By Guest Contributor Cheryl Poitras
Of all of the things people have told me as a new mom, the one thing I wish I never heard was that once the baby comes I will be instantly overcome with love and adoration for this tiny little human I grew from scratch.
Not that I didn’t immediately love my daughter, but it gave me this ridiculous idea that I would have this instant bond and I would have more patience and love than I could imagine from the second I saw her.
When that didn’t happen, I immediately felt like a failure as a mother.
Within the first two minutes of being her mom I already felt like I let her down. This is a feeling that would become all too familiar over the course of the next six months.
I had a tough pregnancy.
I hated every second of being pregnant.
Between being constantly miserable and my husband convincing me to keep the gender a surprise, I had a hard time bonding from the very beginning.
Who was this tiny person that was causing me so much pain and misery?
Why did I choose to do this to myself?
But I still had the light at the end of the tunnel that it was all going to be so worth it at the end. I would go into labour and it would be this empowering experience that would end with this unspeakable bond between a mother and a child and I was finally going to know what everyone has been talking about.
But life sometimes has a different plan for us.
After a lengthy and ultimately failed induction process, I ended up having a c-section.
I didn’t get that empowering experience I had been building up in my head.
I didn’t get to feel my body do what needed to be done to fulfill its biological duty.
I was put on a table, cut open and handed this little baby girl that felt like a stranger to me.
When my heart should have been bursting with love it felt like someone stuck a knife in it instead. There was no instant bond.
I didn’t immediately feel like a mother.
I spent the next six months just waiting.
Waiting for this bond I kept hearing about.
Feeling more like a failure every day that went by without it.
I did everything I could think of to try and bond with my daughter. Nothing worked and as time went on it got harder and harder to even try. I fell into this pit of despair and sadness that I can’t even describe.
Multiple times a day I would think about how I hated being a mother and how she and my husband would be better off without me around.
I was a terrible mother to her and a burden on him. I wanted to leave and never come back. Could I kill myself? Probably not. Could I just get in my car and leave in the middle of the night? Probably.
I brought up my feelings to a few close friends and my doctor. Everyone told me the same thing: “You’re a new mom. It’s stressful. It gets better.”
How long do I need to suffer from fits of rage and soul crushing sadness before I start to feel like a mother?
I had started to just accept that I am just not a good wife or mom and hope that one day things get easier. The guilt and sadness became permanent. The few “highs” I was having in the months earlier were gone.
I started fantasizing about the freedom I would feel as I fell from the bridge near my house knowing that these feelings would be gone soon.
In a brief moment of clarity I realized it was time to get help and not take “this is normal” for an answer.
Now, almost a month into antidepressants and therapy, I’m crawling out of the hole I have been buried in for the last six months.
I can breathe again.
I can find joy in my daughter.
I can see why I decided to become a mother and I am getting waves of an overwhelming love that makes me want to cry at times.
Do I feel that bond everyone told me about? Not yet.
But I know it will come in time.
I know now that it won’t happen overnight and it can’t be forced.
It will grow organically as I spend my days loving and caring for her like only her mother can.
I wish I had known that postpartum depression creeps in slowly and quietly.
I wish someone close to me would have taken notice and said something wasn’t right.
That it didn’t sound normal. My heart breaks for the months I missed enjoying time with my daughter.
But I do know one thing is for sure, that if everything that I have been through in the last six months has gotten me to where I am today then every piece of my broken heart will grow into something beautiful.
Cheryl Poitras is a mama of one little girl, is 32, and lives in British Columbia. In her free time, she is either thinking about her baby girl or feeding her addiction to true crime. You can follow her on Instagram here.