Moms Have Stories Too! Mom Story #2Jun 30, 2019
If I could do it all again I would tell myself this:
Everything is going to be okay.
You will figure this out.
Listen to your heart.
This is only a short blip, a tiny timeframe of your life.
You will soon be more powerful than you ever thought possible.
That is what pregnant and new mom me needed to hear.
She did not need to be questioned about how much love she felt and whether the baby was sleeping through the night and how much I loved being a mother.
And it tore my fucking heart out.
I couldn’t even hate it because I was too debilitated and inundated with choices and expectations and a tiny human that I thought would rule my days and nights until I finally gave up.
Until I finally broke.
The story of my motherhood has only one moral: Not all mothers are happy after they have babies.
Some mothers fall into a pit of unimaginable hell and have to take care of an infant on top of that.
That is my story.
My story is about watching myself fall deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole of depression and anxiety as I struggled to breastfeed and be perfect and find love that I couldn’t feel for a baby that I thought was cursed to have me as her mother.
What kind of monster doesn’t fall in love with her baby instantly?
Well me for starters.
And actually, According to the Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care: National Guidelines document produced by the Public Health Agency of the Government of Canada, depression affects about 10 per cent of women at some point during their pregnancy and between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of women with a prior history of depression will suffer a relapse in the postpartum period. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/publications/healthy-living/maternity-newborn-care/maternity-newborn-care-guidelines-chapter-1-eng.pdf
That’s a lot.
That is a lot of women suffering in shame and secrecy and silence.
Well, fuck that.
I wish my story was more anomalous, but it’s not.
And I didn’t see it coming.
I was too busy preparing to be the perfect mom after the perfect pregnancy.
I was going to have the perfect home birth.
I was going to breastfeed her until she was two years old.
I was going to perfect the shit out of motherhood.
And none of that happened.
No home birth, no zen bringing my baby into the world, no breastfeeding after six weeks. No perfect.
Because perfect doesn’t exist.
Not in motherhood.
Not in life.
My deepest shame came from the fact that I didn’t think I was the right kind of mother.
That my depression was the result of my making a mistake and the universe, and my mind, conspired again me to show me that I should not have been so foolish as to think I could be a mother.
I had a profound and fundamental disconnect from myself.
I literally could not see myself as a mother.
I thought I didn’t feel love for her because I was an improper, dysfunctional woman.
Not because a jumble of hormones, stress, sleep deprivation, and jarring life changes meant that my history of anxiety and depressive episodes came raging to the forefront.
No one told me about that.
I tried to explain my terror and my sadness but it didn’t fully come out.
All I could really do was cry.
I didn’t have the words, the language for what I was experiencing.
And then, on top of that, I was simply expected to be happy.
The saddest fucking thing in the world is not a sad clown. It is a sad mother postpartum.
Both are expected to always be happy.
And both are expected to put on a show of their happiness.
I mean, I put on a show that looked like I was managing.
Not obsessing over very little decision and wanting to throw myself down the stairs.
I looked put together.
I know how to put on a show of mental wellness.
You bet your bottom dollar.
And then, six weeks in, I told someone – my long-time counselor 5000 kms away on the phone – what I really felt.
And finally I had an answer.
I had postpartum depression.
And I was so fucking relieved.
Thank god there is something I can do.
A way out of all of this pain.
Depression lies to you.
It tells you that there is no escape.
So you might as well end it.
And that’s the scariest thing your mind can tell you.
But thank god.
Thank god for this explanation and alternative.
Four years later I still backslide and I still have resentments and exhaustion and overwhelm.
But I have also found deep and profound love.
And not just for my daughter.
But for my partner, my mother, my family, my community.
I owe it to other women to tell the truth of my experience because I survived.
And now I am thriving.
And you can too.
I promise you that.