10 things that made my PPD worse.
Though no one is to blame for PPD, there were some people and things that definitely made my PPD worse. If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression please seek help immediately.
1. Every one assumed they knew what I needed.
I know they all meant well but the people around me would suggest manicures, pedicures, and massages. Apparently, every new mom needed a spa day and they’d magically feel brand new again. Perhaps, for some moms, a day at the spa is relaxing and refreshing, but when I was suffering from PPD it was the last thing I wanted. Looking great on the outside didn’t change how I was feeling. I just wanted the unsolicited advice to stop. I wanted someone to step in when I was overwhelmed with out judgement. I wanted someone to be there, really be there for me.
2. Taking care of myself meant falling behind on a million chores.
I know how important self-care is, especially for new moms, tired moms, and overwhelmed moms. But what’s the use if stepping away meant I had a bigger pile of dishes and laundry waiting for me when I returned? It’s like, that thing grew by the minute, and every minute I spent away “spoiling myself” meant I’d be behind and playing catch up all week with chores.
If I could go back in time, I would be more honest. I would tell people “no”. Though I know my family and friends meant well, trying to fit everyone in was so stressful. And maybe it was just my luck, but whenever a guest would arrive that’s when my baby usually began to doze off and instead of relaxing I was entertaining and then consoling a fussy and tired baby.
4. People offered help I didn’t need.
It’s funny, people offered so much help when I was pregnant and most of the help was practical like painting the nursery, helping me put the crib together or unpack all of the gifts from the baby shower. But after I had my daughter, that changed. People would offer to “play” with my daughter. But when she was just a few days to a few weeks old, she didn’t play. And whenever I would step away to catch up on cleaning and sterilizing bottles or laundry, I’d be interrupted a millions times because my baby was fussy and guests would call me over. It would’ve been so much easier if someone just offered to wash the dishes so I could actually sit down for a few minutes. People are so distrated by a cute baby they sometimes didn’t see the overwhelmed mom.
Everyone says to “enjoy” the newborn phase and that’s so easy to say when you’re getting rest and your life hasn’t been flipped upside down. If I seemed stressed, sad, or unhappy that I wasn’t getting any sleep—it was like I was being a terrible mother. But honestly, even though it really is “all worth it in the end” it doesn’t feel like that every single moment.
Working moms were somehow managing, yet I always had to explain why I was behind on chores, couldn’t get time to cook dinner, or why I seemed to not be used to motherhood quite yet. Truthfully, we don’t have a large “village” and I had little help. Being compared to “super-moms” didn’t make me feel like such a great wife or mom.
I felt pressure to return to “normal” pretty early on. I was told that things should “fall into place” right around 6 months postpartum, but they didn’t. Sleep was still a luxury that I didn’t get to enjoy often, I struggled to produce enough milk, and things were still bumpy. I tried to act normal, because in our society there’s this pressure for women to “not change too much” after becoming a mom so I still wanted to be the perfect wife and be super-women. I wanted everything to return to normal as quickly as possible—our sex life, social life, and our routine—and now I know that’s insane and nearly impossible.
I struggled to breastfeed and ultimately had to exclusively pump for an entire year. The guilt and pressure to provide breastmilk made me crazy. All I thought about was making enough milk. I eventually produced enough but the pressure, schedule, pain, and mind-f#cking discipline it took was something I’ll never forget.
Unsolicited advice is a pain, but it’s worse when you become a parent. Like most moms, I try to do my very best. So, when someone thinks they know what’s best for my child more than I do, it’s more than annoying. Also, for someone with PPD it can make things worse when people point out what they think you’re doing wrong. All of the unsolicited advice online, at family gatherings, from strangers or friends, is never received well if it’s not asked for.
10. People think PPD is easy to fix.
People think PPD is easy to fix—pop a pill and bam your problems are solved. That’s not the case for everyone including myself. Honestly, having someone to talk to, check up on me, and step in to help was the best “medicine” for me. Also, having someone who doesn’t assume PPD means you regret having your child, you’re a bad mom, or your not cut out for motherhood can sometimes make all the difference.