Last week was Maternal Mental Health Week and it is something we all need to talk about more. It is okay to not be okay, but don’t feel like that should become your forever reality. Take steps to help yourself, with professional help if necessary, to come to a place where you can experience the beauty that motherhood does have to offer. If you were so physically ill that you couldn’t get out of bed you’d probably to go the doctor, so why is it so different when it is mental illness? It shouldn’t be.
When I first became a mother, I had a difficult time understanding the struggle. With my first, I was in a euphoric state for months. Even with a longer than normal labor and delivery and an unexpected birth defect we bonded immediately and everything felt right. I can’t explain it looking back but I just felt so right, like he was meant to be mine and I was meant to be his mother. I knew when I was pregnant with our second son that it would most likely be our last. My husband had been on the fence, and I prayed for years for another baby.
I relished in every aspect good and bad of our pregnancy. Unfortunately, our pregnancy ended with a traumatic delivery due to HELLP Syndrome, our 34-week preemie in the NICU for a short stay, and me fighting for my life. I physically recovered, but emotionally was another story. This was everything I wanted, I had survived, and our son was doing so well, what was wrong? I loved my son, and I knew that deep down I loved being a mother, there were moments of such bliss, but…
…the darkness overshadowed so much. I felt guilty, defeated, and cheated.
There were days when I wondered why I had even survived and even if I should have. Had it not been for our older son, knowing if something happened to me, he’d suffer, I honestly don’t know what I might have done. It took me four months before I went to husband and admitted to him and myself that I wasn’t getting better. He held me that night and I went to my obgyn the next day.
Ten months later and I am still a work in progress, but I’m taking real steps to get back to being not just okay, but the new me.
Life threatening events change you to your core, mothering in general changes you to your core, and it is okay that you are not who you used to be. You are different and you have to discover that person. I was on medication for a time, I still see an incredible therapist, and found Brene Brown’s writing. I have found the power in vulnerability with my spouse, our children, and the world. No one tells you becoming a mother is a huge risk, or at least it is downplayed, but I have faced my experience, and owned my story in a journey to rewrite the ending.
I have seen an image floating around the internet with a quote that says “Your kids don’t need a perfect mom. They need a happy mom,” and I don’t agree.
Your kids don’t need a happy mom, they need you. In your happy times, your hard times, and your heartbroken times, they need you.
The problem is sometimes things like postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, PTSD, or other mental ailments can make that feel almost impossible. Raising our children is hard but it is also a privilege in this life that every mother should have the opportunity to enjoy.