For mother’s day, PostpartumProgress.org posted a letter to new moms each hour. I love this idea and these letters. I’m posting my letter to new moms here. Of course, I’m late because …what is time anyway…“It’s always tea-time.”
Dear new mom,
Hi sweetheart. I know that we haven’t met or haven’t spoken much but I love you. Your struggle, whatever shape that takes, is valid and all too real. Becoming a mother doesn’t come easily to anyone (no matter what they say).
Two years ago I sat down in a postpartum depression support group and as we went around the circle introducing ourselves, one beautiful mom recited her typical script and said “Hi! I’m A and this is my baby E. She’s six months old and everything is going really well!” Then she looked around the room at the two psychiatrists and the rest of us with our tired eyes and added, “Well, I guess things could be better…”
The mask that we often wear when we talk to other mothers is a huge barrier to getting support. If we had met in the park, we never would have known how much we really had in common, and how much we could help one another.
So on this mother’s day, my advice to you is this: be open.
Be open with other moms that you meet about how hard it is to become a mom. They will empathize.
Be open with your loved ones. They will help you.
Be open with your bathroom door (not like you’ll have a choice).
And most importantly, be open with yourself.
Becoming a mother was the most transformative experience I have ever had. I will carry the scars forever (both physical scars and my new diagnosis of bipolar II). But I will also carry the pride that I faced the biggest challenges that my life could throw at me and am coming out the other side. And every time that I dance with my beautiful 4 year old and 2.5 year old, I feel thankful that I took every resource that I could find (including postpartumprogress.org and ppdtojoy.com) and fought against the demons.
Just like the pain of weight lifting (kegels) gives you the reward of stronger (bladder control) muscles, the pain of my postpartum and antenatal depression and anxiety is making me a stronger person and a much better mother than I ever would have been.
It took me over a year to realize that there was anything wrong with how anxious I was feeling after my oldest daughter was born. I was not listening to myself. I was not open with myself. And I was not open to others telling me that something seemed off… until I had no choice but to face it.
When you become a mother, some people will say that your heart opens up and flows out of your pores. I think that for me, it felt more like my heart opened up and exploded all over my face.
Please try to be kind to yourself. I know that it seems impossible. Just try to try.