What I'd Tell Myself About Postpartum Depression After Recovery

Thirty-three months. It’s been 33 months since my daughter came into the world. That’s 33 months of joy, laughs and smiles.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Only within the last six months can I say I’m enjoying motherhood. I’m a mom, I’m a therapist and I’m a survivor. I’m a survivor of two bouts of postpartum depression.

When I think back to where I was a year ago — even 18 months and 33 months ago — I was nowhere near the person I am now. I was smack dab in the middle of realizing expectation and reality do not match up. I couldn’t — or perhaps wouldn’t — wrap my head around this. In my mind, A + B = C.

Except when you have a child, it’s more like A + B = purple.

If I could go back and talk to myself back then, here’s what I’d say:

Laura: I see you. I see the fatigue — oh boy, the fatigue — and the worry and the sadness. The deep, deep sadness. I know it feels like a never-ending pit. I know this is not what you had in mind when you thought about Little Miss being here.

I know you thought she was going to sleep “like a baby” (whoever thought of this tag line needs to step on Legos, barefoot and in the dark).

I know you thought she would be happy to snuggle with just anyone or amuse herself with the latest baby gadget that’s supposed to mimic mom or dad moving (nope).

I know you thought the return to work would be easy, and everything would all just fall into place (yeah, right).

I know you thought you would start working out six weeks later or resume other things you did pre-baby (laugh/snort).

I know the depths of your loneliness. I see the wild look in your eyes as you flit from one task to the next, trying to get as much done as quickly as possible before you are needed again.

I know you were not prepared for how daunting it would feel to be needed so much from such a little baby. I can see how overwhelmed you are right now. I see you searching for every possible answer to help your baby sleep more (so you can sleep more).

I see you, again and again, trying to help your daughter to feel better.

Do you know what else I see? I see you 110 percent dedicated to doing what you know is best for Little Miss. I see you never giving up, despite numerous well-meaning people giving you advice that does not line up with your parenting style. I see you loving her with every molecule in your body, and fighting for her and for yourself. I see you surrounding yourself with people who are your tribe — those who will support you and also provide you with honesty when you need a good dose of reality (Laura, I think you need to go sleep.”). I see you struggling to navigate being a working mom, a wife and a mother while still trying to honor yourself and your needs.

And I just want you to know it’s going to be OK. Just hang in there because pretty soon, the fog will lift. Pretty soon you’ll remember happiness and laughter.

The reality is I can’t go back and reassure myself. I can’t go back and change what’s already happened. And I can’t go back to who I was before my daughter came into my life.

But for the first time in a long time, I don’t want to. I like who I’ve become because of motherhood.

Laura Pryor is a licensed mental health therapist, couples counselor and drug and alcohol abuse counselor based in Omaha. She is married with one daughter. For more information about Laura, click here.

Originally published on momaha.com

If you or a loved one is affected by postpartum depression or other postpartum disorders and need help, you can call Postpartum Support International’s hotline at 1-800-944-4773.

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