Within the span of a few months, sad news of two moms taking their own lives crossed my social media feed. Back in March 2016, a Frisco mom parked her SUV in a busy parking lot and took her own life, while her three kids were in the vehicle with her (they are safe). While her protected characteristics do not matter, she was Asian like me, which resonated with me. And in June, another young mom checked her 4 month old into daycare and then took her own life. Again, her protected characteristics do not matter, but we are similar in age.
I remember very vividly when “crazy” thoughts started creeping into my mind, post-partum.
It was about four weeks in. I had a C-section and was just starting to get around and wanted to get out of the house because I was feeling stir-crazy. After all, I went from being a little busy bee – with meetings and places to go and people to see and feeling very “important” to the confines of my poorly-lit bedroom, the only window to what was going on in the world being CNN (which in hindsight, was perhaps a poor choice for having in the background 24/7).
And so I started packing for an outing with Baby O. Diapers, check. Burp cloths, check. Milk….well, that was me. Oh? I have to nurse in public? Well, where? How? What would people say? And what if I have to go to the bathroom in public? Do I hold her? And suddenly I started feeling very anxious and overwhelmed.
What if she cries in the backseat? How will I comfort her? What if I get distracted and crash? What if someone tried to kidnap us? I was in no shape to protect Baby O.
And so I unpacked everything and we stayed in…for my entire maternity leave.
Yup. You read it. Suddenly, this former social butterfly was afraid of leaving the house and so I never went anywhere with Baby O without the hubs.
I remember checking in with my doctor, and she started asking me all the questions you ask of new mothers to gauge their well-being. I was intellectually appalled and quickly defensive.
No, I never think about hurting Baby O. Of course not! I love her.
No, I never think about hurting myself. She needs me.
But I also knew that I wasn’t fine. I also knew that I wasn’t feeling like myself. I also knew that I was feeling inadequate – like I was not good enough, not worthy enough of having sweet Baby O.
I have no idea where the “not good enough” stems from – whether it’s nature vs. nurture – whether it’s an internal lacking or external pressure due to “Society” or the “Media,” but I’ve struggled my entire life with feeling good enough.
And being a new mom just exponentially magnified those feelings….. and caused me to lash at any suggestion or help as if it were an accusation that I wasn’t good enough (my poor hubs!) or caused me to break down in tears when I had to Google something I didn’t know (which was often).
I share this – not to compare my struggle in any way to Christine Woo or Allison Goldstein, but in my commitment of keeping it real. I share this personal anecdote to emphasize that the struggle with post-partum depression IS real. And to please check in on your mommy friends, new or not. I also share to give a little hope because one thing I’ve learned from being a mom for almost a year is this:
Sometimes good enough IS enough.
And dare I say it?
Sometimes it is everything.