Postpartum Depression: You’re Not Alone
“This is the face of postpartum depression,” Erin Hawley said about this photo, used in a December 2017 Little Rock Family cover story. Pictured with husband Evan and twins Graham and Charlotte around two months postpartum, Erin was in the midst of postpartum depression, but hadn't fully realized it yet.
“I need help.”
I will never forget the day I finally said those words to my husband. It was three months after the birth of our twins, who were born two months early. I'd spent the last three months alternating between crying and feeling nothing at all, while somehow winning the dangerous game of acting like everything was fine to friends and on social media. My husband and my parents were the only ones who saw the shell of a person I'd become. They did the only thing they could, which was to take care of the babies. No one knew how to take care of me; least of all, me.
My experience seemed so different from my friends and their ‘normal’ pregnancies. My babies felt like two strangers. I didn't want to see anyone, making up excuses of being busy or not being home. I had no motivation to care for myself and felt overwhelmed with even the most minor parts of caring for my children.
What I wasn’t able to see was that I was sick. Instead, I thought I was a terrible mom. I felt like a failure. I remember thinking multiple times a day that I'd made a horrible mistake by choosing to have children, that I wasn't cut out to be a mom, that these kids deserved so much better than what I was able to give them. I thought everyone would be better off without me.
Eventually, I looked up "postpartum depression." Once I was reasonably sure I had PPD, I didn't know what to do about it. Medication was terrifying and I didn't have time for therapy. I spent several weeks knowing I was sick before I finally worked up the courage to call my doctor.
Once I did, I was treated for my illness and got better. Our twins are nearly 2, now, and I love every single minute of being a mom. I love my kids more than life itself. If you are reading this and are in the midst of postpartum depression or anxiety, I want you to hear me: You will get better, too.
We started a program called Mom Check 7 at KATV because it shouldn't have taken me three months to get help. No one should have to go through that, yet 1 in 7 moms do. New moms shouldn't be crying while changing diapers knowing something is wrong but not knowing how to get help. And moms shouldn’t feel like they will be judged for seeking help.
Since going public with my postpartum depression experience, no one has said a single unkind word about my battle with PPD. Not one. What I have heard over and over from so many moms, young and not so young, is that they also had PPD and wish they gotten help sooner.
Please, don’t suffer in silence. Don’t wait to get help. Reach out to your spouse, your friend, or your doctor. You can and will get better.
Through KATV’s Mom Check 7, on the seventh day of each month Arkansans are encouraged to check on the new moms in their lives, and new moms are reminded to seek support if they are struggling. Each month, a mom who has battled PPD is featured. To nominate a mom, email MomCheck7@katv.com.
Erin Hawley is an anchor for KATV Channel 7 and she and husband Evan are parents to Charlotte and Graham. Erin and her family enjoy traveling, volunteering, eating out, going to football games and exploring the great hiking trails in The Natural State.