A relative said that after each of her deliveries, she felt a bit lonely for a couple of weeks, but my story didn’t sound like hers.
A friend said that she was jealous of the attention her husband was giving their newborn, but my story didn’t sound like hers.
A woman at my church said that she felt over-protective and didn’t want anyone else holding her baby, but my story didn’t sound like hers.
My second daughter arrived just before eight o’clock on the night of January 26, 2016. By two o’clock the next afternoon, I felt it roll over me like a dense fog. I couldn’t put it into words at the time; but now, over three years later, I can see that that’s when my story began …
My story looked like days and nights running together into a blur of bone-deep exhaustion; it looked like grieving the loss of the one-on-one time I had with my oldest daughter for the past eighteen months; it looked like missing my husband, even though he was sitting right next to me.
My story looked like crying at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason and not being able to stop; it looked like standing frozen in the middle of my living room because I didn’t know what the next right step to take was; it looked like my mom giving me step-by-step instructions on how to undress and take a shower because the fog was too thick for me to think for myself.
My story looked like staring out the window with my two babies next to me watching for my mom to return from a ten-minute errand; it looked like crippling anxiety at the thought of being alone with them – that they would both need me, but I am only one person, so how in the world could I meet their needs?
My story looked like my mom telling me to call my doctor; it looked like having to hang up and call back three times because the nurse couldn’t understand me through the sobs; it looked like feelings of shame for having to admit that I needed medication – that I now had a “mental health disorder.”
My story looked like guilt for giving up breastfeeding because I needed sleep – oh, how I needed sleep; it looked like shame for not feeling more grateful for the blessings of my two healthy babies; it looked like a year of my husband laying a little pill next to my coffee mug each morning because he knew I couldn’t make it through the day without it; it looked like having a rotation of family members staying with us for a month while I found my footing as a terrified mom of two under two.
The fog eventually lifted, and I stopped feeling so fragile – like at any moment I could just break under the weight of this great responsibility of motherhood. I learned that postpartum depression and anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of. I did the best I could, and I’ve learned to let go of the guilt I felt for the decisions I made during that time. If my babies aren’t holding any of it against me, then I shouldn’t be holding it against myself. I’m finally at a point where I can feel proud of myself for getting the help that I needed.
We all have our own unique stories, and I’ve learned that postpartum depression and anxiety look and feel completely different for each mother. But I’ve also learned that every time we share our stories, we’re telling other moms that they aren’t walking this road alone.