I have been avoiding posting on this topic for quite a while. I needed to wait until I was in a safe state of mind – able to go there – to look back without unraveling my current world. That day has arrived – its time to use my story to help others that are struggling with this all-encompassing disease. A disease that creeps into your body, mind, soul and family – holding your happiness and sanity hostage while turning your world upside down.
Postpartum is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Not only does it rob you of your thoughts, confidence, sanity and joy – it has the ability to reduce you to rubble and you may not even realize its happening. I knew something was off after my first son was born but I had no idea the extent until it had completely taken over.
There are so many excuses you tell yourself when you’re in the thick of it. Most of the things get filed under the “new mom” or “adjustment” category. You tell yourself that everything you’re thinking and experiencing is normal. That you just need to adjust accordingly and get used to it. That its lack of sleep. It will all be better when [insert excuse here]. But there is such a substantial difference between adjusting to the newness and believing you are the wrong person to raise your child. When every fiber of your being screams that you are not good enough to be a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter and all those people would be better off without you. The thoughts of worthlessness run in a constant loop in your mind all day long. The panic attacks become more constant – the overwhelm becomes paralyzing – the cry of your sweet baby brings on such an intense reaction that you want to crawl out of your skin. You see the look of fear and concern in your husband’s eyes because he knows this is something he can’t fix.
Unfortunately, after my first son was born there was no fix – drugs didn’t work, therapy helped a bit, loved ones kept me afloat – but mostly I survived and prayed to come out the other end. I held tight to little things that would anchor me to my sanity and my son. One of my anchors had to do with the lullabies I sang to him every night. To him, they were sweet songs that lulled him to sleep. To me, they were prayers to the universe – asking to make worthy of this little, amazing boy I held in my arms. Postpartum made me feel undeserving of his unconditional love. But no matter how the day went – I held on to my lifeline of song.
I began to sing “You Are My Sunshine” specifically because it says “please don’t take my sunshine away.” It sounds silly but that line became a desperate plea. A way for me to stay connected with what I truly wanted without fighting the postpartum thoughts that told me otherwise.
“Amazing Grace” was sung nightly, too – specifically the verse that states “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.” I felt as though my family was going through an intense battle – one that subjected us to “dangers, toils, and snares” but we needed to make it through. I would sing that verse over and over again – crying – because sometimes it felt like I was losing the battle.
There were many other songs that I held onto throughout my son’s first year. I still sing “You Are My Sunshine” every night to him. It’s become part of our family’s nightly routine – made into a happy habit that reminds me of how lucky and strong I am.
The thing about postpartum is it will take you out if you don’t maintain a lifeline, a support network, a tie to your old, familiar self. Honestly, it almost removed me from this planet. Thankfully, I had many people around me that would not allow it to succeed. They helped me hold on to the moments of sanity. And I will always be grateful for the piece of me that kept fighting – one song at a time.
NOTE: Postpartum is the most common complication of childbirth. It threatens to destroy families on a daily basis. We cannot let this happen.
For more information please visit POSTPARTUM PROGRESS. This website will educate you, empower you, and help in ways you can’t even imagine.