The Secret Struggles of Postpartum

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The “Dark days” for me last about 5 months after the birth of my daughter.

The craziest thing about those times, is that I don’t think anybody other than my husband actually knew what was going on…and I still don’t think they do.

I think that’s where it all goes wrong…people talk about postpartum depression and anxiety…but they don’t REALLY talk about it.

We either ignore it…or sugar coat it, only hearing about the extreme cases, like the mother who leaves her family or takes the lives of her children…but there’s SO much more in between that people don’t talk about.

Nobody told me that I’d have this intense physiological reaction to giving birth, and that the way I was hardwired to think or feel would never be the same again.

I gave birth, started going to the gym and playing soccer after two weeks, then started my first company a few months later, then another one a few months after that, all while putting on a happy face and socializing with friends and family…but just because you see somebody who is functioning at a high level, doesn’t mean things are super sweet behind closed doors.

I struggled, I really struggled .

I morned the loss of my old life.
I morned the loss of my old body.
At times, I really didn’t like being a mom and felt like I’d made a mistake.
I loved working, and I felt incredibly guilt about that.
I spent more hours that I can count, curled into a ball on the floor, crying for no reason.
No matter how hard I worked, I always felt the crushing feeling that I was failing and wasn’t good enough .
I felt bad about myself all of the time.
I took everything out on my husband, for no reason at all.
My anger bubbled to the surface during every conversation, and I had no control over it.
I’d start sweating every time the baby cried.
I worried about hurting my child, and had to call my husband because I didn’t trust myself.
I suddenly acutely understood how a mother could shake her baby, and that terrified me.
To top it off, I felt a crushing guilt and embarrassment for feeling all of these things.

I didn’t feel comfortable sharing these feelings.

I thought I was failing, I was bad, and that I was the only one.

No two women react postpartum in the same way…and it’s a broad spectrum of emotions that are physiological… And I obviously didn’t CHOOSE to feel that way.

But what do I know?

I know that my feelings were normal.
I know that my feelings were OK.
I know that my thoughts and feelings were physiological, and that I had no control over them.
I know that I made it out the other side and have a beautiful daughter who I’d kill for.
I know that I want my experience to make a difference, and hopefully help another mother who’s going throw a similar situation.

What you’re feeling is normal….it’s physiological, and it’s OK. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it will get better.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for posting this. I felt so alone going through this ugly experience in my mind. I’m happy to be on the other side of it but still feel guilt about those feelings of regretting my child or not being as present as I could have been. I knew these feelings weren’t logical but could not fight them off.

  2. Thank you Erica for sharing your true feelings. I know just how difficult it must have been to write down these words “on paper” but how much relief they probably have you. I can relate to how you felt postpartum and I’d also like to share my story.

    I gave birth but after too many hours of hard labour I ended up having a c-section. Not only was I recovering from birth and having to take care of a newborn but I also had to learn how to heal and recover from surgery. For someone like myself who is a go go go type and generally self sufficient, this was actually quite difficult for me because I physically couldn’t do the things I wanted to. I had longer baby blues than most – many times sitting there crying for no reason and all I wanted was a hug or just physical touch from my husband. No words can really explain it.

    For me this all passed and other than the normal stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation I thought I was doing pretty good. Then at about 3 months in, that’s when my PPD really kicked in. Yes, to those who don’t believe it, your PPD can kick in at any time postpartum. I wish I had known that at the time because I thought I was going crazy and my husband couldn’t understand what was going on because it just didn’t make sense. I was doing ok. You only hear to worry about it right after giving birth. Not months in. Boy were we wrong. Anyways, I was also mourning the loss of my life, wondering if I had made a mistake. Some days I would ask someone to take the baby back. This wasn’t what I signed up for. No one, not even my husband truly understood what I was feeling. Everyone always says that when you have a child, they become your only focus and that your partner gets forgotten but I think people forget that it’s also the mother who gets forgotten. After taking care of my son then giving attention to my husband, I need someone to also take care of me. People forget that even the strong need someone to take care of them. That was part of my struggle.

    It wasn’t until I went back to work after 11 months that I started to feel “back to normal”. My husband said that the day I went back to work was the day I got that skip in my step again. It still took me months to get back to feeling myself and I think what I needed was balance in my life. I NEED to work and be a mom. I can’t just have one.

    I LOVE my son and I do not regret having him. He brings so much joy to my world that I actually feel as though something is missing when he’s not around. He’ll be 2 in a couple of weeks and I look back and am proud of all the ups and downs of being a mom. I NEVER want to feel that way again… to the point that I’m not sure if I want another child. My son is my world but I can only be the best mom if I can also be at my best. Sometimes you have to work on yourself to be everything to everyone.

    Thank you for having this forum to open up about the realities of having children. You are doing a fantastic job momma! Don’t you forget it.

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