I see you and that beautiful baby you just brought into the world. Yours really is one of the cutest newborns I’ve ever laid eyes on. Trust me when I say, you’re a natural! You were born for this! Despite what you thought a few years ago, I always saw your maternal instincts. I’ve known for a long time that you would be great. Are you getting any sleep? What a silly question, of course you aren’t. That will come though, you’ll find a routine that works for both of you. If I could, then you can… I promise.
I see you and the love in your eyes when you look at that sweet baby. But if I’m being honest, I see something else there; something darker, painful and persistent. I see the fog in your eyes. It didn’t roll in all at once, I know, because I’ve been watching it closely. Sure, roller-coaster emotions are normal after you give birth. It’s a helluva transition and it takes some time for all of the hormones to settle. I don’t want to disagree with you when you say that you’re fine, but I’ve been worried about you for a while now. Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of profound tiredness and complete overwhelm, they all start to blur together, that’s not uncommon. But yours seem to fall harder and heavier than most.
Even though I see you, but I’m not sure how to reach you. My daily texts ‘checking in’ don’t feel like enough. But they’ve started some great conversations so I promise to keep sending them. I’m praying for you, furiously… daily. I’m praying that my voice, and the voice of all of us who love you are louder than the voices that are clouding your thoughts. I hope you hear me when I tell you that you’ve got this and that he’s healthy. I hope you hear me when I tell you to trust your heart. Your heart won’t steer your wrong, even when your brain is misfiring. I want to be louder than the loudest shame-filled self-doubt that you’re wrestling with. Please believe me when I say that say that you aren’t alone. We’re here, rallying around you and if you let us, we’ll be your life raft. I’m going to keep showing up at your house when my texts go unanswered, I’m going to keep offering meals, hugs, an opportunity to shower, a place to escape to when your walls seem to be closing in. I really hope you hear me.
There’s a battle that you’re fighting against the monsters of anxiety and depression; I see it unfolding right before my eyes. Remember when Mom used to tell us, “I wish I had a magic wand to take this all away?” I feel that way when I look at you and I would take this and fight for you, if I could. You’re tired, I know, but you’ve got this, and I’ve got you. If you keep showing up, then little by little, baby step by baby step, you’ll prove the doubts and anxiety wrong. I’ll be right here the whole time. Yes, motherhood is hard, but accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness and taking medicine to escape the anxiety and depression doesn’t mean you’re waving a white flag. In fact, to me, it says the opposite. I think that anti-depressant is your version of calling in the big-guns. It won’t make parenting easy. In fact, I can guarantee you that you’ll still cry those blurry tears, but it will level the playing field and give you the space you need to catch your breath.
I see you, I love you and I’ll say it again … there’s no shame in asking for help. Women have been having babies for thousands of years, but they haven’t been doing it alone. There’s almost nothing that we can’t help with (except maybe the breastfeeding, but even that is negotiable!) You don’t remember me during my darkest days as a new mom, but believe me when I tell you we all have them and this, too, shall pass. The fact that you keep fighting through the fog makes you one of the most courageous women I know. I promise. Just talk to me, your doctor, your friends even a random kind woman in a waiting room. Please, just keep talking and let mine be the loudest voice you hear, at least until the fog lifts and you hear your own again.
You’re a great mom, especially in the thick of it.
I see you. I love you. I’m here.