I had post postpartum depression with Reagan. I know this now, but I did not know it then. I was ashamed of the way that I felt, and I did not know how common it was.
Reagan was my first, and I was over the moon when he came into this world. There was something off, though, and it was a very confusing time for me. I felt empty, as if I were in the darkness and couldn’t find my way around. I had this little human in my arms, and no clue what to do with him. He was this ball of fatness, with these long eye lashes. His chubby fingers wrapped around my index finger as if he were holding on for dear life.
He knew. He knew that I was in this place that I couldn’t pull out of. He sensed my darkness, and he tried to pull me out.
Had I given birth at another hospital where they were more understanding, and had asked me how I was emotionally, perhaps I would have gotten help, and not struggled for so long. Instead, they rushed me and Reagan out the door, after tossing me a diaper and wipes and saying he needed a change. I had never changed a diaper, and my hands were shaking. I kept saying inside my head, “I can’t do this, I need help.”
My husband stepped up and took over, and off we went down to the car, where I struggled with the car seat and crawled to the back with my son.
My SON!! I had a BABY. A baby that looked up at me with adoration, with such a frantic neediness that scared the living hell out of me. What if I let him down? What if I couldn’t find my way to him??? Where was my nurturing instinct? What was wrong with me? I was a monster!!
I cried uncontrollably all the way home. My husband and stepson looked at me with uneasiness. They kept asking me what was wrong, and I kept telling them, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” And I didn’t. I did not know why I was in this dark closet with a locked door. I wanted OUT.
Days went by and I fell into the routine of a new mother, fumbling around and struggling to stay awake while I took care of all of Reagan’s needs. I found myself in tears before I even knew I was crying, and wiped them away to start another day.
Postpartum depression is serious. I am one of the lucky ones, because I did find my way to my son. I was locked in the dark closet for under a week, and I will never forget the shame that I carried around with me.
I found my way back in the middle of the night, as Reagan was asleep on my chest, and I was watching a muted television. He awoke and kicked around to look at me, so I pulled him up and cradled his head. His eyes were very awake, more blue than I’ve ever seen them.
We stared at each other, for what seemed like a long time. It was in that precious moment that I felt such a rush of love for him, that it physically hurt to look into his eyes. The same eyes that were my mother’s, who I lost at age 18. Dear God, my Reagan had my mother’s eyes. I found myself in a fit of tears, and I kissed his chubby cheeks.
I had a baby. This was my SON. He loved me, and I loved him. He was everything that I ever wanted, and this powerful urge to hold him so tight forever overcame me.
Do NOT ignore that feeling of postpartum depression. Get help while you are still in the hospital, even if you are on medication temporarily. Like I said, I was the lucky one, and many mothers have done harm to their children because of this feeling of emptiness, and loss of self identity. It is hormonal.
I wanted to share my story, because I have family and friends who are expecting. I wanted to let them know that this is common, and it is okay, but to address it if you find yourself in that dark closet.