The early months following my daughter’s birth were the hardest, most terrifying moments of my life. In a matter of weeks the exuberant, optimistic woman I had been my entire pregnancy transformed into a mother who wanted to take back everything she wished for and run far away from her new baby. I wasted away physically and psychologically. I couldn’t eat or sleep, and I had troubling thoughts I was too ashamed to share with anyone, even my husband.
I know now, I wasn’t me then. My name was still Becky and I lived in the same house, but postpartum depression and anxiety turned me into a version of myself that looked and sounded nothing like me. That’s what these illnesses do after all — they strip mothers of their identities and trick them into thinking they will never feel happiness again — that life will forever feel heavy and hopeless.
You’ll never be a good mother.
Your baby deserves better.
Your husband deserves better.
Why are you still trying? You’ll be like this forever.
These words repeated themselves in my head, over and over, until I found help and slowly climbed up out of the dark pit of my depression.
A year later, I’m recovered, but I’m not entirely back to the way I was before all of this happened. I still worry that one night I might just stop sleeping again, or that a little touch of anxiety I feel might ballon into a trip to see my psychiatrist. But for the most part, I’m me again. I’m a survivor. I’ve returned to the path I was on before I had my daughter, and somewhere on that path I would have a second baby.
I always wanted at least two children, but I didn’t know all of this would happen to me. Having another baby scares me, and truthfully I will likely think about my previous illness every single day of a future pregnancy. And then during the hospital stay. And for every day after until I feel I may have escaped something I’m statistically very likely to suffer from again.
Still, I want my second baby — now more than ever. I’ve seen how childbirth can absolutely ravage me, postpartum depression and anxiety bring me to my knees, but my baby. My sweet, sweet baby. She brings me so much love my heart runs out of room inside of me. Her love envelopes me and heals me.
You are a good mother.
Your daughter deserves you.
Your husband deserves you.
Don’t be afraid to have another.