This is my ninth week as a stay-at-home mom. I’m planning on going back to work sometime soon, though I’m not exactly sure when or to what extent.
Ugh, two sentences into a post and I’m already off topic. This isn’t about going back to work. This is about postpartum.
The truth about postpartum is that it’s real, and it’s ugly and it’s hard. I spend most weekdays just trying to survive until my husband gets home from work. A logical, sane person would prefer their 8-week-old child be awake for at least parts of the day – you know, so that said child is more likely to sleep at least part of the night – but most days I beg him to “sleep, pleeeeease sleep” because, more often than not, that’s all I feel I can handle on my own.
So many days I feel like I’m drowning. Each day, hour, minute feels like an eternity and sometimes I just don’t know how I’ll possibly make it to the next day, hour, minute. And then E will smile and, for a moment, I forget.
I love my son. With more of my heart than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being. The love I have for this little man is absolutely impossible to describe, and it’s something only other moms can understand.
I always feel like I have to say that before I admit to how hard All Of This is on me. The negativity surrounding postpartum makes me feel like if I admit that shit is tough, it means I don’t love my son.
I’m here to say that the two are unrelated. I’m here to say that a mom can simultaneously be head over heels in love with her child and want to jump off a bridge from the stress of being a mother. I’m here to say that postpartum is nothing to be ashamed of, despite how little it’s talked about.
I’m here to bring light to postpartum, to bring it front and center instead of having it be something that has to be sought out.
It’s taken me some time to come to terms with the idea that I may be suffering from postpartum depression. I was in denial, then afraid to consider it, then ashamed to admit it, then pissed off that I was afraid and ashamed of it.
Sure, it’s hard to admit the difficulties that come with being a mom. After all, I made this choice. I put myself in this position. (Well, I did have some help, nudge nudge wink wink.) This is my baby. How could I possibly have any bad thoughts?
Before E was born, I would glance at that (SMALL) sections in pregnancy literature about postpartum and think, “What bullshit. These women. Really? THAT’S YOUR BABY, JUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR BABY.”
I’m here to tell you that me thinking postpartum = bullshit? WAS BULLSHIT.
So while it’s hard to admit that being a mom is difficult, and that more than I’d like to admit I’ve thought about hurting myself, hurting my husband, and hurting my baby… it’s also not my fault. And this isn’t a way to get out of taking responsibility if I do hurt myself, my husband or my baby (because, thankfully, it hasn’t come to that). Because postpartum is real, and it sucks.
I took the first step last week at my check-up, admitting to my doctor that I’m having a rough time.
“I have good days and I have bad days. I have good moments and I have bad moments. On my good days, during my good moments, I feel like I have a handle on things. But on my bad days, during my bad moments, I feel like I’m in a hole, by myself, and I can’t get out. You know?” I told her as tears welled up in my eyes. And that day was one of my good days.
So, she asked me a series of questions. Basic, generic questions about my mental state that I ranked on a scale of 1-4, from “never” to “always.” She told me that a score of six or higher was generally considered a cause for concern of postpartum depression. I scored 12.
So now I’ll be attempting some therapy, hopefully. It’s unclear to me at this point if my insurance even covers the therapy I’d be receiving, so I’m not sure I’ll be keeping the appointment I have for later this week. Therapy is expensive, and I have other free options that would put a lot less stress on me.
Next step: acceptance.
Photo: We Heart It