Postpartum Depression Is Motherhood Hell

Filed under: Mommy Wars, Opinions, Expert Advice: Babies

I had postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder with the birth of my first child in 2001. I know what it feels like to see all the other new moms around you happy and glowing while you feel like a miserable monster. Because of how much it truly sucked, and how alone and ashamed I felt, I started my blog Postpartum Progress, which is now the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to childbirth.

One of my PPD survivor friends, Deborah, recently sent me a link to an article on all the things that change when you have a baby. Every single one of the dozens of things listed is blissful and joyous. Every. Single. One. There's nothing about difficulties, fear, regret, diaper blowouts, sore nipples, fat pants, scary thoughts or babies who won't nap. Here is a sampling of the happy list:

  • "You finally stop to smell the roses, because your baby is in your arms."
  • "The sacrifices you thought you made to have a child no longer seem like sacrifices."
  • "You respect your body ... finally."
  • "You become a morning person."
  • "Your love becomes limitless, a superhuman power."
Not me, sister. I can hardly connect to any of the stuff on that list. My list would've included things like:

  • "You cry all the time."
  • "You can't sleep or eat."
  • "You keep worrying about you hurting your baby."
  • "This is the worst you've felt in your entire life."
That would have made more sense and, I'd venture to say, at least 20 percent of all new mothers would agree with me. These moms are incapable of smelling the metaphorical roses, wonder whether they ever should have had a baby in the first place and feel disconnected from their new lives as mothers. Deborah said the article made her want to scream. In her email to me, she wrote, "Not one dealt with the serious struggles of being a new mother. They are sickly sweet and serve to make someone having a hard time feel even worse about themselves."


It's not our fault. We aren't selfish, nasty characters. We have a real, clinical illness that's the most common complication of childbirth. Once we get help, we're usually just fine. In the meantime, though, reading lists about being superhuman while going through PPD is heartbreaking.

Now, I'm the first one to say how my children are absolute heaven. I love them ceaselessly and I truly believe there is nothing else on this earth I can do to top having them. Really. They rock my world. But, this is only after being successfully treated for my postpartum OCD by a psychiatrist. Being a new mom was absolute hell.

I'm glad that many new moms smell those roses. I just want the mamas out there who don't experience these things to know one thing: I've got your back.

Join Katherine every Wednesday here on ParentDish.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.