Dear New Mom,
Postpartum depression. I knew what it was. I knew I was at risk for it because of previous depression and anxiety. But I never thought it would *actually* happen. In fact, I suffered for months, making excuses for why I felt this way. I felt guilty, shameful, inadequate and like an utter failure. I wanted to run away. My family would be fine, and even better off without me.
I had a wonderful, healthy pregnancy, but was unexpectedly induced the day before my due date due. The induction was difficult – long, painful and I was scared. My daughter was sent to the NICU after a couple of cuddles and pictures. She remained there for a week. She was fine, thankfully. But I wasn’t. I was an emotional mess. I felt horribly guilty for her being in the NICU. I racked my brain for months about what I could have done differently and what I did wrong for her to end up there. I felt that I*must* have done something.
For months after we brought her home I felt awful. I had a beautiful, smart, loving little baby. I was lucky. But I wasn’t happy. I saw smiling moms at Target and the library. I wondered when I would feel like that. I must be a terrible mom to be so unhappy when I was so blessed. This made me feel even more guilty.
After four months of crying, feeling guilty and like a horrible mother, I finally realized that I was not myself and this was not “normal.” This was huge for me, and my first step to me getting better – I needed to admit it to myself. I think I knew all along, but didn’t want to believe it.
I asked for help. I started attending a local support group, attended therapy and read anything I could find about other women’s struggle with postpartum depression. I found comfort at each support group meeting and in each word I read. I was NOT alone.
Over time, I began to feel like ME again. I even started dance lessons. I spent time with friends. It took time, but I “forgave myself” for what had happened. I started to understand that I was going to be ok.
New moms, YOU are going to be ok — YOU WILL get better. I know it feels like this will last forever – I felt this would be my new “normal.” But it won’t be. I am myself again, and dare I say, a stronger version of me. Remember that you are not alone. I am with you. Warrior moms around the world are with you. You ARE amazing. You ARE a good mom. You ARE NOT alone.
The Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit that raises awareness & provides peer support for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. To see some of the ways we provide moms support, visit http://postpartumprogress.org/community/.