"For me, and for many other women, being a new mother is hard. It can be hard in a million different ways: painful physical recovery from a difficult birth, breast-feeding problems, colic, tensions with your partner, sleep problems. It’s also just hard on its own, on top of and in between all these other challenges. As a friend of mine said, "I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know what ‘hard’ would feel like." We thought it would be sitcom-style hard—not necessarily with a feel-good resolution at the end of every episode, but at least punctuated by those frequent moments of uplift indicating that, in spite of everything, life really is beautiful, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it’s like that for some people, but for many of us, it’s not. For many of us, it’s not good hard, as in a “good hard workout”; it’s bad hard, as in, it sometimes feels like something bad is happening to you.”
Even now, when I discuss new motherhood and Post Partum Depression with other moms and moms-to-be, I too often find myself saying things such as “I hope I didn’t freak you out, haha.”
I’m not sure why I still feel the need to apologize or explain away what I went through; what many MANY new moms go through.
Of course my intention never IS to freak out an excited and expectant mother-to-be. It’s the furthest from my desire. I hope for nothing but sunshine and rainbows for every new mom. Because ideally that’s how it truly should be.
Unfortunately for many, it simply isn’t. And 10.5 months later there is still so much guilt I carry around for something that I had no control over.
Sitting at brunch Sunday morning I saw another couple with a newborn, grandparents in tow, mimosas at the table. And that woman sitting there was me so many months ago. Rarely glancing at her son. Far-away look in her eyes. Not a smile to be had. I so badly wanted to talk to her. I hope someone was. Of course it’s possible she had a bad night, in the way EVERY new parent does. But sometimes you see someone and you feel like you can read every thought in their head because they belonged to you not too long ago.
I can wish and hope for more women to talk about the realities of both new motherhood and PPD, but I feel like I can already see that happening. Maybe I just notice it more now that I have experienced it? I can’t be sure, but it doesn’t matter either way, so long as the discussion is happening.
What I hope for more, though, is that women aren’t afraid to ask for help. To tell their partners and mothers and friends or anyone they trust what they are feeling. Be it “We had a really shitty day and I am still not sure how much I like my baby” or “I need you to make me an appt now because the thoughts I am having are not normal.”
Sometimes just saying those words out loud are all it takes to start turning things around. Sometimes it’s more, but it can never hurt to talk. Just talk.