After going through the journey of pregnancy and surviving the challenges that come with delivery you would expect to feel a sense of accomplishment and joy.
However, instead of joy, there is fear.
Not just fear as a new parent, but paralyzing fear for yourself and your new baby.
Your mom tells you its just your hormones balancing out (which is true for many new moms).
Your girlfriends share with you that it is totally normal and something you have to go through. They assure you that those thoughts will go away in a couple weeks.
Flash forward now to 6 weeks postpartum. You are home, in your new routine, and are wondering “Is everything ok with me?” because you still feel the exact way you felt in the hospital.
You may be having nightmares. At times you may hide in the closet to get away from it all. You may even experience panic attacks when you know you’re going to have to be alone with your baby for fear of what may happen.
Are these just the post-baby blues or are they something more?
In my case, it was something more. What you just read is what I experienced after the birth of my son.
I kept telling myself it was still just the “baby blues”. I never had depression issues before so there was no way that I would have postpartum. Right?
I was afraid to ask for help, but you shouldn’t be.
Use Your Voice
I am typically a very upbeat and happy individual. The thought that I might be dealing with depression was something I didn’t even let creep into my mind.
I was a new mom I was not supposed to feel sad, my sadness led me to feel extremely guilty.
So guilty that I didn’t talk to anyone about it – not even my husband, family, or best friend – for the first few weeks. It wasn’t until one of my dear friends called me (she has a son a week younger than mine) to share her struggles.
Unlike me, when she was experiencing signs of postpartum depression she reached out for help and realized this was something out of her control.
It was her strength that empowered me to be ok with sharing my struggles with my family which ultimately led to receiving help and recovery.
It Is Not a Scarlet Letter
According to the CDC 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of depression during the weeks postpartum.
This statistic was shocking and at the same time comforting because of my journey and it showed I wasn’t alone.
I had no idea until I started speaking to my OB that postpartum depression is completely out of a mothers control and is not caused by one single factor. From hormones, to stress, and sleep deprivation there are many factors that can lead to postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate and happens to mothers of every race and economic bracket.
You did not do anything wrong, you are a not a bad mother, and you need to speak with a health care professional anytime you feel something may be off after giving birth.
Women from every walk of life experience postpartum depression. Celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Adele have all had their own journey dealing with depression after the birth of their children.
It is important to remember that you do not need to go on this journey alone and it does not make you a weak mother, wife, or person by opening up about the tough emotions you are dealing with.
It Is A Marathon Not a Sprint
The moment you start to share is the moment you will get the first weight lifted off your shoulder.
However, you need to remember it is a long road and not one where you can snap your fingers and to feel like “you” again overnight.
Every mother will have a different plan that helps them get back to who they are and every mother experiences different time frames in which they feel “normal” again.
In my case, it was a combination of therapy, medication, and mental exercises to start bonding with my son that helped me recover from postpartum depression.
If I am being completely honest with you I did not feel the overwhelming mom love and intense bond with Pierce until he was about 6 months old and it wasn’t till right after his 1st birthday that I finally I felt like my old self again.
Was it a long road? Hell yes, it was, but there is a light at the end of it. You will be YOU again one day.
Climb Into A Life Raft
The best thing you can do to start your road to recovery is knowing which life rafts are nearby.
This includes leaning on your loved ones, being open and honest with your doctors, and setting aside your feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or pride to ask for help.
Your loved ones above anyone else are people that should be a safe place for you to confide in. Especially after giving birth they will be there for you more than ever and will want to honestly know how you are feeling postpartum.
The co-captain of this life raft should be your partner as you went through the journey together to conceive and to welcome a new life into the world. You should go through the steps TOGETHER to get “you” back.
You trust your doctor to deliver the most precious gift you will ever receive, your baby, and you should trust that they can help you as much as they helped your baby.
The postpartum checkups when they’re asking you to rate how you are feeling or when asking how you are doing, this your opportunity to climb into their raft as they are showing you land is in site.
If you don’t open up on the struggles you are dealing with then you will continue to drown and not find the relief you seek.
“You are your own worst enemy” is a quote I know you have heard a hundred times. Dealing with postpartum depression this quote is very fitting, if you let your own feelings and fears take over then you may not ask for help when you need to.
There may be feelings of fear, judgment or even guilt, but you are going to have to be the captain of your own lifeboat and to ask for help.
You are going to be “you” again one day.