I wrote this a few months ago for Hi Mama Letters. It was scary to post as I pretty much poured my heart out. Here it is in case you missed it.
I know things feel pretty bleak right now. I know there is a haze over your head that feels like it will never lift. I know that when the doctor said those words – postnatal depression – you weren’t at all surprised, and yet your world still felt like it was about to cave in. Your paranoia escalated as you felt the tears brimming, and all you wanted to do was run away from everything.
I know you feel a million miles away from the Instagrammable Earth Mother you imagined you’d be. You can’t remember what your life was like before. You feel afraid, vulnerable, and lonely. Mama, I know you are tired – oh so tired. Having a colicky baby with allergies who wakes hourly isn’t everyone’s experience of motherhood, but everyone is dealing with something. It feels like she will never sleep. The jokes when people tell you that their child didn’t sleep until they were *insert ludicrous age years off from now* are well meant, but they really don’t help. You cry because you just crave to put your daughter to bed and be guaranteed one hour to watch a TV show. Your anxiety brims as your drift off to sleep because you know a battle will begin any moment. The night is actually worse than the day, because you just feel like you’re constantly battling, and the desperation to get some sleep is consuming.
I know you feel like a failure, like you aren’t good enough, like you don’t deserve this precious blessing that you longed for. I know you feel angry, robbed even of being able to enjoy your maternity leave. And the guilt – oh the guilt – that you prayed for this baby, this baby that your consultant told you that you may never had due to endometriosis, and yet now you aren’t even sure why you so yearned for this role. You think of all the women who have lost babies, and would give anything to be in your situation, and yet you currently lack gratitude. You feel guilty because this poor little baby that you brought into the world isn’t doing any of this purpose, she is in pain and she needs you, and yet part of you resents her.
What I need you to know mama, is that it will get easier. You will emerge from this haze and you will feel OH SO much better. You will go whole days of enjoying motherhood, it will still crash down sometimes but I promise that the good times will start to outweigh the bad. The crying will lessen, and so will the sleepless nights. It will get easier. I know when you hear that from others now you sometimes find it insensitive or untrue, but I promise you it is. When people tell you “it never gets any easier”, it’s not true – it does get a million times easier. You will get sleep again. You will get time to yourself. Keep going, mama. Whilst you feel like you are about to break, you aren’t. You are so much stronger than you think, and it’s all going to be worthwhile.
Remember the quote – I wish I could see myself through my daughter’s eyes – because mama, it is so true; to her you are a hero. A Goddess who radiates brilliance. Her fierce protector. Her playmate. Her provider. Her safe place. She idolises you. She won’t remember the days when you couldn’t find the motivation to shower, she won’t know the times you cried into your pillow, she won’t remember those doctor’s blunt words. She will remember how much you loved her, how you always put her first. She will remember all the fun things you did together. She will remember that whilst you didn’t have loads of money, you gave her everything she needed. She will remember that you used to make up games with her, that you read her a story every night, and that you sang songs together. But most importantly, she will remember how much you loved her.
Be kinder to yourself.