Innate gratitude and pure joy sanctify good motherhood. For some the consumption is cushioned by sweet coos and newborn baby smell. Devotion is upheld by self-sacrifice - “She’s a natural.” For others the doctrine of good motherhood smothers new parents with ideals, ousting the realities of depression, isolation and despondency. Motherhood is not new yet the spectrum of postpartum depression remains taboo.

Time is long. The post-surgery scurry, football size baby in hand, off to grab a nursing pillow (breast is best!) when a ray of light exposes the Milky Way of dust encasing the entryway. It soon passes but a greater shadow of self scrutiny remains. Cries alarm, milk dribbles. Hours are endless. Work and homelife norms transform into unscalable mountains of grief. Identity, ideals and confidence disintegrate. Shame and guilt settle in alongside thoughts of “What have I done?” Unthinkable - a good mom would never…

Detached, I watch the light shift subtly throughout the days, months, year. I have no right to be unhappy. Is it the hormones? When will this end? Will it end? How long has it been this way? Why can’t I do it all? What kind of feminist have I become? Can she feel my misery? It’s supposed to be natural.

The collapse of work ethic and personal upkeep, the lack of pure joy for mothering- I was a failure - a terrible mother. I had been engulfed by postpartum depression. Looking back, I wish I had been able to recognize the signs and get help sooner. Postpartum depression is normal and can be treated. 

I still contend with society’s (and my own) notions of what it means to be a good mother. This work grapples with new motherhood, postpartum mythology, and the struggle for self-compassion. It is an attempt to destigmatize postpartum depression by sharing my experience as a new parent.

More to come.