Postpartum is such a dirty word
So, this is going to be a different kind of post for me, but it's one I feel drawn to write. We grow up, get married, have children. We are told that having kids is going to be the most rewarding experience we will ever have. We are told that we will fall in love at first sight. We are told that we will experience a joy we could never have dreamed of. So, when our new bundle of joy makes their debut, we expect to feel over the moon. No one ever told us we might not. No one ever said that you might look at your brand new baby and feel like you are looking at a stranger. No one ever told us that we might feel more alone than we ever have. And we definitely never heard that these feelings are okay and nothing to be ashamed of. Well, I am here to tell you that no matter WHAT you feel, it IS okay and you are NOT alone in your thoughts.
From the time I was a little girl, I felt called to be a mother. I knew God's purpose for me was to have children and I couldn't wait to hold my brand new baby one day. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was SO excited. I read to her every night, talked and sang to her all the time, decorated her nursery and awaited her arrival with baited breath. Then, when that day came, I remembered feeling so guilty. I felt like a terrible mother. When I looked at this beautiful little angel that God had blessed me with, I felt NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. How heartless could I be? Was I broken? Would I ever truly love this tiny little person? (I can assure you, I do, more than anything.) But, at the time, I wasn't sure I would ever feel the way society had told me I was SUPPOSED to feel. I was so excited to meet this human being just a few days ago, what happened?! I went through the next few months in a fog. I went through the motions, I cuddled, I kissed, I fed, I bathed. I also went crazy. I was so emotional. And angry. And sad. And empty. And so very guilty. I had NO idea what was wrong with me, I never even considered PPD. And because I had all these expectations of how I was supposed to feel, how society told me I needed to feel, I felt ashamed for how I actually felt. I didn't tell anyone what was actually going on inside of me. I was afraid of the judgement, I was afraid of the criticism. I was afraid if I told someone they would look at me and say "What is WRONG with you?!" So, I suffered silently, and alone.
Eventually, this faded, and I was able to enjoy motherhood. As much as you can enjoy 2 year old tantrums and wall drawings. ;) But I finally felt better. I thought, maybe, I just needed some time to adjust, to learn to love my baby. I still never associated my feelings with PPD. I mean, I never tried to kill my child or myself, never even thought about it, so that couldn't be it, right?! How uneducated and wrong I was. I went through the same thing when my son was born. I am so scared that if my husband and I have another, I will go through it again. But this time, I will NOT suffer in silence, I will NOT suffer alone.
I wish just one person had warned me of the signs of PPD. I wish someone had told me what I was feeling WAS normal and NOTHING to be ashamed of. Not even either one of my doctors talked to me about this. There are more than 3 million documented cases in the US a year. There are 3 million mamas out there asking for help. How many of us never do? I am here to tell all my fellow mamas out there, you are doing a FANTASTIC job! And if you think what you are feeling is wrong or something to be ashamed of, it is NOT. Reach out to your doctor, let them help you. Do NOT suffer in silence. You are not broken, you are not weak, you are a warrior and don't you ever forget it!
P.S I was looking for some pictures to ad to this post and realized I can't find a single one of me holding my son after he was born. Now, I am sad all over again. Pictured below are my two little babes. Then and now ;)