Post Partum Depression affects more women than we realize. Often we do not know we were there until we are out the other side.
About the author: “My name is Sarah Carlock, mama of one Lily Rose, who constantly reminds me of my rookie status as a parent. She teaches me new things every day, which is find by me. I’m a knowledge junkie and a natural parenting enthusiast. I’m a babywearer, a breastfeeder, and aspiring doula. I am also a music lover, coffee fiend, beer drinker and a foodie. My husband is either really lucky and a saint or has funny taste in women, but together, sometimes we make magic. “
Postpartum Depression …
It happens to a LOT of women. I think it must be pretty rough to get an actual number, because so many women either don’t realize what it is, or are too ashamed or guilt-ridden or too proud to come out with it. I think the scary thing is when we don’t admit it to ourselves, or to our partners. I think the scariest thing is when it goes untreated and unrecognized, because you start to wonder if you’re crazy or ungrateful or just a bitch.
Something that I realized is that, in talks about PPD and ‘baby blues,’ nobody tells you that it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the baby, or your abilities as a mother, or anything pertaining to parenthood. PPD can affect your self-love. It can affect your romantic relationship (I mean, not just in the new baby kind of way.) It can even affect how you relate to other people, outside your family, and how you see yourself as a human in general.
Something else I realized is that not everyone understands or sees it for what it is. Dustin didn’t. It’s not his fault, he is male and is inherently (and blissfully) immune to the sh*t show that is the female hormonal system. He could not understand why things made me cry ALL THE DAMN TIME, or why I hated my body and my mind for months, or why it affected my trust and my love. He couldn’t understand why, without sense or reason, I was a different woman than the confident, fearless, and loving woman he married. Maybe he still doesn’t. This doesn’t make him a bad husband, he still loves me and spoils me and thinks I’m beautiful no matter what. Mostly, it’s just me who doesn’t see it.
My ‘mama tribe’ were the only ones besides Dustin who knew about the depression. Women I met at the Nappy Shoppe, at mum’s groups and through my midwife. I felt guilty telling my family. Ashamed and ungrateful, even. They all had their respective issues at the time, and I couldn’t bring myself to say to them that I was broken and hurting. Not when they saw Lily Rose as the sunshine in the midst of their own stormy days. Not when my dad and his wife had a preemie in the NICU (What right did I have to be sad? My baby was healthy!)
My incredibly powerful circle of women was the support system that changed the game, or at least a very big part of it. Not just hearing their uplifting and empowering words, but seeing their own struggles, and sharing our journey of wifedom and motherhood and all the pertinent idiosyncrasies. Hearing about other women’s struggles somehow validated my own, and we found strength in each other. Retreats and talks and heart-to-hearts abounded. Tears flowed. Ya’ll. Everyone’s normal is different. Just because we are privileged and healthy, or the 1%, or whatever, this does not discredit our hurts and our insecurities. We all have moments of weakness. And it’s ok.
Dustin and I have a crazy good love story. Sometimes, I forget that. Sometimes, we have knock-down, drag-out fights, often because I have forgotten who I was, and lost a lot of love for myself, and so I get insecure and unmotivated. Sometimes, I start sh*t. Sometimes, its because he’s a jerk. Whatever. I think what is going to save us is that HE hasn’t forgotten me. I’m still ME. He isn’t struggling with the mother-wife-Sarah balance. I mean, he definitely wishes I would do more dishes and vacuum during naps instead of cruising Instagram for LRC”s next cute leggings, but in general he knows who I am better than I do, and he knows we will be ok. He knows I will be ok.
Lily Rose. That little girl, that diva, with her dimples and her sass, she has also helped me, in ways I didn’t know possible. Seeing her grow, making choices for her future, thinking about the kind of woman I want her to see as a role model, I HAVE to be ok. I can’t let the darkness win. And trust me, ‘the darkness’ is not a dramatization.That crap is REAL. It would get real dark and real scary sometimes. Self-loathing is UGLY. Especially when it has its claws in your trust and in your imagination.
It gets better, though, ya’ll. Through love, sisterhood, friendship, and even some Reiki and a boozy girls night or two, I am finding Sarah again. I’m not saying everything is back to normal, because THAT particular normality, my pre-baby ‘me,’ is not ever going to happen. I’m saying that I am finally starting to come out of that limbo, that haze of not knowing who or what I even am, of hating myself in pictures and being disgusted at what I see in the mirror. My body is new. It is not what it was. It is different, but not bad. I am healthy. I eat very well. I don’t smoke anymore. I don’t drink THAT MUCH. Also…. I had a dang baby, and I’m f**king lactating. I feed a human with my boobs. My body is BAD. ASS. I don’t look like Kate Upton in a bikini, but let’s be real, neither does Kate Upton. (Although her girls are considerably bigger and perkier. Have a baby, lady.)
Some folks suggested after my ‘Who is Lily Rose?’ post that I write a ‘Who is Sarah Carlock?’ version. The thing is, I wouldn’t have written anything nice. I don’t even think it’d be completely nice even now, but it’s getting better. I will write that post, when I’m ready. When I find me again, and I can say that I’m happy and confident and PROUD of my damn self, I will write that. I’m getting there. This post is in no way intended to incite an avalanche of accolades or compliments. I’ll take all your positive energy and your support, though. And the next time you’re with a friend or loved one who has a new (or newish) baby, ask her how SHE is. Babies get loads of love. Don’t forget the vessel. Don’t ignore the goddess that bore that sweet cherub, because she might need some of that love. Be an ear, be a shoulder, be the strength. She will appreciate that more than I can tell you.