Thirdeyemom

Motherhood: The Greatest Gift of All

My greatest achievement in life is and will always be motherhood. Being a mother is the greatest gift I will ever receive and I am truly grateful to be surrounded by so much incredible love and happiness.

Today marks my daughter’s 8th birthday and four days ago my son Max turned 10. Ten years ago I was in a much different place than where I am today. What normally should be an incredibly joyous time in life ended up being one of the darkest moments ever. I honestly was not sure if I would make it.

It is a long and personal story that someday perhaps I’ll fully have the courage to share. It still astounds me that as such an advocate for so many causes that I still cannot find the ability to use my voice to speak about a cause that impacted me so personally and significantly.

At the time, I felt completely utterly alone in the world. Suffering in silence. Darkness. Sleepless nights. Panic attacks. Lack of desire to eat, sleep or hold my newborn son. Each and every day after the birth of my child I could hardly get myself out of the dark box that was suffocating my mind, my heart, and my soul. It was ruining my life.

I didn’t know exactly what it was. I had thoughts and ideas about it but honestly could hardly even function. I just wanted to run away and flee. I wanted to close my eyes forever to escape the fear, the desperation and the pain I felt. I didn’t know how in the world I would make it or survive this dreadful hell I was living. Until we figured it out. It was postpartum depression and it was serious.

I will never forget the agony, despair, fear and anguish that I felt each and every breathing moment of the day. The nights were worse as I laid awake in fear. I wondered how I would ever get out of this scary dark place. How would I ever care for my newborn son? How would I make it through?

Somehow through a tremendous amount of love, support and help three months after I was at the bottom of my life, I broke through. It was gone. I will never ever forget how it felt to be in such a horrifying emotional and mental place of mind. Nor will I forget my husband or family who sacrificed so much to help pull me through.

Two years and four days after the birth of my son, I went on to have my beautiful daughter Sophia. Was I scared I’d get it again? Yes! But this time I understood the signs and knew that I could get help. Sadly, many women suffer alone in silence and some end up losing their lives. Postpartum depression is not something people should ignore and go left untreated. Nor is it something a woman should be embarrassed or ashamed of having.

Much more awareness needs to exist to help new mothers understand the signs of PPD and get help if they need it. No one should have to ever suffer alone.

Ten years later I look back at these painful memories that I so want to forget. Yet somehow I realize that without the darkness, perhaps I would have never fully seen the light.

My greatest achievement is and will always be motherhood. For being a mother and raising my children to become productive, global, caring, loving citizens of the world is the one of the greatest gifts I can give.

 

According to the most recent study directed by the CDC in 2008, approximately 11% of women per annual live births suffer from varying degrees of PPD.  Per “Postpartum Progress”, a leading blog on PPD which demonstrates extensive knowledge on the subject, “this would mean that each year approximately 950,000 women are suffering from postpartum depression”.  I believe that these numbers are actually on the low side since many cases of PPD are not reported.

 

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge, Achievement. To view more entries click here. 

 

47 comments

  1. maamej

    Thanks for courageously sharing your story – where you are now is indeed a great achievement after what you’ve been through with PPD. I understand your reluctance to have shared it before; sometimes we don’t want to expose what is most painful to the view of other people, even though by doing so it can help others. Thanks also for the gorgeous photos of your family 🙂

  2. Thank you for writing such a heartfelt blog about such an important issue. As a midwife I agree postpartum depression is a lot more prevalent than statistics indicate, but it’s a subject many women worry about speaking up about as they fear intervention from social services. This fear prevents them from getting the help they need. With proper support you can get better and enjoy motherhood as you describe. It is normal to get baby blues around day three postnatally but if this doesn’t lift within a few days please speak to your midwife or gp.

    • Thanks so much! I found it rather discouraging that my doctors were so unhelpful! Had I to do it all over again I would have used a midwife. I think OBs should inform expectant mothers about PPD during pregnancy and have resources available if they are suffering. I had to search a lot for help and thankfully I finally found the right doctor who specializes in PPD.

  3. In so many ways, I could have written this post myself. I had PPD after my first child; I weighed 98 lbs, and I was nursing her. I was struggling to survive while I was trying to support more life. I had 3 more children and never returned to that same place. Now that my kids are in their 20s, I’m more hesitant to count them as my achievement. Certainly credit goes to them for becoming “productive, global, caring, loving citizens of the world”. And perhaps, adding 4 more citizens to the overpopulated world wasn’t the most globally caring thing I could have done. But motherhood was a choice that I made with my whole heart, my young, earnest, semi-aware heart. No choice is perfect, probably. We make them and then continue to make new ones. Motherhood, though, is indeed a crucible for profound growth. And as I said in my post, my achievement is to have grown. No regrets. No perfection. Motherhood remains a beautiful way to learn love and responsibility nevertheless.

    • So beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story too. Raising four children is no easy feat especially four productive, global, caring loving citizens. Yes motherhood is a wonderful gift that we are lucky to have. 🙂 The best gift ever.

  4. As usual you bridge the gap between emotion, information and learning. I’ve always said that motherhood has been and remains the hardest part of my life. The responsibility is deep and wide and the rewards are the same. It’s evergreen, spontaneous and the greatest challenge withy its emotional, physical and spiritual aspects. Ypu’ve certainly interpreted the challenge with gusto.

    • Thanks for sharing Sally. I find motherhood to be hard at times too but yes the rewards are great. It is scary taking on so much responsibility for a new life and as I get older I see and learn that motherhood never ends. My mother still worries about us the same today as she did when we were born. Thanks for the nice comment!

  5. Motherhood, this was the topic that immediately came to my mind when I read this prompt. Motherhood, the greatest gift, the greatest achievement on earth. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Nicole I applaud your courage to being awareness to the subject of post partum depression. I too suffered with this with my first child. A dark time but like you at about 3 months the clouds lifted.

    • Thanks Sue. It is amazing after I wrote this post how many other women have gone through similar experiences. I know there are different levels of PPD and I am thankful that although mine was pretty scary and severe, I made it. There was a friend of our family, a beautiful girl who bought a gun and shot herself and child while her husband was in residency. Tragic stuff like this happens.

      • Just heartbreaking Nicole. Mine was not as severe and for that I am so grateful. Looking back though to that dark place one has a scary glimpse of how it happens.

  7. Your courage is a gift to us all and is an achievement in itself. How wonderful that you are well and enjoying your beautiful family. Warmest good wishes and happy birthdays to your daughter and son 🙂

    • Thank you Andrew. Sometimes it is hard to remember and even think about the very dark times in life, but in a strange way surviving those times are what makes us stronger and a better person.

  8. I’m pleased you got through it relatively quickly. It must have been a terrible time for you. Your children look wonderful and I’ll bet they have very interesting lives with you as their Mum.

    • Thanks Debra. Yes it was horrifying but I am glad that it is in the past and somehow I became a stronger, happier person. Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  9. You two wonderful kids….So sorry to hear about yout your post partum depression , and so nice of you to share the story with us…thereby spreading some awareness on this lesser known psychological state…But Nicole ,you have such a lovely family , I am sure there are a lot of more pleasurable memories in store for you 🙂

    • Wow, thank you for your kind words. Very nice! It was a very scary time in my life and although it was hard to share the story and still is, I’m glad I did in case I can help someone else who ever suffers. Amazing how much joy and love my children bring me ! 🙂

  10. Nicole, we went with the same idea for accomplishments but what a struggle you had to achieve getting back to normal. So happy you made it through and are here to bless us with your stories and photos.

    janet

  11. Congratulations to you, Nicole. You’re a great mom to your two beautiful children, Happy 8th Birthday to your daughter. Looking back, I’m sure I suffered from PPD for the first couple of months, with my first baby, but I don’t think it was recognised then, and I just battled through.

    • Thanks Sylvia! I am sure a lot of women go through PPD. It is hard. We need a village to raise a family like mothers in Africa but here in the western world we are often isolated after birth and I had no family here to help.

      • Yes, this was the case with me. We moved into a new house in an area where we knew no-one, because of hubby’s job. In those days, we didn’t even have a telephone. It wasn’t easy for me being at home with a new baby on my own, and with nobody to talk to.

  12. Michelle Twin Mum

    What a wonderful post Nicole, not that you had PPD (we call it PND here) but that you are speaking out. There are so many mums sharing their PND stories here to help raise awareness and help others know there is help and it happens.

    it hink it is awesome that you know you now see the light shining brightly as you saw the darkness first. I bet you are a wonderful mum. Have a great week, Mich x (PS I adore your blog)

    • Thanks Michelle! It was hard to write and many times I just want to forget it all happened. That is what happens when you experience something so hard and awful. But I am glad I shared. Thanks for your kind words Michelle! 🙂 So glad you like my blog too!!! Nice meeting you at AYA and hope to see you there again!

  13. Happy happiest birthday to both of your children. May God always watch and bless their next paths in life, and may they grow as awesome as their momma! 🙂

  14. Thank you for sharing a journey that makes you stronger for having travelled it and us for having read it. You have a beautiful family, enjoy this special time.

  15. I’ve worked with a number of new mums who were in a similar state. It is really tough and the stigma attached is the biggest obstacle to getting help for many women. Sharing stories in a public forum will help many. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Thanks so much! Yes I think it is the stigma that keeps women from wanting to tell others. You feel like a failure and it is awful. Once I got over the realization that it wasn’t my fault and it was due to my body and the changes I was going through hormonally I was able to recover. Thanks for your comment.

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  17. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Given the wonderful advocacy work that you do Nicole, especially with mothers in great need, I can’t help but believe that your own personal experience gave you a deep well of compassion assisting others. You are such a beautiful woman, inside and out! 🙂

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