By Sara Petersen| February 12, 2020 at 11:30 AM EST
"He only sleeps if he's being held," I told my pediatrician at my son's 2 week checkup. "Or," I paused, fearful of shame, "in the swing."
Without looking up from his doctor computer thing, my pediatrician immediately lectured me about safe sleep and SIDS. When I told him we had tried everything and nothing else worked and sleep deprivation had plunged me into postpartum depression after the birth of my two older kids, he lectured me about therapy. When I told him I was on Zoloft and in weekly communication with my therapist, he told me to hang in there.
I left the office in tears, feeling unsupported, feeling as though I had no workable options, and mostly feeling as though I was somehow wrong, that I was a bad mother.
To many mothers, my story is simply another drop in the bucket of ways our health-care system abandon mothers. Babies recieve at least six well-visits with their pediatricians in the first year of life. The mothers of those babies, whose bodies and emotional lives have been entirely upended, recieve one well-visit.
I was lucky enough to turn to my postpartum doula after that demoralizing appointment, and together, we had a nuanced conversation on how to attend to my son's sleep safety while also prioritizing my own sleep needs so I could show up for my family and feel like myself.
But far too many mothers are left unsupported and exhausted, desperate for sleep."