This is not something I typically enjoy talking about. I try to keep things happy and light, but the reality is it’s not always happy and light. I can honestly say that I’m terrified to post something so personal; however, I started this blog to talk about things that are real that people like me can connect with.
A friend of mine the other day was telling me this story about a girl she knows who had recently had a baby. She said she asked her how it was going and the girl responded “Not very well. I’m tired…I’m not enjoying this.” And my friend proceeded through the story talking about how disgusted she was by that and how selfish the girl was. She went on about how of COURSE you’re tired and what did you think it was going to be????
I sat there and nodded, mostly unresponsive; willing the conversation to be over.
I walked away, went into an empty office, shut and locked the door and burst into tears. Because I felt like that sometimes. Sometimes I didn’t enjoy motherhood. Sometimes I looked at my life and thought “I don’t know if I want this right now”.
My friend, unknowingly, had burned me deep inside. She had NO IDEA, she was just telling me a story, but it hurt me so deeply I felt completely thrown off kilter. I stayed in that office for a minute, wiped my tears hurriedly, took and deep breath and resumed my day.
One of the nurses I work with works in our county’s Maternal Child & Adolecent Health department and she dealt with this all the time. I asked her if we could talk and I explained to her what I was feeling. She said it seemed like classic postpartum depression (PPD), and she encouraged me to make an appointment with my midwife because (unbeknownst to me) my midwife had written her dissertation on PPD.
I scheduled my appointment (unfortunately I had to schedule it for almost a month out) and waited.
I talked about it a little between the time I realized what was going on and my first appointment with my midwife. I found myself frantically explaining “but I don’t want to hurt my kids or myself I am not a danger!” While that is very real and happens, I hate that that stigma is associated with postpartum depression. It was almost as if people couldn’t really hear me until I had confirmed to them that I was mentally stable enough to not be a danger to my family or myself.
That was never ever the issue. I didn’t want to die and I never thought hurting my children. I still felt connected to my baby, I adored him and loved being around my kids. It was just waves of it all being too much.
It started one day when I was talking to a friend of mine about South Carolina. I had lived there for a while and it has always been the place where I feel like I belong. I was explaining the weather and seasons, where to go and what the best time of year is to visit. After our conversation was over, I had a very sobering thought. I will probably never live there again. I would probably never live outside of this town my husband had been raised in, let alone outside of the state of California. I might not even ever GO there again.
I started thinking about things I’ve given up. My body, my sleep, my freedom…my plans. I felt guilty for thinking that way because I had wanted each of my children so much. I didn’t regret them, but I felt like I had completely lost myself.
When it came time to see my midwife, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to have that conversation. Luckily, she was ready for me. She began the appointment with a hug and led the conversation. She connected me to some great support groups and resources, and just listened. I finally felt like someone was not only hearing me but truly understanding me. I didn’t have to defend my love of my children, she knew I loved them, she just was supportive. It was the first time that I was able to talk about what I was experiencing with someone who seemed like the subject matter expert. It was really empowering.
I joined one of the Facebook groups she had suggested and introduced myself to the ladies on the group and immediately received a flood of support. I read some of the other ladies testimonies with my mouth open in shock at how exactly alike some of our experiences were. I mean even down to the age of our children (which looking back now I can see is no coincidence).
I heard words of encouragement from mothers who were on the other side of PPD and let me know how they eventually DID get there. I connected with two moms who were in the trenches so to speak with me, and were ready to trudge through together. A couple mothers sent me links to articles that were written by Doctors who have studied PPD and were so full of hope and understanding. This all happened the same day as my appointment. All in one day, my loneliness and feeling of not being understood because I couldn’t understand it myself, it was all fading away. I felt like I had a community.
Today, I am three months into my journey of discovering who this new person is that I am becoming. Some days are harder than others, sometimes I still look at my life and think “where am I in this?”. I love and appreciate that nurse that I work with for listening and helping me. She will never understand how much of a ray of light in a dark space she was to me.
They key for me has been talking about it. Being aware and accepting myself and my own thoughts for exactly what they were. I am much m0re expressive about what I need and making efforts to doing things that I enjoy. After talking to my husband, I am planning a trip to South Carolina in May. Just him being ok with me doing that and knowing that I will get to see that place I feel so connected to soon helped light something inside of me that I didn’t know wasn’t lit. I realized how much of my frustrations with him were internal, and that once I started talking to him about it he started listening.
I have been working to change things that have made me unhappy. Starting with my weight, but also the lack of adventure in my life. I have been trying to fill our lives with adventure and joy, and so far I have lost six pounds! It doesn’t sound huge, but just those changes have made such a big difference in my life.
I know I still have work to do, and I am committed to working on myself. I hope anyone who is struggling through this feels comforted by this post; it DOES get better. You HAVE to take care of yourself. If you can’t find someone to talk to, reach out to me! I would be MORE than happy to be a friend to someone who needs a friend during this time. It takes a village. It truly does.
If you aren’t sure what exactly is going on, this was a great resource for me while I was still figuring out what was “wrong”.