A message for moms struggling with postpartum depression: it’s ok to not be ok! Via The Village is here to assist new mothers out there who are struggling.
May is Mental Health Awareness and Maternal Mental Health month, and my wish for moms is that they know that IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK.
My 4 year old took this photo of me two weeks postpartum …
I’d fallen asleep with my head in my hands while waiting for the baby to fall asleep. I was exhausted. I was hormonal. I was depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and feeling guilty about not giving my firstborn more of my time and attention. I was trying to juggle it all and I. Was. Failing.
The very next day, I had my two-week follow up with my OB. I had no intention of telling him that I was worried I might have postpartum depression/anxiety (again). I thought it would make me seem weak, and I desperately needed everyone to know that I had it all together. I was embarrassed and didn’t want him to know that I was a fraud. That here I was, a professional nanny, doula, and Newborn Care Specialist and I couldn’t even take care of two kids without losing my mind. So when he asked how I was handling things, I put on my happiest face, gritted my teeth, and said “I’m doing GREAT!” in the peppiest voice I could muster.
Then my OB, bless his heart, said this:
“Are you sure? I know you mentioned you were worried about postpartum depression because you’d had it before. You know, it’s ok to not be ok.”
And with that, I burst into tears and confessed that I was not, in fact, doing “GREAT!” I was crying A LOT and sad all the time. When I wasn’t sad I was angry and I was starting to have these “dark thoughts” that scared me. I felt like I was drowning. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I was just barely holding it together.
We discussed a treatment plan and he sent me on my way with referrals and prescriptions and a glimmer of hope that things were going to get better. That I would start to feel better so that I could be better for my kids. I am so grateful to him, that he took the time to really SEE me. I know many women are not as lucky.
My youngest will be three months old tomorrow and I am starting to feel like my old self again. I feel blessed to have family and friends who insist on coming over to play with Simon so I can nap with the baby. I’m thankful for the lunch date invitations and the random check-ins. The offers to bring over a meal or a bottle of wine and just hang out for a while are sanity savers. Motherhood can be lonely. It helps to have a village. I’m so grateful for mine!
A special note from Emily Louange, founder of Via The Village…
Modern lifestyle contributes to families feeling alone. “1 in 7 Moms and 1 in 10 Dads suffer from postpartum depression.”
Postpartum depression does not mean you are weak, incapable, ungrateful or any of the other myriad of judgements we women so often tell ourselves. Postpartum depression goes beyond just the “baby blues.” It can manifest in ways beyond feeling sad, having mood swings or difficulty bonding with your baby.
With my first baby, it showed up as anxiety, restlessness and the painstaking inability to sleep when the baby slept. The lack of sleep exacerbated the anxiety to the point of panic and robbed me of any cognitive reasoning or hope that things would get better.
Postpartum depression can present in many different ways. Learn more about other symptoms of postpartum depression at MayoClinic.org. If you are struggling, please talk with your doctor or utilize Postpartum Support International.
Lean on your village, or if you don’t yet have one, grow one on viathevillage.com.
Hang in there, Mama. Even if you don’t feel it at the moment … you are strong, you are able and things will get better. You will make it so.