When I found out I was pregnant and decided I wanted to be a mother, I quickly attempted to figure out what "type" of mom I would be. Would I breastfeed or bottle feed? Co-sleep or try to sleep train? Would I be laid-back or uptight? I had an idea of what kind of mother I would be, but I never thought I would be a mother who suffered with postpartum depression (PPD).No one does. Now that PPD is part of my motherhood experience, I can safely say that there are things a mom with PPD would love to never hear again. Like, ever.
There are so many things about postpartum depression that are difficult but, for me, the judgement and shame and stigma and misinformation were by far the worst part. I ket my PPD hidden until I was no longer suffering from it, because I knew I wouldn't be able to handle even one ill-informed human being telling me I was just "sad" or that I needed to just "get over it" or any other horrific combination of ignorance and indifference. I was having a hard enough time completing daily tasks, coming to terms with my postpartum body, recovering from a traumatic labor and delivery when I had to birth a baby that was alive and a baby that was dead, and trying to live with the debilitating fear that, one night, my son would just inexplicably die. Listening to someone tell me none of it was real would have been the straw that broke my already aching back, so I decided to keep my postpartum hidden (only my partner knew) and seek help silently.
I've spent plenty of time wondering what it would have been like if postpartum depression didn't have a stigma attached to it, and women like myself felt safe speaking about their postpartum lives. I wonder if I would have spent less time feeling alone and broken, and more time feeling connected to the many women who experience PPD, too. Mostly, I can only convince myself that if more people knew about postpartum depression, they wouldn't tell the women suffering from it the following things. Things that no woman with PPD ever, ever wants to hear.