Why I Am Thankful For My Maternal Mental Health

 
  Photo: Matt Hoffman

Photo: Matt Hoffman

This past November, I was asked to participate in a campaign called #thankfulmymmh and I struggled greatly with it. You see, it took me a long time to reckon with my first childbirth experience.

I felt cheated, robbed, ripped off. Alone, isolated, angry, abandoned and filled with confusion. I felt violated, traumatized, victimized. Reduced to an anonymous puddle of messy hospital bed liners and loud machines. For years I had dreams of confronting the doctor who wrongly diagnosed me and caused my son to be born prematurely. Who caused me to wonder if I would survive the thirty-eight hours it took me to birth my son. “Shame on you,” I would say to this man who told me in no uncertain terms that—as I was forced to give birth on his terms and his timeline—that I might not live. 

Birth and death. This is what ran through my head in the agonizingly lonely hours of induced labor. Begging for a miracle yet too tired to imagine one, I lay immobile in the midst of a New York City heat wave thinking this is who my son would be born to, a fragment of who I really was underneath the fear, the bruised limbs, the collapsed veins. I was a ghost of myself and he deserved more.

 
Maria_Carola
 

It took me a long time to be able to even consider putting “thankful” and “maternal mental health” on the same page, let alone the same sentence. Now, as my children stand at almost my height, poised, beautiful, open to every possibility the world has to offer, I say I am #thankfulfmymmh broke me wide open. For shattering everything I thought I knew and for giving me no other option but to put myself back together again. I am #thankfulmymmh allowed me to let go of and channel the anger to help other mothers who may be suffering silently as I had. I am #thankfulmymmh threw open the doors to a sisterhood of welcoming arms and hearts that forever changed my life.

by Maria Carola