I've consulted with a therapist and I take a weekly mental health inventory to keep tabs on myself. I've been reading Brene Brown's brilliant books and have had some very vulnerable conversations with other mamas who have boldly shared their experience. I'm thankful for that tribe.
I've been struggling with a mild case of postpartum depression, There are certain things that have triggered the blues including house remodel frustrations (a project that was supposed to be done before baby arrived), the death of my grandmother two weeks after baby arrived, homesickness for Colorado and family, and what has proven to be the biggest trigger, which is talking about my birth story.
The first time I had a monstrous wave of sadness was 6 weeks postpartum when I went to a "swap" at the birthing center. These are awesome gatherings where families can bring outgrown clothes and duplicate items to swap with other families who can put them to use. It's also a chance for much needed socialization and getting out of the house.
I saw another mama there whom I had met in the prenatal yoga class. She and I were pretty regular attendees, and I always enjoyed seeing her, though we never connected outside of class. She was still pregnant at the swap, and I think she was due in about 2 weeks. She was delighted to see my baby and that she finally arrived. She recalled being anxious for me as I came to class at 40 weeks...and then 40+2...and then 41 weeks. She asked when the baby finally arrived and I told her 41+6, just under the wire of the 42 week limit when the birthing center automatically refers women to the hospital. Before I could say anymore, like how I did wind up at the hospital and finally a C-section, the other mama said "Oh good! Well the most important thing is that you had her here at the birthing center. I'm so happy for you!" To which I said something like "Yeah, it's great." and then moved on to look at the items available at the swap. I had such an overwhelming wave of shame cloud over me that I couldn't even continue the conversation. I'm sure she figured I was just sleep deprived, which I was.
I absolutely love the birthing center and wouldn't change anything about my decision to receive care there, and I was fortunate to be in a group of very non-judgemental mamas for our birthing/childcare prep class. But I think the birthing center tends to attract a certain clientele that is highly opinionated about "natural" birthing. Many birthing center mamas tend to lean heavily toward vaginal/no drug births, breast is best, anti-circumcision, anti-immunizations, pro-organic and non-GMO. Everything else is considered poor parenting.
It think it is fine for people to feel strongly about these issues and to point toward evidence-based research (so long as it isn't a Jenny McCarthy book), but there needs to be room for grace. A lot of grace. And a realization that sometimes things don't go as planned, and sometimes there is a lot that is out of our control. And maybe, just maybe, every parent is doing the best they can and making the decisions that works the best for their family.
7 months postpartum, I still get bummed out about how labor and birthing went for me. I'll occasionally see an article about how C-section babies are at risk for health problems later in life and how they might not be as emotionally bonded to mama because they didn't get immediate skin-to-skin contact.
But then I look at other mamas who have had their babies via C-section. And they're phenomenal. Some of the best mamas I know had their babies via C-section and I've never thought their children were negatively affected by their entry to the world. Then I look at my own baby and wonder what it would be like if I were anymore bonded and in love with her. I can't even fathom it. When I realize this, I find myself embracing my birth story and empowered by it. I take pride in the fact that I'm a member of a tribe that had a difficult journey but has come through stronger in the end. There are still challenging days, but reflecting on all of this has helped me out of that dark place of postpartum depression and better able to appreciate this new role I find myself in.