“THIS is the face of postpartum depression.
This is it.
Can’t believe it, can you?
I was a first-time mom to a perfectly healthy little boy after multiple miscarriages. I had wanted a child so deeply that it literally kept me awake at night.
I was the mom who did handstands to ‘help the process’ (if you know, you know). I checked temperatures. I watched the food and drinks my partner and I were having. If Babycenter said it was bad, it was NOT allowed near us.
Once pregnant, I bled constantly. I was constantly worried that I would lose this baby. I was constantly living with fear driven emotions that never went away.
I remember my mom calling me one morning to tell me my brother in California was under warning for a possible tsunami coming their way. All the way in Florida, I felt doom come over my entire body because I felt like that meant something bad could happen and I might not be able to experience my baby like I’ve always dreamed I would.
I was the baby girl of the family having the baby. Our families were over the moon. WE were over the moon. Then he was born.
The first few days weren’t bad as far as his health went. He had jaundice and I was an emotional mess, yes, but for the most part I was doing okay.
I was staying at my Mom’s house, who put together an entire nursery for me because I would be there for 6 weeks with my husband traveling for work. He had to leave 6 days after our first child was born.
I was tired. I had stitches down there, but I was okay.
Then the exhaustion came. The night sweats. The constant screaming.
The struggle with breastfeeding. The jaundice. The doctors and hospital pushing pushing pushing that if my milk didn’t come in with a force I would starve my child and his liver would fail because the bilirubin needs to go. Formula formula formula!
I wanted to prove I had this. I was made for this.
I didn’t want to look like a failure. I didn’t want to ask for help.
My husband was gone, but I had my Mom with me day in and day out begging for me to let her help. To let her take the baby in another room.
Kelsei, GET SOME SLEEP.
Kelsei, you’re doing amazing, but you are beyond exhausted.
KELSEI, IT’S OKAY TO ACCEPT HELP.
I screamed at her one night while my son was in one of his colic crying fits and I’ll never forget it. The guilt and shame I feel to this day seriously replays in my head like it’s happening right in front of me.
‘WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT A BABY?! WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS TO THEMSELVES? HOW CAN YOU LOVE SOMETHING SO MUCH BUT WANT TO DIE, MOM? HOW!?!?’ I had thoughts of harming myself.
One time I woke up from dozing off while breastfeeding. My son was on my left breast which was closest to the edge of the bed. I panicked because when I woke up, I jerked my head up and when I did, I barely caught him as he was falling off the boppy pillow to the floor.
I caught him and he was fine, but I was not.
My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I went to a breastfeeding consultant at the hospital, but they just made me feel worse. I went to my OBGYN, and he told me how what I was feeling was ‘normal’ and ‘everyone goes through this.’ He missed my silent cries.
When he asked what kinds of thoughts I was having, I couldn’t voice them well; I was stumbling. I was constantly saying I love my son, I don’t want to be without him, but he just doesn’t stop crying. That I’m not sleeping, but it’s okay because I got the child I prayed for.
It was always a pat on the back and a, ‘You’re doing a great job, mama!’
It was never, ‘Kelsei, of course you love him and always wanted him. No one doubts that, but I need you to know it’s okay to confide in me. And when you confide in me, you won’t be seen as weak. You won’t be looked at as a failure. No one is coming to take your baby.’
I knew I had gotten to a point when I needed help because I had convinced myself that my own mother was going to kidnap my child from me (the one begging to help me and never made me feel bad for it).
I didn’t want anyone to hold him, attempt to change him, look at his clothes wrong, judge a sound he was making, none of it. Because if they did, I just knew I wasn’t doing it right and they were thinking that.
I convinced myself that anyone around me was going to harm my child, guys. People who saw me drowning and started trying to help me get the help I needed. I convinced myself that if I told the doctor the real intrusive thoughts I was having, the would take my baby from me and I would end up in a psych ward to never see my child again.
That is the same person you’re looking at in these pictures. A proud mom, a mom who prayed for this baby.
It took me 6 months before I got help. I had to stop breastfeeding because I had to go onto the heavy meds. I had to tell myself I wasn’t failing my son just because I had to stop with the ‘natural’ way and go the formula route.
It was a while before I got ‘better,’ but let me tell you something. Looking back to that time, it was scary. More people should have listened to me.
More people should have not sugar coated this reality as something ‘everyone feels’ and ‘normal.’ Because although it’s normal to have baby blues, it’s not normal to get to this point without recognizing it and getting help to get through it.
Wake up, guys. Wake up. Women’s bodies go through changes that are extreme. No, not just the stretch marks. I’m talking a complete chemical change. Some of us can bounce back, but some can’t.
It’s sad a tragedy has to happen for this conversation to be more seen. It’s sad a mother was literally going crazy internally and she was still expected to be ‘normal’ because:
Hello! You’re a mom!
You wanted this!
You had these kids!
You knew what you were doing!
This is your chance to realize no situation is the same as someone else’s and no one should be shamed or made to feel shame because they cannot pull themselves out of dark hole of what can be motherhood so easily.
If you made it this far: this is your sign to reach out to someone and listen. Look for the signs.
Some of us didn’t want the help and didn’t want to look like we were failing. But all of us, whether we want to admit it or not, need the help. We need the push.
Finally, moms to be, you ARE going to be okay. YES. But when you don’t feel okay, please understand you aren’t the only one and you won’t be the last. This doesn’t make YOU or your situation any less important.
Listen to your body. Take the help. Call the doctor. Go to therapy. Take a break.
If your partner isn’t helping you make those things happen, call me. I can be your safe place. I can come and hold your baby days in a row for you to take a shower and feel human again.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelsei Frazier. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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