I haven't wanted to talk, let alone write about this, but I think that it is important to admit that I'm struggling. It is so easy to cherry pick the good moments and prop them up as if they were the whole story. We all want to seem beautiful and happy, sometimes to the point denying our own truths. But alas life is more complicated than that. With so much stigma about postpartum depression and so much pressure on new mothers to put forth this image that everything is sunny it rarely gets talked about in honest terms. Here are mine.
I love my son. I love him more than I ever thought possible to love another person. When he smiles at me I feel as though I might just die from the wonder of it. I love to hold him close and whisper into his ear, give him my secrets. I love to rock with him and gaze into his steel colored eyes, imagining how much he will change in the next several weeks, months, years. I love to kiss him and give him baby massages, calming us both, bringing us back down from the tension a good long fuss can cause. I know how fortunate I am that he is healthy and strong. I love him with all of my heart and I'm struggling.
As much as I love that amazing little boy I have moments, moments where I feel like I'm drowning. I sometimes feel like I'm doing it all wrong or I worry that we're not bonding. There are moments where I feel like I am sinking deeper and deeper into some dark unknown place, a place that I know I don't want to go. Sometimes I focus on the pain of the past and become consumed by my grief. Sometimes I am short-sighted and worry this is how it will always be. I cry often. Sometimes there is a reason and sometimes I just need to purge all of the emotions that are swelling up inside me. I could easily let myself drown here, plummet into the darkness. I have started down that path and trust me, it is not a place you want to go. I have entertained ugly thoughts and let a hardness begin to form in me.
When I step away and think about the situation rationally I know that it was the perfect cocktail for PPD. With a traumatic birth experience, failed breastfeeding, a colicky baby combined with a history of depression it makes complete sense that I am feeling the way that I am. I can see the risk factors and exactly how I came to be at this place, but that doesn't change how isolating and overwhelming it can sometimes feel.
So today I am saying that I want to fight. I will not let this incapacitate me or kill all the joy in my life. I will grab on to every opportunity to heal that floats past with every bit of strength I have. I will seek them out. I will grieve the loss of a homebirth and successful breastfeeding and I will move on. I will do the best I can and know that just because I cannot comfort him now is no indication that I never will. I will acknowledge my feelings and share them honestly so that they don't fester and poison my mind. I will get out more and eat better and take control of my own experience. I am stronger than this and my son deserves a happy mother, my husband a healthy wife.
I will heal.
"Your pain matters, it is your guide to healing."
-Lynn Madsen Rebounding From Childbirth
If yourself or a loved one is struggling with postpartum depression here are some great resources I found helpful.
Emotional Recovery from a C Section
Online PPD Support Group
Postpartum Support International
Depression After Delivery