The day we come home from the hospital as a brand-new family, my husband and the baby snuggle on the couch, wrapped up in bonding bliss.

I run to my bed and hide.

The initial euphoria of meeting this beautiful wisp of life is ebbing away. What have I done? This baby is so helpless, and I am so helpless. I feel trapped in this new world called motherhood.

I chalk it up to shifting hormones, or adjusting to the loss of independence, or just my rather emotional nature, and tell myself I will be all right. Doesn’t everyone say postpartum women are crazy?

The days melt one into another, a blur of feedings and diapers and tiny white onesies. Our little boy delights all who meet him. He is slowly finding his way in this brand-new world.

I am not.

I try. Believe me, I try. I sing to him, cuddle him close, feed him, and try hard to be a good mommy. “Isn’t it wonderful?” everyone asks me. “Such a precious little boy — you must be so happy!” And I beam a huge, empty smile and put on my happy voice and try to convince the world and myself that I am indeed a blissful new mother.

But something sinks its claws into me, pulling me down, down, down. I struggle and desperately try to hold on. Until I can’t anymore. And it all comes crashing around me.

I can’t take care of my baby. Can’t change his diaper, can’t rock him to sleep, can’t bathe him, can’t look at him. My husband drops off the face of his world for a week and plays mommy and daddy to both baby and me. He tells me I must go see a doctor. I have no energy to resist, so I do.

Postpartum depression. Somehow, I have missed it. I thought this was normal baby blues and adjustment woes, and I would just get better. I thought it was just a matter of developing coping skills to adjust to this new life, working on being more grateful for the baby. After all, I have waited such a long time for this child — what is wrong with me?

The doctor helps me realize that this is something much bigger than me. I cannot control a chemical imbalance. She starts me on medication. She says unfortunately it will take time until equilibrium is restored.

The seams of the person I thought I knew unravel, one by one. I, the girl who used to jump up at the crack of dawn, excited like a child to embrace the day, can hardly drag myself out of bed. I can barely eat. I cry all day, unable to escape the unbearable pain.

Hashem sends a team of angels in the forms of my husband, parents, mother-in-law, sister, doctor, doula, teacher, and close friends to take care of me and my baby. He is well looked after: bathed and clothed and rocked and loved by others. Some distant part of me is grateful — at least he isn’t suffering too. My strong husband develops a game plan that will carry us through until the medication starts to kick in. They tell me how much they love me, how I will one day love my baby and be the most wonderful mommy, how all this will seem like an awful nightmare. I don’t care. I don’t want to get better. I just want to disappear. What am I doing in this world where people can feel and love and give? I want to run, run, run, but I can’t ever escape, because how can I escape myself? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 582)