If you look at #newmom on Instagram, you’ll access 4.2 million posts largely filled with aesthetic photos and videos of smiling, cooing babies, and glowing new moms who seem to have it all together. Books and movies typically describe new motherhood as a magical time where you instantly fall in love with your baby and being a mom.
And for many women, that may be the case. But, according to the Cleveland Clinic, one in seven new moms experiences postpartum depression (PPD), a severe postpartum mood disorder that may result in mood swings, frequent crying, fatigue, and even feelings of intense guilt and anxiety.
Postpartum depression is complicated enough on its own. However, coupled with the lack of honest conversation about the postpartum experience and lack of realistic representation in media and pop culture, it can make new moms feel even more isolated.
That was the experience of new mom Lindsey Kyle, 28, who gave birth to her daughter Sophia in March 2021.
Although pregnancy is a physically and mentally life-changing experience, Lindsey experienced a typical, uneventful pregnancy. She describes feeling pretty normal in the hospital after giving birth, but that feeling of normalcy quickly deteriorated once she arrived home with her daughter.
“When I walked in the house with Sophia, something in that moment clicked for me,” she explains. “I immediately got in the shower and just started crying my eyes out. I felt like my entire life changed in that instant, and like I didn’t know who I was as a person anymore.”
Lindsey describes feeling so low, as though she couldn’t leave her house because this tiny human was now dependent on her for survival. Those first weeks of motherhood were the hardest of her life – not because her baby always cried or because she wasn’t sleeping as much, but because of her deep inner turmoil. Despite her feelings being completely normal, she felt like a terrible, inadequate mom.
After weeks of struggling with PPD symptoms, Lindsey reached out to her doctor for help, which was a crucial point in her recovery. “Your doctor probably won’t reach out to ask how you’re doing,” she says. “It’s up to you, to be honest with them and ask for the help you need.”
But what helped Lindsey the most through recovery was connecting with others who dealt with PPD and realizing that she wasn’t alone. Hearing other moms’ stories helped her recognize that she was not, in fact, a terrible mom and brought her immense comfort.
That’s why creating an open and honest dialogue around the postpartum experience, and normalizing struggling with the adjustment to new motherhood is so important. And that’s what Lindsey is hoping to achieve by sharing her story.
“If you’re experiencing PPD, know that you’re not alone – what you’re feeling is normal,” she says.
And, most importantly, it gets so much better. Lindsey describes her indescribable bond with her daughter as the light waiting for her at the end of a dark, depressing tunnel.
“Sophia is the greatest blessing of my entire life, and I never knew it was humanly possible to love someone this much,” Lindsey says. “This feeling is what you always hear about, and it’s every bit as magical as everyone says – but if it doesn’t come right away, that’s ok.”
If you are experiencing PPD, call1-800-PPD-MOMS for help.
By Lucy Modzelewski
Photo by Tindall Stephens