When I became pregnant last year I was elated. I had been trying to conceive for six months and when I saw the positive pregnancy test, I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear. It had finally happened, I was going to be a mother.
The day my daughter Annabell was born was the best day of my life.
I’ll never forget the moment she arrived.
The doctor handed her to the nurse. The nurse laid her down on the table to check her under the bright light. And my daughter, crying at the top of her lungs, immediately turned to stare right at me and my husband. She didn’t take her eyes off of us the entire time she was being examined, it was as if she knew right away that we were hers and she was ours.
I was in love.
The days that progressed were a blur. Twenty minutes of sleep here, an hour of trying to breastfeed there. Lot of firsts. First time bathing a baby. First time changing a baby. First time getting thrown up on by a baby…
On the third day after she was born I had only slept for a total of 5 hours. Annabell had latch issues, which led to her not gaining weight which put an unexplainable amount of pressure on me. I would sit up in bed for hours with her screaming from hunger as I desperately tried to get her to be able to feed. I was helpless and my body and mind were running on fumes. I was exhausted.
I struggled to get a hold of all the changes that came along with new motherhood, and began to have irrational thoughts. I was blaming myself for everything that wasn’t going the way I thought it should and started to think that Annabell was better off without me. My mind began to spiral out of control, and I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown… but I was the only one who could see it.
Somewhere in the midst of the constant feeding, lack of sleep and emotional overcharge, I found myself knee deep in postpartum depression. Each day became emotionally harder than the next.
“It gets easier” people kept saying, “Just get past week two or month one” and everything will magically be more manageable. But week two came and month one flew by and I kept feeling like I was struggling to stay above water.
During this time I started a new job with Expectful. I had used their pregnancy meditations during my third trimester and they did wonders to make me feel connected to my baby, my husband and myself. But amidst the chaos of postpartum I had forgotten all about my practice.
One night as I laid in my bed unable to fall asleep, I started to cry from pure helplessness. Desperate and weak I rolled out of bed, sat down, closed my eyes and started to focus on my breath. I started to become aware of my thoughts, and realized each one was more negative than the next… I’m not good enough, what if my daughter stops breathing? What if something happens to my husband, how will I do this alone? Suddenly it all became so clear, my mind was running this show and I had just been going along for the ride.
From that day on I told myself that no matter how crazy my days were, I would meditate for 20 minutes each day. This minimal time commitment quickly helped me show up for my daughter in ways I didn’t believe were possible before. I had more energy, and I was able to focus and be more present. I was finally able to fall asleep and have good rest between feedings.
Each day that I meditated my mind got clearer, and I became more positive.
I believe the unconscious decision to sit down and meditate is quite possibly the reason I did not end up in a hospital from severe exhaustion and depression as a new mom.
After learning about how common postpartum depression is I was surprised that meditation isn’t being talked about as a part of pre and postnatal care. When I was discharged from the hospital a day after giving birth, a nurse sat me down to talk to me about the possibility of postpartum depression, but she didn’t give me any guidance as to how to help avoid it. She merely said “if you feel depressed, call your doctor.” This is sound advice when it comes to getting help for postpartum depression and I am by no means saying you shouldn’t call your doctor, you definitely should. But, I believe meditation could help new moms like me deal with our emotions and it should be suggested as a tool to do so.
A regular practice can help women recognize the emotional ups and downs that inevitably happen when we become parents, and gives us the confidence to trust our instincts. It can help save a lot of women from a tremendous amount of uncertainty, turmoil and frustration.
If you are a new mom and are struggling in any way, please know that you are not alone and there are medical professionals and tools like meditation out there to support you. Postpartum depression affect 1 in every 7 women, and on average 1 in 10 of those women get treatment. The more awareness we bring to Postpartum Depression the more we can help women who suffer from it.