“I felt the weight of the world and overwhelmed by the task of being a mother, and so, I wept. A lot.”
After the birth of my first child I cried a lot. I cried copiously and openly and often. Not because I wasn’t thrilled to have him, not because I wasn’t head over heels in love with him and not because there was any real problem in my life at the time. I cried continuously because I was flooded with hormones and it felt like a deep, indescribable sadness. I just felt so much. I remember walking the halls at the hospital and seeing a story on the news about a missing girl and I was inconsolable. I thought how could this perfect little person exist in this deeply flawed world? I felt the weight of the world and overwhelmed by the task of being a mother, and so, I wept. A lot.
Under the category of “Things I wish someone had told me when I was Pregnant,” I would add to the top the reality of how intense the hormone driven emotions would feel in the post-partum period. There is, in my experience, no way to accurately describe the intensity of how powerful the feelings can come on. Of course, the experience varies for every woman. For me it was like being hit by a freight train of emotion where I felt everything so intensely. I felt as though I was a walking nerve ending.
The condition and commonality of Post-Partum depression is much more in the common vernacular because of a deeper understanding on the part of doctors and psychologists. As well as because of the voices of brave celebrities like Brooke Shields and Gwyneth Paltrow coming forward and sharing their experiences. Fortunately we now live in a society where women are not demonized anymore as bad mothers because they are going through a period of tough emotions because we have a deeper medical understanding.
We all go into mothering as amateurs and suddenly feel like we have to fake being experts at something that we have essentially had no training. Top that with the very real pitch and dip in hormone levels and mix in lack of sleep and you have a powerful combination. It is helpful when women are truthful and real when talking about the experience of becoming a mother. Too often, we feel ashamed as mothers to admit that we are not awash in bliss after the birth of our child. And many women do not speak about it because they feel confused by the darkness of their feelings and do not want to be judged.
The hard thing is, to be objective about it when you are in the midst of it. I describe the feelings of post-partum depression as the same feeling of when you are in the midst of the very powerful symptoms of PMS. After you get your period you have the clarity of “Oh, of course that was why I felt so sad, angry, depressed, etc.” Post-Partum has a very similar way of hiding itself when you while you are in it. In retrospect it seems obvious, in the moment it feels all consuming. If you have any feelings that worry you or don’t feel quite right, talk to a friend and go to a doctor. There is no shame in being human.