Lauren is a caffeine-addicted elementary school teacher in the making, and a first-time mom struggling with postpartum depression.
Nine months ago, I had no idea that motherhood would be any different than the beautiful picture painted through my Pinterest page. I was 9 months pregnant, but I could already see it—sitting in the perfectly decorated nursery and singing my baby girl to sleep while softly rocking in the glider. It was going to be the most amazing experience of my life, I just knew it. I spent my life saying and being told that I was made to be a mother. I knew I would slide through being a stay at home mom with grace and ease. I was so certain that I skipped reading all the typical mommy books. It would just come naturally, so I didn't need them, or so I thought.
The moment my daughter was born is one I’ll never forget, but not for the reasons you would expect. My induced labor was a long one, and I was just one day short of my due date when it was finally time to push. I knew in that time of pain that my little girl would be in my arms soon, but what I got was my first of many crushed expectations.
When you give birth to a seemingly healthy, full-term child, the last thing on your mind is them being rushed into NICU, but that is the card I was dealt. My heart was broken as they took her away, knowing my chances of the immediate skin to skin contact I dreamed of were gone. Looking back now, I think I knew then that I would struggle with postpartum depression, but I told myself that would never happen. How could that possibly happen to me—the girl that was born to be a mother?
Flash forward nine months, and here I am. In these months, I have been handed more curve balls than I ever expected. I’ve learned the hard way that expectations of motherhood are evil. But even through those times, I told myself I was okay because after all, I was meant to do this. It wasn’t until I found myself screaming and crying while changing a diaper that I knew something wasn’t right. I could no longer blame it on NICU, or colic, or family drama. In that moment I knew it was something more.
The next day, I sat down in bed with my husband and cried big crocodile tears. I knew I had to tell him—I knew I had to tell him that I was pretty sure I was suffering from postpartum depression. It might have been the hardest thing I ever had to admit. Not only did I feel like I was going to rock motherhood with ease, but I’m a proud person. It doesn’t come naturally to person like me to look at someone and say I think I might be sick. Though luckily for me, I have something many women do not have, an incredibly supportive husband.
Cody has dealt with a lot—loving someone through depression and anxiety. And in some ways, that made it even harder for me. I was supposed to be the one who brought him normalcy. I’ve been told many times in our years together that I was that person for him, but I couldn’t keep this weight to myself any longer. I couldn’t continue to grin and bare it, with a big smile my face and act like I was okay. Now a week has gone by and I swallowed my pride. I sat in front of my doctor and said the words I could barely stand think, I feel depressed and alone.
When my doctor finished listening to my concerns, he said what I feared—you have postpartum depression. I didn’t know how to feel. Part of me was glad to have a diagnosis so I could feel a little less crazy. The other part of me was wishing he would’ve just said get some exercise and you’ll be fine. But just like in the moments when my daughter was born, this is just the card I was dealt.
In the few short hours since I left his office today, I’ve slowly realized that that’s okay. Postpartum depression knows no background—it doesn’t care if you have dreamed of being a mother your whole life or if motherhood came as a total surprise. And what I’m striving to learn and what I want other mothers to know is that it’s alright. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to admit I need help and even take medication when necessary. Because no matter what our Pinterest page looks like or what stories we’ve been told, motherhood is hard as hell. It’s beautiful and wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but sometimes it’s just downright hard.
© 2017 Lauren Williams