‘Wells’ Worth It
“I’m afraid I’m never going to get better.” I remember looking at my husband, blurred through tears that wouldn’t stop. He wrapped his arms around me, “You will. I promise, you will. I’m here for anything and everything, I always will be.”
With a history of postpartum depression (PPD), having a baby during a pandemic at the beginning of an Illinois winter while the nation is divided is most definitely a recipe for PPD disaster. And it was a disaster. I was a disaster. Days went by and tears flowed.
I cried about the pandemic and all that it robbed us of.
I cried at the thought of the hours that would drag on while fighting about e-learning and school work and I cried because time goes too fast.
I cried knowing I’d have to be “on” all day after interrupted sleep all night and I cried knowing my baby’s newborn clothes would soon be too small.
I cried when my temper was too short and when I felt like I wasn’t giving the bigger kids enough individual attention.
I cried for all the desperately needed socialization my kids were missing out on and for the undisturbed newborn snuggle time I lost out on.
I cried when my mind was running at a million miles a minute and I couldn’t focus on the little voices trying to tell me all about their art masterpieces or asking me to “watch a ‘new’ trick” for the 10th time in a row.
I cried at how proud I felt witnessing the resilience of my children, adapting to an unusual world of masks and worry.
I cried at the endless mess and dirty floors, at even the thought of having to come up with something for dinner, and about the stink of the cat litter.
I cried being stuck at home all day everyday, but also at the thought of leaving the house for anything at all.
I cried for all the people that were facing more loss than I could comprehend and felt guilty for crying over my own “losses”.
I cried because I felt anxious and lost and like I wasn’t enough.
I cried knowing the next day (and the one after that and so on) would look exactly the same for the foreseeable future and then sobbed thinking about how one day my babies won’t need me like they needed me right then.
I cried about it all and then some.
I felt like an exhausted hamster stuck on the wheel with no choice but to keep running.
I turned to my support system.
First and foremost, my sweet husband, my shoulder to cry on, he never wavered. He made sure I got a shower in the morning and there was coffee in the pot before he left for work. On the worst of my worst days, he came home midday to hold me tight and reassure the kids that everything would be OK. He always listened and never judged. He dealt with a lot (still does) and never once has murmured a complaint. Ten years of marriage and I still can’t believe he is mine.
Second, my parents. They checked in from the start, but when things got really bad, they were constant and consistent with their support and encouragement to seek help. They related with me and had us over for dinner on many days that I couldn’t bare the thought to make it myself. They were a part of our pandemic bubble and our escape when we needed to get out. I've said it before and will say it again, I hit the mega jackpot with my mom and dad and I don't say that lightly.
Third, I have extraordinarily amazing friends. I simply texted them and told them I was having a hard time, that it was bad. I needed their words, their check ins, and their relatability. I needed their sisterhood more than ever. I always prayed for a sister and was unconventionally blessed with many, the best of the best.
Fourth, I needed an antidepressant. My chemicals were off, it was only getting worse, and I wanted to feel the joy that I was so greatly missing. I believe the biggest misconception of an antidepressant is that it makes you immune to feelings. I still felt ALL the sad and hard feelings, but I was also able to feel happy and being truly, fully, unapologetically happy is true bliss.
What I didn’t need was the lack of mental health concern from an OB at my 6 weeks postpartum appointment. I went in hoping to leave feeling mentally better and left feeling like just another body and an infinite times worse. With a letter, I expressed this and immediately received an apology, words of support, and a list of resources. Exactly what I should have received during my appointment.
What I could have used was a therapist. I’m still working on finding time to take care of myself which includes therapy time-I know this is important! But the #momguilt is real.
***UPDATE since I wrote this post back in March, I searched out my old therapist and wish I would have done so much sooner. She has done more for my mental health in the last 7 years than I have words for. Unsolicited advice: if you find yourself feeling down more often than not or if you need someone to help you through some thing(s), find yourself a therapist that you click with and be consistent. You won’t regret it.
One constant through it all is the immense love I have been surrounded by and the indescribable love and gratefulness I feel for my babies. No matter how hard and messy and overwhelming life can be, with them it really is so incredibly beautiful. For our baby boy, Wells, and his big sisters, every single moment that was and will be is worth it all. (cue the tears)
If you are ever feeling lower than low, I’ll be one of your biggest supporters to help you get off that exhausting hamster wheel and to find that precious happiness. You are not alone, I promise, you will get better.