The Postpartum Mind
The postpartum mind. It is such a strange thing.
Within a breath of a moment, you become a mother and the events leading up to the grand dramatic entrance becomes a distant blur as time works her magic eraser.
And suddenly you are left with a little human in your arms — helpless, hungry and searching for food. It’s like watching a documentary, except it’s happening to you. This is your baby.
Two possible things can happen when your baby is born. You are either flooded with emotions of love and adoration of the little creature nested in your arms, their cheeks rested against your skin as they cling onto the sound of your beating heart.
Or you feel nothing.
The dreaded deep nothing.
And no matter how hard you try, it all just feels empty. You just want to sleep. Its been hours and you just want everyone to go away.
Except they don’t.
They barge in with congratulations and smiles and all you can feel is the aching pain of your body. You just want it to end.
But it stays.
The tiredness never goes away.
You tell yourself you are a mother now and with that fact, you play along. Sure, it’s a cute baby but you just can’t figure out what love is supposed to feel like.
You want to feel. You try to feel. You hold the child. You feed the child. You change the child. You do all the things that a mother should do. Yet, there is nothing.
And it frightens you.
As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, your existence becomes stretched and thinned. The remnant of who you thought you were gently fading away into a distant past.
You were strong once. Smart. Beautiful. Confident. Free.
Now you are stuck in a state of perpetual bed hair and milk drenched tops. Everywhere you go, there are looks of pity and ‘oh, I understand’.
But that’s the thing. They don’t.
Your postpartum mind is different and deep down, you know that this is not how its supposed to be — grinding through the motions, living each minute away and pretending that everything is alright.
And when you can no longer pretend, the tears will fall as you lock yourself away, hoping that the sound of the screaming baby will stop on its own.
But it doesn’t and it keeps going until your other half comes home.
Then the resentment begins as he keeps his cool and you lose your mind. He doesn’t understand. He will never understand. The worst part of it all, you don’t understand either.
They call it depression and it’s not in the manner you expect.
It affects 13% of new mothers and you’re convinced that you’re not one of them.
Except you are and it scares you.
You are not depressed, not the typical emo, I hate the world and myself kind of depressed. You are a mother convinced that you can cope except you’re not.
You’re on edged. You don’t know who you are anymore. Your identity is reduced down to the word mother, whatever that means anymore. You want to feel but feel nothing. You stare into a bleak future and question your existence. You begin to wonder what it would be like to sleep and never have to wake up again.
The thoughts swirl in your mind like poison, slowly releasing itself into your blood stream. Your eyes stare down at the wriggling ball of life you’ve just created, all smiles and laughter and you beg yourself to feel something, anything, a flutter, a flicker but all you get is nothing.
The postpartum mind. No one will ever experience it quite like you — terrifying, numbing and endlessly bleak abyss that never seems to go away. One moment you are fine but in the next moment you are not as you feel completely alone. You may be surround by family and friends but you feel removed from existence.
This is not motherhood. This is something else.
You remind yourself that the child’s continued existence depends on your continued existence. You don’t want to consider the a reality where you are that cruel to such an unsuspecting and innocent child you created.
It’s then you begin to realize that there is only one option and that option is to get help because the second option would only mean the end of you.