Lauren could have been the poster child for fearlessness.
Of course, she worried and feared as we all do, but she was always willing to face these things head on. On the soccer field, she'd burst through any defense. When she ran, she'd power through the wall and run even further. There was never any arrogance to her will to succeed, either; rather, it all simply came from a very complete, confident understanding of who she was and what she was capable of.
This made it possible for her to accomplish more than most would in her young age. From modeling to running a successful business, she did everything with readiness and excitement for what was to come. After meeting and marrying her husband, this excitement was doubled as she faced the upcoming challenge of motherhood.
No matter what, she knew she was ready.
The hardest part about motherhood in particular is the expectations that are (and aren't) set for us before it happens.
Lauren was promised an immediate connection with her baby. She was assured that the moment her life changed, she would experience nothing but joy and excitement and that she would never want to lose a minute with her child.
Problem was, that's not at all what she experienced.
"I started wondering if there was something wrong with me." Lauren said. " Like, I wondered why I wasn't in love with my baby. Was I broken?"
In fact, Lauren was not broken. Her disconnect from her child was a symptom of Post Partum Depression, which affects a shockingly common 1 in 7 new mothers. It caused her to feel not only out of phase with her child, but also with herself. She found herself worrying regularly that she would never again enjoy the things she once did, and that she would never be who she once was. Worrying about these things started a nasty cycle of feeling selfish, then feeling even more disconnected, then feeling even more depressed.
When asked if being told again and again about the immediate bond she "should" be feeling lended itself to her condition at all, Lauren nodded enthusiastically. "Oh I totally think that. Nobody told me that I may not feel the love right away and that it was okay."
She most certainly isn't wrong. Everywhere a pregnant woman looks, she's told constantly that she'll be immediately infatuated with this yowling, sleepless tiny human as if it's a given. There are no discussions in classes or commercials or publications about the other possibilities, and those who experience said possibilities become outliers and regularly feel unsure as to where to turn or how to feel.
Despite her sunny disposition on the outside, things within were dark. Lauren credits her close relationship with God and her very strong support system for helping her through the situation, and with much love, help, and attention, she eventually fought through to the other side. Now a PPD survivor, she describes herself as "obsessed" with her adorable daughter, and she easily speaks of her pride and love for her.
She hasn't forgotten what she went through though, and she hopes that more discussions will open about Postpartum Depression. There is no such thing as being too "smart" or too "brave" to be affected, and it isn't a reflection on the person. Anyone can experience depression...even the poster child for fearlessness. And Lauren wants people to start becoming aware of this:
"This is important. I want people to know what I went through, because I don't think it's right that it's not talked about." She said. She hugged her daughter and paused for a moment before continuing. "People need to know it happens and that they're not alone."
If you or someone you know is suffering from PPD, as Lauren points out, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Many resources are available should you want to learn more about what Post Partum Depression is, and what you can do to help. The links below are a good starting point, but if you are suffering from PPD, please reach out. If you are not, but suspect someone you know may be, the words "I'm listening and it isn't your fault" will do wonders. Hang in there. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.