Postpartum depression is something that is both well known, and yet not talked about enough. Most women don't like to discuss it. After all, we're supposed to be built for motherhood. We're expected to love pregnancy and exclaim how much our lives have improved once our baby gets here. Forget about the pains, sleep deprivation, and hormones. Everyone tells you how much they envy you and would give anything to go back to the time you are in. Then, you start to feel guilty for any negative feelings you have. I'm here to tell you that you're not alone. (If you do think you are struggling from postpartum depression, please seek help. Your doctor is the person to go to. It's a real thing, and is very important to address).
What I want to talk about is what I've coined "postpartum exhaustion." I didn't experience postpartum depression, but I was on the cusp, and I'll tell you the reason I named that cusp "postpartum exhaustion." Before having Henry I had heard how horrible sleep deprivation is. Everyone warns you, but you don't know what you're getting into. At least I didn't. I also didn't realize that on top of that sleep deprivation, I'd have hormones making me feel emotional and guilty and happy and incredibly in love and then frustrated and discouraged and basically all over the place. I didn't realize that my body would no longer be my own. During pregnancy of course I knew my body was not only mine, but after giving birth I'd have it back, right? Wrong. Not only does my body feel, operate, and somewhat look different, but I am constantly breastfeeding, holding my baby, and am covered in all sorts of liquid. I knew caring for a baby was hard, but I didn't realize I wouldn't have any time to myself. Then, on top of all of it, I'd feel guilt for feeling anything but positive thoughts about motherhood.
I was exhausted. Postpartum depression is a real thing, and postpartum exhaustion is real too. Henry is five months old, and I'm still tired, sore, and in need of some me time, but I'm no longer in the depths of postpartum exhaustion. Even in the worst of it, I loved my son, but (as hard as it is to say) there were days I wasn't sure I was cut out for it.
If you're where I was, I encourage you to, first, get help if you need it. Then, I'll tell you, it gets better. It doesn't get easy, but it gets better. Lean on a support system. My husband was a huge help to me during this time. Even just telling him how I was feeling and having him to listen non-judgmentally. Breathe. Take a moment to breathe. Sleep. If you are able, nap. Once I started napping with Henry, the world became instantly a happier place. Cut yourself some slack. You probably can't do it all (if you can, I'm impressed). That's okay. Celebrate what you do accomplish, and let go of what you don't. Give yourself permission to feel the way you do.
And, hang on. You are capable. You were chosen to be your baby's mother. You are strong. You have what it takes. And, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.