Like I said last night, sometimes parenting is so heavy that my arms give out.
But, you know no one ever really asks about it.
I moderated a live video for Happy Family Organics tonight with their Happy Baby Expert Dr. Leesha. Dr. Leesha is a psychiatrist and a mother. She is absolutely on my personal top ten lists of wise women. I get to pre and post chat with her after her public facing video--and every one of those quick conversations just leaves me understanding something new about myself and about my own motherhood.
Tonight, she shared insights and facts about Postpartum Depression. Her talk is one that every expectant parent and every friend and loved one of expectant parents should watch. (I'll share the link at the end of this blog.). For me, her chat sparked some clarity about my pregnancy and postpartum period with Chloe. I left the conversation feeling lighter and also feeling like I wanted to share my story--the one that no one ever asked about.
When I was pregnant with Chloe, it was just two years after Lily was born 11 weeks early and one year since Lily was treated for a brain tumor. I had severe and sudden preeclampsia with Lily. Her birth was traumatic and rushed and terrifying and the weeks that followed in the NICU were among the most stressful of my life; until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Then, I knew a stress and pain like nothing I'd ever experienced.
But, then I was pregnant with Chloe, a very much wanted surprise. But with that beautiful surprise, also came the constant, terrifying drumbeat of fear and stress and medical fatigue. I was at the perinatologist constantly. Every time, there would be a new stressor--blood pressures that fluctuated, possible abnormalities on the anatomy scan, abnormal dopplers, urine screenings and more blood pressure episodes.
This went on for 23 weeks--I was 8 weeks pregnant when I started there and Chloe was 31 weeks when she was born. For 23 weeks, I felt tortured and scared and angry. I saw doctors twice a week.
No one ever asked me how I was feeling.
Then, Chloe was born. Mike and Lily left the hospital and as soon as they left, I just cried and cried.
Suddenly, my bed was surrounded by medical professionals asking me if I had thoughts of harming myself and wanting to know why I was sobbing.
I was sobbing because the emotional stress of my life over the course of less than 3 years felt heavy and I needed a break from it. I missed my husband and daughter at home. I missed my daughter in the NICU who could not be in my arms.
No one ever asked me again.
Everyone asked about Chloe--and of course they should--but not one medical professional asked me if I was coping okay. No one ever asked if I was sleeping--I wasn't, I was up all night googling the signs and symptoms of a stroke or of a heart attack or of live failure (because I had preeclampsia and therefore obviously was a ticking a time bomb). Once Chloe came home and the home nurse stopped in, she barely gave me a glance. She just judgmentally suggested I put another blanket on the baby and then huffed at me, the idiot mother.
I needed her to ask if I felt overwhelmed with two young daughters and if I felt afraid that one of them would develop a brain tumor again and if I needed to talk about the stress and anxiety that plagued me.
No one ever asked me. No one ever asked Mike.
The mental lift, fatigue and dysfunctions that come with parenting are real. Parenting is hard. It is heavy. It is sometimes too much. I have no idea how to parent a child--I am figuring it out as I go along. I am making mistakes. I am wrecked with guilt. And then in the same breath, I am filled with joy and blessed with such a beautiful, hard, fulfilling job. Parenting is so complicated.
And no one ever asks.
Postpartum Depression affects 1 in 7 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers. The signs and symptoms of PPD don't go away on their own--it is a serious medical diagnosis and requires the support and treatment by a medical professional. Dr. Leesha shared the signs, resources and discussed how postpartum depression is treated in her Live video. You can watch the Live video (and I'm on there too!) in the Happy Parents Community by Happy Baby Organics. The community is here.