Suffering in Silence – Postpartum Depression
Author :: Julie Maye
A couple of days after my son was born, I asked my husband, “Do you think you love him?” He answered “of course.” It was exactly the answer you’d expect and yet, I felt totally crushed by his response. I didn’t love my son and I was hoping it wasn’t just me.
How horrible is that?? I am his mother and he was quite literally a part of me for 10 whole months (41 weeks and 1 day to be exact but who’s counting). But really, how could I not love him?!? Aren’t mother’s genetically programmed to love their babies?!? What is wrong with me? For months, every time I looked at him I felt empty, overwhelmed and resentful. He didn’t feel like my kid. It was like I was looking at a stranger. An incredibly annoying stranger that I couldn’t get rid of. I didn’t want to hold him and was secretly happy when others would ask to hold him. I had heard so many moms before me say how perfect their baby was and how they felt a love they had never known was possible. I felt none of that. Here I was, barely a mother, already failing at motherhood.
How could I feel anything negative about a small innocent baby??? Top that off with never-ending feelings of abandonment from my mother. Was failure hereditary?!?
Clearly this kid had drawn the short stick to have me as a mom. If you ask my friends today, I am certain they would tell you that they were none the wiser. I’m sure I looked exactly like one would expect a happy new mom to look. I fought hard to hide my true feelings. I definitely didn’t ask for help or try to talk to anyone about it. If you were a fly on the wall though, you’d have seen me cry… a lot. I cried all the time those first couple of months. Pretty much any time I was alone. And I’ll tell you, I have never felt so alone. As a person with trust issues stemming from abandonment issues, that says a lot.
The guilt I felt was completely consuming. He didn’t ask to be born. He didn’t deserve this. He deserved better. He deserved better than me.
I wish I could say I saw the danger and got help but I didn’t. I just suddenly one day snapped out of it. I remember the moment clearly. My son was in his bouncy seat and I was lying there watching him. He looked up and smiled at me and I lost it. It was like a floodgate had opened and all this emotion hit me. It was everything I had expected to feel from day one. Suddenly, I loved him fiercely. Suddenly, I knew I’d give my last breath to save his. Suddenly, my life had purpose. Suddenly, I felt like his mom, deserving of his love.
I am lucky. Lucky because I got out of the dark hole I was in. Most importantly, lucky because neither one of us was harmed in the process. It’s hard when you are in a dark place to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am lucky I made it through. I am lucky that I am not the tragic story that you read about. You know, the one where you shake your head sadly and hold your kid tighter. I’m lucky because I lived to tell the tale.
I know now that I am not alone. So many moms go through this and yet the topic is so taboo. It’s as real of a story as my emergency c-section was and yet, I share that story freely (maybe too freely). There is so much emphasis put on the baby’s well-being and even our physical well-being after having a baby. What about our mental well-being? There is no shortage of stories about all of the complications of pregnancy, the challenges and triumphs of labor and delivery, the challenges of breast-feeding, the sleepless night, the poop-splosions (because we’ve all had them) or the everyday struggle of parenthood. Yet, when I shared my story with my friends, I was hailed as brave and courageous for admitting to a weakness that so many wouldn’t dare to reveal. Too many women suffer in silence for reasons that may or may not make sense to us but are very real for her.
So I want to say this as clearly as I can to whoever needs to hear it…
You are not alone.
You are not a failure.
You are exactly what your child needs.
You are a good mother.
The world will not be better without you in it and your child will definitely not be better without you.
Please talk to someone. They want to help.
You will get through this.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.