“It is such a roller coaster of a time. This is what it looks like a lot of the time – blotchy, naked skin – tear soaked eyes; whether they be from tears of joy, exhaustion, fear or sadness – spit up, stained jammies – unwashed hair – and a little baby nestled in where he feels the safest and most content. In this moment I’m feeling one of the lows of that roller coaster; so I’m just keeping it real; the good, the bad and the ugly”
That was me about 8 weeks postpartum with my second son. I am so proud of that post.
When my first son was born (almost 6 years ago now!) I had no clue what I was about to go through. Surviving post partum anxiety and depression was such a powerful experience. I have lots of stories and feelings from that time in my life. It lasted almost 9 months for me; nine months! By that time my baby had smiled his first smile, rolled his first roll, crawled his first crawl, eaten his first cookie and so many more things. But those memoriess are mixed with moments of fear, worry, guilt and sadness – those feelings that I couldn’t shake. Even with the help of family and friends I could not make them go away. I suffered in silence for much of that, and I regret not speaking up sooner.
Our children are 4 years apart for a reason; and it has a large part to do with that experience. I was terrified to go through that again, what would my son think of me if he saw me like that? Would our marriage survive it again? Would I survive it again? When we decided we were ready, we made everyone involved very aware of our past experience and we confidently set a plan in place so that if a postpartum mood disorder reared it’s nasty head we would be ready for it. My birth team, my family and myself were prepared this time. My 2nd son’s birth and postpartum experience was night and day of my first’s. I still experienced sad and difficult moments (ahem days!) but I wasn’t consumed by it, they came and they went.
For me sharing my postpartum past and current experiences became very therapeutic for me. I found peace with the past and empowerment in the present when I shared my vulnerability of motherhood. I knew that if I felt that way, other moms were probably feeling that way too and maybe my honesty could make a difference in their day, so I continued to share. I found support in a few online forums like @takebackpostpartum @birthwithoutfear and @findyourvillage there were lots of moms like me out there.
I came across this amazing video awhile after my first birth, and it resonated with me, grab some tissue and watch for yourself. Listen to the moms, truly. The message, to me, is clear; it’s OK. Let someone hold space for you; you don’t have to know it all or do it all. And most importantly give yourself the grace to learn this new world. I just watched it again and cried again!
If you’re a loved one of a mom who’s newly postpartum; ask her how she’s doing and listen to her. If I randomly meet a mom on the street or in a store I make a point to ask a her how postpartum is going, and I tell her she’s doing a great job! Sometimes just having someone ask, listen and recognize your accomplishment (like getting out of the house today! ) can make all the difference in her world.