My son was born after an induced labour at 38 weeks. To say I was overwhelmed and unprepared for parenthood would be an understatement. I struggled from the beginning with feelings of sadness, despair, and a distinct lack of bonding with my child, who was colicky and woke every 20 minutes for the first 5 months of his life. My feelings often morphed into rage and anger — overwhelming feelings so contradictory to how I perceived other mothers in my peer group, and feelings that I was so ashamed of and in the face of which I felt disempowered. While my husband was extremely supportive through the whole process, he also worked many evenings, when my son’s endless and inconsolable crying was at its worst. More importantly, I also didn’t know how to ask for help, because I didn’t know what was wrong. I just knew that something was deeply, painfully awry. I sought treatment quite early for what was identified as postpartum depression and anxiety, at my 6-week postpartum midwife appointment. I vividly remember breaking down in the group of other new parents who attended the clinic, and feeling detached from my son, a stranger to myself and to everyone who knew me. I look back at photos of that time with sadness and regret, and also with a visceral numbness that accompanied the sleep deprivation and physical depletion. My saviours came in the form of the other women who attended one of the Pacific Post Partum Support Society’s support groups for PPD/PPA, and in the sage, calming voice of the woman who facilitated the group. Hearing my own feelings reflected back to me during my initial intake was a huge relief and an important validation of the tremendous loss that can accompany new motherhood. One of the most important tools I came away from the group with was that of self-care — I know now that when it is lacking, my mood suffers, and the shadows creep back in. “You’ve got this” was a mantra that I repeated to myself during my postpartum transition. “We’ve got this” was what I could hear echoing back from my fellow mothers. I came to participate in We’re In This Together about a year after I said goodbye to those women, as a way to stay connected with the mandate of PPPSS and The Good Mother Project – we are in this together, we can’t do this alone, and we don’t have to.
We’re In This Together is a photography series, coordinated in partnership with the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and the Good Mother Project, that offers messages of encouragement, hope, support and love to new parents.
For more information on how you can share your message, please visit: http://goodmotherproject.com/were-in-this-together