For a long time I was really embarrassed to admit something about my post-birth life. It wasn’t my jiggly belly or raging under-eye bags, but my battle with mild postpartum depression. My fellow Mable Megan has written about her experience with PPD and I’m so proud of her and others that share their stories. There were so many time I had wished there were more of an open dialogue surrounding post-baby mental wellness and so many times I felt ashamed of not being totally “blissed out” like felt I was supposed to.
Admittedly, my experience with PPD was relatively mild. I was deeply in love with my son but also felt overwhelmingly lonely and I cried for weeks about my birth experience and my post-surgery recovery sucked and I second guessed every single thing I did with my baby. Am I holding him right? I don’t know how to make the witching hour easier! Is getting the hang of nursing this hard for everyone? Shouldn’t he sleep more? Whenever I sneeze or cough I am positive my stitches will burst and my guts will fall out and I will die…isn’t that bad for the baby to see? My husband was new to his job without one vacation day to his name so I was alone a lot during the week. I had some friendship hiccups during and after my pregnancy. My body felt out of control and I was just so sad about my medication-free vaginal birth that I had dreamt of being replaced by a last-minute C section. Plus I gave birth in November so it was too cold to get out of the house and lots of people waited months to visit to avoid giving our new babe a cold. Things add up and you have this new mom who can’t stop crying.
I was able to work through my own PPD or baby blues by talking through it, adjusting my diet and exercising a bit, practicing some sunlight therapy, making some life changes, and gaining more confidence in myself both as a mom and a person. The more comfortable I felt in my role as a new mom and the more time I gave for my incision (both the physical one on my belly and the mental one in my brain) to heal and the more I looked at my body as a strong vessel that created a life the more empowered and less foggy I felt. The day I was able to sneeze without having to clutch the couch in pain and worry that my guts where going to fall out of my healing incision was also a huge win.
There are a few nuggets of might be wisdom I wish all new moms battling PPD knew:
It isn’t you or your baby’s fault….or your partner’s. I blamed myself for my blue emotions a lot. Too much. At my check up my doctor assured me that it’s normal to feel post baby blues–you’re tired and your hormones are jacked up and you are learning a lot of new things in a short amount of time. He suggested I talk about it and connect with other new moms. I was lucky to have two friends with newborns and an insanely supportive circle of close people in my life that helped get me through. It’s also normal to want to place blame or project negative emotions and stress onto your partner (there were a lot of times I did) but they are probably doing the best they can. My husband definitely was trying his best but he doesn’t have boobs so he couldn’t nurse and that meant it was on me to get up every 30 to 45 minutes for weeks which meant I disliked him a little bit during those first few weeks of no sleep.
Birth is birth. People say a lot of stupid things about C sections or epidurals or hospitals or birthing centers or water births or whatever it is they didn’t personally do. Overall I think people mean well but there are plenty of dumb-dumbs who will say dumb-dumb things that make you feel less than. Feel free to unfollow them, unfriend them, mentally tell them to eat shit, smile, nod, and/or ignore the shit out of them. Any way you bring a baby into this world is birth and should be celebrated, not criticized. Everyone’s situation is different and everyone’s story is uniquely their own. Birth is birth, baby.
Don’t compare yourself to others but lean on people. I saw all these Instagram moms who were 2 weeks postpartum and taking long walks with their children and back to their pre-pregnancy jeans. It didn’t make me a bad person to unfollow them for a bit until I could stop the mental comparison and beating myself down for still being glued to the couch 23 hours a day. On the other hand, find people who listen or inspire you or help you feel less alone. Tell your doctor or doula or partner or BFF what you’re feeling. You aren’t alone, girlfriend, trust me.
You’re beautiful and you’re doing a great job. You just are. I’m serious. You are a beautiful unicorn full of magic, say it in front of the mirror if you have to. Any way you are parenting, feeding, or birthing your child is your own and you are doing a great fucking job. Seriously, momma, it’s really hard to bring a human into this world and then raise it. GO YOU.
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