…So I will! Right now there is someone sitting on their couch, not bathed, surrounded by baby items with dried spit up on their neck and wrists, hair hasn’t been conditioned in weeks and they haven’t slept in what feels like years. She’s sitting there trying to make sense of her life now. Wondering why after changing, feeding and burping this baby, he/she is still crying. She’s swaddled and unswaddled. She’s rocked in her arms and rolled in a stroller. And now her clean, shaven, rested, well fed husband comes in casually and takes the baby from her arms. And suddenly…quiet. It’s quiet in the house. It’s quiet because her baby has stopped his/her wailing. The baby stopped crying as soon as she handed him/her over to her husband so she can go relieve herself of the pee she’s been holding in for an hour. She’s given this baby everything and this man walks in without a thought and the baby stops crying! Just like that? Now she can’t decide if she wants to cry, scream or run away forever because clearly, they don’t need her! She’s thinking, “I thought having kids was fun? How come he gets all the fun and I get all the screaming?” She’s thinking “Why does my baby hate me?” She’s thinking she’s the only one who is going through this. I’m here to tell her that she is wrong! It gets better. It does get fun. And your baby needs you for more than just your breast-milk, I promise. There is no logical way of explaining what the first three months are like…because they don’t make sense! Just know that it won’t be forever! The baby is trying to adjust to life outside the womb and you are adjusting to him/her being outside of the womb. It’s a scary time for everyone involved. But everyone will be okay.
I was never diagnosed with PPD or Baby Blues. But I will admit that there were days after my son was born where it felt like the walls were closing in on me and my head was going to explode. There were days when the baby would just cry and cry and I would be crying along with him. There were days that I counted the minutes until his father got home so that I could have an adult to speak to. There were days when I said I was going to the grocery store and I just drove down the street and parked just to get away from the house. There were days when I took the long way home from the store or where ever I was coming from. There were days I stayed in the salon a little longer than needed when I had a chance to get my hair done. There were days I hated my son’s father for being able to go to work and I had to stay home. There was a day I thought about leaving. There were days when I knew for sure I was doing everything wrong. There were days when I missed my old life. There were days when I just didn’t want to do anything at all.
I will say that as a black woman it is very hard to talk about things like depression. I’m not sure if it’s just something we automatically stick on ourselves. This image of being a strong independent woman is a standard perception. But that can lead to us hiding, pushing down emotions and ostracizing our partners. Living on the defense, taking complete control of everything and not letting anyone help us. Afraid of appearing weak. I felt like being a stay at home mom, feeling overwhelmed, not working and not having complete control over my household was weak. I just made things worse for myself and my partner.
That feeling of being completely happy, blessed, angry, overwhelmed and jealous all at the same time! I feel like mine lasted a little longer and was on and off. But after I had my baby there was A LOT going on. My illness, moving to Texas so abruptly and not being able to go back to work, were all factors that compiled onto the pressure & stress of being a new parent. I just wasn’t prepared for all that came with becoming a mommy. I was happy to be a mom and I did love being a mom. I was absolutely in love with my son. And although I wasn’t a single parent, I felt completely alone quite often. I was so unsure of myself and every decision I made. There were so many new things, so many uncertainties. Life was so very different. And I wouldn’t talk about it. When I did, I could hear myself and it sounded like was ungrateful. So I just stopped. But all that did was just build things up and they exploded outwardly at the wrong time and on the wrong person. I never gave anybody a chance to let me know that it was very normal what I was going through, because I didn’t let anyone in. Not my mother, not my partner…not my doctor. I could have made things a lot easier on everyone, including myself if I just spoke up and stopped feeling ashamed and embarrassed. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be embarrassed over. Anyone who says that or makes you feel that way is an ignorant pig. If you sit down and really think about ALL the things your body go through while you are pregnant and what it has to go through during childbirth, its amazing to think how anyone could remain sane.
If I could go back, I would have done things a lot differently. I think if I understood what was happening to me post partum and accepted the pressure as normal instead of weakness, I may not have become so ill. Actually my whole experience might have been a little different. All I can suggest is talk to someone. Cry it out to someone. Let your partner in. Grab the stroller and walk it out. Join a mommy group. Have friends over for coffee and lunch. Let people help with the baby. Have a date night. Talk to your doctor. Pray, Meditate, Hike, practice Yoga. Journal or blog. DON’T STAY IN THE HOUSE! It will be alright little mama!