It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted the “Mommy Story” series. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to pick back up; uplifting and supporting other mothers who have / or are struggling is something near and dear to my heart. The first post of this year belongs to Jayna, a mother who I “met” on a new social media app. We were both a part of an online reseller discussion, and I brought up this. After hearing her story, I knew that this would be a great opportunity to bring the series back. Jayna’s story shows how one mother can find support and comfort through community support.
“Your pregnancy test came back positive”. I took a pause to process what I’d just heard. I made an appointment to my nearest Planned Parenthood to pick up a Rx for my birth control and was now not only being told I would be headed home empty handed, but pregnant.
A rush of emotions washed over me. I was shocked; but nowhere prepared to bring a child into the world. I had been dating “A” for a year and a half, but we never labeled ourselves. We were in that so-called “grey area”. Sure, I was an adult at 21; this wouldn’t be considered a “teen pregnancy”, though I felt like I was still far too young. There were far more I wanted to accomplish before starting a family.
I was a workaholic young adult working in the Fashion Industry trying to make a way for my future. I was a planner and I had a timeline for my life. This was not part of it. Not yet.
After several weeks of processing my pregnancy, I came to find I was rather excited to be a mom. I always knew I wanted children and would often even worry about the possibility of receiving news that I couldn’t have children. So this news was GOOD NEWS!
My pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I was already 13 weeks along when I found out so the nausea I had mistaken for hypoglycemia had already passed. My belly grew and grew and much to my delight, everyone in my very traditional Filipino family accepted me; many so excited even! My due date was February 26th. The birthday of my late “Lolo” (grandpa) who had passed away just the year before. I took it as a sign that I had someone watching over me and that everything would work out. I ended up giving birth on February 18th and welcomed a son! 7.1 lbs and 21 inches! He was beautiful & perfect! I was so thankful for all my L&D and Postpartum nurses who helped me with our new little guy and helping me layer all my postpartum recovery paraphernalia. Those nurses are ROCKSTARS!
I couldn’t sleep that night because I felt like adrenaline from the labor was still surging through my body. I now had a tiny human to keep alive and I didn’t know the first thing about being a mother. So I thought it be best to try to stay awake to make sure he was ok. We stayed 2 nights at the hospital before we were discharged. In those 48 hours, I only got 30 minutes of sleep. Of course, as a new mommy, I didn’t know that was just a bit concerning. “So what?” I thought, “We’re headed home, I can finally sleep in my own bed and get some sleep”. Boy, was I wrong. We were lucky that when we got home, my mother was there and she encouraged me and my then boyfriend to take a nap. I guess we looked THAT exhausted! Nevertheless, we were so thankful.
I could hardly remember those first few months of being a mother. I do remember getting this overwhelming anxious feeling whenever nighttime would come. I was so tired from the day, but yet couldn’t get myself to sleep. I was afraid of the night. I was afraid of being alone. I kept thinking, “if I’m taking care of this baby, who is taking care of ME?” I never felt that confidence that I was capable of being the mother my son deserved. It was as though I was living in a cloud. Sure, I was happy to be a mother, and yet found myself struggling with the adjustment. I didn’t feel that warm bonding and attachment mothers are supposed to feel towards their new babies. I felt as though I was living someone else’s life. I had a deep sadness and felt a sense of loss for the woman I once was. It felt as though I had lost a best friend; one who was so vibrant and full of life. Who, when she had a crazy idea, would pursue that idea and craft it into fruition. She exuded confidence and was always the friend you come to for advice; she was the one who poured love and encouragement and life into you. And she was gone. I felt far from confident, I couldn’t find meaning or purpose in my life. I didn’t know who I was and why I was here. It was as if I was in a thick cloud and no escape in sight.
I remember a good friend coming to visit me and to see the new baby. I put on a brave face and entertained her and told her how exciting and new being a mother was, but as soon as she left, I cried on and off for days. I realized that day that I no longer had anything in common with my friends. I didn’t understand their life of parties, dating, going on weekend trips and they didn’t understand my life of feeding, changing, burping and rocking to sleep all day everyday. I felt I had no support system. Like I was the only person in the world feeling what I was feeling. I struggled with self esteem and a loss of identity. I had anxiety over being alone with my son and thinking something horrible was going to happen to him and would often see scenes in my head of me accidentally driving off an on ramp. It was scary and would cringe at the thought of anything happening to him. I knew I needed help when I was laying with my boyfriend before bed, crying, telling him I felt like I needed to leave and go someplace far far away and not come back. Hearing those words come from my mouth felt both relieving and terrifying to me. At the moment, it felt normal to say but the words were scary to hear myself confess. I was crying for help.
I was never truly clinically diagnosed with PPD, but looking back, I just knew. I think and look back and feel as though I can relive those moments like they were yesterday. When my son was 9 months old, I found refuge in Jesus. My boyfriend and I were Christians but hadn’t taken our walk seriously, but one day, felt a sudden urge to join a life group at our church. Within those next few months, I had also joined a MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) Group, got engaged, got married, and began telling my story. I wish I could tell you, the fog just lifted away, but it didn’t. I will, however tell you that I had key people in my life who many times carried my through those thick curtains. I connected with other mothers who had similar experiences and learned from them, became close to them. They became my lifeline. I no longer felt ashamed and eventually came to embrace my struggles. I met and got to know so many other mothers who silently suffered the same battles; and through their courage to speak about them, I began to feel accepted and validated again. These felt like these mothers understood me on such a deep level, even having known them but a few months. These thoughts, which I tried so hard to bury, turned out to be seeds. But instead of just burying them and walking away, I began to water them. The more I poured into the lives of those in my support circle, the more I found they sprouted.
Fast-forward 6 years and I still have my bad days that take me back to my anxiety. But what I also have is a growing community of mothers who also knows what those days are like. And they too have their own beautiful gardens to show for it. My husband and I have since brought our daughter into the world in 2016. Having been familiar with the taste of PPD, my circle knew what to look for should I experience the same episodes. Luckily, I didn’t. I have a heart for new mothers and mothers experiencing PPD or baby blues. One of the jobs I took after having my daughter was at an Outpatient Psychiatric Office for 2 years. It was a job I took on a whim when I wanted to help out with our household bills. But looking back, I was meant to be there in that particular period of my life. I like to think it was a puzzle piece to my journey of healing.
My encouragement to anyone struggling is “It’s ok to not be okay. But don’t feel ashamed and know you are not alone. These feelings of Loneliness, Shame, Anxiousness, Inadequacy….so many others have walked in your shoes. Your feelings are valid, and you should feel ashamed for it. It’s difficult for many to admit to themselves and/or others that you’re struggling, but taking that first step is the most important step. Get help and find support, because you are worth it.”
The places I found the most support when I felt i could not go to anyone I personally knew:
- Facebook Local Mom Groups (First Time Mommy \ Milky Mommies (BF group))
- My local MOPS group
- My OB
- Instagram Accounts whose content is geared towards Postpartum Depression (@thebalanceafterbaby @psychedmommy @_happyasamother)
Visit Jayna and follow her journey on Instagram: jblisss.
If you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Psychosis, please know that you are not alone. There are many resources available for you locally and even online. Please reach out to a person you trust for support and resources. You can always contact thismommyisreal.com if needed. It definitely does get better!