“While I know I’m blessed and have never felt my heart so full, I have also never felt so beaten down and worn. My patience was tried, my marriage was tested, my self-worth diminished as a person, mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister; pretty much everything was nonexistent. My mental/emotional state was at a very scary stand still. It was at the bottom of bottoms with no way up. Or so it felt.
To start, my birthing experience was not what I expected. An emergency C-Section that kicked off the feeling of failing myself. I felt betrayal by my body, like I was gypped out of a natural vaginal birth. It built on pressure to push through the pain to take care of my newborn daughter.
The negative feelings began to build with feeling the need to prove I was a good mom. Finding balance with my husband, our marriage, and this new beautiful life. I faced heartbreaking adversities with my family as being a parent and fighting for the respect as a new parent and let alone an adult. A transition most people don’t realize can be hard for parents to accept. I was constantly being asked by family who would be in the delivery room and when the answer was just my husband and I, it turned into a battle of power. The snarky remarks would follow. ‘Oh, I guess that means we can’t experience this too.’ ‘We know your medical history the best.’ Others told that they felt left out since they weren’t involved. Our feelings seemed disregarded and their wants wanted to be heard.
I believe that intimate moments of such should remain between my husband and myself and decisions should be made between us as a family. After all, this is the circle of life and they had done things their way with their family. It was now time for me to do the same.
The village they say you need to raise a baby felt more like a ghost town to us. I don’t think that it’s clear that the best help and company a new mom and dad can ask for is having family or friends come by and offer to help with cleaning, walk the dogs, bring a hot meal, actually cut up the meal and feed it to the mom when she is learning to nurse her baby.
The help offered to us was more of ‘let me take the baby’. That wasn’t the help I wanted or needed and that in itself would fuel my emotions and anxiety. I didn’t need someone to come and take my baby. I needed help in my house. I wanted to have adult conversations. We needed someone to tell us that all these scary feelings were normal and okay. We needed to hear that our bickering as husband and wife and new parents was completely normal. I didn’t need family members popping by also telling me how wrong I was for not involving my parents in the birth of my child or finding the time somewhere in my labor to call or text them.
This was a very overwhelming time for me and I felt so incredibly abandoned. The precious time I should have had with those first days with my daughter felt stolen from me. I struggled with mastitis, as breastfeeding did not come natural for me and my baby since she had a tongue tie (not discovered till she was 2 months).
To top this all off, my husband worked seven days a week. He was away a week after her birth for work (not by choice) and we barely spoke. It felt cold and solemn the days that he was gone. I often thought that there had to be more to life than working and paying bills. At what point would we enjoy life together and our new baby? I struggled to accept our reality of working while having a family. I had to accept that my husband wouldn’t always be able to be there for us since he was working so much and that I would be the sole caretaker for our daughter and raise her myself for the most part.
These dark moments led me to arguments with my husband, which were really about me feeling alone and how unfair this was. I also had moments where I had to remind myself that I knew my husband would rather have been home with us than working and not seeing us.
I also thought about how much my husband probably hated coming home to see his wife in shambles for whatever reason, IF there was even a reason. That had to be hard for him as well. I had no clue what I was doing with this newborn. I had babysat so many of them. I have two young nieces but when it came to doing it all on my own, I felt clueless, an amateur, and abandoned. My mental/emotional state hit rock bottom.
The only thing that kept me grounded and gave me a smile was my daughter’s face. I know that postpartum depression is different for everyone and that some women have a hard time being around their baby. My mom struggled with this when she had me. From even before I was pregnant, I was fearful of this. Thankfully, in my case, my baby was the only thing that got me up every day and put a smile on my face. This lasted over a month.
Endless crying for any given reason or none at all. My anxiety was so severe that I didn’t leave the house. There were so many shootings everywhere and terrible tragedies that all I thought was, ‘What if someone shoots in the grocery store, mall, hits us in the parking lot, steals my baby.’ The list goes on and on. My mind spiraled and my sense of control was gone. My fears were real and instead of trying to fight them, I fed them.
I body shamed myself constantly. I worked out 5-6 days a week pre-pregnancy and about 3-4 during pregnancy up until I was about eight months. I watched my body blossom. I loved my baby bump but I hated the look of myself after. Stretch marks, loose skin, flab, fluff, puffiness. Whatever you want to call it, I despised it all. However, on the flip side, I felt no sense of urgency to bounce back because I was so involved with my baby. I needed to give myself a break.
It was a huge adjustment seeing myself one way and seeing myself now. But the now is way better because of what I have. The now, although flawed, showed me as a woman and mom in full mode and what I was able to do: have a beautiful baby.
I suffered pain from my C-section, along with breastfeeding and sleepless nights. I constantly thought, ‘It has to be better than this.’ But why didn’t anyone warn me? Why did they make it seem easy? Why did no one see through me to the pain and distress? But why didn’t I ask for help? I had a limited amount of people that aided me through these though times and I will forever be thankful for them.
Please know that everyone’s experience and postpartum is different. Some may admit to a form or it, and many deny it. But why? It happens in so many different ways, different reasons, and different times. It’s not always the horror story of the mom who hurt her baby because of her mental state from postpartum. It’s also the mom who cried for no reason in the pantry, who screamed into a pillow, who felt like a failure, who spilled her breast milk, or dropped her favorite sandwich on the floor and now her whole day felt like it sucked. #MyWishForMoms is that you talk to someone, confide in someone, let it out and know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
You don’t need to prove your worth or feel this pressure that society makes us feel as being new moms. Perfect, handled, in control…. we are everything but that. We are evolving and healing. I promise it gets better. You’re a mama now but your also human. This is Maternal Mental Awareness Month and this is my postpartum story.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katharine Gonzalez of New Jersey. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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