I wrote this back in September and have debated with myself about showing it to others. I sent it to a few places and it was published, but I didn’t share it on my blog because it was so heavily edited that I felt like the editor missed the point of what I was trying to say.
I realize that depression while pregnant and postpartum depression are hard to think and talk about, but they are real and so many women experience them. When I don’t talk about difficult things, the bigger they become.
I don’t know anything other than what I experience first-hand. This post has been my experience with all of my pregnancies. As I say at the end of this piece, even though it is hard, I want to remember what this felt like so that if I find myself there again, I will remember that I did make it out to the other side.
In my house right now, there is constant, non-stop hugging, kissing, nose wiping and just plain needing that should remind me that I am valued, but somehow at the end of the day I just feel unloved, unneeded, unwanted and just not good enough.
About five months in to my first pregnancy, it started. Days of sadness, anger and hopelessness started to sprinkle into my life. I felt alone and unable to communicate why. These feelings were not necessarily new, but their depth was and it was scary.
I was having a baby. My bills were paid. My husband was at home. My job was challenging and rewarding. Things were good. What was I missing? Why did I feel like I was failing?
They would just be better off without me.
Maybe getting pregnant was a mistake. I don’t deserve this kind of life.
I cannot not handle it, obviously. I am already falling apart and the baby isn’t even here.
There is no way my husband will stick around if I can’t pull it together. Everyone can see I am failing.
The sleep deprivation and chaos that a new baby brings only made things worse. I was so afraid to do anything on my own. Luckily for me, my husband stayed home with the baby until he was a year old. I could go to work and take, what was for me, the easy way out. I could leave the house and hide at the office.
At night while everyone else was snoring, I would lie in bed and think about The Big Sleep. Hot tears would come as I imagined how it would feel to just turn everything off and make it all stop. These thoughts of solace in the silence would follow me into my dreams.
I don’t think I am unique in that as a new mother, I was just learning the truth about this job. There is no way to catch up and no way to win. I will never feel like I give enough. I will never feel like I can be enough. I will never feel like I have done anything right.
But things did get better. I told Ben and my therapist about what I was experiencing. Just saying it out loud made it feel more manageable.
About eight months after the baby was born, the days started getting a little brighter. I felt more confident in my ability to be a mom. I was starting to find my footing and balance things a little better. He could communicate with me and it wasn’t always a guessing game that I kept losing.
By the time he was 18 months old, I was nearly back to normal. Not that every day was a cakewalk, but I did quit dreaming about dying.
When I was pregnant with our second child, the sadness came sooner. I had miscarried just months before and, while my body had healed, my mind and heart had not. Then, at about 20 weeks in, we found out baby number two was sick and I would have to rest. All of the hormones, isolation, no exercise and unlimited access to google everything in my head did not help.
The cloud also took a little longer to dissipate this time too. Turns out, she was very sick and we had to live in the hospital for months with little sleep and a lot of stress. I missed my toddler at home. I got really good at turning myself off and becoming Mrs. Everything is Fine when I walked through the doors of the hospital.
Eventually my daughter started getting better and I did too. We got to go home and we developed a routine. I no longer dreamed about the quiet that could come if I slipped in the shower and my head landed hard enough on the marble shelf in the corner.
I am six months pregnant with baby three now. There is too much to do and not enough time to spend with my kids. If I can’t do it now, how will I ever get it all done when baby three gets here? In my dreams, I am in free-fall after jumping off of a tall building.
My oldest and I got into an argument this morning over a toy. He wanted to take it with us in the car, but couldn’t find it. I didn’t have time to look for it because we were running late. I told my husband that I felt bad about the fight and he told me that my fuse had been short for the past few weeks. I feel awful that he and my son see it that way.
It is hard work, what moms do. It is hard to feel this way and not be able to communicate clearly. It is hard to feel like no one understands and even if we set ourselves on fire, no one would stop to notice.
I am writing this down now, while I am in this moment, because it is important and one day I will forget how all of this feels. I will still be exhausted, but the hormones be gone and I will forget what I am feeling. Dreams about death will seem so foreign and I won’t remember why it all got to this point.
I’ve been around this block enough times to know that it will get better. My idea of not good enough is actually plenty. Soon I will start to see that my enough is actually exactly what everyone needs.