I wasn’t going to write anything about this. Or I was going to wait a while to write this. It’s something that’s so fresh in my mind, and it’s hard to put all my feelings into words. To say that I’m grieving would be an understatement. But I also have to be very careful with what I write as the matter is still under investigation and it involves other people, including an entire family that didn’t deserve the outcome of what they’re all going through right now. Long story short, my former friend and my husband’s former friend’s child recently passed away. My former friend was charged with first degree murder and is now in jail.
Let me tell you; when a friend of mine, who knew our former friends through us, told me the news and shared a news article about what happened with me, I was in utter and complete shock. I never thought that anything like this could happen to someone who was so close to me. I always saw mothers who killed their children as evil. A mother is someone who’s supposed to love her child unconditionally and protect her child at all costs. How could a mother do such a thing to her own flesh and blood? Apparently my former friend could, and that was heartbreaking for me to fathom that fact.
My former friend and I were very close. In fact, she was my closest friend throughout the toughest period of my life, which now that I think about it, is probably the main reason why we’re no longer friends. I met her through my husband’s former friend when he started dating her. The friendship ended mainly because he was getting in the way of my mental health and him being in my life affected not only my mental health and well-being, but also my physical and chronic health. I was extremely sad to let her go, but at the end of the day, I did what I had to do in order to protect my health. The friendship ended right before the pandemic hit. I should’ve ended the friendship long before that, but my care and adoration for my friend delayed that big decision.
Nevertheless, I never truly let go of what I had with her. My husband and I cut all contact with his friend, but I never completely lost touch with my (former) friend. Somehow, we never really lost touch. We always checked up on each other every now and then in the years after that fateful falling out. For one, we never missed each other’s birthdays. She was never the problem; the person she was dating and eventually married and then had a child with was. I was just thinking of her this past New Year’s. I was going to reach out to her to ask her if she wanted to hang out, just the two of us. Finally, I was ready. But I was on my period, and just as I was about to message her, I got the news of what happened…
I had all types of emotions when my friend initially told me of what had happened. I was sad, confused, shocked, devastated, and filled with questions and the what-ifs. Questions like, ‘What if it was a mistake to have a falling out?’, ‘What if I’d just stuck it out and tried a little harder for her?’, ‘What if I was only friends with her and kept seeing her and not him?’, ‘What if I didn’t wait until my period was over to message her in the new year?’ The what-ifs were endless in my mind. They were haunting me for days and nights.
The last time my (former) friend and I talked was when I already had my son and she was pregnant. Our exchange was positive. She was happy and content. We were exchanging notes on pregnancy and life postpartum. She was asking so many questions, and she was excited beyond words. At one point, she asked me, ‘What’s your favourite thing about motherhood?’ All I could think to myself at the time was that it was a bullsh*t question. I didn’t like motherhood. I didn’t want to ruin the experience for as she went through a lot to get pregnant. It was a planned pregnancy and she went through a difficult infertility journey. Hence, I came up with an answer, which was that my favourite thing about motherhood was watching my husband’s bond with our son. But it wasn’t much of a lie. I actually DO love watching their bond, even more so now that my son’s a little older. I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that I somewhat hated motherhood and sometimes even questioned why I wanted it for myself.
During the worst years of my life, when epilepsy practically took over my entire life, my (former) friend was the only one that was truly there for me. What I man by that is that she was always there for me without having an agenda. I felt comfortable, safe, and happy in her presence. She even got to know my family, and they got to know her. She was the kindest, most giving, most generous, and most caring person I ever got to know. The person that I knew, and the person my family got to know, was not the person who’d do such a thing. She wouldn’t even hurt a fly, and if she did, she’d apologize for it. So, as you can imagine, this entire ordeal got me utterly confused as to how such a good and well-grounded person could do such a thing. I couldn’t imagine what state she was in for her to do such a thing.
Since hearing the news about my (former) friend, all I could really do is cry and hug my son. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world, and I’ll forever be grateful for the support of my family, my friends, and my husband, especially during that first year of my son’s life. My husband actually recently apologized for not being there enough for me and not taking my cries for help seriously. It took something like this to happen for him to understand the severity and the seriousness of postpartum depression. I’ll forever be advocating for postpartum depression. I’ll forever be advocating for women, children, and mental health. My (former) friend isn’t the first, and sadly, isn’t the last, mother to murder her child. But this just hit too close to home.
This incident that cost an innocent child’s life got me thinking a lot about my last conversation with my (former) friend. As I look back on it, I can’t help but think to myself how heartbreaking it all came to be. I’ve previously written about postpartum depression – both in women AND in men. I’ve written about what partners can do to help women postpartum. But I want to elaborate on this specific topic, because it’s just not talked about enough. So I’ll be breaking things into parts here:
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT YOURSELF POSTPARTUM
- Take time for yourself from time to time
- Get as much vitamin D as you can
- Make sure you exercise at least one hour a week
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
- Make friends with other new moms
- Don’t forget about the friends you had before your baby was born
- Set Boundaries with your family and friends
- Cut any toxicity out of your life
- Communicate with your partner
Being a new mother is f*cking hard, starting from the first day you’re discharged from the hospital. It’s especially hard when you’re a first time mom. Everything you do seems to be wrong and that makes you feel like a sh*tty mom. I know I did. Doing things like feeding my baby, changing my baby’s clothes, and changing his diapers was a physical challenge for me. I couldn’t breastfeed my baby because I didn’t have enough milk, and that was disappointing. I was given unsolicited advice on things like how to parent my child now and in the future. I specifically remember my mother-in-law trying to prove to me that I needed to allow my father-in-law to have a relationship with my son. The couple of times he saw my son, he proved that he should NEVER be allowed anywhere near my offspring. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries with anyone who steps in the way of raising your child in the way that you think is best.
Whether you have a baby or not, getting your dose of vitamin D is crucial. But it’s even more crucial when your a new mom, and it’s also very important for your baby. You can make sure you do so by taking your Vitamin D medication. But another way to do it, the better way to do it, is to make sure you get out of the house, go outside and get fresh air every day. Even half hour a day makes a big difference. It makes a big difference in the way you feel, as well as the way your baby feels. Another aspect of staying motivated after having a baby is exercising. It doesn’t have to be every single day that you go to the gym. You’re not practising for the Olympics. But I’d say that at least an hour a week is necessary. It’s actually been proven that exercising an hour a week reduces risks of depression. For me, it was Pilates. But it could be anything, such as yoga, tai chi, boxing, or other.
I had a winter baby, so it was hard to get myself out of bed most days. It was gloomy outside, which definitely wasn’t a motivating factor. Luckily, I had my husband who pushed me, and still to this day more than a year after having our son, pushes me to get out there and be outside with my son. For me, it’s more than just about getting the vitamin D; it’s about creating memories with and for my son. My friends and family were also a big help. I barely had any energy, or even the will, to keep in contact with any of my friends. If I wasn’t taking care of my son, I was sleeping. If I wasn’t sleeping and wasn’t taking care of my son, I was pumping, which was in itself a full-time job. I not only had the energy to stay in touch with my friends, but I also had no time for it. I even forgot I had any friends because everything revolved around my son. During the first year of my son’s life, my friends were the ones that initiated any conversations and any outings we ever had. When you’re in the moment, you think that it’s annoying, especially when it comes from people who don’t have any kids. Now that I look back on it, I’m so thankful that my friends wouldn’t take no for answer My friends being so pushy was actually something that I really needed in order to still stay sane. It was thanks to my friends that I still felt that I had some parts of the ‘old me’, the me before I had the baby, still there.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that nothing in life stays the same after having a baby, and that includes friendships. It’s because the minute you come pregnant, you change. And you don’t even realize how much you change. My friend suddenly told me I changed (in a positive way) when I was 5 months pregnant. For the most part, friendships change because either you change or both of you change. I had several friendships end when I was pregnant and after my son was born. Specifically, I had two close, long-term friendships end during that time. I’ve previously written about them on this blog. One ended because my boundaries were not respected when constant questions were being asked about things I wasn’t comfortable talking about over and over again even though I communicated time and again that I wasn’t comfortable, and the other ended because of my social media activity; a question I posted on whether women who had children found it weird and awkward to hang out with women who decided to live child-free lives, like her.
Point being here is that you can’t change people, nor can you change people’s minds about you and your perspectives. What you can absolutely do, though, is change your surroundings. Since having my son, my friendships, slowly but surely, drastically changed. I reconnected with some old friends and, out of complete random circumstances, made some new ones out. In a way, it’s all just been a blessing and I’m so grateful that they’ve been there for me every step of the way since I had my son. The first years following my epilepsy diagnosis were nothing compared to motherhood. So much so that I even made a toast on my son’s first birthday celebration thanking my friends for being there for me during the first year of motherhood and beyond. I’d never not be friends with anyone just because they don’t have kids. Nonetheless, being friends who have kids has its benefits. It’s not as lonely because these friends understand exactly what you’re going through at that moment in time, they can give you tips and tricks, and the kids can become friends too!
My friends circle changed 180 degrees once I had a baby, and I somewhat expected that. What I didn’t expect to change so much once my son was born was my relationship with my husband. Before our offspring was born, we’d been together 11 years. It was always just the two of us. We were free to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Suddenly, things shifted, and it wasn’t about us anymore. Everything revolved around the baby. From our daily schedules to our time together, everything revolved around this little person that we made. My husband works in the office, whereas I work from home. Everyday, all day, I was with the baby. Even when I was writing, the baby was with me. I had no time for myself. By the time my husband got home, he’d be too tired to spend any time with me. He was a hands-on dad right from the start and our son adores him. But our relationship started to suffer. There weren’t enough hours in a day for us. We weren’t connecting anymore as united front. For a long time, it felt like we were just roommates who had a baby together. Whenever I attempted to talk to him, he’d just tell me he was too tired and go to bed.
I wanted so badly to be able to share with and open up to my husband about the hard time I was having after giving birth and thereafter. I wanted to tell him what I needed from him, but all he’d do was either tell me to deal with it because I signed up for it or he’d make a joke and laugh at my face. I wasn’t being listened to. I was hurt, and more often than not, I felt that he was my worst enemy. We were working against each other rather than working as a team, and every single little thing would turn into a massive fight. Luckily, we had my parents to help us through those times. For the first 8 months of my son’s life, whenever my husband was working at the office, I’d come to their house with the baby so they could help and so that’d have some conversations with people other than myself. By the 8th month, I was at a breaking point. Things couldn’t continue the way that they did anymore, and both my husband and I knew it. Even our baby knew it. Things had to change, and things had to change fast. Because if they didn’t, our relationship would end altogether.
We started making changes in our relationship. We made sure we had time for just the two of us, even if it was just for an hour one evening a week. We made a pact that once a week, we’d send our son off to my parents and go on a date. It didn’t matter what it was. It could be just a simple coffee date, but it had to be a date and it had to not involve our son. This small change in our routine made such a huge difference. That one hour a week of peace and quiet gave us time to actually connect and talk through our issues. And we did, slowly but surely. But it wasn’t until we heard the news about our former friends that he realized the severity of postpartum depression and what could happen when not taken seriously. It wasn’t until the news broke that he actually apologized for how he treated me during the first year of our son’s life, and he promised me he’d do better. That’s not to say that other issues won’t arise in the future of course, but this apology was another step closer to getting us to a better place.
The news of our former friends hit us hard. It’s crazy to think that people who haven’t been in your life for years still have such a big impact on you. But they were our closest friends for many years. We knew the ins and the outs of each other; or at least they knew ours. Losing them was hard. It was like a death. That’s why I never fully cut my (former) friend out of my life. I always hoped we’d find our way back to each other. Right before I was ready to make that first move, tragedy struck. I just can’t imagine what she must’ve gone through for her to even think of hurting her own child, let alone commit such a crime. As much as it hurts, I can’t live my entire life thinking of the ‘What-Ifs’. I had to do what I had to do. Ending the friendship was the best thing for my mental health and my relationships with myself and my body.But no matter what, I always left the door open. What I can do, though, is continue working on myself and my relationship with my husband, love my son and make sure he knows that, and be grateful that my husband and I get to watch our son grow and become the little man with such a strong personality that he’s becoming.