By Leah Wright, LSW
Hi, my name is Leah! I am a therapist, a mom, a wife, and a feminist. I fell in love with helping people in 2015, when I decided to make the jump and apply to graduate school to become a therapist. Now, I feel incredibly lucky to be part of Therapy for Women and hope that sharing my personal maternal mental health journey will help you understand how it informs my approach as a specialist.
I developed postpartum depression after giving birth to my first child at the end of 2019. During my pregnancy, I was repeatedly told, “this is going to be the best time of your life!” and “as soon as you give birth, you’ll know exactly what to do!” When my daughter was born, I was petrified.
I wanted to be the “best” mom but felt like the worst mom. I longed for pre-baby life and missed spending free time with my husband. Though he could tell that I was struggling, I kept my depression a secret. I felt alone and anxious because that “happy” feeling I was taught to expect wasn’t there at first, and I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I cried most nights.
I knew that even though I was struggling as a new mom, I still loved my daughter. But I didn’t understand what was happening to me, and was afraid that if I confided in anyone, they would judge me or think that I didn’t deserve my child. The thought of seeing a therapist during postpartum was definitely not what I envisioned going into motherhood, but I knew I was not getting any better. So, I returned to therapy and spoke my truth. For the first time since giving birth, I felt heard and understood.
As time went on and I continued therapy, I was able to find the ability to balance motherhood and self-care without feeling guilty (my new normal). I eventually found the connection with my daughter that I was looking for and came to understand that the societal norms for new moms are not the norm for everyone. And, that is OK!
After three months postpartum, I found out I was pregnant again. This was one of the scariest moments because I had just started to recover from my PPD/PPA journey. After a few days, I made the final decision to go through with being a mom of two. When my son was born, (almost exactly one year after my daughter’s first birthday), I went into my second postpartum journey with a different mindset. I made it clear that I was not going to breastfeed, I accepted my family’s support, and tried to practice self-care as much as I could. This time, I knew that it is possible and OK to struggle and be a fantastic mother.
Once I made “mistakes,” I recognized that my children were safe and unbelievably happy. They didn’t need me to get it perfectly right, they just needed me and I just needed them. I look back at my life pre-baby, and although there are times where I miss it, I believe having both my children saved me. Both experiences showed me that I can get through whatever life sends my way.
Now, I am passionate about helping other mothers navigate motherhood and their matrescence. We often forget that, not only do we need to take care of new babies, but we also need to take care of new mothers! My goal as a therapist is to help individuals who feel alone after giving birth. Especially due to the lingering stigma surrounding postpartum struggles, I became certified with The Postpartum Stress Center and remain involved with Postpartum Support International I also understand the importance of couples’ postpartum and enjoy supporting them in rebuilding their connection again after having a baby. I absolutely love this work!
Remember: no matter what you are going through, you are still a wonderful parent! Parenthood is incredibly difficult, and it is 100% OK to face challenges. I see you, I hear you, I support you, and I hope to help guide and challenge you to find your own inner strength and self-compassion!