I remember the first time it happened. My husband was sleeping in the bed on my left side and the baby was in his bassinet on the right side. It was a beautiful spring day and every so often the breeze gently came through the window. It was perfect. After days of little to no sleep, I should have been able to easily close my eyes and fall asleep with my boys. Instead, I laid there. I laid on my back feeling like the room was closing in on me. I felt trapped. My heart started beating rapidly and tears began to roll down my cheeks. I quietly snuck out the room and ran outside. I got to the steps and froze. It was as far as I could go. I knew that in 40 minutes, the baby would be up and ready to nurse. I broke down. I put my head into the palms of my hands and sobbed.
I didn’t know my first few months as a mother would be like that. I didn’t know I would hysterically cry every time my husband left for work. I didn’t know I would have anxiety attacks while I was holding my son. From what I was told and from what I saw on social media, motherhood was a beautiful experience. You instantly fall in love with your child and it’s perfect from that day forward. That’s not how it happened for me and that’s not how it is for many women.
I struggled with postpartum depression for the first four months of my son’s life. From what I was told, he was an “easy” baby. He usually slept well, he didn’t suffer from any medical issues, and after the first few weeks he nursed great for me. I couldn’t see that though. I only saw a baby who depended on me for everything and it scared me. Friends and family asked how wonderful it was being a parent and sometimes I would smile and agree as I gritted my teeth and held back tears. I felt like something was wrong with me. How could I not be so in love with being a mom? How could I not be so thankful to spend every day with my son? How could I not appreciate this perfect boy that was given to me when so many would do anything for a child?
I would beat myself up that I wasn’t cooking, cleaning or working. I always thought I should be doing more. I was never doing enough. Some days I didn’t even have the energy to shower. I longed for the past, my life before having a baby. I longed for freedom. Then, I longed for the future. I longed for the days when he wouldn’t be so dependent. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was trapped.
Then one day it all just stopped. I saw things differently. I was happy. I could see all the joy in my life and how truly blessed I was. It was such a refreshing feeling. I enjoyed every moment with my little guy. I finally felt like I found a balance. However, it didn’t last long. I stopped nursing my son right after his first birthday and two weeks later the feelings of isolation returned. I began having anxiety attacks again and got very depressed.
But, then it would stop. I was so confused. I thought I was past those dark days of my life. However, every month, a week before my period, the darkness returned. I would get upset over the littlest things and pushed the ones that cared about me away. Like anytime I have a problem, I Googled it. That’s when I found out there was nothing wrong with me. Many women also suffered from severe postpartum PMS. It finally felt like I was not going crazy. So many could relate to exactly what I was feeling. That was the first time in a year that I didn’t feel like there was something terribly wrong with me.
My son is now 15 months old and it seems that the severe PMS is starting to diminish. I sometimes can feel an anxiety attack coming, but I now have tools to deal with these feelings. I just wish I knew it was normal to even experience this. I wish more people discussed these symptoms and it was not just expected to be this cookie cutter parent. For many, maybe even most, they will never deal with these feelings. However, there are some that are greatly affected by the hormonal changes of pregnancy/postpartum. That is why I decided to share my story.
Parents need to come together and help one another, not judge or condemn one another. I want other women who may be suffering with these dark feelings to know it is normal. It happens. It’s okay. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We made a human! We made a living, breathing PERSON. (Not to mention, the tiny human is then dependent on us!) That’s a lot of work. It may take our bodies a little longer than some to bounce back from this type of traumatic event. If you have these feelings, then talk to someone. Get it out. Don’t hold it in any longer, because many know how you feel. You’re allowed to not feel like everything is so perfect. You’re allowed to need time to adjust to being a parent. You aren’t expected to just be content the second the baby arrives. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But, as someone who dealt with it and is still taking one day at a time, I promise, it gets better. It gets so much better.
About Philly Baby Bump Guest Contributor Julianne Thomas
Bio: Julianne was hired as a professional stay at home mom on April 15, 2014. She is a Philly native, but now resides in the suburbs with her husband, one year old son, and her 17 week old puppy (Lord, help her!).
She considers a successful day one where she gets to brush her teeth and take a shower. Her life has been turned upside down since her son’s arrival, but [most days] she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
Julianne’s Blog: Who’s Raising Whom?
Follow Julianne: Instagram@julianne_t