It’s Okay to Not be Okay.
''It’s Okay to Not be Okay.'' By Josie Parent
It’s Okay to Not be Okay. There... I said it. And I will continue saying it because I didn’t believe it at first when someone first told me that it’s okay. It’s okay that life is a mess sometimes, or that you may cry for no reason. It’s okay that motherhood is scary, and confusing and sometimes (ok... most times) messy. It’s okay that sometimes you may feel helpless, or lost, or that you may feel like the walls are closing in on you. Bottom line is... it’s okay.
I tell you this as a proud mother of 2 beautiful and amazing children. My son, Rowen, is almost 4 years old and my daughter, Parker, will be 19 months old in a few short weeks. From the beginning of time, I always always ALWAYS wanted to be a mother. I had a younger sister growing up, and taking care of her and of others in my life as I grew up was my true calling. I even went into the healthcare field in order to take care of my patients, and so I became a pharmacist and am still helping others to this day.
I had a few bleeding complications post delivery, which required me to stay an extra day in the hospital but was cleared to go home with no restrictions. So on a cold February day, we were able to leave the hospital and bring home our newborn son. And while I wish I could say things were perfect and not at all difficult, I witnessed firsthand what it felt like to have those rose colored glasses ripped off of my face. From the moment we came home, it was like a dark cloud had risen above me and wouldn’t move. I held him, looked at him, and while I felt joy and love, I also felt a deep deep sadness and worry in my heart of hearts. Looking back on those days now, I realize that the worst part for me was not the sadness, nor the worry that I was feeling. The worst part for me now is that I didn’t realize what was happening - and thankfully my husband did.
After a long shift at the firehouse, my husband came home from work one morning to find me at the sink and washing some dishes, sobbing my eyes out. Rowen was sleeping peacefully in his swing, and when Ryan asked me what was wrong, I blurted out “I HAVE NO IDEA!” in between tears. Once he put all of the pieces of the puzzle together, that’s when everything sunk in for him. He knew something was amiss, but wasn’t sure what was going on with me. Over the few weeks prior to this, I had been having extreme mood swings, anxiety, sleeplessness (more than what was caused by the newborn), bouts of uncontrollable crying, loss of appetite and a complete feeling of overwhelm. And despite my best efforts to take care of my baby and to try to take care of myself, which as I told you was the ONE thing I was sure I was good at, I was failing. I was failing at recognizing that something was wrong... but only because I didn’t know that something was in fact wrong.
Once I saw the doctor, I was diagnosed with something called postpartum depression. I had heard of this diagnosis from my medical background and from other people in the past but I never thought it could happen to me. I had taken care of myself during pregnancy, I never once felt depressed while I was pregnant so I had no clue that this diagnosis could apply to me. How could I be depressed after bringing to life one of the best things I’ve ever done?! Simple answer? Hormones. My doctor once explained what happened to me in a way that I will always remember - before you give birth, your hormones are released from a teaspoon at a time... but after birth, they get released out of a pitcher and all flow at you at once. So while it is normal for us to experience “baby blues” after delivery, what becomes abnormal is when it gets to a level that just won’t go away or makes you feel worse, or to a level that is debilitating - which is what happened to me.
I’m not sure why there is such a stigma against mental illness in our society, but I think that may be why I was so hesitant to seek out help or even to admit that something was wrong. Though things were seemingly going great to everyone on the outside looking in, things on the inside were falling apart. Once I was able to get to the doctor and air out my problems (which I hated doing, by the way), it was like a weight was immediately off of my shoulders. My doctor was able to place me on medication to help my body level itself out, and while they took a few weeks to really take effect, they helped immensely.
My second pregnancy with my daughter was much different than the one with my son. I had “all day morning sickness” until about 4 months in, but no blood pressure complications with her. While my second labor experience was much different with her, I started developing similar postpartum depression symptoms a few weeks after delivery. The major turning point in my second experience with this disorder for me was that I knew the signs and symptoms to look for. And as soon as I realized what was happening, I called my doctor right away and was able to get help the second time around. Though it was possible that I would not experience PPD after the birth of my second child, I was not able to dodge it.... and that’s ok!
If this is happening to you, please let me tell you that postpartum depression is NOT your fault - it is not something that you did to yourself, it is not a flaw within you. It is simply a complication from childbirth, and it is a disorder that can be fixed. The point of this article was to bring an awareness to a subject that is so near and dear to my heart, and to a subject that may be closer to your heart than you might be willing (or aware) to admit. It’s totally okay not to be okay. I wasn’t okay for a long time... but with the help of my amazing support system, a wonderful physician and some medication, I was able to get back to enjoying and getting to experience my new life as a mama. Because honestly, you can’t begin to be someone else’s world without taking care of your own self first. So put yourself first for once, mama... I promise it is worth it!
1/17/2019 03:29:51 pm
Beautiful. Uplifting. In order to love them and care for them we have to be well ourselves. Glad you are on the better side of things now
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10/28/2022 11:04:16 pm
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Cincinnati Birth and Parenting, LLC was founded by Molly Murray, a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Through this growing company, Molly connects parents with information, resources, and support while also staying committed to building up fellow professionals and connecting them with the people who need their services most.