[Editor’s Note: The following guest post from Kim Rogers gives me chills up my spine. I’m in love with this story. -Katherine]
In the depths of my postpartum depression, I experienced all of the expected PPD emotions: shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, sadness, despair and hopelessness. The list goes on. However, there was one that came up quite frequently that stung more than all the rest.
I felt defective.
It was more than four years ago that I felt it for the first time in connection with PPD, but it still brings tears to my eyes. I remember tearfully apologizing to my husband many times, “I’m sorry I’m defective. I’m so sorry I’m broken.” Not only did I carry the weight of my illness on my shoulders, but I also carried the burden of what it was doing to my husband, my marriage, and my new little family. Guilt and failure were my constant, persuasive companions.
In addition to feeling guilty for not being a “good mom” for my husband’s new son, I also felt self-conscious about it in front of his parents. In my mind, I had let them down as well. Did they think I was crazy? Did they think their son deserved better? Did they wish he had married someone else? Someone better suited to care for their grandson? These thoughts plagued me. So much so that we didn’t tell them for many months for fear (mine) of what they would think.
In hindsight I’m sure they knew something was wrong. The second week after my son was born, they were visiting and I was very much a mess. I was obsessive about schedules and on a good day acted distant and nervous. And then there was that Christmas when we flew up to Washington to meet up with them. That was the trip where EVERY. LITTLE. THING. felt like it was impossibly hard. I blew up at the smallest things and my anxiety was crippling. My husband simply suggesting I take my son into the hotel lobby restroom to change his diaper sent me into a tailspin of anxiety and fury. I imagined them wondering what their dear son had gotten himself into!
That is what makes this last weekend so very sweet. Last weekend my in-laws gave me an early birthday present, and I don’t know if they will ever fully realize what a gift it was. They went to a jeweler near their home in British Columbia and had a charm custom-made for me based on the Postpartum Progress logo: the Warrior Mom.
I think it hit me for the first time how deeply they want to convey that they love me, in spite of putting their son and grandkids through two bouts of postpartum depression. Even though at times I felt horrible that I was a defective wife to their son, they never felt that way. This charm is more than a piece of jewelry. It is more than a reminder of what I survived. This charm is a symbol of the love and support that was there all along, waiting for me to receive it.
I hope this serves as an encouragement to you ladies wondering if your family will ever “get it.” Yes, many of them will. Give them time. And if you are nervous about what your husband’s parents think of you, take heart; there’s a good chance they love you just the same—if not more. That is my wish for all of you.