The Myth of Motherhood: Postpartum depression and anxiety
Motherhood is a rude awakening into a life of self-deprivation for many years…at least it feels that way sometimes. Real motherhood is not the pretty, imagined life of stroller walks to the coffee shop, chats with friends, and time off to enjoy your baby and the super cute nursery you planned before your sweet little baby arrived. Real motherhood is days without changing your underwear (and not wanting to give up the stretchy, disposable ones they give you in the hospital), not knowing the last time you brushed your teeth, being afraid to poop after birth for fear your stiches will pop (vag or C-section), and feeling so out of sorts in your own home and wondering where you fit and who you are. That’s what it was like for me after my first child was born.
I remember standing on my front porch, holding my baby in his car seat at my side, seeing my partner and mother carrying the flowers and gifts into the house and as I passed through the doorway, I stopped. I stood there for a moment and thought to myself “this isn’t my home. I don’t belong here.”
I was a lucky mom – I fell in love with my new baby right away. I was in awe of him. I had planned exactly what I would say to him when he was handed to me at birth and instead of my well-worded welcome, I said “oh my God, youre real!” I was a lucky mom – I had a typical vaginal birth. I had help and support. My baby was healthy and he was placed immediately into my arms. Things don’t go that smoothly for all moms.
I didn’t know there was a thing called Postpartum Anxiety. I knew about postpartum depression but had never been told or realized that anxiety might rule my world. And, it did! Right around 3:00 in the afternoon, when the sun shifted in the sky, I felt this looming, heavy, indescribable, despair. I felt panicky and didn’t know what to do with myself. I obsessed about the approaching night and wondered if my baby would sleep and for how long. It was terrible. It went on for weeks and I had no idea it wasn’t ‘normal’ and that there was help.
My mother said “I think you have postpartum depression” and I nearly bit her head off….’No I don’t! Im not depressed.” I wasn’t depressed but I was a frantic, anxious mess.
I was attending a breast-feeding support group because breastfeeding, despite everyone saying ‘its easy, its natural, its wonderful’, wasn’t easy or wonderful for me for over 7 long, painful weeks. I kept going to the group even after we got in the groove because it was a reason to put on clean underwear, brush my teeth (or chew a piece of gum) and leave the house. I also started going to a postpartum support group and went to both groups every week for the duration of my leave. They helped.
It was in these groups that I learned that postpartum anxiety was a thing and that I could feel better. I started medications, kept going to the groups and eventually, with help, started to feel less obsessive and less panicked.
If you know what this feels like you are not alone! One in 8 women suffer from some type of postpartum mood disorder – depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or even suicidal thinking. If you know what this feels like and it is happening to you now, please get help. You and your baby deserve to feel better! Help is available.