Over the past two years, I've written a handful of posts that I never published. But, finding them on my computer today, I realize that they are still valid subjects, and I think I will post a few of them, after all. Here is Post #1: PPD.
Mothering my two boys is like mothering Albert Einstein and Jackson Pollock. The one, he is not like the other. Not only are their personalities like night and day, even their physical appearances are mirror opposites. They’re like a little yin and yang. I never expected that, quite honestly.
I did, however, anticipate that their births, and subsequent newborn stages, would differ greatly. Owen is my first-born; having no prior birthing or parenting experience, I knew that this would be a great adventure, an experiment of sorts, to see if we could mold this little creature into our own (ha, joke’s on him, sucker). But having a newborn is different when there is also a 20-month old to be contended with. Bringing Ari home was an exercise in bravery more than anything.
I spent my entire pregnancy with Ari worried about Owen. How would Owen react to sharing his parents and the spotlight? I agonized over it. And then, just after Ari was born, I started to feel myself in a downward spiral. I had no signs of postpartum depression with Owen, but with Ari, I was immediately aware that this was it. I cried constantly, I felt distant from the baby, I hated nursing, and I was terrified. I knew what was happening, what could potentially happen if I didn’t work diligently to keep myself afloat. I enlisted my friends and family, I went public on the blog with my fears, I got myself out and into the sunshine every single day, and I didn’t put any stigma on myself for feeling bits of depression creep in. By the time Ari was around 10 weeks old, I was beginning to feel normal again. Honestly, it was like crossing a dark forest, fraught with glowing yellow eyes and the screeching of scary animals, and being in terror every second, and then one morning you’re stepping out of the forest into a bright, safe clearing. And you’re still a little tinged from the fear, and exhausted from the journey, but you’ve made a safe passage. That’s how I describe the first few weeks of Ari’s life. And the one wonderful thing that came from it is the bond I have with Ari. We weathered storms together, him and me. And that built an unbreakable union that will be between us always, and his face will never fail to move me.
I’m amazed at the way we dishonor ourselves as women. No one speaks up. No one asks for help. Women in crisis need women. Postpartum depression is so valid, and so common, and yet women shy away from the label as if it makes them damaged goods. Well, not me. I embrace it, because look at the journey I’ve been on, and look at me now (minus the housekeeping skills, alright?). Take that, scary forest. I’ll burn you down, yes I will.
Let’s man up, ladies (pun intended). This is the official call to arms. We need each other. If you are experiencing PPD (or PAD for that matter, post-adoption depression), please don’t be embarrassed. Don’t hide it. Air it out, talk about it. Spend time thinking about it. Look for help in the most obvious of places – other women who have been there, too. We can help each other. And if you need more thorough intervention, we’ll support you. Women in crisis need women.