A Tunnel or a Cave-a story about PPA/PPD

I took requests for short stories on my Instagram. This is one of them.

She is jolted awake as the sharp and tiny screams ring from the room next door. Her heart immediately spins into shock and panic from the rude awakening as she flings the covers from her body and sprints to the nursery. She picks up the squirming bundle, and her hand makes contact with a slimy mess on the back of her son’s onesie.

Mother. Fucking. Fuck. Fuck!

Rage fills her mind, coloring the darkness of the room a deep red that permeates through her body until it reaches her hands, and she squeezes her sharp nails into her son’s tiny back. His wails grow louder and more confused. Panic and horror immediately sets in and she grips the tiny body close to her chest, kissing his soft and perfect head, murmuring that it was going to be okay, she was so sorry, momma just needs to sleep.

The baby quiets slightly but still demands to be changed. Through his continued cries and her own hot tears, she strips off the dirty onesie, wipes him down lovingly, reaches for another diaper in the dark and…

She feels a warm sensation on her swollen boobs. His pee had left a long and crooked river down her shirt, reflected just barely by the stupid smiley face nightlight in the corner.

She shrieks, and the red returns. She doesn’t realize her fists are balled until she has already put one partially through the wall to the left of the crib.


Realizing that she is screaming into her son’s face, and he is screaming back, she slides down onto the floor and sobs, ashamed.

The next morning and the morning after that and the morning after that one is all the same. Life is a series of motions with no joy, only the necessities of living. Every moment is filled with shortcomings wrapped in good intentions and sprinkled with mistakes. There is no light at the end of the tunnel because there is no tunnel; there is only a deep, dark cave with an entrance blocked by a cyclops that is a her own mind’s inability to function properly. Everyone tells her the things to do to get help. But they don’t understand, because they don’t know. It wasn’t like this for them. How could it have been? They seem like perfect and happy mothers. How could they understand how she feels? And it wasn’t like this in the pregnancies before. How could anyone understand the desire to choke your screaming child? How could you admit the desire to throw a weak and helpless body against a wall repeatedly until the crying stops?

The days run together through the tears and the rage punching of her pillow as her son cries next door. Motions of necessities, the faking of embracing the “sweet days of infancy”, and cold coffee.

Admitting defeat, she goes to the doctor. He begins the gambit of questions before reaching the worst one:

“Have you been thinking of harming yourself or others?”

She blocks out the mental images she has of shaking her son’s body until he is quiet. She loves her son, she doesn’t want to hurt him. But she also really wants the feeling back in her life. She misses the colors that aren’t red.

“I’m just having a really hard time.”

The doctor nods, scribbling a prescription, and says he hopes she will feel better soon.

If you are experiencing thoughts such as these, if you find that your postpartum anxiety is affecting your life this much, if you feel numb and depressed and like you’re in a cave, please reach out to a doctor. Please take the pills or talk to someone who understands. There’s no weakness in asking for help. You have worth, and you are a good mother. And remember, no matter how bad a day is, you never have to do it again.