Before you begin reading, please understand how unfortunately common this is for momma’s to experience. I have hesitated sharing my story with the fear of judgement and being viewed as a bad mom, and because most of the people close to me still have no idea this is what I’m going through, but I know I’m not the only one who is going through this and maybe, just maybe it will help other moms know they are not alone and they are not bad moms. Please read with cautious, forgiving and understanding hearts.
The Painful Truth
“Don’t you just love being a mom?”
“Isn’t being a mom the best thing in the world?” “Don’t you just love breastfeeding? It’s such a bonding experience!”
No. I don’t feel those things. Something must be wrong with me. Why don’t I feel that way? I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life and I prayed so hard for this baby. Why do I hate all of this? Why am I silently sobbing on the shower floor so my husband won’t hear me? Why do I feel confused and angry when he tells everyone how much more he loves life now that she’s here? All I can think is how much more I hate life now. What’s wrong with me?
“Don’t you just love to hold her and stare at her?” No actually. I don’t even want to look at her and I’ll only hold her if I have to. I found myself refusing to look at her while she nursed because I hated it so much and all I felt was regret and resentment towards her. I would completely turn my head in the opposite direction. I hated what she did to my body. I spent years learning how to love my body no matter what and suddenly I looked in the mirror with pure disgust. She didn’t ask for a mom that felt this way. What is wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel an overwhelming sense of love for her? I thought that’s how I supposed to feel. Why am I shutting down from my friends and family? I am ignoring texts and calls, hoping they’ll just leave me alone. I don’t want to talk. They’ll know I’m not okay and I’d rather just keep playing this off like I’m fine. I’m a horrible mom for feeling this way. Surely she hates me too. I kept telling my husband that the baby hated me. Why do I constantly have thoughts about her dying? I can’t even walk up the stairs with her without playing out a scenario in my head of us falling down her dying. Why do I WANT to die? What is wrong with me? Why do I long for the life I had before her? Why am I jealous of my friends who are still pregnant? Why do I resent her for the sacrifice my business is taking? I’ve spent years building it up just for it to come crumbling down now that she’s here. Will I ever feel like I’m worth anything ever again? I feel completely worthless. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
It didn’t hit me immediately. At least not that I cared to pay attention to. By 4 weeks I knew something was off. Something was wrong. By 6 weeks I just wanted to die, I felt so utterly worthless as a human and as a mom. I didn’t want any part of this new life. I hated everything and everyone, especially when other moms would ask me how much I loved being a mom. The worst part was feeling hate towards God. How could I be feeling this way after I prayed so hard to be a momma? Why was God allowing me to feel this? I refused to even talk to him. Refused to pray. Wanted nothing to do with him. I was mad. I was sad. I was lonely. So so lonely. I just wanted it all to end.
I walked into my postpartum checkup with my OB and she immediately knew something was off. I began to sob. Finally, someone who could see it. Someone who could help. They had me sit down and answer a bunch of questions and as I read through them I just kept checking “yes”. It was like this questionnaire was made just for me. Then she walked back in and said “you have postpartum depression and I think it’s bad enough we should get you on medication for it.”
Oh. That’s what’s wrong with me. It all makes sense now. I called my husband as I walked down to my car, holding back tears as I told him what was going on. He was surprised. He had no idea. I hid it well. I even think he thought I was crazy or dramatic for being okay with being put on medication. I don’t think anyone knew what I was going through. I didn’t want them to. They loved her so much and I felt like they would hate me for not feeling the same. I sat in my car and sobbed some more. Partially for relief that my doctor was going to be helping me and partially because I REALLY didn’t want to experience this. I have dealt with depression my whole life and somehow thought I wouldn’t go through it now even though both my doctor and counselor warned me that it was almost a guarantee for me. It wasn’t a magical fix by knowing what was wrong, in fact it made me even more angry because I knew what it was but couldn’t control it. I quickly grew frustrated. I took the medication and waited and waited for it to work while trying really hard to make an effort to bond with my baby girl. I forced myself to just sit there and hold her while she took a nap. Forced myself to study her face and little hands while she laid there. Forced myself to watch her while she nursed. Forced myself to kiss her and snuggle her. It wasn’t easy. BUT as time went on and weeks passed, I just one day realized I was constantly loving on her and she was smiling at me and talking to me and things were okay. I couldn’t get enough of her. I loved her so much it hurt. Then I fell very angry again because how could I not feel that from the start? I feel like I missed out on so much time. I look back on pictures and videos of her from the first 2 months of her life and don’t even recognize who she was. I spent all that time resenting her…..I missed it all. And suddenly she just grew right before my eyes. I was sad. I apologized to her over and over. I know she doesn’t understand what I’m saying, but I hope she knows and can feel how sorry I am. I’m so glad I took the pictures of her because I wouldn’t remember the first two months of her without them.
Now I kiss her 50 million times a day hoping I can somehow make up for the time lost. I pray again. I thank God every day again. I pray for comfort and contentment in the things I’ve sacrificed to be her mom. This is what he’s called me to do right now and I need to rest in that.
Unfortunately it still hits me hard some days. I’ll be sitting there perfectly fine and then a huge wave of depression and anxiety roar over me and I feel paralyzed by the emptiness. It seems to hit me hardest when I’m around other moms or talking to my mom friends. I am jealous of them and their bond with their babies. I even find myself hating them and wanting nothing to do with them. I spend so much time comparing myself to them and their journey. It’s nothing like it was before though and I make an extra effort on those hard days to love on her even more. I don’t want her to know what I’m feeling. I just want her to feel loved. I’m so thankful she’s surrounded by so many people who love her. Maybe she’ll never know how I felt because God placed the other people in her life to give her the love that I couldn’t.
If you are experiencing this, PLEASE talk to your doctor so they can help. You do not have to battle this alone. You are not alone. Don’t hide it from your family and friends, it will only make you feel more lonely than you already feel. And to my friends and family reading this, I’m so sorry I hid this from you, I hope you can forgive me.