This post is in proud, continued partnership with Allegheny Health Network as part of Maternal Mental Health Month. As always, all words are my own.
Dear Postpartum Self,
Hey mama. The minute I think of you, it’s like my body goes back to feeling the stress and the fear and the anguish and the constant struggle. I wish I could hug you.
Because gosh, girl, I remember how it felt.
No one warned us, did they? That birthing class helped us better understand what could happen to our bodies during birth… but did we miss the registration for the one telling us what could happen to our minds after it?
Sure, they said we’d be tired. They said it wouldn’t be easy. But no one told us about what you’re going through right now.
Those tears no one sees in the middle of the night while wondering if the kids deserve a better mom.
The intrusive thoughts you’re having right now as you lay back down after a 1.5-hour feeding… wondering if she’s still breathing in her crib.
The guilt you’re feeling because you don’t feel as strong of a bond as the internet said you would in the first couple of weeks home.
The confusing feelings you’re having that you think your kids would be better off without you.
I’m so sorry the bricks are so heavy.
But, mama — did you hear what I said at the beginning of this letter?
“I remember how it felt.”
Not, “I know how it feels.”
Because here I am past the newborn stage, past the toddler stage… and mama, that third baby you’re still nursing is about to start kindergarten. That baby boy is still as funny as he is to you right now and our firstborn has the kind heart we hoped she would.
We did it, mama. YOU did it. And all the things you’re thinking you’re not capable of right now? GOSH you are that and so much more.
I know it’s hard to understand what’s happening in your heart and mind right now. There’s part of me that wishes I could go back and make it easier on you, but all of me knows what you’re going through now made US stronger. We learned so much and gained so much strength — and for that, I thank you.
THANK YOU for being brave.
Thank you for making the decision to not hide your pain.
Thank you for reaching out for help.
Thank you for choosing US.
We are so good.
We aren’t perfect, and we still struggle … but we have learned so many tools because YOU took the steps to learn them. We now know we are the best mom for our kids. We know we are capable. We don’t put ourselves last, and we teach those kids that same thing. And that bond with the three of them? They’re all equally strong and individually unique. They love you so much.
And get this?
We are using our story to help other mamas just like us to know they’re not as alone as you feel right now.
I’m sorry you’re hurting right now. I’m sorry you feel like a shell of yourself. I’m sorry you can’t see what I can see now.
But, mama – there is so much light ahead. So much joy. So many memories and so many moments of perspective that I know you think will never come. They will.
Joy is on the other side of where you are. I promise.
Keep going… keep reaching out for help.
You are worth it. (WE are worth it)