Time to Practice What I Preach – Vulnerability and my Postpartum Experience

Its been a year. One whole year that has gone zooming by like a movie in fast forward. Didn’t always feel like this though. Those first 3 months crawled by, frame by aching frame. I’ve been thinking of writing this for awhile now – I feel like I’ve gotten enough space from it all to be able to.

I’m still scared. I’m scared of being judged, of being found lacking in some way.

In some ways I am doing this for me – yup I admit it. As therapists we really aren’t supposed to do things for ourselves in therapy, which lucky for me this is just a blog about therapy and not therapy itself! As much as this is for me it really is more for somebody else. Anybody else who is suffering and who reads this and doesn’t feel alone. Who has the courage to reach out and get the support that they need.

I suffered after the birth of my second child. If I am honest, I suffered after the birth of my first, but it was much more mild and lasted longer. It was a festering wound instead of the blunt force trauma in which postpartum depression and anxiety hit me the second time around.

I have always tended to the anxious side of things and have had depression on and off my entire life – I didn’t become a therapist because I think that my life is so perfect that I need to give everyone all the answers ūüôā I did it because I¬†know what it feels like and I also know the benefit of a good therapy experience.

Anyway, I’m familiar with emotional discomfort but this was something different. It was like I had lost a piece of myself.

I had read a blog prior to giving birth to my second baby about a woman who had an incredibly difficult time, not bonding with her new baby, but with her relationship with her older child.

What?? Not gonna be me, I thought.


So things got worse with my connection with my 3 year old and my patience got thinner and thinner until I didn’t recognize myself or my responses anymore. I found the lowest point in my life in moments that were supposed to be the brightest. I reached a breaking point.

I got help. Good help, in fact great help that inspired me to work with this population.

My therapist at the time strongly encouraged me to get back to writing. So I did ( I am a good little client and do all my homework – no matter how begrudgingly).

I am going to share a journal entry with you all. Unedited. Raw. (well except I have taken out my three year old’s name) I wrote this during my postpartum period – maybe 9 weeks out. I honestly don’t remember at this point. I just remember that it was the first journal entry I wrote and it was after my second session.

This vulnerability is making my hands shake as I type and is giving me fluttery feelings in my chest. But its ok.

Like I said, if this touches just one person its all worth it. So here goes nothing, or something….you decide.

Last night I was lying in bed and spent a lot of time thinking – unfortunately not unusual – about love and happiness. I thought about my 3 year old and I had this sickening thought that maybe I didn’t love her anymore. Things have been so bad lately I just couldn’t tap into that joy I once felt looking at her and thinking about her. Instead of an extension of me, like she used to be, she has become something alien to me. Where once the sight of her “reading” a book would bring warmth to me, now I stumble upon her and she seems strange and unnatural.¬†

The reality is that I am the one that has become strange. I have lost myself. It is easy to say its been sine this pregnancy and birth (because its gotten so much worse) but if I think farther back it probably starting before my first pregnancy. 

My adult life has been¬†dedicated¬†to goals – college, graduate school, marriage, house, job, kids, private practice – and I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped to consider what I want it all to look like and if these things fit into that picture. That’s a scary thought and in some ways reassuring.¬†

It reassures me that I am going through something. I love my three year old ( god the thought of something happening to her makes me sick) but my “place” is clouding everything.

I used to run a group based on the quote “we don’t see things as they¬†are, we see them as we are” (or¬†something¬†like that) and I think that fits maybe where I’ve been at lately. “

Reading this entry feels almost like someone else wrote it. I kind of remember writing it – I mean I remember that I was moving into a better place when I was writing this and by a better place I mean less reactive – my mood was still shit.

Getting well took time and work. It took patience, compassion, and most of all forgiveness.

I am grateful. ¬†Grateful for my own training to have the wherewithal to say “this can’t be normal”, grateful for my husband who saw that I was not normal, grateful that I did not have to suffer for long (it felt like a lifetime – my heart breaks for my families out there that suffer for months on end) and grateful to the wonderful providers who helped me to hear:

You are not alone. 

You are not to blame. 

With help you will be well.



Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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