“Everyone always tells you, ‘Nothing can prepare you for motherhood.’ Or, ‘Motherhood is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in life.’
From the first back pains in pregnancy, to the late nights with no sleep and a crying babe, there truly isn’t anything comparable.
Nothing really can prepare you for motherhood. Especially when you’re like me, and look down at two lines on the pregnancy test at 19.
Nothing could have prepared me for the mental rollercoaster that came along with it all. That hung onto me and followed me into motherhood. That is still with me now.
I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I can remember being a young girl, and picturing my future. Of course somewhere in there, I was a famous movie star, but first was the dream of being a mom. I was extremely fortunate that I grew up in a home where my mom was able to stay at home with us. So I had that sometimes rare, firsthand experience of having my mother with me at every step of my life. And I knew then that is what I wanted to be able to do.
I can remember it being one of the first things that my husband and I talked about, as we started getting serious. Me, a senior in high school in love with all things theater, and my husband, the swoon worthy ROTC college boy, with a future in the Army, and texting me from helicopters (gotta be honest, that really pulled me in). We fell and fell hard. I followed him to his college town and took up part time school, while being a full time daycare teacher. A year later, we are faced with that bold pregnancy test. Were we terrified? Oh so much. But that terror soon turned to excitement, in part with having an amazing support system from both of our families.
My pregnancy with our son went swimmingly. I was a picturesque example of a glowing pregnancy. Soon he arrived and my husband shipped off to Basic Training and AIT. At five months postpartum, we got the shocking news that, surprise, we’re pregnant again! That was a complete shock to my system, and I was completely terrified at how I was, at 21, going to manage raising babies 14 months apart.
The time came where I had our second son, and there were complications from the c-section. I ended up getting a blood clot in my leg, and needed tons of care to rectify that. But behind all of that, crept in postpartum depression. It hit me like lightning. I, to this day, still can’t remember the first six months of my son’s life. And that is devastating to me. I tried medications, but quickly realized how not all medications worked for every person. It became draining. I felt as if I had my head in the clouds and yet was being pulled underwater by weights. I was finally able to get onto medication that worked.
And it pulled me out of the PPD.
We moved into our first little house in the country, and life with our two Irish twins was chaotically wonderful.
Fast forward five years later and we are getting ready to have our little girl. The pregnancy was terrible. I was constantly in the hospital with kidney issues, or had the flu, or pneumonia. You name it, it happened during her pregnancy. Her birth was even more traumatic, from having complications and major loss of blood, to weeks later finding out that I had yet another, but now life threatening clot, in my femoral artery from my belly button to my knee. I was rushed to the big hospital in my city, and had to sign some scary waivers and be rushed into surgery. After an ICU stay, and finding out I have a serious blood disease, I could no longer breast feed my baby, and had to get around using a walker for the first week out. It was another traumatic event, that I didn’t realize would soon tap on the shoulder of depression, and welcome him with open arms.
You see, depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t see that you have 47 other traumatic things going on, and decide to take a back seat. This quiet tyrant decides when and where it wants to seat itself, and does so with great pride. I like to think of depression as its own entity, because it helps me realize that I am not depression. and depression cannot forever control me. And along with depression came anxiety. And it’s funny, because there is so much support, and resources, for the fourth trimester phase of life with a child. So many outlets and places and people to talk to. But what happens once that ‘timeline’ is gone? It’s suddenly taboo.
My bed became my new appendage. It became my sanctuary and my he*l all at the same time. The thought of getting up to brush my teeth and take a shower was daunting. I felt incapable of doing most things. Simple things. There were days upon days where the only reason I left my bed was because my babies needed me. It was the only thing keeping me going.
It’s so hard for mothers who struggle with depression. Because we want more than anything to be able to take on the world. Take on any discomfort, or hurt, or troubles that our families are going through. But how can we do that if our cup is so dry and eventually feels completely corroded? We have this unspoken need and obligation of feeling like we must always wear that smile and Wonder Woman shield to protect the ones around us whom we love. But what do we do when we are the ones that need the shield?
I went through years of struggle. And times where I had to completely shut social media off of my phone, because the pressures of being ‘perfect’ were just too much. But guess what? I didn’t need to be perfect. Perfect is an unattainable desire that is a trap.
Seeking help and getting medicated helped me so much. But what helped me the most, was learning how to love myself, and accept my past faults. And know that I couldn’t control them then. I couldn’t control that demon named depression, and my past doesn’t define me. Self care is so important. And it looks different to every single person. Mine has become exercise. And doing it has become such a honest and raw time for me in the best way possible. It helps me show myself love in a different way. And learning, truly learning to love myself has been the most invigorating and incredibly eye opening journey for me. It’s helped me heal.
I now have the best relationship I’ve ever had with my children. It’s opened my eyes. It’s shown me how much love I can exude just by truly loving myself. Know this, you are not alone.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kaity Leechford from North Carolina. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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