Bringing your baby home for the first time is an indescribable feeling. This little person that has been living inside you for a whole 9 months is suddenly on the outside, and they’re a real little human being with real little eyes and eyelashes. And they even come with a cute sneeze. And you just can’t stop staring at them, it feels like you’re in a bit of a dream world for a while.
But those first few weeks are heavy. Really, really heavy. And it seems every Mom I know has suffered with some form of post natal depression, including yours truly. Which is why I really think the term ‘post natal depression’ is just a label for ‘super mom in the making… now hand me a tissue’.
It’s funny because you never hear Mom’s talking about the ‘real’ stuff before you become a Mom. Or you think you don’t.
When they say things like “your life is going to change forever / sleep now while you can / just remember it’ll all be worth it in the end” – you’re like “yes, yes, I know, I know.” But all you really know is that their instagram feed looks adorable, so how bad can it be? I blame valencia.
For me, the heaviness started to creep in during my last few weeks of pregnancy.
I just felt heavy, physically and emotionally. 40 weeks felt like 2 years and then when we hit 40 weeks, he decided he’d take another 16 days. Longest 16 days of my life.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment that I saw his face for the first time, it was red and squished and screaming, and it was him. We finally got to meet. Hashtag firsttimemom. He was here and he was perfect. I was so relieved that ‘the hard part was over’ and our life as a little family could begin.
But the heaviness never left me. It got harder and darker and I felt myself slipping deeper with each day that passed.
I’ve never been very good at pretending things are okay when they’re not, so when friends asked how I was doing, I told them. I told them that I was struggling. That I didn’t know if I was going to make it through this alive, literally. That this was the hardest thing that I had ever had to do and I felt clueless.
And then, they told me too.
They told me how much they cried and all the things they used to do to get through each day. I was shocked. And I felt like a bad friend. (Great, like I needed another thing to feel guilty about!) Why didn’t I know about this? Why did I not see how much they were struggling?
Hearing all their stories helped, a lot. I felt like I was slowly becoming a part of this special secret tribe. Even on the bad days, I remembered their words and slowly, the heaviness began to lift.
Today I took a walk down to the beach with my 6 month old little dude. I felt the fresh air and the sun on my skin, while he sat in the sand and played. Today I looked around me and realised how far we have come together, in just 6 months. It just happens. You don’t have to try.
All you have to do is: Accept.
I think that’s the key to enjoying your post natal depression. Because there will be flickers of light amongst the dark, but you need to be there to notice them. When your baby flashes you a hint of a smile, or when they giggle for the very first time.
Accept your dark days and acknowledge them for what they are NOW. And know that your now will change with every day that passes. And that your baby does love you, more than you could ever imagine.
And then one day, you’ll wake up before your baby does. And you’ll realize, you’re not tired anymore.
You’ll go to the kitchen and make yourself a cup of tea and you’ll actually sip it, slowly.
And then your baby will wake up, happy.
Welcome to our secret tribe.