Becoming a parent for the first time, at age 22, I was full of mixed emotions. My biggest fear was messing up my children because of my own issues. I felt happy and connected to my son. I handled the day-in and day-out routine of parenting easily. I didn’t expect the emotional piece to be so heavy. Not only was I dealing with hormone changes, postpartum depression and adjusting to this new life, I suddenly became triggered when it came to my son. One night, I laid my son on a blanket on the floor. I stood up and sat in the chair beside him and stared. I was convinced I was going to abandon him just as my mother abandoned me. I was afraid to take my son places, expose him to strangers, or let him interact with my family because I didn’t want him to have experiences similar to mine. I knew I had to talk about these feelings and emotions. I was afraid I couldn’t protect my child. Thank goodness for his father. He was able to pick up the pieces after I faced the real issue. My own childhood trauma was affecting how I bonded with my own child. It was a horrible feeling, knowing I put a wall up. I thought if I didn’t love him, if something happened to him, then I wouldn’t get hurt. Reality was, I loved him so much, it hurt just to think of all the possible things that could happen to him.
Luckily, through therapy and being open and honest about what I was feeling, I was able to parent him with strength, love, hope and think positively. I had to believe, just because bad things happened to me as a child, didn’t mean they would happen to my son.
I have attached a few links below. It is very important to recognize the signs of postpartum depression and know you aren’t alone. Talk to your doctor and family to help you get through it. Lastly, the other link discusses parenting after surviving childhood trauma. It is a great article on childhood development stages, triggers for the parent, and provides resources for more information.