I first discovered Edith when she tagged my account on several of her posts on motherhood (which Hi, please do this so I can hear your truths. nothing makes me happier!) Her words were always so honest and deep and raw. I reached out in February to say thank you to her for allowing me to hear her vulnerabilities and for trusting me with her stories. I also left an open ended invitation to her to share a story on here if she ever felt compelled to. She thanked me and said that she would keep that in her back pocket and let me know. A few months later she reached back out and said she was interred in writing a piece on her postpartum depression. "But not in the way that most people have it" is the way that she prefaced it. She went on to talk about her symptoms and some of the things she was experiencing. I suggested that it sounded more like postpartum OCD rather than depression. A term she had never even heard before. Her doctors insisted on calling it depression and told her to come back if she started exhibiting signs of depression. Which she never did. Because she wasn't depressed. Edith has been struggling for YEARS because of a misdiagnosis and a lack of resources and care. Putting a name to her perinatal mood disorder has really effected her life. "So much of who I thought I was existed in a mental disorder I didn't know I had" Fro here I will let Edith she are soy in her own words.
Ive written this piece so many times over in my head. For years I’ve thought about how I’d share my story. The words I’d use, the things I’d share. My oldest is almost 6 years old and Ive never shared my story because I’ve always been too scared. I’ve had to walk away from this a few times because I can feel the tide rising by simply going back to that long dark season. Sharing my story means walking through the nightmares I’ve avoided almost every day since I first became a mom.
But someone needs to share.
One week after having my first the anxiety began to sink in along with the sleep deprivation. I’d worry about things here or there. If his swaddle was wrapped correctly, if they were sleeping enough, if they were eating enough. Yet soon it changed. The anxiety just kept getting worse. Was the swaddle so tight he couldn’t breath, was he sleeping because he had passed away in the night, was he safe from anything and everything. I mentioned it to my doctor but always received the same responses.
Are you sad or depressed? No.
Do you have thoughts of harming your baby? No.
Are you worried about hurting yourself? No.
Having a baby is stressful. Worry is totally normal. You’re going to be fine.
Sounds like just some change in hormones.
Don’t worry it’ll pass.
I went home telling myself that this was all normal and I was fine. Yet it just kept getting worse. I worried more often about the safety of my baby. I started sleeping less because I was so worried something would happen to him and would have to check on him multiple times. If I didn’t check on him I had to have the monitor by my bed so I could see him at all times. During the day I became overly protective just to make sure that the things that played out in my head wouldn’t come true. Slowly I started to feel like I didn’t have control of things. So I brought it up to another doctor during my next follow up.
Are you sad or depressed? No.
Do you have thoughts of harming your baby? No.
Are you worried about hurting yourself? No.
Having a baby is stressful. Worry is totally normal. You’re going to be fine.
Sounds like just some change in hormones.
Don’t worry it’ll pass.
It’s just you. I felt like I was irrational, ridiculous and being silly with as much worrying as I was doing. And still it kept getting worse. This was the point in my journey that I stopped telling people about how I was doing. This was the point in my journey I knew that something was not right but had no idea how to talk about it. This was the point in my journey the nightmares started. They were horrible and graphic. Images of awful things happening to my son would play out in full detail in my head from start to finish. I was never the one to harm them, but was always unable to stop him from being harmed. Things that even now I can’t bring myself to fully discuss because they are too dark. At first they were just at night, but then they started play out during the day. Sometimes so realistic that I would have to stop what I was doing to physically shake them from my mind. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched my son pass away in every detail within my head only to then watch myself live out the nightmare as if I were a fly on the wall. These nightmares are the reason I check that the doors are locked each night. The reason I count the knobs on the gas stove to make sure it’s off. The reason I have to be so close to my kids at the playground like a helicopter. The reason I don’t sleep if they get sick or have any sort of repository cold. The reason I can’t read any sort of tragic headline or story online. The reason I check their carseats even though I know I’ve dropped them both off at the sitters. No matter how hard I’d try the nightmares and graphic thoughts just kept coming.
There was no point in mentioning it anymore. I just heard the same thing.
I wasn’t depressed. I didn’t want to harm my baby.
Get more sleep. Try to relax. This is normal.
If it was so normal how come I felt like the only one?
How come not one of my doctors took me seriously?
How come there was nothing out there that told me otherwise?
Hormones I kept telling myself. It’ll pass. This is normal.
It has never stopped.
It has never passed.
It is not normal.
When I was asked to share my postpartum story I was hesitant. Never have I met anyone with a story like mine which is understandable because who wants to be the person who admits to a motherhood journey like this. Filled with worry, anxiety and mental trauma. How on earth would I even begin to share about the nightmares that played inside my head? The few times I shared even a spec of them I was called hormonal, crazy, ridiculous, or silly because obviously those would never happen. Before I wrote this I had it all worked out in my head. Everything was set to go before I got a message from a sweet friend who I was running my brief storyline by.
…girl…I think you have been misdiagnosed.
I think you have postpartum OCD.
What you went through is a real thing.
It. Wasn’t. You.
Immediately I began researching, googling, doing everything I could to learn about what postpartum OCD even was. After the first five articles I had to stop reading because I was so overwhelmed and in tears. I didn’t understand how what I had lived through was a real thing.
I wasn’t crazy.
I wasn’t just hormonal.
I wasn’t a terrible or horrible person.
It was a thing.
With a name.
It was said maybe once to be that I had postpartum depression because I desperately needed it to be something so they tossed me that label and said farewell. After being disregarded so many times I simply tucked my secret deep inside and carried on. After all, this was a familiar, it was part of my life now. My compulsions had become second nature, almost rhythmic to check on things. So much so that when I got pregnant for the second time I stood firm and just let the storm crash over me while I endured. Silently. Secretly. Alone in the traumatic battle within my head. My oldest child is almost six years old. SIX. YEARS. That’s how long I have lived with this. That’s how long I have believed that there was a horrible, awful, terrible part of me. I have lived through this twice after each kid.
Not one doctor mentioned there were different kinds of postpartum mental health.
Not one thing I ever saw mentioned postpartum OCD.
Not one person ever took me seriously.
I am terrified to put this all out there. To own the images in my head as real. To put myself in a position where others could possibly look at me differently. Writing this has been so hard because it means I have to face the nightmares that will resurface after I finish typing.
But I have to.
Because now I know I am not the only one.
Because somewhere else there is a mother questioning herself just like I did.
Because we need to talk about these things to let others know they are not alone.
We can only change what we are willing to talk about.
To the mother reading this with tears in her eyes because someone else understands what she’s going through…It’s not normal.
And I am here for you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a perinatal mood disorder please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
for more information on postpartum OCD visit
International OCD Foundation
May is mental health awareness month and I really want to thank Edith for sharing her story. I encourage you to look deeper into your symptoms. Be an advocate for yourself and demand answers. Don't settle. Our death rates as mothers in this country are out of control. Our postpartum health care is almost non existent. Postpartum depression is not an all encompassing word. There are multiple perinatal mood disorders you can suffer from in pregnancy and postpartum. Each one deserves its own name, diagnosis, and treatment. Don't be afraid to speak your truths because not only can you help yourself but I can promise you, you're not alone.
Edith Taylor is a mom, photographer and blogger. She raises two wild boys and is married to the boy who once lived next door. She has a passion for sharing about the chaotic grace filled journey of motherhood at her blog and instagram. She also is about to begin an adventure of traveling the country with her family while living in a renovated 5th wheel and documenting their journey at www.thetravelingtaylorteibe.com or follow along on instagram @thetravelingtaylortribe.
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
A collection of posts from different humans all over the world, sharing their stories about the struggles they have faced in their individual journeys to motherhood.