I am not judging you. I will not judge you. Unfortunately, you are not alone in how you were feeling and what you experienced. However, it went too far. You should have been provided the help needed to prevent this tragedy. This world does not understand the importance of mental health and the need for help postpartum. This world does not provide a safe and comfortable space for moms to express how they are really feeling after having a baby.
My story is not as tragic as yours, but I remember how down I felt after the birth of my firstborn. I would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy. So for you to do what you did, I can not even imagine how down you were and how lost you were. No one warned me of the hormonal changes that impact mothers after they give birth. No one spoke to me about postpartum anxiety or depression.
It was Friday in July of 2016. I had been in labor for 3 days straight, with no medication. My baby finally came, and I did not get that overwhelming feeling of happiness. I did not cry happy tears; I was tired. I felt guilty because I did not act the same way the movies show parents act after a new baby is born. Fast forward to going home two days later, I sobbed as soon as I walked in the door. That sobbing did not stop for 2 weeks. I could not explain why I was sad. I just cried. Thinking that I was not ready to be a mom. Feeling regretful. Feeling lonely even in a house full of people. Feeling like I missed my old life. And on top of all that, feeling guilty for having these feelings. I have wanted to be a mother my whole life. I knew that is what I was meant to do, so why was I upset and regretful? Why was I not excited and embracing this new aspect of life? Add in lack of sleep and I was literally a ball of anxiety, depression, and exhaustion.
Five days in, I knew I needed to talk to someone. Luckily, my therapist I had seen in the past, was available to see me. I described my symptoms and experience and she stated it sounded like postpartum anxiety, not postpartum depression. Postpartum anxiety symptoms include feelings of isolation, moments of sadness and anger, and body aches, whereas, postpartum depression is more depression, suicidal thoughts, thoughts of harming your baby, hopelessness, and irritability. She said it can also be called “baby blues” and it is NORMAL. When she used the word normal, I felt a slight sense of relief. She said the first two weeks are always the hardest, with such a drastic hormonal change. She told me if I am not back to my normal self by day 15, to give her a call.
Each day passed, I cried, I counted down the days, and I woke up a new woman on day 15. I cannot describe how those two weeks felt, so Lindsey, I cannot imagine what you have been going through and feeling. It is not your fault. It is no one’s fault. My only blame is on humankind. We need to do more research and really understand the detrimental effects postpartum has on mothers. I want to shout from the rooftops! Stop saying “how could she do that to her children, her family?” You are not a cold-blooded murderer. You are not a psychopath. You are a mother who was suffering from a mental illness that could not be addressed soon enough. If all women shared their stories, my hope is that it would reduce the stigma of postpartum issues for all mothers across the world.
This needs to be a part of all education. This needs to be part of birthing classes and classes to help moms-to-be. The fathers and/or spouses should also attend and learn how to be a caregiver of someone who is experiencing postpartum. Yes, your story is tragic. No one can imagine all the feelings you are feeling. Your time is not over yet, so I hope you get the help you so desperately need and know that while some may be judgmental and hateful, know that you have a band of mothers who understand that you were not in control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions that day.
Praying for you and your family, always.