A Reflection of Motherhood and Postpartum Depression
I recall the first time someone wished me a happy mother's day. My child was not even born, but it felt so wonderful to be seen. It has been my experience that most mother's own their new role even before their little one is born and, at times, even before they are pregnant. Sure we can't completely experience or know what each child will bring us, because pregnancy is filled with surprises, but we are embracing this new world of motherhood.
We sit with the darkness, fears, joy, and the excitement of our future. We are bountiful. Filled with emotions and life. My beautiful child, co-created with love, is now moving out of toddlerhood to childhood. I am saying goodbye to the awesome way he ran, with his arms spread out back as if he was Victory. I am saying hello to a new type of relationship, with a conscious, communicative, empathic angel who cuddles up to me every morning and night. A life, his life, that was once part of me is now his own.
While I can express with endless love about my child, the first year was filled with darkness. Our son was born and I can recall numerous fights with my loving partner. I was filled with hopelessness. I was alone in the world and caring for this innocent child, who deserved better than me. I had postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression ran in my family. However, it is exacerbated by poor sleep and lack of emotional/financial resources, all of which I had. Our finances were tight, neither of us could leave our jobs or afford childcare. We worked it out so one of us would always be home with our little one. This meant we were always apart from each other. And when we were together we were still alone and feeling unsupported. We did not get to see each other. We did not get to witness each other. We were alone with a new child and we were both depressed.
We found a way to give endlessly to our child. He came first and we always came second. Well, we as individuals were second and the couple was third.
This tale is something I hear about regularly. We as individuals and lovers do not want to be lost in the new family system. Friends who are not even pregnant express this as large fear. While part of adding a new family member forces us to restructure our attention, we don't need to be forgotten.
So I have made a list below, of the things that saved me from postpartum depression and helped me feel valued.
- Know your boundaries and continue to nurture others to respect them. If you know yourself, you know how to start structuring your family. Your lover's boundaries should always be part of this as well. As your child's voice grows, their boundaries will be added to the mix. There is a good chance, your boundaries will compliment each other's.
- Communicate with love and compassion and request the same for yourself.
- DATE NIGHTS! I know it is cliche, but if the money isn't spent here it might be spent in couples therapy. So this seems like more fun to me. Date nights help nurture communication, which is the foundation of every relationship. We need to feel wooed and loved. By getting your lover's undivided attention for a couple of hours a week, you are providing your love life with the vitamins it needs for survival.
- I buy myself a little something special each Mother's Day. Why? Because I'm awesome, that's why.
- Sleep training. I see sleep training as part of taking back your own body. When we are mother's every piece of us is for someone else. It is amazing when we start taking it back. Sleep is needed for emotional and physical well being. We already neglect this aspect of our lives with work, but adding an infant to the mix just makes it worse.
- Invest in your mental health team. If you are experiencing postpartum depression or are concerned about the stress on your relationship, invest in a support team that you value. There are great perinatal mental health practitioner's in NYC.
Motherhood has been one of the happiest and darkest journeys of my life. It threatened my relationship with my lover (not anymore) and continues to reunite me with pieces of myself I didn't know existed. I value every piece of it.
For every mother out there, planning, pregnant, or in it, Happy Mother's Day and enjoy the ride.