I struggled to become pregnant. I fought to stay pregnant. I fought hard for her.
After numerous ultrasounds and weeks on bed rest, I gave birth to a perfect baby girl. In that hospital room, I whispered to her that I’d be the best mother I could be for her.
But we came home from the hospital and my world fell apart. Was it the stress from a rocky marriage, or the health problems that surfaced after my pregnancy? Was it a world shut down from COVID-19, or the fact that I no longer was employed?
I’m not sure what it was, but something caused a change in me…
One day, I woke up and felt empty. I looked at my beautiful baby girl and I felt numb. I was convinced someone else could raise her better. I felt so guilty that others were the ones who had to give her cuddles after she finished her breastfeeding session with me. I couldn’t sleep at night from the fear she’d stop breathing. I couldn’t shake the horrible scenes of the worst-case scenarios that played in my mind on repeat.
My daughter’s pediatrician had me fill out an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) during my child’s check-up. She was so kind when she asked permission to share my score with my ob-gyn. My diagnoses: Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, and Postpartum OCD.
I sought help for my depression and anxiety, and about a year later I finally felt the heavy cloud dissipate. However, I still feel guilty. We are two peas in a pod now but I mentally missed many precious moments with her as a newborn.
I am now an entrepreneur who loves her business, but before getting help, I was so lost that I couldn’t look anyone in the eyes. And honestly, I still have bad days, and I’m still on medication.
The most guilt right now comes from the fact I can’t forgive my child’s father. He’s apologized for his recent transgressions, however, I still contemplate walking away from my marriage. How can I forgive him, if I can’t even forgive myself for things that I am aware of that were out of my control? I hold a grudge against him and myself for not being better people for the sake of our daughter. My husband and I reached an agreement on our parenting expectations, but I think of all the arguments we’ve had and the words that can’t be unsaid.
However, recently, I’ve tried to look at us from my daughter’s perspective. To her, we are the perfect parents. I think of the look in her eyes when she wakes up and sees my face, or when her father walks in the front door after work. It’s an ongoing process but I will endeavor to cultivate grace for my own peace of mind and the well-being of my family.