This is one of the hardest posts I think I have written…
I knew something was wrong almost immediately. I knew My Brain was not functioning properly, healthy. I knew it but I didn't.
It took me awhile to even recognize it. I didn't want to recognize it. I didn't want to label it. I didn't want to have it. I didn't want to go through it. I didn't want it to be me. I didn't want postpartum depression.
I have been tired, I have been downright drunk with exhaustion. I have been moody, hormonal and unbalanced. I had had 4 kids with otherwise “normal” pregnancies and postpartum. I had the world's best support and birth team. As a birth worker I was blessed to receive an incredible amount of love, support, companionship and compassion back from the community with Five. So it couldn't happen to me, right?
Five came into the world in the most magnificent way! I was surrounded by so much love and support. I had my amazing husband, my 4 crazy children, my sister whom I hadn't seen in over a year, my mother via Skype, 2 midwives, 2 chiropractors, 2 Apprentice Midwives, and one Jr. Apprentice who was witnessing her first birth. I need that at birth, I draw strength from it, from those around me. I need my tribe and I had it! And Girl, did I need it with Five’s birth.
My tiny little bedroom was packed like a can of tear filled sardines as she was born. I brought her to my chest sat on the edge of my bed and felt…….....nothing…..and everything at the same time.
I was happy, this was a happy moment, I was excited she was finally here, excited she was a girl. Look everyone is happy, I am happy, this is a happy moment, I repeated in my head. Look at all these people, MY people, look at all this love and support I thought. But I felt alone, I felt numb, I just wanted someone else to hold her. I felt detached. Everyone kept saying how beautiful she was, everyone was happy. I didn't think so and I was annoyed, flat out angry that these people who are some of the closet people to me were lying to me.
The next few days went pretty much the same. I loved her but I wasn't sure I liked her. I was convinced she Hated me. I was worried and paranoid that something was wrong with her. I knew there wasn't but at times I was convinced there was.
Days turned to a week and I didn't want to pick her up when she cried, I didn't want to nurse her or hold her. I thought what would happen if she just cried or I didn't hold her or nurse her. It would be fine, babies are fine if not picked up or held or fed...right? I pleaded with my 21 year old non-lactating, never been pregnant sister to just feed her for me. That can be done, right?!
I honestly do not know how things would have turned out during that week that turned into weeks had she not picked Five up, gave her to me to hold, and told me to nurse my baby. Support is essential!
It was in those weeks that I started to realize how I was feeling and what I was thinking wasn't healthy. That my body, my brain was not healthy. I didn't want to recognize it. I didn't want to label it. I didn't want to have it. I didn't want to go through it. I didn't want it to be me. I didn't want postpartum depression. I didn’t want to think about this “Dark, Terrible, Taboo” THING.
I knew I had to get these words out of me. I knew I needed to tell someone, anyone. WOW! Was sharing a scary thought!!
I sat there with my phone in my hand knowing I had to tell someone, my midwives, anyone.. I would work myself up to it but it was just so hard. How do you tell someone, anyone, these things? I knew they would understand, being a birth worker, I knew they would, I have seen them care for others in this situation. I have cared for others. But I just could not do it! I would type something out only to delete it.
I am not even sure how long it actually took me to finally say a small something. I know when I did it felt like the biggest accomplishment in my life. It was also nerve-racking and scary because the words were out now and someone knew. Waiting for a response was the longest half second of my life. I am not sure I moved or took a breath.
The response came back with nothing less than expected. Talk to me, let me help you, let's get some help here and there, how about we tell your husband too, I love you, I am here for you, you ARE going to be okay, this IS normal, you're NOT alone.
It took another few days to tell my husband and I think I had to tell him small bits in short intervals for a week before I was able to fully articulate proper words and sentences to him. Another hurdle, and for me I think a big turn a round. A feeling that I was going in the right direction to getting myself back.
Five is about to turn five months in a few short days and I am still not 100% myself. That's okay. I know I will be. I know I will have hard days following a great week. I know I might cry for no reason or be a bit snappy when not called for. But I know those moments will become fewer. I know I am supported, loved, normal and most importantly NOT alone. I know I can talk to others without judgement. I know I love my daughter, I know I will pick her up when she crys even if it's hard, I know I will hold her and nurse her. I know she is beautiful and full of smiles. I know she loves me. Even when I don't know theses things I KNOW them.
I am lucky, when I spoke up I immediately had support and was given resources. However, not all 1.3 million moms in the US annually are. Many will speak up only to be told to go somewhere else, others will be put on medication without any diagnosis, some ignored, and other will suffer silently. This doesn't have to be this way. We can do something about this. As providers we can find better ways to screen our moms and help give them access to information and resources. We as mothers can share our stories and not be ashamed any longer, not be alone anymore. We can hold a mother's hand look her in the eye and say I hear you, I am here for you, let's get some help, I love you.
I am so proud that this year's Upstate Birth and Baby Expo will have numerous resources, information, lectures, and a film on various topics of maternal mental health, and Postpartum Depression.
If you see me at the Expo and you just need that hug. I am there. You don't have to know me, you don't have to speak just know I am there to hold you.
With love and Support