been here once and survived and I will do it again!
This time IS different! I know to reach out. I recognize what is true and what is not. I have an amazing support group and I talk to people and my doctor when my thoughts are heavy and my life feels unbearable.
So new mom…(or 2nd, 3rd, 4th)…you are not ALONE!! I am here to tell you, YOU CAN, YOU WILL survive this!!
Ask for help. Reach out to someone. Reach out to me. Don’t smile and say “I’m fine.” Your help and hope are just around the corner…and mama….YOU GOT THIS!!!
A Mom Unplugged