Neither of my two pregnancies were normal. Four weeks after my first child was born, I experienced postpartum psychosis and had to be hospitalized for almost a week. Five weeks into my second child’s pregnancy I was manic and also required a week-long hospitalization to recover from the episode. I didn’t have typical pregnancies. So one would think I would have the courage to ask a close friend or family member who recently gave birth how they’re really doing. Emotionally and mentally.
I’m sad to admit that I haven’t. But I vow to change.
One woman to another, it shouldn’t be so hard to check in. Whatever is holding us back, we need to push it aside for the reason that we could be saving another mama from more heartache than she should have to go through after bringing a new life into the world.
My idea is simple. I will visit the next one of my friends or family members who has a baby. No matter how busy I may be at the time. No matter what. I will make time because this is important and close to my heart.
I’m going to bring her a basket of fancy tea and her favorite cookies a few weeks after she’s had the baby. She’ll have had time to settle back in at home, and I’ll leave my kids with a babysitter so that I can snuggle the swaddled-up newborn and kiss the top of his or her head why my friend relaxes, curled up on the couch with a hot cup of tea.
We’ll talk. I’ll ask the tough questions. I’ll ask her how she feels since the baby arrived. How she’s handling the new addition. I’ll ask how she’s sleeping. Is she sleeping at all? Whether she’s eating enough. I’ll ask if she feels hopelessly overwhelmed. Is she scared? Whether she’s been able to bond with the baby or she feels like running away. I’ll ask if she’s had any intrusive or racing thoughts.
Hopefully she’ll be fine. She’ll be easing into motherhood slowly and surely.
But if she’s not, she may be one of the thousands of women each year who come face-to-face with a postpartum mood disorder.
I’ll hug her when she cries. We’ll cry together, this I’m sure. I’ll tell her I know how she feels because I was there once too. She will know that she’s not alone and that I care deeply about her mental health. I’ll tell her it’s going to be okay and I’ll help her find her OB/GYN’s number and we’ll make the call to get an appointment right then and there.
I’ll tell her it can and will get better, but it takes professional help.
And so we’ll make the call together.
As women, we’re the only ones who know what having a baby feels like. We need to pledge to one another that we will look out for our fellow mamas. One in seven is a startling statistic. Approximately 15% of new moms gets postpartum depression. This may be a tough conversation to have, but just think of the difference you could make in a new mama’s life if she were struggling with a postpartum mood disorder and didn’t know where to turn.
She could turn to you. She could turn to me. She can turn to Postpartum Progress and see all the incredible Warrior Mamas out there who are advocating for women’s mental health and who have overcome these postpartum mood disorders.
We can do this together if we dig deep and check in on each other.