Few things make a new mom feel more alone than the assumption that she should be able to handle the monumental life change of having a baby with grace and joy. Having a baby has been a beautiful experience for me and my husband. It created this place in our hearts that we didn’t know existed. That kind of love is so different from anything else we ever knew. It was also an overnight overhaul of our entire existence – complete with intense fear of the unknown.
Among the postpartum problems I encountered were the issues people do not usually talk about – the combination of sleep deprivation, worry, overwhelm, and feeling terrified. This little perfect human is completely dependent on me and my husband. Not to mention, the hormonal shift after childbirth creates intense emotions that will bring any woman to their knees in tears. I know, because it happened to me. I had crying spells that I could not explain, and I always felt like I couldn’t measure up to other moms who seemed to have their act together.
I didn’t realize they were putting on a brave face every day, just like me.
The intense feeling of inadequacy and pressure to be able to do and be everything is enough to create a dizzying sense of depression that is not easily shaken. Many moms I’ve spoken to have experienced these feelings, but didn’t feel they could express them due to the expectation of being able to seamlessly jump back into their routine. This is the root of the issue – not expanding the conversation beyond tears that remain behind closed doors and wearing a mask so others don’t see the anxiety.
One of my best friends once told me that self-awareness is incredibly important for identifying and solving complex emotional issues. At the time, I dismissed it because I knew that meant I should seek help – but like so many women, I didn’t want to seem weak. I should be able to handle this. I should be able to deal with this on my own and be a good mom.
Little did I know that being a good mom meant admitting I needed help.
Seeking counseling and communicating with my OB/GYN about my concerns made a world of difference. I had no idea that my feelings were so common – and treatable. I still have difficult days, but it is much better than it was in previous months. I am back at work and doing my best to focus a little bit better on projects.
Overall, I have started to feel a little happier and able to handle stress in healthier ways….but it’s still a daily struggle. I still feel like a terrible mom for having my son in daycare. I cry every day and continue to see a counselor to work through the emotional rollercoaster of being a first time mom. It really helps me gain perspective when I feel like I’m falling apart and can’t shake the feeling that my best isn’t good enough.
If you or someone you know struggles with postpartum depression, please encourage them to seek help. My only regret is that I did not seek help sooner, and the help I received made a world of difference.
Please contact National Postpartum Depression hotline for resources in your area: