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I had my first child shortly after I turned 23. I was going to be a single mom, and I spent my pregnancy preparing for all the challenges and sacrifices that were to follow. What I wasn’t prepared for was how I felt immediately following coming home with my daughter. I was experiencing new feelings and emotions and was comparing myself to what I thought a new mother was supposed to feel. I had strong feelings of regret for having my child, was easily agitated, sad, had zero energy, and I didn’t feel like myself.

I made an appointment with my doctor, and I felt so ashamed and embarrassed for the way I was feeling. I couldn’t just “shake it off” like so many people would say. I was able to get on a medication that helped me a lot, and I went on and off medication for years after that with periods of feeling good and then needing medication to help normalize. Please note that if there is any family history of mental illness, it is much more likely that you will experience depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) at some point in your life.

Later, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby boy into our family. My pregnancy was great, but I feared experiencing what I had after the birth of my daughter. Within minutes of my son’s birth, it felt like a massive wave crashed down on me and swept me right off of my feet. I had horrible feelings about my son. I felt numb and was crying tears of sadness and panic that I might not love this baby. Had I made the wrong decision? Why had I done this again?

I was terrified to go home, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to cope well. At home, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep . . . all I did was cry. My husband had to help me with so many things, and I finally sought medical help.

One thing I have learned is that you must speak up, you must seek help, and you must not feel ashamed. There is help, healing, and life beyond these feelings.

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