Expectant moms, or women who are thinking about starting a family, get a lot of advice. Some of it useful. Plenty of it not. Most of it is given with good intent, whether it helps or not. But the one piece of advice that I was never given, and God how I wish I was, is to find your village. Find it and nurture it and hold on to it tight. Because you are going to need it. I didn’t have a village. I have no family. I have friends but most of them aren’t physically near me. My partner worked too much and his family, that was near by, were also completely wrapped up in work. I had nobody when my baby came along. And it was incredibly difficult. It made what should have been a time to cherish almost unbearable. It destroyed my marriage and it nearly destroyed me. It was the loneliest time of my entire life. Thinking about it now nearly causes a panic attack. And that is not an exaggeration. My heart races. I feel nauseous. I want to not think about it. But I need to. Because I need to do what I can to prevent someone else from going through this. As a mom to a daughter this is a vow that I have made. That I will do whatever is in my power to make sure that someday she does not go through this. I will be part of her village. I will help her find the rest of her village. She will have people that love her and are ready to step up and help her when she needs it most. That is my promise to her.
To be clear, I did not have PPD. My thoughts were always rational. I never wanted to run away (not without my baby at least). I knew that eventually things would get better. But many women do suffer with postpartum depression and that’s just another reason to make sure you have your support system in place BEFORE baby arrives. So, although I didn’t have PPD, what I did have was a very difficult baby. A baby that not just cried, but screamed bloody murder, for hours on end. She didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep. It was a vicious cycle. And with so little support around me the days were incredibly long and I never knew when help might arrive. My partner was terribly inconsistent with his working hours. There was no relief schedule. My frantic phone calls for back up often went unanswered. For hours. That made it all so much harder. Not knowing when I might get help. I couldn’t count down the hours because I didn’t know what the hours were. I was steering this ship all alone and there was no lighthouse to guide me in to port. It was just sort of sound the horn and hope to make it there eventually.
Look, I’m going to be honest here, I don’t have a lot of tips on how to find this village. I just know that you should. And, hey, maybe you wont’ need it. Maybe it will be smooth sailing for your and your baby. But don’t wait until it’s not to assemble your team. Because you will be too damn tired to do it then.