I was groomed for motherhood. I was the person that everybody saw and said “I can’t wait until you’re a mom! You’re going to be the BEST mom!” To be honest, I believed that myself with every ounce of my being. If you had asked me at twenty years old I would have confidently told you that I was quite certain that I would be able to mom with my eyes closed! I was groomed for motherhood, after all. You would be hard pressed to find a better example of a mom than the one that I had growing up. She was and still is as close to perfection as moms come. My appreciation for her grows greater with every passing year but in many ways, my understanding of her becomes less and less because I continue to be blown away that she has been capable of doing all that she has done for all of these years and that she has done it all so flawlessly. She is the mother of all mothers.
More than my spectacular example of motherhood, though, was my own adoration of children. From the time I was old enough to babysit, I almost always had somebody’s child on my hip. I loved babies and I would sniff them out in a room of a thousand people! I was good with them, too, from a very young age. I was good. Momming. Eyes Closed. I got this.
I was a nanny through most of my teenage years and I had several close friends who had babies as teenagers. I played a big role in their lives and helped in whatever ways that I could. I drove my Nissan Maxima to high school with two car seats in the backseat. I was known for my kids. Mine. I loved them so. By the time I actually became a mom I had changed more diapers than some moms change in the first two years. I had caught puke in my hands or down the back of my shirt. I had washed poop out of my shirt and continued to wear it for three more hours. All of those things that make first time moms gag? I had experienced most of them with someone else’s child before I turned eighteen. Momming. Eyes Closed. I got this.
I think the expectations had always been high for me in becoming a mom, both from those around me and certainly from myself. “I can’t wait until you’re a mom! You’re going to be the BEST mom!”
I felt “down” for most of my pregnancy. I gave myself grace and allowed myself to work through my feelings and I was proud of myself for that. I knew enough about postpartum depression to worry that it might happen to me but I also thought that there was a really good chance that once my son was born everything would be absolutely and completely fine. I knew about POSTpartum depression. I didn’t know about perinatal mood disorders as a whole and I didn’t recognize until many months later when I was able to look back on my pregnancy that my feelings of being “down” during almost the entire length of my pregnancy were severe. I hadn’t been down. I had been severely depressed.
It didn’t take many months for me to recognize what was happening after he was born, though. I knew. I knew because every single day I looked at him and I thought this little baby was really cute but his real mom and dad could come and pick him up any day. I was done. He was cute and the snuggles were fun for a minute but I was done. I was ready for his real mom and dad to come get him and there wasn’t a very big part of me that felt like that real mom was me…so I knew. I knew I needed help.
My journey out of postpartum depression and back to my son was long and hard and there were days that I swore I wasn’t going to make it. There was not a light at the end of the tunnel. There is NOT a light at the end of the tunnel when you are in that darkness. When I hear women who share that they never asked for help because they were scared or they waited until their child was seven, eight months old because they thought maybe it would go away on its own…it makes my heart ache. I asked for help when my son was only two weeks old and it was still THAT HARD to come up from under the water and breathe again. Asking for help is the first step in a long recovery. It’s never too soon to ask. There is no imaginary window of time that you have to wait before you can ask for help. Ask. Please.
Surviving PPD still affects my everyday life in many ways but they aren’t all bad anymore. There are days when I feel that I won’t ever be stable enough to have a second child and in those moments I ask “why me?” There are days when my son wants nothing to do with anybody else in the room except for me and I remember that I am enough and I have always been enough for him. I don’t know what the future holds for me and this little blonde boy of mine but we’re unbreakable, that much I know.