I have to admit to eating my share of humble pie in the last two years. In regards to my knowledge of child development and confidence in parenting skills, I didn’t think I was arrogant or proud, merely experienced. When post-partum depression literally knocked me off my feet in the first few days of motherhood, humble pie became a daily meal for me.
I waited ten years to begin my mothering journey, and walked into it with my eyes wide open. With ten years experience as a Preschool Teacher, I was no stranger to hard work, and considered myself a pro at diffusing tantrums, writing amazing lesson plans, and tracking the development of my children daily. I held all of these amazing talents and boundless energy that allowed me to play and have fun with them too. There was also no reason to suspect that the gargantuan organizational skills needed for motherhood would knock me off my “A” game. I was an over-achiever, over-thinker, over-planner, and unknowingly setting myself up for a terrible fall.
Motherhood turned me into a whimpering shell, unrecognizable to myself, and even my loved ones. I was unable to move some days, glued to the chair, or laying on the floor beside Sweet Girl’s bassinet. Simple tasks became rocket science. Purchasing bread and milk at the grocery store became prime opportunity for melt downs, tears, and confusion. I was suddenly in foreign and scary territory. Anxiety and post-partum depression clipped the wings of motherhood for the first 6 months.
It didn’t take my doctor very long to see that I needed intervention. He offered me medication on my 6 week check up. I refused, and said that the moods would pass. Not less than 3 weeks later I was nearly crawling back into his office begging for help. Recovery took a full-year. The broken record in my brain told me that the moods would never even out, the anxiety would never ease, and that the terrible sadness would never allow me to feel joy. The truth was, the sun would shine again. With a combination of medication, meditation, and behavioural therapy the post-partum depression began to lift for longer periods. Eventually tasks seemed easier to manage, in fact I began looking forward to what each day would bring.
Are there any other parents who are struggling with post-partum depression or just feeling overwhelmed by their parenting responsibilities? Of course there are. My first step to recovery was admitting I needed help, and the second step was accepting the support offered. I have had a few set-backs but there are joys and challenges to be found in every stage of parenthood. The next great hurdle for me will be surviving the TERRIBLE TWO’S. I march forward, armed with coffee, chocolate, and a brighter outlook on our new family life. Watch out little girl I know how to throw tantrums too.
*Author’s Note: One of the books that really helped me was When Baby Brings the Blues by Toronto doctor Ariel Dalfen, MD. It’s available at most book stores.