My cousin asked me the other day if I had ever had postpartum depression, and what it felt like. I automatically responded with a, “No,” because that’s what society has trained me to say. Because the reality is that you just had a brand new miracle introduced into your life, and besides that, your life was already pretty good to begin with. What the hell do you have to be depressed about? Well, I honestly believe that every woman suffers from postpartum to some degree. I mean, chemically, your hormones are completely whackadoodle. How could there not be an emotional response? But I really want to focus on the emotional triggers because, let’s face it, they are overwhelming.
Before baby I was lookin’ pretty cute in my skinny jeans and form fitting tops that were usually purchased from Nordstrom. Especially with the perfect pair of summer wedges to compliment. It was normal to wash, blow-dry, and straighten or curl my hair every day. It was normal to apply makeup every day, and to match my eyeshadow and lip color to my outfit. I would visit a salon regularly to get my hair highlighted, and occasionally get a mani-pedi, or do it myself. I HATE chipped nail polish. Or I should say I had the luxury of hating chipped nail polish.
Because nowadays, getting a mani-pedi is the equivalent of flying to Europe. Even having the time to do it myself is nearly impossible. Those skinny jeans are probably hiding in the dark depths of my closet, because they haven’t fit my not-so-skinny butt since the first time I got preggers. I probably threw away all of those form fitting tops in a blind rage. The heels are still there, but just collecting dust. Because once you get pregnant, you lose your equilibrium and balance because your center of gravity is constantly changing, and you don’t get it back until like a year after having the baby. I normally don’t take a shower until I can’t remember the last time I took a shower. There is no blowdrying or straightening. Most of the time I just pile it into a messy knot on the top of my head without even brushing it. Makeup, yeah right. And the highlights are so grown out that I’ve just been calling it ombre, as if it were intentional. And I’m not even going to describe the clothing that I now think is acceptable to leave the house in.
So the point I’m trying to make here is that the person you once were before baby, is forever gone. Your whole identity before baby gets flipped on it’s head, from the way you looked, to the way you acted, and you pretty much have to start over. That’s depressing. I was always a patient and friendly person who didn’t mind if the line was long, and who enjoyed chatting with the store clerks. Now, I can’t get out of there fast enough with two screaming babies. And don’t you dare ask me if I want to sign your petition. I’m always running and sweating trying to get everything done, yet still don’t ever seem to be moving fast enough. I feel like a slave.
Postpartum has little to do with the baby, besides the fact that it’s a succubus draining you of every bit of life-force you have to give, and then some. Literally, if you are breastfeeding, the baby is sucking all of your nutrients out, and you are left with whatever is left. Which isn’t much because you barely have time to eat. Or pee. Or sleep. And I already explained that showers fall lower on the list. And the house chores like laundry… Well, that’s why I’ll leave the house in sweats that are covered in my children’s bodily fluids. Because if the choice is to do laundry, or calm the screaming baby, I will chose that angry little human because I love it more than life. However, even though I will make that choice a hundred times over, doesn’t mean that eventually it feels crappy to wear dirty clothes. Or only eat the cold scraps of food that the kids didn’t finish, rather than making myself a nice warm meal the way I used to. Or pee in private and when I need to, rather than holding it until it hurts. Or sleep when I’m tired, or even at all for that matter. Remember that sleep deprivation and starvation are actually used as torture tactics. So no wonder I’m feeling depressed and bitchy.
So Mamas, let’s vow that it’s completely normal to have postpartum, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We are dealing with some pretty debilitating conditions sometimes. And what we knew of ourselves is being tested at every level. I thought I was a patient woman until my infant son screamed for three hours straight, and I was completely unable to console him. I felt like a failure. Now that I look back, I think I was pretty kick-ass to have dealt with him with the compassion and patience that I did, while at the same time feeling like complete crap physically and emotionally. Postpartum is real, and it sucks. But you will get through the other end and feel so so so much better. Let’s just hope we can get in some more regular showers in the meantime.