You look beautiful. Really, you do. I know you probably don’t feel that way, what with the lack of showering, lack of sleep and lack of any sense of normalcy. But, you look great, I promise. Motherhood suits you, even though you may not feel suited for motherhood.
Hey … I see you eyeballing the messy floors and dishes in the sink. Don’t worry about it, the house looks great, too.
How are you feeling? Overwhelmed? Yeah, I know. It’s SO MUCH to take in at once, isn’t it? And why in the world didn’t anyone include a manual with the baby at the hospital, so you know what the hell you’re doing when you bring it home? RIGHT? Right.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, mama. It’s totally normal, actually. And you know what? It’s okay if you don’t feel glowing, over-the-moon happy. It doesn’t make you a bad mommy at all. But do me a favor, okay? Will you tell someone? Someone that you trust, that you see often? While it’s normal to feel all of those things, you shouldn’t feel them alone.
I know, I know. It’s hard to ask for help. But trust me, there are so many people that would be honored, happy and excited to hold the baby for a while.
Or hold you.
Whatever you need.
The first step is picking up the phone and calling … or texting … whatever you prefer. Just make sure you have someone to talk to about how you’re feeling. And when they come over to visit, be honest, okay? It’s easy to hide behind the “Oh, I’m just tired.” And granted, you ARE tired! But if you’re feeling pretty lousy and sad, it’s a good thing to have someone in your corner.
If you’re married … would you tell your husband? Be open with him about how you’re feeling? He may not understand, but he should know. He’s in this with you and he is for you.
If you’re like me, you probably feel guilty for not being really happy about your new baby. The guilt pummeled me so hard I could barely stand. So many nights, I found myself uncontrollably weeping in the dark of our bedroom closet. I felt undeserving. I felt like a burden to my husband. I felt like a complete failure. I felt like my baby boy would be better off without me around. Have you felt that too? It’s crushing, isn’t it?
I’ll never forget the moment that the guilt took over my mind. My husband was out of town on a business trip for a week. My baby boy, Rowan, was only three weeks old. I just finished a feeding and got him to sleep in the little Moses basket next to my bed when the tears came. I couldn’t stop them. The sobs were getting louder and I was starting to lose control. I moved my weak body to the bathroom where I sat on the cold tile floor and hugged my knees to my chest. I rocked back and forth. The guilt was crushing me. I was having trouble breathing. Everything started to hurt, my heart being the worst. I just wanted it all to be over.
I wanted to die.
Due to a series of incredible and unbelievable complications during my pregnancy, I was prescribed some opiate painkillers to take, but only as needed. I had enough in both pill bottles to do the job. So, I stood and opened both containers and emptied them into my open palm. I sat back down on the tile.
I took a deep breath, opened my hand and looked at the pills, all piled white and starting to stick from the sweat and tears on my skin.
I’m not entirely sure what came over me at that moment, but the only thing I can think of is God’s protection. In looking at those pills one last time before I swallowed, I was overcome with shock. I was jarred out of my suicidal thoughts and took a step back.
“What the HELL am I doing?!” I thought, out loud.
I took another deep breath. This time it was a combination of relief and absolute terror. What was I becoming? Where did these irrational thoughts come from?
What was happening to me?
I think the fear is what drove me to counseling. The thought that I would actually consider hurting myself … it was so out of character for me. I knew something was wrong.
Have you thought these things? That something is wrong? That your emotions and thoughts are out of character for you? In the good moments, do those things seem irrational? If so, I urge you to seek out a good counselor, friend. And don’t hesitate.
I know that the thoughts and feelings seem like they’re too much to bear. I know what it’s like to hold our baby and weep, rather than smile. I know how it feels to stay awake in the dark, riddled with anxiety. I know it feels like you’re alone.
But let me tell you on absolute truth: You are not alone.
There are hundreds of thousands of women around the globe who have sat in your place and we are all standing her today, telling you that you WILL get through this. We’ll HELP you through this. You are not alone.
It’s my deepest prayer, hope and desire that you won’t ever feel guilt, sadness, anxiety or depression. I hope, all the way down to my toes, that your experience is different than mine was. That your mommy days are full of all the moments you had in your pregnant daydreams. That you feel over the moon when you look at your baby. That your heart could burst with all the happiness stored up inside.
But if that’s not your reality, just know … You can do this. You are not alone. You are loved.
Donations to Postpartum Progress Inc. can be made here: http://postpartumprogress.org/donate-postpartum-depression-2/