Today was the long awaited day of the local Baby Expo. Vendors from around the state gathered to support new and expecting moms. Enfamil handed out formula, baby stores showed off the latest car seats, photographers offered free session drawings, Medela talked up their latest and greatest breast pump, and a local organization even supported breastfeeding moms by providing them with a private, curtained-off area filled with plush rocking chairs to nurse in. Wowza! The support was amazing and me and P had a great time! We (well, me) took our free samples and entered some drawings and walked around and looked at everything. We noted what other babies were wearing and how well other mama's were handling the packed convention center while trying not to lose their shit (and their children) amidst all the chaos and activity.
When the time came for P to eat, we sat down at a table and I quietly fed my hungry little one. I watched the many pregnant women waddling around with smiles on their faces, talking excitedly with their partner or friend they were attending with about all the great baby things and how they couldn't wait for their own to arrive. I watched them huff and puff and stretch their backs and stop to catch a breath. I watched them eat three servings of mozzarella sticks (because you're pregnant, so what better excuse?) and guzzle back bottles of water. And I watched new dads holding their tiny little newborns outside the women's bathroom, waiting for mama to return. It was beautiful, right? All these people gathering in the same place, supporting the same cause? All these happy families spending a gorgeous Saturday afternoon together focusing on the health and future of their children...so beautiful.
Such a load of crap.
Don't get me wrong, the cause was in the right place. The expo was fun and we had a great time and I can't wait to go again next year, but as I sat there feeding my baby and watching all of these people I became a little angry. Why were there so many booths for pregnant women and moms with newborns, but not one booth for post-partum mama's? Hello, you are attracting women with newborns and babies, don't you think this would be the most appropriate place to offer some type of services or advice to these women that are trying their hardest to keep their shit together? These women that might be too afraid to admit their true feelings because it is so taboo to talk about?
After my anger subsided that no one apparently gave a damn about the aftermath of having a baby, I became scared. I wondered how many of these pregnant women around me will suffer from PPD/PPA, or how many of them already are but won't say anything because they should be enjoying the happiest time of their life? How many of these women with these tiny newborns are feeling hopeless and scared but don't know why? Or maybe they do know why but are too ashamed to say anything, or maybe they did confide in someone and were told it's normal and to get over it....yeah, I've been there; that is NOT advice, dear people who have never suffered from depression or anxiety.
But then it motivated me. It motivated me to become more involved. To speak up and not feel ashamed. To know that these feelings I have are of no one's fault and do not make me a weak person or a bad mother. These feelings are natural. They're hormonal. I am now motivated to become an advocate for those that are too afraid to be honest with themselves. It's okay, New Mama. I'm here for you. And hopefully in the near future we can come together and make this topic normal, make it not so scary, not so taboo and not so shameful. Next year, Baby Expo, let's welcome these new and expecting mama's with open arms and let them know it's safe, that it's okay and that they are not alone.