I had a strong pregnancy. I planned for my home birth with my midwife and my partner. We took hypnobirthing classes and I took so many vitamins. I glowed, I gained weight, and I was excited for the birth. Birthing was going to be my shining moment. Until it wasn't.
My membranes broke when I went into labor. 24 hours later my midwife advised me it was time to go to the hospital. I was upset but still confident that I'd have a natural labor. 60 hours after my water broke, following so many milligrams of pitocin, an epidural, and three hours of pushing; my son was born via C-section.
This was heartbreaking for me. I was exhausted and angry at my body. But breastfeeding would be my light at the end of the tunnel. Until my milk wasn't transitioning in and the nurses at the hospital played into my anxiety by informing me of every ounce my son lost. Until I had to supplement for a couple of days with formula, which disgusted me. My body was still failing.
Eventually my milk came in, and my son's ability to latch along with an SNS saved our breastfeeding relationship. But it was too late to avoid the depression that I sank into. I felt like a failure and I was so overwhelmed. I would cry in the middle of the night while he nursed and my partner slept soundly. I would cry during the day when everyone was at work. And when I went back to work too soon, I would cry on the way there and back.
I couldn't find anyone to listen without telling me their opinion. I heard so many times that my son needed a happy mother. I never once heard that my love was enough, and that my sadness was okay. I was so in love with my baby, but I hated myself so much and that made the postpartum depression worse.
One day my best friend sent me a picture on Instagram of a mom breastfeeding a toddler on the beach. I clicked on the picture and then on the #breastfedbaby. My world changed. My world had become so small and isolated after my son was born, and now it had the ability to grow again. I found a community of like-minded moms through these Instagram accounts and hashtags. It was a turning point. Every nap time, I'd pour through the pictures and quotes and comments. I felt the ache lessening slowly.
I did find some local mom friends who are in the same stage as me. But in those few months where I could barely get dressed, let alone socialize, Instagram became my mom community.
My son is 9 months old now. I am stronger knowing that my depression is okay. I am allowed to not be okay. I am in a better place mentally than I was. Some days I feel dark and some days I hate myself. But some days I feel joy and some days I remind myself that I didn't fail. The growth of my son and our breastfeeding relationship helps a lot.
I wish I had sought professional help for my postpartum depression and I urge other moms to. I was sad, angry, and anxious; therapy could have helped sooner. But just as I realized I was not alone, no mom is alone. Because there is a whole community out there for her that has been through their own postpartum journey. If we support each other and hold each other up, we can guide each other through postpartum.