Dear new mom:
Tonight my son and I rocked silently in his room.
We didn’t need to rock. He wasn’t upset, and he didn’t need to wind down.
I just wanted to rock him. And he let me.
I wanted to share a quiet moment with him. And he with me.
In the dark room we are one. His face turns in to my chest as he hugs his lamby close with one arm. The other arm finds its way around me.
He allows himself to be held.
I allow myself to relax.
But it wasn’t always like this.
That rocking chair used to be a battle ground and a jail.
Twenty-one months ago I was unable to make him happy.
His cries — no, his screams — filled the room. They filled my head. They filled my thoughts.
I wanted to make it all stop: the screaming, the buzzing in my head, motherhood.
I was convinced I had done the wrong thing. I had gone against nature.
My body didn’t want to keep a pregnancy, so I took progesterone.
My body wasn’t shaped correctly to birth a baby, so I had a C-section.
My brain wasn’t wired for motherhood, but I was at a loss.
We had fought for this baby. We had dreamed and smiled while he kicked inside me. We wanted this.
But it wasn’t right. I wasn’t right.
And so every day was a battle. Every minute of every day was hard.
You wouldn’t have known from looking back at pictures or from how I dressed or how I smiled at jokes and acted that things were lovely.
But my mind was racing; my marriage strained; my bond with my son so very weak.
I was losing battle after battle, and I was about to lose the war.
And then I read a blog. A post about something not being right.
I read a blog post, and I related.
One blog led to another blog. And another. And then to Twitter. And then to this Mother’s Day rally.
I sat and wept.
The Unnamed Feeling was real. It had a name. I was not alone.
I have postpartum depression and anxiety.
I have survived by leaning on others, by trusting my doctor, by taking medication, and by seeing a therapist.
I am here because I asked for help.
Postpartum depression was not something that I could overcome by myself. It isn’t something that is my fault that I need to fix with hard work. It’s not me.
It is something I have survived because I made the decision to come outside myself and call in reinforcements.
And so I rock my son now.
And it is peaceful.
There are still hard times. Life is not perfect.
But I am learning to know my limitations. To ask for help. To slow down.
I am learning how to beat PPD.
And you can too.
You just have to ask for help.
And I am here. We are here.
Kate Sluiter is a wife, a mother, and a writer who is trying to find her voice in a world that has shaken her. She loves her life. Even when it’s hard. There is just more laughter during those times. Katie writes the blog Sluiter Nation and is a co-host of The Red Dress Club. Follow her on Twitter at @ksluiter.
Donations to Postpartum Progress can be made here: http://postpartumprogress.org/donate-postpartum-depression-2/