The Tyranny of Should
Postpartum Support International Blog
June 17, 2016
by Toki Castro-Tover
Motherhood seems to come with a lot of “shoulds,” some imposed by society, and some imposed by a mother’s harshest critic—herself.
A few of them include that a mother “should”…
- feel happy when a new baby arrives
- have instant instincts about how to care for her baby
- feel only love for her baby
- feel instantly bonded to her baby
As the saying goes: please don’t “should” on yourself.
If you don’t feel instant, overwhelming love and happiness after your child is born, you are not alone. You are not to blame.
Fortunately, talking about postpartum depression is no longer strictly taboo, although the very nature of it tends to cause shame and guilt, making it so much more difficult for a woman to speak up about her feelings.
For me, I said nothing for about a week of experiencing depression. I thought I “should” feel a certain way, and wondered what was wrong with me.
My most distinct memory of my ordeal with depression was one morning, sitting on the side of the bed looking out at the window, I heard a bird chirping. I thought, “I can’t stand this.” I wondered, “What did I get myself into? Was I really ready to care for a baby? How can I keep this up? I am so tired. I don’t want to do this.”
I almost didn’t care about anything. Then a surge of guilt hit. I looked back over and my baby girl and cried. I loved her. I wanted her. She needed me. I needed her.
The next week I got a terrible sinus infection and became very ill. In a strange way, that was what helped me get the help I needed.
The doctor “prescribed” sleep. I was to sleep for 4 days straight, 8 hours a night. No waking up with the baby. (I had a 3 week old by this time. How’s that supposed to work?) I was blessed. My mom and a friend stayed with me to care for my daughter on nightly shifts.
It worked! I slept and kicked the infection. Once I got some sleep—thanks to my sinus infection—I felt clear instead of fuzzy for the first time in a while. The next thing I knew I was telling my mom all about my depression. She insisted I call the OB and tell him as well. Getting all those feelings off my chest was a relief, and I was able to get help.
Get rid of the “shoulds” and reach out—help is out there!
Toki Castro-Tover is a 39 year old native Californian, military wife, and working mother of two baby girls. When she isn’t working for a government contractor building weapons and systems for our wonderful military soldiers, she is blogging on her personal site at Rock The Baby Bump, where she reveals the joys, craziness, and “what the French” struggles of being a first-time mother.