by Sarah Derdoski
I really tried to prepare myself for everything. I did my very best to plan as much of it as I could, but so much of having a baby is out of one’s control. Thinking back on it now, I’m sure being pregnant throughout an entire winter contributed to my postpartum depression.
I was so sure that when my baby arrived in May, his birth would bring with it relief—accompanied by much needed sunshine and warmth. And it did—mostly. But, there was this little bit, this little bit that gnawed away at me, that I just couldn’t shake.his little bit that made me worry I would never really be happy ever again.
My every waking moment was consumed with anxiety and fear. Was he eating enough? Was he sleeping enough? Was he too pale/yellow/red? Were his toes supposed to stay curled up like that? Moments of true happiness and pleasure were immediately accompanied by “I must have missed something, forgotten something—I shouldn’t be this happy. I’ve let my guard down and now he will surely get whooping cough and die.”
It sounds insane to me now. And I suppose it was, but that’s what postpartum depression does to you. It makes you fucking gaslight yourself, which is a special kind of fucked up.
I have thought so much about the trajectory of the depression and anxiety, and I tell people the only way I can describe it is like hoping for Minnesota winter to end, but it doesn’t. You don’t come out of the darkness, but everyone around you does, and you feel so much shame for not being able to join them.
It took me over a year to surrender and admit I needed help. I spent my son’s first year on this earth completely preoccupied with the possibility that he would be taken violently from me, and that I was ill-equipped to protect him. I can’t ever get that year back, and neither can my son, or my husband.
I realize now how much I need the light.