This Isn’t What I Expected – Overcoming Postpartum Depression (11)

This Is Supposed to Be the Best Time in My Life”:  Fantasies and Expectations of Motherhood”  Oh, I can’t remember how many times I was thinking this.  Since my first pregnancy was not planned, it was almost as if I expected my baby to ‘fix’ all of the depression in my life … although I did not experience PPD with her, babies still do not ‘fix’ problems you had before they were born.  And, even though, I felt more bonded to my second daughter, I had an awful case of PPD with her.

–  “Our culture and the media play a powerful role in shaping our expectations.  And these expectations, in turn, create enormous pressure on mothers to strive for perfection.  Think about some of the television shows that center on family life.  Many overglamorize motherhood, placing it high on a pedestal for all to admire, or reinforce the illusion that we can all strive for supermom status.  Others actually demean a mother’s role by setting us up to laugh at how overwhelmed, disorganized, or disoriented she is in a variety of “real-life” situations.  When producers of television programming or movies respond to the criticism that these “Hollywood” depictions of mothers do not represent realistic portrayals, they typically justify their position by claiming that if it were realistic, it wouldn’t be 100 percent entertaining.”

–  “When our reactions do not live up to these ideals, we feel as though we have failed.  This sense of failure is based on polarized, black-or-white, right-or-wrong perspective.  But real life has shades of gray.  One of the first steps you need to take to overcome your self-defeating disappointment is to accept your ambivalence.  Ambivalence is defined as the existence of mutually conflicting emotions.  It means you can love your baby, yet also feel let down.  It means you can enjoy being a mother while simultaneously missing your friends at work and wondering why you are home instead.”

This chapter goes in to describing other dissapointments that you may be facing, teaches steps to let go of your expectations, learning to give yourself credit, and learning to focus on positive feelings.

–  “When you expect perfection, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Many women who remember periods of chaos or unmet needs from their childhoods promise themselves that they will do everything to prevent that pattern from repeating itself with their own child.  The very primary desire to have a perfect mother now compels you to be a perfect mother.  And so you set out to meet the needs that were left unmet by your own mother to fill the gaps, to right the wrongs.  The danger here is that this goal cannot possibly be attained, so you will inevitably perceive your performance as a failure.  You must make room for adaptations, modifications, experimentations, and – perhaps, most important – mistakes.”

–  “Expecting to repair the past by becoming a perfect mother is a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment.  Remember that women learn to become good mothers by trial and error, by struggling through the daily demands of caring for their babies, by doing some things right, and by making some mistakes.”

–  “There is no script for this performance, no instruction manual, and there are very few guidelines.  You are probably your harshest critic.  Be kind to yourself and remember that you are doing the best you can.  Try not to compare yourself to other mothers, your mother, or the perfect mothers you see on TV!”

This chapter spurred me on to read a book that was given to me by my psychiatrist in 2000 after he diagnosed me with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder due to my desire of perfection, Think Straight!  Feel Great!  21 Guides to Emotional Self-Control by Bill Borcherdt, ACSW.  I will post my notes of that book as well … even though it has nothing to do with becoming a doula, I have found that it has superb advice … very blunt and to the point, a nice smack in the face, if you will.  I love how this journey of mine is encouraging me to read more and more and in to subjects I hadn’t thought of before.

~ by cmb0414 on June 13, 2010.

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