You’re finally a mom, and you’ve wanted this baby for so long. You’ve had dreams of what it would be like when you finally held the baby you’ve waited for, forever. Your plans included so much, like the colors of your nursery, and the theme of the room, and of how you’d take Mommy and Me classes together. You looked forward to this event for a long time, but what you didn’t pencil in on your What To Expect When You’re Expecting calendar, was “Postpartum depression/anxiety/mood disorder.”
Who anticipates this? There are books that tell you what to do after, but what about before? This experience is one no one can predict, and no one can anticipate. For me, the only thing I had on my mind when I found out we were having a baby is how fast I could make phone calls to tell the world, because the joy was exploding out of every single cell in my body!
As soon as I delivered my firstborn, I remember things didn’t feel right. There wasn’t the bliss I was promised by the television commercials and magazine articles, nor the immediate connection that photographs show. I loved my baby, absolutely… that was never in question. He was gorgeous, and mine, but all I felt was panic, fear, being overwhelmed. Inability.
I kept these feelings to myself. I faked through everything those first days. I faked the smiling, though I was head-over-heels, smacked-out in love with him. I felt overburdened, and scared. I wouldn’t be able to do this, and yet… I confided in no one. Friends came to see our new baby, and everyone was doing so great, and me? I could only look down into my lap, where tears would fall on my beautiful boy’s head, and wish he would have been given to a mother who deserved him.
At ten days postpartum, I made a call to my physician. I told her I had to come in. She heard something in my voice and told me to come to her office right then. I got my baby ready, and we walked the few blocks to her office. She listened to me for three sentences and, with me right there, she called her colleague. I then had an appointment for that afternoon with a therapist.
I was fortunate. With immediate care and attention (believe it or not, my physician called me every morning to see how I was), I got better. By nine months, I felt like a new me… Let’s face it, after children, there is no old you to go back to. But I felt healthy, capable, and excited for our days together and my new role as mother.
All because I asked for help, and received it.
Dear new mom, if you’re feeling any of what I was feeling or if anything seems off… talk to someone, confide in your doctor, or a nurse, or someone in your new moms’ group. Make a call, find resources… your recovery depends on it. You and your baby need to do this. There are no badges given out for suffering, no awards for most courageous battling it alone.
Community and support are the greatest factors in PPD/PPA/PPMD recovery. Increase your odds of beating this, put statistics in your favor. REACH OUT. It saves lives. And it is a beautiful life. You’ll get there, you’ll make it through, so don’t go it alone. It’s too lonely that way.
With so much love,
Alexandra is mother to three and keeps a personal blog so she has a place to put up her Warrior Mom badge. You can find her writing humor on Good Day Regular People. She also writes of the importance of community and its role in saving lives. Follow her on twitter @gdrpempress or on Facebook at Alexandra Rosas.
Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely-read blog on all things related to emotional health around pregnancy & childbirth, is a service of Postpartum Progress Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of postpartum depression and similar illnesses. Please consider making a donation today, Mother’s Day, so we can continue and expand our work supporting maternal mental health. Thank you!
Thank you dear, Alexandra. You taught me that reaching out makes all the difference. No one has to be alone – in community we all have a safe haven to run to.