Last week was Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. And I totally missed it. But, better late than never. Especially with Mother's Day around the corner, I'm always very aware of others journeys surrounding motherhood. I wanted to share a tiny piece of my story. Because I truly believe we need to share our stories. Because in that place of sharing there is healing and love. It's always a funny spot to figure out where to start with this story, but here goes.
I always felt way deep down in my gut, from a rather early stage in my life that I was made to be a mom. That it was who I was destined to be. When my husband and I decided to start our family, we painstakingly found out we had a less than 1% chance of conceiving with out the help of science (also, thank you science)! We ended up having IVF abroad in the czech republic (a whole other great story for another time). Fast forward to a pretty healthy twin pregnancy with zero bed rest (and let me tell you I am grateful every day for that entire experience, even the dark times). Cue water breaking, it was finally time to meet my children. And I'm going to fast forward a bit here too, bc the point I'm getting to is more about my mental health after. Kiddos were born, and while I was in recovery I complained of lingering pain to a nurse. She came into the room to check me over, and when she pushed on my stomach, my life quickly changed. I rapidly lost over half the blood in my body and was whisked away into the OR. It was kind of like a scene in grey's anatomy, where you're watching the ceiling lights rush past you overhead as you have NO IDEA what's happening, bc there was no time to explain anything. I was laying on a table, going in and out of hallucinations, getting glimpses of doctors and nurses working quickly around me. I remember at one moment believing that the anesthesiologist was trying to end my life. In these strange moments, I would drift in and out of my head and thoughts. And at one point I made peace with the fact that this was it. This is my death. My purpose of bringing these babies into this world was served, and now they have a wonderful father that will have wonderful support in raising them. I said my goodbye to my babies. And at this point, one of those babies, Henry, I hadn't even met yet. I came to terms with my death in that moment. Everything went black. Then I woke up safely in recovery again. The first year after that, was like living in darkness. It was painfully lonely and filled with intense irritation.I no longer had any sense of self. Only numbness. Joylessness. Deep anger and sadness all kept within a husk of an unrecognizable Dana. I had really no connection to my children. Children that I felt destined to be a mother to, until they were born. I remember thinking about other moms gushing about how in love with their babies they were, and i felt nothing. I didn't want help from anyone. I didn't want people to tell me it was going to be okay. I didn't want people to tell me it's okay to feel anyway I was. I also then started struggling with flashbacks and PTSD. I felt this shame and guilt constantly. I finally had what I always wanted, and I'd never felt more awful in my entire life. My best friend told my husband that she could see something was not right, and he needed to get me help. He listened, he found me the most amazing therapist and I entered into a lifelong journey of self healing. I LOVE my children with all of my fibers. and my PPD and PTSD never meant I didn’t love them. Instead it made my bond with them now, coming out of that darkness, even stronger. Being a parent is a thankless job for sure. But those struggling with PPD or PTSD have it even harder, because not only is it thankless, but there are no rewards in the form of loving snuggles or gazing at your sweet baby. These rewards don't exist. There's no "in love" feeling as a reward while you go through this incredibly selfless life changing time. but you do itanyway, and THAT makes you an amazing mom and partner. THAT makes you strong. THAT is the love of a mother. Getting help, is the best thing you can ever do. and I am grateful for my bff and hubby for knowing what I needed in a time that I was unable to connect with my own self. My kids are almost 5 now. and I still cringe every time another mom tells me to "appreciate this time with them while I have it" bc I already do. Trust me. I do. and it's been such a journey, and the biggest part of my life story that has scarred my heart in the most beautiful way. So the unsolicited advice comes with the territory, I know. and I have to shrug it off or laugh, bc, dudes. You have no idea how I value these moments. I'll never not be affected by my PPD or PTSD, but I am now living in a place of awakening and acceptance of how I got here. My biggest plea, please look out for the new moms, it is life saving.
Thanks for reading this <3