I recently came across an Instagram post that really left an impact on me. She talked about her struggle with postpartum anxiety and depression and how she never expected it to affect her during such a happy time in her life. Out of curiosity, I Googled symptoms of postpartum depression. I was routinely screened for it after both my pregnancies during the 6 week postpartum check, but it was never an issue at that time. I was still in the “honeymoon” stage of having a baby and I was happy. Fast forward 5 months. I have been feeling “off” for a while now and I’m finally starting to understand why. One specific article I read described me almost exactly. I read each word and started to cry. Though I haven’t been diagnosed by a doctor, I am 99.9% certain that this is what I have been dealing with.
Ever since Jaiden was born, it has been a difficult transition from having one to two kids. Jasmine is deep into her “terrible twos” phase with no signs of it letting up soon. And Jaiden? He is either colicky, gassy, reflux-y, or all of the above. I honestly have no idea anymore. I know I shouldn’t be complaining because I have been blessed with not one, but two beautiful (but very needy) children, but I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
I am really struggling. I may not show it most days, but I am. I don’t know if it’s gotten worse since Danny Ray has been gone, but this has been going on long before he left. I would say this started after my mom was no longer around to help me with the kids. I was overwhelmed, but I assumed that was a normal feeling. There’s always an adjustment period where you just have to get used to things. But for me, that feeling has never gone away.
I remember in those first few months, I would constantly feel resentment toward Danny Ray for not helping me enough. I say enough because he did help me, but not always in the capacity I wanted him to. Jaiden would be crying nonstop and not once would he offer to hold him for a little bit. He never changed his diaper unless I asked him (over and over again). He never asked if I needed a break. He would often come home from work and complain about how tired he was, and all I could think was, “Seriously? Were you up every 2 hours last night, and then had to take care of two kids all day?” I was mad. I was always mad.
I’ve found that I have a very short fuse and get angry and annoyed over the smallest things. I will yell at Jasmine for pooping in her underwear, for not listening to me, or for not wanting to eat, and then I feel terrible about it afterward. I also get so frustrated when Jaiden won’t stop crying and I can’t get him to stop. Sometimes this goes on for hours and I feel like such a bad mom. It’s my job to take care of these kids and most of the time I feel so inadequate because I have no idea what I’m doing. I get so jealous when I see moms with their kids who are so well-behaved. I’m the mom with the screaming toddler in the middle of Target. It’s embarrassing because I feel like people are secretly judging me for it. Like, “Look at that mom who can’t control her kid.” And that makes me cry because I am doing my best, but I feel like it’s never good enough.
Speaking of Target, I ran into some old friends there the other day who I haven’t seen in a while. They all knew that Danny Ray was gone and they even commended me on going out by myself with two kids, but not a single one asked me if I needed any help, nor did they offer to help in any way. I don’t know why, but that really bothered me. If I were in their position, that would have been one of the first questions I asked. I thought moms were supposed to stick together. They had no idea that just 10 minutes before they saw me, Jaiden was crying at the top of his lungs in the car. Or that Jasmine was throwing a tantrum because she wanted a snack right there, right now. I almost turned the car around and drove back home because I was so drained. It takes a lot for me to get out of the house these days. It’s not easy going places with two kids, so sometimes it’s just easier to stay home. I think the longest we’ve ever gone without leaving the house is 4 days. I don’t want to be cooped up at home. I want to be able take Jasmine to do fun things, maybe start gymnastics again, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy or the motivation to get off the couch. And once again, I feel like a bad mom.
I didn’t realize how bad it was until I kept having feelings of wanting to leave the kids at home and drive away somewhere. I kept thinking, “What is wrong with me?” Please don’t get me wrong. I love my kids and would risk my life for them. I would never do anything to hurt them. But these are the thoughts I had in my head and that’s when I knew there was something wrong.
I have never been the type of person to ask for help. Not necessarily because I don’t like asking for help, but because I feel like I should be able to do it on my own. I especially feel this way about being a mother. These are my kids. They are my responsibility. I love Jasmine and Jaiden. They are my life and I have never felt more complete than I do now. As hard as it is to admit that I need help, I know I need it. And it’s time for me to learn that I shouldn’t be so afraid to ask for it.