I started off writing this as an email for a couple of friends getting ready to have babies but then I decided why not share it with all of my lovely followers as well. 🙂
A couple of years ago after I had my daughter, Malea, I found myself spiraling down a black hole. Nothing was really “wrong”, Malea was eating well, sleeping well, my husband–Matt–was being helpful and supportive, but still I just didn’t feel right. I had heard that some moms ended up with postpartum depression but I kept thinking, “I don’t feel depressed,” I just didn’t feel anything.
From the moment my doctor handed Malea to me in the tub (I had a water birth) I hadn’t really felt anything. I knew I loved her but when they handed her to me I simply thought, “now what do I do?”. There were no sparks flying, no instant feelings of a love I had never known, or any of those other amazing things I hear moms talking about. I knew I loved her, and had been anticipating her for months, but I think out of not knowing how to be a mom I swung into “get it done” mode. I had read the books, I knew what I needed to do, so I did what my Type-A personality does best and I stepped into action.
When Malea was about six weeks old I was talking to my mom on the phone telling her how I was feeling, or rather my lack of feeling, she immediately told me that what I was experiencing was postpartum depression and that I needed to see her friend who was a psychiatrist. I talked to Matt and we both thought there was no way that’s what it could be. I wasn’t crying all the time, I wasn’t feeling depressed, I was a good mom and taking care of Malea, so how could I have postpartum depression? Matt decided to look it up online and what he discovered was that I had almost every single symptom. I immediately got in to see my mom’s friend and after a couple months of counseling and medication I was beginning to feel normal again.
I share this not to discourage you if you are getting ready to have a baby but to tell you that you are not alone. For SO long I thought I was all alone in my struggle with postpartum depression. No one had ever talked to me about it, all I ever heard was how much all of my friends had instantly fallen in love with their babies and how amazing motherhood was. So I was left thinking what is wrong with me? Am I a bad mom for not feeling all those things? Not at all! It’s actually funny (well not like ha ha funny) but once I started sharing my story with other moms around me, to my surprise a few of them told me that they had experienced similar feelings. So why hadn’t anyone told me this before!? I wasn’t upset but it definitely made me realize that I needed to be open and honest with others about my story and what I went through.
Today I feel totally normal. I am a really good mom and I love Malea SO SO much. If you saw us together you would never know what we had been through. I prayed for months that Malea would not be affected by my struggle with depression and that she would feel bonded to me even though I didn’t feel bonded to her. Well God heard my prayers and never once have I, or anyone else, ever doubted Malea’s bond to me. In fact I think God used her bond to help heal me and to eventually grow my love and affection for her.
But having been through the hell of postpartum depression I have a HUGE heart for women that are new moms or are getting ready to have a baby. I want them to know that no matter what their experience is that they are not alone. I also want moms to know that if you are experiencing these feelings it’s not you. There is nothing wrong with you, you are not a bad mom and there is help. I found that there is a lot of help out there for moms like me and that postpartum depression says nothing about who you are as a mother, it is a chemical and hormonal imbalance in your brain and there are medications to help regulate the imbalance.
I know that Ask Anna is mostly about cleaning, organizing, recipes, etc. but if you are a new mom–or getting ready to be a new mom–I want you to know that I’m hear if you need to talk. Please shoot me an email if you need someone to talk to, need a little encouragement, or have a question. Because I felt no emotion for the first couple months of Malea’s life I focused on reading and leaning how to be a mom, so if you have any new mom questions I probably have an answer for you. 🙂
As moms we need to stick together, encourage and support one another. I’m here for you and I’m happy to help and/or pray for you.
Here’s to motherhood!
If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of Postpartum Depression click here to learn more.