Thursday October 9th, 2014, I gave birth to my third and final child. A daughter, a perfect mix in looks of her two older sisters and the final puzzle piece that completes my heart. As the excitement of visitors, gifts, and warm wishes dies down, I will receive a different kind of guest. Tomorrow a psychologist from Social Services will come to my home to ask me if i plan to commit suicide, or feel the urge to harm my family. I am ready for the visit, as unpleasant as I find the prospect of having a stranger come into my home and interview me about my mental health – I know it’s necessary, and I don’t begrudge them coming to check. After all, I could be the one that slips through the cracks and hurts myself, or worse, someone I love.
Postpartum depression is something that, oddly enough, I have never experienced. After each of my pregnancies I have experienced the happiest phases of my life – like a not quite manic version of postpartum euphoria. ‘The baby pinks’, as opposed to ‘the baby blues’, is very real, and like the blues, it goes away. The first few months after my children are born I am radiant, thoughtful, active, and genuinely happy. I take care of everyone like I was born for it. I float happily through 3 am feedings, I am not affected by endless crying, I even make friends more easily.
Now that I am properly medicated I am hoping that this pink phase isn’t as extreme as it was with the other two – although it feels like I will be doing her a disservice by not being as doting as I was with the other girls. The pinks are frightening because the inevitable come-down is devastating, and not just to me. I go from beaming angel of motherly excellency to the catatonic, stinky, angry, person that I normally am. I go back to not eating properly, not sleeping, and not brushing my hair.
I don’t understand any of it. Some have told me that I do better at the beginning because I feel like I have a purpose again; but do I not have a purpose to begin with? I am already a mother, saying that I have ‘new meaning’ makes me feel as though I didn’t love my older children as much. (I am fully aware that that is not the intent of the statement). I love all of my girls so much (understatement), why can’t I constantly be in the pink? Will I ever have enough to satisfy me enough to be happy with my every day routine? Fortunately for me, this is the last time that I will be enduring this unique form of mental illness – but I am scared of what is to come. Am I destined to a life of indifference and complacency?
Wake up, medicate, just get by, repeat.
My girls deserve a pink mom, and so does my husband. I have signed up to do volunteer work at my oldest daughter’s school in the hopes that I feel valuable for a longer period of time. I am determined to keep writing, to leave the house every day – even just for a walk around the neighbourhood. I want to fight back, and I want to succeed. I can be permanently pink, but it’s going to take a helluva lot of work – work that the cloudy part of me doesn’t feel interested in participating in. Be prepared for my struggle, I will document it here in the hopes that if you have any advice, you offer it up.
Even though The baby blues/pinks can go away with treatment and time, it is still a very serious and very real form of mental illness, and I think we can all benefit from keeping a dialogue and educating everyone on the risks and dangers of postpartum psychosis. As a community, we shall let no one else slip through the cracks. No more mothers harming themselves or their precious families. Support and understanding is something that we all need, but these women especially, need to know that we are here for them. I am here for you. When I reach my downward fall from motherly grace, I hope that some of you can be here for me.