Andrea Bates: On Your First Mother’s Day

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postpartum depression, mental health, maternal mental healthDear New Mama,

Oh! It’s your very first Mother’s Day. It’s so special. So very very special.

And beautiful, too.

All of the emotions! The joy, the excitement, the anticipation. The thoughts that run through your mind that tell you that THIS, this will be YOUR day.

Finally.

Finally, you, new mama, have a day of your own. One where you’re recognized for all the work you’ve been doing this far.

The diapers. The feedings. The laughter. The tears.

Yes. The tears.

I know, I know. Nobody talks about the tears.

I’m here to tell you, new mama, that it’s okay. You’re allowed to have tears.

You know how everyone says, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”? It’s not that far off to imagine turning that into “cry when the baby cries.” It happens. To many of us.

I know you. I have BEEN you. I’ve felt all the feelings. I’ve cried. Hard. My eyes have flooded with tears. Heart aching. Body spent with exhaustion. I know.

You look at all of those moms at the park. The supermarket. Mommy & Me classes. Tumble gym. Maybe even the OB’s office. They’re all put together. Their hair is pulled back, not a strand out of place. You? You find yourself lucky enough to have been able to wipe out the peach puree from last night.

They’ve got wipes and diapers and snacks. And you? You left the house with a diaper bag and no diapers. Oh, wait, that was me. On my very first pediatrician’s visit. Yes. I’m totally serious.

New mama, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. And I’m here to encourage you to talk about how you’re feeling.

You may be one of the many moms experiencing the early days of postpartum. You may be living through what is commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” And if you are, they’ll pass fairly quickly. It might take a few weeks to feel normal again. Although your normal will have changed, your mind will feel yours again. You’ll have more control of your emotions. The constant weepiness will have passed. Things won’t seem so daunting.

But you might find that you’re not among the many whose emotions return to normal after your baby is born. You may be one of the other many. The many of us who experience postpartum mood disorders. The many of us who think things like, am I crazy? What on earth is happening to me? Why do I have these racing thoughts? Why am I afraid to let my baby out of my sight? I shouldn’t be a mom. I should never have been trusted with a child. Where is the manual for this kid? WHY won’t s/he stop crying? How can anyone STAND listening to this day after day? Night after night? If I could just get ten minutes of quiet…

There are so many thoughts. I can tell you, no, I can guarantee to you that someone reading this right now has had each one of these and more. And if that’s you? If you’re one of those someones? You’re absolutely not alone.

There is help. Love. Unlimited support. There are so many support groups. In real life. Online. There are books. Doctors. Therapists. Support groups. Blogs. People just like you who have found their way to the other side. You will, too. You will find the light again. You’ll experience the joys of motherhood without being overwhelmed by all the rest.

So please, new mama. Don’t sift through this alone. Find a friend. Talk to your partner. Tell your OB or your child’s pediatrician. Find support. It’s out there for the taking. Reach out. Grab it. Remind yourself that you’re not alone. Know that you truly never, ever have to feel alone. Because you’re not. You have me. Us. Postpartum Progress. We’re here for you. We’re here to listen.

And a small note to the seasoned mamas out there like me who are reading this. If you see a new mama sitting there, frazzled, children running around the grocery store while she tries to juggle the baby, the stroller, the toddler and the bags? Hold the door for her. Help her to her car. Give her a smile. Buy her a chocolate bar. A cup of coffee. Offer her an ear. She probably needs it. Remember how much it would have meant to you? I know for sure that I do. Remind a new mama that she’s never, ever alone.

~ Andrea

Andrea is a native New Yorker who relocated to North Carolina in 2006. After working with children and families as a licensed social worker she took some time off to start her own family. A mom of one, she has recently returned to the field as an LCSW. Andrea has volunteered for a number of organizations supporting women in all stages of motherhood in both, “real life” and virtual environments. She is an avid reader and writer and can be found writing about everyday life, motherhood, mental health and more over at her blog, Good Girl Gone Redneck

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Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely-read blog on all things related to emotional health around pregnancy & childbirth, is a service of Postpartum Progress Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of postpartum depression and similar illnesses. Please consider making a donation today, Mother’s Day, so we can continue and expand our work supporting maternal mental health. Thank you!

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About Robin Farr

Robin Farr is a writer, wife, communications professional, speaker and mom - chronologically, at least. She got mixed up philosophically during her struggle with postpartum depression but wrote her way out of it on her blog, Farewell, Stranger. You can find her on Twitter @FarewellStrangr or on Facebook. Robin and her family live in Calgary, Alberta.

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