Why The Shame Of Postpartum Depression?

Why is there a dark cloud of shame hanging over admitting we have postpartum depression? It's not bad enough that new moms are sleep deprived, we have sore nipples and overfilled breasts or a sink full of dirty bottles we need to wash and we're down to the last scoop of formula and the store is already closed - and sore breasts, or breasts that are refusing to produce milk at all. It's not bad enough we're still bleeding heavily from the traumatized vagina that just pushed a watermelon out of a pea hole (I'm being generous ladies!) or got it yanked out from some device the doctor used or that our bellies got ripped open, insides tossed aside like clothes on the floor to birth a perfect angel. Or maybe our angel wasn't so perfect yet and needed to spend time in the "chicken warmer" as my husband calls it. Referring to his own time spent as a jaundiced newborn still "needing to bake." Or maybe the baby we carried inside us for all those months was handed over to someone else the minute it left our body because it's meant to be with a different mother. Or handed over to God because that life wasn't meant to be.

It's not bad enough we have a mother or mother-in-law (or husband) who doesn't approve of our birthing methods and OB's and nurses who disregard our birth plan or a judgmental sister or co-worker who doesn't approve of our wanting an elective c-section or a husband who does not support our wanting to breastfeed, or a husband who insists on us breastfeeding when we can't or don't want to, or an entire community or culture who doesn't support our decision to breastfeed, or family members or mom's group friends who disapprove of our wanting to formula feed.

And a baby who's crying because they are hungry.

It's not bad enough when we have our own self doubt, or our own fear of pain and fear of childbirth,  and fear of, "are we going to be good enough?" Or our own stubbornness of wanting to give birth at home but it leads to a hospital transfer after hours and hours and hours of not progressing where you then face the judgment of the L&D nurses who have that, "I told ya so" look on their faces when you breakdown in desperation to say, "yes, I will take the epidural after 27 hours of hard labor" - already crafting our birth story to tell others to justify, to defend, to protect ourselves from more judgment and shame.

It's not bad enough that we finally get the strength to go out of the house with our newborn, a million baby items in tow and the baby cries that hunger desperation cry they do regardless of just eating an hour before, so you start to breastfeed on a park bench not wanting to disturb the peace of your toddler finally entertaining themselves after weeks of being cooped up in baby village only wanting you, and you get harassed for breastfeeding in public, or a picture gets taken of you and it's blasted on social media about you being a slut wanting to show off your breasts to everyone. Little do they know the extreme pain you are in because breastfeeding can hurt in the beginning, the tears burning your eyes, dripping down your nose onto your baby's tiny face, your toes curling, baby not wanting to latch properly, can't get the cover to stay on right, because it keeps covering the baby's face, can't unhook your nursing bra properly, fiddling with the breast pad, then comes the menstrual-like cramping of your uterus contracting back to normal size once your milk lets down and the extreme pain that is causing you as you sit on this uncomfortable park bench wishing you were at home in your rocker with your breast pillow and your cup of tea watching Wild Krats with your toddler - and trying to look sexy to score another woman's man at the playground is about as close to being on the top of your list right now as sky rocketing to the moon in a cardboard spaceship - yet that is what you get accused of doing. Did I mention the still-bleeding-for-weeks vagina and a huge freaking pad or two inside huge freaking postpartum granny panties?

All I'm thinking about is trying to score a nap and a shower.  A man?  Not so much.

Don't even get me started on the extreme stress and war zone-esq conditions of having an extremely colicky baby. I'm still not quite over my PTSD to start talking about that, but all I can say is survival mode. Having a colicky baby will put a person into survival mode as quick as a car crash. Add in a disgruntled toddler who is seriously pissed at you for bringing this little yelling machine into their perfect little mommy snuggle fest and you have a recipe for tear stained pillows for months.

Your toddler watching you as you play with the baby thinking: How dare you? The look of disgust towards the bassinet while they sit and eat cheerios one by one. How dare you smile at that little noise maker?  How dare you coo?  How dare you pick the baby up in the middle of reading me Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site? 

It's not bad enough ladies... all of these outside pressures we have and don't get me started on the feelings of isolation!

Why are we so hard on ourselves about postpartum depression?

I'm determined to do my part to break the cycle. To do what I can to erase the stigma of postpartum depression and admitting it to myself and others.

I am saying it loud and proud, "I have postpartum depression." 

It does not mean I don't love my kids. It does not mean I regret getting pregnant or regret having this baby. It does not mean I regret being a stay-at-home-mom. It does not mean I regret making the decision to homeschool after a difficult kindergarten year in public school. It does not mean I regret breastfeeding my baby, all of my babies. I have postpartum depression. It's not something I choose to have. It's not who I am as a mother. It does not define me as a person but it is a part of my life - right now. It is a part of my motherhood journey - right now. It is a part of the path I am taking as a mother to tiny babies and young children. I can't imagine it will be a part of my journey when I have teenagers. Unless we have an oops baby when my kids are teens! Which we won't. Oh my God how we won't!

I have postpartum depression. It does not mean I don't love my husband or that I want to kill myself, or kill my children, or harm my children or abandon my children, or leave my husband.

However, I have wanted to kill myself.

I have thought about dying and I have postpartum depression, but that does not mean I don't love my kids. It does not mean I don't love my kids. It DOES NOT MEAN I DON'T LOVE MY KIDS.

It does not mean I don't love my kids.

Why do people insist in linking the two together?!

It simply means I have postpartum depression and I need help getting to the point where I no longer have postpartum depression. That may take medication, it may take therapy, it may take drastic changes to my diet and environment, it may take a ton of work on my part, but my life is worth fighting for. I'm worth fighting for.

I have good days and lonely days and critically unproductive days and every-minute-packed-to-the-gills-days and fun days and horrible days and yelling-like-a-tyrannical-bitch days and sitting on the floor playing cars days and watching Disney Junior from breakfast til dinner in our PJ's days, and feeling like a zombie days and spending all day at the aquarium days and fighting days and sleeping days and laughing days and crying days and sobbing days and days where I'm too broken to cry. All of these days have comprised my journey of postpartum depression.  My baby is 10 months old and yes, I still have postpartum depression. It's not as raw as it once was where it burned my eyes and was sticky in my mouth. The grit in my teeth and the cracking of my neck and stiffness in my back. But it does creep in like a bitter wind under the doorway from time to time when the house is a mess, when the kids are fighting me to get out the door because we need to be somewhere at a certain time - another person's time frame or schedule. When the clean laundry is piled high on the couch waiting to be folded yet I don't have a clean pair of damn underwear anywhere. When there's nothing in the fridge to eat because taking 3 kids to the store wasn't in my vocabulary that day so it's cereal for dinner - again. And then comes the look of disappointment in my 7 & a 1/2 year old daughter's eyes because I did not cook a gourmet, organic, home cooked meal from scratch. Because she's used to that, and she loves my cooking and prefers it to any restaurant you could ever take her to, and she even tells random people about my cooking from time to time and tells me how I should enter whatever meal I just made into a contest. (Melts my heart!)

"Cereal again?" and I avoid her gaze as I go into the bathroom to cry into my hands - again - as I pretend to poop.

Postpartum depression, my friend, does not mean I am a bad mom. It does not mean I am a bad person. It does not mean I don't deserve to have my kids or have my amazing husband.

It does not mean I am a bad mom who doesn't love her kids. I love them with everything I have in my body. I love them more than I love myself most of the time. Especially since I have postpartum depression.

I need to be kinder to myself - because I am worth it.
I need to love myself more - because I deserve it.
I need to take care of myself more - because I'm worth saving.

I need to treat myself as if I were one of my children because they are protected, cherished and loved dearly. 

to be continued...











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Comments

  1. I have been there too. It is a dark place, but you will come out, it sounds like you already on your way, slowly and fitfully but definitely out. You are the best mother for your children, it sounds like you love them so much. Look after yourself as you cannot look after them unless you do. xxx
    My last post - Deleting the negative thoughts http://wp.me/p69m13-1M

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  2. Thank you for writing this. You're right, there should be no shame around post natal depression and anxiety etc. I wrote about my experience with both last year and it was one of the best things I ever did, for a whole range of reasons. You're right in what you say, it doesn't mean you don't love your kids. It's an illness and more we talk about it the more awareness that is raised and the stigma will hopefully be reduced. Really glad I read this. I hope you're OK. #brilliantblogposts xx

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