As I type this letter, it’s 9:30pm and I’m relaxing on the sofa quietly listening to my favorite Pandora station. Across town, my best friend and postpartum depression survivor is in labor with her second girl. I just got an online status update that the contractions are uncomfortable (but not unbearable), around one minute in length, seven minutes apart, slowly picking up with intensity.
Tonight, in addition to writing this letter to new moms everywhere, I’m thinking, praying and cheering on my friend Casey. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight, but I’ll try.
So you’re bringing new life into the world. *gah* Can you believe it? This has been a prayer request of yours for years now, I know. It’s been a prayer of mine as well. The whole experience of birth is so very romantic. Boy and girl fall in love, build a home together and start a family. Boy and girl bring baby home to said house to start the rest of their life in perfect harmony. Happily ever after right?
Casey, you and I know that in our worlds, “happily ever after” isn’t as easy as it sounds. Girls like us (and the moms reading this letter)? Our brains and hearts work differently. The good thing is, we’re not alone. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it), there are so many girls like us that have feelings similar to ours. We got each other, and we have the army of a million other women willing and ready to stand up and fight for our survival.
By the time this letter is posted for you to read, you will be a new mom of just a few days. A whole new world ahead of you and that new little girl. Your world has been rocked. Are you ready?
Please please please let me help you over these next crucial few months. And let’s get this clear, when I say “I want to help you” what I really mean is I want to make sure your heart is okay. I want you to know that you have a place to turn when your throat is filled up with a gigantic lump of anxiety and breathing breaths of air seems completely impossible. I want to help and provide emotional support if your ideals of breastfeeding are not achieved. I want to be there to speak clarity into your life when even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. I want you to know that even if you feel isolated in your feelings, you are not alone.
I didn’t have PPD with my first two pregnancies, so when PPD crept into my life after my son was born, I was so glad to have you near. You were there for me. I remember you coming over so I could take a shower, offering me a chance to take a nap. You were there for me, validating my postpartum feelings and not making me feel dumb, or even worse, a failure at being a mom. You were there for me when I had a hard time being a good friend, because I could barely look myself in the eye. I am so glad you were there for me.
I guess what I’m getting at is, if you feel the ugly of PPD starting to creep into your life over these next few months, please don’t shut me out. I guess you can tell me to go away, or that you’re not up for talking about it, but I will longer. Yes, I will give you space but I’ll never let you feel abandoned.
People say that motherhood is the hardest job you will ever have. Sometimes it almost sounds annoyingly cliche. But dude, BEING A MOM IS SO HARD. Fortunately, it can be SO AWESOME as well.
Casey, I love ya. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for your new family of four. So many people are here for you, cheering you on, every step of the way. You can do this. You can rock THE AWESOME.
xxxxxooooo – Emily
Emily Elling is an interior designer, mother of three, and author of the blog DesignHer Momma. Follow her on Twitter at @designhermomma.
Donations to Postpartum Progress can be made here: http://postpartumprogress.org/donate-postpartum-depression-2/
Emily you may have the most beautiful heart of anyone I know. Letters like this make me with I had friends who lived close to me.
I've only recently "met" Casey, but I'm so happy for her and her new family of four.
Thank you for being there for her. Thank you for giving other mothers the push to be there for new moms.
Casey was there for me, too. (And, I'm sure, many, many more of 'us'.) And I know that she knows we are all praying for her, pulling for her, and at the ready if she needs us. Even from miles away, she listened to my heartaches and held my hand in the middle of the night. (Casey, I hope you know I'm here. Any time-night or day. And I mean that with every fiber of my being.)
And, Em, thanks for being the wonderful friend that you are. I'm so glad the internet gave you each other.
Oh the happy cry.
Much better than the ugly cry.
I'm so happy I have you guys.
I'd say more brilliant and articulate things, but seriously, tiny bits of brain out the boob.
I'm in tears here. So beautiful. If we could all offer such a letter and our true help and support to our pregnant and new mom friends, it would be a much happier world. You clearly are an amazing friend and survivor.
I heart this so hard. Can y'all both move to Charleston by mid September? kthxbai.
You are a rockstar friend. So amazing.
I may have shed a tear of two… I blame the hormones.
What hormones, I have no clue… but I blame them.
This is beautiful Emily. You're such a good friend.:)
Thank you for being here today! You are an amazing friend and a wonderful example of the gold-standard of friendship and support. We just need to get a sample of your DNA and clone you. So hold still. This won't hurt a bit … (brings out very large syringe) …
So well written and filled with love that only a treasured friend can express…
lovely! Casey is lucky to have you around!
Something I struggle with is how do you strike that balance of cautious optimism that a friend won't have an experience like yours, while being prepared and letting them know that you are THERE if they do? I feel like the dark angel of PPD sometimes, bringing tidings of anxiety and woe. I hope no one else ever suffers, but I know that is not realistic either. I wish every mama could get discharged with a baby and a letter just like this from their bestie.