There was a time that I didn’t even think that I would become a mother. I attribute a lot of it to finding the right partner. I fell in love with my husband the moment I met him. I remember the morning of our wedding thinking that I just wanted to get the ceremony over with so we could have our children… the next great adventure. Not long after we were married, I was pregnant. In January of 2012, I went into labor and 10 hours later when things started going from bad to worse, I was wheeled under the bright lights of an operating room to have a cesarean. I had this fear of a c-section because I thought my baby would be taken from me and sent to a NICU. But when he came out screaming, it was such a relief. I will never forget the first time I saw my son. I realized in that moment that I finally knew the true meaning of love at first sight. I have never felt that strong of an instant connection with someone- this instinctual, pure, raw love. An almost anamalistic “I’ll-lay-down-and-die-for-you” kind of love. They wrapped him up like a burrito and placed him next to me in bed, his bright blue eyes gazing up at me. I whispered to him, “I can’t wait to show you the world.” Andrew will always be special, because it was him who made me a mother.
Just 18 months later, I gave birth to my second son, Harry. I felt great, and was becoming confident in my skills as a mother. Then suddenly, three short months after he was born, it was like a light inside of me went out. I had no idea at the time, but I was just entering the throws of postpartum depression. It is something that I now talk openly about. I am not ashamed of it, or what I had to do to get better. I wish more women would talk about it, because I felt so alone. It felt as though I had fallen down this dark hole and I couldn’t figure out how to climb out. I felt guilty, because here I was cradling this perfectly healthy baby that I had wished for, and yet I didn’t feel the least bit grateful. Everyone around me would comment on how happy I must be and there I was just not enjoying a single second of it. I am sure I was awful to be around. I didn’t understand what was happening to me- so my husband was sure as ish not going to figure it out. They were dark days. I never wanted to hurt my children, but I felt that I didn’t deserve them. I sunk deeper and deeper.
I waited 1 year and 7 months to get help. I never should have suffered that long and it breaks my heart to think of all the other mothers going through the same pain, afraid to ask for help. My doctor prescribed medication to me and suggested that I go speak with someone. She explained that medication is a band aid and that “talk therapy” would help me get to the root of the issue. After two days of taking medication, I remember thinking, “Is this what normal people feel like every day?!” I was only on meds for a couple of weeks, but I continued the talk therapy for a long time. I found it so helpful. Becoming a parent brings up so many emotions- it’s almost like you’re looking back at your childhood through a microscope and facing experiences that you had tucked into far corners of your mind hoping to forget them. I think I just needed the meds to help me climb out of the hole I was in, although I know many very successful, wonderful mothers who take medication every day and there is no shame in it. People use medications to treat many ailments and don’t think twice about it. Your brain is just like any other organ that can go out of whack- especially when you add on a heap of hormones.
Just as I was coming up for air, I was pregnant again. This was my third, and almost just as emotional as my first, because I knew it would be my last. I lived in fear of the darkness coming back, but luckily it has not returned and I have fully enjoyed the birth of my baby girl, Elizabeth.
When you are in it, it feels like it is never going to end, that you are never going to feel like yourself again. So I just want anyone going through this now to know that it will pass. You will find yourself. And you will be even stronger for it.
To read part one of this story, click here.