Recently, I've noticed actresses like Hayden Panettiere and Drew Barrymore opening up about their experiences with postpartum depression. It's something that is not really talked about because of the negative stigma behind it. When I first learned about postpartum depression it was a big controversy surrounding the Andrea Yates case when she drowned her five children. I never really comprehended the issue, and still couldn't believe how that was a thing, until I became a mom. And though Andrea Yates case may be a severe case and on the far end of the spectrum, I can finally understand from a mother's perspective. Having a child completely changes you, and the reality is there is no preparation or advice that can really get your prepared for what happens when you have a kid. So for all my future mommas, and readers out there here is my personal story of postpartum depression.
Before becoming a mother, I had it all, or so I thought. I had a great career, I was in the best shape of my life, I was with the man of my dreams, and I was surrounded by amazing friends and family. I lived a carefree life, where I could eat when I wanted, shower in peace, take naps, watch Criminal Mind marathons without having to stay up all night worrying about my child's safety, and sleep till noon with not a care in the world. Fast forward to the first month of having my son. I was a wreck. I was breastfeeding a child who was always hungry, never slept more than three hours a day, and I felt so inadequate because I didn't feel like I was producing enough milk. I didn't understand why my child wouldn't sleep through the night. I envied all the other moms who I thought motherhood came so easily for them. I loved my son more than anything in the word, but I didn't feel like I was good enough for him.
On top of not feeling like a great mother, I felt fat, ugly, and disgusting. My beautiful baby belly was gone, and I was left with a saggy reminder of what it use to be. My low confidence affected my love life as well. I felt like a horrible wife because I couldn't love on my husband like I used to. I didn't have the desire, the energy or the want. All I thought about when having sex was please don't get pregnant again! It was the worst feeling in the world, but for the first time in my life I just felt like I wasn't good at anything I did. I wasn't working anymore, and I wasn't going to the gym either. My work was always something I was great at and so was my fitness, but after having a baby those two things were not a priority anymore. I didn't have the time or energy, and my sense of pride and confidence diminished. I felt alone, and helpless. I felt no one would understand, and that they would judge me as spoiled and ungrateful. I was in a position most women dreamed about, and yet I was not happy.
Finally after three months of breastfeeding, I decided it wasn't for me. I was losing so much weight because I wasn't taking care of myself. Breastfeeding and the idea of me breastfeeding had consumed me. I couldn't do it anymore. I went to work part-time, and I began to feel a little like myself again. I started blogging and pursuing my photography. I came to terms with the fact that my life was never going to be the same. I realized the person who I was before, the one who did a million and one things and excelled in all of it was not me anymore. I cut down on my activities, focused on a few things that I could be great at and joined some mom groups on Facebook. There I found comfort in the fact that I was not the only one who enjoyed wine instead of coffee in the morning to kickstart my day. I realized motherhood looked different on everyone, and yet we also all shared a similar bond.
So to all the mommas and future mommas, it's ok to feel scared, to lose your identity and sense of self, to feel inadequate, to feel selfish, to stress, to not be happy all the time. Postpartum is different for everyone. It isn't always about negative thoughts about your child. For me it was a personal struggle in finding my self-worth. I still have daily challenges. I am my biggest critic, I worry 24/7, I don't work out as much, I'm fifteen pounds underweight, I don't get more than four hours of sleep at a time, but I'm ok with that. I am a work in progress. Twenty percent of mothers will experience some form of postpartum depression. Sometimes at the first birth, sometimes after the fourth. Some for only a couple of weeks and others will experience it for years. Recognizing it is the first step to overcome it. Do not be afraid to reach out for help because you are not alone. Life is not perfect and neither are you, but it's ok because it isn't supposed to be.