The journey to motherhood, and through motherhood, looks different for everyone. Struggles with fertility, health issues, timing, age…these are just some of the things that our fellow Charleston Moms Blog writers have dealt with, and are sharing in their raw and personal stories through this series, How I Became A Mother. We hope that you enjoy them and above all, know that you are not alone in this journey!
When I think about my journey to mommahood, I get all sorts of feelings swirling around. Not because I would change anything. Hands down, I wouldn’t. More because I think about my precious girls and how hard we fought for them.
Our story and our journey aren’t all that uncommon these days. Got married “later” (early 30’s) and decided to start our family fairly quickly after saying “I do” only to realize that the whole starting a family thing might not happen as easily as everyone makes it out to be. Long story short, I have PCOS and hypothyroidism. Therefore I don’t ovulate naturally and hence why we needed some scientific intervention.
Fast forward five plus years, and we have twin girls and another baby girl affectionately known as the twirlsquad. They are everything and more, and I honestly wouldn’t trade an ounce of the pain we endured if it meant that I had to miss out on having them in our world.
However, this whole mommahood journey… wowzers. I’m talking the actual part of raising tiny humans. Never in all of my thoughts did I expect it to look the the way it does. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible! On so many levels. BUT, it’s also the freaking hardest thing I’ve ever had the privilege of doing. I mean, yes. Infertility was hard. It sucked. It knocked me down so many dang times, but I refused to give up. And I pretty much knew what to expect- shots aren’t fun, modesty is out the window, lots of emotions, disappointments, hope, fear, etc etc etc.
Mothering though, holy H*E*double hockey sticks.
I mean, when the twins were born, it was pure love at first sight. Followed by an absolute onslaught of ALL.THE.EMOTIONS. I was prepared for tiredness and lots of work. Well, as much as you can be, but literally no one informed me about what I was about to experience. Especially when I found out I was pregnant again when they were only four months old……naturally. (Cue: panic, disbelief, “how did this happen”, and holy ___(insert all the cuss words), and intense anxiety on a whole ‘nother level).
And you know what? I have been putting off raising my own voice about it. NOT because I’m ashamed. But because I wanted to be fully on the other side of it for credibility. (Insert eye rolls and serious head shaking). How foolish is that?! What kind of disservice to us all with that mindset. I digress.
Did you know that, according to the CDC, Postpartum Depression affects up to 20% of new moms? So it’s a relatively common and talked about disorder. One that I was on the lookout for because I knew my body was going to go through some sort of crash due to all the hormones I’d been pumping into my body over the previous five plus years, on top of delivering twins in a emergency situation. The thing is, I had never experienced depression. I never had the “baby blues.” I never felt disconnected from my girls. In fact, I’d never experienced such awe and love in my whole life. Those babies, they were literally the only things I wanted to be around. The only things that made me feel whole. What I did experience though, was something I’d never heard of before.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 10% of moms will experience this mental disorder. And it goes virtually unspoken about! I had NEVER heard of it, or even knew it existed until I got diagnosed with it. What. In. The. World?!
So what is it?
Well, for me, it looked something like this:
on edge- about all things
wanting to jump out of my own body because everything and everyone irritated me
crying about all things because I felt constantly overwhelmed
nausea and continued hot flashes
extreme irritability and annoyance towards anyone and everyone except my girls (cue biting everyone’s heads off for just about anything!)
And I’m sure my hubs could probably add some more colorful examples to that list as well. But y’all!!! I didn’t recognize it. I knew I felt “off” but I didn’t know why. Guess I just thought it was normal and part of it all. Since I didn’t feel depressed, I brushed the whole PPD thing off to the wayside. Thankfully, I have a husband who can call me up and out in a blatantly harsh/truth/full of love sort of way. I’m not saying it was easy to hear (hello, “no one can talk to you because you are so irritable and short with everyone which makes you miserable to be around”) OUCH. But, it’s exactly what I needed to hear.
So after some alone time and crying my eyes out, I realized he was right. I needed help before I caused some real relationship damage. I called my OB the next morning and they got me in immediately. When I explained to her how I was feeling (eight weeks after giving birth!) she told me exactly what it was. PPA. I was a text book example of it. We decided that Zoloft was the way for me to go. I’m so not too proud for meds y’all. God made people smart enough to develop the science for it (can I get an AMEN?!) and if it’s gonna help me be a better me, wife, mom, and daughter— gimme all the happy pills! And coffee….and wine–because toddlers.
Two years into mommahood with two-year-old twins and a one-year-old, and I’m STILL taking them. Hear me when I say that I legit LOVE being a momma to these girls. I’m not numb or taking the “easy way out” if that’s even a thing. Sure, I catch myself wondering from time to time if I should and/or I’m ready to quit them. In all honesty though, I’m afraid of how I would handle it all right now. Three under two is crazy. CRAZY. THREE RING CIRCUS level crazy up in here all day err day. I’m not sure that I’d be able to manage being the mom (or wife, daughter, friend) that they need without the help of science and medicine at this point. My hope has been to ween off sometime in the next year. But then I remember potty training, and preschool starting in the fall, and toddler ‘tudes, and and and……nah. I’ve got nothing to prove. Keep me sane little blue pill. For just a tad longer.
*If you suspect that you might be experiencing PMADs (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) please reach out to a medical professional! Your OB or family doc is a great place to start. And for the love of all things— DO NOT let shame or fear or thoughts of being “weak” or a “bad mom” keep you from seeking help. Sometimes, admitting you need help is the most courageous thing you can do.
**If you are local, Postpartum Support Charleston is a fantastic resource and one I encourage you to check out. In fact, they have an annual Moms Run/Family Fun Day on Saturday, May 12th that raises postpartum support and awareness. Would love to have you join us! Sign up and use coupon code: LOVEMOMS2018 for $5 off your registration.