The True Value of Friendship When Life Gets Real

E7X1M5T7BOWhen I first got pregnant, I was immediately met with a network of support from close family and friends. Everyone was so excited for us. They indulged me in my long laments of pregnancy, they threw me beautiful baby showers, and helpfully dispensed copious amounts of all of the parenting advice I should ever need.

Then I had my son, and it all got real.

Suddenly the visions I had of toting my little bundle of joy around town with my friends became an impossibility as I was barely mobile and overcome with pain. The happiness I thought I would feel was as elusive as the sleep I was not longer experiencing. As postpartum depression almost immediately took hold of me I wondered how I had gotten to this place. Why had I wanted this? What had I done?

Ten days following the birth of my son, I sent a text to many of my family and friends saying that I couldn’t do this. I didn’t want to live. A few hours later, I admitted myself into the hospital psych ward. Postpartum psychosis had taken over and I was left with very few options.

When word spread that I was in the hospital, the village of support starting pouring in. My mother-in-law stayed at our house and took on several weeks of night shifts with the baby. Close friends took time off work to help my husband care for our new son. Meals were dropped off daily from strangers and our local church. Others brought diapers, wipes, and clothes.

On my day passes when I was allowed to return home for 12 hours, a few friends that I allowed to see me in my current state, would stay with me to make sure I didn’t harm myself or my son. As humiliating as the whole experience was, it was also silently comforting to know I was never alone.

Some afternoons I would just rock silently in my rocking chair with C while a friend sat blissfully silent beside me. Other times they would hold him for hours, allowing me to go upstairs and have a few hours to myself to rest my spinning mind. They never judged me or told me how I should be acting as a mother.

They never told me I wasn’t normal.

There were many days I was too tired to speak. Many days I couldn’t answer simple questions or make simple decisions. I remember once my friend Court came to visit and asked if she could give me a hug. I just shook my head. She understood and respected my limits, even though I’m sure it hurt her in the moment.

It was a long road but eventually my mind released its death grip on my soul and with the help of a handy sleeping pill and anti-anxiety meds I was able to gain some much needed perspective again. It took many months, but I came out the other side a stronger mother and passionate advocate for moms.

The true test of friendship, like any relationship, is not how good things are when life is happily chugging along, conforming to your daily expectations. It’s when things get real and your world is unraveling around you that you see the heart of someone’s true character.

The support my friends and even complete strangers during that unbearable time was the genuine kind of encouragement the wells up from the purest form of love. My own mom commented many times how amazed she was that so many people had come together to help me through. When she asked them once why they were continuing to sacrifice so much of their time to help me they replied, “Because it’s what Tiff would do for us.”

And they are right.

My gratitude for these people cannot be put into words. Suffice it to say I may not have lived to tell the tale if they hadn’t put their own lives on hold to save mine. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to raise a mom. Finding a tribe of others to support you in parenthood is perhaps the richest gift you will ever receive.

Thank you to all of the members of my mommy tribe.


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Tiffany Austin is a mom, a wife, writer, and educator living in Calgary, AB, Canada. Tired of never feeling “good enough” as a new mom, she began a blog to encourage other moms to feel confident and empowered in their own decisions. Her blog, The Good Enuf Mommy, includes everything from helpful parenting advice to product recommendations aimed at making the lives of moms just a little bit easier. Show her some love on Facebook and Twitter and if you like what you see sign up for her monthly newsletter!

 


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10 thoughts on “The True Value of Friendship When Life Gets Real

  1. Shann Eva Reply

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your story, Tiffany. Many mothers go through this and are afraid to speak out about it. While I didn’t go through this, I did have a true test of my friendships when my twins were in the hospital. Some just didn’t understand how I couldn’t get back to normal life while my babies were fighting for theirs. You are so right that it take a village of moms.

  2. Erin Reply

    This had me in tears. I’ve been there Tiffany. I so wish I had gone the route you did and admitted myself. When I left work over two years ago, that was the point I hit. It did take months and even a year to climb out of it. I’m sure it was all due to not addressing how I felt 2 years before. It just festered. It takes a strong and brave woman to do what you did. You’re amazing <3

  3. Cindy C Reply

    What a rough thing to go through. I have one son and thankfully I did not have this sort of experience, but I know many woman do! I’m glad you had lots of support around you…that makes all the difference in the world! Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.HometownQueenBee.blogspot.com

  4. Stefanie / The Monarch Mommy Reply

    You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope you know that you’ve probably helped at least one other mom going through the exact same thing be able to reach out for help. And that is incredible.

  5. Jennifer Corter Reply

    Oh, how much I can relate to this. Three days after my son was born, I too ended up in the psych ward. They didn’t allow home visits, which was rough, I only got to see my son once, under nurses supervision. But my family and friends were there when I got out and rallied around to help me get better.

  6. Katie Chiavarone Reply

    I can’t tell you how much I love this, my favorite quote is “it doesn’t just take a village to raise a child, it take a village to raise a mom.” I love hearing your story 🙂 And I just realized this is my second comment on here – posting anyway because you are that awesome!

  7. Jules Ruud Reply

    I had tears in my eyes reading this because I have an amazing support system in my family, but I have never had a lot of luck with friends. Then I met the scopers group and I finally feel at home in this community. You are so incredibly strong for sharing your story and I admire you for speaking out despite how uncomfortable and at times embarrassing it can feel for you. I also admire you for getting help. Admitting that something isn’t right is easier said than done. You did and look at you now. You are magnificent.

  8. Meredith@MommyAtoZ Reply

    Wow, that’s an incredible story! I’m so glad you got help from professionals, and lots of support from friends and family. And it’s so brave of you to share your story to help other moms going through similar difficulties! You are amazing!

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