Dear mama with postpartum mood disorders,

Beautiful, hurting mama, you have more love in your heart than it can hold. It’s why you feel like you’re coming apart at the seams. You are doing the hardest thing anyone has ever done, and you are conquering it with no experience, no preparation, no control. It may leave you battered and bruised and questioning the very meaning of your own life, but you are doing it. Each breath you take, you are overcoming.

That baby that you hold, or have laid in her crib, or have sent to his aunt’s house, or put in daycare, or even the one you cannot hold, you are their perfect, best mother. Even when you are crying, or trembling, or fighting yourself over nursing or formula, even if someone else needs to care for them while you care for yourself. Your baby knows and loves you, yes, even that tiny one. And though you may not be able to see or feel it through the fear and the guilt and the blinding pain of living right now, you love your baby.  You love.

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Every moment hurts right now. It hurts to live. But it won’t always be that way. Though these moments in terrible agony may seem like their own eternity, the pain will ease. The suffering will give way to joy again. There is an end to this grey, blank space. There will be color again. You are becoming one of the strongest, most vital creatures known to humankind. You will be a survivor.

But right now, find comfort where you can. Demand help when you need it. Reach out. Don’t be afraid to tell others what you need, and what you don’t. For some it will be coloring books and long walks with baby. For others it will be medication and hospital stays. Still more will benefit from exercise and extra sleep. But everyone will benefit from being gentle with herself, patient and kind. Take care of yourself; you deserve it, but even more, you need it. You are the best mama when you feel good.

Lean into the wind, wrap your arms tight around yourself, and hold on. Hold on. We’re walking with you. We are all around you. Feel our hope and our desperation and our need; it’s your need and desperation and hope, too. We are with you. Whatever path you take, you will reach your destination, your little one safe in your arms. Those seams that strain with promise and fear and guilt right now, they will hold, because you were made for this, precious mama.

For you, and you, and you…
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