I don’t know about you, but the first few months after I had my first baby were almost traumatic. Most days, I was in a fog with messy hair and clothes covered in spit-up. I was in love with my baby, but man, those days were hard and I don’t miss them! Most of my friends started having babies around the same time as I did and I feel like we were all in agreement that the fourth trimester, as it's often called, just wasn’t that fun. We were all in the trenches together ready to wave the little white flag.
Now there's one friend of mine who recently had her first baby and I've just been in awe of her postpartum experience. Maybe it’s just her personality (she is definitely a lot more easygoing than I am), but she seems to be really taking to motherhood. The crying and the lack of sleep just don’t seem to bother her as much as it did me. She also has people around her constantly ready to lend a helping hand, which I think helps a new mom not to feel alone. I remember feeling so isolated when I became a mom. I would sometimes go days without even talking to anyone other than my husband.
I look at her and, in all honesty, I feel pangs of jealousy.
I'll never know because the truth is new motherhood was rough for me. If I had the power to change my experience, I probably would.
I really wish I had enjoyed those newborn days more. I wonder why I had to be hit with depression, anxiety and overwhelming loneliness. I wish I would have been able to snap myself out of it somehow.
But that’s not how postpartum depression works. You can’t just snap out of it. I wonder how different my introduction into motherhood might have been, had I not struggled so much. Would I have been happier? Would I have had more kids? Would I have made the same life choices?
I'll never know because the truth is new motherhood was rough for me. If I had the power to change my experience, I probably would. But I also know that there’s a reason I didn’t have it so easy. Maybe it’s just so I could be more compassionate to other new moms. Ten to 15 percent of moms suffer from postpartum depression, so I know I’m not alone.
Whenever someone I know has a new baby I make sure to tell them that I’m available to talk should they experience any depression or anxiety issues. I want them to know that help is available and the feelings won’t last. Most importantly I want them to know that I'm willing to listen and offer advice or even just a hug.
Even though I feel some jealousy about my friend’s seemingly easy postpartum experience, I’m mostly glad for her. I want new moms to love and embrace their new roles. I want them to be surrounded by friends and family, ready to help when stress levels rise. I want them to feel the pure joy that comes from being a mom to a fresh new baby. It’s the best possible scenario, and we don’t all get it, but we should definitely celebrate whenever anyone does.