The first two years of my daughter’s life were both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Mia was a healthy, beautiful baby and I was so in awe of her. I was so happy to be a mom, yet the reality of what that meant took its toll on me. Mia was colicky and only seemed comfortable when in my arms. She was alert, so much so she had difficulty falling and staying asleep. I was not prepared for any of it. And something in my hormones and brain wouldn’t let me adequately deal with any of this.
In the chaos of it all, I put myself on hold. Her needs became not just the priority, but my sole focus. I did not take care of myself. In a way I was incapable of doing anything else but take care of her. Many new moms shift the focus from themselves to their babies. We all have to in order to care for our infants. Yet for me, it was where I lost myself. I was caring for Mia at the expense of myself. I went on auto pilot. I became Mia’s everything. I became my nothing.
It soon became clear that I had Post-Partum Depression (PPD). I fit the profile perfectly – I had fatigue and anxiety, it was impossible for me to make decisions, doing simple daily tasks was unbearable, I had no self esteem, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I had no interest in anything, and just getting through each day was a struggle. For those first two years of Mia’s life, everything that was important to me got lost. I got lost.
Before Mia was born, and even during my pregnancy, I was a vibrant, fit woman who loved her career and family. I prided myself on my coping skills. Prided myself on my ability to take care of myself and manage my anxiety. There were issues and I had moments of depression and uncertainty, but overall, I was happy and healthy.
Then she was born and I lost all of that. Looking back I can see that it was almost instantaneous. As if I went into labor and at the exact same moment, my mind shut down. I sunk into a deep depression and I was stuck there for the next two years. All the coping skills I had developed got lost. They were buried behind a fog of fear and anxiety. The fear and anxiety replaced my sense of hope.
Thankfully I have an amazing husband and family who assisted in my getting help. It has been a tough journey, but I have come through my PPD. My coping skills were recovered and some new ones were developed. I’ve had therapy and medications and all sorts of interventions and treatments. I have been told numerous times by several professionals that I had a very serious case of PPD. These same doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers have also informed me that I have a very good chance of developing PPD again if we decide to have another child. There is also a good chance that the next case of PPD may be even worse.
Thankfully now I’m back. I have found an amazing balance between being a mom, having a career and taking care of myself. I feel fulfilled and energized. Now when I am faced with a challenge, I have the strength and focus to get through it, not get paralyzed by it. There are moments where I still question my skills as a mother. This is true for all moms and parents, yet I can get stuck here. It’s important for me to know that I will make mistakes but overall I am an amazing mother. There are many wonderful friends, family members and fellow parents around me who help me get through the tough times. They help me laugh and find hope when I really need it. And of course, I just need to look at my beautiful daughter and I know that I am doing the best possible job.