While purging our house this weekend in preparation to move next summer I came across the following letter that I wrote on February 8th, 2008. My daughter was then only about 16 months old and it was in this letter that I realized my struggles with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety were still not over. She has read this letter, and being the kind loving child she is, apologized for not being soothed by me. She thought I blamed her. We had a really long heart-to-heart talk where I told her that she is in no way to blame, that this is what these Illnesses do to my brain at times. I told her I have always loved her and will always love her… to infinity and beyond.
My Dearest Daughter Sophia,
I should have started this journal sooner… I should have started it right after you were born. There are so many thoughts and things I need to say to you. Upmost and of most importance is I love you, I will always love you. You are the reason I was born. You are my heart, my biggest accomplishment.
With all this said, I must apologize to you. I feel like I am failing you as a mother on this particular night. You have a bad cold today and you are battling cutting a molar and with this you are crying. I am immediately brought back to when I was succumbed with Postpartum Depression 2 weeks after you were born. Now as you are nearing 16 months I hate to admit I may still be battling it. I already feel tremendous amounts of guilt for the 12 days I spent in the Mental Ward when you were only a month old. Reliving these memories now only makes me feel worse. I hope you never feel this guilt… this pain. With this, I get anxiety attacks… shortness of breath, crying, hyperventilation. I can’t seem to stop them at the moment but just know my sweet girl, Mommy is working on it.
There are fears I have for you whenever an attack hits. I worry, too much, that I passed this nasty disease on to you. Just know Depression & Anxiety are real. Know that I am so sorry if I did pass it to you.
What I am most upset about at the moment is I feel I can’t console you. Every time I try to rock you, sing to you, hold you… it just doesn’t seem to work. I just don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am happy that you are safe in Daddy’s arms but am upset that mine can’t make you better. Is this because of my anxiety attacks that make me freeze & mentally give up?!
I just want to be normal. I want to “go with the flow” like your father. I want to be able to hear you cry & not freeze. I want to not feel guilty anymore! I want to not feel like I failed you. I want it resolved today.
You may read this years from now and think it is you who caused this. Sophia, you are not to blame. Don’t you dare think that. Think about it as this, your Mommy has a disease that there is no complete cure from but it will not kill me. It alters the way I think about things and for this I am getting help. For this reason I had to go to the hospital for 12 days. For this reason I feel guilty, worried & like a failure every day.
I only hope you can forgive me for the time I missed… The hugs… The kisses… The songs… I am trying because I want to be there the next time you need to be rocked… The next time you need a lullaby.
I love you with all my heart & soul and I will until the day I have to depart from this world. I couldn’t imagine life without you in it anymore. Whenever you smile, giggle, reach out for me, hug me, give me a kiss, take a step, it makes me realize that the world is a good place and that we will discover it one day at a time, together.
Love Always & Forever,
One thought on “A Letter To My (Toddler) Daughter”
Thank you for sharing and wearing your heart on your sleeve. That’s how your difficut stories can be the help someone needs.
An interesting point of this particular post, at least to me, is how your openness with your daughter can help her not only understand what you went / are still going through, but also potentially be more aware when she becomes a mother, heaven willing, of course. One story at a time, we can #endthestigma and make getting help postpartum commonplace.
Huge hugs darling!