|Sara Heidinger Photography|
Some common post-natal depression risk factors:
- Lack of practical or emotional support
- History of depression
- Difficult relationship with your own mother
I have all of these contributing factors, and there are certainly may more.
The relationship I have with my Mother has always been challenging. I find comfort in the idea that children choose their parents before they arrive on this Earth. Well damn, I was ambitious because every day has been a learning experience if that’s the case.
My Mom loves as hard as she bites and has a very selective memory about the later. She wanted to toughen me up. I get that. It’s just that she didn’t need to use a jackhammer to tenderize the sensitive little piece of meat that was me. Parents, please choose your tools wisely.
No mother-daughter relationship is perfect and I’m lucky enough to have a mother- and she does mean well, and she does love me. Growing up, I witnessed some parenting strategies I’d like to emulate and many I would choose to avoid.
It’s tricky if you disagree with the way you were raised. Trying to parent in the opposite way can lead to an extreme on the other side of the spectrum- which can be just as damaging. Finding a balance between the two styles is the real test.
Balance. A lifelong assignment never finished.
But back to the PND risk factors, based on the conversations I’ve had with my peers, I have to wonder if we should add ‘independence’ to the list.
Many of my friends are waiting until their 30’s to have children. We are educated, have careers, traveled, and have carefully chosen our partners. We are realistic about motherhood- I did not romanticize it at all. I can’t count how many times I heard, “Having children will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” That didn’t scare me.
Then it happens, you become a mother. All that independence… gone. Everything I learned about self-sufficiency is thrown out with the dirty diapers. My newborn could care less that I know how to live out of a suitcase or open my own jar of pickles.
Being a parent is not a one person or even a two person job. My husband is an incredible father but unfortunately he works 12 hours per day. I could probably manage the tiny, new human in our house but one can only survive so long when you have to choose between eating, showering and sleeping. Not to mention dealing with the hormonal roller-coaster. This is where ‘the village’ needs to step in and assist new Moms!
And if the village can’t read your mind, you can always ask for help. An exercise in humility itself but trust me, it’s worth it to have an extra pair of hands.
A few months after my daughter’s birth, I found myself at a low point. I felt isolated and drained. I worked up the courage to ask someone for help. This person appeared surprised, told me that they never once asked anyone for help with all of their own children. It stung briefly like the hot tingle after a slap. I thought, “She didn’t mean it that way.” When the conversation was repeated again, a few days later, I felt resentful, humiliated, but I promised myself I would show nothing but gratitude for the help I felt like I begged for.
We did make it through that rough patch. It’s all a lesson, lessons everywhere.
From infancy and until age two, children experience growth at an alarming rate. As parents we should consider ourselves to be on the same trajectory. Just like our little offspring, exploring the world every day, parenting is the same type of hands-on experience. Learn your kid, learn your parenting.
None of us are perfect but if we keep open minds, and respect our children and ourselves….I think we will all be just fine.