Since the moment I looked down to see a positive pregnancy test, I felt like the universe bestowed on me a cloak of shame. Why? My pregnancy had been planned, I was married, a couple months away from being a college graduate, with no financial debt. I was the perfect candidate for motherhood, and yet I felt shame. Wasn't I going to finish school? Didn't I only just get married a year ago? Did that mean I wasn't going to start a career after college? God forbid I become a stay at home mom... Although society didn't come outright with these questions, I still felt the weight of their judgement.
After the birth of my first daughter, the cloak of shame only became thicker and wrapped more tightly around me as the winter of expectations swirled around my new family. You should breastfeed your baby, but don't feed them in the middle of the night lest they become too attached.... And the contradictions of parenting advice left me feeling self conscious about every decision I would make as a parent, from the moment I gave birth to my daughter until now.
My struggle with Postpartum Depression intensified the frozen tundra that was my experience with parenthood. I felt like a failure for not being able to do what my body was supposedly hardwired to do after the moment of conception: love my baby. I felt like a caricature of an overwhelmed, pill popping housewife. I felt shame. The truth is, I'm not a pill popping housewife. I am a mother, who deals with stress and anxiety on a daily basis at levels which, if they go untreated, negatively impact my daily life and the lives of my children. I am a person who has various tools in her tool box to fix the brokenness that occurs on a daily basis, due to an illness that is beyond my control.
In a way, my depression and anxiety helped me to shed that cloak of shame in a proud surrender. I finally had the humility to admit that I don't do every thing perfectly, and the confidence to say, I don't care, as long as I'm trying my best.
Published by Samantha Motto