When I found out I was pregnant I was all kinds of scared. I had only been married for about four months and I remember thinking “I have no idea how to be a mom.” A lot of things happened during my pregnancy that were stressful. My pregnancy was mellow, but life was not, and so I’m sad to admit that I did not enjoy my pregnancy.
I have dealt with my own mental health issues since I was a teenager. When I was 16 I was formally diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I took prescription medication for it until I was about 24. I had never liked being on medication and in those days a person aged out of their parent’s insurance at 24. I tried paying out of pocket for a few months, but I couldn’t manage the expense. So, I managed it by exercising and keeping myself busy. I went to school, I volunteered, I held a job, and I spent a lot of time with friends. When I met my husband, I was going to school to become a marriage and family therapist. We fell in love and I experienced love, kindness, and respect from him unlike anything I’d ever known. He took amazing care of me while I was pregnant.
As we approached the day that we’d get to meet our baby boy I became very excited. I could not wait to meet him, and I spent hours thinking about what he would look like and what kind of little boy he would be. My delivery was a hot mess to say the least. We were scheduled to be induced and I spent the night having contractions. I progressed far enough along to have an epidural administered. Very soon after that the nurses could not locate my son’s heart beat and from there everything was like a fog. They told me they needed to do an emergency C-section. They had me sign a paper and told my husband they’d be taking me into surgery. He was instructed to wait for them to bring him scrubs and lead him into the room. It happened so quickly that our son was already breathing air outside of my body before my husband was brought in.
I felt depleted and drained for days afterward. I lost my appetite and all I wanted to do most of the time was cry. And I had no idea why. I felt no joy, no excitement, I felt like a robot to be honest with you. I breast fed, I changed diapers, I sang, I rocked, I swaddled. That was about it. And then one day my good friend Christine came over to bring us dinner. She showed me how to wrap my baby up in a blanket like a burrito and she rocked him a little. She looked like everything a mom is supposed to look like and I just felt like a train wreck. I asked her, even though asking made me want to cry (but everything made me want to cry), if she felt sad at all after she’d had her babies. She told me that she’d gone through the same thing after she’d had her kids. She explained that a woman’s hormones are thrown all out of whack when she has a baby and that they must readjust. She said that it would be ok and encouraged me to talk to my doctor about it. At my next checkup I spoke to my doctor about it and after a few weeks I started to feel much better. I still struggled with adjustment and balance like any other mom, but I finally felt like myself again.
My son is three now and what I have learned is that community is everything. If I had not spoken out loud to my friend about my struggle I never would have gotten the validation, reassurance, and understanding that I so desperately needed. And I still need it. I receive encouragement and wisdom from my mama friends all the time (I mean I have a toddler for goodness sake). So, if you are reading this and you are struggling, I want you to know that you are not alone. Please ask questions, share feelings, reach out. I just know that there is love and encouragement and a compassion within reach.
-Natalie Wilkinson is currently living in Fresno, California, and is also an essential oil educator. You can find her on Instagram here.