My whole life before kids I had always envisioned myself as the ultimate MAMA. The unrealistic positive criteria that we all naively bestow upon ourselves pre-motherhood. We’re all guilty of doing it, it’s the naïve innocence, riding into motherhood like Queen Bey posing for her famous pregnancy photoshoot draped in roses like a goddess. You know, the Marcia Brady of mums, the soccer mum, PTA mum, even the mum that packs those healthy bento boxes with precisely cut-out animal-shaped sandwiches. That’s exactly what it was, an unrealistic vision.
My husband was a Prince, I had all the help I could ever need, and was about to be raising a young Prince of my own. On the outside it seemed like I had it all. What could possibly go wrong you may ask? My journey into motherhood was my rude awakening into reality but also marked the birth of Sofia Erica 2.0 (the upgraded version).
The glorious day of becoming a first-time mother at the young age of 25 had arrived and it was also the day of my funeral, and when I say “funeral”, I’m referring to the Sofia Erica, pre-baby. The Sofia Erica that was very much still a child in many ways before when my little Prince made his formal debut into this world. You see, even though I had read every baby book in preparation for being the perfect mother, what I realized is that I had read everything apart from the book that tells you what it means to become a mother.
The moment Ayden was born, it was love at first sight, I was filled both feelings of euphoria and an overwhelming feeling in the pit of my stomach that told me I was way out of my depth. Whatever grace or dignity I once had, had abruptly left the building. My body had turned into a war zone for everyone to see, nurses, doctors, relatives were examining me like a science experiment. At times it felt like I was no longer a human being but a milking cow in a factory.
No one recognized how much trauma, physically and mentally I had just gone through. All the glory went to my son, and who could blame them, he was everything that I had ever wished for. I was expected to bounce back within hours like it was a walk in the park like I hadn’t just pushed a baby the size of a watermelon out of my va jay jay.
Let’s put it into perspective, I had just spent nine months growing and incubating the miracle of life inside of me, every bone, every muscle, intellect, I made that, I made human life, I did that! Me! (Que victorious music). My son had literally sucked the life force out of me, drawing upon all my available resources, and aged me internally by ten years. No big deal. Let’s also factor in the fact that I didn’t recognise this new version of me, my new job title, Sofia Erica: MOTHER and I found myself slowly diving down into an abyss of deep depression.
It would take me six years, and pregnant with my daughter to realise that that’s exactly what I went through postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is like watching a thriller movie with a plot twist at the end, you can feel something’s happening, but you have no idea that you’re the victim (Jokes on you toots).
GRIEVING THE WOMAN I WAS BEFORE AND PUTTING ON THE MASK OF MOTHERHOOD
I spent the first three years of motherhood grieving the woman that I was pre motherhood, mix that with hormonal imbalances, sleepless nights, married to the Royal family and you have the ultimate recipe for the perfect internal storm. One that will come to pass, eventually.
I didn’t understand what was happening to my body and I didn’t understand the wave of emotions that I was experiencing. All I knew was that I had missed the life that I had before. The adventurous, independent, risk taker, freedom lover, high on life Sofia Erica had lost that glow and was now wearing a mask of disguise. I wore the mask to show the world that I was strong, that I could still do it all, everything was a piece of cake, but internally, every day felt like Groundhog Day and I was reliving the scene where Charlotte from Sex in the City takes a time out to lock herself in the pantry and bawl her eyes out because she wasn’t coping. I was having anxiety attacks and I had sabotaged myself by putting an incredible amount of pressure on myself to perform perfectly as a mother to keep up with the public persona. I felt like my world was collapsing all around me and I was losing control. My son was crying every night ( I feel like he didn’t sleep for three years) and my internal dialogue become so negative and so critical, “Sofia, everyone else is coping, why aren’t you, “all your friends have it figured out, there must be something wrong with you”. I hadn’t even figured out who I was as a woman before I was pregnant and now, I must figure out who I am but now with the added responsibility of parenting and looking after a young family. I had completely lost myself and my identity in motherhood.
It was a very poignant time in my life, and I wish I had reached out for help when I was going through it. Even though I didn’t know why I was feeling the way that I was at the time, I did know that something wasn’t right. I did not feel like myself. I didn’t even tell those closest to me what I was going through because I was so scared of the judgment and shame that would follow. Voicing it to others would mean that I would have to accept that I wasn’t coping. An unfamiliar position that I wasn’t used to being in, if there was something wrong, I would always try to find a solution for it on my own. Asking for help just wasn’t part of my DNA.
FACING STIGMAS AROUND WOMEN AND COMING TOGETHER
There is so much stigma around postpartum depression and it’s still very prevalent in today’s society. Though I managed to come out on top with a few knicks and bruises, I know that many women around the world are not as fortunate. One thing is for sure, postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate, but we don’t have to suffer in silence. Together we can raise the voices of women so that postpartum is no longer a stigma but accepted and understood in society by both men and women. I want to live in a world where postpartum depression is nomalised. Please join me in the cause to raise awareness and normalize postpartum depression. For those women who are going through it now, I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking as a woman on the other side I can tell you that this is just a chapter in your life and is part of the woman you are in the making.
What I had failed to see at the time was that what seemed like a never-ending battle with myself ended up being the foundation of the woman I was to become. If postpartum depression has taught me anything, it’s that as a woman, I am vulnerable, but learning how to see the strength in that vulnerability is where a woman is made. The primal instinct of a mother also builds empathy for the mothers around them. There’s a famous saying by Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going” and that’s exactly what I did, because through the suffering Sofia Erica 2.0 was born, and I love everything about her.
HOLD THE LIGHT,
Sofia Erica Lane