Faces of Postpartum
Faces of Postpartum
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Ariane, Dumfries VA (2/4)

“Coming back home, I felt a bit better. Mike used his two weeks of vacation to stay home with me and it was great. I think we were able to create a sort of bubble of love. We watched movies. We cried and listened to music. It was snowing and pretty outside. Then my mom came for two weeks when Mike went back to work. It was hard to let go of this little bubble. I fought it very aggressively. And for some reason, I didn’t want to let her help. Maybe it was a way to show her that I was in control. I eventually caved in, but too late. I remember one night we were giving Lou a bath. My mom had put a little washcloth on her belly so she didn’t get cold. I didn’t know to do that. And suddenly, I kind of realized the extent of my ignorance. If I didn’t know how to keep my daughter warm with a washcloth during bath time, what else didn’t I know? When my mom left, I found myself very lonely: I was a French-speaking Quebecer living in Triangle, VA. My walls were shaking because of bombing tests the Marines did on a daily basis at the Quantico base a few miles down the road. Trump had just been elected in the US while in Canada, we had playboy-Trudeau in office. My nipples were cracked, my vagina was a wreck, my baby wasn’t sleeping... In retrospect, everything was just fine – life with a newborn! – but it didn’t feel like that. I tried to do all the things for a while, but around her fourth month, I stopped showering and making the bed. I was worrying nonstop about her not gaining enough weight. I started having massive panic attacks at night. I eventually saw an amazing counselor who specializes in perinatal disorders. Within a week, she’d made me see a doctor who put me on meds. But they didn’t work and caused more attacks. One afternoon I was folding laundry while Mike and Lou were upstairs. I could hear them giggling together and it became suddenly very clear. I had to die: they no longer needed me. That night I checked myself in the ER.”