My Struggle with PPD and Anxiety
I’m starting this blog because having my first child sent me squarely into therapy with Postpartum Depression PPD and Anxiety. At the time (and even now) I had no one to turn to for help, guidance, newborn/breastfeeding advice, babysitting, or the like. I was living about five hours from both mine and My husband’s parents, had only been in my local community and professional position a little over a year, and had no circle of friends nor family in the area.
Solitude vs. Isolation
I’m independent, so no big deal if I’m alone. Right? Living far from my family with no close friends hadn’t bothered me before, during, or just after my pregnancy or delivery. While pregnant, I planned to have a lot of bonding time with my newborn son, telling my mom and mother-in-law that I wasn’t sure if I would want/need anyone staying with us during the first week. And because I basically raised myself (see part 2 for more detail) and function much like a parent to my mom, I was confident I would be fine.
Parenting didn’t scare me. Child birth didn’t scare me. Being alone didn’t scare me. In fact, I prefered to have my mom, in particular, out of the picture because she has huge anxiety problems, and I didn’t want to be caretaking her, tending to a newborn, and figuring out whatever, unknown/unpredictable recovery I could be facing after the delivery.
However, my mom saw us in the hospital the day he was born and left the day after; my in-laws left the hour I was discharged from the hospital, actually changing their minds in the parking lot to make the 4.5 hour trip back to their house rather than come home with use to get us situated/unpacked.
Then no one called or offered to visit or anything for weeks, and when I did talk to my mom she confessed how depressed she had been since leaving the hospital:
My mom: “That beautiful baby; I felt like I had to leave my own baby behind.”
Me, in my mind: Um, yeah?! Me, you left me behind, your original baby, remember. And you didn’t offer to come back or help or call to check in about how I’m doing. Holy!? I really have no idea how I’m doing….”
Me, out loud: “Well, you’re welcome to come visit whenever.” Remember I am used to parenting her and protecting her from my feelings….?
My mom: “Oh honey, I can’t afford to take the time off work.”
In my mind: But you were planning on it before; you fucking said you’d either stay the week after he was born or come back when he was a few weeks old.
Me, out loud: “I’ll be sure to send you some more pictures.”
Insert PPD and Anxiety
It took me nine months to find a therapist, which was a horribly confusing and helpless process I’ll into in a future post. Plus that guy was so not helpful at all; he even told me I had to stop breastfeeding before I would see any kind of relief. I stopped seeing him and when my son was closing in on two-years-old, I found a clinical psychologist and haven’t looked back.
Now my son is about two-and-a-half and I’m realizing that so much of my struggle began with and continues to result in having no village to help learn how to be a mom. That is not to say by any means that PPD and PPD and Anxiety are not real things that wouldn’t exist if we all had villages (they are totally really really real things), but that my struggle has been more severe because I didn’t have a mom to babysit on Saturdays when I was so sleep deprived I couldn’t remember my middle name, no grandma to hold a sleeping baby while I showered a week-with of spit up, sweat, and baby poop out of my hair, nor a high school friend to come over and make me coffee while I cried into my soft newborn’s hair because the nipple thrush was so painful.
I’m married and my husband was there, but he was a new parent too. And he was learning a new job that he instinctively knew wasn’t going to last (the company down-sized over half its workers, him included, within the first year of my son’s life). Plus…he has anxiety problems too, so I unknowingly felt I had to protect him from my “stuff.”
We Are Not Alone in Our Aloneness
I’m assuming our society is loaded with other village-less-moms freaking out, finding cold coffee forgotten in the microwave, feeling guilty for feeling sad/mad/overwhelmed/helpless, questioning everything about themselves and their lives, convinced they aren’t cut out to be the mom they dreamed they’d be, and crying in the middle of the night because they are just so tired (or have to pee so bad and the baby just fell asleep on them after an hour of rocking).
I’ll go a bit more into my personal upbringing in part two, but I’m a teacher, an educational advocate, a writer, and I’m a researcher; I took a step back one day and thought those skills could be useful in helping other moms either find their own tribe their own way or simply know that they are not alone in their aloneness.
So I started Without a Village to give a voice to those like me or anyone who can relate to any small part of my story/experience/struggle; I started Without a Village as a way of working through the densely layered childhood baggage I’ve been saddled with.
And while that wasn’t much of a pep-talk, this is an origin story after all, they are usually a little depressing so the superhero has something to avenge…or in this case, recover from.