Connecting the Dots: Birthmother Shame and Postpartum Depression


I recently received the good news that an essay of mine will be included in an anthology called Mothering Through the Darkness. My essay, “My Face in the Darkness,” explores the link between the relinquishment of my first child for adoption and the postpartum depression that I experienced with my subsequent children. All these years later, I still feel unmoored when I ponder how close I came to a  breakdown after the birth of my second child.

Somewhere in the timeframe of writing and submitting the essay, I came upon this survey. I took the survey, realizing anew how completely abysmal my first experience of childbirth was. Mind you, my son was born in 1970, and there has been a fair amount of reform since then, but the survey questions did not evoke a single memory of support or compassion. Every interaction with the nurses and doctors in the hospital before, during, and after my son’s birth  was tainted with shaming and judgement. I know that this story is not an unusual one.

Women and girls are subjected to a lot of shaming in our society. As a mother of two daughters and grandmother to two granddaughters, I think about shame in the context of their lives. You can read more about shame  HERE. Or watch THIS. I’m looking forward to reading the other essays in “Mothering Through the Darkness.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if, in some way, shame figures into each and every story.

And speaking of surveys, have you seen THIS ONE?

1 thought on “Connecting the Dots: Birthmother Shame and Postpartum Depression

  1. Ms. Moon

    Although I have never experienced what you have, I do know that shame and guilt have played such roles in my life. And they have been completely unnecessary detriments to joy and ability to simply function. Thank god, I never experienced post-partum depression and I think part of that was having my children at home- I knew without a doubt that I had nothing to feel guilty or shame about there.
    But it’s all so complex and if there is anything in this world more wrapped up in a woman’s sense of self than her childbearing, I cannot imagine what it is.
    I love you, Denise. I respect and admire you. I think that if we had drinks together, we would laugh so hard we would pee our pants.


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