Postpartum Progress Gave Me Hope

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a post from Keely. I’ll include this little note from her before I send you off to read her piece. It warmed my heart. Maybe yours, too.

“I just wanted to say THANK YOU for creating this safe haven for us women and mothers. This website literally saved my life. It enabled me to find groups and others that are/were going through the same things I was going through and still go through!” See? Hope. -Jenna]

Postpartum Progress Gave Me Hope -postpartumprogress.com

When I had my first and probably only child (son) in September 2014, I was fine at the hospital and had a great delivery via C-section, but the day of leaving the hospital everything came crashing down on me. I knew I was going to be all alone with no help from the doctors or nurses with this tiny little stranger whom I had no idea what to do with. I had never even changed a diaper in all of my life, so I really was very clueless.

The drive home was the beginning of this nightmare. We stopped at the store to pick up my new prescription of antidepressants because of course my doctor already knew I would be a high risk. I was already shaking and in my head had lots of thoughts. “What the hell did we just do”? “This was a horrible mistake to have a baby!” “I don’t want him” and “Take him back please” They were all I could think about.

My husband said he was emotional about how beautiful he was and all I could think of was how the hell I got into this mess. I wanted my old life back so desperately. I was so jealous of people that came over to visit that weren’t in my situation; I just wanted to run away and never come back. I felt bad for people with kids.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t do anything but sit on the couch or in my bed and sob. I gave up breastfeeding early and that was very emotional as well. I still struggle with that. My husband was no help as I think he was going through something as well. He was cold and emotionless about the entire situation, so I wasn’t going to get any help there.

I remember a specific time standing in the shower starting to plan my “out” as I was going to take all my money in my savings account and hire a hit man for myself on Craigslist. I kept thinking “surely someone would be desperate enough for thousands of dollars to come kill me with no questions asked right?”

I had to have my mother with me every day that my husband was gone to work. My mother gave my son the love I couldn’t at the time. I couldn’t even babywear at the time as it was too much of him around me. I just wanted to be myself again and he just required too much.

It hurts me to write these things as it was not my child’s fault. He didn’t ask to be brought into this craziness. However, I was bound and determined to get better so that I could be the mother I needed to be. He deserved that and so did I.

I started to research on the internet during maternity leave and found Postpartum Progress and read many stories just like mine. I read as much as I could get my hands on. I bought several books that were also on the subject mentioned on Postpartum Progress. I also found a group link on Postpartum Progress that led me to the Healing Group in Utah where I attended a group every Wednesday. I also found a wonderful hotline for other moms to talk to women that had gone through the same thing I was going through.

I found a decent doctor and tried several different medications in my journey and I have found one so far that works okay for the time being. I am somewhat calm, hopeful, and happy as I think I could possibly be at this time in my life.

Here we are almost two years later and I am still alive and doing much better. My son is happy and healthy. I am very affectionate with him and make it a priority to show him love. People said it would pass, and it has slowly. I am still a little nervous of what might happen almost every second of the day which is probably related to OCD and my preexisting anxiety. I never go out past 7:30 PM with my son as bedtime is my major trigger.

My life still pretty much revolves around my son and a schedule to ensure he gets his naps, proper feeding, playtime, and bedtime for a good night’s rest, but this works for me as it keeps my anxiety tolerable. I cannot fathom having another child. It makes me terribly sad that my son may be alone with no siblings, but I am not sure I could make it out of that dark hole again.

I still grieve for my pre-baby self in some ways, but I also find myself so grateful for the beautiful baby boy that has blessed my life beyond measure. I NEVER thought I would be able to say that. I am also still on medication and I am very grateful that medication exists. I attend a postpartum group with ladies associated with Postpartum Progress. It is so very amazing to know that we are not alone!

THANK YOU AGAIN!

Love Keely from Utah

Susan Petcher: You Are Enough

Susan Petcher: You Are Enough | 8th Annual Mother's Day Rally for Mental Health -postpartumprogress.com

postpartum depression, mother's day rally, maternal mental healthDear New Mom,

From the moment I became pregnant, it felt like the world was whispering messages of “not enough.” I didn’t drink enough water, get enough sleep, consume enough leafy greens. The stack of pregnancy and parenting books on my nightstand was a testament to how much I had left to learn, and the baby supply catalogs and formula samples that magically found their way into my mailbox proved that I didn’t yet have enough sheets, blankets, diapers, swaddlers, wipe warmers, or pacifiers, and that I had yet to find the perfect crib for the perfect nursery.

I think many pregnant and new moms experience this feeling of “not enough,” because the truth is that when we bring a baby into our lives, we embark on an experience and life career that none of us were trained for. All new parents muddle through to some degree, but for some of us, the Warrior Moms? That feeling becomes crippling.

What began as worry during my pregnancy quickly spiraled into obsessive anxiety. Suddenly, the burp rags weren’t straight enough and needed to be refolded, again. The counter at a local deli wasn’t clean enough, and so I could not eat there, lest I put my unborn baby in danger. I believed I wasn’t a “good enough” wife or mother­-to-­be, and that my husband would be happier with someone else. These thoughts consumed my days and nights, and I had no idea they weren’t normal.

What I want you to know, you amazing New Mom, is that you are enough. You are so very much “enough,” that I can’t even begin to put it into words. If you are finding yourself struggling to navigate this new role as a mom, you are not alone. Being a new mom is hard. There is no magic answer, no instructor’s manual for your baby, and no right way to prepare or care for your child. When we pile on the pictures of perfect motherhood that are plastered all over our social media streams and pop culture outlets, it’s easy to see why we feel so inadequate.

Over the last 7 years with Postpartum Progress, I’ve met a lot of moms, and so believe me when I say, you are just the right mom for your child and you are already everything that she needs.

And, if like me, you find yourself consumed by worry and fear ­ if it’s causing you to not recognize yourself, please know that it doesn’t have to be that way. You deserve to be well and to experience your pregnancy or adoption and postpartum period with a healthy amount of new mom worry, without dread or fear. There is hope and help. And we will be there beside you, every step of the way.

–Susan

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/.

Samantha Konikoff: You Are a Wonderful Mother

Samantha Konikoff: You Are a Wonderful Mother | 8th Annual Mother's Day Rally for Mental Health -postpartumprogress.com

postpartum depression, mother's day rally, maternal mental healthDear new mom,

It can be overwhelming to have a day where all the attention is on you. It seems to have been the exact opposite since your little one was born. I always felt like I could have been in a corner and no one would have noticed I was gone.

You may be having trouble seeing why you deserve any good attention. I know that’s how I felt for awhile after my son was born. Why should anyone celebrate me as a failure? I can’t seem to love my child the way I thought came naturally to everyone else.

My brain was playing mean mean tricks on me. Through the support of my family and professionals, I know that while I’m far from perfect, I am a good mom to my kids and getting lots of love from them is a joy which I can truly appreciate.

I have learned to love myself and understand that my son and I have had a different way of getting to know each other. We didn’t bond right away and that’s ok. We had to really listen to each other and I had to get to know him and his personality when he was a baby. Our bond is different than anything I have ever had. It really is true love, but we had to work at it.

You know what else? You will love yourself again too! You will look into your child’s eyes and see love and hope. It may be hard to see through the dark right now, but I promise the sun will shine again and it will get better. You will want to go to your crying baby and tell them you are there. You will want to get on the floor and play and interact with your baby.

You will want to tell your baby you love them and you will mean it!

You will see that you DO deserve a day for you and that you have done a lot for yourself and your baby. You are showing your child strength and that you count too.

So try to take some deep breaths and soak in the love and know you are a wonderful mother!

Love,

Sam

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/.

Kelly Andrews: Just Keep Showing Up

Kelly Andrews: Just Keep Showing Up | 8th Annual Mother's Day Rally for Mental Health -postpartumprogress.com

postpartum depression, mother's day rally, maternal mental healthDear Mama,

As if adjusting to life with a new baby and dealing with painful postpartum physical healing wasn’t difficult enough, I’m sorry to hear that you’re also among the many mothers who are battling a peri-/postpartum mood disorder.

I’ve been there, sister, and I know how crippling and debilitating it can be.

I’d like to share with you the four words that kept me going – and quite possibly kept me alive – on my darkest days. But first, let me provide a little background.

Following the births of both of my children (daughter in 2011 and son in 2014), I was immediately hit with severe postpartum depression.

It was like a poison had taken over my brain. I was completely numb. I constantly felt as if I was suffocating under layers and layers of heavy, soaked blankets. Even though my babies were champion sleepers, I’d stay awake for many days in a row without one minute of sleep.

I don’t remember much from their first years, as such a dark fog enveloped me, but I can still hear in my head the four words that kept me going.

“Just keep showing up.”

I’d repeat this phrase numerous times throughout the day. It became my mantra, my life-saving mantra.

When I didn’t have the physical strength to walk down the stairs in the morning, I’d tell myself, “Just keep showing up.”

When I was barely functioning enough to make the kids’ meals, I’d tell myself, “Just keep showing up.”

When I’d go to bed in tears because I didn’t know how I could possibly survive another day, I’d tell myself, “Just keep showing up.”

Following a year of medical help and therapy, I am now in a much, much better place.

Sure, motherhood still has its trying days, as it always will, but I am once again present and part of life. I am so appreciative of every day, belting out songs with the kids in the car, repeatedly laughing at the same clunky knock-knock jokes, cheering on my daughter when she rides her bike, and even while having to pick up the remnants of a full box of cereal that my toddler son once again dumped on the floor.

And then at the end of each crazy day, my husband and I crash onto the couch after the kids go to bed. We hold hands, exhale, and deliriously smile at the chaos that surrounds us but also fills our hearts.

It is a beautiful life.

I’m glad I kept showing up.

Mama, I’m sending you love and light – today and always. Your babies are lucky to have you. The world is a better place because you’re in it. You may not see this now, which I understand, but you will once again. There is help available, and it will get better.

Just keep showing up.

Love,

Kelly

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/.