We carry and grow our babies in the womb for 9 months and take classes to prepare us for childbirth and motherhood. We take our prenatal supplements and go to our doctor appointments religiously. Then we try to read and learn as much as we can on how to care for and raise our babies the best way possible. We buy all the baby gear necessary and anxiously wait as the weeks go by, yearning for the day we get to meet our little creation. When that day finally arrives, it is the happiest day of our lives.
Yet, no one prepares us for what may come after childbirth.
Our new bundle of joy doesn’t come with a manual. Motherhood means being sleep deprived and adapting to an entirely new life. Pumping, feeding, changing diapers, and soothing our baby all day long. We constantly question ourselves if we are doing everything right, every second of the day. On top of this, we deal with the unbalance of hormones and the changes in our bodies – and for some of us, all while healing from major surgery.
How can all of this not be overwhelming to a new mama? If we thought pregnancy was a whirl of emotions, post-pregnancy can be worse.
My daughters were in the NICU for a month before they finally came home. Having given birth but going home empty-handed every night was the most devastating thing I have ever experienced. Recovering from my C-section and going back and forth from my house to the hospital every day was tough, yet I would do it a million times over.
When my girls were finally discharged and came home, life as we dreamt it began.
I had wished for this moment for so long and nothing compared to the happiness I felt being with my babies and husband at home. The first few days were magical. Even the sleepless nights were amazing. I was complete. Then suddenly, about a week later, I started to feel an inexplicable mix of emotions.
Our parents were trying to help us as much as they could, but it was more than I wanted at that moment. I started to feel overwhelmed, annoyed and irritated at everyone trying to help us. I didn’t want any help, I didn’t want anyone visiting us. Didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to be ALONE with my babies. I felt sad and uninterested and I had never felt like that before.
Why was I feeling this way towards the people I love and who are trying to help me?
I felt so ungrateful. There were days that I would cry in the shower, hiding from my husband because I didn’t want him to see me or ask me anything. I wanted my space and at one point I even felt bothered by him. I thought I was going crazy. Shouldn’t having my girls home make me the happiest?
No one noticed how I was feeling, and I didn’t want to tell anyone because I assumed they wouldn’t understand me. I can’t blame them for not noticing because my babies had all the attention, and after all, I was dealing with it on my own – in silence. My daughters were the priority.
Luckily, about a month later, as sudden as they came, the feelings slowly started fading away. Before I realized, I was back to my happy self, grateful for having my healthy babies and thankful for my family and all the help we received.
Months passed before I realized what I had experienced was postpartum depression (PPD). I’d had no knowledge of how serious it could be or that it happens to women after childbirth. I wasn’t crazy, wasn’t ungrateful, wasn’t unhappy.
I was experiencing a very common complication of childbirth, and no one had prepared me for it.
Thankfully I recovered. Unfortunately, there are many mothers who don’t recover as easily and who can experience this condition for months, even years. Having PPD does not make us weak. It makes us human. It makes us vulnerable. And it certainly does not make us bad mothers. It is okay to not be okay. We don’t choose this, it just happens. But we do have the power to seek help or talk to someone. PPD is a medical condition that needs to be treated sooner rather than later.
There is nothing to be ashamed of and it is never too late to ask for help. We do not have to go through it alone. We have people that love us unconditionally and would do everything to see us healthy and happy. I wish I would’ve talked to my family and asked for help sooner. We think that by staying quiet we are dealing with it and can do it on our own, but having a support system after childbirth and getting treated as soon as possible is the best thing we can do. For us and for our babies.
This, too, shall pass. And remember mama… you’ve got this.
I share my story in hopes of helping at least one person going through something similar, to let them know they are not alone and that they will be okay. As mothers, it is our duty to raise awareness and help other mamas along the way.
If you are unsure of the symptoms you are experiencing, you can check these websites to get more information and a better understanding.