It was the moment that I had waited 9 long months for.
I had begged God for weeks, to hurry him along. To just let my body do its thing, so that I could hold him. I just wanted to love him with my entire being. I was so eager and so excited. I could hardy wait another second more.
I just wanted to be his mom.
And after going a week past my due date and laboring for 11 brutal hours, he was here. My son Ayaan was born. And I was so in love – he was perfect. Ten little fingers, ten little toes. I finally had in my arms, what I had asked God for. My prayer was granted.
But now what? No one had prepared me for what was to follow next.
It was SO much harder than I had ever imagined it would be. I was tired all of the time – I barely slept. I was awoken by cries every two hours for a feed. And though my amazing husband tried to be as helpful as possible, this little soul, Ayaan, only really knew and needed me. Only I produced the milk his body craved (though I wish my husband could’ve done that too, but that’s a whole ‘nother request for God.) My body had provided Ayaan with the safety and comfort that was his home for 9 months. He only really needed and wanted me in this unfamiliar world.
I was becoming depleted.
I was giving everything I had in me to give. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. But I was just becoming so lost in this parenting thing. And then the sadness followed closely behind. Why am I failing? Why am I having such a hard time being a mom?
“Am I even a good mother?”
And it didn’t help seeing other mothers on social media, doing so damn good. They smiled. They seemed so put together. Their children seemed so advanced. And they just made motherhood look so darn easy. Yet here I was… a mess. I was overwhelmed, and doubting every aspect of my being. Doubting if I was good enough. And I just kept wondering why I was doing this to myself. I had every reason to be joyful.
Yet, I was breaking apart inside.
This sweet little face looked up at me and smiled. And all I could do was drop tears back down to meet him. He didn’t deserve a mom that couldn’t keep it together… He deserved much more.
I pushed family and friends completely away. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this. If you’ve known me for a while. You’d know that I was bright, full of so much happiness and optimism. But this was the complete opposite version of myself. You would have never guessed that such a darkness laid inside of me. And as it started to surface, I wanted no one to see me like this.
I didn’t know how to act normal anymore. How do I smile, when all I want to do is cry? How do I go outside and see daylight, when under the covers in darkness is where I want to be. How can I possibly make small talk, when I’m fighting these brutal beasts inside of my own head.
And even when I tried to talk about it, no one seemed to understand.
I could be in a room full of people, and yet I would feel so separated and alone.
Days turned into weeks, that turned into months that passed me by. I had some good days that fooled me, and made me believe that it was a phase; that I was just thinking this depression up in my head. And I really didn’t want to have to “rely” on medication to make me happy again. But after making it 9 agonizing months, I started realizing this couldn’t be normal. It was not normal to spend more days crying than not. It was not normal to feel hatred towards getting out of bed in the morning. And it definitely was not normal to wonder if my child would be better off without me.
I realized, I needed help.
After a heart to heart with my mother, she recognized what I was going through; she had suffered after I was born, as well. And she urged me to speak to my doctor. And so I did just that.
And friends, I upset myself to this day, that I waited that long to get help. I started taking the medication prescribed to me. And though it took a month to kick in, it was a day and night difference in how I felt, behaved, and the person that I was.
It wasn’t until the light finally shined through, that I realized how truly dark it was where I had been.
I was me again. I was happy again. I smiled from the inside out. And I actually meant it.
The darkness had lifted.
For years I kept this inside of myself to protect myself from the stigma associated with mental illnesses. I worried what people would think of me. I worried about the judgement. But as I slowly started opening up to close friends, what I found was the polar opposite of that. I found support, solace, and SO much love. I felt so FREE.
And I found out, I wasn’t alone.
I have found myself struggling once more, perhaps worse, since the birth of my beautiful Sofia. That’s a story I may be able to explain more in due time. But I am better armed with more knowledge and the proper resources this time around. And I am currently getting the help that I need to overcome this.
So friends, if you have read this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening. I share this experience with you, so that those of you that may relate, know you are not alone. So that maybe I might bring more awareness that post-partum depression is a real thing that exists, and happens to unsuspecting people like me and like you. And maybe, it may give you courage to open up and share your story, too. And I share this so that those friends and family members that I pushed away may understand why I did so, and why I may be doing it again now. I’m sorry for ignoring you; for reading those messages and never replying. I hope you understand.
May is Maternal Mental Health Month, and I urge you to check in on any mother you may know. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them how you can help. And if you could, remind them how amazing of a job they are doing. Because just that could be the words that they were longingly yearning to hear.
With so much love from my heart to yours,