Mother’s Day can be a hard day for a lot of reasons. Many times the day is a conflict of joy and sorrow. Joyful because of the people in our lives and sorrow for those we have lost. Joyful because of the blessings in the lives of the people around us but sadness because of the longing in our own hearts. Mother’s Day 2016 I experienced this conflict of emotion more than I ever had in my life. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter only nine days before and I was filled with joy and gratitude for the life growing inside me. Intermingled was also great sorrow. I was grieving the baby we had lost through miscarriage. I would have been entering my third trimester, preparing the nursery, and no longer able to see my feet. And I ached to hold my sweet baby. On Mother’s Day 2017 I was holding my rainbow baby, but I was covered in darkness.
As Mother’s Day approached I warned my husband that he wasn’t to even mention the day to me. There were to be no cards and no flowers. It would come and go like any other, awful day. A few days before Mother’s Day I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. I had started taking the anxiety medication I was prescribed, but it was too early to see any effect. I had not been to any therapy sessions and although my lactation consultant and my midwife had told me that PPD was not my fault, I felt like even more of a failure than I already had.
On the morning of Mother’s Day, I walked out to see a white envelope sitting on the kitchen table. I breathed a heavy sigh and walked away from it. I would not read the card. I would not read his kind words to me that I knew were false. I was a fraud. He might not be able to see it, but I could. I saw it every time I looked in the mirror. I saw it every time I looked at my daughter. Instead of reading his card I withdrew to receive the punishment I knew the day would bring. The punishment I thought I deserved.
This punishment was my own special form of torture. I sat with my phone in hand and clicked on my Facebook app. I scrolled slowly and thoroughly read each and every post that celebrated motherhood. I read the posts from husbands celebrating how amazing their wives were as mothers. How giving they were. How selfless. I read the posts from moms that were my age celebrating what an amazing gift their children were to them and how they could not imagine their world without them. I read the comment sections where family and friends would affirm and add their own praises of the mom. I read each post and with each post came the blaring reminder that I was not worthy of the name “mom.” The tears streamed down my face, but I continued scrolling and reading. I deserved this pain.
Alex cautiously informed me that his dad was in town and he and Alex’s uncle wanted to bring over food. I didn’t want them to come because I knew they were bringing over food to celebrate. I didn’t want to have to pretend to be something I wasn’t around them, but I also didn’t want to be rude, so I told Alex they could come over.
When they arrived they not only brought food, but three huge bouquets of flowers. Laughter also came with them. As I sat there talking to them the dark clouds started to lift and I could almost believe that the day could be one of celebration, instead of shame. Almost. The thoughts in my head told me that I was just acting and what they saw was a facade. Once they left I would return to my self-hatred. I would return to being a disappointment and someone that held my family down. A burden.
This picture was taken a day shy of a month after Mother’s Day 2017. It is now one of my most prized possessions, but I almost deleted it. I almost deleted it because you see those rolls on my neck, I’m not “supposed” to have those in a picture. And who knows when I last washed my hair. I decided to keep the picture because I thought my daughter looked cute in it. And I thought I would put it as the wallpaper on my phone. This may seem like an inconsequential thought, but for me it was revolutionary. I had never thought to put a picture of my daughter as the wallpaper on my phone. I hadn’t thought of it because I didn’t want to see her more often than I had to. I didn’t want to be reminded of her presence every time I looked at my phone. In the past when I was reminded of her, I was reminded of my failure.
Before this day I had seen some changes in me. My first therapy session my therapist had spoken words that lifted so many chains from me. She told me this was not my fault. That it wasn’t because I was weak. And that I would not stay here. Two weeks after I began taking the anti-anxiety medication I realized I could actually chose a positive thought over a negative one. It was hard, but I could do it. And the day of this picture June 13, 2017 my daughter had been extremely fussy. And I was able to consciously recognize she was fussy and that her fussy day would pass. I did silly things with her like taking a picture of her in her toy bin surrounded by toys. We went outside and laid on a blanket under a tree, where this picture was taken. The picture that became my evidence that I was healing. That as the therapist said I would not be in this place of depression forever.
If you are in a place of depression or discouragement whether it be from PPD, or anything else please know you will not be in this place of despair forever. I know it is hard to believe. Maybe the healing will come quickly, but for me it has always been many tiny steps forward with some steps back in between. Then one day you realize you are so far from where you were. Keep going. Keep fighting. You are worth it. You are needed and wanted.