Since I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother.
To have my own babies, and have a laundry basketful of little bitty socks and soft, cotton onesies to fold.
When I was five years old, I confessed to my grandmother, “Abuela, I can’t wait to have my own children.” Her response to me was, “God waits to send the perfect children just for you.” I smiled at the thought of what precious baby God would choose for me. I imagined having a little girl, full of curls and large, dark eyes, all legs kicking and joyful giggling.
I knew I would be a perfect mother, for that perfect baby. I would be the best mother there ever was. I would be loving, patient, full of kisses and good nature and never without a smile on my face and laughter in my voice. I would be a dream mom.
As time went on, my baby fever never wained. And the longer life had me wait for that perfect baby, the more precise the vision of what type of mother I would be, became. With every year that my biological clock ticked on, the more mature and wisened I imagined myself in the role of a lifetime: that of a mother.
I was growing impatient, and frankly, scared, when I was approaching 35 years old, and still without that one baby. That baby that my life felt empty without. That baby that would bring me all the happiness I felt I was missing. That baby that would make my life perfect. I knew that when that baby came, the heavens would open and a chorus of angels would sing, and I would be happy, fulfilled, and never experience any sort of sadness or negative feeling for the rest of my life.
Just five months short of my 36th birthday, I finally had that golden, much awaited, baby. The one that would bring me all the joy I knew would come with finally being a mother. All I had dreamed of was finally, here, in my arms.
What wasn’t part of my life’s dream, however, was the shock of the feelings I was having after the birth of this baby.
I was scared. I was in pain. I was confused and panicked. I was oh so very tired. And I had a baby that wasn’t crying, but screaming and inconsolable, painfully latching on to engorged breasts.
I burst into tears. This was the moment I had been waiting for my entire life? This?
What was wrong with me? I should be up and dancing and calling people on the phone, joyfully. Not laying here, in this hospital bed, hooked up to an I.V., with tears streaming down my face, holding a baby that I knew could read my mind that said, “I’m too scared to be your mama.”
I kept all these feelings to myself, I was so full of shame. I never heard of anyone crying with unhappiness when their baby was born. And especially me. Everyone in my life knew that all I ever wanted, was to have my own baby.
Fortunately, my Dr. was astute enough to know this was not a case of baby blues lite. She had me in her office by Day 5 of my beautiful boy being born.
She sent me to a Post Partum Depression specialist. My wonderful Dr. would call me at home, to see how I was doing. She located a PPD support group for me. She even called my husband and told him how important it was that he be home with me.
Was this the way I imagined the birth of my life long awaited first baby to be? No. It so sadly wasn’t.
This first baby is now 16 years old. But, the memory of his birth is a vivid, visceral one.
I have worked hard, through therapy, to forgive myself for not welcoming his coming into the world with joy. I have had to forgive myself.
The Truthful Mommyism that I’ve had to learn, is that I’m not perfect, but that does not make me any less of the perfect mother for my children. I am who I am, battle scars and all, and I’ve learned that facing and working through the challenges that life has sent my way, has made me see myself as a strong, brave, determined woman. When my first child was born, not only did I have a newborn to take care of, but I did it with PPD, temporarily broken dreams, and, at the time, disappointment in myself.
I did it, I survived, and I am proud to say, that I am proud of myself.
You are so beautiful Empress. I know that it took a lot out of you to post this story. It’s hard to admit a time you felt so terrible when you should have been happy. But know that your story is going to help so many women. If it will help one woman connect with your words and say “That sounds like me” it will give her enough courage to seek the help she rightfully deserves.
PPD is very confusing and terribly scary. 1 in 8 women get it, yet not all of them get help. The more we talk about it, the more women we help.
Thank you for being so brave and sharing this. Xoxo.
You know I love you, Kim.
Your 1 in 8 stats has me wondering: I wonder how many women are honest about their struggle. Because it sure feels like more than 1 in 8, you know? There is such shame attached to PPD.
ah, expectations. it’s so hard when reality falls short, isn’t it. you are a beautiful person, and a beautiful mother! Some of us just have a rockier mama-road to walk! 🙂
Thank you, so much. It is something, this memory, the reality of it: that makes me cry some mornings.
I tell myself, “that baby should have had a mom basking in his glory.”
So sad, isnt’ it? We have to let it go.
Thank you, Deb, for inviting me here for a moment of motherhood truth.
There are many things that happen to us, that we don’t plan for ourselves.
And, we women need each other.
If it weren’t for the kindness of my female Dr., who intuitively knew what was wrong, followed up, called me at home, got me in a group. I don’t know what would’ve happened.
If it weren’t for the leader of the group, who’d call and insist I attend group, when I just felt too overwhelmed, I know I wouldn’t have gotten better.
If it weren’t for my neighbor across the street, who’d make me go for walks, if it weren’t for so many women: who knew, and helped, I wouldn’t have made it.
It takes a lot out of me, just remembering this time, and this was 16 yrs ago. I have had to accept and forgive myself: one of the hardest hurdles of PPD. To accept and forgive yourself.
Thank you, Deb.
Wow! what a powerful post. I found this thanks to a tweet by Kimberly, so glad I came here.
I don’t think there is anything more devestating to a mother’s self esteem than not bonding with baby.
This subject was on my mind for a long time, and writing about it was very hard. It took negotiating with my monsters to finally write it, and It is the best thing I have ever written through my tears. I’m linking it here with the hope it will bring you comfort, even after all these years.
hugs from Ithaca NY.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
Later tonight, when I’m home from work, I will be stopping over and reading your story.
We need each other.
Thank you for sharing Alexandra. As always, you write beautifully and with such honesty, lending this painful and difficult subject of PPD a much needed voice. I’m so glad you came through out the other side of this.
You are becoming such a good bloggy friend, Alison. You are very supportive with your words, you know that? Thank you.
Even in your reply to comments, you’re so thoughtful! xoxo
Another heartfelt post this week Empress!!
Thank you for the words of Motherhood!
Awww, thank you, my special friend.
There are so many stories inside of us. Some we never forget.
props on your honesty empress it is a tough emotional time…and having been your dream all your life to feel that crashing down…yes do forgive yourself because all indications show you are a fabulous mother…and none of us are perfect…
Brian, your comment brought tears to my eyes.
Reality did come crashing down on me.
I have apologized to my oldest beautiful boy about this, and he says, “mom, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
I want to make sure he knows I was happy he was born, I was, I am.
But the reality of those days, like I said: it’s me who has to forgive myself.
Again, Empress, with the perfect words.
I understand completely this entire story, for my first birth, and the weeks and months that followed was exactly the same. I did not rejoice and bask in happiness over my son. I was a tortured soul. It was only in having another that I was able to bring closure to that experience, put it behind me and know that it was part of my life’s journey.
Tortured, guilty, isolated soul.
So very sad.
But, we’ve come through, and now, we are who we are, because of our past.
How is it we don’t meet people more like us at that time?
I also had PPD and thankfully, had a doctor that recognized it right away. Getting on the right medication was life changing.
Every mom-to-be assumes motherhood is going to be this beautiful, perfect experience, but for many of us, it’s not anywhere close to that. By us sharing the words with others, it will help them to see that experiences they are going through are “normal”.
Beautiful post, Empress!
I know you know what I mean.
You wanted your babies as much as I did.
And, you finally get them: and PPD happens.
I thought I was the unlikeliest candidate.
So not prepared for this. Knocked me over.
Oh Alexandra, Thank you for sharing this, for opening yourself to other mothers. I know it took courage to have to go back to this time and to write about it, but it is an important post for others to read.
I have been there too, though I didn’t get the kind of understanding from my ob that you did. At my son’s 5 week check up the doctor asked if I had any final questions or concerns. I told him I sometimes felt down, and he said with a wave of his hand, “Oh, every mom goes through that.” It was good to get the validation, but he also brushed it off as nothing that needed to be explored. Of course, at the time I was in Asia where mental health is an unspoken issue.
I survived because of my husband and because I glued myself to an on-line mothers forum. Your line about your enormous guilt not having welcomed your son into the world with joy resonated with me deeply. That same guilt pains me to this day. I did not take my son’s handprints, rush to get portraits done, nothing, because at the time I was too resentful to do it. I did not think of him as a big enough deal then.
I hope that I have more than made up for those awful secret feelings I once had. My son is 7 now, and I love him beyond words. As we like to say to each other now, “I love you too much.”
Oh, my beautiful Ceci.
As always, so much to say to you.
Your comments are better than my post.
Yes, I hear you: and it was an awful time. One I wouldn’t wish an anyone.
Thank God for computers, and your online forum.
Wow, that was powerful, moving, encouraging and amazing! Beautifully written and personal.
Thank you for sharing.
This May Mom Blog Hop has brought some AMAZING new women, new mom’s into my life.
I am so flattered that you like my post.
I will be visiting the commenters here later. What a pleasure to meet you, too.
This is so true. We are not perfect but it doesn’t make us any less of a good parent. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Thank you, Jessica.
When I was talking to my sister, and another one of my less than stellar mommy moments, she said, “welcome to the club of motherhood. where you never feel that what you do is good enough.”
I felt the exact same way before my child was born and yes, I was shocked too at my reaction after she arrived. I didn’t realize that so many other women felt the same way. I truly thought I was the only one and kept thinking “What is wrong with me?” I emailed/called every girlfriend I knew and they all said “I know the feeling.” Wish someone had told me before.
Thanks for your honesty. You seem like a great mom.
You are so very lucky to have known women like that.
That would’ve made all the difference in the world to me. Everyone I asked, said, “GREAT!”
Truly painful and insightful at the same time. But also filled with hope at the end.
I salute you.
I have long admired your venture into learning more about women, and how our lives play out differently sometimes.
I admire this.
Oh, boy. I can absolutely still remember how I felt with the PPD. The crying, the hopelessness, the despair, the feeling of failure because you were supposed to be so delighted with your new baby. People don’t talk about it enough – there’s no need for people to be so alone.
You know, Lemon, I could write forever on my time with PPD.
But I don’t want to scare anyone who’s in it, or fears they may be in it.
Let’s just say it would’ve felt better if the world had opened up and swallowed me.
That’s how I felt.
So glad you could read the pain hidden in these lines.
My heart felt like it had a 50 lb brick tied around it.
I was never the same after that: I want to help ANYONE with PPD now.
Love you, girl.
Oh, such a beatifully written and honest post. I love the empress.
She’s gorgeous inside and out.
Thank you, Mimi.
You know you’re my girl. xo
I too in hindsight realize I likely suffered with PPD with my second. But of course I waved it off as sleep deprivation and having two instead of one now. I waved it off because she wasn’t a napper. But that deep sadness is not tiredness. That feeling of not being able to get out of bed when you hear your baby crying, is not tiredness. Thank you for sharing this as it is so easy to try to explain it away. Mom’s need to know the difference.
Don’t you wonder, why there is such shame attached to PPD?
Why, including myself, we are so embarrassed to say we are not happy?
We are measuring ourselves against others, and judging ourselves as weaker, as having character flaws.
When, it’s hormones, pre existing conditions, a lack of support, overwhelmed, health complications.
So much, so many parts to the formula.
Thanks for stopping, D, I LOVE seeing your cute perkiness anywhere.
What a wonderful comment, Thank you.
Later tonight, I’m excited about stopping over to meet you. Thank you, again.
How wonderful you are sharing this here, your heart …
and yes, look out for others. There are many Mom’s out there young and old, feeling these things. Young one’s whose own parents don’t get it, Mother in law’s who tell them to snap out of it … older Mom’s who have waited for so long for their dream to come true … and then this harsh reality they don’t want to fess up too in case people think they are not grateful …
I had a friend once, they said her sister was ‘just not Mother material’ … they didn’t take her seriously, and she died. When they cleared her closet they found journals, journals of her pain … they will never be the same.
Thank you beautiful you!
Perfectly, perfectly said: we wait for our dreams to come true, and then, reality takes them someplace else.
Forgiveness of ourselves, it’s the only way to move on.
The past has to stay there, or it prevents your joy in the future.
It really does.
Thank you for your wonderful comment.
Beautifully stated, as always. My experience of PPD was different, and of course I’m still battling the feeling that I can’t do it. But you’re right that we have to admit it, and so I do.
I think, honey, that by people admitting, even and especially, when it takes them out of their comfort zone, that slowly, the stigma about PPD will wear down.
There will be people who judge, always, and will see it as a weakness in ability, in character: but, little by little, I think society will realize it’s a medical condition, caused by so many things.
People are surprised when I tell them.
It’s why I keep the badge up at my site, even after 16 years, because I will never stop being a survivor.
Thank you for sharing your story. I think we all have similar feelings and are too scared to confront them. I appreciate your honesty.
I almost didn’t comment here because I was never diagnosed with PPD. I was sort of feeling that to join in this conversation, I needed to be able to speak from experience.
Then I thought better.
This helped me to understand, just a bit, of what this might be like for so many women. In quintessential Empress style, you told your story so clearly and truthfully. And I thank you.
Thank you, Sue. That means so much, that you want to understand, and didn’t just click out.
That means a lot.
Aww…that made me tear up a little. Thanks for sharing!
It was a very tough time, more than the space here allows me to tell.
There were so many dark, scary, barely survivable days in there.
Thank you for commenting.
Beautiful as always, my dear friend! Your babies are so very lucky to have *you!* XO
& excellent guest-er choice, Deb! Top notch! XO
Thank you so very much.
I always look forward to your words, Galit.
Beautiful as always from the Empress. It is so hard to come to terms with our expectations when they don’t match up with reality. So glad you had Alexandra here, Happy Blogoversary!
Jess: No one was more shocked than me, when this happened. I was so shocked.
Just couldn’t believe it.
I hadn’t written PPD into my life script…
Though I never had PPD I saw someone go through it – the beloved 2nd grade teacher of my children, a young woman who I had come to adore and who, like you, had been waiting for the day of her son’s arrival for YEARS. Her bravery in admitting that all was not rosy after the baby came still astounds me – she made herself vulnerable, and in doing so won the support of an entire community of her student’s parents who couldn’t stop by with casseroles and to hold the baby fast enough. Four years later he’s a healthy, sturdy, beloved boy and his mom just glows whenever she speaks of him – but I know how hard she worked to get there, and admire her even more than the moms to who this all comes easy.
People want to help, if you will let them. That’s the message, and there’s not an ounce of shame in it.
What a fantastic comment, Nancy.
I know–I remember the precise moment when I knew I had to speak.
The sadness? The playgroup I had signed up for told me I couldn’t be in their babysitting coop anymore b/c some moms had mentioned they didn’t feel safe having me near their babies.
Yeah…I know. I know.
I really needn’t that shot to my gut, didn’t I?
It is your truthfulness that makes you absolutely perfect…
What an awesome, kind, comment.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, LD.
I did not have PPD. But I’ve struggled for almost fourteen years with the worry that I’m not doing “it” right; the fear that I’m not enough for my children.
There is so much love. Pain. Frustration. Joy. Anger. And unfortunately, shame.
The stakes feel impossibly high. Unreachable at times.
But honesty like yours is a lifeline.
I’m so very sorry for your experience. I only hope it’s a small comfort to know how much you are helping other women with your post; a terrible price to pay for a gift you now can give.
Thank you, Julie.
I sanitized what happened to me, after all, nothing is solved that quickly.
It was the absolute darkest time of my lie…and I”ve had lifelong depression.
I never saw it coming.
Oh Alexandra thank u so much for sharing this part of you with us. I know a woman is going to click on this post and is going to find the support and care she needs. She will know that she is not alone or a bad mother..you have helped so many women today with this post.
You really are incredible and amazing! Plus u share…and that is a gift for all of us. Xo
I hope so, Kir.
I felt so alone, and not understood, and incredibly disappointed in myself.
It was the surprise attack that got me: I thought I would be happier than anyone ever born.
And then that.
You are a lovely person, mother, and writer, Empress. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you so much, Amanda. Meeting such kind souls, like wonderful you, has been the hugest blessing about blogging.
I still can’t get over the wonderful people I”ve met.
Thank you so much for coming over to Debi’s place! We love honesty over here at THE TRUTH ABOUT MOTHERHOOD that’s what makes us so darn likable! Anyways, you opened my eyes to something I may have seen in myself and other friends. I appreciate you sharing your story with us and I am now your newest follower!
Thank you, K. What a compliment of the highest order. That you like me enough to follow me: I am so flattered.
This is gorgeous. You are gorgeous. Debi is fab for hosting this.
An amazing post from an amazing woman.
Thank you for sharing such a personal story.
Suniverse: you and I go waaaaay back.
Seems like it, doesn’t it?
Thanks for getting to know me a whole lot better.
My heart hurts reading this. I’m so grateful we live in a time when at least some people understand this sort of depression. I love you, A.
Dusty: when I meet you in real life, and I KNOW I WILL, prepare for the biggest rib crushing hug Ev-ER.
You were my first follower, remember? You and ALL CAPS MAMA ROSE.
What a story.
Thank you for sharing this with us, such a honest post. When my second was born I went through this. I was never diagnosed with PPD, but I felt so alone and sad. Luckily it didn’t last long but I feel for the women that go through this. I am sure this post will help so many others that are going through something similar. What a great post 🙂
Hello, dear T: this post here was the story lite.
The real deal would have women running and begging for tube tying.
It was the worst time of my life.
Frighteningly bad…I thought I lost my mind.
No details needed.
Thank you, for your support, since I first met you.
You are the real deal.
This. Was. Me. Thank you so very much for writing this. It has brought a lot of clarity to me when I think about that time (five years ago today, if you can believe it . . . which I cannot).
Having struggled with depression since I was in my teens, what you describe was my biggest fear. All throughout my pregnancy I prayed (or you know did my own version of praying) that I wouldn’t get PPD, and for whatever reason with this baby I was blessedly spared this state of being.
I am so sorry that this is something any of us have to go through. And the fact that there is a stigma associated with it? Makes it even harder.
You are so brave and so beautiful.
You were so much more prepared than me, Y.
I never saw it coming.
I finally had what Ih ad wanted all my life? WHy would I not be ecstatic?
Well, because it’s all physiological. And not a choice.
I had no idea. Still, now, I have to remind myself: it wa not me that chose that for my baby.
I love you, sweet thing. And I”m so happy your prayers covered you in safety.
Oh Empress…you have been one of my biggest supports through this stupid PPD and med stuff. You are amazing and wonderful. I am so glad you told your story. It’s those damn expectations. I thought I would be awesomely organized and handle everything with the attention to detail that I do everything else. sigh…
Beautifully written and I’m sure this will help someone that doesn’t understand why they feel this way. I’m so glad the Dr saw the signs and got you help quickly.
I was in a similar boat. And guilt’s a funny thing. I was just telling my husband the other day that I felt like I’d missed so much of the kids’ lives because I’ve been sick for so long. It’s hard to not look back and see how their little lives have passed and you weren’t “there.”
Oh Alexandra, I’m so very sorrry I’m just now reading this. I’ve been in a world of my own. This is such an important and wonderful post. I’m sad for what you went through and what all women with PPD experience. But beyond that, even if you haven’t experienced PPD, this is a metaphor for motherhood in general. We all have dreams that we cannot fulfill. We are disappointed in our children. We are disappointed in ourselves. We aren’t perfect. But that’s okay. And doing the best we can really IS good enough. Thank you for having the strength and courage to say the things that we mothers really need to hear. You are amazing, Alexandra. I adore you.
Great blog you have here. So many blogs like yours cover subjects that cant be found in magazines and newspapers. I dont know how we got by 10 years ago with just magazines and newspapers.