If a pregnant woman hungers to ingest dirt or laundry detergent, this is a problem and a warning. If a postpartum woman thinks about harming herself or her baby, she obviously needs help from a professional provider. The same hormones that ought to help women bond with their baby and create milk, can also trigger anxiety in some women, and even awaken some bipolar, even destructive tendencies. This stuff is real.
What about the in-between space of anxiety and a constant overwhelm? Are these enough to ask for help? Yes.
Warnings are good. They help us see a problem or potential for one. Thing is, the one experiencing such pain has to recognize a problem and then speak up. (This is kind of a conflict because we humans, we women, like to/want to/need to feel all put-together. Successful. Able to balance every sphere and even have great hair.)
I looked out for such warnings, such complete shifts in thought or behavior. Because you hear stories. You can imagine how, after a friend suggested I might have “The Baby Blues”, I meticulously combed and sifted through my thoughts and feelings, all the more, to find any sort of warning flag. I didn’t have any, but her comment prompted a host of deriding feelings–from inadequacy to failure. Even the thought of Postpartum Depression sickened me. Such a stigma!
And if I was fine, what was I showing her or the world, or my family, that would cause such a question? The very possibility held shame.
For one, I was living/am living in a foreign country. Some things, especially in the high vulnerability season of pregnancy and postpartum days, can be tough when you’re not in your home system, with the support you were expecting. Some things are better here, but nonetheless, that was part of it. Everything can feel tough with a new baby. Beautiful and soft, but also, tough. How absolutely balanced can we feel when living for long bouts without much sleep?
What set me floundering, though, what really brought on grief and a terrible weight was the time I very accidentally hurt my baby. This is my story in the book, and it ends very well, but I needed to share it.
I needed to tell other women that it’s okay that we can’t do it all. Help is good. Help can save the day, for you and your child. Help can be in folding laundry, in someone making you a real meal, watching the kid so you can shower. Help can also be in the form of a hug, or a doctor’s appointment, and sometimes, the right prescription to balance hormones, to see the light break through and beat back depression.
Today, our book, Mothering Through the Darkness, a HerStories work of art, was officially released. This book belongs in every phycologist and psychiatrist’s office. It has need to be seen and utilized in every neonatal unit, in every obgyn’s office, in pediatric centers, and in preschools.
HerStories will donate 10% of profits to Postpartum Progress, a remarkable organization that provides precious resources to mothers in the thick of perinatal mood disorders. Here is an article to help assess what may be normal new-mom feelings vs something more. Mothering Through the Darkness also shows quite a range.
This is a volume of love and authenticity for book groups, for spouses and partners, caregivers, and every mom. Because we all need help and the raw days can be tough. It’s important that we can talk. Shame, as I say in the essay, is the thing that would eat us up, if not for the light. If not for the right kind of help. If not for the sisterhood of words and books that open up to just the story you need. If not for G-d, if not for all of the help.
THIS is the book to share.
Friends in Japan, it’s on our Amazon JP, too.