This is a poem about post-partum depression.

Disclaimers: I've been feeling a deep need to write everything down, secure myself to the ground with lots of words as I process a pretty complicated period of my life.

I've been dealing with intense and sometimes debilitating post-partum depression since Marie was born. I don't feel it everyday. When I'm happy and making jokes and doing my job, it's real- I'm not pretending. I am happy. Even if I wanted to, I'm not capable of faking anything that well.

But when I find myself in some pretty dark spaces, that's real too. It's important for me to honor both. 

I also want it to be real. Part of PPD, for me, is not knowing if what I'm feeling is real. Writing about it gives it a place in my life. I wish it wasn't here, and I wish it was easier, but I'm working through it. I'm working with healthcare providers to find a solution. I'm working on finding a good therapist. I'm working on being honest with myself and others about what and who I can be during this time.

I'm also experiencing lots of joy, happiness, and gratitude. It's a bewildering time to be me, and I want it all written down.

This is a poem about life.


She cradles the baby in water, a mountain range creating a soft valley of skin,
a scar forming a river bed.

The baby stops crying, and looks up, wide-eyed with surprise-

I wasn’t expecting this to work

And yet, there is calm.

The mother shifts, fingers forming a web- gently keeping the baby’s head above water.

She pretends this is the water-birth she envisioned in birthing classes. Meditating with other mothers, side-by-side on yoga mats, smugly convinced they controlled their own bodies.

She expected this to work.

But instead of a water birth, there was a c-section. And an asshole doctor who promised his coworkers that his wife would never give birth this way.

He expected her to work.

The second time, a second asshole doctor. He used forceps, promising her that this is okay for the baby, but it won’t be okay for you.

He knew she didn’t work.

Now she sits in the tub, broken in places doctors can’t see, holding her baby. Thinking about Andrea Yates and no longer smug.  This is motherhood:

Holding your child’s head above water-
protecting them from a madness
no one else sees. 


Suzanne McDougal said...

My daughter. Worse. My family. It is real, awful, indescribable, but you have. Come see me sometime in my far away room.

The Cotton Floozy said...

Duuuuude, when I had PPD I wrote a poem about Andrea Yates, too.

Hope you figure out a good chemical cocktail that works for you. I've found a pretty good scrips myself. Message me about them if you'd like.

PS thanks for naming your baby after me.

Flo said...

The aftermath of giving birth is so tough! Congrats on your babies and hang on there, I promise it will get better. Look after yourself so you can enjoy this time as much as possible.
I've been a reader of your blog for quite some time now, but I'm not sure I've ever commented before. But I just have to tell you that I admire you so much for your bravery and clarity and for your facing your fears, doubts and detractors. May we all be strong like you when it comes to stepping away from organized religion.
Keep going. I hope things get better soon. PPD is just a phase. You have been through some intense stuff recently, too. It will get better.
Hugs from Chile (South America).

Natalie said...

PPD sucks I had it twice out of four kids. Glad you are getting help. Virtual hugs from Idaho

Rachel Haack said...

I LOVE you Stephanie. You live life so openly, it's a gift:)