Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Natalie.]
The other day a friend told me that the Universe gives you the baby you need. She’d heard that from a friend who has a very fussy baby, who felt that he teaches her patience and understanding.
I thought, “What could I need that Eleanor is giving me? She’s an easy baby—not hard to soothe or too fussy. Maybe that’s what I need right now, to help me get through?” And this may be partially true. When I hear about what some other parents have to deal with, with difficult or colicky babies, I don’t know how I could handle it.
But the thought stayed in my head. What could I need that Eleanor is giving me? Love? No, I have that. Responsibility? Nope, I’ve got that too.
As I thought about it, I began to think that maybe it wasn’t what Eleanor is giving me but in a backwards way, it’s my experience with Postpartum Depression that is giving me what I needed. (Although I really do wish I could have gotten it another way.)
“She must not have had it as bad as I do, if she can say that,” you might be thinking. But please believe me, I’ve been steamrolled by my OCD. I’ve sobbed as I held my baby and she smiled at me, while I thought, “Why does she have to have a mother like me? Why can’t this be easier?”
I’ve cried to my husband for hours saying, “You’d be better off without me, but please please don’t leave me.” Or, “I’m no longer the woman you married. This is the new me, and you deserve better than her.”
I’ve cried when I realized that I don’t remember the first few weeks of my daughter’s life—time I’ll never get back—because I was so out of it that I would only realize after a few days that I hadn’t showered or brushed my teeth.
All that being said, what could I possibly need from this experience, you may ask. Wouldn’t it be better to have a normal birth with no PPD? Yes, of course. I’ve wished that more times than you can imagine. But before my daughter was born I thought, “What will I do with all my anxiety and OCD when she’s my child? Will I freak out over every bump? Will she not be able to have a normal childhood because of me?”
As I’ve been dealing with some of the worst OCD of my life, and working every day to get back to myself again—a state that used to be so easy I didn’t even need to think about it—I’ve had to work harder than I ever have to get my OCD under control. I’ve had more at stake than ever. I realized, in an awful twisted way, maybe this is what I needed (but again, never wanted) to get the strength and techniques I need to control my OCD in the future, for my daughter, my husband, and myself.
I read something about PPD a few weeks back, testimonials from women on how they knew they were getting better. For them it was when they enjoyed looking at pictures of the baby, or smiled for the first time in a while, things like that. For me, I know I’m getting better now that I can see the positive aspect of the roughest time of my life, because I can see a future now.
For those of you reading this wondering if it will ever get better… it does. Please remember there is nothing wrong with needing help. It will get better and better every day, especially with help. I’m getting there, and you will too.