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.
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