Dear New Mama,
I see you. I see the love you have for your child, even if you don’t quite feel it yet. I see the exhaustion in your eyes. The questioning if you are doing things right. The worry. The fear. Some of these are normal new mama things. Sometimes they are more intense and rob us of moments of joy in our growing families. If that is you, rest assured – you are not alone. And, it DOES get better.
I learned that the hard way – severe postpartum depression and anxiety with my first. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I mean, I didn’t even feel LOVE for this new baby. I can admit now that at times, I resented him. He was born 4 weeks early and struggled to gain weight. Breastfeeding wasn’t going well and I felt like a failure. I felt no connection to my baby. I had two moments that became the tipping points for me. The first, I am ashamed to admit.
Baby was just a few weeks old and had been sick. Hubby was in a brand new job and I was trying to be the martyr and give him all the sleep I could since I was staying home. Our baby wasn’t sleeping at all. One night, I cracked. He wouldn’t stop crying. In my mind, he was doing that to me, keeping me awake.
As I laid him down, I woke up out of my fog and got a glimpse that I might not be ok. I was too ashamed to reach out. I had been told over and over that those who are Christians are able to pray away mental or emotional issues and if they can’t then they aren’t really Christians. I had to be ok.
The second wake up call was several months later. I was fearful on our family walks. Every car driving by seemed like it was about to fly off the road and ram right into us. We took fewer and fewer walks. I began staying in my home all the time. One day, I had to take baby to his 6 month appointment. I got him bundled in his carseat and walked out the door. Terror. Cars on the road. Driving. They could hit us. They would hit us. As I stood on the top step of my porch, I was frozen. It took all that was in me to walk down those steps and get in the car and make the white-knuckle 5 minute drive to the doctor.
I was too ashamed any of it to admit it to my doctor. Instead, I asked for thyroid testing. My thyroid was out of whack and was contributing to my symptoms and to my breastfeeding struggles. As my thyroid was fixed with meds, I started feeling a little better. I didn’t admit my struggles until after I had my second baby 19 months later. It took four years and three children for me to really get a true glimpse of how sick I was. I hadn’t been brave enough to seek help. I missed a full year of my first baby’s life because of my PPD/PPA. I began bonding with him when he was 18 months old.
But there is hope.
I DID get better. I should have had medication that first time around, but I didn’t. With the second and third babies, I was honest with my doctor. I used non-medication methods to cope and while I did better than the first time, I still struggled. After my fourth, I added in talk therapy and did worlds better.
We are now a happy and bonded family with 4 little kids between the ages of 7 ½ years and 20 months. Through this process, I’ve been able to share with them what was shared with me after I found Postpartum Progress.
You are not alone and it DOES get better.
The Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit that raises awareness & provides peer support for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. To see some of the ways we provide moms support, visit http://postpartumprogress.org/community/.