*Please note: This is a sensitive and real thing that I went through. It was not easy to write and some parts may make you think I am a horrible person…but if you continue reading, I hope that you will understand. Thank you. <3
Did you know that today is World Maternal Mental Health Day?
It is! It has been declared the first Wednesday in May and I’ve been given signs for a long time now, to share my story. Even more signs popped up in the past few days. It’s something I have never really shared with people and if I did it wasn’t in depth, but I wanted to share this in hopes of someone reading it will know that they’re not alone.
This here is a photo of a mother who absolutely loves and adores her child.
This is also a photo of a mother who had/has a hard time with this adorable, little babe.
And I don’t just mean, had a hard time adjusting to motherhood. That, alone, was a battle. But I went through stages of anger, fits, rage, crying, sadness, and hopelessness…and I didn’t know or understand why.
This tiny baby would cry because he was hungry or wanted to be close to me. I had fed him, changed him, burped him, took clothes off, put more clothes back on, rocked him, swayed him, swaddled him, hugged him, wore him…and nothing was working. I feel like this is something quite common. And when you can’t figure out what’s going on with your baby, it’s perfectly normal to cry! Instead, I got angry. I was filled with rage when I couldn’t get him to stop. Following the feelings of anger and rage, I began to really cry. Not only cry but completely sob until it hurt.
I hated the mother I was.
Why would I get so upset at this sweet, baby boy? I grew him in my belly, birthed him, and nourished him with my body through breastfeeding. He was MY baby. My love. Everything I lived for.
So, why did I get so angry all the time? Why was I filled with so much anger when it came to the simple cries of a child needing his mother?
Postnatal Depression is real.
From someone who already struggles with depression (that’s a whole other story), I felt that the post partum part hit me hard. It was always difficult for me to understand what was going on within me and I thought that it was going to destroy the bond with my child and I. As much as it pains me to say this…I was almost afraid. I would get so angry and upset that I was afraid that I was going to be one of those mothers that would actually hurt their child. Yes, it was that bad.
Did I want to hurt my baby? Absolutely not. Never in a million years would I ever want to do such a thing. It is my job to protect my child and to keep them safe. And I will do that until my last dying breath. But was that a real fear of mine? Yes. It’s scary.
But I didn’t know that it wasn’t just me.
Over 75% of women do not get diagnosed or receive treatment or support. And 2 in 10 women have a mental health problem during pregnancy and in the first year, following birth. Think of all of the women around you, having babies. That’s a lot! I’m willing to bet that many of them are hiding it from you and are hiding it well. The problem is, we need to speak up about it.
I had no idea what was going on with me. I thought it was just my regular old depression, short fuse, and bad temper coming in. I didn’t think I actually needed any help with anything. When I was about 6 months post partum with my son, a friend of mine (whom I finally admitted a few things to) said,
“That sounds like post partum depression. I went back to talk to someone and got some help with it.”
I had no clue that she was going through it too! She actually experienced a lot of what I was going through. The anger and the sobbing. She went almost immediately having her child. I went back to get some help and I was given the runaround. Because I was 6 months post baby, I was no longer considered having post partum depression and they thought it was something completely different. So, I looked forward to meeting with the doc and talking about what was going on – to finally get some answers.
Not long after being in that room with the doctor, I left feeling worse about myself. I felt as though I was an unfit mother. The doctor ridiculed me for the things that I was saying and for how I was feeling. He threatened to find a way to take my baby away. Now, that was one of the scariest things for me. That was why I didn’t want to get help or tell anyone about it. Because, how do you explain to someone the anger you feel inside and what’s happening in there…but that you’re not actually going to do ANYTHING like what you’re feeling? Some people can’t comprehend that until they are in the same situation. And if you’ve never had depression or post partum depression – you’re not going to get it.
Needless to say, I never went back again. I never went back for help. I just continued with feeling the way I did. I talked to my husband and a couple friends here and there. I tried my best to be the best mother I could for my son. I loved him with everything in me. I wanted the feelings that I would feel every now and then to just go away. I did, however, feel a strong bond with him through breastfeeding. I missed him so much when I had to go to work. I snuggled with him and played with him and had all of the marvelous moments that one would have with their baby. My love never changed.
But I did realize that as he got older and we started trying for our next baby, my feelings weren’t as bad as they once were. Mind you, I was on the Mirena and although it is localized in just the uterus – hormones are hormones. And I learned a long time ago that I cannot do a lot of birth control because of the hormones. The Mirena still affected me. When I got it taken out, it took some time to get pregnant again and those “crazy” feelings weren’t as strong anymore.
Not until I ended up in the ER. Not many know about that situation. It’s hard to talk about but I will say that, depression caused by pregnancy and birth DOES happen. I had my kids close together. My hormones had gone up and down over the past 3 years. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to talk about or admit. And it’s not easy to know that you’ve had this happen to you.
Throughout my pregnancy with my daughter, I had been attacked from others about “mental issues” and being “mentally unstable.” And let me tell you,
It was a time where I was the strongest I had ever been.
Did it hurt when people talked about it as if it was nothing? Hell yes. Did I want to go off on those people? You betcha. But what was that going to solve? Absolutely nothing. It just made me realize that it really is something I needed to talk about. And the sad part was, it was in reference to the night I ended up in the ER. So, over the past year, I realized I needed to talk about this. So, here I am writing this super long post.
As much as I had bonded with my son, I did notice a disconnect. And I still do to this day. My pregnancies, their births, post partum side – everything is like night and day between my children. I didn’t feel the same feelings I had with my daughter after birth like I did with my son. My pregnancy was fitter and healthier the second time around. Hormones are weird like that, where they really can mess with the body in a very negative or even a positive way. But because of this disconnect with my son, I have felt the pang of guilt on more than one occasion. It hurts me to know that I get angry at him easier.
That disconnect actually worried me while I was pregnant with my daughter.
What if I love my daughter more than I love my son? What kind of thought is that?! A real one. And it sucked feeling that way. To be honest with you, I don’t love either of them more or less than the other. BUT – I can totally see a difference in how I am as a mother BECAUSE of my daughter. Because my pregnancy and the BIRTH was so different, I felt more of a connection immediately. When my son was born, he was rushed away from me completely. I am not blaming our disconnect on that whatsoever but I can see the differences throughout pregnancy and birth with each of them. I did post about my birth story with my daughter and I described it as a “healing birth.” And that’s exactly what it was. No, I don’t love my daughter more than my son. But we all connect differently to each other. And that’s okay.
Honestly, there’s a chance that most of me getting angry easier is just due to him being a toddler and those “terrible-twos” are quite difficult. He is a lot like me. Go figure. But I can’t dwell on the fact that I used to be a certain way towards him. I can only move forward and learn from my mistakes.
I wish I could end this post where I tell you that I got the help I needed and I am fixed. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Somehow, in some way, my body healed itself. Not completely, but I noticed that I am no longer as angry or hopeless as I used to be. I don’t cry nearly as much as I did and my heart is more open.
I do, however, urge you to get help if you need it. If you feel ANYTHING like how I have described it in this post, please talk to someone. A doctor, a therapist, a friend (who will then refer you to a doctor or a therapist) but don’t let yourself think you’re helpless. Don’t think that you’re the only one.
You are NOT crazy. This happens. You are not alone.