In early May we welcomed our beautiful son. To my surprise, the transition in adding him to our family didn’t go as smooth as I thought it would. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been pushed mentally and physically to places I didn’t know I was capable of going. Yet here I stand today, trying to find our groove as a blended family of 6 and seeking treatment for symptoms of postpartum depression.
And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
There’s a common misconception that women who experience postpartum depression are neglectful and weak mothers who don’t love their children. And that is bullshit. I know I am a great Mom. I would do anything for our kids. I work hard every day to make them feel loved and they have a wonderful life.
It’s just that sometimes my brain doesn’t process emotions the way it should. And it’s because when you have a baby, not only does it alter your physical body, but it creates a huge hormonal shift in your brain. Sometimes those hormones are so imbalanced that irrational and illogical emotions take over. And that’s what has happened to me. So, because I am a great Mom, I did the strongest thing I could think of; I asked for help.
The first time I knew something was off was 2 days postpartum. Rather than soaking up the deliciousness that is newborn smell I was focused on the birth journey.
“Your body failed to initiate labour”
“Your cervix is unfavourable“
Those phrases the doctors repeatedly used, circled in my brain until I believed that I was a failure and unfavourable. Everyday I would tell myself, my body couldn’t do what a woman’s body was suppose to, how could I be a good enough mother?
Then it became nonsense thoughts like…
If I couldn’t settle our son – I wasn’t a good enough mother.
If I missed bedtime with our toddler – I wasn’t a good enough mother.
If there was a fly in the house – I wasn’t a good enough mother.
When my brain started reliving painful memories from the past and I couldn’t properly process them, I knew this was more than just the baby blues.
One day when the kids were asleep my husband found me sobbing. In my head I was reliving the memory of him and I being married in my mother’s hospital room. There are a lot of emotions attached to that memory. Feelings like sadness, joy, love, pain, anger and emptiness. As I replayed that moment in time I couldn’t process the abundance of emotion. My body felt crippled by the pain, all I could do was just cry.
These memories that I had compartmentalized were now like open wounds all over my body. Whenever they appeared in my brain, I would feel paralyzed with a stinging pain that was 10 times the initial impact. It became so overwhelming that in order to function I had to shut off the emotion. I disassociated myself from my life and from making a connection with our son.
That disconnection with Wil haunted me. I yearned for that mother son bond. But in order to do that I had to let the walls down and let every other emotion come in. I was alone, surrounded by fear, judgement and shame. Everyone in my family was thriving except for me.
All of that changed the moment I decided to seek help. That’s when things got clearer and that’s when I knew I would get out of it.
If it wasn’t for the many women who have shared their story about postpartum depression, I don’t know if I would have gotten the help I needed as soon as I did. Women like Jen, Ali and Lara who spoke their truth, showed me that there’s no shame in what’s happening and inspired me to stand up for myself and seek the help that I needed.
I am fortunate enough to have an incredible team of supportive people behind me. My dr, my therapist and my husband have all been the deep rooted tree for me to grab on to during this hormonal shitstorm. They are the logic to my irrational emotions. And even though each day can be a battle, because I took the step to seek help, now there’s fewer wars and more victories. Victories like starting to feel like myself again and finally feeling that incredible connection and loving bond with our son.
So my friends, if you are in the thick of it and struggling, I urge you to take the step and get help. I am your proof that it works.