Postpartum Regret Vs. Postpartum Depression
The taboo truth about moms who hate being moms…
When my daughter was born, I found myself hating being a mom. The transition into motherhood was incredibly difficult and not at all what I expected. I felt so lost and alone.
As one mother I encountered in a support group said, “I had a baby to add to my life, not take away.”
I couldn’t agree with her more.
There were many things that went wrong that I thought were going to be so wonderful.
After enduring a long labor that went nothing like my well thought out birth plan, my daughter was placed on my chest and screamed nonstop for the next hour. This was not the soothing and loving experience I had seen in the movies.
I felt no bond with my daughter, and as time went on I feared that I would never experience that close bond I saw other mothers having with their babies. My daughter’s high-intensity screaming continued daily which made our time together very difficult. Breastfeeding was challenging and I gave it up at four months which left me feeling defeated.
As I finally came to terms that this feeling of despair was not going away, I began to question what was going on with me. I had heard about postpartum depression, but I couldn’t relate to it. I thought that maybe I was just in denial, but now I know I was in fact experiencing regret and I was not suffering from a mental illness or postpartum depression.
I actually remember saying, “I’m not depressed. I just don’t like this!”
The problem is I did become depressed and I can’t help but wonder—if I had been validated, truly understood and learned some practical solutions (like hiring some help), if my depression could have been prevented.
The reason I’m passionate about sharing my story is that I think experiencing regret after having a baby is more common than what is shared and talked about openly. A mother can experience regret without it being a symptom of postpartum depression.
Looking back, I wish I hadn’t felt so lost and alone in feeling this. I was ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t know where to turn. There didn’t seem to be any books addressing this and the books on postpartum depression helped, but still didn’t quite fit.
I would have loved to have heard from a professional or another mother, “Given everything you’re experiencing, of course you’re feeling regret. You’re not a terrible person for feeling this way.”
Instead, what I heard was, “This is just the postpartum depression talking and once you’re better you’ll enjoy being a mother.” This statement just didn’t make sense or resonate with me. It was as if I couldn’t possibly be experiencing regret without having a mental health diagnosis. I also asked myself, “What if I never found myself loving the job of being a mother? What then?”
Today, as a postpartum mental health therapist, I help many moms who are struggling the same way I did. Some are not feeling as joyous as they thought they would be. Others are overwhelmed with caring for a fussy baby. Some really are suffering from clinical postpartum depression. And others report regret, feeling they made a mistake the same way I did.
I strive to hear and validate what each mother is really going through without immediately giving them a diagnosis. Additionally, I help with solutions to get them feeling like a confident and happy mom.
If you are experiencing regret, despair, depression, anxiety or anything in between following the birth of your baby, know that you are not alone.
Know that what you’re experiencing may simply be a reaction to the event and day to day life of being a mom not living up to the hype.
Marissa Zwetow is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, and owner of Postpartum Happiness. Marissa became passionate about helping mothers to both prepare and adjust to a new baby after experiencing postpartum regret and understanding what it takes to be on a healing journey to find acceptance, meaning, and happiness in the role of motherhood. To receive your free copy of 12 taboo postpartum truths: What you may need to know, but probably haven’t been told sign up here. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.