Monday, August 22, 2011

Guest Post: Hi, My Name Is...

 I haven't exactly kept my struggles a secret recently. Sharing my fight against postpartum depression, anxiety and rage with you all has helped me in so many ways. Knowing that I have the amazing support of my family and my on and offline friends has done tremendous things for me.

One of the biggest things I've learned through all of this is that I am not alone. So many of you have walked (or ARE walking) this path with me. Kate was lovely to offer to share her experiences. This is her first guest post (and my first guest blogger!!) and  I am so honored that she trusts us to receive her story. Her words are beautiful and painful and REAL.

She asked that, if we chose to leave comments, to please leave them in this place. She would rather not bring this conversation to her own blog. So please leave any support in the comments for this post and I will certainly make sure she reads them.

Now, I introduce to friend Kate.

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Motherhood is a robbery. It is a robbery of time, of energy, of personal space. It takes, relentlessly until self is blurred into that fleeting obscure greyness of 3:00 am, when dreams combine with babies' cries. Motherhood is jarring. You cannot prepare for it. Even if it's the fourth time around or the second time in two years.

Motherhood is also the ultimate gift in life. It is a joy so enormous and so all-consuming that sometimes even that fact, that responsibility takes, in it's own way. 

I gave birth to my first son on a cold March night, around 3:00 am. My heart dangerously slowed. He was very small (and beautiful) and we were both exhausted. And then came pushing out the placenta. And after that, the relentless cries, the reflux, the colic. 

And with those cries, that immense need and helplessness, that innocent taking, another type of baby was born. and that baby monster was so wrongly called the 'Baby Blues' by my well-meaning midwife. 

My blues grew. They stole from me my sense of hope and joy. They stole my energy, my forgiving nature. 

I white knuckled my way through another pregnancy, and screamed my way through another birth, this time in water. My physical heart was fine, but in truth, it was broken.

My second son was born, and I watched him all night, exhausted, consumed by the presence of a third in the room: grief.

We brought our children home, watched the older adjust to the younger and grieved the change. I nursed and it made me so antsy, so anxious.

I convinced myself and everyone around me that it would just get better when our life got less chaotic. All I needed was a good night's sleep, prayer, perspective. 

About that time the rage made his entrance. An anger so strong, so irrational, so literally devilish. 

And I found myself saying: "Things are getting better, but I feel worse." and I found myself losing it over the smallest things. They felt like the greatest injustices, they still do. 

And I'm a public health professional. I study mental illness. I know the signs. I know there is no shame in this. 

But it took me nearly three years to acknowledge it, to say it out loud, even just to my wonderful husband. Because I feel shame. I feel guilt. And that's part of it.

I haven't even blogged about it. I just can't yet, not in my own forum. But I can't deny it either. So thank you, Jo, for giving me a space to say it.

This is not just the baby blues. 

Hi, my name is Kate and I have postpartum depression.

Kate can be found at Perpetually Nesting or on Twitter @PerpetuallyKate


missy said...

Kate, thanks for sharing your story. I can't say I know what PPD feels like, but I know how freaking overwhelming motherhood is and that my dark moments have gotten pretty dark.

Hugs and prayers and positive thoughts to you. You are helping others by sharing your story. xo

Robin @ Farewell, Stranger said...

So much love for you, Kate. I know just how you feel. Naming it and saying it out loud is what finally helped me get better. I hope it does the same for you.

Stephanie Jo said...

Thank you, Kate, for sharing your story...

I am Laura's stepmom (Jo's oldest) and my husband and I have no other children. Obviously I have NO idea what PPD is like, nor what Jo has been struggling with these past months. After reading your posting, I certainly cannot say I know HOW you both feel, but I can say I at least understand a little bit better. PPD is real; an illness that should be taken seriously and carry no stigma.

I thank you again for opening my eyes. I hope that now I am able to not only help Laura fully understand the hardships her mom is facing, but to be a better friend to Jo as well.