Hey, My name is Tanya.

Disclaimer: Trigger warning to those with infertility complications. In this piece I essentially complain about how quickly my husband and I got pregnant – which I know will make me sound like an entitled, privileged, fertile beyatch. I want you to know that I acknowledge this. And I acknowledge you, and your struggles. I apologize in advance for complaining about my privileges.

Also, I integrate humour when I write because I find that it helps me manage my challenges to be able to laugh through them. Please feel welcome to laugh with me. And at me.


There’s no way.

I stared at the faintest pink line on my pregnancy test.

My husband and I “tried” for all of ONE weekend. Prior to this we each voiced concerns to each other about potential issues conceiving; we prepared ourselves to be waiting a little while to see the plus sign on the pee-stick.

I should be happy… but I thought I had more time. Time to adjust to the idea of this, time to travel to East Asia with my husband – time to really want this incredible life shift.

I wasn’t happy, I was petrified. I felt blindsided.

And I know. I shouldn’t have felt so gobsmacked. Unprotected sex equals babies; health class had drilled that in pretty hard. And now I’ve learned first hand that it really can only take ONE time. I just wasn’t in any way prepared.

I was almost finished recording my second album – so I was going to have to streamline finishing it off – and get on top of marketing it ASAP.

I can’t invest the time I wanted to… can I still tour? Oh my Lordy… I’m going to look like that WillyWonka blueberry chick when I am performing my last show for this thing. Ugh. This is not how I envisioned this release.

I struggled through my pregnancy with mental health challenges; I tried so hard to visualize what this new version of my life was going to look like. I resented the impact this was already having on my career and life. Pregnancy is a tough gig. Physically, of course; Emotionally, Oh em gee. I really had to battle the impact of the hormones on my already delicate emotional state.

Around month 6 or 7 of pregnancy, I was over being victim to my situation. I wanted to own my space. I refused to go into the birthing experience feeling anxious and disempowered. I practiced specific meditations, I found hypnobirthing (highly recommend), I walked every day – and when I couldn’t walk (SPD – google it, it’s fun) I got on the recumbent bike in our garage.

I knew to expect some emotional challenges in the postpartum period. So I chose to use my emotional trials during pregnancy as the chance to ride the waves before adding the dynamic of a very needy tiny person and sleep deprivation. I decided to see my emotional state through pregnancy as training. I was like some weird pregnant version of Rocky training for the big fight. Game face ON. Get that Eye of the Tiger cranked and watch me WIN birth! Whooo!

And it sort of was like Rocky. But the one where he gets beat to shit.

I was basically the whole Rocky series actually. (I reference this series very generously for how often I’ve actually watched it… which is, I haven’t. Insert sweaty laughing emoji here.)

Birth was the coolest thing I ever did. No lie. I would do that whole thing again in a heartbeat. I felt like the most powerful version of myself, and I carried a solid high for two weeks after.

And then I crashed HARD.

My baby went from being peaceful, quiet, and lovely to full-on scream-crying. He couldn’t be soothed. There was a period there where I was quite certain he was going to destroy my soul simply by existing.

I had so many doubts prior to his arrival – and it was like I received full confirmation that those doubts were absolute truths.

I never should have become a mother. I am terrible with babies. He deserves better than me. I am so overwhelmed. I can’t listen to him cry. I can’t do this. How can I do this? Please someone needs to take him away. He’ll be better off with someone else.

At one point I watched as my baby nursed, he’d smile, and then continue to nurse – I turned to my husband and said blankly:

“Do you think he’s literally sucking all the happiness from me?”

I wish I was joking. But I just felt so crappy.

I had so much support around me. So many people that offered: “If you need anything at all, just call. I’ll be here for you.”

Which would have been so helpful if I had, had the wherewithal to actually call. I never did… I couldn’t string the words together to ask for what I needed. Besides, the rest of humanity had survived motherhood. I felt I just needed to get it together.

The sleep deprivation accumulated and crashed in on my fragile mental state to a point that I no longer recognized myself. My mind was like a weird deserted town… What was once (or so I’d like to think, anyway) a golden metropolis was now empty, abandoned, and eerie. I hated it. I hated that I felt like nothingness.

I am a creative. I am a singer! I hike and practice yoga. I write music, journals, blogs… I play guitar and bass! I’m a good business person, wife, and a friend. Well I… I was.

Everything I identified as turned to past-tense.

I didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t a mother. I was certain of that. In biological terms maybe – but outside of that I did not deserve the title. I was no longer a creative, a singer, writer, musician… I wasn’t clever, witty, funny, insightful… on top of all this, my physical body was unrecognizable to me as well.

Who AM I?

I am nothing.

It was when I bottomed out in this space that a couple of things happened. One – I finally came to terms with the idea that I was really struggling with PPD and that I needed to talk to my doctor. Two, my husband intervened.

He sat me down one evening and told me that he’d made arrangements for Cashton to stay with our friend for the whole night. That I was going to go upstairs and sleep the entire night through.

I stared at him blankly and said pretty dryly: “It’s not going to help. If you think it’s going to help you’re wrong.” I was convinced that all these feelings I was experiencing with very much permanent.

I didn’t object though. They took the baby and all the necessary tools for the evening. I took a Gravol and went to bed at 9pm. I slept straight through until 6am – when I woke up in a puddle. My shirt was soaked through; I pumped and put myself back to sleep until 9:30am.

When I got up I felt really different. Not ‘cured’. Not miraculously my old self again; it didn’t make all the feelings go away. I just felt like I could function. Like my gears had been oiled.

After that, we strategized various ways to ensure I got some sleep (our kid basically didn’t sleep – night or day for 2+ months). I went to the doctor and got a prescription for medication, I went to therapy and joined support groups online. I made much more effort to put time aside for myself to be alone and do something I liked. And even though I had been integrating them all along, I continued to meditate and be physically active.

It was not an overnight process – but gradually the pieces started coming together.

If I could write a letter to past me – I would advise myself to research the various signs and symptoms of PPD so that I could identify it before experiencing it with such severity. I was under this illusion that postpartum depression means you would feel, well, depressed.

I was on the lookout for the depression symptoms I was familiar with. In all my previous experiences with depression, it made me feel empty, sad, lacking value, and I would cry a lot.

In my PPD experience, while I did experience all of that. There were additional (sometimes subtler) symptoms as well. I felt incredibly unfocused and unable to make even small decisions. I had a loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. I felt frequent anger, frustration, and even rage; as well as extremely and inexplicable overwhelm – which was triggered by very minor things.

I felt validated (and much less crazy) when I finally learned that the myriad of emotions I was feeling on any given day was a part of the postpartum depression.

At this point I have more good days than bad. I feel more balanced emotionally, and I can finally joke around and laugh again. Which is a game-changer. And I finally have the capacity to fall in love with my baby, which has also been fun and cool.

I still feel like I’m very much navigating the murky waters of self-identity. I’m reprioritizing what I contribute to the world outside of my mothering duties; and searching for the spaces that I feel I can offer value.

It’s a weird gig this motherhood thing. It’s incredibly overwhelming. And I’m so thankful to have a great network of family and friends around me that helped normalize PPD, and the challenges that some people experience when they’re unable to bond with their baby.

It was grace and love that I needed, and am so grateful for. And it made it (and continues to make it) easier for me to get support to prioritize my mental wellness.

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