I became a mother at the age of 22. As the first of my circle of friends to have a baby, I didn’t have much support or knowledge of what becoming a mother would do to me. My oldest son was born via emergency cesarean in April of 2009. I tried to breastfeed him, but I quit around 3 weeks into it because it hurt and I didn’t know where to reach out for help. Around this time I also began to find myself having extreme periods of absolute rage, followed by hopelessness. Here’s the thing though, I had no history of depression or anxiety or anything like that. I had no idea what was wrong with me and my poor husband was just as lost as I was. The extreme mood swings lasted a very long time after his birth. It became a new normal for me. Some days I was fine and almost felt like my old, happy self. Other days I felt like the walls were closing in around me and I couldn’t cope. I was ashamed to reach out for help, I didn’t even realize that it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
I struggled with Postpartum Depression/Anxiety after each of my 3 pregnancies. By the time I got some help, my youngest child was two years old. I had finally reached what I now view as my own rock bottom. My marriage was failing and I was barely surviving day to day, much less thriving. I went to a primary care physician for the first time and told him plain and simple that I was miserable. He gave me a medication and after a couple of weeks I began to feel something I hadn’t felt in a very long time. The color was coming back into my world.
I will add this disclaimer- while the medicine helped, there were several other factors that contributed to my “recovery” from this dark cloud. In late 2015 I joined a local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers International) that changed my life in a lot of ways. If you haven’t heard of MOPS and you’re desperately seeking your village or tribe… go to http://www.mops.org and look for a chapter near you. I walked into a group of women and felt seen for the first time in a long time. I am still a part of that group, although 2020 has stalled our season quite a bit. I’m aging out of the preschoolers group after this year but I intend to join the chapter for moms of older kiddos because having a group of friends who love you and GET IT is one thing I think every single mother needs to thrive. ( Learn more about my MOPS experience here – https://harmoniouspandemonium.blog/2019/04/14/find-your-tribe/ )
Another factor of my recovery was spiritual, which we can discuss at a later time.
So as my children were all entering the elementary school years, I was finding myself able to breathe and enjoy my life more and more each day. It was becoming time for me to step back from being just someone’s mommy and to find what sets my heart on fire. One day, my best friend who happens to be a birth doula was chatting with me on the phone. I’ll never forget the conversation:
Her: “I have a client who wants 40 postpartum hours, so I’m on my way home to go over my contract.”
Me: “What does that mean?! What do you do for postpartum!???”
Her: “Oh, you know… help with the housework, prepare meals, let mom rest while you snuggle the baby, and basically just be a support person for the new mom.”
Me: “NO WAY! I didn’t know that was a thing! I would totally do that, it’s so awesome that you’re doing that for someone. Do I have to do birth-support to be able to do postpartum?”
Her: “Nope, there are lots of doulas who only offer postpartum, or only offer birth support. It’s up to you.”
And that, my friends…. was that. I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a postpartum doula. I sat on the idea for a few months, waiting to see if it drifted away like many other ideas have in the past. But it never did. I felt my heart being pulled to support other families, other women… moms just like me. It became my unofficial life’s purpose to never let any other young woman get to that rock bottom that I got to. To show her love and support and to be the light in the darkness.
So, here I am! I am studying constantly, immersing myself in all the things that there are to learn about supporting new families. I have learned so much already, and yet… there is so much I still don’t know. I am a lover of learning, so that’s a real perk to this job- I’ll never stop learning and I am so excited to share my education and passion with others.