When I first created this site I didn't know if I would ever talk about my difficult journey postpartum. It's always much easier to tell other peoples stories than it is to tell your own. And while I have talked a little about my ups and downs postpartum on Instagram and in blog posts, I've never told this part of the story. Mostly because it's really personal and also because my family sometimes reads this stuff and I'm about to get real intimate with yall. (I'm bout to talk s.e.x.) So if you're my mom or dad or brother you should probably stop reading now. Seriously.
Tonight is the eve of my first baby's eighth birthday. Eight. Eight years ago my life flipped upside down and right side up in all the best ways. Eight years ago I learned what it meant to love. Eight years ago I started a journey that would lead me to start this blog and share these stories and connect women around the globe through our triumphs and our struggles and our unwavering, unbreakable bond that we share in motherhood. This is my story.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I think I stopped playing with dolls when I was like, 13. So when I got pregnant at 20 I wasn’t scared. Sure I was young, and sure I didn’t have my shit together (I'm 28 now and still waiting for that shit to get itself together) But taking care of a tiny life, becoming a mom, that was exciting.
I remember after Peyton was born my husband kept saying ‘Im supposed to be looking for signs of postpartum depression’ like aversions from the baby or maybe not ever wanting to let her leave my side. I was fine. I loved her, and being her mom felt every bit as natural as I had always expected. I didn’t care when other people held her or fed her. I didn’t freak out when I had to go back to school full time when she was only two months old. There were no compulsive thoughts or feelings of inadequacy. I was fine.
But I wasn't fine. Not completely.
Reading the birth boards I was on there was always that woman, the one who couldn't wait the 6 weeks to have sex. Are you actually crazy? Sex was so far from my mind it was in like, Pluto. Like, back when Pluto was a planet, far away. Far. Far away. I tore terribly with my first. I ripped upwards and every day tasks such as peeing, were torturous. I literally had to fill up the tub and sit in it every time I went pee for the first two weeks postpartum. So yeah, no sex for me please and thank you.
And that’s normal right? I mean I wasn’t even technically allowed to have sex for 6 weeks anyway, and most of the other women on the boards all thought those 2 weekers were crazy too. So I’m still normal.
And then 6 weeks came and I reluctantly had to tell my husband that I was ‘good to go.’ He was thrilled, me, not so much. We tried. It hurt. Like a mother fucker (no pun intended). Awful. And that was normal too, right? I was still healing from a bad tear, I had still just given birth (to a 9 lb baby might I add) It would probably take some time. But how long? Every time it hurt and even worse than it hurting was the fact that I still didn’t want to do it. The thought of being touched made me cringe. Every night we would climb in bed and I would pray that he would just go to sleep. And when he stared kissing me, I would cry. I would silently cry while we attempted to have sex. I say attempted because every position still hurt. I was broken.
So here I am, in pain, with zero sexual desires, and all I could do was feel awful for my husband. I loved him, I was so very attracted to him, I wanted to want to have sex with him. I just couldn’t. I constantly said ‘it's’ not you, it’s me’ and I’m not sure he believed me because how shitty does it feel when your partner feels repulsed by the thought of being intimate with you? It must feel really really shitty.
I thought it may have been because of my postpartum body. I was fat and jiggly. I had stretch marks. My boobs were massive and much much lower than they once were. I was unhappy with how I felt and looked. And as much as he would assure me that I was beautiful, I didn’t believe it. So that must have been it.
But it had to be something more than that because not only did I not want to be touched, I didn’t want to touch him. I didn't know what to do. I was so scared that it would never go away. That I would never want to be intimate with my partner ever again.
This wasn't just a lack of interest in sex. It wasn't because I was wiped out at the end of the day from parenting and being a full time student and would rather sleep. The thought of being touched made me cry. The fear that he would try something would debilitate me. Going to bed was the worst part of my day. And then it just got to the point where he wouldn't even try anymore. And I was thankful. I was thankful that my partner didn't want to have sex with me. That he gave up on me. These are not normal feelings. This was not normal.
After about 9 months I graduated and moved home. I began to take care of myself. I started exercising and eating non poor college kid (with a kid) food. I started feeling like myself again. I took long walks with my daughter, I went out with friends, I got into a really great place both physically and mentally. And somewhere along that road, it all went away. I can’t remember if it was a gradual thing or if all of a sudden one day I was like ‘maybe we should have sex?’ and it was all just fine. All I know is that I was finally ok. And that was the best feeling ever.
When I got pregnant with our second I was terrified that it would happen again. I couldn't go through that. We were in such a good place and we were happy and I loved him and I never wanted to feel like that ever again. Thankfully it never came back with either of my next two pregnancies.
I learned to love my body in all of its stages. I learned to appreciate motherhood and what it’s done to me. I joined The Fourth Trimester Bodies Project to help encourage other women to love themselves and their bodies. I've tried to maintain a healthy balance of eating crap and eating carrots, and binge watching netflix and going for runs. I spend most of my time with my kids but I make time for myself. I found my dream job and in between the drama of life I'm mostly really very happy. Taking care of you is the most important thing you can do. Because if you're tired, or unhappy, or broken, then what use are you going to be to those who depend on you? And that's what this whole thing taught me.
I don’t have an official name for what I went though. I don’t know if it was postpartum depression, or anxiety. I don't know if I was touched out or if it was sexual aversion disorder (Whos initials are SAD... how appropriate) I never talked to anyone about it and I never got help. I can tell you that it’s not something that just happens after you have a baby. It’s not something that you should ignore and hope it goes away. So if you are going through this, reach out and get help because no one should ever have to just ride that out on their own. Postpartum is hard. It’s really hard. It’s normal to be tired and to be sad sometimes. It’s normal to take time to get back to how you felt before. But it’s not normal to be miserable. In any aspects. Never be afraid to speak up and reach out because I can guarantee that there is some else out there who has felt what you're feeling. Don't postpartum alone.
My name is Ashley and I'm the face behind the blog. I'm an almost 30 (esh, still haven't come to terms with that) mom of three living outside Washington DC.
I went to school for fashion design, but after having a baby my senior year, my high fashion dreams took a hiatus and that's OK! Because it lead me to where I am today, and that is a mother and a Doula (for the amazing team at Doulas of Capitol Hill). And that lead me to create this space that has become so important to me!
I speak sarcasm fluently, drink coffee through an IV, and I have a deep and possibly borderline obsessive love towards all things Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I truly believe that kids should spend their time being kids and adults should spend more time learning from them. I never take anything too seriously and I try to live life with my cup half full (of wine) My playlist is a perfect mix of 90's pop and Taylor Swift and I'm imaginary best friends with Blake Lively (girl get at me). In my free time (of which I have SO much) I can be found grammin over at @thepeanutgallery
As soon as I began to brainstorm about Motherhood Tabutiful I reached out to women that I had known to have dealt with some of the subjects that I wanted the website to cover. My sister-in-law has been fairly open about her struggles with postpartum depression so I sent her a text asking if she would be willing to write a post for me. I have been lucky enough to watch Samantha grow up in front of my eyes and into an incredibly strong and beautiful woman, wife, and mother and I'm thankful that she agreed to share her story with you all.
There are so many wonderfully beautiful aspects of pregnancy and motherhood, it’s nearly impossible to count them all. However, alongside each beautiful part of the journey there’s a side less spoken of, the ugly side, like hemorrhoids, leaky boobs, insufferable morning
sickness, overwhelming exhaustion, gestational diabetes, anemia, constipation and vaginal exams, just to name a few. Sometimes new mothers or expectant mothers jump into this
adventure blissfully unaware of a lot of these thing because they aren’t talked about in the same light that the “pregnancy glow” and itty bitty baby kicks are. Lately I’ve become very aware of postpartum depression and anxiety and the stigma that surrounds it . I’ve only become so aware because I have it, that’s right, I said it, now that it’s out there let’s talk about it.
When Ashley (The lovely founder of Motherhood Tabutiful) asked me to contribute I considered writing about many of the different tussles I’ve encountered since my becoming a mother; nursing aversion, bed-sharing, crying-it- out, being a SAHM, screen-time, non-organic baby
food, and that’s only a fraction of some of the things I’ve been mommy-shamed for. My decision to ultimately write about PPD comes from realizing that the more I talk about it the better I feel. To know that the way I feel is, for lack of a better word, “normal” but not normal enough to be ignored. Opening up about my depression and anxiety has given me a better grip on reality and I feel less stuck beneath the surface. Approximately 15% of women each year report having PPD, the key word here is report. Only reported cases make up the number of around 950,000 women each year experiencing the same troubles that I have for the last 5 months.
Only 10 days after having my daughter my husband went back to work and I was alone with a newborn and a toddler. It took all of my energy to pack a diaper bag, the idea of leaving the house with two kids sent my anxiety spiraling. Doctor appointments were the worst, knowing I
had to get myself ready, my two kids ready, have backup outfits ready in case of the imminent blowout, snacks for my son because our Dr.’s office is never on time, extra nursing pads so I don’t embarrass myself with leaky boob spots on my shirt, folding and packing the 10-ton
double stroller all by the time of the appointment was DEBILITATING. All of this responsibility felt so heavy I didn’t know that I could bare it. I thought that what I was feeling then, was the "baby blues" and I would get over it once the whole two kids thing settled in. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I realized my son hadn’t seen the sun in days. He was getting stir-crazy and I had opened the blinds for the first time in who knows how long, I decided to make my first non-doctor venture outside of the house with two kids alone. We were going to the park.
The day was perfect, it was a beautiful 70 degrees with a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky. Four miles away, that was it but it felt as if the drive took hours, I was suffocating. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until that day. I remember trying so hard to tell myself the entire
way there “It’s okay, you can do this, your kids need you to do this” so I did. I packed everything, triple checked to be sure I wouldn’t be under-prepared for anything the outside world my throw my way. When we arrived, I had to sit in the car for a few moments to give myself a pep-
talk once again. Staring at the park, full of mothers, fathers and children, I was just like them. I was just a mom with her kids on a beautiful day at the park, with a Starbucks. This was shortly after Starbucks released their green cups, the ones that were all about unity and bringing people together. I had one, they all did…But I was alone. I was surrounded by people but I could barely find the strength to look up from my cup, I felt inadequate. I didn’t feel like I deserved the life that I had, the one with two beautiful children, a hard-working husband that provides so that I can stay home to be with our kids and drink expensive coffee from a green cup. I knew that I was so fortunate to be where I was and to have all that I have, why couldn’t I be happy? Why couldn’t I feel the things that everyone else was feeling? I should be better, my kids need better, why can’t I better? The only interaction I had with another adult that day was a woman apologizing for her daughter, who had commandeered my son’s cup. I mustered up a weak
smile and continued on with my self-loathing and I left the park that day feeling shamefully defeated. It took all of 30 minutes at that park to break me down to the lowest I had been in years. When I got back into my car I cried, I cried so hard and I begged the Universe, or maybe God or anyone that could hear me to bring me peace, to make me feel better. To help me. I was ashamed.
I didn’t tell my husband or my midwife about the way I was feeling for another 4 weeks. When I finally told my husband that I was depressed, he asked me "why?" I think the word depression scares people, there’s such a stigma that surrounds it. People are lead to believe that depression is easily explained, that being sad and being depressed are the same thing, that
there’s always a cause in your life that is making you depressed. When in reality, depression can come from many things, a hormone imbalance, birth control, it can be situational or unexplained. It hurt me that he assumed that I wasn’t happy with our life, I was trying to open up to him and he didn’t understand what PPD was or why it was happening to me. When I told my mom, she was understanding, she too has struggled with depression and anxiety for many years, but when she would ask me how I was feeling it was always whispered.
How are you feeling? Have you seen your doctor yet? So quietly as if I having postpartum depression and anxiety is something to be ashamed of and no one should know I have. When I told my midwife, she told me the same things I had already known from the extensive reading I had done, statistics and such about PPD. She made me answer that stupid questionnaire that I bet no one feels comfortable enough to answer 100% truthfully, in fear of being
Agree or disagree
Have you felt overly tired or worried?
Have you had thoughts about hurting yourself?
Have you had thoughts about hurting your baby?
Yes of course I’ve felt overly tired, I just had a baby and I have a toddler at home. How much sleep do you think I’m getting?
No I haven't thought about hurting myself, but I have thought about what it would be like if I weren’t here, what if I left? Would my kids be better off if I was gone? I can’t be happy they must know that I want them to be happy?
Now I would never hurt my babies, but I have thought about leaving them because I believed at one point that they might be better without me. Did I tell my midwife these things? No because I was so embarrassed to be feeling the way that I was. She handed me a pamphlet with information on PPD and a couple sheets of paper with websites on them to find therapists in my area. Websites and a pamphlet. That’s it. That was the last time I saw my midwife. No one
called to check on me, to see if I had made an appointment with a therapist, to see if I was still feeling sad, maybe I should have been more honest. Maybe then they would have been more attentive. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe there needs to be another way to make women feel comfortable about coming forward to say “I need help”. Maybe talking about all of this is how we do that. Maybe the medical system failed me.
I still haven’t seen a therapist, but I have seen my PCM and I’ve recently been put on a very mild anti-anxiety medication. It seems to be helping on the hard days, I’ve also made the decision to switch my birth control to non-hormonal its made a world of a difference. Sometimes all it takes is one step in the right direction to get things moving, inertia and all that jazz.
I think that if feeling the way that I did was talked about more, if I had known that feeling those feelings, SO MANY FEELINGS, wasn’t shameful or something to be embarrassed about I may have sought help sooner. Maybe not, I’m kind of hard-headed. But if talking about this now can
help just one woman reach out and say “I need help” than I feel like I didn’t suffer for nothing. I want all women to feel safe, and supported and cared for. Birth is traumatic, no matter what form it takes, your body goes through so much in what is in retrospect a VERY SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME. You end it with a baby coming out of you. That’s some real shit that actually happens. YOU ARE SO STRONG FOR THAT. If you don’t feel strong, or happy or you’re scared to leave your house. I feel you. I feel you so hard. But please, tell someone. Let them help you, don’t be afraid to tell them how they can help you. If you need your dishes washed, or you need a huge cup of coffee, or maybe something bigger like calling the doctor and making the appointment for you. ASK. Girlfriend, if I could do it for you I would and I don’t know even know you. The people that do, love you and they will be there for you. This stigma will rise and it will be easier as long as we come forward and tell everyone how to make it easier.
No more lost Mommas.
A mother, a wife, an artist, coffee connoisseur, & lover of all things Harry Potter.
But not always in that order.
You can follow me on instagram
Unplanned pregnancies can be scary and emotional. It doesn't mean that you aren't thankful for this new life you're carrying, but hi folks, having a baby is a huge freaking responsibility. And so when that news of "here you go you're life is about to change forever' shows it's face with those two pink lines, emotions can be all over the place. Paige's third pregnancy was unplanned, so from the very start it was difficult for her. Throw in the fact that she was physically ill, had a hard birth, trouble with her breastfeeding relationship, it's no wonder that sings of postpartum depression started showing up. Thank you Paige for sharing your story, I know it hasn't been easy, but you're doing it right.
I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd baby a week before Christmas 2014. It was a shock and 100% unplanned, and unfortunately we were not thrilled by the 2 pink lines at first. It took us a while before we were actually excited for another baby. We have a 5 year old with moderate non verbal autism and a 3 year old non stop talker so adding another baby wasn't in our life plan AT ALL. My pregnancy with Lucy was a nightmare from the start. I was never sick with my first 2 but with Lu I was vomiting (and also peeing myself because mom bladder, whaddup!) at least twice a day for the first 4 months. I had lost about 20 pounds that first trimester and then my second trimester was pretty normal, other than extreme exhaustion. My third trimester hits and my blood pressure slowly starts to creep, but that's pretty normal for my last trimesters so we weren't too concerned until about 35 weeks when I started vomiting again and getting severe headaches. I was sent to the ER a couple times for monitoring but nothing was too serious until 39 weeks. I went in for my regular appointment and had a terrible headache and pretty bad swelling. My midwife came back from checking my urine sample and did my blood pressure and it was off the charts high, along with very high protein levels in my urine so we talked to the high risk OB and he sent me to be induced right away because I had pre-eclampsia.
The induction was fine, I was already 4 cm dilated when I got there but since I was high risk and a seizure/fall risk, I wasn't allowed to move out of my bed unless I had to use the bathroom. I held off the epidural despite being told it would help lower my BP because this was my last shot at a natural birth, but I stalled at 4 cm for 12 hours, and became exhausted and got my epidural. About 30 minutes after my epidural was placed, I heard a loud pop and felt my water break and instantly felt the urge to push. I had dilated completely in 30 minutes, which is crazy. The midwife barely got there in time to catch Lucy after a couple minutes of pushing. They took her right away to make sure the seizure medication I had wasn't making her breathing labored, but she was perfectly fine so we got a couple hours of skin to skin and breastfeeding right away.
Her latch was never a good, full latch and I ended up getting blisters on my nipples while in the hospital. I didn't realize how bad her latch was until a month after she was born when she was hospitalized for enterovirus and a LC came to help me. Lucy has a high palate, deep tongue tie, and a lip tie which was causing the bad latch and her colic. We got her ties fixed but ultimately she still had a shallow latch and we struggled for 13 months to breastfeed. I exclusively pumped for 3 months while she had a nursing strike, but she ended up nursing again.
I never had that peaceful feeling while nursing her like I did with my other kids. Everything with her feeding was stressful and labored for me. I had a really hard time postpartum with Lucy because of the constant struggles throughout her first year, on top of taking care of her siblings. I didn't realize how bad my PPD was until she was about 7 months old and I saw a candid video of myself and I didn't even recognize who I was. My midwife was great about helping me and is still following up with me, almost a year later. I chose to go on Zoloft and it helped me tremendously although there are still days that it creeps in and consumes me. I never knew depression could be anything other than just being sad all the time. I didn't know my depression was showing itself as anger and resentment towards my baby. You're always told depression is never wanting to get out of bed, or just always crying, but I wasn't like that. I didn't know anyone who had admitted to having PPD so I just assumed I was just having a hard time adjusting. I regret not getting help sooner. Lucy's first year was a fog to me. I don't remember a lot because I wasn't present in my mind for her, and that is heartbreaking for me. I plan on training to become a postpartum doula so I can help other parents transition through the rough patches and know that things will be ok even on their darkest days.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
My name is Paige Carroll, I'm 27 years old and live in Arizona. I'm a mother to a son and two daughters and wife to Chase. I am an autism advocate for my son and a stay at home mom for all my kids. I also suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety. Paige can be found on Instagram @paige_carroll