I felt like I couldn't breathe.
My skin hurt, my eyes were puffy, and my body was sore from labor and breastfeeding and lack of sleep. I was so, so exhausted.
All I could do was cry while I held my new baby. She was so beautiful, so pure, so innocent, and all I could think about was how I would fail her. How I already had failed her.
After all, she deserved a mother who was deliriously happy, not this depressed mess that I had become. Becoming a mother was what I had wanted for so long, and what I had dreamed about for the last nine months, so what was wrong with me? Why wasn't I happy?
I was so in love with this tiny creature that my love for and with my partner had created, but I felt very little joy in being around her. Where was my sweet baby bonding? Where was my unbreakable connection?
I felt very little joy in being alive, to be honest.
My birth experience was very traumatic, and I was reminded of how it didn't go as I had hoped and planned for every time I moved. Picking up my daughter was difficult and breastfeeding didn't come as naturally as I had been told it would (and should, words that were used and left an additional sense of failure to my postpartum journey). Every time she cried, I would cry, too - if I hadn't already been crying.
I remember lying on the couch, talking to my husband about how if she wasn't alive, I wouldn't be here anymore. My daughter was the only thing that tethered me to this earth because I felt so awful, and I couldn't understand why - what piece of me was so broken that I couldn't break free of this depression?
Motherhood was supposed to be the best time of my life, all rainbows and butterflies, and after my miscarriage, my biggest dream had centralized on holding her in my arms and watching her grow.
Why, then, did I want to leave?
Sometimes I didn't feel anything at all. Sometimes, I was so angry that I didn't want to be around anyone.
Whatever feeling I had, it was a roller coaster and I was consistently overwhelmed, doubting that I could ever get the hang of this new life after baby.
There was a part of me that knew this wasn't normal, and that this wasn't me. A part that rationalized that this would get better in time, but that I would need to ask for help. It was a small part, but it eventually pushed me towards talking to my care provider to discuss my options.
It hasn't always been an easy process, and I've had to advocate for myself on the different methods of treatment that we've attempted. Medication alone was not helpful, though talk therapy has done wonders in helping me to find acceptable coping mechanisms. It's still something that takes work for me, but taking the steps towards healing and recovery has been so helpful to discovering ways to bond with my daughter and mend my relationship with parenthood.
Left untreated, postpartum depression can span years after the birth of a child. Finding the right team to support your recovery is as important as seeking out help, and it is absolutely ok to ask for alternatives when one course of treatment doesn't work for you.