AN OPEN LETTER TO MY SON ABOUT MY POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Updated: Apr 4
Many times I wonder about what I will tell you when you’ve reached an appropriate age about my fight against postpartum depression. Right now, as I’m writing this, you’re a mere 1 year old. You’re too young to understand or even recognize what I’m going through. I wish I could tell you your birth story was full of rainbows and butterflies and the most beautiful moment of my life, but I can’t. I have hit a fork in the road where I need to decide whether I will admit the horror I’ve experienced or fabricate a lie in order to protect you. Although a hard decision, I’ve decided it’s best to tell you the truth, because if I can’t be honest with you, how can I ever expect the same honesty from you?
So here it goes. When you were born, I was lost. I hadn’t planned on having a baby my senior year of college. It was never a part of my plan and the last thing I thought would ever happen to me. But I faced reality and took responsibility for my actions and was determined to be the best mom I could be for you. I thought I would be an incredible mom. People had always told me I was going to make a great mom one day and that I even dressed like a mom. I took pride in it. But when I was finally handed over the reigns of motherhood, I began to loose hold of them.
It slowly started at the hospital. I couldn’t hold you for your first few days of life and began to grow distant from you. I would have to be reminded to go visit you in the NICU, because naturally, I was just more focused on finishing school. When you finally arrived home, I remember going to bed thinking I had everything. An incredible fiancé and a beautiful baby. But before I knew it, I began slipping. I’d hold you in my arms and feel an immense sense of fear. I hated letting your father hold you, because I was so scared he would drop you. I was scared to sleep, because once I fell asleep, I was afraid you would stop breathing. My motivation was nearly nonexistent. Even taking a shower was a chore. I was on survival mode solely trying to make it to the next day.
I vividly remember the day your grandmother came to visit. She was holding you so admirably in her arms. She looked over at me and gushingly asked me if I loved you. I looked down at you, and to be honest, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel hatred, but rather a lack of love. No sense of attachment or admiration. I thought this was normal, but I slowly began to realize it wasn’t. Not sleeping, not eating, not bathing, I was at my lowest point. I had already been prescribed medication by my OB/GYN for what she thought might be postpartum depression, but it hadn’t kicked in yet. I eventually found myself glancing at my pill bottle wondering how many it would take to do the trick. That’s when I snapped out of it and finally made the realization that I was not fine. I admitted myself to the emergency room and was sent to a behavioral hospital where I finally got the help I needed. I felt guilty for leaving you but even more guilty for the terrible thoughts I was feeling. Everyday, I met with a therapist and received the proper medication treatment for my depression. I remember finally feeling a wave of relief overwhelm me, and at that moment, I knew everything would be okay.
After a few days, I was finally discharged and released to return home to my family. I embraced you for the first time with love. I looked into your eyes and felt like you were finally my son. I quickly began to enjoy motherhood, even with its tiresome challenges. Everyday has its obstacles, but I am so glad I received the help I needed to be the mom you deserve. Sometimes the demons of postpartum depression make me think that maybe those feelings were my own actual thoughts and these antidepressants are just masking it. But deep down, I know that is not the case. The love I feel for you now is beyond immeasurable. You are my light! I’m sorry you don’t have the beautiful birth story you deserve, but I want you to know that my fight has always been for you. The lack of love I was feeling was not my own, but the result of a hormonal imbalance that so many women can suffer from. It just so happens your mom was one of those women. I never want you to think that you are a burden or the cause of my suffering. I would go through my postpartum depression all over again everyday just to have you in my life! I hope you never have to face depression like I did, because it is hard. Not loving yourself is a very dangerous thing. Now that I have opened up to you about these thoughts that I’ve had, I hope you feel like you can confide in me if you ever find yourself in a dark place. I have been to the darkest pits of hell and back and will never judge you for your feelings. You will always have a shoulder to cry on and a mother to love you. Even when I can’t find the strength to love myself, I promise I will always love you!