This morning, I saw an acquaintance who had a baby just a couple weeks ago. I told her she looked great, like she never even had a baby. And she replied “I feel pretty good and yes, it does seem like I never even had a baby.” I then said to her “You are blessed, you really are.” To which she shrugged and that was the end of that conversation. She didn’t think it was a big deal that she’d just had a baby, and I wasn’t about to make it a big deal. She looked as good as she did before she had her baby. She didn’t look tired. She has two other children, and seems unphased by the new addition. She really is blessed, she really is.
At that point, I felt really awkward. I didn’t know her that well, so what else was there to say? Though the conversation, albeit brief, stayed on my mind for a while today (because I immediately thought this would make for a good post), I refused to let it get to me. Knowing what I now know, that I am far from the only one who didn’t experience a perfect pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum experience, I didn’t react with feelings of resentment, jealousy, or even regret like I probably would have if I hadn’t had postpartum depression (PPD) but was just struggling with my first crack at motherhood, all anxious and uncertain.
I reminded myself of what I’d written in my book….you don’t know what goes on in someone else’s life. She could have relatives close by that can help watch her baby regularly and other two children and/or she could have a very good babysitting arrangement. She seems to have a very laid-back personality, with no predisposition to anxiety, self esteem issues, or even pessimism. She exudes confidence. None of these describe me or my experience. But again, I have to tell myself that I don’t really know what’s going on in her life. How things appear in public could be very different from what they’re really like in the privacy of one’s home.
My journey to motherhood has taught me many things about myself. I believe I was meant to experience PPD, and survive it…..and emerge from it a very different person. Had I not experienced PPD, self doubt and self esteem issues would more than likely have engulfed me and caused me to react to situations like my conversation this morning with the mom with the “everything is hunky dory and oh, did I really just have a baby because I feel that awesome and look that great and motherhood is a snap” attitude in a–let’s just say–negative way. Why would I have reacted in such fashion had I not experienced, and survived, PPD? Well, unlike some moms, I had ZERO experience taking care of babies until I had my very own. I never babysat, nor did my mother ever ask me to help take care of my two younger brothers. When you have ZERO experience, your self confidence would naturally not be that great. And in my pre-PPD days, my self esteem was so lousy that my self confidence would take a nose dive at every little thing. Negative thoughts and attitudes people had about me once used to have a crippling effect on me.
For the past 3-1/2 years, I’ve come to know many moms who, like me, experienced far-from-perfect roads to motherhood. I’m NOT the only mom who’s had infertility problems. I’m NOT the only mom who’s lost pregnancies. I’m NOT the only mom’s who’s had childbirth complications. I’m NOT the only mom who’s had PPD. I’m NOT the only mom who’s felt uncertain, anxious, and a failure at motherhood (and breastfeeding too). I am FAR FROM ALONE in feeling like–how shall I say it–the opposite of a Supermom.
I am not going to let my negative experiences defeat me. Instead, I’m going to take them and make the most of the rest of my life. My PPD survival played a pivotal role in changing me…for the better. My PPD experience—and subsequently writing my book and my blog—has given me a voice and a strength I didn’t previously know was possible for me to possess. After I completed my book last year, it’s like I came out of a cocoon. I metamorphosed into a new person. This change has made such a positive difference in terms of my attitude at work and the attitude others have of me at work. Rather than take offense to, get crushed by, and harbor grudges due to annoying and even condescending behaviors of colleagues at work, I let all that stuff slide now. I tell myself it’s totally not worth getting bent out of shape about. IF I SURVIVED PPD, I SURE AS HELL CAN LET THIS PIDDLY S#?T SLIDE. Not only do I see the change in me, I feel that my colleagues have also seen the change in me.
So, am I going to let this morning’s conversation and realization that there are indeed people who have it seemingly easy when it comes to motherhood get to me? Nope.